VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis emphasized the need for prophets in the Church in order to prevent a negative spirit of legalism from taking over in his daily homily preached in the St. Martha guest house chapel.
“May our prayer in these days, in these during which we prepare for the birth of the Lord, be: ‘Lord, let there not be a lack of prophets among your people,’” he said on Dec. 16.
“Lord, free your people from a spirit of clericalism and aid them with a spirit of prophecy,” Pope Francis prayed.
Pope Francis said that, in the Gospel, those who met Christ with a spirit of prophecy welcomed him as the Messiah, but without it, “the void that is left is occupied by clericalism; and it is this clericalism that asks Jesus, ‘By what authority do you do these things? By what law?’”
In such demands, the Pope said, “the memory of the promise and the hope of going forward are reduced only to this: neither the past, nor the hopeful future,” but merely to the question of whether the present “is legal.”
He added that the Pharisees who questioned the authority of Christ “did not understand the prophecies. They had forgotten the promise. They did not know how to read the signs of the times; they had neither penetrating sight nor hearing of the word of God: They only had authority.”
A prophet is one who “has in his heart the promise of God,” explained the Holy Father. “He lives it, he remembers it, [and] he repeats it.”
“The Lord has always safeguarded his people with the prophets, in difficult moments, in moments in which the people were discouraged or destroyed, when the Temple was not there, when Jerusalem was under the power of the enemy, when the people wondered to themselves, ‘But Lord, you promised us this! Now what happens?’”
He said that in the heart of a prophet are three different times: “the promise of the past, contemplation of the present and courage to show the way towards the future.”
In carrying the promise of God throughout these moments, the Pope said, a prophet reminds the people of God to move beyond a spirit of legality.
Pope Francis closed his homily with a prayer: “Lord, let us not forget your promise. Let us not grow tired of going forward. Let us not close ourselves in with legality.”