The “greatest danger” for the Church is if it becomes worldly, since this prevents her from communicating the message of the Cross, Pope Francis said.
“When the Church becomes worldly, when she has the spirit of the world within herself … it is a weak Church, a defeated Church, unable to transmit the Gospel, the message of the Cross, the scandal of the Cross ... She cannot transmit this if she is worldly,” Pope Francis preached April 30 at his daily Mass.
Pope Francis based his homily on today’s Gospel reading from John 14 in which Jesus says to the disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.’
Jesus also encouraged the disciples not to be afraid or troubled, because although he would soon go to the Father and that would involve “the ruler of the world” appearing to have power over him, he would return.
Pope Francis zeroed in on the moment of Christ’s Passion and how it related to the Church today, as he addressed staffers from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See who were present at the Mass.
“The prince of the world comes but can do nothing against me: if we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world,” he stated.
And this raises the question: “do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world?” he asked.
It is “easy to pray for the grace of the Lord,” “to thank him” for blessings or to ask him for things we need, the Pope noted, but our prayers should also include our fellow believers who have “received the same Baptism.”
“Can we safeguard the Church, can we cure the Church, no? We do so with our work, but what’s most important is what the Lord does: he is the only one who can look into the face of evil and overcome it,” he said.
Pope Francis stressed that this way of praying is “also an act of faith” because it acknowledges that God alone can protect the Church and make it holy. If Catholics entrust the Church to Christ, including those who are experiencing “great tribulations and persecutions,” he “will give us … the peace that only He can give,” he said.
“May the Lord make us strong so we do not lose faith, so we do not lose hope.”
Offering the Church to the Lord, the Pope concluded, “will do us and the Church good. It will give us great peace (and although) it will not rid us of our tribulations, it will make us stronger in our sufferings.”