VATICAN CITY — Gossiping about someone is a "dark joy" that Christians must resist because it is a betrayal like Judas' betrayal of Jesus, Pope Francis said.
Celebrating Mass at 7 a.m. in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope offered a brief homily on the Gospel, which included Jesus' prediction that Judas would betray him.
The pope said that for Judas, who negotiated a price for handing Jesus over to the authorities, "Jesus is like merchandise: He's sold."
"In the market of history, in the market of our own lives, when we choose 30 pieces of silver and cast Jesus aside, the Lord has been sold," Pope Francis said.
But people also do the same to each other, including "when we gossip about each other," he said.
"I don't know why, but there is a dark joy in gossiping," he said. Sometimes we begin by saying nice things about another, but then we slip into gossip, making the object of our chatter merchandise to be bartered.
"Let us ask forgiveness because when we do this to a friend, we do it to Jesus, because Jesus is in this friend," he said.
If one notices a defect in another, Pope Francis said, the Christian response is pray that God will help him or her.
While the pope celebrated the Mass in his residence, as has been his custom, several thousand Vatican employees were at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The employees' Mass on Wednesday of Holy Week is a Vatican tradition.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae is directly across a small parking lot from the sacristy entrance to the basilica. At the end of the Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica, Pope Francis walked over to greet the employees.
The pope thanked them for their service, and said: "I ask you to pray for me. I need it because I am a sinner, too, like everyone and I want to be faithful to the Lord. Pray for me."
He wished the employees a happy Easter and prayed, "May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady watch over you like a good mother."