Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism. The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.
The Pope’s reflections on the themes of sterility and motherhood were taken from the biblical account of two miraculous births, those of Samson and John the Baptist, both born to women who were formerly sterile. He said this symbol of sterility as recounted in the Bible is seen as the sign of a human person incapable of moving forward. Therefore the Church, he said, wants to make us reflect on the issue of human sterility.
Sterility and new Creation
“From sterility, the Lord is able to restart a new lineage, a new life. And that is the message of today. When humanity is exhausted and can no longer go forward, grace comes, the Son comes and Salvation comes. And that exhausted Creation gives way to a new creation.”
Today’s message, the Pope continued, is this second Creation that comes when the earth is exhausted. We are awaiting the newness of God and that’s what Christmas is about. He pointed out that the mothers of Samson and John the Baptist were able to give birth thanks to the action of the Spirit of the Lord and asked what is the message of these biblical accounts? The reply, he said, is that we must open ourselves to the Spirit of God because we cannot do it by ourselves.
Openess to the newness of God
“This too makes me think of our mother Church and of so much sterility within our Mother Church: when because of the weight of the hope in the Commandments, that pelagianism that all of us carry within our bones, she becomes sterile. She believes she is capable of giving birth… no, she can’t! The Church is a mother and only becomes a mother when she opens to the newness of God, to the strength of the Spirit. When she says to herself: “I do everything, but I’ve finished, I can’t go forward!”, the Spirit comes.”
A mother and not an entrepreneur
Pope Francis then went on to reflect on the sterility within the Church and her openness to becoming a mother through her faith.
“And today is also a day to pray for our Mother Church, because of so much sterility within the people of God. A sterility arising from egoism, from power … when the Church believes she can do everything, that she can take charge of the consciences of the people, walk along the road of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, along the road of hypocrisy, yes, the Church is sterile. Let’s pray. That this Christmas our Church may be open to the gift of God, that she may allow herself to be surprised by the Holy Spirit and be a Church that gives birth, a mother Church. Many times I think that in some places the Church is more like an entrepreneur than a mother.”
The Pope concluded his homily by imploring the Lord for the grace of fertility and motherhood within our Church so that above all the Church is a mother, just like Mary.