CNS photo/Vatican Media

Celebrating Mass at the Casa Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican, Thursday morning, Pope Francis reflected on God’s gratuitousness, saying the desert will bloom like the barren mothers of Samson and John the Baptist.

Evoking the prophecy of Isaiah, the Pope dwelt on the blooming of the desert, reminding Christians that God is capable of changing everything, gratuitously.  God saves us for free, but we sin when we desire to save ourselves.

With God nothing is impossible

With Christmas less than a week away, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s readings, which “puts us in front of two deserts”, or two barren women, namely Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist in the Gospel and the mother of Samson in the Old Testament.

Speaking about Elizabeth, the Pope said, reminds us of the story of Abraham and Sarah.  “Sterility is a desert”, he explained, because “a sterile woman ends up there, without descendants”.  Both Sarah and Elizabeth are “women of faith” and trust in the Lord.  Both conceive and give birth.

The Pope pointed out that both conceive because God is capable of changing everything, even the laws of nature. He is capable of making way for His Word.

God’s gratuitousness

“God’s gifts are gratuitous,” the Pope said, adding, the lives of the two women are the expression of God’s gratuitousness.

According to Pope Francis, John the Baptist and Samson are “God’s gratuitousness”, rather, they are the symbols, so to speak, “of the gratuitousness of our salvation”,  because “no one can save himself”.   It is only the Lord who is capable of saving us from our miseries and brutality.  And if one does not entrust himself to the gratuitousness of the Lord’s salvation, he will not be saved.  For this, one must have faith, which is also a gift from God.

We are all sterile

Pope Francis stressed the meaning of grace, urging all, in the words of St. Augustine, to open their hearts to God’s gratuitousness.

If one says he is a Catholic, goes to Sunday Mass, is a member of an association and so on, nothing can save him unless he “believes in the gratuitousness of God’s gift”. Because everything is grace, all are called to adore the Lord and thank Him for it.

Sin is desire to redeem oneself

Among the famous men born of the two barren women of today’s readings, Pope Francis drew attention to Samson, a strong man and fighter, who saved the people from the Philistines, but who perhaps did not care for the gratuitousness of the gift received from God.   He made a mistake and fell into the hands of a woman who sold him to the Philistines.  However, he recovered. The Pope recalled Samson to remind Christians that we are all sinners and that sin is not safeguarding this gratuitousness of God.

The Pope said, we too can slip down like Samson and believe ourselves to be redeemers of ourselves.  This, he stressed, is sin, which is the desire to redeem ourselves.

“In these days before Christmas,” the Pope concluded, “we praise the Lord for the gratuitousness of salvation, for the gratuitousness of life, for everything He gives us for  free. Everything is grace”.

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