Vatican City, 8 March 2015 (VIS) - “Liturgy is not something exterior or distant, so that while it is celebrated I can think of other things or pray the rosary. No, there is a link between the liturgical celebration and what I carry with me in my life”, said the Pope in his homily during his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Ognissanti (All Saints) on the 50th anniversary of the first Mass in Italian celebrated in the same parish by Blessed Paul VI, following the liturgical reforms established by Vatican Council II.
Francis commented on the Gospel reading of St. John in which Jesus drives out the money changers from the Temple, with the exclamation, “Do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” This expression refers not only to the commerce in the temple courtyards, but rather “regards a type of religiosity”. He continued, “Jesus' gesture is one of cleansing, purification, and the attitude He condemns can be identified in the prophetic texts, according to which God is displeased by external worship made up of material sacrifices and based on personal interest. His gesture is a call to authentic worship, to correspondence between liturgy and life. … Therefore, the Church calls us to have and to promote an authentic liturgical life, so that there may be harmony between what the liturgy celebrates and what we live in our existence”.
Jesus' disciple “does not go to Church solely to observe a precept, to make sure he is not at odds with a God he must not 'disturb' too much. … Jesus' disciple goes to Church to encounter the Lord and to find in His grace, working in the Sacraments, the strength to think and act according to the Gospel. Therefore, we cannot delude ourselves that we can enter into the Lord's house to cover up, with prayers and acts of devotion, behaviour contrary to the demands of justice, honesty or charity towards our neighbour. We cannot substitute with religious homage what is due to others, deferring true conversion. Worship and liturgical celebrations are the privileged space for hearing the voice of the Lord, Who guides us on the road to rectitude and Christian perfection”.
This involves “fulfilling an itinerary of conversion and penance, to remove the dregs of sin from our life, as Jesus did, cleansing the temple of petty interests. And Lent is an auspicious time for this, as it is the time of inner renewal, of forgiveness of sins, the time in which we are called upon to rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, that enables us to pass from the shadows of sin into the light of grace and friendship with Jesus”.
“Right here, fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI inaugurated, in a certain sense, liturgical reform with the celebration of the vernacular Mass in the language of the people. I hope that this circumstance may revive love for God's house in all of you”.
Following Mass, as he left the church, the Pope greeted the many faithful who awaited him. “Thank you, thank you for your welcome”, he said. “That you for this prayer with me during Mass; and let us thank the Lord for what He has done in His Church in these fifty years of liturgical reform. It was a courageous gesture of the Church, to draw closer to the people of God so they could better understand what she does, and this is important for us, to follow Mass in this way. And it is not possible to step backwards, we must always move ahead, always ahead; those who go back, err. Let us go ahead on this road”.