In his daily homily, Pope Francis addressed the issue of various scandals that happen within the Church, emphasizing that they occur when we no longer have a true relationship with God.
When we are corrupt “we do not give the Bread of Life to eat,” the Pope explained in this Jan. 16 daily Mass, but “many times, we…offer a poisoned meal!”
The pontiff centered his homily, addressed to those present in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, on the day’s first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, and the responsorial psalm, which recount Israel’s defeat by the Philistines.
During their battle with the Philistines, he observed, the Israelites did bring the Ark of the Covenant, but sought to use it as something “magical” and “external,” and were defeated.
“This passage of Scripture makes us think about what sort of relationship we have with God, with the Word of God,” the Pope observed, asking those present if theirs is “a formal relationship? Is it a distant relationship?”
When the Word of God enters us, it “changes our hearts,” Pope Francis explained, highlighting that when we have a formal relationship with God, “the heart is closed to that Word!”
“It leads us to think of the so many defeats of the Church, so many defeats of God's people simply because they do not hear the Lord, do not seek the Lord, do not allow themselves to be sought by the Lord!”
Returning to the first reading, the pontiff noted after a “tragedy” such as the defeat of the Israelites, then comes the prayer “’But, Lord , what happened ? You have made us the scorn of our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us the laughing stock among nations! All the nations shake their heads about us.’”
Turning to the topic of scandals which occur in the Church, the Pope asked “But are we ashamed?” stating that there are “So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are!”
These scandals, he said, “some who charged a lot of money,” are “the shame of the Church!”
“But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?” continued the Pope, asking “where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God!”
“They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no!”
“’But, I wear a medal,’ ‘I carry the Cross’…Yes, just as those” who “bore the Ark,” the pontiff explained, “without the living relationship with God and the Word of God!”
In these situations, Pope Francis noted that he is reminded of what Jesus says about those for whom scandals come, saying that “here the scandal hit: bringing decay, to the people of God, including the weakness and corruption of the priests.”
Changing his focus to the People of God, the Pope lamented that they are “Poor people!” and emphasized that often “we do not give the Bread of Life to eat; we do give -- in those cases -- the bread of Truth! And many times, we even offer a poisoned meal!”
Pope Francis concluded his homily with a prayer quoting the scriptures, saying “‘Awaken! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?’”
“We ask the Lord that we never forget the Word of God, which is alive, so that it enters into our hearts and never to forget the holy people faithful to God who ask us to nourish and strengthen them.”