Pope Francis warned against trying to co-opt the Word of God for one’s own purposes as did the Pharisees, urging prayer and humility instead, in his homily for Friday’s Mass. “This is the tragedy of these people, and our tragedy too!” he preached March 21 during his Mass said at the chapel of the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse. He reflected on the Gospel reading containing Jesus’ parable about the workers in the vineyard who killed the servants and then the son of the vineyard’s master, intending to take over the vineyard for themselves. The Pope explained that this parable was directed to the Pharisees to show “where they had fallen” without “hearts open to the Word of God.” He said such people “have taken over the Word of God. And the Word of God becomes their word, a word according to their interests, their ideologies, their theologies... but in their service.” In this situation, he said, everyone interprets the Word of God “according to their own will, according to their own interests. This is the tragedy of this people. And to preserve this, they kill. This happened to Jesus.” Jesus’ parable led the chief priests and the Pharisees seek to capture and kill him; Pope Francis said this is how the Word of God “dies” and is “imprisoned.” This is what happens to Christians “when we are not open to the newness of the Word of God, when we are not obedient to the Word of God.” While the Word of God can “die in our heart,” this is not the end, because “it is alive in the hearts of the simple of the humble, of the people of God.” “That simple crowd — who followed Jesus because what he said did their hearts good, warmed their hearts — this people wasn’t wrong. They didn’t use the Word of God for their own interests; they listened, and sought to be a little bit better.” The Pope said that through humility and prayer, Christians can become docile, and “not cage the Holy Spirit.” “With humility and prayer we go forward by listening to the Word of God and obeying it.”
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