Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Pope Francis' Mass for 8 April 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 His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to the celebration of the Mass

Let us pray today for people who, during this time of pandemic, find ways to do business with the needy; they take advantage of the needs of others and sell them: the mafia, usurers and many others.  May the Lord touch their hearts and convert them.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass celebrated on 8 April 2020

Wednesday of Holy Week is also known as betrayal Wednesday, the day when the Church focuses on the betrayal of Judas.  Judas sells the Master.

When we think about the fact of selling other people, the commerce that took place with slaves who were brought to America comes to mind - something old - and also the trade, for example involving the Yazidi girls who were sold in Daesh: but that was far away, it was one thing ... Also today, people are sold.  Every day.  There are Judases who sell their brothers and sisters: exploiting them in their work, not paying them a just wage, not recognizing their own duties ... Indeed, they often sell the most expensive things. I think that in order to be more comfortable, some men are able to remove even their parents and never see them again; keep them safe in a retirement home and not go to visit them ... they are sold. There is a very common saying that, speaks of people like this, it says that they are capable of selling their own mothers: and they do sell them. Then they are calm, they are removed: Take care of them ...

Today, human trafficking is still like it was in the early days: it is done. And why is this? Why: Jesus said it. They have made a god out of money. Jesus said: You cannot serve both God and money (cf Lk 16: 13), they are two gentlemen. It is the only thing that Jesus raises up to each of us, and each of us must choose: either serve God, and you will be free in adoration and service; or serve money, and you will be a slave to money. This is the option; and so many people want to serve God and money. And this cannot be done. Eventually they pretend to serve God in order to serve money. They are the hidden exploiters who are socially flawless, but under the table they do business, even with people: it doesn't matter. Human exploitation is the act of selling one's neighbour.

Judas is gone, but he has left behind his disciples, who are not his disciples but disciples of the devil. What Judas' life was like, we don't know. He was a normal boy, perhaps, and also he had anxieties, because the Lord called him to be a disciple. He never managed to be a true disciple: he did not have a disciple's mouth and a disciple's heart as they are described in the first reading. He was weak in discipleship, but Jesus loved him ... Then the Gospel makes us understand that he liked money: at Lazarus' house, when Mary anointed Jesus' feet with that expensive perfume, he was the one who gave us the reflection that John pointed out: He did not say this because he loved the poor, but because he loved money (cf Jn 12: 6). The love of money had brought him outside of the rules: to steal, and before we can steal, before we can betray there is a step, a little one. Those who love money too much cheat, in order to have more, always: it's a rule, it's a fact. The boy Judas, perhaps he was good, with good intentions, ends up a traitor to the point of going to the market to sell: He went to the chief priests and said: 'How much do you want to give me so that I will deliver him to you directly?' (cf Mt 26:14). In my opinion, this man was out of his mind.

One thing that attracts my attention is that Jesus never calls him a traitor; he says he will be betrayed, but does not call him a traitor. Never does he say: Go away, you traitor. Never! In fact, he calls him, Friend, and kisses him. The mystery of Judas: what is the mystery of Judas? I don't know ... Don Primo Mazzolari explained it better than I can ... Yes, it comforts me to contemplate that master from Vezelay: how did Judas end up? I do not know. Jesus threatens strongly here; it is a strong threat: "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed: better for that man if he had never been born! (cf Mt. 26,24). But does this mean that Judas is in Hell?  I do not know. I look to the master. And I hear the word Jesus spoke: he called him Friend.

This makes us think of another thing, which is more real, more than today: the devil entered Judas' heart, it was the devil who led him to this point. And how did the story end? The devil is a poor payer: he is not a reliable payer. It promises you everything, shows you everything and in the end leaves you alone in your desperation to hang yourself.

The heart of Judas, troubled, tormented by greed and tormented by love for Jesus - a love that has failed to find him love - tormented with this fog, returns to the priests asking for forgiveness, asking for salvation. "What have we got to do with it?  That is your affair ... (cf Mt 27: 4): the devil speaks like this and leaves us in despair.

We can think of many institutionalized Judases in this world who exploit people. And we also think of the little Judas that each of us has within us in the hour of having to choose: between loyalty and self-interest. Each of us has the ability to betray, to sell, to choose for our own interest. Each of us has the opportunity to let ourselves be attracted by the love of money or goods or future well-being. Judas, where are you? This is the question I ask each of us: You, Judas, the little Judas that I have inside: where are you?

After the completion of the Mass, the Holy Father spent some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  All those who could not be physically present, but who were participating via various media were encouraged to be united with him in prayer and to make a spiritual communion.

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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