Mass Casa Santa Marta‎ > ‎12 2019‎ > ‎

Pope Francis Santa Marta Mass Smallness 03.12.19


Pope Francis    03.12.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Isaiah 11: 1-10,        Luke 10: 21-24
Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest Year A
Pope Francis 03.12.19 Homily at Santa Marta about Smallness

The day’s liturgy speaks about little things; we could say that today is the day of littleness. The first Reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah begins with the announcement, "On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…" The Word of God sings the praises of what is small and makes a promise: the promise of a shoot that will sprout. And what is smaller than a sprout? And yet "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him".

Redemption, revelation, the presence of God in the world begins like this, and is always like this. The revelation of God is made in smallness. Smallness, both humility and so many other things, but in smallness. The great seem powerful — let us think of Jesus in the desert, and how Satan presents himself as powerful, the master of the whole world: "I will give you everything, if you…" The things of God, on the other hand, begin by sprouting, from a seed, little things. And Jesus speaks about this smallness in the Gospel.

Jesus rejoices and thanks the Father because He has made known His revelation to the little ones, rather than to the powerful. At Christmas, we will all go to the Nativity scene, where the littleness of God is present.

In a Christian community where the faithful, the priests, the bishops do not take this path of smallness, there is no future, it will collapse. We have seen it in the great projects of history: Christians who seek to impose themselves, with force, with greatness, the conquests… But the Kingdom of God sprouts in the small thing, always in what is small, the small seed, the seed of life. But the seed by itself can do nothing. And there is another reality that helps and that gives strength: "On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him."

The Spirit chooses the small always, because He cannot enter into the great, the proud, the self-sufficient. The Lord reveals Himself to hearts that are small.

Those who study religion, theologians, are not those who know so much about theology, they could be called "encyclopaedists" of theology. They know everything, but they are incapable of doing theology because theology is done ‘on one’s knees’, making ourselves small.

The true pastor, whether he be a priest, bishop, pope, cardinal, whoever he might be, if he is not small, he is not a pastor. Rather he is an office manager. And that applies to everyone from those who have a function that seems more important in the Church, to the poor old woman who does works of charity in secret.

Smallness might lead to faintheartedness – that is, being closed in oneself – or to fear. On the contrary, littleness is great, it is the ability to take risks, because there is nothing to lose. It is smallness that leads to magnanimity, because it allows us to go beyond ourselves, knowing that God is the reason for greatness.

St Thomas Aquinas in the Summa says, "Don’t be afraid of great things". The Saint of today, St Francis Xavier, shows us the same thing; "Don’t be afraid, go forward; but at the same time, take into account the smallest things, this is divine". A Christian always starts from smallness. If in my prayer I feel that I am small, with my limits, my sins, like that publican who prayed at the back of the Church, ashamed, saying "Have mercy on me, a sinner", you will go forward. But if you believe that you are a good Christian, you will pray like that Pharisee who did not go forth justified: "I give you thanks, O God, because I am great". No, we thank God because we are small.

I like to hear confessions, especially those of children. Their confessions, are very beautiful, because they talk about concrete facts: "I said this word", for example and he repeats it to you. The concreteness of what is small. "Lord I am a sinner because I have done this, this, this, this… This is my misery, my smallness. But send your Spirit so that I might not be afraid of great things, not be afraid that you will do great things in my life."