By Laura Ieraci
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — The church must learn from the mistakes of its past and guard against seeking “to shine its own light” rather than the light of God, said Pope Francis at morning Mass.
In the church’s history, it has either been “tempted by vanity” or has worked to be “a poor church, whose only wealth is the bridegroom,” Jesus, he said Nov. 24 in his homily during the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.
The pope said the poor widow in the day’s Gospel reading (Lk 21:1-4) points to how the church must be in the world.
“This widow was not important. Her name did not appear in newspapers. No one knew her. She did not have any degrees. Nothing. She did not shine her own light,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.
And, just as the widow did not shine her own light, he said, “the great virtue of the church must not be to shine its own light but to shine the light … that comes from the Bridegroom.”
History has shown that “when the church wanted to have its own light, it was mistaken,” he said. When God wants to grant the church light, it must be received with humility, he said. All of the service performed in the church must be directed at helping the church receive and act by the light of God, he added.
Service performed without this light “is not good,” the pope said. “It leads the church to become either rich or powerful or to seek power or take the wrong path, as has happened many times in history and as happens in our lives when we want to have another light that is not the Lord’s: our own light.”
Instead, the church must be like the poor widow in the Gospel, who waits in hope for the light of the Bridegroom.
“When the church is humble, when the church is poor, even when the church admits its poverty — which we all have — the church is faithful,” he said. It does the church “much good” to admit that it is “in the dark” and that “the light comes from (God),” he continued.
The pope concluded his homilies by urging prayers to the poor widow, “who is surely in heaven,” to teach the church and its faithful to keep “nothing for us,” so that “all is for the Lord and for neighbor, without priding ourselves on our own light but seeking always the light that comes from the Lord.”