Pope Francis dedicated his General Audience on Wednesday to the theme of the attitude expected by Christian faith toward wealth and property. Speaking in Italian, the Holy Father said wealth serves the common good if used in accordance with the demands of justice, charity and mercy, but it becomes a source of corruption and death if used selfishly and arrogantly.
The Holy Father went on to discuss the Biblical account of Naboth, a man unjustly put to death so that King Ahab might take possession of his property. Departing from his prepared text, the Pope recommended the slim volume by St Ambrose of Milan, the great 4th century bishop and Doctor of the Church, on the account in 1 Kings 21, as especially helpful Lenten reading.
"This is not a story from other times," he said. "It is a story of today, as well, a story of the powerful who exploit the poor, who exploit the people for their own gain. It is the story of human trafficking, of slave labour, of poor people who work 'under the table' and for a pittance in order to enrich the powerful. It is the story of corrupt politicians who want more and more. For this, I said it would do us well to read St Ambrose's book on Naboth, because it is a book about current events."
Pope Francis went on to say that Jesus tells us that we show our greatness not by domineering but by humbly serving one another. "Just as the Lord sent the prophet Elijah to call Ahab to repentance, he sent his Son to show the power of his mercy which triumphs over sin and injustice," he said.
Pope Francis concluded with a call that during this Holy Year, we all ask the Lord to draw near to sinners, to show us His mercy, and to redeem the many situations of injustice in our world by the power of His grace and forgiveness.
After an English summary was read, Pope Francis greeted English-speaking pilgrims and visitors saying: "I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today's Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Gabon, Mozambique and the United States of America. With prayerful good wishes that the present Jubilee of Mercy will be a moment of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you all!"
Source: VIS/Vatican Radio