Celebration - Pope Francis       

The message that Jesus wants to give is one that people have always had trouble understanding: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. Our God is indeed a God of mercy. You can see it well in the story of Matthew.

Jesus looks at Matthew and awakens something new within him, something that he did not know. The gaze of Jesus makes him feel an interior wonder, and makes him hear “the call of Jesus: follow me”. It only took a moment to understand that that look had changed his life forever. And it is in this moment that Matthew says yes, leaves everything and goes with the Lord.

The first moment of the encounter, which consists of a deep spiritual experience, is followed by a second experience: that of
celebration. The Gospel continues with Jesus sitting at table with publicans and sinners; those who “were rejected by society”. But this is the contradiction of the celebration of God: the Lord feasts with sinners. Luke’s Gospel (15) clearly says that there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance. This is why celebration is very important, because the encounter with Jesus and the mercy of God should be celebrated.

But life is not one big party. There is a time for celebration, but then there must be “daily work, fuelled by the memory of that first encounter”. It is the memory of mercy and of that celebration that gives Matthew, and everyone who has chosen to follow Christ, the strength to go forward. This must be remembered forever.

Pope Francis      12.08.15 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall       The family - 22. Celebration         Genesis 2: 2-3

Pope Francis Family Celebration 12.08.15

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we open a short series of reflections on the three dimensions that articulate, so to speak, the rhythm of family life: celebration, work, prayer.

Let’s begin with celebration. Today we will speak about celebration. And
 let’s say straight away that celebration is the invention of God. Let us recall the conclusion of the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis, which we have heard: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation” (2:2-3). God himself teaches us the importance of dedicating time to contemplate and enjoy what has been done well in work. I speak of work, naturally, not only in the sense of employment and profession, but in the broader sense: every action by which we as men and women cooperate in God’s creative work.

Thus celebration is not lazily lounging in an armchair, or the euphoria of foolish escape. No, celebration is first and foremost a loving and grateful look at work well done; we celebrate work. You too, newlyweds, are celebrating the work of a fine period of engagement: and this is beautiful! It is the time to look at your children, or grandchildren, who are growing up, and to think: how beautiful! It’s the time to look at our home, the friends we host, the community that surrounds us, and to think: what a good thing! God did this when he created the world. And he does so again and again, because God is always creating, even at this moment!

It may happen that a celebration occurs in difficult or sorrowful circumstances, and perhaps we celebrate “with a lump in our throat”. Yet, even in these cases, we ask God for the strength not to empty it completely. You mothers and fathers really understand this: how many times, for love of your children, you are able to swallow your sorrows so as to let them enjoy the celebration, to savour the good taste of life! There is so much love in this!

In the workplace too, at times — without neglecting our duties — we are able to let “infiltrate” a glint of celebration: a birthday, a wedding, a birth, just as a farewell or a new arrival..., it’s important. It’s important to celebrate. These are family moments in the inner workings of the productive machinery: it does us good!

A true moment of celebration brings work to a pause, and it is sacred, because it reminds men and women that they are made in the image of God, who is not a slave to work, but its Lord, and thus we too must never be slaves to work, but its “lords”. There is a commandment about this, a commandment which concerns everyone, without exception! Yet we know that there are millions of men and women and even children who are slaves to labour! At this time there are slaves, they are exploited, slaves to labour and this is against God and against the dignity of the human person! The obsession with economic profit and technical hyper-efficiency put the human rhythms of life at risk, for life has its human rhythms. The time for rest, especially on Sunday, is ordained for us so that we can enjoy what is not produced and not consumed, not bought and not sold. Instead we see that the ideology of profit and consumerism even wants to feed on celebration: it too is sometimes reduced to a “business”, to a way of making and spending money. But is this what we are working for? The greed of consumerism, which leads to waste, is an ugly virus which, among other things, makes us end up even more tired than before. It harms true labour and consumes life. Irregular rhythms of celebration often make victims of the young.

Ultimately, the time for celebration is sacred because God is there in a special way. Sunday Eucharist brings to the celebration every grace of Jesus Christ: his presence, his love, his sacrifice, his forming us into a community, his being with us.... And like this every reality receives its full meaning: work, family, the joys and trials of each day, even suffering and death; everything becomes transfigured by the grace of Christ.

The family is endowed with an extraordinary ability to understand, guide and sustain the authentic value of the time for celebration. How beautiful family celebrations are, they are beautiful! Sunday celebrations in particular. It is surely no coincidence that celebrations which have room for the whole family are those that turn out the best!

Family life itself, regarded through the eyes of faith, looks better to us than the toils that cost us. It looks to us like a masterpiece of simplicity, beautiful precisely because it is not artificial, not false, but able to incorporate within itself all aspects of real life. It looks to us like something “very good”, as God says at the completion of the creation of man and woman (cf. Gen 1:31). Thus, celebration is a precious gift of God; a precious gift that God gave to the human family: let’s not spoil it!

Pope Francis       28.01.20     Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas          2 Samuel 6: 12b-15, 17-19
Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas - Tuesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time - Lectionary Cycle II

Pope Francis talks about Celebration, Joy and Evangelization 28.01.20

The first Reading today, taken from the second book of Samuel, speaks of David and all the people of Israel celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem following its capture.

The Ark had been captured and its return is a great joy for the people. The people felt that God was close to them and celebrated. And King David was with them, he put himself at the head of the procession, and made a sacrifice of an ox and a fat ram. He joined the people shouting, singing and dancing "with all his might". 

It was a celebration: the joy of God's people was because God was with them. And David? Danced. He dances before the people, expresses his joy without embarrassed; it is the spiritual joy of meeting the Lord: God has returned to the people, and this gives them so much joy. David does not think that he is the king and that the king must be detached from the people, his majesty, with the distance ... David loves the Lord, he is happy for this event to bring back the ark of the Lord. He expresses this happiness, this joy, dancing and even singing like all the people.

It happens to us, we feel this joy when we are with the Lord and, perhaps in the parish or in our villages, we celebrate. There was another episode in the history of Israel, when the book of the law was found at the time of Nehemiah and even then the people wept with joy, continuing home to celebrate. 

The text of the prophet Samuel goes on to describe David's return to his home where he finds one of his wives, Michal, Saul's daughter. She welcomes him with contempt. Seeing the king dance she was ashamed of him and scolded him by saying: "But were you dancing shamelessly like a common person, like one of the people?"
It is the contempt for genuine religiosity, of the spontaneity of joy of being with the Lord. And David explains to her: "But look, this was a source of joy. Joy in the Lord, because we brought the Ark home!" But she despises him. And the Bible says that this lady – her name was Michal – had no children for this. The Lord punished her. When joy is lacking in a Christian, that Christian is not fruitful; when joy is lacking in our hearts, there is no fruitfulness.

Celebration is not only expressed spiritually, but becomes sharing. David, that day, after the blessing, had distributed "a loaf of bread for each person, a portion of roasted meat and a cake of raisins", so that everyone could celebrate in their own home. The Word of God is not ashamed of celebration. It is true, sometimes the danger of joy is to go further and believe that this is everything. No: this is the festive air. St. Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi" speaks of this aspect and exhorts joy. "The Church will not go forward, the Gospel will not go forward with boring, embittered evangelizers. It will only go forward with joyful evangelizers, full of life. The joy in receiving the Word of God, the joy of being Christians, the joy of moving forward, the ability to celebrate without shame and not be like this lady, Michal, formal Christians, Christian prisoners of formalities."