Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pope Francis' Mass for 31 March 2020

At 7:00am local time this morning (1:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis celebrated Mass inside the chapel at the Casa Santa Marta.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the celebration of the Mass

Let us pray today for those who have no fixed address, in this time when we are all being asked to remain indoors, at home ... that our society, made up of men and women, may be aware of their reality and that the Church may find ways to welcome them.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass celebrated on 31 March 2020

The snake is certainly not a nice animal: it is always associated with evil. Even in revelation, the serpent is precisely the animal that the devil uses to induce sin. In the Book of Revelations the devil is called the ancient snake, the one who from the beginning bites, poisons, destroys, kills. This is why he cannot succeed. If you want to succeed as someone who offers beautiful things, these are fantasy: we believe them and so we sin. This is what happened to the people of Israel: they did not endure the journey. They were tired. And the people spoke against God and against Moses. It's always the same music, isn't it? Why did you take us out of Egypt? To make us die in this desert? Because there is no bread or water and we are sick of this light food, this manna (cf Nm 21: 4-5). And the imagination - we have been reading it in recent days - always goes to Egypt: But, we were fine there, we ate well ... And also, it seems that the Lord did not endure the people at this time. He became angry: the wrath of God shows up at times ... And then the Lord sent among the people burning snakes which bit the people and they died. A large number of Israelites died (Nm 21:5). At that time, the serpent was always the image of evil: the people saw sin in the serpent; they saw all the evil that had been done in the figure of the serpent. And they came to Moses and said: We have sinned because we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Plead with the Lord to drive these snakes away from us (Nm 21:7). Repentance. This is the story in the desert. Moses prayed for the people and the Lord said to Moses: Make a snake and put it on a metal pole. Whoever has been bitten and looks at the snake will remain alive (Nm 21: 8).

I am thinking: is this not idolatry? There is the snake, there, an idol, who gives me health ... It is not clear. Logically, it is not clear, because this is a prophecy, this is a proclamation of what will happen. Because we also heard as a prophecy in the Gospel: When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am and that I do nothing by myself (Jn 8: 28). Jesus was raised: on the cross. Moses made a snake and raised it up. Jesus will be raised up, like the serpent, to give salvation. But the crux of the prophecy is precisely that Jesus made himself sin for us. He did not sin: he became sin. As Saint Peter says in his Letter: He carried our sins upon himself (cf 1 Pt 2: 24) And when we look at the crucifix, we think of the Lord who suffers: all that is true. But let's stop before we get to the centre of that truth: at this moment, You seem the greatest sinner, You made yourself a sin. He has taken upon himself all our sins; he has annihilated himself until now. The cross - it is true - is a torture, there is the revenge of the doctors of the Law, of those who did not want Jesus: all this is true. But the truth that comes from God is that He came into the world to take our sins upon himself to the point of becoming sin. All sins. Our sins are there.

We should develop a habit of looking at the cross in this light, which is the true light, the light of redemption.  In Jesus, who became sin, we see Christ's total surrender.  He does not pretend to die, he does not pretend to suffer, he is alone, he is abandoned ... Father, why have you abandoned me? (cf Mt 27: 46; Mk 15: 34).  A serpent: I am raised up like a serpent, like one who is the entirety of sin.

It is not easy to understand this and, if we think about it, we will never entirely understand it.  We can only contemplate it, pray about it and give thanks.

After the completion of the Mass, the Holy Father spent some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  He instructed all those who were watching from a distance:

People who cannot receive communion because of the distance, now make a spiritual communion.

His Holiness offered the following prayer, leading all those who were united with him in prayer via various media:

Prayer to make a spiritual communion

My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things and I desire you in my soul. Since I cannot receive You sacramentally now, at least spiritually come to my heart. As you have already come, I embrace you and I join myself to you. Do not let me ever be separated from you.  Amen.

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