Penitential Mass for the annual “24 Hours of the Lord” celebration on the Friday and fourth Saturday of Lent, celebrated by Pope Francis in the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionville, a stone’s throw from the Vatican.
Katharina Agurelios – Vatican City
“The Lord’s 24 Hours” – Celebrated annually on the Fourth Friday and Saturday of Lent – Pope Francis opens the Mass of Penance on the afternoon of March 17 in the Roman Chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionville. He calls to meet the Lord and His mercy in the Sacrament of Confession, like the tax collector in the parable of Jesus.
Sinful before the holiness of God
“But all that was gain to me, I have come to count pure loss for Christ’s sake” (Phil 3:7). So begins the pope speech He warns religious and laity to put self first rather than God and to feel better than others. He recalls the words of the wisdom of Syracuse “In the clouds the cry of the poor rises” (Sir. 35:21) and affirms that only the poor in spirit, who need salvation and seek mercy, find the Lord. This is what Jesus taught us in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, in which only one of the two praying men reaches the heart of God, the Pope explains succinctly:
“The Pharisee is risen,” he is confident in himself and feels righteous. Instead of being open to God, he hides his weakness with hypocrisy. He does not wait for the Lord’s salvation as a gift, but almost seeks it for his merits. He stands before God’s altar without hesitation in the first place but ends up standing before God.
The publican “stands aloof” and shows that he is a sinner before the holiness of God and through the distance gives way to the Lord. He is not talking to himself but to God to ask forgiveness.
Space and dialogue create closeness
There is real dialogue when we take care of the space between ourselves and others, says the Pope, because it allows each individual to breathe. It is this dialogue that can create rapprochement. He urges the Pope to go with humility and ask for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because God is waiting for us. The Pope concludes that confession is precisely the Sacrament of Reconciliation that heals the heart and leaves an inner peace that is a heavenly bosom that consoles him, and not a human court that he must fear. Confessors are called not to torment, but to give peace and forgive everything, because God forgives everything.
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