Faith Matters

The 'rich and successful people' that Pope Francis speaks of can afford to work from the safety of home

Pope Francis's Palm Sunday homily was a call to serve others, despite the coronavirus pandemic, says Diarmuid Pepper

Diarmuid Pepper

 Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican on Sunday April 5 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 infection. Picture by AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli

"DEAR friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others."

It is a sentiment that has been widely felt amid the coronavirus pandemic, and one which Pope Francis felt compelled to verbalise in his Palm Sunday homily from a near empty St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

As the world scrambles for help, we have not turned to bankers and CEOs for answers; we have instead relied upon nurses and doctors, cleaners and grocery assistants, to keep our society moving.

Workers that were previously derided as 'low skilled' are now elevated to the role of 'essential key workers'. It’s just a shame that it’s taken a global pandemic for society to offer the dignity and respect that these jobs are deserving of.

The 'rich and successful people' that Pope Francis speaks of can afford to work from home.

Those in high paying, computer-focused jobs can work from home without any stress. But many can’t and this is causing a lot of pain to themselves and their families.

The coronavirus pandemic meant that Palm Sunday Mass took place behind closed doors in St Peter's Basilica, with some wearing face masks. Picture by AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli

In a recent letter concluding a conference on labour, Pope Francis wrote that "work is more than a mere doing; it is, above all, a mission".

Our health and social care system is certainly on a mission, working frantically to save the vulnerable in our society.

But so too are the delivery drivers, the warehouse workers, and the grocery assistants. Every shift, essential retail workers have to face a public that too often panics and bulk buys; that sometimes flaunts social distancing rules; that can be rude to staff who are, in a very real sense, working on the front line in confusing times.

Elsewhere in his Palm Sunday homily, the words 'serve' and 'servant' appeared 25 times. It was a stark reminder that we must not lose sight of our call to serve others, despite the pandemic that engulfs us

Often, they do so without any personal protective equipment whatsoever and Pope Francis calls on us to be mindful of their vital contribution throughout this pandemic.

Indeed, he asks for each of us to "feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line".

Elsewhere in his Palm Sunday homily, the words "serve" and "servant" appeared 25 times. It was a stark reminder that we must not lose sight of our call to serve others, despite the pandemic that engulfs us.

In his homily, Pope Francis appealed for us to "rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others".

It is a lesson that we too often forget in the pursuit of material goods and possession; as Pope Francis says, "everything is justified by the money god".

So let us, if we have the means, use our money for good. Many charities are massively struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 Pope Francis celebrating Palm Sunday Mass. Picture by AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli

Spring and summer time is often used by charities to raise money via street and shopping centre collections, something which is now an impossibility.

Pope Francis says that charity should "involve the heart, soul and our whole being" and that it shouldn't be a "sterile performance". He adds that charity should involve a "personal relationship with the poor".

However, in these times, such a personal relationship is hard to cultivate and many charities are facing difficulty.

For example, the Northern Ireland Hospice has already seen a drastic reduction in revenue due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, many special needs charities have also suffered big financial losses and are warning that provisions for the groups they serve will be severely diminished for many years to come.  

Should you be fortunate enough to be able to do so, an online donation to these charities will be vital for their survival into the future.

 Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass. Picture by AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli

As Pope Francis reminded us on Palm Sunday: "Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others; it pays."

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