Pope Francis: ‘Why Do the Wicked Prosper?’

Tony Gentile/Pool via AP
Tony Gentile/Pool via AP

In his morning Mass Thursday, Pope Francis reflected on the apparent worldly success of the godless while those who try to do what is right seem to fare poorly.

How often we see this reality, Francis said: “people who do evil and yet everything seems to go well for them in life.” He added, “They are happy. They have everything they want. They lack nothing.”

Hence the question, “Why Lord?” Yes, the Pope said, “this is one of many whys: why does this insolent person, who doesn’t care about God or others, who is unjust and wicked, have everything go his way in life, have everything he wants while we who try to do good have so many problems?”

The Pope reflected on the Bible readings of the day, which seem to show the wicked prospering, while the God-fearing toil amidst affliction.

Exasperated, they say, “It is vain to serve God. And what do we profit by keeping His command?”

“Rather, must we call the proud blessed; for indeed, evildoers prosper and even tempt God with impunity,” they say.

Francis said that he receives many letters from people who suffer and ask these very questions. He spoke of a young mother facing the drama of cancer and a forlorn elderly widow whose son had been murdered by the Mafia. They both wrote to the Pope asking why the wicked seem to prosper while things go so badly for the righteous.

Yet, Francis said, God never abandons those who trust in Him. Citing the first chapter of the book of Psalms, he said, “Happy is the man who trusts in the Lord.”

Our “whys” become a prayer, Francis said, and God hears and answers.

“Blessed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night,” he said.

Often, Francis said, “we do not see the fruits of these suffering people, these people carrying the cross,” just as on “Good Friday and Holy Saturday one could not see the fruit of the suffering of the crucified Son of God.”

This is not the case for the wicked and evildoers, Francis said. Though they think all is well, their days are numbered. The Psalmist continues, “Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.”

In short, Francis said, “You’re all right today. You have everything. You do not care for God. You do not care about others. You exploit them. You are unjust and think only of yourself and not others.”

And yet, where are all those people now? Francis asked. We do not remember their names.

Indeed, “in the book of God’s memory, the wicked have no name: ‘He is an evildoer. He is a con man. He is an exploiter.’” These are people, he said, who “do not have names; they just have adjectives.”

“All who try to walk in the way of the Lord will be with His ​​son, who has a name: Jesus the Savior,” Francis contrasted.

The Pope ended his homily urging his hearers to have confidence in God’s faithfulness. “Even though you have to suffer,” he said, “hope in the Lord.”

Ask the Lord to even give us “that which we dare not hope for,” he said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.