VATICAN CITY — Reflecting on the story of the Good Samaritan, Pope Francis reminded Christians in his homily at Mass on Monday that they must be open to allowing God to intervene in their lives and to lead them away from their own arranged path.
“I say to myself, and I say to you: Do we let God write our lives? Or do we want to do the writing ourselves?” Pope Francis said in his homily, according to Vatican Radio.
“Be docile to the word of God. … Have the capacity to hear his voice and to listen to it,” he said.
In his Oct. 7 homily at the chapel of the Vaticanʼs St. Martha guest residence, Pope Francis talked about the story of Jonah fleeing from God, as well as that of the priest and Levite who passed by a half-dead man on the road, using them to show both direct and “sophisticated” ways of fleeing from God.
“The flight from God: You can flee from God, being Christian, being Catholic … being a priest, bishop, pope … we all, we all are able to flee from God,” he said.
“It is a daily temptation,” Pope Francis said, “to not listen to God; not listen to his voice, not hear in oneʼs heart his proposal, his invitation.”
Jonahʼs effort to escape God was “direct” and came from a desire to not be “bothered,” the Pope said, adding, “There are other ways to flee from God, a bit more educated, a bit more sophisticated.”
He discussed the priest mentioned in the Gospel who passed by the half-dead man — “a worthy priest, precisely in a cassock, good, very good” — who saw the man and thought, “I will be late for Mass.”
“And he went on his way,” Pope Francis said. “He did not hear the voice of God there.”
In a similar manner, the Holy Father said, when the Levite passed by, he considered that if he got involved with the nearly-dead man, he might become part of a court scene. So, he too passed on, fleeing “this voice of God.”
In contrast to these examples, Pope Francis said, “one only has the capacity to understand the voice of God, one who habitually flees from God, a sinner” — the Samaritan.
This Samaritan, he said, is “far from God,” yet “he heard the voice of God and drew near.” He “was not habituated to religious practices, to the moral life, even theologically he was wrong,” Pope Francis explained, because Samaritans worshipped God in a place where God did not will to be worshipped.
Despite all this, Pope Francis said, the Samaritan “understood that God was calling him, and he did not flee.” Indeed, the Samaritan spent both his money and time on the man.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis said, “the priest arrived in time for the holy Mass, and all the faithful were content; the Levite had, the following day, a tranquil day, according with what he had planned to do,” since he had not involved himself with the half-dead man.
Why, the Pope asked, did Jonah, the priest and the Levite all flee from God?
“Because their hearts were closed; and when your heart is closed, you cannot hear the voice of God,” he said. “Instead, a Samaritan, as he went on his way, ʻsaw him and had compassionʼ: His heart was open; he was human. And humanity drew him near” to God.
Pope Francis said it was important to be attached to God himself, not to the things of God or to good acts.
“Jonah had a plan for his life: He wanted to write his own life,” as did the priest and the Levite, Pope Francis said.
The Samaritan, however, let God write his life. The Holy Father added, “He changed everything that night because the Lord has drawn near in the person of this poor man, wounded, badly wounded, thrown on the way.”
“Do you have the capacity to find the word of God in the story of each day?” Pope Francis said.
“Or are your ideas the ones that you hold up and you do not let the surprises of the Lord speak to you?”