· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·
A good Christian actively participates in politics and prays that politicians love their people and serve them with humility. This was the Reflection of Pope Francis Monday morning, 16 September, at the Mass celebrated in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Commenting on the passage from Luke's Gospel (7:1-10), which speaks of Jesus healing the centurion's servant at Capernaum, the Pope spoke about the “two attitudes of a ruler”. Before all else he must “love his people. The elderly Jews say to Jesus: he deserves what he asks for because he loves our people. A ruler who does not love cannot govern. At most he can only make a bit of order, but he cannot govern”. And in order to explain the love that the ruler must have for his people, the Holy Father used the example of David who disobeyed the rules of the census, sanctioned by Mosaic law, in order to emphasize that every man's life belongs to the Lord (cf. Ex 30:11-12). When David understood his sin, he did everything he could to avoid his people being punished. This is because, inspite of being a sinner, he loved his people.
For Pope Francis a ruler must also be humble like the centurion in the Gospel, who could have boasted of his power to get Jesus to come to him, but he “was a humble man and instead said to the Lord: do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. With humility he said: speak a word, and my servant will be healed. These are the two virtues of a ruler, and this is what the Word of God inspires in us: to love the people and to have humility”.
Thus “every man and woman who assume the responsibility of governing should ask themselves these two questions: Do I love my people, so that I may better serve them? And am I humble enough to hear the opinions of others so as to choose the best way of governing?”. If they , the Pope said, “do not ask themselves these questions, they will not govern well”.
Even those governed must make the choices. So what should you do? The Pope recalled a phrase from St Paul's First Letter to Timothy (2:1-8): “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way”.
The Pope said this means that “not one of us can say: this doesn't affect me, they are the ones who govern. No, I too am responsible for the way they govern and I must do what I can to help them govern well, by participating in politics when I can. Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church , is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good.
The Holy Father remarked that television and newspapers rely primarily on “abusing” politicians. There is hardly anyone reporting that “this ruler has done well in this, and this ruler has this virtue. He was wrong in this... but in this he did well”. Instead, all that you hear about politicians is that they are “always wrong and are always against you. Perhaps the ruler is a sinner, as David was. I have to work with others, with my opinion, with my words, to help amend: I do not agree for this reason or for that. We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the ruler can govern”.
What then is the best thing that we can offer rulers? “It is prayer”, replied the Pope. He went on to explain: “It is like Paul says: prayer for kings and for all those who have power”. “A Christian who does not pray for rulers is not a good Christian. We need to pray”, said the Pope.
“Let us pray for rulers”, said Pope Francis, “that they govern us well. That they bring our homeland, our nations, our world, forward, to achieve peace and the common good. The Word of God helps us to better participate in the common life of a people: those who govern, with the service of humility and love, and the governed, with participation, and especially prayer”.
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