In his daily homily Pope Francis encouraged all present to pursue God rather than their own passions, noting how the Old Testament figure Solomon “lost his faith” to idolatry despite being wise.
“His heart was weakened, it was weakened and he lost faith. He lost faith. The wisest man in the world has left in order to pursue an indiscreet love, without discretion,” the Pope said Feb. 13.
Addressing those gathered in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff began his homily by recalling the Gospel reading taken from Mark in which a Cananite woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter, who was possessed by a demon.
Highlighting how the days readings make us think in a “twofold” way of both the “idolatry of the living God” and the “the living God of idolatry,” the Pope drew attention to the “courageous” woman who, although she is a pagan, asks Jesus for this favor.
“A mother in front of the health of a child, does everything,” he observed, drawing attention to the harsh way in which Jesus tells her that he came first “to the sheep of Israel” when he says “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
This woman “who had certainly not gone to college, she knew how to respond,” noted the Pope, adding that she responded “not with her intelligence, but with her mother's womb, with her love.”
In pleading with Jesus and saying that “even the dogs eat what falls from the table,” she was “not ashamed” of her faith, the pontiff explained, and Jesus gave her “a miracle.”
“She was exposed to the risk of making a bad impression, but she insisted, and from paganism and idolatry she found health for her daughter and for her she found the living God.”
“This is the path of a person of good will, that searches for God and finds him. The Lord blesses,” the Pope emphasized, commenting that “how many people make this journey and the Lord waits!”
However, he observed that “it is the same Holy Spirit that leads us forward to making this journey,” and that “every day in the Church of the Lord there are people that make this journey, silently, to find the Lord, because they let themselves be carried forward by the Holy spirit.”
Reflecting on the opposite attitude, the Pope turned his attention to Soloman, the son of David, in the first reading, who was the “wisest man on Earth” and who had “universal fame,” stating that he was “a believer in God, but what happened?”
Slowly he let his heart be “diverted” from God by women and by his concubines, the pontiff said, noting how “these women weakened” Solomans heart so that it was no longer just, like his father.
“The wisest man in the world has left in order to pursue an indiscreet love, without discretion; he left to pursue his own passions,” the Pope said.
Although some might say “But father, Soloman didn't lose his faith, he believed in God and was able to recite the Bible,” the Pope responded: “Yes, it’s true, but to have faith does not mean to be able to recite the Creed. You can recite the Creed having lost faith.”
Observing how Solomon was just as much of a sinner as his father David, Pope Francis explained that the difference between the two is that Solomon allowed himself to be “corrupted” by vanity, while David “was humble and asked for forgiveness.”
“The evil seed of his passions grew in Solomon's heart and he was brought to idolatry,” the pontiff repeated, calling to mind the “beautiful advice” given in the hymn of the Alleluia “'Welcome the Word with docility' – with docility – 'many the Word that was planted in you bring you to Salvation.'”
Concluding his homily, the Pope encouraged all present to “make this journey with that Canaanite woman, that pagan woman, accepting the Word of God, that was planted in us, and that will bring us to salvation.”
“May the Word of God, powerful, guard us on this path,” he said, “and not permit that we end up in the corruption that leads us to idolatry.”