Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Casa Santa Marta - ANSA
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday spoke of the importance of taking stock of what is in people’s hearts and lives instead of only taking the law into account.
During his homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope spoke of the Doctors of the Law whom – he said - passed judgment with their hearts closed to God and to prophecy; all that mattered to them – he explained – was to uphold the Law.
Pope Francis was reflecting on the Reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which the Doctors of the Law accuse Stephen of speaking “blasphemous words against Moses and God” because they “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.”
They even instigated false witnesses to uphold their claims, he said.
“Their hearts, closed to God’s truth, clutch only at the truth of the Law, taking it by ‘the letter’, and do not find outlets other than in lies, false witness and death” he said.
The Pope pointed out that Jesus had already reprimanded them for this attitude, because "their fathers had killed the prophets", and they were now building monuments to those prophets.
He said that the response of the "doctors of the letter" is more cynical than hypocritical when they say that had they been in the days of their fathers, they would not have done the same.
Thus - the Pope said – they wash their hands of everything and judge themselves pure.
But, he continued: “The heart is closed to God's Word, it is closed to truth, and it is closed to God’s messenger who brings the prophecy so that God’s people may go forward."
Pope Francis said: "It hurts when I read that small passage from the Gospel of Matthew, when Judas, who has repented, goes to the priests and says: ‘I have sinned' and wants to give ... and gives them the coins. ‘Who cares! - they say to him: it’s none of our business!’ They closed their hearts before this poor, repentant man, who did not know what to do. And he went and hanged himself. And what did they do when Judas hanged himself? They spoke amongst themselves and said: 'Is he a poor man? No! These coins are the price of blood, they must not enter the temple... and they referred to this rule and to that… The doctors of the letter. "
The life of a person did not matter to them, the Pope observed, they did not care about Judas’ repentance.
The Gospel, he continued, says that Judas came back repentant. But all that mattered to them “were the laws, so many words and things they had built”.
This – he said - shows the hardness of their hearts. It’s the foolishness of their hearts that could not withstand the wisdom of Stephen’s truth so they go to look for false witnesses to judge him.
Stephen - the Pope continued – ends up like all prophets, like Jesus. And this is repeated in the history of the Church:
"History tells us of many people who were judged and killed, although they were innocent: judged according to the Word of God, against the Word of God. Let’s think of witch hunts or of St. Joan of Arc, and of many others who were burnt to death, condemned because according to the judges they were not in line with the Word of God” he said.
Pope Francis pointed out that Jesus himself ended up on the cross for having trusted in God and obeyed His Word and he reminded the faithful of Jesus’ words of tenderness when he said to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus: “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke.”
He concluded saying: “Let us ask the Lord to look to the large and to the small follies of our hearts with the same tenderness, to caress us gently and to say to us: ‘Oh you foolish and slow of heart’ and begin to explain things to us.”
Memorial of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr Lectionary: 273
Reading 1ACTS 6:8-15
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They presented false witnesses who testified, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Responsorial PsalmPS 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
R. (1ab) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! or: R. Alleluia. Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant meditates on your statutes. Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors. R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! or: R. Alleluia. I declared my ways, and you answered me; teach me your statutes. Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds. R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! or: R. Alleluia. Remove from me the way of falsehood, and favor me with your law. The way of truth I have chosen; I have set your ordinances before me. R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! or: R. Alleluia.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. One does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
[After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.] The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”