Pope continues daily Mass with Vatican employees

VATICAN CITY - Continuing to invite Vatican employees to morning Mass, Pope Francis told the head of the Vatican health service and members of the photography staff of the Vatican newspaper to keep in mind throughout Holy Week just how patient God is.

"The patience of God is a mystery," Pope Francis said in his homily March 25 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he is staying. "We do so many things, but he is patient."

The pope said the liturgies marking Jesus' Last Supper, his passion and death and his resurrection are a perfect time for each person to consider "How patient has Jesus been with me in my life? Just this. And then the words will rise from our hearts: 'Thank you, Lord! Thank you for your patience.'"

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel story in which Judas criticizes Lazarus' sister Mary for anointing Jesus' feet with perfume that could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. The Gospel says Judas was not really interested in the poor, but in having the money at hand so he could steal it.

But, the pope said, "Jesus did not say, 'You are a thief.'" Instead, "he was patient with Judas, trying to draw him closer through patience, his love. During Holy Week, we would do well to think of the patience of God, the patience that God has with each one of us, with our weaknesses, our sins."

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported March 25 that among those at the Mass were: Giovanni Maria Vian, the paper's editor; members of the paper's photographic service; and Dr. Patrizio Polisca, head of the Vatican health service, along with members of his family.

Pope Francis' 7 a.m. Mass March 23 also was celebrated with Vatican workers, including the nuns who operate the Vatican switchboard and those who work in the Vatican greenhouse.

In his homily, the pope commented on the words of Caiphas' in the Gospel of John that it would be better for one man, Jesus, to die than for the whole people to suffer.

Jesus died for his people and for all people, the pope said. But that affirmation should not be understood only collectively. Jesus died for each and every person, and each person must then come to faith and to recognize that out of love, Jesus died for his or her sins.

On March 22, dressed in orange safety vests, green jumpsuits or other workers' attire, Vatican gardeners, garbage collectors and cleaning crews joined the pope for the 7 a.m. Mass.

Usually in the Vatican, "we're the invisible ones," Luciano Cecchetti, coordinator of the Vatican gardeners and sanitation workers, told Vatican Radio after the Mass.

"To find ourselves before the Holy Father, at a Mass for us, is something that doesn't happen every day. I turned and looked at the faces of the employees: We all left there misty-eyed," he said.

After the Mass, there was time for private prayers. Pope Francis joined the others, going to a seat in the last row of chairs in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he is staying.

Before the employees headed back to work, Pope Francis greeted each of one of them.

Almost all of the gardeners, Cecchetti said, offered to give the pope a guided visit of the Vatican Gardens.

"He didn't say no," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970