ROME - When it comes to salvation, God does not seek any form of compensation and offers it freely to those in need of his love, Pope Francis said.
A Christian who complains of not receiving a reward for going to Mass every Sunday and fulfilling certain obligations “doesn’t understand the gratuity of salvation,” the pope said Nov. 7 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“He thinks salvation is the fruit of ‘I pay and you save me. I pay with this, with this, with this.’ No, salvation is free and if you do not enter in this dynamic of gratuity, you don’t understand anything,” he said.
The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Luke, in which Jesus recounts the parable of the banquet of a rich man who, after having his invitation spurned by his guests, invites “the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame” to enjoy his feast.
Those who rejected the rich man’s invitation, the pope said, were “consumed by their own interests” and did not understand the generosity of the invitation.
“If the gratuitousness of God’s invitation isn’t understood, nothing is understood. God’s initiative is always free. But what must you pay to go to this banquet?” the pope asked. “The entry ticket is to be sick, to be poor, to be a sinner. These things allow you to enter, this is the entry ticket: to be needy in both body and soul. It’s for those in need of care, healing, in need of love,” he said.
God asks for nothing in return but “love and faithfulness,” the pope said. “Salvation isn’t bought; you simply enter the banquet.”
Francis said those who decline to accept the invitation are consumed by other things that provide a certain sense of security, but they “have lost something much greater and more beautiful: they have lost the ability to feel loved.
“When you lose the ability to feel loved, there is no hope, you have lost everything,” he said. “This calls to mind what is written on the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno: ‘Abandon all hope,’ you have lost everything.”
Love has so many meanings today that it is hard even for me, as a priest, to understand what Pope Francis means by it. "Those in need of God's love." Aren't we all in need of God's love even if we don't think we are? Shouldn't the pope use the term "in need of salvation" which is a product of God's love?
God's love, though, is freely given and there is no need to receive it because God loves us whether we receive it or not. Salvation, though, is different. Salvation isn't imposed on us because it is a gift, pure and simple, that must be received, unpacked and used. All of this supposes God's grace which is love.
I think it is confusing to accuse Catholics who are duty and obligation oriented of thinking they are buying God's love and its resulting offer, salvation. Isn't this duty and obligation a sign of God's grace that they come to Mass each and every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and Confession at least once a year trying to receive and accept the gift of salvation? They are showing that they are trying to do what the Church teaches and commands and thus showing they are trying to "receive" something that must received since it is only offered, not imposed upon them.
Then the Holy Father seems to contradict his premise. The Church teaches that we can't lose God's love, but Pope Francis contradicts this! "By losing the ability to feel loved, one loses everything" and evidently God's love too!!!! No one, though, ever loses God's love when they lose the ability to feel loved and thus lose everything! In fact I think it is heretical to teach this because God's love isn't dependent on us having the ability to feel loved! And not having the ability to feel loved isn't a choice but it might be a statement of fact.
But, yes, the gift of salvation can be lost when we don't accept the gift of salvation which God's love offers because we are consumed by other things.
The homily is muddied and not thought out very well and thus another reason for less talk, clear thinking and vetting of what is said, even in a daily homily from the Vatican's Motel Six!