Pope Francis appealed for God to grant believers the courage to embrace Christian poverty, saying people cannot forgive a priest who is attached to money. His remarks came during his Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from the day’s Gospel reading where Jesus drove out the traders from the temple, accusing them of transforming it into a den of thieves, the Pope’s homily was a reflection on the power and allure of money. He said Jesus’s action helps us to understand where the seed of the antichrist is contained, the seed of the enemy that ruins his Kingdom: attachment to money.
“Our Lord God, the house of our Lord God is a house of prayer. Our encounter with the Lord (is) with the God of love. And the money-lord that enters into the house of God, is constantly seeking to enter inside. And those people who were changing money or selling things, they were renting their places, right? – from the priests… the priests were renting out those places and then received money. This is the lord that can ruin our life and can lead us to end our life in a bad way, without happiness, without the joy of serving the true Lord who is the only one capable of giving us that true joy.”
Noting it’s a personal choice, Pope Francis then asked his listeners: “How is your attachment to money? Are you attached to money?”
“The people of God have a great flair for accepting, for canonizing as well as condemning – because the people of God are capable of condemning – for forgiving so many weaknesses, so many sins by priests but they cannot forgive two of them: attachment to money, because when they see a priest attached to money, they do not forgive him, and mistreating people, because when a priest mistreats the faithful: the people of God can’t accept this and they do not forgive him. The other things, the other weaknesses, the other sins ….. yes ok, it’s not right but the poor man is alone, it’s this…. And they seek to justify (his sins). But their condemnation is not as strong or as definitive: the people of God could understand this. Following the lord of money leads a priest to be the head of a firm or be a prince or we can go even higher…”
The Pope went on to recall the teraphims, the idols that Jacob’s wife Rachel kept hidden, as an example of this attachment to material goods.
“It’s sad to see a priest who’s at the end of his life, he’s in agony, he’s in a coma and his relatives are there like vultures, looking to see what they can take away. Let us grant this pleasure to the Lord, a true examination of our conscience. ‘Lord, are you my Lord or is it – like Rachel – these teraphims hidden in my heart, this idol of money?’ And be courageous: be courageous. Make a choice. Sufficient money like that of an honest worker, sufficient savings like those of an honest worker. But all these financial interests are not permissible, this is idolatry. May the Lord grant us all the grace of Christian poverty.”
“May the Lord,” concluded the Pope, “give us the grace of the poverty of working people, those who work and earn a fair wage and who do not seek any more.”
We entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lord, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us.