At Mass in Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning Pope Francis noted that deep down people are afraid of God’s gratuity, we find excuses not to go to Him and end up thinking the world revolves around us.
The Pope based his homily on the parable recounted in the Gospel of the Day of the man who gave a great banquet to which he invited many. The Pope said that this parable makes us think, because “we all like being invited to dinners”. But there was something about this dinner that three guests did not like, and these guests are an example of many of us.
One says that he has to go and examine his field, he needs to see it in order to feel “powerful, vanity, pride and he prefers this to sitting at table among others”. Another guest had just bought five oxen and thus is taken up with his business and doesn’t want to waste time with other people. The last guest excuses himself saying that he is married and doesn’t want to bring his bride to the dinner. He wanted to keep her affection all to himself: selfishness”.
Pope Francis noted: “In the end prefer their own interests rather than sharing dinner together: They do not know what it means to celebrate”. This form of self-interest is what Jesus described as “repayment”.
“If the invitation had been for example: ‘Come, I have two or three business friends from a foreign country, we can do something together’, no one would have excused themselves. But what shocked them was the gratuity. Being one among the others, there…this form of egoism of being at the centre of everything. It is so difficult to listen to the voice of Jesus, the voice of God, when you believe that that the whole world revolves around you: there is no horizon, because you become your own horizon. And there is more behind all of this, something far deeper: fear of gratuity. We are afraid of God’s gratuity. He is so great that we fear Him”.
This, he said, "is because quite often our life experiences have made us suffer”, like the disciples of Emmaus who turn away from Jerusalem or Thomas who wants to touch to believe. The Pope then used a popular proverb: When "the offer is so great even the Saint is suspicious", because "the gratuity is too much". And when God gives us a feast like this," he said, we think it is "better not to get involved".
"We feel safer in our sins, in our limitations, but feel at home; leaving our home to answer God's invitation, go to God’s house, with others? No. I'm afraid. And all of us Christians have this fear hidden deep inside ... but not too hidden. Catholics, but not too Catholic. Trusting in the Lord, but not too much. This 'but not too', marks our lives, it belittles us".
Pope Francis continued "One thing that makes me think is that when the servant reported this to his master, the master is angry because he had been despised. He sends his servant to call the poor, the crippled, he sends him to the squares and the streets of the city. The Lord asks the servant to compel people to come to the dinner. "So often the Lord has to do with us the same: with trials, so many trials":
"Compel them, for here is the celebration. Gratuity. Compel that heart, that soul to believe in God's gratuity, that God’s gift is free, that salvation cannot be bought: it is a great gift, the love of God ... is the greatest gift! This is gratuity. But we are a little afraid and this is why we think that we can obtain holiness with our own things and we become a little Pelagian eh! Holiness, salvation is gratuity".
Pope Francis concluded: Jesus “paid for the banquet, with His humiliation unto death, death on a cross. And this is the great gratuity. When we look at the crucifix, we should think of it as an invitation to the banquet. Yes, Lord, I am a sinner, I have many things, but I look at you and go to the banquet of the Father. I trust. I will not be disappointed, because you have paid for everything. Today, the Church asks us not to be afraid of the gratuitousness of God". “Instead we must open our hearts, do our part as much as we can, because He will prepare the banquet".