“Human fraternity and care of creation form the sole way towards integral development and peace”. Pope Francis emphasized this after the Angelus on Sunday, 4 October, as he spoke about his new Encyclical inspired, like its precedent, by Saint Francis. The Holy Father gave the text — printed in its entirety in a special edition of “L’Osservatore Romano” — as a gift to the faithful present in Saint Peter’s Square. Before reciting the Marian prayer in spiritual union with the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii, he reflected on the Parable of the the murderous vintners. The following is a translation of the Pope’s reflection, which he shared in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 21: 33-43) Jesus, foreseeing his passion and death, tells the parable of the murderous vintners, to admonish the chief priests and elders of the people who are about to take the wrong path. Indeed, they have bad intentions towards him and are seeking a way to eliminate him.
The allegorical story describes a landowner who, after having taken great care of his vineyard (cf. v. 33), had to depart and leave it in the hands of farmers. Then, at harvest time, he sends some servants to collect the fruit; but the tenants welcome the servants with a beating, and some even kill them. The householder sends other servants, more numerous, but they receive the same treatment (cf. vv. 34-36). The peak is reached when the landowner decides to send his son: the vinegrowers have no respect for him; on the contrary, they think that by eliminating him they can take over the vineyard, and so they kill him too (cf. vv. 37-39).
The image of the vineyard is clear: it represents the people whom the Lord has chosen and formed with such care; the servants sent by the landowner are the prophets, sent by God, while the son represents Jesus. And just as the prophets were rejected, so too Christ was rejected and killed.
At the end of the story, Jesus asks the leaders of the people: “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (v. 40). And, caught up in the logic of the narrative, they deliver their own sentence: the householder, they say, will severely punish those wicked people and “let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons” (v. 41).
With this very harsh parable, Jesus confronts his interlocutors with their responsibility, and he does so with extreme clarity. But let us not think that this admonition applies only to those who rejected Jesus at that time. It applies to all times, including our own. Even today God awaits the fruits of his vineyard from those he has sent to work in it. All of us.
In any age, those who have authority, any authority, also in the Church, in the People of God, may be tempted to work in their own interests instead of those of God. And Jesus says that true authority is when one performs service; it is in serving, not exploiting others. The vineyard is the Lord’s, not ours. Authority is a service, and as such should be exercised for the good of all and for the dissemination of the Gospel. It is awful to see when people who have authority in the Church seek their own interests.
Saint Paul, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, tells us how to be good workers in the Lord’s vineyard: that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely and honoured; that which is virtuous and praiseworthy, let all this be the daily object of our commitment (cf. Phil 4:8). I repeat: that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely and honoured; that which is virtuous and praiseworthy, let all this be the daily object of our commitment. It is the attitude of authority and also of each one of us, because every one of us, even in a small, tiny way, has a certain authority. In this way we shall become a Church ever richer in the fruits of holiness; we shall give glory to the Father who loves us with infinite tenderness, to the Son who continues to give us salvation, and to the Spirit who opens our hearts and impels us towards the fullness of goodness.
Let us now turn to Mary Most Holy, spiritually united with the faithful gathered in the Shrine of Pompeii for the Supplication, and in the month of October let us renew our commitment to pray the Holy Rosary.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters! Yesterday I was in Assisi to sign the new Encyclical Fratelli Tutti on fraternity and social friendship. I offered it to God on the tomb of Saint Francis, who inspired me [to write] it, as in the previous Laudato Si’. The signs of the times clearly show that human fraternity and care of creation form the sole way towards integral development and peace, already indicated by the Popes Saints John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II. Today, to you in the square — and also those outside the square — I have the joy of giving the new Encyclical, in a special edition of L’Osservatore Romano. And with this edition, the daily printed edition of L’Osservatore Romano has resumed. May Saint Francis accompany the path of fraternity in the Church, among believers of every religion, and among all peoples.
Today concludes the Season of Creation, which began on 1 September and in which we have celebrated a “Jubilee for the Earth” along with our brothers and sisters of other Christian Churches. I greet the representatives of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the various Laudato Si’ circles and associations of reference, engaged in journeys of integral ecology. I rejoice at the initiatives that are being implemented today in various places, and in particular I recall that in the area of the Po Delta.
On 4 October one hundred years ago, the Stella Maris charity was founded in Scotland to support the people of the sea. On this important anniversary I encourage chaplains and volunteers to joyfully witness to the presence of the Church in ports, and among seafarers, fishermen and their families.
Today, in Bologna, Don Olinto Marella, a priest from the diocese of Chioggia, a pastor after Christ’s heart, father of the poor and defender of the weak, is beatified. May his extraordinary witness be a model for many priests, called to be humble and courageous servants of the People of God. Now a round of applause for the new Blessed!
I greet you all, people of Rome and pilgrims from various countries — I see so many flags — families, parish groups, associations and individual faithful. In particular, I greet the families and friends of the Swiss Guard, who have come to witness today the swearing-in of the new recruits. These young men are valiant! Swiss Guards undertake a life journey at the service of the Church, of the Supreme Pontiff. They are valiant men who come here for two, three, four years and more. I ask you for a warm round of applause for the Swiss Guard.
And I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!