During this global pandemic, Pope Francis has prayed especially for families closed up in their homes, and victims of domestic violence.
Today, May 4th, Pope Francis made this intention during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican News.
At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, the Argentine Pontiff recognized that in this period families are having to do things they never have had to do in the past. He also lamented domestic violence that plagues households.
“Let us pray,” the Pope said, “for families, that they might persevere in peace with creativity and patience during this quarantine”.
During his homily, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of unity despite differences, inspired by two elements of today’s readings: the story of the criticism of St Peter by the early Church for eating with sinners, and the message of Jesus in the Gospel, “I am the shepherd of all.”
Recalling today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, and when the Christian community in Jerusalem reproached St Peter for eating with pagans, Francis expressed that this represents an example of the many divisions that we find in the early years of the Church.
The Pontiff lamented that this spirit of division leads us to divide people between the righteous and sinners, between “us” and “them.”
“Jesus,” Francis underscored, “died for everyone.”
This means, he highlighted, that we cannot divide and exclude others, in a way Jesus did not.
Pope Francis invited us to pray for the unity of all men and all women.
“May the Lord free us from the psychology of division,” he concluded, praying: “May the Lord help us see this great reality about Jesus: that in Him, we are all brothers and sisters and He is the Shepherd of all.”
The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.
It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.
Today, May 4th, the country entered its so-called ‘Phase 2’, where it will slowly relaxing some of the lockdown restrictions.
In Italy where more than 26,000 people have died from coronavirus, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been eleven cases of coronavirus in the Vatican, confirmed a recent statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The Vatican Museums are closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is available below:
FULL HOMILY [Working translation by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]
When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the faithful criticized him (Cf. Acts 11:1-8). They criticized him because he went into the homes of men who weren’t circumcised and ate together with them, with pagans. That couldn’t be done; it was a sin. The purity of the Law didn’t allow this. However, Peter did it because it was the Spirit that brought him there. There is always in the Church — and a lot in the early Church because the thing wasn’t clear — this spirit of “we are just, the others <are> sinners.” This “we and the others,” “we and the others,” — <creates> divisions. “We, in fact, have the right position before God.” Instead, there are “the others,” it was even said already: “They are the condemned.” And this is a sickness of the Church, a sickness born of ideologies or of religious parties … Think that in Jesus’ time there were at least four religious parties: the party of the Pharisees, the party of the Sadducees, the party of the Zealots and the party of the Essenes, and each one interpreted the Law according to “the idea” it had. And this idea is a school “outside-law” when it is a worldly way of thinking, of feeling that makes itself interpreter of the Law. They also criticized Jesus for entering into the home of publicans — who, according to them, were sinners – and ate with them, with sinners, because the purity of the Law didn’t allow it; and they didn’t wash their hands before lunch . . . always that criticism that causes division: this is what is important, which I would like to underscore.
There are ideas, positions that cause division, to the point that division is more important than unity. My idea is more important than the Holy Spirit that guides us. There is a Cardinal Emeritus, who lives here in the Vatican, a good Pastor, and he said to his faithful: But, do you know that the Church is like a river? Some are more of this side and others of the other side, but what is important is that all are inside the river.” This is the unity of the Church — no one outside, all inside. Then, with the peculiarity: this doesn’t divide, it’s not ideology, it’s licit. But why does the Church have this breadth? It’s because the Lord wills it so.
In the Gospel, the Lord says to us: “I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So, there shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). The Lord says: “I have sheep everywhere and I am Shepherd of all.” This “all” in Jesus is very important. We think of the parable of the marriage feast (Cf. Matthew 22:1-10), when the guests would not come: one because he had bought a field, another because he got married . . . each one gave his reason for not attending. And the king got angry and said: “Go now to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find” (v. 9) – all, great and little, rich and poor, good and evil — all. This “all” is . . . the vision of the Lord, who came for all and died for all. “But did He die also for that wretch who has made my life impossible?” He died also for him. “And for that brigand?” He died for him, for all. And also for the people that don’t believe in Him or are of other religions: He died for all. This doesn’t mean that one must engage in proselytism: no. But He died for all; He has justified all. There was a lady here in Rome, a good woman, a Professor, Professor [Maria Grazia] Mara, who when she was in difficulty because of many things, and there were parties, she said: “But Christ died for all: let’s go forward!” She had that constructive capacity. We have only one Redeemer, only one unity: Christ died for all. Instead there is the temptation . . . even Paul suffered it: I am for Paul, I am for Apollo, I am for this, I am for that . . . “And we think of ourselves, fifty years ago, after the Council: the divisions the Church suffered. “I am of this party, I think this, you think that..” Yes, it’s licit to think so, but in the unity of the Church, under Jesus, the Shepherd.
Two things: the Apostles criticism of Peter, because he had entered the home of pagans and Jesus who says: “I am Shepherd of all.” I am Shepherd of all. And who says: “I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So, there shall be one flock” (Cf. John 10:16). It’s the prayer for the unity of all men, because all men and women, we all have only one Shepherd: Jesus.
May the Lord free us from that psychology of division, of dividing, and help us to see this Jesus, this great thing of Jesus, that in Him we are all brothers and He is the Shepherd of all. Today, may that word: “All, all,” accompany us during the day.
The Pope invited the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion, with this prayer:
I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness in your holy Presence. I adore You in the Sacrament of your Love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You. While waiting for the happiness of Sacramental Communion, I want to possess You in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, that I may come to You. May your Love be able to inflame my whole being in life and in death. I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You.
Then the celebration ended with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. Before leaving the Chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide.