CNS photo/ Vatican Media

May 9, 2020

Pope Francis offers Saturday’s Mass for the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul who help the Pope and live in the Casa Santa Marta. In his homily, he says the Holy Spirit makes the Church grow, while the evil spirit tries to destroy it with envy, power and money.

By Robin Gomes

Celebrating Holy Mass on the Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter, the Pope recalled the memorial of Saint Luisa de Marillac, who co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Saint Vincent de Paul. A community of the nuns lives in the Casa Santa Marta, and run the paediatric dispensary in the Vatican.  Her feast day was earlier on March 15 but since it fell during Lent, it was moved to May 9 in 2016.

A  painting of the foundress was placed at the side of the altar in the chapel for her feast.

“Today is the commemoration of Saint Luisa de Marillac,” the Pope said at the start of the Mass.  “Let us pray for the Vincentian sisters who have been running this clinic, this hospital, for almost 100 years and have worked here, in Santa Marta, for this hospital. May the Lord bless the sisters,” he said.

Preaching and persecution

In his homily, Pope Francis commented on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:44-52) where the Jews of Antioch “filled with jealousy and with violent abuse” contradicted Paul’s statements about Jesus. They incited the pious noblewomen and the famous people of the city, provoking a persecution that forced Paul and Barnabas to leave the territory.

Speaking about the power of God, the Pope recalled the Responsorial Psalm, “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for Him, His holy arm. The Lord has made His salvation known…”

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope noted, the whole city of Antioch gathered to listen to the Word of the Lord, because Paul and the Apostles preached boldly, and the Spirit helped them. But seeing the multitude, the Jews were filled with jealousy and opposed Paul’s preaching with insults.

Struggle between Holy Spirit and evil

“On the one hand,” the Pope noted, “there is the Holy Spirit who makes the Church grow. On the other hand, there is the evil spirit that tries to destroy the Church.”

It has always been this way – one goes ahead but the enemy comes to destroy.  He said there are many difficulties and martyrdom in this growth, in this struggle. As the Word of God makes the Church grow, persecution often arises.

“The Church,” the Pope pointed out, “strives ahead between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world”.  And when the Church “has no difficulties there is something missing”. He added: “If the devil is calm, things are not going well.”

Envy and jealousy

The Pope said the instrument that the devil uses to destroy the proclamation of the Gospel is envy and jealousy. It is the devil’s anger that destroys.

Witnessing this struggle, the Pope said, it is good to realize that the Church goes ahead between the consolation of God and the persecution of the world.

There is always this struggle – the Holy Spirit creates harmony in the Church and the evil spirit destroys, even today.

Power and money

Temporal powers, the Pope pointed out, are an instrument of this envy. “Temporal power can be good, people can be good but, in and of itself, power is always dangerous.”

“The power of the world is opposed to the power of God, and behind the power of this world lies money.”

The Pope said that, ever since the morning of the Resurrection, temporal power and money have been used to silence the truth.

The Holy Father concluded saying that a Christian should place his or her trust in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and not in temporal power and money.

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