, 13 March, 2020 / 6:03 AM
Pope Francis offered his Mass on Friday for pastors, that they might discern well the proper measures to take to protect their parishioners during the coronavirus crisis without leaving them feeling abandoned.
“May the Lord give [pastors] the strength and also the ability to choose the best means to help,” the pope said at the beginning of Mass March 13.
“Drastic measures are not always good,” he added.
“Let’s pray for this, that the Holy Spirit may give to pastors the ability for pastoral discernment so that they might provide measures which do not leave the holy, faithful people of God alone, and so that the people of God will feel accompanied by their pastors, comforted by the Word of God, by the sacraments, and by prayer.”
Pope Francis is offering his daily Mass this week for victims of coronavirus and their families.
The 7:00 am Mass is being livestreamed every day from the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta guesthouse, where the pope lives.
In his homily March 13, Francis reflected on the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, and the parable of the vineyard owner, whose tenants killed his son to take his inheritance.
The readings are “a prophecy of the Lord’s passion,” the pope said. “Joseph sold as a slave for 20 silver shekels, handed over to the pagans. And the parable of Jesus, which clearly speaks symbolically of the killing of the Son.”
The tenants are the “people of God,” he explained. “The Lord chose that people, there is an election of those people.”
“The people must always remember... the promise to look forward with hope and the alliance to live faithfulness every day,” he said. “But in this parable, it happens that when the time came to reap the fruits these people had forgotten that they were not the masters.”
The master sent servants, but the tenants beat or killed them, Francis said, explaining that Jesus is speaking to the doctors of the law about how they treated the prophets.
Finally, the owner sent his own son, thinking they would respect him, but they killed him too.
This is “a story of infidelity, of infidelity to the election, of infidelity to the promise, of infidelity to the covenant, which is a gift,” Pope Francis said.
“These people took possession of the gift and took this gift away to turn it into ‘my’ property,” he said. “This is the great sin. It is the sin of forgetting that God made himself a gift for us.”
The pope said he sees in this attitude the beginnings of clericalism.
Clericalism, he continued, “is a perversion, which always denies the free election of God, the free covenant of God, the free promise of God.”
“It forgets the gratuity of revelation, forgets that God manifested himself as a gift, made himself a gift for us and we must give it, make others see it as a gift, not as our possession.”
Clericalism and rigidity already existed in Jesus’ time, he stated. “Today we ask the Lord for the grace to receive the gift as a gift and transmit the gift as a gift, not as property, not in a sectarian way, a rigid way, a ‘clericalist’ way.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa