(Vatican Radio) Ask God for the grace of a heart that knows how to love; and do not let yourself be led away by useless treasures. That was Pope Francis’ message in his homily Friday morning at his daily Mass.
The search for the only treasure that you can take with you into the next life is the raison d'être of a Christian. It is the raison d'être that Jesus explains to His disciples, in the passage quoted in the Gospel of Matthew: “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” But, he says, we must be careful not to be confused about true richness. There are “risky treasures” that threaten to seduce us, but “must be left behind,” – treasures gathered in life that are destroyed by death. The Pope said, with a hint of irony: “I have never seen a moving van following a funeral procession.” But there is a treasure “we can take with us,” a treasure that no one can take away, – not “those things you’ve kept for yourself,” but “those you have given to others”:
“The treasures we have given to others, that we take with us. And that will be our merit – in quotation marks, but it is our ‘merit’ of Jesus Christ in us! And that we must bring with us. And that is what the Lord lets us bring. Love, charity, service, patience, goodness, tenderness are very beautiful treasures: these we bring with us. The other things, no.”
So, as the Gospel assures us, the treasure that has value in God’s sight is that which in this life is accumulated in heaven. But Jesus, Pope Francis says, goes a step further: He joins the treasure to the “heart,” He creates a relationship between the two terms. This, he adds, is because we have “a restless heart,” which the Lord made this way to seek Him out:
“The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a treasure that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord, our heart becomes restless for things that simply don’t work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . . To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled: it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Let’s think about that. What do I have: a tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing? This restlessness of the heart always has to be cured.”
At this point, Pope Francis continues, Jesus speaks about the “eye,” a symbol “of the intentions of the heart” that are reflected in the body: a “heart that loves” makes the body luminous; a “wicked heart” makes it dark. “Our ability to judge things,” the Pope says, depends on this contrast between light and darkness, as is shown also by the fact that from a “heart of stone . . . attached to worldly treasures, to “selfish treasure,” can also become a treasure “of hatred,” come wars . . . Instead – this was the final prayer of the Pope – through the intercession of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the Church remembers today – let us ask for the grace of “a new heart . . . a heart of flesh”:
“All these pieces of the heart that are of stone, may the Lord make them human, with that restlessness, with that good anxiety to go forward, seeking Him and allowing ourselves to be sought by Him. That the Lord might change our hearts! And so He will save us. He will save us from the treasures that cannot help us in the encounter with Him, in service to others, and also will give us the light to understand and judge according to the true treasure: His truth. May the Lord change our heart in order to seek the true treasure and so become people of light, and not of darkness.”
Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Francis Coccopalmerio, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, along with Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta and auxiliary Bishop José Aparecido Gonzalves de Almeida, secretary and undersecretary respectively of the Council. Members of the Council were in attendance at the Mass. Also present were personnel from the Fabric of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, led by Msgr. James Ceretto, as well as employees of the “Domus Sanctae