Behind all our reticence to fully accept God’s offer, Pope Francis said Tuesday, “There is the fear of gratuity. We are afraid of God’s generosity. It so great that we fear it.”
During his homily at Mass in the chapel at the Saint Martha residence, where he lives, the Pope said that in the Kingdom of God, “reciprocity is not needed” because God gives gratuitously, with no strings attached.
The Pope was commenting on a story Jesus told involving people invited to a banquet who make excuses not to attend.
According to Francis, “If the invitation had been, for example, ‘Come, I have two or three business associates who have come from another country, we can do something together,’ surely no one would have excused himself. But what scared them was the gratuitousness.”
“When the offer is so great, people get suspicious,” the Pope said, “because it is too generous.” He added, “When God offers us a banquet like this,” we think it is “better not to get involved.”
“We feel safer in our sins, in our limitations, because at least we feel at home,” Francis said. “Leave home to go to God’s house, with others? No, I’m afraid. And all of us Christians have this fear hidden inside.”
“Catholic, but not too much. Trusting in the Lord, but not too much. This ‘but not too much,’ marks our lives, and makes us small,” he said.
“The gift of God is free. Salvation cannot be purchased: it is a great gift. God’s love is the greatest gift! This is gratuitousness. And yet we are afraid, and so we would prefer a holiness that we make for ourselves. But holiness and salvation are freely given,” he said.
“Jesus paid for the banquet with His humiliation unto death, death on a cross. And this is the greatest generosity.”
“Yes, Lord, I am a sinner, I have done so many things, but I look at You and I go to the Father’s banquet. I trust. I will not be disappointed because You have paid for everything.”
“Today,” the Pope said, “the Church asks us not to be afraid of God’s generosity. We must open our hearts, and do all that we can, but the banquet is on Him.”