By Jim Fair
Pope Francis began Mass on March 15, 2020, by remembering all those who are sick and suffering. And he asked for prayers for especially “for all those who are working to guarantee public services: those working in pharmacies, supermarkets, transportation, police officers…so that social and civil life can go ahead”.
The Mass was “private” in Casa Santa Marta but broadcast far and wide, as the Pope has done for the past week in light of the many cancellations of services and church closures around the world.
His homily focused on the passage of the Samaritan Woman proposed for the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Lent.
Pope Francis characterized Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman as a “dialogue, a historical dialogue. It’s not a parable. It happened”, he said. Jesus meets a woman, a sinner and “for the first time in the Gospel, Jesus manifests His identity. He manifests it to a sinner who has the courage to tell Him the truth”. And based on that truth, “she went to proclaim Jesus. ‘Come. Perhaps He’s the Messiah because He told me everything that I have done’ “.
The Pope went on to explain that it was not through the theoretical debate about whether God should be worshipped on this or that mountain that the woman discovers Jesus’s true identity. Rather, the woman discovers that He is the Messiah because “of her truth” which sanctifies and justifies her.
“That’s what the Lord uses – her truth – to proclaim the Gospel. One cannot be a disciple of Jesus without one’s own truth. …This woman had the courage to dialogue with Jesus” Francis explained. “Because these two peoples did not dialogue with each other. She had the courage to interest herself in Jesus’s proposal, in that water, because she knew she was thirsty. She had the courage of confessing her weakness and her sins.”
Furthermore, the Pope continued, the Samaritan woman’s courage led her to “use her own story as the guarantee that that that man was a prophet“.
“The Lord always wants transparent dialogue without hiding things, without duplicitous intentions. Just as it is,” the Holy Father continued. “I can speak with the Lord this way, just as I am with my own truth. Thus, from my own truth with the strength of the Holy Spirit, I will find the truth – that the Lord is the savior, the One who came to save me and to save us.”
Because the dialogue between the Samaritan woman and Jesus was so transparent, the Pope said she was then able to proclaim “Jesus’ Messianic reality” which brought “the conversion of that people…. It’s the time of the harvest”, Pope Francis said.
As is his custom, Pope Francis then concluded his homily with a prayer:
“May the Lord grant us the grace of praying always in truth, to turn to the Lord with my own truth and not with the others’ truth, not with truth that’s been distilled in debates…. ‘It’s true, I’ve had five husbands. This is my truth.’ “
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