The “corrupt” are those who from being “normal sinners” take one more step, they cut off their relationship with God’s love, “they do not need God,” they love only themselves or their group and “do so much harm to the Church.”
This is the lesson drawn by Pope Francis from the parable of the wicked tenants, as told in today’s Gospel.
In his homily for morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta residence, a summary of which was released by Vatican Radio, the Pope said that there are “three types of Christians in the Church; sinners, the corrupt and saints.”
It “is not necessary to talk too much” about sinners, “because we all are”. We know all about ourselves “inside and out and we know what a sinner is. And if any one of us does not feel this to be the case, then he or she needs to make a visit to the spiritual doctor” because “something is wrong”.
The parable, however, tells us of another figure, of those who want to “take possession of the vineyard and have lost their relationship with the Lord of the vineyard.” A Master who “called us with love, protects us, but then gives us freedom.” These people “feel they are strong, they felt autonomous from God”:
“These, slowly, slipped on that autonomy, autonomy in their relationship with God: ‘We do not need that Master, he better not bother us!’. And we will go ahead with this. These are the corrupt! Those who were sinners like all of us, but who have taken one more step forward, as if they had consolidated themselves in their sin: they do not need God! It seems this way, because this relationship with God is in their genetic code. And because they can not deny it, they make a special god: they themselves are god. These are the corrupt”. This “is a danger for all of us.” In the “Christian communities” the corrupt think only of their own group: “Good, good. He’s one of us’ – they think – but, in fact,” are only out for themselves”.
“This is how Judah began: from a miserly sinner miser he ended up corrupt. The road of self-autonomy is a dangerous one: the corrupt are extremely forgetful, they have forgotten the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard, He made them! They cut-off their relationship with this love! And they become worshipers of themselves. How bad are the corrupt in the Christian community! May the Lord deliver us from sliding down this road of corruption”.
But in today’s Gospel, there are also the saints, those who “go to collect the rent” of the vineyard and today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Pope John XXIII, “a model of holiness.” The saints of the parable, said Francis, “know what awaits them, but they must do it and do their duty.”
“The saints, those who obey the Lord, those who worship the Lord, those who have not lost the memory of the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard. Saints in the Church. And just as the corrupt do so much bad to the Church, the saints do so much good. The apostle John says of the corrupt that they are the antichrist, that they are among us, but that they are not of us. The Word of God speaks to us of the saints as light, ‘those that will be before the throne of God in worship ‘. Let us ask the Lord today for the grace to know that we are sinners, but really sinners, not common (generic – ed) sinners, but sinners in this, this and this, concrete, with the concreteness of sin. The grace not to become corrupt: sinful yes, corrupt, no! And the grace to travel the path of holiness. So be it. “