Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, 8 Feb 2018. (Vatican Media)
VATICAN CITY – In his homily at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on 8 Feb 2018, Pope Francis spoke of the risk to which all people are exposed, weakness of the heart.
David is a saint, even if he was a sinner; the great and wise Solomon, on the other hand, was rejected by the Lord because he was corrupt. Pope Francis focused on this apparent paradox in his homily at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The first Reading in the day’s liturgy, taken from the First Book of Kings, speaks about Solomon and his disobedience. We have heard about something a bit strange, the Pope said. The heart of Solomon was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of David, his father, had been.
He explained that it was strange because we do not know that Solomon had committed great sins, he was always very balanced; while we know that David had had a difficult life, that he was a sinner. And yet David is a saint, while it is said of Solomon, who had been praised by the Lord for seeking wisdom rather than riches, that his heart was “turned away from the Lord.”
How can we explain this? the Pope asked. It is because David, knowing that he had sinned, always asked for forgiveness, while Solomon, who was praised throughout the world, distanced himself from the Lord to follow other gods, but did not recognise his fault.
And here is the problem of “weakness of the heart.” When the heart begins to weaken, it is not like a situation of sin: you commit a sin, and you realise it immediately. “I have committed this sin”; it’s clear. Weakness of the heart is a slow journey, that slides along step by step, step by step, step by step… And Solomon, adorned in his glory, in his fame, began to take this road.
Paradoxically, “the clarity of a sin is better than weakness of the heart,” the Pope said. “The great king Solomon wound up corrupted: tranquilly corrupt, because his heart was weakened”:
And a man and a woman with weak hearts, or weakened hearts, is a defeated woman, a defeated man. This is the process of many Christians, of many of us. ‘No, I haven’t committed grave sins.’ But how is your heart? Is it strong? Does it stay faithful to the Lord, or is it slowly sliding away?
The drama of the weakness of the heart can happen to all of us in life. What do we do then? The answer, Pope Francis said, is vigilance: “Be watchful. Guard your heart. Be watchful. Every day, be careful about what is happening in your heart. He concluded:
David was a saint. He was a sinner. A sinner, and he became a saint. Solomon was rejected because he was corrupt. Someone who is corrupt cannot become a saint. And one becomes corrupt by following the path of weakness of the heart. Vigilance! Guard your heart at all times. How is my heart doing? How is my relationship with the Lord? And enjoy the beauty and the joy of fidelity. – Vatican News