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Pope Francis: Humility necessary for fruitfulness


“Humility is necessary for fruitfulness,” Pope Francis said at Mass this morning in the Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father said that the intervention of God overcomes the sterility of our life and makes it fruitful. Then he put us on guard against the attitude of pride that makes us sterile.

Often in the Bible we find women who are sterile, to whom the Lord gives the gift of life. That was the starting point of Pope Francis’ homily on the day’s readings, particularly the Gospel, which tells the story of Elizabeth, who was sterile but who had a son – John. “From the impossibility of giving life,” the Pope said, “comes life.” And this, he continued, happened not only for sterile women but to those “who had no hope of life,” such as Naomi who eventually had a grandson:

“The Lord intervened in the life of this woman to tell us: ‘I am capable of giving life.’ In the Prophets too there is the image of the desert, the desert land that cannot grow a tree, a fruit, to bring forth anything. ‘But the desert will be like a forest,’ the Prophets say, “it will be huge, it will flower.” But can the desert flower? Yes. Can the sterile woman give life? Yes. The promise of the Lord: ‘I can!’ From dryness, from your dryness I can make life, salvation grow. From aridity I can make fruit grow!”

And that salvation, Pope Francis said, is this: “The intervention of God who makes us fruitful, who gives us the capacity to give life.” He warned that we cannot do it by ourselves. And yet, the Pope said, many people have tried to imagine that we are capable of saving ourselves:

“Even Christians, eh? We think of the Pelagians for example. All is grace. And it is the intervention of God that brings us salvation. It is the intervention of God that helps us along the path of sanctity. Only He can do it. But what are we to do on our part? First, recognize our dryness, our incapacity to give life. Recognize this. Second, ask: ‘Lord, I want to be fruitful.’ I desire that my life should give life, that my faith should be fruitful and go forward and be able to give it to others. Lord, I am sterile, I can’t do it. You can. I am a desert: I can’t do it. You can.”

And this, he added, could be our prayer during these days before Christmas. “We think about how the proud, those who think they can do it all by themselves, are struck.” The Pope turned his thoughts to Michal, the daughter of Saul. She was a woman, he said, “who was not sterile, but was proud, and was not able to understand what it was to praise God,” and in fact laughed at the praise that David gave to the Lord. And she was punished with sterility:

“Humility is necessary for fruitfulness. How many people imagine they are just, like Michal, but who are really [sorry souls (poveracce)]. The humility to say to the Lord: ‘Lord, I am sterile, I am a desert’ and to repeat in these days this beautiful antiphon that the Church makes us pray: O Son of David, O Adonai, O Wisdom – today! – O Root of Jesse, O Emmanuel, come and give us life, come and save us, because only You can, by myself I cannot!’ And with this humility, this humility of the desert, this humility of a sterile soul, receive grace, the grace to flourish, to give fruit, and to give life.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: RealAudioMP3