16 November 2020, The Tablet

Pope tells Christians to break ‘rules’

Pope tells Christians to break ‘rules’

Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the 4th World Day of the Poor in St Peter's Basilica.
Evandro Inetti/PA

Pope Francis has made an impassioned plea to Christians to reach out to the poor and homeless.

Speaking on the World Day of the Poor, he said it was not enough simply not to do harm. Not doing good was also not good. 

“We must do good, go out of ourselves and look, look at those who are most in need. There is so much hunger, even in the heart of our cities, and many times we enter that logic of indifference: the poor are there, and we look the other way. 

“Hold out your hand to the poor: it is Christ.”

The poor are at the centre of the Gospel, he continued. “It is Jesus who taught us to speak to the poor, it is Jesus who came for the poor. Hold out your hand to the poor. You have received so many things, and you let your brother, your sister starve?”

He was speaking in his Angelus address on the penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year. 

Disciples of Christ receive faith, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments and many other things. 

“These gifts must be used to work good, to work good in this life, as a service to God and to the brothers. And today the Church tells you, tells us, use what God has given you and look at the poor. Look: there are many; also in our cities, in the centre of our city, there are many. Do good!”

Earlier, in his homily at St Peter's, he spoke on the same theme, referring to the day's Gospel reading, the Parable of the Talents.

“In short, the Lord asks us to commit the present time without nostalgia for the past, but in the industrious waiting for his return. That ugly nostalgia, which is like a yellow mood, a black mood that poisons the soul and makes it always look back, always at others, but never at their own hands, at the job opportunities that the Lord has given us, on our conditions … Even to our poverty.”

He emphasised the importance of a life of service. “Service is also our work, the one that makes talents bear fruit and gives meaning to life: in fact, it is not necessary to live those who do not live to serve. We must repeat this, repeat it a lot: those who do not live to serve do not need to live. 

“We must meditate on this: those who do not live to serve do not need to live. But what is the style of the service?”

In the Gospel, good servants are those who take risks, he said. “They are not cautious and watchful, they do not keep what they have received, but they use it. Because good, if you don't invest, you lose; because the greatness of our life does not depend on how much we put aside, but on how much fruit we bear. 

“How many people spend their lives just accumulating, thinking about being well more than doing good . But how empty is a life that pursues needs , without looking at those in need.”

He also criticised Christians who play “on the defensive”, sticking only to keeping the rules and keeping the commandments: “Those measured Christians who never step outside the rules, never, because they are afraid of risk. And these, allow me the image, these who take care of themselves so that they never risk, these begin in life a process of mummification of the soul, and end up with mummies. 

“This is not enough, it is not enough to observe the rules; fidelity to Jesus is not only not making mistakes, it is negative.” 

God invites us to put ourselves on the line generously, to overcome fear with the courage of love, to overcome the passivity that becomes complicity. 

“Today, in these times of uncertainty, in these times of fragility, we do not waste our lives thinking only of ourselves, with that attitude of indifference. Let us not delude ourselves by saying, there is peace and security. (1 Ts 5.3). Saint Paul invites us to look reality in the face, not to let ourselves be infected by indifference.”


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