Beatitudes

Beatitudes - Pope Francis       

22.04.13   Holy Mass  Santa Marta      John  10: 1-10


‘He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door’ is not the Shepherd”. Whoever does not enter the sheepfold by the door — whom he says “I am” — “‘but climbs in by another way is a thief and a robber’ (Jn 10:1)”, is someone who seeks his own advantage. But how can we be sure that Jesus is the true door?

Take the Beatitudes and do what the Beatitudes say. And when someone suggests anything else, do not listen: the door is always Jesus and those who enter by that door are not mistaken. Jesus “is not only the door: he is the way, he is the road”. There are many paths that may be easier, but “they are not true. They are false. Only Jesus is the road. Some of you may ask, “Father are you a fundamentalist?”! No. Jesus said simply this: “I am the door”, “I am the way”, in order to give us life.

Pray for the grace always to knock at that door and to say this prayer: Jesus, “you who gave your life for me, please let me in”.



Why are there people who have their heart closed to salvation?

Fear is the answer to the question because salvation scares us. We need salvation, but at the same time we are afraid of it. When the Lord comes to save us, we must give everything, and at that point he commands; and we fear this. Men want to be in control, they want to be their own masters. And so, salvation does not come, the consolation of the Spirit does not reach us.

Furthermore, the 
Beatitudes are “the law of those who have been saved” and have opened their heart to salvation. “It was the People of God that followed John the Baptist first and then the Lord”, precisely because they were in need of salvation. But there were also those who “went to test this new doctrine and then to quarrel with Jesus”. Unfortunately they had closed hearts.

Ask the Lord for “the grace to follow him”, but not with the liberty of the Pharisees and Sadducees who became hypocrites because they wanted “to follow him only with human freedom”. Hypocrisy is exactly that: “Not allowing the Spirit to change our hearts with his salvation. The freedom that the Spirit gives us is also a sort of slavery, a slavery to the Lord that sets us free. It is another kind of liberty”.

Man often runs the risk of trying to “bargain”, to take what is convenient for us, “a little of this, a little of that”. It’s like “making a fruit salad: a little of the Spirit and a little of the spirit of the world”. However with God there is no halfway house: the person chooses either “one thing or the other”. The Lord is clear: no one can serve two masters. One either serves the Lord or the spirit of the world. It is impossible to mix everything together.


Pope Francis    01.11.14  Cemetery of Verano      Solemnity of All Saints      Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14    1 John 3: 1-3      Matthew 5: 1-12A    

Pope Francis  01.11.14  All Saints

When in the First Reading we heard this voice of the Angel crying a loud to the four Angels who were given power to damage the earth and the sea, “Do not harm earth or sea or the trees” (Rev 7:3), this brought to mind a phrase that is not here but in everyone’s heart: “men are far more capable of doing this better than you”. We are capable of destroying the earth far better than the Angels. And this is exactly what we are doing, this is what we do: destroy creation, destroy lives, destroy cultures, destroy values, destroy hope. How greatly we need the Lord’s strength to seal us with his love and his power to stop this mad race of destruction! Destroying what He has given us, the most beautiful things that He has done for us, so that we may carry them forward, nurture them to bear fruit. When I looked at the pictures in the sacristy from 71 years ago [of the bombing of the Verano on 19 July 1943], I thought, “This was so grave, so painful. That is nothing in comparison to what is happening today”. Man takes control of everything, he believes he is God, he believes he is king. And wars, the wars that continue, they do not exactly help to sow the seed of life but to destroy. It is an industry of destruction. It is also a system, also of life, that when things cannot be fixed they are discarded: we discard children, we discard the old, we discard unemployed youth. This devastation has created the culture of waste. We discard people.... This is the first image that came to my mind as I listened to this Reading.

The second image, from the same Reading: “A great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues (7:9) The nations, the tribes.... Now it’s starting to get cold:
those poor people, who have to flee for their lives, from their homes, from their people, from their villages, in the desert ... and they live in tents, they feel the cold, without medicine, hungry ... because the “man-god” has taken control of Creation, of all that good that God has done for us. But who pays for this feast? They do! The young, the poor, those people who are discarded. And this is not ancient history: it is happening today. “But Father, it is far away ...”. It is here too, everywhere. It is happening today. I will continue: it seems that these people, these children who are hungry, sick, do not seem to count, it’s as if they were of a different species, as if they were not even human. And this multitude is before God and asks, “Salvation, please! Peace, please! Bread, please! Work, please! Children and grandparents, please! Young people with the dignity of being able to work, please!”. Among these are also those who are persecuted for their faith; there “then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘who are these, clothed in white, and when have they come?’ ... ‘These are they who have come out of great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (7:13-14). And today, without exaggeration, today on the Feast of All Saints I would like us to think of all these, the unknown saints. Sinners like us, worse off than us, destroyed. Of this multitude of people who are in great distress: most of the world is in tribulation. Most of the world is in tribulation. And the Lord sanctifies this people, sinners like us, but He sanctifies these people in tribulation.

Finally, there is a third image: God. First was the devastation; second was the victims; the third is God. In the Second Reading we heard: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what shall be” (1 Jn 3:2), that is,
hope. And this is the Lord’s blessing that we still have: hope. Hope that He will have mercy on His people, pity on those who are in great tribulation and compassion for the destroyers so that they will convert. And so, the holiness of the Church goes on: with these people, with us, that we will see God as He is. What should our attitude be if we want to be part of this multitude journeying to the Father, in this world of devastation, in this world of war, in this world of tribulation? Our attitude, as we heard in the Gospel, is the attitude of the Beatitudes. That path alone will lead us to the encounter with God. That path alone will save us from destruction, from destroying the earth, Creation, morality, history, family, everything. That path alone. But it too will bring us through bad things! It will bring us problems, persecution. But that path alone will take us forward. And so, these people who are suffering so much today because of the selfishness of destroyers, of our brothers destroyers, these people struggle onwards with the Beatitudes, with the hope of finding God, of coming face-to-face with the Lord in the hope of becoming saints, at the moment of our final encounter with Him.

May the Lord help us and give us the grace of this hope, but also the grace of courage to emerge from all this destruction, devastation, the relativism of life, the exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us: the exclusion of peace. May he deliver us from this, and give us the grace to walk in the hope of finding ourselves one day face-to-face with Him. And this hope, brothers and sisters, does not disappoint!





Pope Francis   01.11.15    Verano Cemetery, Rome         Solemnity of All Saints,            Matthew 5: 1-12A   

Pope Francis  01.11.15 All Saints

In the Gospel we listened to Jesus who was teaching his disciples and the crowd that had gathered on the mountain near the lake of Galilee (cf. Mt 5:1-12). The Word of the risen and living Lord also shows us, today, the way to reach the true beatitude, the way that leads to Heaven. It is difficult to understand the path because it goes against the current, but the Lord tells us that those who go on this path are happy, sooner or later they become happy.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. We might ask ourselves how a person poor of heart can be happy, one whose only treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven. The reason is exactly this: that having the heart stripped and free of so many worldly things, this person is “awaited” in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. How can those who weep be happy? Yet, those who in life have never felt sadness, angst, sorrow, will never know the power of comfort. Instead, happy are those with the capacity to be moved, the capacity to feel in their heart the sorrow that exists in their life and in the lives of others. They will be happy! Because the tender hand of God the Father will comfort them and will caress them.

“Blessed are the meek”. How often are we, on the contrary, impatient, irritable, always ready to complain! We have many demands regarding others, but when our turn comes, we react by raising our voice, as if we were masters of the world, when in reality we are all children of God. Let us think instead of those mothers and fathers who are so patient with their children who “drive them mad”. This is the way of the Lord: the way of meekness and of patience. Jesus traveled this path: as a child he endured persecution and exile; and then, as an adult, slander, snares, false accusations in court; and he endured it all with meekness. Out of love for us he endured even the cross.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”. Yes, those who have a strong sense of justice, and not only toward others, but first of all toward themselves, they will be satisfied, because they are ready to receive the greatest justice, that which only God can give.

Then, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”. Happy are those who know how to forgive, who have mercy on others, who do not judge every thing and every one, but try to put themselves in the place of others. Forgiveness is the thing we all need, without exception. This is why at the beginning of the Mass we recognize ourselves for what we are, namely, sinners. It isn’t an expression or a formality: it is an act of truth. “Lord, here I am, have mercy on me”. If we are able to give others the forgiveness we ask for ourselves, we are blessed. As we say in the “Our Father”: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”. Let us look at the faces of those who go around sowing discord: are they happy? Those who are always seeking occasions to mislead, to take advantage of others, are they happy? No, they cannot be happy. Instead, those who patiently try to sow peace each day, are who artisans of peace, of reconciliation, yes, they are blessed, because they are true children of our Heavenly Father, who sows always and only peace, to the point that he sent his Son into the world as the seed of peace for humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is the way of holiness, and it is the very way of happiness. It is the way that Jesus travelled. Indeed, He himself is the Way: those who walk with Him and proceed through Him enter into life, into eternal life. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be simple and humble people, the grace to be able to weep, the grace to be meek, the grace to work for justice and peace, and above all the grace to let ourselves be forgiven by God so as to become instruments of his mercy.

This is what the
Saints did, those who have preceded us to our heavenly home. They accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage, they encourage us to go forward. May their intercession help us to walk on Jesus’ path, and to obtain eternal happiness for our deceased brothers and sisters, for whom we offer this Mass.





Pope Francis        29.02.16   Holy Mass  Santa Marta      2 Kings 5: 1-15B,        Luke 4: 24-30

The Church prepares us for Easter and today makes us reflect on salvation: what do we think salvation is like, the salvation that we all want?. The story of “Naaman’s disease”, narrated in the Second Book of Kings (5:1-15), presents the fact of death: and afterwards?. Indeed, when there is sickness, it always leads us back to that thought: salvation. But, how does salvation come about? What is the path to salvation? What is God’s revelation to us Christians with regard to salvation?

The key word to understanding the Church’s message today is
disdain. After “Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house and asked to be cured, Elisha sent a boy to tell him to wash in the Jordan seven times. A simple thing. Perhaps for this reason “Naaman disdained”, exclaiming: “I have made such a journey, with so many gifts...”. Instead everything was resolved by simply bathing in the river. Moreover, Naaman continued, “our rivers are more beautiful than this one”.

In Luke (4:24-30), the inhabitants of Nazareth similarly disdained after hearing Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah that Sabbath in the synagogue, when he said “‘today this has happened’, speaking of the liberation, of how the people would be freed”. The people commented: “What do you think about this man? He is one of us, we saw him grow up from boyhood, he never studied”. And the people “disdained” and even “wanted to kill him”.

Again, later on Jesus felt this disdain on the part of the leaders, the doctors of the law who sought salvation in moral casuistry — ‘this can be done to this point, to that point...’ — and thus I don’t know how many commandments they had, and the poor people.... This is why the people did not trust them. The same thing happened with the Sadducees, who sought salvation in compromises with the powerful men of the world, with the emperor: some with clerical networks, others with political networks sought salvation in this way. But the people had an instinct and didn’t believe in them. Instead, they believed in Jesus because he spoke with authority.

And so, “why this disdain?”. It is because, in our imagination salvation must come from something great, from something majestic: only the powerful can save us, those who have strength, who have money, who have power, these people can save us. Instead, “God’s plan is different”. Thus, they feel disdain because they cannot understand that salvation comes only from little things, from the simplicity of the things of God. And when Jesus proposes the way of salvation, he never speaks of great things, but only “little things”.

Re-read the Gospel
Beatitudes Mathew 5: 1-12 — “you will be saved if you do this” — and of Matthew, Chapter 25. They are the two pillars of the Gospel: ‘Come, come with me because you have done this’. It involves simple things: you did not seek salvation or hope in power, in networks, in negotiations, no; you simply did this. Yet actually, this gives rise to much disdain.

Prepare for Easter, by reading the Beatitudes and reading Matthew 25, and thinking and seeing if something about this causes me disdain, takes peace away from me. Because disdain is a luxury that only the
vain, the proud allow themselves.

Here at the end of the Beatitudes Jesus says something powerful: “Blessed is he who is not shocked by me”, who “does not disdain this, who does not feel disdain”. It will do us good to take a little time — today, tomorrow — and read the Beatitudes, read Matthew and pay attention to what is happening in our heart: whether there is something that causes disdain. And “ask the Lord for the grace to understand that the only way to salvation is the folly of the Cross, that is, the annihilation of the Son of God, of his becoming small. In today’s liturgy, “the little thing” is “represented by bathing in the Jordan and by the little village of Nazareth.




Pope Francis  01.11.16 Malmo Sweden

Today, with the entire Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. In doing so, we remember not only those who have been proclaimed saints through the ages, but also our many brothers and sisters who, in a quiet and unassuming way, lived their Christian life in the fullness of faith and love. Surely among them are many of our relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Ours, then, is a celebration of holiness. A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism. A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters. A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others. We think of the lives of all those mothers and fathers who sacrifice for their families and are prepared to forego – though it is not always easy – so many things, so many personal plans and projects.

Yet if there is one thing typical of the
saints, it is that they are genuinely happy. They found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God. That is why we call the saints blessed. The Beatitudes are their path, their goal towards the homeland. The Beatitudes are the way of life that the Lord teaches us, so that we can follow in his footsteps. In the Gospel of today’s Mass, we heard how Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes before a great crowd on the hill by the Sea of Galilee.

The Beatitudes are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian. Here I would like to mention only one: “Blessed are the meek”. Jesus says of himself: “Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love. Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another. It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity. So it was with sons and daughters of this land, including Saint Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, recently canonized, and Saint Bridget, Birgitta of Vadstena, co-patron of Europe. They prayed and worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship between Christians. One very eloquent sign of this is that here in your country, marked as it is by the coexistence of quite different peoples, we are jointly commemorating the fifth centenary of the Reformation. The saints bring about change through meekness of heart. With that meekness, we come to understand the grandeur of God and worship him with sincere hearts. For meekness is the attitude of those who have nothing to lose, because their only wealth is God.

The Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card. They identify us as followers of Jesus. We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy. Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart. Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others. Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians. All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.

Dear brothers and sisters, the call to holiness is directed to everyone and must be received from the Lord in a spirit of faith. The saints spur us on by their lives and their intercession before God, and we ourselves need one another if we are to become saints. Helping one another to become saints! Together let us implore the grace to accept this call with joy and to join in bringing it to fulfilment. To our heavenly Mother, Queen of All Saints, we entrust our intentions and the dialogue aimed at the full communion of all Christians, so that we may be blessed in our efforts and may attain holiness in unity.




Pope Francis    01.11.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square       Solemnity of All Saints        Matthew 5: 1-12A

Pope Francis 01.11.17 Happiness

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning and happy Feast Day!

The
Solemnity of All Saints is “our” celebration: not because we are good, but because the sanctity of God has touched our life. The Saints are not perfect models, but people through whom God has passed. We can compare them to the Church windows which allow light to enter in different shades of colour. The saints are our brothers and sisters who have welcomed the light of God in their heart and have passed it on to the world, each according to his or her own “hue”. But they were all transparent; they fought to remove the stains and the darkness of sin, so as to enable the gentle light of God to pass through. This is life’s purpose: to enable God’s light to pass through; it is the purpose of our life too.

Indeed, today in the Gospel, Jesus addresses his followers, all of us, telling us we are “Blessed” (Mt 5:3). It is the word with which he begins his sermon, which is the “Gospel”, Good News, because it is
the path of happiness. Those who are with Jesus are blessed; they are happy. Happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone, no. True happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? True happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone; true happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? We must go forth, believing in this. So, the ingredients for a happy life are called Beatitudes: blessed are the simple, the humble who make room for God, who are able to weep for others and for their own mistakes, who remain meek, fight for justice, are merciful to all, safeguard purity of heart, always work for peace and abide in joy, do not hate and, even when suffering, respond to evil with good.

These are the Beatitudes. They do not require conspicuous gestures; they are not for supermen, but for those who live the trials and toils of every day, for us. This is how the saints are: like everyone, they breathe air polluted by the evil there is in the world, but on the journey they never lose sight of Jesus’ roadmap, that indicated in the Beatitudes, which is like the map of Christian life.


Today is the celebration of those who have reached the destination indicated by this map: not only the saints on the calendar, but many brothers and sisters “next door”, whom we may have met and known. Today is a family celebration, of many simple, hidden people who in reality help God to move the world forward. And there are so many of them today! There are so many of them! Thanks to these unknown brothers and sisters who help God to move the world forward, who live among us; let us salute them all with a nice round of applause!

First of all — the first Beatitude says — they are “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). What does this mean? That they do not live for success, power and money; they know that those who set aside treasure for themselves are not rich toward God (cf. Lk 12:21). Rather, they believe that the Lord is life’s treasure, and love for neighbour the only true source of gain. At times we are dissatisfied due to something we lack, or worried if we are not considered as we would like; let us remember that our Beatitude is not here but in the Lord and in love: only with him, only by loving do we live as blessed.

Lastly I would like to quote another beatitude, which is not found in the Gospel but at the end of the Bible, and it speaks of the end of life: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13). Tomorrow we will be called to accompany with prayer our deceased, so they may be forever joyful in the Lord. Let us remember our loved ones with gratitude and let us pray for them. May the Mother of God, Queen of the Saints and Gate of Heaven, intercede for our journey of holiness and for our loved ones who have gone before us and who have already departed for the heavenly Homeland.



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and happy Feast Day!
Pope Francis | Beatitudes, the path to holiness in daily life


Today’s first reading, from the Book of Revelation, speaks to us about heaven and sets before us “a great multitude”, innumerable, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9). They are the saints. What do they do up there in heaven? They sing together, they joyfully praise God. It would be beautiful to hear their song.... But we can imagine it: do you know when? During Mass, when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts...”. It is a hymn, the Bible says, which comes from heaven, which is sung there (cf. Is 6:3; Rev 4:8), a hymn of praise. Thus, by singing the Sanctus, not only do we think of the saints, but we do as they do: at that moment, in the Mass, we are united with them more than ever.

And we are united with all the saints: not only the most well known, from the calendar, but also those “next door”, our family members and acquaintances who are now part of that great multitude. Therefore, today is a family celebration. The saints are close to us, indeed they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, love us, know what is truly good for us, help us and await us. They are happy and want us to be happy with them in paradise.

Thus they invite us on the path of happiness, indicated by today’s beautiful and well-known Gospel passage: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.... Blessed are the meek.... Blessed are the pure in heart...” (cf. Mt 5:3-8). But how? The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the overbearing. The Gospel says blessed are the pure, while the world says blessed are the cunning and the pleasure-seekers. This way of the Beatitudes, of holiness, seems to always lead to defeat. Yet — the first reading also reminds us — the Saints hold “palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9), which is a symbol of victory. They have prevailed, not the world. And they exhort us to choose their side, that of God who is Holy.

Let us ask ourselves which side we are on: that of heaven or that of earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some immediate gratification? Let us ask ourselves: do we truly want holiness? Or are we content with being Christians without infamy and without praise, who believe in God and esteem their neighbour, but without overemphasizing. “The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created” (Apostolic Exhortation
Gaudete et Exsultate, 1). Thus, either holiness or nothing! It is good for us to let ourselves be spurred by the saints, who did not use half-measures here, and are ‘cheering us on’ from there, so that we may choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity, so that we may be impassioned by heaven rather than earth.

Today our brothers and sisters do not ask us to listen to another fine Gospel passage, but to put it into practice, to set out on the way of the Beatitudes. It is not a matter of doing extraordinary things, but of following, each day, this way that leads us to heaven, leads us to family, leads us home. Thus today we glimpse our future and we celebrate what we were born for: we were born so as to die no more; we were born to enjoy God’s happiness! The Lord encourages us and says to those setting out on the path of the Beatitudes: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:12). May the Holy Mother of God, Queen of Saints, help us to decisively follow the road to holiness; may she, who is the Gate of Heaven, introduce our departed loved ones into the heavenly family.



Pope Francis   21.01.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta      Mark 2: 18-22      
 
the Christian style is that of the Beatitudes

We can learn about the Christian style by first knowing our attitudes that don’t belong to the Christian style.  The "accusatory style", the "worldly style" and the "selfish style".

The accusatory style belongs to those who always try and live by accusing others, disqualifying others, acting as absent promoters of justice. But they don't realize that it's the style of the devil: in the Bible, the devil is called the "great accuser", who is always accusing others.

This was the same in the time of Jesus who in a few cases reproached the accusers: "Instead of looking at the speck in the eyes of others, look at the beam in yours"; or again: "Those who have not sinned can throw the first stone". Living by accusing others and looking for defects,  is not Christian, not new wineskin.

Worldliness, is an attitude of Catholics who can recite the Creed, but live on vanity, pride and attachment to money, believing themselves to be self-sufficient.

The Lord has offered you the new wine but you did not change the wineskin, you did not change yourself. This worldliness is what ruins so many who are good but they enter into this spirit of vanity, of pride, of being seen... Humility that is part of the Christian style, like that of Our Lady and St. Joseph, is lacking.

The selfish spirit is the spirit of indifference that is common in our communities. One believes oneself to be a good Catholic but doesn’t worry about the problems of others – wars, illnesses and the suffering of our neighbours. This is the hypocrisy that Jesus reproached the doctors of the law for. What then is the Christian style?

The Christian style is that of the Beatitudes: meekness, humility, patience in suffering, love for justice, ability to endure persecution, not judging others... If a Catholic wants to learn the Christian style, so as not to fall into this accusatory style, the worldly style and the selfish style, he / she must read the Beatitudes. They are the wineskins, the path we must take. To be a good Christian one must have the ability not only to recite the Creed with the heart but also the Our Father with the heart.


Pope Francis    05.02.19     Holy Mass   Zayed Sports City (Abu Dhabi)        Mathew 5: 1-12
Pope Francis 05.02.19 Zayed Sports City (Abu Dhabi)

Blessed: this is the word with which Jesus begins his preaching in Matthew’s Gospel. And it is the refrain he repeats today, as if to fix in our hearts, more than anything, an essential message: if you are with Jesus, if you love to listen to his word as the disciples of that time did, if you try to live out this word every day, then you are blessed. Not you will be blessed, but you are blessed; this is the first truth we know about the Christian life. It is not simply a list of external prescriptions to fulfil or a set of teachings to know. The Christian life, first and foremost, is not this; rather, it is the knowledge that, in Jesus, we are the Father’s beloved children. The Christian life means living out the joy of this blessedness, wanting to live life as a love story, the story of God’s faithful love, he who never abandons us and wishes to be in communion with us always. This is the reason for our joy, a joy that no one in the world and no circumstance in our lives can take from us. It is a joy that gives peace also in the midst of pain, a joy that already makes us participate in that eternal happiness which awaits us. Dear brothers and sisters, in the joy of meeting you, this is the word I have come to say to you: blessed!

Even as Jesus calls his own disciples blessed, we are yet struck by the reasons for the individual Beatitudes. We see in them an overturning of that popular thinking, according to which it is the rich and the powerful who are blessed, those who are successful and acclaimed by the crowds. For Jesus, on the other hand, blessed are the poor, the meek, those who remain just even at the cost of appearing in a bad light, those who are persecuted. Who is correct here: Jesus or the world? To understand this, let us look at how Jesus lived: poor in respect to things, but wealthy in love; he healed so many lives, but did not spare his own. He came to serve and not to be served; he taught us that greatness is not found in having but rather in giving. Just and meek, he did not offer resistance, but allowed himself to be condemned unjustly. In this way Jesus brought God’s love into the world. Only in this way did he defeat death, sin, fear and even worldliness: only by the power of divine love. Let us together ask here today for the grace of rediscovering the attraction of following Jesus, of imitating him, of not seeking anyone else but him and his humble love. For here is the meaning of our life: in communion with him and in our love for others. Do you believe in this?

I have also come to say thank you for the way in which you live the Gospel we heard. People say that the difference between the written Gospel and the lived Gospel is the same difference between written music and performed music. You who are here know the Gospel’s tune and you follow its rhythm with enthusiasm. You are a choir composed of numerous nations, languages and rites; a diversity that the Holy Spirit loves and wants to harmonize ever more, in order to make a symphony. This joyful polyphony of faith is a witness that you give everyone and that builds up the Church. It struck me what Bishop Hinder once said: that he not only feels himself to be your shepherd, but that you, by your example, are often shepherds to him. Thank you for that!

To live the life of the blessed and following the way of Jesus does not, however, mean always being cheerful. Someone who is afflicted, who suffers injustice, who does everything he can to be a peacemaker, knows what it means to suffer. It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future. But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people. A story from the life of Saint Anthony the Abbot, the great founder of monasticism in the desert, may be helpful to us. He left everything for the Lord and found himself in the desert. There, for a time, he was immersed in a bitter spiritual struggle that gave him no peace; he was assaulted by doubts and darkness, and even by temptation to give in to nostalgia and regrets about his earlier life. But then, after all this torment the Lord consoled him, and Saint Anthony asked him: “Where were you? Why did you not appear before to free me from my suffering? Where were you?” But then he clearly heard Jesus’ answer: “I was here, Anthony” (Saint Athanasius, Vita Antonii, 10). The Lord is close. It can happen that, when faced with fresh sorrow or a difficult period, we think we are alone, even after all the time we have spent with the Lord. But in those moments, where he might not intervene immediately, he walks at our side. And if we continue to go forward, he will open up a new way for us; for the Lord specializes in doing new things; he can even open paths in the desert (cf. Is 43:19).

Dear brothers and sisters, I want to tell you that living out the Beatitudes does not require dramatic gestures. Look at Jesus: he left nothing written, built nothing imposing. And when he told us how to live, he did not ask us to build great works or draw attention to ourselves with extraordinary gestures. He asked us to produce just one work of art, possible for everyone: our own life. The Beatitudes are thus a roadmap for our life: they do not require superhuman actions, but rather the imitation of Jesus in our everyday life. They invite us to keep our hearts pure, to practice meekness and justice despite everything, to be merciful to all, to live affliction in union with God. This is the holiness of daily life, one that has no need of miracles or of extraordinary signs. The Beatitudes are not for supermen, but for those who face up to the challenges and trials of each day. Those who live out the Beatitudes according to Jesus are able to cleanse the world. They are like a tree that even in the wasteland absorbs polluted air each day and gives back oxygen. It is my hope that you will be like this, rooted in Christ, in Jesus and ready to do good to those around you. May your communities be oases of peace.

Finally, I would like to consider for a moment two of the Beatitudes. First: “Blessed are the meek” (Mt 5:5). Those who attack or overpower others are not blessed, but rather those that uphold Jesus’ way of acting, he who saved us, and who was meek even towards his accusers. I like to quote Saint Francis, when he gave his brothers instructions about approaching the Saracens and non-Christians. He wrote: “Let them not get into arguments or disagreements, but be subject to every human creature out of love for God, and let them profess that they are Christians” (Regula Non Bullata, XVI). Neither arguments nor disagreements - and this also applies to priests - neither arguments nor disagreements: at that time, as many people were setting out, heavily armed, Saint Francis pointed out that Christians set out armed only with their humble faith and concrete love. Meekness is important: if we live in the world according to the ways of God, we will become channels of his presence; otherwise, we will not bear fruit.

Second: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9). The Christian promotes peace, starting with the community where he or she lives. In the Book of Revelation, among the communities that Jesus himself addresses, there is one, namely Philadelphia, that I think bears a likeness to you. It is a Church which, unlike almost all the others, the Lord does not reproach for anything. Indeed, that Church kept Jesus’ word without renouncing his name and persevered, went forward, even in the midst of difficulties. There is also a significant detail: the name Philadelphia means brotherly love. Fraternal love. Thus a Church which perseveres in Jesus’ word and fraternal love is pleasing to the Lord and bears fruit. I ask for you the grace to preserve peace, unity, to take care of each other, with that beautiful fraternity in which there are no first or second class Christians.

May Jesus, who calls you blessed, give you the grace to go forward without becoming discouraged, abounding in love “to one another and to all” (1 Thess 3:12).



Pope Francis   17.02.19  Angelus  St Peter's Square     Luke 6: 17, 20-26
Pope Francis 17.02.19 - Angelus St Peter's Square - Beatitudes

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel presents us Saint Luke’s passage on the Beatitudes (cf. 6:17, 20-26). The text is arranged into four beatitudes and four admonitions denoted by the expression, “woe to you”. With these assertive and sharp words, Jesus opens our eyes and lets us look with his gaze, beyond appearances, beyond the surface and teaches us to discern situations with faith.

Jesus proclaims the poor, the hungry, the suffering and the persecuted blessed, and he admonishes those who are rich, satisfied, who laugh and are praised by the people. The reason behind this paradoxical beatitude lies in the fact that God is close to those who suffer, and intercedes to free them from their bondage. Jesus sees this; he already sees the beatitude beyond its negative reality. And likewise, the “woe to you” addressed to those who are doing well today, has the purpose of “waking” them from the dangerous deceit of egotism, and opening them up to the logic of love, while they still have the time to do so.

The page from today’s Gospel thus invites us to reflect on the profound sense of having faith, which consists in our trusting completely in the Lord. It is about demolishing worldly idols in order to open our hearts to the true and living God. He alone can give our life that fullness so deeply desired and yet difficult to attain. Brothers and sisters, indeed there are many in our day too who purport to be dispensers of happiness: they come and promise us swift success, great profits within our reach, magical solutions to every problem and so on. And here it is easy to slip unwittingly into sinning against the first Commandment: namely idolatry, substituting God with an idol. Idolatry and idols seem to be things from another age, but in reality they are of all ages! Even today. They describe certain contemporary attitudes better than many sociological studies do.

This is why Jesus opens our eyes to reality. We are called to happiness, to be blessed, and we become so as of now, to the measure in which we place ourselves on the side of God, of his Kingdom, on the side of what is not ephemeral but rather endures for eternal life. We are happy if we acknowledge we are needy before God — and this is very important: “Lord, I need you” — and if, like him and with him, we are close to the poor, the suffering and the hungry. We too are like this before God: we are poor, suffering, we are hungry before God. Although we possess worldly goods, we experience joy when we do not idolize or sell our souls out to them, but are able to share them with our brothers and sisters. Today the liturgy invites us once again to question ourselves about this and to be truthful in our heart.

Jesus’ Beatitudes are a decisive message which urges us not to place our trust in material and fleeting things, not to seek happiness by following smoke vendors — who are often vendors of death — experts in illusion. We should not follow them because they are unable to give us hope. May the Lord help us open our eyes to acquire a more penetrating view of reality, to heal the chronic shortsightedness with which the worldly spirit infects us. With his paradoxical Word he stirs us and enables us to recognize what truly enriches us, satisfies us, gives us joy and dignity; in other words, what truly gives meaning and fullness to our lives. May the Virgin Mary help us listen to this Gospel passage with open hearts and minds so that it may bear fruit in our life and that we may become witnesses of the happiness that does not disappoint, that of God who never disappoints.




Pope Francis  09.09.19 Mauritius


...The Beatitudes “are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: ‘What must one do to be a good Christian?’, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives”...












Pope Francis     02.11.19  Catacombs of Priscilla, Via Salaria         Wisdom 3: 1-9,     Revelation 21: 1-7,     Matthew 5: 1-12 
All Souls - Commemoration of all the faithful departed

Pope Francis  02.11.19  All Souls

The celebration of the feast of All Souls in the catacombs – for me it is the first time in my life that I entered a catacomb, it is a surprise – they tells us many things. We can think of the lives of these people who had to hide, who had this culture of burying the dead and celebrating the Eucharist in here... It is a bad moment in history, but one that has not been overcome: even today there are. There are many. So many catacombs in other countries, where they even have to pretend to have a party or a birthday to celebrate the Eucharist, because in that place it is forbidden to do so. Even today there are persecuted Christians, more than in the first centuries, more. This – the catacombs, the persecution, the Christians – and these Readings, make me think of three words: identity, place and hope.

The identity of these people who gathered here to celebrate the Eucharist and to praise the Lord, is the same as our brothers and sisters today in so many, many countries where being a Christian is a crime, it is forbidden, they have no right. It's the same. Their identity is what we heard: it's the Beatitudes. The identity of a
Christian is this: the Beatitudes. There's no other. If you do this, if you live like this, you're a Christian. "No, but look, I belong to that association, to that other..., I am of this movement...". Yes, yes, all beautiful things; but these are fantasy before this reality. Your ID card is this "it indicates the Gospel", and if you don't have this, you don't need movements or other affiliations. Either you live like this, or you're not a Christian. Simply. The Lord said so. "Yes, but it's not easy, I don't know how to live like this...". There is another passage of the gospel that helps us better understand this, and that passage of the Gospel will also be the "great protocol" according to which we will be judged. It's Matthew 25. With these two passages of the Gospel, the Beatitudes and the great protocol, we will show, living this, our identity as Christians. Without this there is no identity. There is the pretence of being Christian, but we don't have an identity.

This is the identity of the Christian. The second word: the place. Those people who came here to hide, to be safe, even to bury the dead; and people who celebrate the Eucharist today secretly, in those countries where it is forbidden... I think of that nun in Albania who was in a re-education camp, at the time of the communists, and it was forbidden for priests to give the sacraments, and this nun, there, she baptized in secret. The people, the Christians knew that this nun would baptized and the mothers went to her with their babies; but she didn't even have a glass, something to put water in... So she did it with her shoes: she took the water from the river and baptized with her shoes. The place of the Christian is a bit everywhere, we have no privileged place in life. Some want to have it, they are "qualified" Christians. But they run the risk of remaining with the "qualified" and the "Christian" part falls away. Christians, what is their place? "The souls of the just are in God's hands"(Wis 3:1): the Christian's place is in God's hands, where he wants. The hands of God, which are wounded, which are the hands of his Son who wanted to bear the wounds to show them to his Father and intercede for us. The Christian's place is in the intercession of Jesus before the Father. In God's hands. And there we are safe, let happen what happens, even the cross. Our identity indicates the gospel says that we will be blessed if they persecute us, if they say anything against us; but if we are in God's hands wounded by love, we are safe. This is our place. And today we can ask ourselves: but me, where do I feel most secure? In the hands of God or with other things, with other certainties that we trust ourselves to but that will eventually fall, that are not substantial?

These Christians, with this identity card, who lived and live in god's hands, are men and women of hope. And this is the third word that comes to me today: hope. We heard it in the second Reading: that final vision where everything was re-made, where everything was re-created, that homeland where we all will go. And to get in there you don't need strange things, you don't need a little sophisticated attitudes: you only need to show your ID card: "It's fine, go ahead". Our hope is in Heaven, our hope is anchored there and we, with the rope in hand, we support ourselves looking at that other shore that river that we have to cross.

Identity: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. Place: the safest place, in God's hands, wounded by love. Hope, future: the anchor, there, on the other shore, but I well cling to the rope. This is important, always clinging to the rope! So often we can only look at the rope, not even the anchor, not even the other shore; but as long as you are clinging to the rope you will get their securely.




Pope Francis   29.01.20  General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall   - Catechesis on the Beatitudes - Introduction   Matthew 5: 1-11

Pope Francis - Beatitudes - General Audience 29.01.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a series of catechesis about the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew (5:1-11). This text that opens the "the Sermon on the Mountain" and that has enlightened the lives of believers and also of many non-believers. It is difficult not to be touched by these words of Jesus, and it is right that we must understand them and to welcome them more and more fully. The Beatitudes contain the Christian 'identity card' - this is our identity card - because they outline the face of Jesus Himself, His way of life.

Now let us frame these words of Jesus in a global way; in the next catechesis we will comment on the individual Beatitudes, one by one.

First of all, it is important how the proclamation of this message came about: Jesus, seeing the crowds that follow him, climbs the gentle slope that surrounds the lake of Galilee, sits down and, turning to the disciples, announces the Beatitudes. So the message is addressed to the disciples, but on the horizon there are crowds, that is, all humanity. It's a message to all of humanity. 

In addition, the "mountain" refers to Sinai, where God gave Moses the Commandments. Jesus begins to teach a new law: to be poor, to be meek, to be merciful. These "new commandments" are more than standards. In fact, Jesus does not impose anything, but reveals the way to happiness – His way – repeating the word " blessed " eight times. 

Each Beatitude consists of three parts. At first there is always the word "blessed"; then comes the situation in which the blessed find themselves: the poverty of spirit, mourning, hunger and the thirst for justice, and so on; finally there is the reason for being blessed, introduced by the conjunction "why": "Blessed are these because, why those are blessed ..." So there are the eight Beatitudes and it would be nice to learn them by heart to repeat them, to have in our minds and hearts this law that Jesus gave us.
Let us pay attention to this fact: the reason for bliss is not the current situation but the new condition that the blessed receive as a gift from God: "because for them is the kingdom of heaven", "because they will be consoled", "because they will inherit the earth", and so on. 

In the third element, which is precisely the reason for happiness, Jesus often uses a passive future: "they will be comforted", "they will inherit the earth", "they will be satisfied", "they will be forgiven", "they will be called children of God".
 
But what does the word" blessed" mean? Why does each of the eight Blessings begin with the word "blessed"? The original Greek term does not indicate one who has a full belly or is doing well, but he is a person who is in a state of grace, who progresses in the grace of God and who progresses on the path of God: patience, poverty, service to others, consolation ... Those who progress in these things are happy and will be blessed. 

God, in order to give Himself to us, often chooses unthinkable paths, perhaps those of our limitations, of our tears, of our defeats. It is the Easter joy of which the Eastern brothers speak, the one who has the stigmata but is alive, has gone through death and has experienced the power of God. The Beatitudes always lead you to joy; are the way to joy. It will do us good to take the Gospel of Matthew today, chapter five, verses from one to eleven and read the Beatitudes - perhaps a few more times, during the week - to understand this beautiful way, this secure way to the happiness that the Lord gives to us.




Pope Francis   05.02.20  General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall  - Catechesis on the Beatitudes - Poor in Spirit     Matthew 5: 1-11 

Pope Francis talks about Poor on Spirit  05.02.20
 
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we are confronted with the first of the eight Beatitudes of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus begins to proclaim His way to happiness with a paradoxical proclamation: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"(5:3). A surprising road and a strange object of bliss, poverty.
We must ask ourselves: what does "poor" mean here? If Matthew used only this word, then the meaning would simply be economic, that is, it would indicate people who have little or no means of livelihood and need the help of others.

But the Gospel of Matthew, unlike Luke, speaks of "poor in spirit". What does that mean? The spirit, according to the Bible, is the breath of life that God has communicated to Adam; it is our most intimate dimension, we say the spiritual dimension, the most intimate, the one that makes us human people, the deep core of our being. Then the "poor in spirit" are those who are and feel poor, beggars, in the depths of their being. Jesus proclaims them blessed, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.

How many times have we been told otherwise! You have to be something in life, be someone... You have to make a name for yourself... This is where loneliness and unhappiness arises: if I have to be "someone", I am competing with others and I live in obsessive concern for my ego. If I do not accept being poor, I hate everything that reminds me of my fragility. Because this fragility prevents me from becoming an important person, rich not only in money, but in fame, of everything.

Everyone, in front of himself, knows well that, no matter how hard he tries, he remains radically incomplete and vulnerable. There's no make-up that covers this vulnerability. Each of us is vulnerable inside. Its all from the same place. You can live so badly if you reject your own limits! You live badly. The limits are here within us. Proud people don't ask for help, they can't ask for help, they can't ask for help because they have to prove themselves self-sufficient. And how many of them need help, but pride prevents them from asking for help. And how hard it is to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness! When I give some advice to newlyweds, who ask me how to carry on their marriage well, I tell them: "There are three magic words: may I, thank you, sorry." These are the words that come from the poverty of spirit. You don't have to be pushy, but ask permission: "Do you think it's good to do this?", so there is dialogue in the family, dialogue between husband and wife. "You did this for me, thank you I needed it." Then you always make mistakes, you slip: "Excuse me." And usually, couples, new marriages, those who are here and many, tell me: "The third is the most difficult", apologize, ask forgiveness. Because the proud can't do it. They can't apologize: they are always right. They are not poor in spirit. But the Lord never tires of forgiving; unfortunately, we grow tired of asking for forgiveness (cf. Angelus, 17 March 2013). The tiredness of asking for forgiveness: this is an ugly disease!

Why is it difficult to ask forgiveness? Because it humiliates our hypocritical image. Yet living trying to conceal one's own shortcomings is exhausting and distressing. Jesus Christ tells us: being poor is an occasion of grace; and it shows us the way out of this toil. We are given the right to be poor in spirit, because this is the way of the Kingdom of God.
But there is a fundamental thing to reiterate: we must not transform ourselves to become poor in spirit, we must not make any transformation to do this because we already are! We are poor ... or more clearly: we are poor in spirit! We all need this. We are all poor in spirit, we are beggars. It's the human condition. 

The Kingdom of God is for the poor in spirit. There are those who have the kingdoms of this world: they have goods and they have comfort. But they are kingdoms that end. The power of men, even the greatest empires, pass and disappear. So many times when we look at the news or in the newspapers we see people governing, powerful people and so that government that was there yesterday is no longer there today, has fallen. The riches of this world will disappear, and also the money. The old men taught us that the shroud had no pockets. It's true. I've never seen a moving truck behind a funeral procession: no one brings anything. These riches remain here. 

The Kingdom of God is for the poor in spirit. There are those who have the kingdoms of this world, have goods and have comfort. But we know how they end up. He who knows how to love the true good more than himself truly reigns. And this is the power of God. 

How did Christ be powerful? Because He has been able to do what the kings of the earth did not do: giving their lives for men. And that's the real power. The power of brotherhood, the power of charity, the power of love, the power of humility. This is what Christ did.

In this lies true freedom: those who have this power of humility, service and brotherhood are free. At the service of this freedom lies the poverty praised by the Beatitudes.
Because there is a poverty that we must accept, that of our being, and a poverty that we must seek, the concrete one, from the things of this world, in order to be free and to be able to love. We must always seek the freedom of the heart, which has its roots in the poverty of ourselves.




Pope Francis  12.02.20  General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall   - Catechesis on the Beatitudes - those who weep   Matthew 5:4

Pope Francis talks about Tears 12.02.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We have embarked a journey to the Beatitudes and today we dwell on the second: Blessed are those who weep, for they will be comforted.

In the Greek language in which the Gospel was written, this beatitude is expressed with a verb that is not passive – in fact the blessed do not suffer this weeping – but active: "they grieve "; they grieve, but from within. It is an attitude that has become central to Christian spirituality and that the fathers of the desert, the first monks of history, called "penthos", that is, an inner pain that opens up a relationship with the Lord and with ones neighbour; a new relationship with the Lord and with those near us. 

This weeping, in the scriptures, can have two aspects: the first is for someone's death or suffering. The other aspect is tears for sin – for one's own sin – when the heart bleeds in the pain of having offended God and our neighbour.
 
The first aspect. Someone who is dear to us and we suffer because we lose him or because he is sick or we have made him suffer. These are people who remain distant. It is therefore a question of loving the other in such a way as to hold on to him or until we share his or her pain. There are people who remain distant, one step back; instead it is important that others make inroads into our hearts.

I have often spoken of the gift of tears, and how precious it is. Can you love coldly? Can you love for function, by duty? Certainly not. There are afflicted people to console, but sometimes there are also people to console to grieve, to awaken, who have a heart of stone and have unlearned to weep. There is also to awaken people who do not know how to be moved by the pain of others.

Mourning, for example, is a bitter road, but it can be useful to open our eyes to the life and sacred and irreplaceable value of each person, and at that moment one realizes how short the time is.

There is a second meaning of this paradoxical beatitude: weeping for sin.

Here we must distinguish: there are those who are angry because they have made a mistake. But that's pride. Instead there are those who weep for the evil done, for the good omitted, for the betrayal of the relationship with God. This is weeping for not having loved, that flows from having the life of others at heart. Here we mourn because we do not correspond to the Lord who loves us so much, and we are saddened by the thought of the good not done; that's the meaning of sin. They say, "I have hurt the one I love," and this grieves them to tears. God be blessed if these tears come!

This is the subject of one's mistakes to be addressed, difficult but vital. Let us think of the weeping of St Peter, which will lead him to a new and much truer love: it is a weeping that purifies, that renews. Peter looked at Jesus and wept: his heart was renewed. Unlike Judas, who did not accept that he had made a mistake and, poor man, committed suicide. Understanding sin is a gift from God, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. We alone cannot understand sin. It is a grace we must ask for. Lord, may I understand the evil I have done or can do. What have I done. This is a very great gift and after understanding this, comes the cry of repentance. 

One of the first monks, Efrem the Syrian says that a face washed by tears is unspeakably beautiful (cf. Ascetic Speech). The beauty of repentance, the beauty of crying, the beauty of contrition! As always, Christian life has its best expression in mercy. Wise and blessed is the one who welcomes the pain of love, because he will receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit, which is the tenderness of God who forgives and corrects. God always forgives: let us not forget this. God always forgives, even the ugliest sins, always. The problem is within us, that we get tired of asking for forgiveness, we close ourselves in ourselves and we don't ask for forgiveness. That is the problem; but He is there to forgive.
If we always bear in mind that God "does not treat us according to our sins and does not repay us according to our faults"(Psalm 103:10), we live in mercy and compassion, and love appears in us. 

May the Lord allow us to love in abundance, to love with a smile, with closeness, with service and even with tears.




Pope Francis   19.02.20  General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall      Catechesis on the Beatitudes - Blessed are the meek      Matthew 5:5   

Pope Francis talks about Meekness 19.02.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In today's catechesis, we face the third of the eight Beatitudes of Matthew's Gospel: "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth"(Mt 5:5).

The term "meek" used here means literally sweet, meek, gentle, free of violence. Meekness manifests itself in moments of conflict, you can see from how one reacts to a hostile situation. Anyone may seem meek when everything is quiet, but how does one react "under pressure" if he is attacked, offended, assaulted?

In one passage, St. Paul recalls "the gentleness and meekness of Christ"(2 Cor 10:1). And St. Peter in turn recalls Jesus' attitude during the Passion: He did not respond and did not threaten, because He "relied on the one who judges with justice"(1 Pt 2:23). And the meekness of Jesus is strongly seen in His Passion.

In Scripture the word "meek" also indicates the one who has no land ownership; and so it strikes us that the third Beatitude says precisely that the meek will inherit the earth.
In fact, this Beatitude mentions Psalm 37, which we heard at the beginning of the catechesis. There, too, the meekness and possession of the land are related. These two things, thinking about it, seem incompatible. In fact, the possession of the land is the typical area of conflict: it is often fought over for a territory, to obtain authority over a certain area. In wars the strongest prevails and conquers other lands.

But let us take a good look at the verb used to indicate the possession of meekness: they do not conquer the earth; it does not say "blessed the meek because they will conquer the earth." They inherit. Blessed are the meek because they will "inherit" the earth. In the scriptures, the verb "inherit" makes even greater sense. The People of God are called "inheritance" the very land of Israel is the Promised Land. 

That land is a promise and a gift to the people of God, and becomes a sign of something much greater than a simple territory. There is a "land" – allow the play of words – that is Heaven, that is, the land towards which we walk: the new heavens and the new land to which we go (cf. Is 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pt 3:13; Ap 21:1). 

So the meek are the ones who "inherit" the most sublime of the territories. He is not a coward, who finds a moral back-up to stay out of trouble. Not at all! He's someone who's been given an inheritance and doesn't want to dissipate it. The meek is not an accommodating person but is the disciple of Christ who has learned to defend much more than land. He defends his peace, he defends his relationship with God, he defends his gifts, the gifts of God, keeping mercy, fraternity, trust, hope. Because meek people are merciful, fraternal, confident, and hopeful people.

Here we must mention the sin of anger, a violent movement of which we all know the impulse. Who hasn't been angry sometimes? All. We must ask ourselves a question: how many things have we destroyed with anger? How many things have we lost? A moment of anger can destroy so many things; you lose control and you do not evaluate what is really important, and you can ruin your relationship with a brother, sometimes without remedy. Out of anger, so many brothers no longer speak to each other, they distance themselves from each other. It's the opposite of meekness. Meekness gathers, anger separates.

Meekness conquers so many things. Meekness is capable of winning the heart, saving friendships and much more, because people become angry but then calm down, think about it and get back on their feet, and so we can be rebuild with meekness. 

The "land" to be conquered with meekness is the salvation of the brother of whom Matthew's Gospel speaks: "If he listens to you, you will have won over brother"(Mt 18:15). There is no land more beautiful than the heart of others, there is no more beautiful territory to gain than the peace found with a brother. And that is the land to be inherited with meekness!



Pope Francis     11.03.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace  - Catechesis on the Beatitudes   Matthew 5:6  

Pope Francis talks about Justice 11.03.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In today's audience, we continue to meditate on the luminous path of happiness that the Lord has given us in the Beatitudes, and we come to the fourth: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice for they will be satisfied"(Mt 5:6). 

We have already encountered poverty in spirit and weeping; and now we are confronted with an additional kind of weakness, that connected with hunger and thirst. Hunger and thirst are basic needs, they are about survival. This should be emphasized: here we are not dealing with a general desire, but a vital and daily need, such as nourishment.
But what does it mean to be hungry and thirsty for justice? We are certainly not talking about those who want revenge, indeed, in the previous Beatitude we spoke of meekness. Certainly injustices hurt humanity; human society has an urgent need for fairness, truth and social justice; let us remember that the evil suffered by the women and men of the world reaches to the heart of God the Father. What father would not suffer from the pain of his children?

The scriptures speak of the pain of the poor and the oppressed that God knows and shares. For hearing the cry of oppression raised by the children of Israel – as the book of Exodus recounts (cf. 3:7-10) – God has come down to free his people. But the hunger and thirst for justice that the Lord speaks to us is even deeper than the legitimate need for human justice that every man carries in his heart.
 
In the same sermon on the mount talk, a little further on, Jesus speaks of a justice greater than human right or personal perfection, saying: "If your justice does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven"(Mt 5:20). And this is justice that comes from God (cf. 1 Cor 1:30).

In the scriptures we find a thirst expressed deeper than the physical thirst, which is a desire placed at the root of our being. A Psalm says: "Oh God, you are my God, at dawn I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you, as a deserted, arid, waterless land"(Psalm 63:2). The Fathers of the Church speak of this restlessness that dwells in the heart of man. St. Augustine says, "You have made us for you, Lord, and our hearts cannot find peace until it rests in you." [1] There is an inner thirst, an inner hunger, a restlessness ...

In every heart, even in the most corrupt person and far from the good, there is a hidden yearning for the light, even if it lies under the rubble of deception and error, but there is always the thirst for truth and good, which is the thirst for God. It is the Holy Spirit that arouses this thirst: it is He who has shaped our dust, He is the creator breath that gave it life.

For this reason, the Church is sent to announce to everyone the Word of God, imbued with the Holy Spirit. Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest justice that can be offered to the heart of humanity, which has a vital need for it, even if it does not realize it. 

For example, when a man and a woman marry, they intend to do something great and beautiful, and if they keep this thirst alive they will always find their way forward, in the midst of problems, with the help of Grace. Young people also have this hunger, and they must not lose it! It is necessary to protect and nourish in the hearts of children that desire for love, tenderness, for acceptance that they express in their sincere and luminous impulses.

Each person is called to rediscover what really matters, what he really needs, what makes life good and, at the same time, what is secondary, and what can be safely done without.

Jesus proclaims in this Beatitude – hunger and thirst for justice – that there is a thirst that will not be disappointed; a thirst that, if pandered to, will be satisfied and will always succeed, because it corresponds to the very heart of God, to his Holy Spirit which is love, and also to the seed that the Holy Spirit has sown in our hearts. May the Lord give us this grace: to have this thirst for justice that is precisely the desire to find it, to see God and to do good to others.





Pope Francis      18.03.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace - Catechesis on the Beatitudes         Matthew 5:7     

Pope Francis talks about Mercy and Forgiveness 18.03.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we dwell on the fifth Beatitude, which says: "Blessed are the merciful, because they will find mercy"(Mt 5:7). In this Beatitude there is a peculiarity: it is the only one in which the cause and the fruit of happiness coincide, mercy. Those who exercise mercy will find mercy.

This theme of the reciprocity of forgiveness is not only present in this Beatitude, but is repeated in the Gospel. And how could it be otherwise? Mercy is God's very heart! Jesus says: "Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven"(Luke 6:37). Always the same reciprocity. And James' Letter states that "mercy always triumphs over judgment" (2:13).

But it is above all in the Our Father that we pray: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Mt 6:12); and this is the only part of the prayer that is repeated at the end : "If you in fact forgive others for their faults, your Father who is in heaven will forgive you too; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions"(Mt 6:14-15; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,2838).

There are two things that cannot be separated: the forgiveness given and the forgiveness received. But so many people are in difficulty, they can't forgive. So often the evil received is so great that being able to forgive seems like climbing a very high mountain: a huge effort; and one thinks: you can't, you can't. This fact of the reciprocity of mercy indicates that we need to turn our perspective upside down. We alone cannot, we need the grace of God, we must ask for it. Indeed, if the fifth Beatitude promises to find mercy and Our Father asks for the forgiveness of sins, it means that we are essentially debtors and we need to find mercy!

We're all indebted. All. To God, who is so generous, and to our brothers and sisters. Every person knows that he or she is not the father or mother they should be, the husband or wife, the brother or sister that they should be. We are all "deficient" in life. And we need mercy. We know that we too have done evil, there is always something missing from the good that we should have done.

But it is precisely this poverty of ours that becomes the force for forgiveness! We are indebted and if, as we heard at the beginning, we will be measured by the extent to which we measure others (cf. Luke 6:38), then we should enlarge the measure and pay back the debts, forgive. Everyone must remember that they need to forgive, we need forgiveness, we need patience; this is the secret of mercy: by forgiving you are forgiven. Therefore God precedes us and forgives us first (cf Rm 5:8). By receiving his forgiveness, we become capable in turn of forgiving. Thus one's own misery and lack of justice become an opportunity to open up to the kingdom of heaven, to a greater measure, the measure of God, which is mercy.

Where does our mercy come from? Jesus said to us: "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful"(Luke 6:36). The more you welcome the love of the Father, the more you love each other (cf. CCC,2842). Mercy is not a dimension among others, but it is the centre of Christian life: there is no Christianity without mercy. John Paul II said that. If all our Christianity does not lead us to mercy, we have gone the wrong way, because mercy is the only true goal of every spiritual journey. It is one of the most beautiful fruits of love. CCC, 1829). 

I remember that this theme was chosen from the first Angelus that I had to say as Pope: mercy. And this has remained very imprinted in me, as a message that as Pope I should always give, a message that must be given everyday: mercy. I remember that day I also had the somewhat "shameless" attitude of advertising a book on mercy, just published by Cardinal Kasper. And that day I felt so strong that this is the message I must give, as Bishop of Rome: mercy, mercy, please, forgiveness.

God's mercy is our liberation and our happiness. We live with mercy and we cannot afford to be without mercy: it is the air to breathe. We are too poor to dictate the conditions, we need to forgive, because we need to be forgiven. Thank you!




Pope Francis    01.04.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace - Catechesis on the Beatitudes          Matthew 5: 8

Pope Francis Blessed are the Pure in Heart 01.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we read together the sixth Beatitude, which promises the vision of God and has as a condition purity of heart.

One of the Psalms says: "Come says my heart seek his face ; your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me" (27:8-9). This language reveals the thirst for a personal relationship with God, not a mechanical, not one that is up high in the sky, no: personal, which even Job's book expresses as a sign of a sincere relationship. As Job says, "I had heard of you by hearsay, but now my eyes have seen you"(Jb 42:5). And so many times I think that this is the path of life, in our relations with God. We know God by hearsay, but we move forward with our experience , forward, forward and eventually we know Him directly, if we are faithful ... And this is the maturity of the Spirit.

How can we get to this intimacy, to know God with our eyes? One can think of the disciples of Emmaus, for example, who had the Lord Jesus beside him, "but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him" (Luke 24:16). The Lord opens their eyes at the end of a journey that culminates with the breaking of bread and began with a rebuke: "How foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!" (Luke 24:25). This was the rebuke at the beginning. Here is the origin of their blindness: their foolish and slow heart. And when the heart is foolish and slow, you don't see things. You see things as cloudy. Here lies the wisdom of this Beatitude: in order to contemplate it is necessary to look deep within our hearts and make room for God, because, as St. Augustine says, "You were more inward to me than my most inward part" (Confessions,III,6,11). To see God, it is not necessary to change glasses or observation points, or to change theological authors that teach the path: we must free the heart from its deceptions! This path is the only one.

This is a decisive maturation: when we realize that our worst enemy is often hidden in our hearts. The noblest battle is against the inner deceptions generated by our sins. Because sins change the inner vision, they change the evaluation of things, they makes us see things that are not true, or at least that are not so true.

It is therefore important to understand what "purity of the heart" is. To do this, it is necessary to remember that in the Bible the heart is not only feelings, but is the most intimate place of the human being, the inner space where a person is himself. This, according to the biblical mentality. The same Gospel of Matthew says: "If the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be!" (6:23). This "light" is the gaze of the heart, the perspective, the synthesis, the point from which reality is read (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 143).

But what does pure in heart mean? The pure in heart live in the presence of the Lord, preserving in their hearts what is worthy of the relationship with Him; only in this way do they possesses a unified life, linear, not winding but simple. The purified heart is therefore the result of a process that involves liberation and renunciation. The pure of heart is not born thus, it has experienced an inner simplification, learning to renounce evil in itself, which in the Bible is called circumcision of the heart (cf. Dt 10,16; 30.6; Ez 44.9; Ger 4,4).

This inner purification implies the recognition of that part of the heart that is under the influence of evil – "You know, Father, I feel like this, I think so, I see so, and this is bad": to recognize the bad part, the part that is clouded by evil – to learn the art of letting oneself always be taught and guided by the Holy Spirit. The journey from the sick heart, from the sinful heart, from the heart that cannot see things well, because it is in sin, to the fullness of the light of the heart is the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who guides us to make this journey. Here, through this journey of the heart, we come to "see God".

In this Beatific vision there is a future, eschatological dimension, as in all Beatitudes it is the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven toward which we move. But there is also another dimension: to see God means to understand the designs of providence in what happens to us, to recognize His presence in the sacraments, His presence in our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and suffering, and to recognize Him where He manifests Himself (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,2519). 

This Beatitude is a bit of the fruit of the previous ones: if we have listened to the thirst for the good that dwells within us and we are aware of living with mercy, it begins a journey of liberation that lasts all life and leads to Heaven. It is a serious work, a work that the Holy Spirit does if we give him space to do so, if we are open to the action of the Holy Spirit. For this reason we can say that it is a work of God in us – in the trials and purifications of life – and this work of God and the Holy Spirit leads to great joy, to true peace. Let us not be afraid, let us open the doors of our hearts to the Holy Spirit to purify us and take us forward on this path to full joy.




Pope Francis   15.04.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace - Catechesis on the Beatitudes       Matthew 5:9

Poep Francis talks about Peace 15.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's catechesis is dedicated to the seventh Beatitude, that of the "peacemakers", who are proclaimed children of God. I am happy that this one falls right after Easter, because the peace of Christ is a fruit of his death and resurrection, as we heard from the letter of St. Paul. To understand this Beatitude, one must explain the meaning of the word "peace", which can be misunderstood or sometimes trivialized.

We must orient ourselves between two ideas of peace: the first is the biblical one, where the beautiful word shalòm appears, which expresses abundance, flourishing, well-being. When one wishes shalòm on someone in Hebrew, the desire is that of a life that is beautiful, full, prosperous, but also one in accord with truth and justice, which would be fulfilled in the Messiah, Prince of Peace (cf. Is 9:6; Mic 5.4-5).

Then there is the other, more widespread sense, in which the word "peace" is understood as a kind of inner tranquility: I am quiet, I am at peace. This is a modern, psychological and more subjective idea. It is commonly thought that peace is quiet, harmony, internal balance. This meaning of the word "peace" is incomplete and cannot be absolutized, because in life anxieties can be an important time to growth. So often it is the Lord himself who sows restlessness in us so that we go to him, to find him. In this sense it is an important moment of growth; while it may happen that inner tranquility corresponds to a tame consciousness and not to true spiritual redemption. Many times the Lord must be a "sign of contradiction" (cf. Luke 2:34-35), shaking our false security, to bring us to salvation. And at that moment it seems that we are not at peace, but it is the Lord who puts us on this path to achieve the peace that He himself will give us.

Regarding this point we must remember that the Lord means his peace as different from that of the human one, that of the world, when he says: "Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you"(John 14:27). Jesus' peace is another peace, different from the worldly one.

Let us ask ourselves: how does the world give peace? If we think of the conflicts of war, wars usually end in two ways: either with the defeat of either side, or with peace treaties. We can only wish and pray that this second way will always be the one opted for; however, we must consider that history is an endless series of peace treaties broken by successive wars, or by the transformation of those same wars in other ways or in other places. Even in our time, a piecemeal war is being fought on various fronts and in various ways. We must at least suspect that in the context of a globalization made up mainly of economic or financial interests, the "peace" of some corresponds to the "war" of others. And this is not The peace of Christ! 

Instead, how does the Lord Jesus "give" his peace? We have heard St. Paul say that Christ's peace is "making both one" (cf. Eph 2:14), to end enmity and to reconcile. And the way to accomplish this work of peace is his body. In fact, he reconciles all things and makes peace with the blood of his cross, as the same Apostle himself says elsewhere (cf. Col 1:20).

And here I ask myself, and we can all ask ourselves: who are, therefore, the "peacemakers"? The seventh Beatitude is the most active, explicitly operative; the verbal expression is analogous to that used in the first verse of the Bible for creation and indicates initiative and industriousness. Love by its nature is creative – love is always creative – and seeks reconciliation at any cost. Those who have learned the art of peace and exercise it are called children of God, they know that there is no reconciliation without the gift of their own life, and that peace must always be sought and in every case. Always and in every case: don't forget this! It must be sought this way. This is not an autonomous work that is the result of one's own abilities, it is a manifestation of the grace received by Christ, who is our peace, who has made us children of God.

True shalòm and true inner balance flow from the peace of Christ, which comes from his Cross and generates a new humanity, incarnated in an infinite host of inventive and creative saints, who have come up with new ways to love. The Saints, the Saints who made peace. This life as children of God, who by the blood of Christ seek and find their brothers and sisters , is true happiness. Blessed are those who take that path.

And again happy Easter to everyone, in the peace of Christ!




Pope Francis 29.04.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace - Catechesis on the Beatitudes        Matthew 5: 10

Pope Francis - Beatitudes - Persecution 29.04.20

Catechesis on the Beatitudes: 9."“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:10)

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

With today's audience we conclude the catechesis on the Beatitudes. As we have heard, the last one proclaims the eschatological joy of those persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

This Beatitude proclaims the same happiness as the first: the kingdom of Heaven is given to the persecuted as it is to the poor in spirit. We thus understand that we have arrived at the end of a unified journey that has been unfolded in the previous proclamations.

Poverty of spirit, weeping, meekness, thirst for holiness, mercy, purification of the heart and works of peace can lead to persecution for Christ's sake, but this persecution in the end is a cause of joy and great reward in heaven. The path of the Beatitudes is an Easter journey that leads from a life according to the world to a life according to God, from an existence guided by the flesh – that is, selfishness – to one guided by the Spirit.

The world, with its idols, its compromises and its priorities, cannot approve of this kind of existence. The "structures of sin", often produced by a human mentality, so alien as they are to 'the Spirit of Truth that the world cannot receive' (cf. John 14:17), can only reject poverty or meekness or purity and declare life according to the Gospel as a mistake and a problem, therefore as something to be marginalized. That's how the world thinks: "These are idealists or fanatics". That's what they think.

If the world lives on the basis of money, anyone who proves that life can be fulfilled through giving and renunciation becomes a nuisance to the system of greed. This word "nuisance" is key, because the only Christian witness which is so good for so many people, disturbs those who have a worldly mentality. They take it as a reproach. When holiness appears and the life of God's children emerges, in that beauty there is something uncomfortable that calls for a position to be taken: others either open themselves to the question and open themselves to good or reject that light and harden their hearts, even up to opposition and hardship (cf. Wisdom 2: 14-15). It is curious, it is striking to see how in the persecutions of martyrs, hostility grows until it becomes fierceness. It is enough to look at the persecutions of the last century, of European dictatorships: that they came to the resentment against Christians, against Christian witness and against the heroism of Christians.

But this shows that the drama of persecution is also the place of liberation from subjugation to the success, boasting and compromises of the world. What is rejoiced by those who are rejected by the world because of Christ? They rejoices that they have found something worth more than the whole world. In fact, "what advantage is there for a person to gain the whole world and lose his life?" (Mark 8:36). What advantage is there?

It is painful to remember that, at this time, there are many Christians who are suffering persecution in various parts of the world, and we must hope and pray that their tribulation is stopped as soon as possible. There are many: today's martyrs are more than the martyrs of the first centuries. We express our closeness to these brothers and sisters: we are one body, and these Christians are the bleeding member of the body of Christ that is the Church. 

But we must also be careful not to read this Beatitude in a victimistic, self-pitying way. In fact, the contempt is not always synonymous with persecution: just after Jesus says that Christians are the "salt of the earth", he warns of the danger of "losing its taste", otherwise salt is good for nothing else but to be thrown away and trampled underfoot"(Mt 5: 13). Therefore, there is also a contempt that is our fault when we lose the taste of Christ and the Gospel.

We must be faithful to the humble path of the Beatitudes, because it is what leads to being of Christ and not of the world. It is worth remembering the path of St. Paul: when he thought he was a righteous man he was in fact a persecutor, but when he discovered that he was a persecutor, he became a man of love, who happily faced the sufferings of the persecution he suffered (cf. 1.24).

Exclusion and persecution, if God grants us that grace, make us look like Christ crucified and, by associating us with his passion, are the manifestation of new life. This life is the same as Christ, who for us and for our salvation was "despised and rejected by men" (cf. Is 53:3; Acts 8:30-35). Accepting his Spirit can lead us to have so much love in our hearts that we offer our lives for the world without compromising with its deceptions and accepting its rejection of us. 

Compromises with the world are danger: Christians are always tempted to compromise with the world, with the spirit of the world. This – rejecting compromises and going down the road of Jesus Christ – is the life of the Kingdom of Heaven, the greatest joy, true joy. And then, in persecution there is always the presence of Jesus who accompanies us, the presence of Jesus who consoles us and the strength of the Spirit that helps us to move forward. 

Let us not be discouraged when a life that is consistent with the Gospel attracts people's persecutions: there is the Spirit that sustains us, on this path.