The gospel reading for yesterday's mass was Luke 14:15-24, in which Jesus tells a parable about a man who threw a feast and invited many people. When those people refused to attend, the man proceeded to invite "the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame" to his feast. In his homily on this text yesterday, Pope Francis focused on the idea of Christianity as a feast, emphasizing the centrality of community. He also spoke about those who are invited into the feast that is Christianity, and as he has done so frequently in the eight months since his election, he talked about the Church in terms of radical inclusivity. "You can't pick and choose," the Pope said. "The Church is for everyone, beginning...with the most marginalized. It is everyone's Church!"
The following video gives an excerpt from the homily, and you'll find the text of the homily below the video (the text is from News.va and the video is from Rome Reports).
A Christian is one who is invited. Invited to what? To a shop? To take a walk? The Lord wants to tell us something more: You are invited to join in the feast, to the joy of being saved, to the joy of being redeemed, to the joy of sharing life with Christ. This is a joy! You are called to a party! A feast is a gathering of people who talk, laugh, celebrate, are happy together. I have never seen anyone party on their own. That would be boring, no? Opening the bottle of wine . . . That’s not a feast, it’s something else. You have to party with others, with the family, with friends, with those who’ve been invited, as I was invited. Being Christian means belonging, belonging to this body, to the people that have been invited to the feast: this is Christian belonging.”
Turning to the Letter to the Romans, the Pope then affirmed that this feast is a “feast of unity.” He underlined the fact that all are invited, “the good and the bad.” And the first to be invited are the marginalized:
The Church is not the Church only for good people. Do we want to describe who belongs to the Church, to this feast? The sinners. All of us sinners are invited. At this point there is a community that has diverse gifts: one has the gift of prophecy, another of ministry, who teaching. . . We all have qualities and strengths. But each of us brings to the feast a common gift. Each of us is called to participate fully in the feast. Christian existence cannot be understood without this participation. ‘I go to the feast, but I don’t go beyond the antechamber, because I want to be only with the three or four people that I familiar with. . .’ You can’t do this in the Church! You either participate fully or you remain outside. You can’t pick and choose: the Church is for everyone, beginning with those I’ve already mentioned, the most marginalized. It is everyone’s Church!
Speaking about the parable in which Jesus said some who were invited began to make excuses, Pope Francis said: “They don’t accept the invitation! They say ‘yes,’ but their actions say ‘no.’” These people, he said, “are Christians who are content to be on the guest list: chosen Christians.” But, he warned, this is not sufficient, because if you don’t participate you are not a Christian. “You were on the list,” he said, but this isn’t enough for salvation! This is the Church: to enter into the Church is a grace; to enter into the Church is an invitation.” And this right, he added, cannot be purchased. “To enter into the Church,” he added, “is to become part of a community, the community of the Church. To enter into the Church is to participate in all the virtues, the qualities that the Lord has given us in our service of one for the other.” Pope Francis continued, “To enter into the Church means to be responsible for those things that the Lord asks of us.” Ultimately, he said, “to enter into the Church is to enter into this People of God, in its journey towards eternity.” No one, he warned, is the protagonist of the Church: but we have ONE,” who has done everything. God “is the protagonist!” We are his followers . . . and “he who does not follow Him is the one who excuses himself” and does not go to the feast:
The Lord is very generous. The Lord opens all doors. The Lord also understands those who say to Him, ‘No, Lord, I don’t want to go to you.’ He understands and is waiting for them, because He is merciful. But the Lord does not like those who say ‘yes’ and do the opposite; who pretend to thank Him for all the good things; who have good manners, but go their own way and do not follow the way of the Lord: those who always excuse themselves, those who do not know joy, who don’t experience the joy of belonging. Let us ask the Lord for this grace of understanding: how beautiful it is to be invited to the feast, how beautiful it is to take part in it and to share one’s qualities, how beautiful it is to be with Him and how wrong it is to dither between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ to say ‘yes,’ but to be satisfied merely with being a nominal Christian.Image above from saltandlighttv.org