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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Jubilee of the Guards

At 9:30am this morning, at the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens, the Holy Father, Pope Francis presided at the celebration of Mass on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Vatican Gendarmerie.


Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the Mass celebrated with the
Vatican Gendarmerie

This Sunday’s biblical readings present us three types of persons: the exploiter, the crook and the faithful man.

The exploiter is the one the prophet Amos speaks to us about in the First Reading (cf Amos 8:4-7). He is a person prey to a maniacal way of earning, to the point of feeling annoyance and intolerance of liturgical days of rest, because they break the frenetic rhythm of business. His sole divinity is money, and his action is dominated by fraud and exploitation. His expenses are above all the poor and the indigent, reduced to slavery, and whose price is like that of a pair of sandals (Amos 8:6).

Unfortunately, he is a human type that is found at all times; today also there are many.

The crook is the man who is not faithful. His method is to engage in frauds. The Gospel speaks of him in the parable of the dishonest steward (cf Luke 16:1-8). How did this steward get to the point of swindling, of robbing his master? From one day to another? No, little by little. Perhaps giving a bribe one day here, a percentage another day there, and thus little by little one arrives at corruption. In the parable, the master praises the dishonest steward for his craftiness. But this is an altogether worldly craftiness and intensely sinful, which does so much harm! There is, instead, a Christian craftiness, of doing things with guilefulness, but not with the spirit of the world: to do things honestly, and this is good. It is what Jesus says when He invites us to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves: to put these two dimensions together is a grace of the Holy Spirit, a grace that we must ask for. Today also, there are so many crooks, corrupt men. I am struck to see corruption spread everywhere.

The third is the faithful man. We can find the profile of the faithful man in the Second Reading (cf 1 Timothy 2:1-8). He is in fact the one that follows Jesus, who gave Himself as ransom for all; He gave His testimony according to the Father’s will (cf 1 Tim 2:5-6). The faithful man is the man of prayer, in the twofold sense that he prays for others and trusts in others’ prayer for him, to be able to lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way (1 Tim 2:2). The faithful man can walk with his head held high.

The Gospel also speaks to us of the faithful man: one who knows how to be faithful in little things as well as in big things (cf Luke 16:10).

The Word of God leads us to a final choice: No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Luke 16:13). The crook likes fraud and hates honesty. The crook likes percentages, dark agreements, those agreements that are made in the dark. And the worst thing is that he believes he is honest. The crook likes money, he likes riches: riches are an idol (for him). As the prophet says, he does not mind trampling on the poor. They are those that have the great industries of slave labor. And in the world today, slave labor is a style of management.

Dear brothers, you who today celebrate your task – what is your task? You who today celebrate 200 years of service, also against fraud, against crooks, against exploiters … With Saint Paul’s words we can say: that all men may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Your task is to avoid evil things being done, such as the exploiter and the crook do. Your task is to defend and promote honesty, so often badly paid. I thank you for your vocation; I thank you for the work you do. I know that many times you have to fight against the temptations of those that want to buy you, and I am proud to know that your style is to say: No, this is not right. I thank you for this service of two centuries, and I wish for all of you that the society of Vatican State, that the Holy See, from the least to the greatest, recognize your service, a service that protects, a service that seeks not only to have things go in the right way, but also to do so with charity, with tenderness, and even risking your life. May the Lord bless you for all this. Thank you.
(Original text in Italian)

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