Vatican City, Dec 16, 2014 / 13:14 pm
Pope Francis touched on the importance of being humble and open to the Lord's correction, encouraging the faithful to offer him their sins to God in order to be saved.
"The humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved and this is the way of the Church, isn't it?" the Pope asked during his Dec. 16 daily mass in the Vatican's Saint Martha Guesthouse.
"This is the path I must follow, not the path in which I do not listen to His voice, do not accept correction and do not trust in the Lord."
Pope Francis centered his reflections on the day's readings, taken from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah and from the Gospel of Matthew, which the pontiff said both speak of a "judgment" on which both salvation and condemnation depend.
While Zephaniah in the first reading talks about a "rebellious and polluted" city, there is still the presence of some who repent of their sins, the Pope observed, saying that this group is the "people of God" who possess the "three characteristics (of) humility, poverty and trust in the Lord."
However the people in the city who refused to trust in the Lord and accept the corrections he gave him cannot receive salvation because they are closed to it, he said, while it is the meek and the humble who trust that will be saved.
"And that is still valid today, isn't it? When we look at the holy people of God that is humble, that has its riches in its faith in the Lord, in its trust in the Lord – the humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved."
The Pope then turned to the gospel reading in which Jesus tells the chief priests and elders the story of a father who asks his two sons to work in their vineyard. While the first son says that he will go and does not, the second initially denies his father's request, but later goes to work.
In telling this story, Jesus makes it clear to the chief priests and elders that they were not open to the voice of God preached by John the Baptist, adding that this is why tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of heaven before they do.
This statement from Jesus echoes the situation of many Christians today who feel "pure" simply because they go to mass and receive communion, the Pope noted, explaining that God asks for more.
"If your heart is not a repentant heart, if you do not listen to the Lord, if you don't accept correction and you do not trust in Him, your heart is unrepentant," he said, observing how the Pharisees were "hypocrites" for being scandalized at the attention Jesus gave to prostitutes and tax collectors.
Although they were affronted at Jesus acceptance of the sinners, they then "secretly approached them to vent their passion or to do business," the pontiff explained, saying that because of their hypocrisy they are not welcome in paradise.
Pope Francis said that this judgment gives hope provided that we have the courage to open our hearts to God, even if that means giving him the full list of our sins.
He recalled the story of a Saint who believed that he had given everything to God with great generosity. However in a conversation with the Lord, the saint was told that there was still something he was holding onto.
When the saint asked what it was that he still had not given, the Lord replied "Your sins," the pontiff recalled.
The moment in which we are able to tell the Lord "these are my sins – they are not his or hers, they are mine…take them" will be the moment when we become that "meek and humble people" who trust in God, the Pope said, and prayed that "the Lord grant us this grace."