VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis pointed out that St. Peter did not have a bank account, as he warned against the dangers of a Church that finds its security in resources instead of the free gift of the Gospel.
“St. Peter did not have a bank account, and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to catch fish and find the money in the fish to pay,” said the Pope during Mass in the chapel of Saint Martha’s House.
“Philip, when he met Queen Candace’s finance minister, did not think ‘ah, good, let’s set up an organization to support the Gospel,’” he added during his June 11 homily.
Instead, the Holy Father noted, Philip “preached, baptized and left.”
Pope Francis made his comments based on Matthew 10 and said “the key word” is in the mandate given by Jesus, “freely you have received, freely give.”
“When we find the apostles who want to build a rich Church and a Church without the gratuitousness of praise, the Church becomes old, the Church becomes an NGO (non-government organization), the Church becomes lifeless,” he remarked.
“The proclamation of the Gospel must follow the path of poverty,” he asserted.
The only wealth Christians should have should be the gifts they receive from God.
“This poverty saves us from becoming managers or entrepreneurs,” he said.
“The works of the Church must be brought forward, and some are a little complex, but with a heart of poverty, not with the heart of an investment broker or an entrepreneur,” he clarified.
Pope Francis explained that poverty and the ability to praise the Lord are two signs of an apostle who lives a gratuity, the free gift of the Kingdom of God.
“The Church is not an NGO, it is something else, something more important, and this is the result of gratuity, received and proclaimed,” he said.
“When an apostle does not live this gratuity, he or she loses the ability to praise the Lord,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father noted that “praising the Lord is essentially gratuitous” and a kind of freely given prayer because “we do not ask, we only praise.”
“There is the temptation to seek strength elsewhere than in gratuity,” he stated.
“This temptation creates a little confusion where proclamation becomes proselytizing,” the Pope said. “Instead our strength is the gratuitousness of the Gospel.”
He underscored that the Lord “has invited us to preach, not to proselytize.”
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concelebrated the Mass with Pope Francis.
Employees of the congregation also attended the Eucharistic celebration.
“Everything is grace, everything,” he told them.
“The Church does not grow through proselytizing but by drawing people to her, and this attraction comes from the testimony of those who freely proclaim the gratuity of salvation,” said Pope Francis.