Pope Francis: "the church’s wealth lies in the poor, not in material riches"

Pope Francis says the church must be humble, poor and trusting in the Lord.

Speaking during Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning the pope emphasized the fact that poverty is the first of the Beatitudes, and that the poor are the church’s true riches.

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Commenting on the first reading from the Book of Zephaniah in which Jesus rebukes the chief priests and warns them that even prostitutes will precede them into the Kingdom of Heaven, Pope Francis said that still today temptations can corrupt the witness of the church.

“A church that is truly faithful to the Lord – he said - must be humble, poor and trusting in God.”

The pope also made it quite clear that to be a humble church or a humble person one must be prepared to say: “I am a sinner.” Humility - he said – is not a pretense; it’s not a theatrical attitude. True humility demands that the church and that each and every one of us take a first step and recognizes one’s sinfulness.

And if anyone has the habit – Francis said – of being judgmental, pointing to the defects of others and gossiping about them, then he is not a humble person.

The second step – he said - is poverty, which "is the first of the Beatitudes."

To be poor in spirit, he explained, means that one is "attached only to the riches of God."

So – Pope Francis continued - we must say “no to a church that is attached to money, that thinks of money, that thinks of how to earn money."

The pope recalled the martyrdom of the Deacon Lawrence, a heroic witness in the first millennium who assembled the poor before the emperor saying they represented the real gold and silver of the church, and he warned against some ancient customs which demanded monetary offers from pilgrims in order to pass through the Holy Door.

"As is known,” said the pope “in a temple of the diocese, to pass through the Holy Door, naively they said to people that you had to make an offer: this is not the church of Jesus, this is the church of these chiefs priests, attached to money," he said

The third step – he said - for a humble church is to always trust in the Lord that never disappoints.

"Where is my faith? In power, in friends, in money? It is in the Lord! The legacy that God promised to leave us is of a humble and poor people who trust in the name of the Lord. Humble because it knows it sins; poor because it is attached to the riches of God; trusting in the Lord because it knows that only He has its good at heart,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded with the prayer - as we prepare for Christmas – for a humble heart, a poor heart, a heart that trusts in the Lord who never disappoints.

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