By Barbara Castelli
The Church grows “in simplicity, in silence, in praise, in the Eucharistic sacrifice, in fraternal community, where all are loved,” and none are rejected. That was the message of Pope Francis during the daily Mass celebrated in the chapel at Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the day’s Gospel (Lk 17:20-25), the Pope said that the Kingdom of God “is not spectacular,” and that it grows in silence.
Good works don’t make the news
The Church, he said, is manifested “in the Eucharist and in good works,” even if they don’t “make the news.” The Bride of Christ has a temperament given to silence; she produces fruit “without making a fuss,” without “sounding the trumpet, like the Pharisees”:
The Lord explains to us how the Church grows with the parable of the sower. The sower sows and the seed grows by day, by night… - God gives the growth – and then the fruit is seen. But this is important: First, the Church grows in silence, in secret; it is the ecclesiastical style. And how is this manifested in the Church? By the fruits of good works, so that the people see and glorify the Father who is in heaven, Jesus says. And in the celebration, the praise and the sacrifice of the Lord – that is, in the Eucharist. There the Church is manifested: in the Eucharist and in good works.
The temptation of seduction
“The Church grows through witness, through prayer, through the attraction of the Spirit who is within,” Pope Francis said in his homily, “and not through events.” These events certainly help, he continued, but “the growth proper to the Church, that which bears fruit, is in silence, in hiding, with good works, and the celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery, the praise of God.”
The Lord helps us to not fall into the temptation of seduction. “We want the Church to be seen more; what can we do so that it will be seen?” So usually one falls into a Church of events that is not capable of growing in silence with good works, in secret.
The spirit of the world does not tolerate martyrdom
In a world that too often gives into the temptation to sensation, to worldliness, to appearance, Pope Francis recalled that Jesus Himself was tempted to create a sensation: “But why take so long to accomplish the work of redemption? Perform a good miracle. Cast yourself down from the temple, and everyone will see; they will see, and they will believe in you.” But He chose “the path of preaching, of prayer, of good works,” the way “of the Cross” and “of suffering”:
The Cross and suffering. The Church grows also with the blood of the martyrs, men and women who give their lives. Today there are many [martyrs]. It’s strange; they don’t make the news. The world hides this fact. The spirit of the world does not tolerate martyrdom; it hides it.