Pope Francis prays for coronavirus fears

Pope Francis gives a homily at Mass March 26, 2020. Credit: Vatican Media.

Pope Francis today prayed for everyone who is fearful of the future because of the coronavirus outbreak, asking the Lord for help in bearing these worries.

“In these days of so much suffering, there is so much fear,” he said this morning.

“The fear of the elderly, who are alone, in retirement homes, or in the hospital, or in their home and do not know what can happen,” he said. “The fear of unemployed workers who are thinking about how to feed their children and see hunger coming.”

There is also, he said, the fear felt by many social servants who are helping to keep society running, putting themselves at risk to catch the coronavirus.

“Also, the fear – the fears – of each of us,” he noted. “Each of us knows his own. Let us pray to the Lord to help us to trust and to bear and overcome our fears.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis is offering his daily Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse for all those affected by COVID-19.

In his homily at Mass, the pope reflected on the day’s first reading from Exodus, when Moses prepares to descend from the mountain where God has given him the 10 Commandments, but the Israelites, freed from Egypt, have created an idol: They are worshipping a golden calf.

The pope noted that this calf was made from the gold God told them to ask from the Egyptians. “It is a gift of the Lord and with the gift of the Lord they make the idol,” Francis said.

“And this is very bad,” he said, but this “also happens to us: when we have attitudes which lead us to idolatry, we are attached to things which distance us from God, because we make another god and do it with the gifts the Lord has given us.”

“With intelligence, with willpower, with love, with the heart… they are the gifts proper to the Lord which we use for idolatry.”

Religious articles, like an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary or a crucifix, are not idols, he explained, because idols are something in our hearts, hidden.

“The question I would like to ask today is: what is my idol?” he said, noting that there can be idols of worldliness and idols of piety, such as a nostalgia for the past which does not put trust in God.

Francis said one way people worship the world is by turning the celebration of a sacrament into a worldly feast.

He gave the example of a wedding, where “you do not know if it is a sacrament where the new spouses really give everything, loving each other before God, promising to be faithful before God, receiving the grace of God, or if it is a fashion show…”

“Everyone has their own [idols],” he said. “What are my idols? Where do I hide them?”

“And may the Lord not find us at the end of life and say of each of us: ‘You are perverted. You have strayed from the way I had pointed out. You prostrated yourself before an idol.’”