The Pope presided on the morning of Holy Thursday at the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, Francis pointed out three spaces of hidden idolatry in which the Evil One uses his idols to undermine the vocation of pastors: worldliness, pragmatism and functionalism.
Cecilia Mutual – Vatican City
“Being priests is, dear brothers, a grace, a very great grace that is not first of all a grace for us, but for the people”, Pope Francis affirmed in his homily presiding this morning, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, at the concelebration of the Chrism Mass with the patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests present in Rome. A celebration in which the Pontiff blesses the oil of the catechumens and the sick, consecrates the Chrism and the priests renew their priestly promises.
Beginning his homily, the Pope refers to the reading from the prophet Isaiah read during the celebration and recalls that it is the Lord himself who pays the priest’s salary, his reward, that is, “his Love and the unconditional forgiveness of our sins at a price of his blood shed on the Cross.
There is no greater salary than friendship with Jesus. There is no greater peace than his forgiveness. There is no price more expensive than that of his precious Blood, which we must not allow to be despised by conduct that is not worthy.
That is to say, the Bishop of Rome then underlines, “these are invitations from the Lord to be faithful to him, to be faithful to his Covenant, to allow ourselves to be loved, to allow ourselves to be forgiven; They are not only invitations for ourselves, but also to be able to serve, with a clear conscience, the holy faithful people of God”.
“At the end of the day – it is the Pope’s advice – it is good to look at the Lord and for Him to look at our hearts, together with the hearts of the people we meet. It is not about accounting for sins, but about a loving contemplation in which we look at our day with the eyes of Jesus and thus see the graces of the day, the gifts and everything he has done for us, to give thanks. And we also show him our temptations, to discern and reject them.
“It is about understanding what pleases the Lord and what he wants from us here and now, in our current history, Francis adds, and letting the Lord look at our hidden idols makes us strong against them and takes away their power.”
Three spaces of idolatry: worldliness, pragmatism and functionalism
Next, the Holy Father shared with those present three spaces of “hidden idolatry” in which the Evil One uses his idols to undermine the vocation of pastors and drive them away “from the beneficent and loving presence of Jesus, the Spirit and the Father”.
The first space of hidden idolatry is the one that opens where there is spiritual worldliness that is “a proposal for life, it is a culture, a culture of the ephemeral, a culture of appearance, of makeup.” His criterion is triumphalism, a triumphalism without the Cross, affirms Francis.
It is the worldliness of seeking one’s own glory that robs us of the presence of a humble and humiliated Jesus, a Lord close to all, a sorrowful Christ with all who suffer, adored by our people who know who their true friends are. A worldly priest is nothing more than a clericalized pagan.
Another space of hidden idolatry takes root wherever it occurs the primacy to the pragmatism of numbers. Those who have this hidden idol are recognized by their love for statisticsbut people cannot be “numbered”, and God does not give the Spirit “with measure”, warns the Pope and adds:
One characteristic of the great saints is that they know how to withdraw in such a way that they leave the whole place to God. This withdrawal, this self-forgetfulness and desire to be forgotten by all others, is characteristic of the Spirit, which lacks its own image simply because it is all Love that makes the image of the Son shine and in it that of the Father. The replacement of his Person, who already loves “not appearing”, is what the idol of numbers is looking for, which makes everything “appear” albeit in an abstract and accounted way.
The third space of hidden idolatry is the one that opens with the functionalism and it is a seductive area in which many, “rather than with the route they are enthusiastic about the Roadmap”, says the Pontiff. “The functionalist mentality does not tolerate mystery, it goes for efficiency. Little by little, this idol is substituting in us the presence of the Father”.
The priest with a functionalist mentality has his own food, which is his ego. In functionalism, we put aside the adoration of the Father in the small and great things of our life and we take pleasure in the effectiveness of our plans.
Jesus is the only way to not make mistakes
Continuing his reflection, the Pope explains that in these last two spaces of hidden idolatry (pragmatism of numbers and functionalism) hope, which is the space of the encounter with God, is replaced by empirical verification. “It is an attitude of vainglory on the part of the pastor” – he warns – that “hurts the fidelity of the priestly alliance and warms the personal relationship with the Lord”. And he points out that Jesus is “the only way to not make mistakes in knowing what we feel, What does our heart lead us to? He is the only way to discern well.”
Jesus Christ makes these idols be revealed, that their presence, their roots and their functioning be seen, and thus the Lord can destroy them. And we must remember them, be vigilant, so that the weeds of those idols that we knew how to hide in the folds of our hearts do not reappear.
Finally, the Pope addresses Saint Joseph, asking him for liberation “from all desire for possession”, which is the fertile land in which idols grow. And concluding, he also asks for the grace “not to give up in the arduous task of discerning these idols that, so often, we hide or hide.