In his homily on Tuesday Pope Francis cautioned not to be too self-reliant, saying that this attitude can lead to a self-centered egoism that fears God and refuses to hear or accept his generosity. “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,” the Pope told mass-goers in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence on Nov. 4. The pontiff centered his reflections on the parable Jesus told in the day’s Gospel, taken from Luke, in which the master of a house prepares a feast and invites his friends, who refuse and give excuses as to why other things are more important. While most people like being invited to dinner, there was something about this one that the guests didn’t like, the Pope observed, saying that the three who gave their excuses in the Gospel passage are an example of many of us. He pointed to the first one who says he needs to tend his new field so that he can feel “powerful, vanity, pride and he prefers this to sitting at table among others,” while the second uses his oxen as an excuse not to waste time with others. The third guest uses his wife as an excuse, the pontiff noted, saying that the man was selfish because he wanted all of her affection for himself, rather than bringing her to the dinner with him. “In the end (they) prefer their own interests rather than sharing dinner together: They do not know what it means to celebrate,” the Bishop of Rome said, noting that if the dinner had been a small gathering for business, everyone would have come. “But what shocked them was the gratuity. Being one among the others, there…this form of egoism of being at the center of everything.” Pope Francis explained that this form of egoism is often rooted in a fear of God’s gratuity, saying that when Jesus offers something so great that “even the saint is suspicious,” like he did to the disciples of Emmaus or to Thomas who wanted to touch his wounds, we think it’s 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,” Pope Francis said, observing how this is a fear that all Christians have hidden deep inside. The Roman Pontiff then noted how after the guests refuse to come, the master sends his servant to the streets in order to invite the poor and crippled, trying to compel them to come to the dinner. Many times the Lord must do the same with us, he observed, saying that the Lord must compel our own heart and soul “to believe in God's gratuity, that God’s gift is free, that salvation cannot be bought.” God’s gift of love and gratuity is the greatest thing he can give us, the Pope explained, saying that when we become afraid and think that we can obtain holiness on our own “we become a little Pelagian.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by drawing attention to Jesus’ death on the cross, by which he paid for this banquet with his humiliation and suffering. “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,” he said. The Pope encouraged attendees to trust, and to have faith that they won’t be disappointed if they allow themselves to attend the banquet of the Lord. Rather than being afraid of God’s gratuitousness, he said, the Church is asking that we keep our hearts open and do our own part the best that we can so the Lord can prepare the banquet for us.
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