The Church’s “one treasure” is Christ, as she risks becoming “lukewarm mediocre and mundane” if she places her security “in other realities”. Thus, with a call to repeat “Come Lord Jesus”, the Pope celebrated Mass at Santa Marta on Monday morning, 23 November.
Francis began his homily by referring to “both of the Readings of today’s Liturgy”, one from the Book of the Prophet Daniel (1:1-6, 8-20) and the other from the Gospel according to Luke (21:1-4), which “speak to us about needy people, particularly in the tradition of Israel: the stranger and the widow”. And, he continued, “the third needy person is the orphan”.
Explaining the First Reading, Pope Francis said that “these young people brought to Babylon were strangers: they were far from their homeland and decided to remain faithful to their traditions, to the Law of the Lord”. However, “the character that draws the most attention in this Gospel is the widow”. In the Bible, the Pope affirmed, “widows appear many times, so many times, both in the Old Testament and in the New”. A widow, Francis continued, “is the only woman who does not have a husband to protect her; a woman who must make do as she can, who lives on public charity”.
In particular, he said, “the widow of this passage of the Gospel, whom Jesus shows us, was a widow whose only hope was in the Lord”. And “when Jesus saw those who put in offerings at the temple, he saw this woman who put in only two coins and he said: ‘this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had’”.
“I like seeing in the widows of the Gospel”, the Pope said, “the image of the ‘widowhood’ of the Church who awaits Jesus’ return”. Indeed, “the Church is the bride of Jesus, but her Lord has left, and her one treasure is her Lord”. And “the Church, when she is faithful, leaves everything waiting for her Lord. However, when the Church is not faithful, or when she is not very faithful or does not have much trust in her Lord’s love, also seeks to make do with other things, with other securities, more from the world than from God”.
“The widows of the Gospel”, the Pontiff continued, “tell us a beautiful message of Jesus about the Church”. Similarly there is the woman “leaving Nain with her son’s casket: crying alone”. Yes, “the very kind people accompanied her, but her heart was alone!”. It is “the widow Church that cries when her children die to the life of Jesus”.
There is then the other woman “who, to protect her children, goes to the evil judge: she makes his life impossible, knocking on his door every day, saying “do justice for me”. And “in the end”, that judges “does justice”. And “it is the widow Church who prays, intercedes for her children”.
But “the heart of the Church is always with her Bridegroom, with Jesus. He is above. Our soul too, according to the fathers of the desert, is very much like the Church”, said the Pope. And “when our soul, our life, is closer to Jesus it is separated from so many worldly things, useless things, which do not help and which separate us from Jesus”. Thus, “it is our Church that seeks her Bridegroom, that awaits her Bridegroom, that waits for that meeting, that cries for her children, fights for her children, gives all that she has because her interest is her Bridegroom alone”.
“In these final days of the liturgical year”, Francis said, “it will do us good to ask ourselves whether our soul is like this Church that wants Jesus, if our soul turns to its Bridegroom and says: ‘Come Lord Jesus! Come’”. And if “we set aside all these things that aren’t useful, aren’t helpful to faithfulness, as the youths in the First Reading set aside those meals that did not help their faithfulness”.
“The ‘widowhood’ of the Church”, the Pope explained, “refers to the fact that the Church is waiting for Jesus, this is one reality: she can be a Church faithful in this expectation, waiting with trust in her husband’s return, or a Church unfaithful to this ‘widowhood’, seeking anew security in other realities… the lukewarm Church, the mediocre Church, the worldly Church”. And, Francis offered in conclusion, “let us also think about our souls: do our souls seek security in the Lord alone or do they seek other securities that do not please the Lord?”. Thus, “in these final days, it will do us good to repeat that last verse of the Bible: “Come Lord Jesus!”.