Pope Francis cautioned Christians against an egoism that excludes the need for God in his homily at Mass on Friday, saying this attitude renders our lives sterile and prevents the Church from bearing fruit. “This too makes me think of our mother Church and of so much sterility within our Mother Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse chapel Dec. 19. He noted that when too much emphasis is placed on our ability to choose to be good by following the commandments unaided by grace, “that pelagianism that all of us carry within our bones” grows, and the Church “becomes sterile.” The roots of this sterile pelagianism — the belief that original sin did not damage human nature, and that man is still able to choose the good without divine assistance — come “from egoism (and) from power,” the Roman Pontiff continued, lamenting that there is “so much sterility within the people of God.” Pope Francis centered his reflections on the day’s readings taken from Judges and the Gospel of Luke, which recount the birth of Samson and the announcement of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. He referred to how both women had been infertile, but miraculously received children through the intervention of God. Since there are so many stories recounted in the Bible of women who found themselves in the same situation, it’s obvious that the Church wants us to reflect on the topic of sterility, the Pope said. “From sterility, the Lord is able to restart a new lineage, a new life. And that is the message of today: when humanity is exhausted and can no longer go forward, grace comes, the Son comes and Salvation comes. And that exhausted Creation gives way to a new creation,” the Roman Pontiff continued. With Christmas only a few days away, the message we get from these readings is about a second, new creation that comes when the world is exhausted, he said. The Bishop of Rome pointed out how both Elizabeth and the mother of Samson were able to give birth because of the action of the Holy Spirit. The message this sends, he said, is that we must be open to God because there is nothing we can do on our own. “This makes me think of our mother Church and of so much sterility within our Mother Church,” the Pope said, and noted that when she thinks she can act without God, “(the Church) believes she is capable of giving birth, (but) no, she can’t!” Only when the Church opens to the newness of God and the strength of the Holy Spirit is she able to become a mother, he observed, noting that whenever she tells herself it is impossible to go on, the Holy Spirit comes to her aid. “When the Church believes she can do everything, that she can take charge of the consciences of the people, walk along the road of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, along the road of hypocrisy, the Church is sterile,” he said, and encouraged those present to pray for the Church. He prayed that during the season of Christmas, the Church would be open to the gift of God, and that she would let herself “be surprised” by the Holy Spirit so that she can become a mother. “Many times I think that in some places the Church is more like an entrepreneur than a mother,” the Roman Pontiff noted, and concluded by praying that the Lord would give the Church the “grace of fertility,” so that she can become a mother who follows the example of Mary.