Let’s pray for all the grandmas, grandpas, and all the elderly…
Pope Francis encouraged faithful worldwide to welcome his invitation, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, again offered for the victims and those affected by the Coronavirus, praying today especially the elderly who are alone and are afraid.
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation.
It was announced in recent days that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time.
This comes at a time too when the Italian bishops’ conference has canceled public Masses throughout the nation, until at least April 3rd, following guidelines put out by Italian authorities. The entire country is on lockdown. Many countries worldwide now are increasingly taking precautions against the virus.
Again during today’s Mass, the Holy Father expressed his closeness to those suffering, the elderly, and all those working to contain and cure the virus.
“May God,” the Holy Father prayed today, similar to his intention yesterday, “help families rediscover true affection in this difficult time”
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s readings which spoke of forgiveness, reported Vatican News.
The Jesuit Pope stressed that we are to always forgive, even at times where it seems most challenging.
Peter, Francis recalled, asks the question: “If my brother sins against me, offends me, how many times must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers with that word that in their language means “always”: “Seventy times seven.”
We must always forgive, the Pontiff said, recognizing “it’s not easy,” because our egoistic heart is always attached to hatred, to revenge, to resentment.
“We have all witnessed,” Francis lamented, “families destroyed by family hatreds that go back from one generation to another; brothers that, before the coffin of a parent, don’t greet one another because they bear within old resentments.”
The devil, the Argentine Pope warned, always crouches between our resentments, between our hatreds and makes them grow. Francis said he keeps them there “to destroy, to destroy everything. And many times, he destroys for little things…”
Jesus’ parable today, Francis underscored, is very clear: forgive.
“Forgiveness,” he said, “is the condition to enter Heaven.” The Lord’s generosity, the Holy Father reminded, teaches us this.
“In fact, He says to us: “Do you go to Mass?” — “Yes” — but if when you go to Mass you remember that your brother has something against you, first reconcile yourself.”
“Do not come to Me,” he continued, “with love for Me in one hand, and hatred for your brother in the other” — coherence of love, forgiveness, forgiveness from the heart.”
The Pope prayed the Lord teach us the wisdom of forgiveness.
Moreover, he invited faithful watching the streaming Mass to do the following: “when we go to Confession, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, let’s first ask ourselves: “Do I forgive?”
“If I feel that I don’t forgive,” he said, “I must not feign to ask for forgiveness, because I won’t be forgiven; to ask for forgiveness means to forgive, they are both together. They can’t be separated…”
Pope Francis concluded, calling on all faithful to let go of any resentment and move forward.
In addition to Santa Marta, the Vatican is taking other steps to discourage crowds and keep people safe. They are televising the Pope giving privately, from the papal library, his weekly Angelus and General Audience addresses.
Moreover, the Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
To date, one person, an external visitor, has been tested positive for Coronavirus in the Vatican. The five people the individual had contact with, are being quarantined.
For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily can be read below:
Jesus has just given a catechesis on the unity of brothers and He ends it with a beautiful word: “Again I say to you, if two of you, two or three, agree and ask for a grace, it will be done for them” <Cf. Matthew 18:19>. Unity, friendship, peace between brothers attracts God’s benevolence. And Peter asks the question: “Yes, but with persons that offend us, what must we do? If my brother sins against me, offends me, how many times must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers with that word that in their language means “always”: “Seventy times seven.” We must always forgive, and it’s not easy, because our egoistic heart is always attached to hatred, to revenge, to resentment. We have all witnessed families destroyed by family hatreds that go back from one generation to another; brothers that, before the coffin of a parent, don’t greet one another because they bear within old resentments. It seems that it’s stronger to attach oneself to hatred than to love and this is, in fact, — let us say it – the treasure of the devil. He always crouches between our resentments, between our hatreds and makes them grow; he keeps them there to destroy, to destroy everything. And many times, he destroys for little things. And destroyed also is this God who did not come to condemn but to forgive. This God who is capable of celebrating for one sinner that comes to Him and He forgets all.
When God forgives us, He forgets all the evil we have done. Someone said: “It’s God’s illness,” He doesn’t have a memory; He is capable of losing His memory in these cases. God loses the memory of the awful stories of many sinners, of our sins. He forgives us and goes forward. He only asks us to “Do the same: learn to forgive,” not to carry forward this unfruitful cross of hatred, of resentment, of “he’ll pay for it.” This word is neither Christian nor human. Jesus’ generosity teaches us that to enter Heaven we must forgive. In fact, He says to us: “You go to Mass?” — “Yes” — but if when you go to Mass you remember that your brother has something against you, first reconcile yourself. Do not come to Me with love for Me in one hand, and hatred for your brother in the other” — coherence of love, forgiveness, forgiveness from the heart.
There are people that live condemning people, speaking badly of people, constantly soiling their fellow workers, soiling their neighbours, their parents, because they don’t forgive them for some thing done to them, or they don’t forgive something that didn’t please them. It seems that the wealth proper to the devil is this: to sow the love of not forgiving, to live attached to non-forgiveness. But forgiveness is the condition to enter Heaven.
The parable that the Lord tells us is very clear: forgive. May the Lord teach us this wisdom of forgiveness, which isn’t easy; and, let’s do something: when we go to Confession, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, let’s first ask ourselves: “Do I forgive?” If I feel that I don’t forgive, I must not feign to ask for forgiveness, because I won’t be forgiven; to ask for forgiveness means to forgive, they are both together. They can’t be separated. And those that ask for forgiveness for themselves — as this man whose boss forgives him everything –, but who don’t forgive others, will end up as this man. “So will my heavenly Father do to you, if each one of you doesn’t forgive his brothers from his heart.”
May the Lord help us to understand this and to bow our head, and not be proud but to be magnanimous in forgiving; forgive, at least, “out of self-interest.” Why? I must forgive, because if I don’t forgive, I won’t be forgiven — at least this much, but always forgive.
[ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ full homily at Santa Marta]
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