Homily of Pope Francis at Mass for the World Day of the Poor

The parable we have heard has a beginning, a middle, and an ending, which illuminate the beginning, the core, and the end of our lives.


The beginning. Everything begins with a great good : the owner does not keep his wealth for himself, but gives it to his servants; to one five, to another two, to another a talent, “to each according to his ability” ( Mt 25:15). It has been calculated that a single talent corresponded to the salary of about twenty years of work: it was a superabundant good, which was then enough for a lifetime. Here is the beginning: for us it all started with graceof God – everything always begins with grace, not with our strength – with the grace of God, who is Father and has put so much good in our hands, entrusting each one with different talents. We are bearers of great wealth, which does not depend on how much we possess, but on what we are: on the life we ​​have received, on the good that is in us, on the irreplaceable beauty that God has given us, because we are made in his image , each one of us is precious in his eyes, each one of us is unique and irreplaceable in history. This is how God looks at us, this is how God treats us .

How important it is to remember this: Too many times when we look at our life, we see only what we lack and complain about what we do not have. So we give in to the temptation of “I wish !”: I wish I had that job, I wish I had that house, I wish I had money and success, I wish I didn’t have that problem, I wish I had better people around me! … But the illusion of “Hopefully” prevents us from seeing the good and makes us forget the talents we have. Yeah you don’t have that but you have this, and the “hopefully” makes us forget this. But God has entrusted them to us because he knows each one of us and knows what we are capable of; trust us, despite our frailties. He also trusted that servant who hid his talent: God hoped that, despite his fears, he too would use well what he had received. Specifically, the Lord asks us to commit ourselves to the present without longing for the past, but in diligent waiting for his coming. That ugly nostalgia, which is like a crude humor, a black humor that poisons the soul and makes me always look back, always at others, but never at our own hands, at the work possibilities that the Lord has given us, to our conditions, even to our poverty.

Thus we come to the center of the parable: it is the work of the servants, that is, the service . Service is also our work, the effort that makes our talents bear fruit and gives meaning to life: in fact, he who does not live to serve is useless to live. We need to repeat this, repeat it many times: He who does not live to serve is useless to live. We must meditate on this: He who does not live to serve is useless to live. But what is the style of service? In the Gospel, good servants are those who risk. They are not cautious and cautious, they do not keep what they have received, but they use it. Because the good, if it is not invested, is lost; because the greatness of our life does not depend on how much we hoard, but on how much fruit we bear. How many people spend their lives accumulating, thinking of being good instead of doing good . But how empty is a life that pursues needs , without looking at the needy ! If we have gifts, it is to be ourselves gifts to others. And here, brothers and sisters, we ask ourselves: Do I follow the needs, only, or am I able to look at those who have need? Who is in need? Is my hand like this [open] or like this [closed]?

It should be noted that the servants who invest, who risk, are called « faithful»Four times (vv. 21.23). For the Gospel there is no fidelity without risk. “But, Father, does being a Christian mean taking risks?” – “Yes, dear, risk. If you don’t risk it, you will end up as the third servant: burying your abilities, your spiritual and material wealth, everything ”. Risk: no fidelity without risk. To be faithful to God is to waste your life, it is to let your plans be turned upside down by service. “I have this plan, but if I work …”. Let the plan be upset, you serve ”. It is sad when a Christian plays defensively, sticking only to the observance of the rules and the respect of the commandments. Those “restrained” Christians who never step outside the norm, never, because they are afraid of risk. And these, allow me the picture, these who take care of themselves so much that they never take risks, These begin in life a process of mummification of the soul, and end up being mummies. This is not enough, it does not base observing the rules; fidelity to Jesus is not limited simply to not making mistakes; this is negative. So thought the lazy servant in the parable: lacking initiative and creativity, he hid behind a sterile fear and buried the talent he had received. The owner even called it “bad” (v. 26). Despite not having done anything wrong, but also nothing good. He preferred to sin by omission rather than risk being wrong. He was not faithful to God, who loves to give himself totally; and he did the worst offense: to return the gift received. “You have given me this, I give you this”, nothing more. Instead, the Lord invites us to gamble generously, to overcome fear with the courage of love, to overcome passivity that turns into complicity. Today, in these times of uncertainty, in these times of fragility, let us not waste our lives thinking only of ourselves, with that attitude of indifference. Let us not deceive ourselves by saying: “There is peace and security” (1 Ts 5.3). Saint Paul invites us to face reality, not to let ourselves be infected by indifference.

So how can we serve by following God’s will? The owner explains this to the unfaithful servant: “You should have taken my money to the moneylenders, so that when I returned, I could collect mine with interest” (v. 27). Who are the “lenders” for us, capable of getting a lasting interest? They are the poor.Do not forget: the poor are at the center of the Gospel; the Gospel cannot be understood without the poor. The poor have the same personality as Jesus, who being rich emptied himself of everything, became poor, became sin, the ugliest poverty. The poor guarantee us an eternal income and from now on they allow us to enrich ourselves in love. Because the greatest poverty that must be fought is our lack of love. The greatest poverty to combat is our poverty of love. The Book of Proverbs praises a laborious woman in love, whose value is greater than that of pearls: we must imitate this woman who, according to the text, “stretches out her arms to the poor” ( Pr31,20): this is the greatest wealth of this woman. Reach out to those in need, instead of demanding what you lack: in this way you will multiply the talents you have received.

Christmas is coming, a time for celebrations. How many times, the question that many people ask is: “What can I buy? What else can I have? I need to go to the stores to buy ”. Let’s say the other word, “What can I give to others?”, To be like Jesus, who gave himself and was properly born in that manger.

We thus come to the end of the parable: there will be those who have abundance and those who have wasted their life and will remain poor (cf. v. 29). At the end of life, ultimately, reality will be revealed: the appearance of the world will fade, according to which success, power and money give meaning to existence, while love, what we have given, will be revealed like true wealth. All of that will fade, instead love will emerge. A great Church Father wrote: “This is how life happens: after death has come and the show is over, everyone takes off the mask of wealth and poverty and leaves this world. And they are judged only by their works, some truly rich, others poor “(St. John Chrysostom, Discourses on poor Lazarus, II, 3). If we do not want to live poorly, let us ask for the grace to see Jesus in the poor, to serve Jesus in the poor.

I would like to thank so many faithful servants of God, who do not give what to talk about themselves, but live like this, serving. I am thinking, for example, of D. Roberto Malgesini. This priest did not make theories; he simply saw Jesus in the poor and the meaning of life in service. She gently wiped away her tears, in the name of God who comforts. At the beginning of his day there was prayer, to welcome the gift of God; at the center of the day was charity, to make the love received bear fruit; in the end, a clear testimony of the Gospel. This man understood that he had to reach out to the many poor people he encountered daily because he saw Jesus in each one of them. Brothers and sisters: Let us ask for the grace not to be Christians in words, but in deeds. To bear fruit, as Jesus wishes. So be it.

The parable we have heard has a beginning, a middle, and an ending, which illuminate the beginning, the core, and the end of our lives.

The beginning. Everything begins with a great good : the owner does not keep his wealth for himself, but gives it to his servants; to one five, to another two, to another a talent, “to each according to his ability” ( Mt 25:15). It has been calculated that a single talent corresponded to the salary of about twenty years of work: it was a superabundant good, which was then enough for a lifetime. Here is the beginning: for us it all started with graceof God – everything always begins with grace, not with our strength – with the grace of God, who is Father and has put so much good in our hands, entrusting each one with different talents. We are bearers of great wealth, which does not depend on how much we possess, but on what we are: on the life we ​​have received, on the good that is in us, on the irreplaceable beauty that God has given us, because we are made in his image , each one of us is precious in his eyes, each one of us is unique and irreplaceable in history. This is how God looks at us, this is how God treats us .

How important it is to remember this: Too many times when we look at our life, we see only what we lack and complain about what we do not have. So we give in to the temptation of “I wish !”: I wish I had that job, I wish I had that house, I wish I had money and success, I wish I didn’t have that problem, I wish I had better people around me! … But the illusion of “Hopefully” prevents us from seeing the good and makes us forget the talents we have. Yeah you don’t have that but you have this, and the “hopefully” makes us forget this. But God has entrusted them to us because he knows each one of us and knows what we are capable of; trust us, despite our frailties. He also trusted that servant who hid his talent: God hoped that, despite his fears, he too would use well what he had received. Specifically, the Lord asks us to commit ourselves to the present without longing for the past, but in diligent waiting for his coming. That ugly nostalgia, which is like a crude humor, a black humor that poisons the soul and makes me always look back, always at others, but never at our own hands, at the work possibilities that the Lord has given us, to our conditions, even to our poverty.

Thus we come to the center of the parable: it is the work of the servants, that is, the service . Service is also our work, the effort that makes our talents bear fruit and gives meaning to life: in fact, he who does not live to serve is useless to live. We need to repeat this, repeat it many times: He who does not live to serve is useless to live. We must meditate on this: He who does not live to serve is useless to live. But what is the style of service? In the Gospel, good servants are those who risk. They are not cautious and cautious, they do not keep what they have received, but they use it. Because the good, if it is not invested, is lost; because the greatness of our life does not depend on how much we hoard, but on how much fruit we bear. How many people spend their lives accumulating, thinking of being good instead of doing good . But how empty is a life that pursues needs , without looking at the needy ! If we have gifts, it is to be ourselves gifts to others. And here, brothers and sisters, we ask ourselves: Do I follow the needs, only, or am I able to look at those who have need? Who is in need? Is my hand like this [open] or like this [closed]?

It should be noted that the servants who invest, who risk, are called « faithful»Four times (vv. 21.23). For the Gospel there is no fidelity without risk. “But, Father, does being a Christian mean taking risks?” – “Yes, dear, risk. If you don’t risk it, you will end up as the third servant: burying your abilities, your spiritual and material wealth, everything ”. Risk: no fidelity without risk. To be faithful to God is to waste your life, it is to let your plans be turned upside down by service. “I have this plan, but if I work …”. Let the plan be upset, you serve ”. It is sad when a Christian plays defensively, sticking only to the observance of the rules and the respect of the commandments. Those “restrained” Christians who never step outside the norm, never, because they are afraid of risk. And these, allow me the picture, these who take care of themselves so much that they never take risks, These begin in life a process of mummification of the soul, and end up being mummies. This is not enough, it does not base observing the rules; fidelity to Jesus is not limited simply to not making mistakes; this is negative. So thought the lazy servant in the parable: lacking initiative and creativity, he hid behind a sterile fear and buried the talent he had received. The owner even called it “bad” (v. 26). Despite not having done anything wrong, but also nothing good. He preferred to sin by omission rather than risk being wrong. He was not faithful to God, who loves to give himself totally; and he did the worst offense: to return the gift received. “You have given me this, I give you this”, nothing more. Instead, the Lord invites us to gamble generously, to overcome fear with the courage of love, to overcome passivity that turns into complicity. Today, in these times of uncertainty, in these times of fragility, let us not waste our lives thinking only of ourselves, with that attitude of indifference. Let us not deceive ourselves by saying: “There is peace and security” (1 Ts 5.3). Saint Paul invites us to face reality, not to let ourselves be infected by indifference.

So how can we serve by following God’s will? The owner explains this to the unfaithful servant: “You should have taken my money to the moneylenders, so that when I returned, I could collect mine with interest” (v. 27). Who are the “lenders” for us, capable of getting a lasting interest? They are the poor.Do not forget: the poor are at the center of the Gospel; the Gospel cannot be understood without the poor. The poor have the same personality as Jesus, who being rich emptied himself of everything, became poor, became sin, the ugliest poverty. The poor guarantee us an eternal income and from now on they allow us to enrich ourselves in love. Because the greatest poverty that must be fought is our lack of love. The greatest poverty to combat is our poverty of love. The Book of Proverbs praises a laborious woman in love, whose value is greater than that of pearls: we must imitate this woman who, according to the text, “stretches out her arms to the poor” ( Pr31,20): this is the greatest wealth of this woman. Reach out to those in need, instead of demanding what you lack: in this way you will multiply the talents you have received.

Christmas is coming, a time for celebrations. How many times, the question that many people ask is: “What can I buy? What else can I have? I need to go to the stores to buy ”. Let’s say the other word, “What can I give to others?”, To be like Jesus, who gave himself and was properly born in that manger.

We thus come to the end of the parable: there will be those who have abundance and those who have wasted their life and will remain poor (cf. v. 29). At the end of life, ultimately, reality will be revealed: the appearance of the world will fade, according to which success, power and money give meaning to existence, while love, what we have given, will be revealed like true wealth. All of that will fade, instead love will emerge. A great Church Father wrote: “This is how life happens: after death has come and the show is over, everyone takes off the mask of wealth and poverty and leaves this world. And they are judged only by their works, some truly rich, others poor “(St. John Chrysostom, Discourses on poor Lazarus, II, 3). If we do not want to live poorly, let us ask for the grace to see Jesus in the poor, to serve Jesus in the poor.

I would like to thank so many faithful servants of God, who do not give what to talk about themselves, but live like this, serving. I am thinking, for example, of D. Roberto Malgesini. This priest did not make theories; he simply saw Jesus in the poor and the meaning of life in service. She gently wiped away her tears, in the name of God who comforts. At the beginning of his day there was prayer, to welcome the gift of God; at the center of the day was charity, to make the love received bear fruit; in the end, a clear testimony of the Gospel. This man understood that he had to reach out to the many poor people he encountered daily because he saw Jesus in each one of them. Brothers and sisters: Let us ask for the grace not to be Christians in words, but in deeds. To bear fruit, as Jesus wishes. So be it.

 

Source: Romereports.com

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