Encounter with Jesus



Pope Francis      03.09.15 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        Luke 5: 1-11
Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

In this passage, taken from Luke (5:1-11), Peter is told to cast his nets after he spent a fruitless night of fishing. It’s the first time that this happens, this miraculous catch. But after the Resurrection there will be another, with similar characteristics. Simon Peter falls down at Jesus’ knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord”. From this gesture, Jesus encounters the people and how the people encounter Jesus.

First of all, Jesus takes to the streets, he spends most of his time on the streets, with the people; then late in the evening he goes alone to pray. Thus, he encounters people, he seeks them. But, how do the people encounter Jesus? Basically, there are two different ways. One is what we see from Peter and the other is what the people do. The Gospel uses the same word for these people: for the people, for the Apostles, and for Peter. It says that upon encountering Jesus, they were ‘astonished’. Peter, the Apostles, and the people, show this feeling of astonishment and say: “This man speaks with authority”. On the contrary, however, the Gospels also speak of another group who encounter Jesus but who do not let astonishment enter their heart. They are the doctors of the Law, who hear Jesus and calculate: “He is intelligent, a man who says things that are true, but these things are not appropriate for us”.

Basically, they distance themselves. Then there are those who listen to Jesus, and there are demons, such as in the Gospel Reading on Wednesday, 2 September. There, we read that Jesus laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God’. The demons, the doctors of the Law, the wicked Pharisees do not have a capacity for astonishment, they are closed by their self-importance, by their arrogance.

Instead, the people and Peter are capable of astonishment. What is the difference? In fact, Peter confesses what the demons confess. When, in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks: “Who am I?”, and Peter answers, “You are the Son of God, you are the Messiah”. Peter makes a confession, saying who He is. And the demons also do the same, acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God. But Peter adds another something that the demons do not say. That is, he speaks about himself and says: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner”. The Pharisees, the doctors of the Law, the demons are unable to say this, they are incapable. The demons, can speak the truth about him, but they say nothing about themselves, because their arrogance is so great that it prevents them from saying it.

Even the doctors of the Law acknowledge that this man is intelligent, he is a competent rabbi, he works miracles. But they are unable to add: “We are arrogant, we are self-important, we are sinners”.

Here then is the lesson that applies to everyone: The inability to acknowledge that we are sinners distances us from the true confession of Jesus Christ. This, precisely, is the difference. Jesus illustrates it in that beautiful parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee in the temple, where we are met with the Pharisee’s arrogance before the altar. The man speaks highly of himself, but never says: “I am a sinner, I have made mistakes”. This is compared with the humility of the tax collector, who would not even lift up his eyes, and who says only: “Have mercy, Lord, I am a sinner”, opening himself to astonishment at the encounter with Jesus Christ, the true encounter.

In our parishes, in our societies, among consecrated people too: how many people are able to say that Jesus is the Lord? Quite a lot! But it is difficult to hear a sincerely stated ‘I am a sinful man, I am a sinful woman’. It is probably, easier to say it about others, when gossiping” and pointing the finger: “This one, that one, this yes...”. In doing so, we are all doctors.

Instead, to come to a true encounter with Jesus, a twofold confession is necessary: ‘You are the Son of God and I am a sinner’. But not just in theory: we have to be honest with ourselves, be able to identify our mistakes and admit: I am a sinner for this, for this, for this and for this....

Later Peter perhaps forgets this astonishment at the encounter, the astonishment that he had when Jesus said to him: “You are Simon, Son of John, but I will call you Peter”. And one day, the same Peter who makes this twofold confession will deny the Lord. However, being humble, he even lets himself be encountered by the Lord, and when their eyes meet, he cries, returning to the confession: ‘I am a sinner’.

May the Lord give us the grace, to encounter him but also to let ourselves be encountered by him. The beautiful grace of astonishment at the encounter, but also the grace of having the twofold confession in our life: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I believe. And I am a sinner, I believe'.





Pope Francis  26.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Martha) Third Sunday of Easter        Luke 24: 13-35

Pope Francis God walks with us 26.04.20

Let us pray today, in this Mass, for all the people who suffer sadness, because they are alone or because they do not know what future awaits them or because they cannot provide for their family because they have no money, because they have no work. So many people who suffer sadness. We pray for them today.

So many times we have heard that Christianity is not just a doctrine, or a way of behaving, it is not a culture. Yes, it is all that, but more important and first of all, it is an encounter. A person is a Christian because he or she has met Jesus, he or she has allowed themselves to meet with him.

This passage of Luke's Gospel tells us about an encounter, how to understand well how the Lord acts, and how our way of acting is. We were born with a seed of restlessness. God wanted it like this: an anxiety to find fullness, an anxiety to find God. So often even without knowing that we have this concern our hearts are restless, our hearts thirsty: thirsty for an encounter with God. It looks for it many times on the wrong road: it gets lost, then returns, it looks for him . On the other hand, God thirsts to meet, so much so that he sent Jesus to meet us, to come and meet this concern.

How does Jesus act? In this passage of the Gospel (cf. Luke 24: 13-35) we see that he respects, respects our own situation, does not move forward. Only sometimes, with the stubborn, we think of Paul don't we? When he is thrown off the horse. But he usually goes slowly, respectful of our readiness. He's the Lord of patience. How much patience the Lord has with each of us! The Lord walks beside us.

As we have seen here with these two disciples, he listen to our concerns – he knows them! – and at some point he tells us something. The Lord likes to hear how we speak, to understand us well and to give the right answer to that concern. The Lord does not accelerate the pace, he always goes at our pace, often slow, but his patience is like this.
There is an ancient rule of pilgrims that says that the real pilgrim must go at the pace of the slowest person. And Jesus is capable of this, he does it, he does not accelerate, he waits for us to take the first step. And when the time comes, he asks us the question. In this case it is clear: "But what are you discussing?" (see v.17), he becomes ignorant to make us talk. He likes us to talk. He likes to hear us, he likes to talk like that. To listen to us and respond, he makes us speak, as if he was ignorant, but with so much respect. And then he answers, he explains, to the necessary extent. Here he tells us : ""Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them the passages in all the scriptures that were about himself." He explains and clarifies.

I confess that I am curious to know how Jesus explained in order to do the same. It was a beautiful catechesis. And then the same Jesus who accompanies us, who draws near to us, pretends to go further to see the extent of our disquiet: "No, come, come, stay with us a little" (v. 29). So the encounter happens. But the encounter is not only the moment of breaking bread, here, but it is the entire journey. We meet Jesus in the darkness of our doubts. Even in the ugly doubt of our sins, He is there to help us, in our anxieties. He's always with us.

The Lord accompanies us because he wants to meet us. That is why we say that the core of Christianity is an encounter: it is the encounter with Jesus. Why are you a Christian? Why are you a Christian? And many people don't know what to say. Some say it's by tradition but others do not know what to say: because they met Jesus, but they did not realize that it was an encounter with Jesus. Jesus always seeks us. All the time. And we have our own concern. When our concern meets Jesus, there the life of grace begins, the life of fullness, the life of the Christian journey.

May the Lord grant us all this grace to meet Jesus every day, to know, to know that he walks with us in all our moments. He's our pilgrimage companion.





Pope Francis  27.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Monday of the Third Week of Easter      John 6: 22-29

Pope Francis Remember the First Encounter with Jesus 27.04.20
 

Let us pray today for artists, who have this great capacity for creativity and through beauty show us the way forward. May the Lord give us all the grace of creativity at this time.

The people who had listened to Jesus throughout the day, and then had this grace of the multiplication of loaves and saw the power of Jesus, wanted to make him king. First they went to Jesus to hear the word and also to ask for the sick to be healed. They stayed all day listening to Jesus without getting bored, without getting tired or being tired, but they were there, happy. But then when they saw that Jesus fed them, which they did not expect, they thought: "But he would be a good leader for us and surely he will be able to free us from the power of the Romans and take the country forward". And they were enthusiastic to make him king. Their intention changed, because they saw and thought: "Well ... a person who does this miracle, who feeds the people, can be a good leader." But they had forgotten at that moment the enthusiasm that the word of Jesus gave rise to in their hearts.

Jesus left and went to pray. These people stayed there, and next day they were looking for Jesus, "because he must be here" they said, because they had seen that he had not boarded the boat with the others. And there was a boat there, it stayed there . But they did not know that Jesus had joined the others by walking on the water. So they decided to go to the other side of the Sea of Tiberias to look for Jesus, and when they saw him, the first word they say to him was ( "Rabbi, when did you get here?", as if saying: "We do not understand, this seems a strange thing".

And Jesus makes them return to their first feelings, to what they had before the multiplication of the loaves, when they listened to the word of God: "I say to you: you are looking for me not because you saw signs - as at the beginning, the sign of the word, that excited them, the signs of healing - not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled." Jesus reveals their intention and says: "But this is how you have changed your attitude." And they, instead of justifying themselves: "No, Lord, no...", were humble. Jesus continues: "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life and that the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal." And being good they said, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" and Jesus says "Believe in the Son of God." This is a case in which Jesus corrects the attitude of the people, of the crowd, because they had gradually distanced themselves from the first spiritual consolation and had taken a path that was not right, a path more worldly than evangelical.

This makes us think that so many times in life we begin to follow Jesus, behind Jesus, with the values of the Gospel, and halfway there comes another idea, we see some signs and we turn away and conform with something more temporal, more material, more worldly, perhaps, and we lose the memory of that first enthusiasm that we had when we heard Jesus speak. The Lord always brings us back to the first encounter, to the first moment when he looked at us, spoke to us and aroused within us the desire to follow him. This is a grace to ask the Lord, because we in life will always have this temptation to move away because we see something else: "But that will be fine, but that idea is good...". We're moving away. The grace to always return to the first call, to the first moment: do not forget, do not forget my story, when Jesus looked at me with love and said to me: "This is your path"; when Jesus through so many people made me understand the path of the Gospel and not other somewhat worldly paths, with other values. Go back to the first encounter.

It has always struck me that among the things Jesus says on the morning of the Resurrection: "Go to my disciples and tell them to go to Galilee, there they will find me", Galilee was the place of the first meeting. There they had met Jesus. Each of us has our own "Galilee" within us, our own moment when Jesus approached us and said, "Follow me." In life similar things happen to us like what happened with these good people, and then they say to him: "But what should we do?", and they obeyed right away - it happens that we move away and look for other values, other ways of interpretation, other things, and we lose the freshness of the first call. The author of the letter to the Hebrews also reminds us of this: "Remember the first days." The memory, the memory of the first encounter, the memory of "my Galilee", when the Lord looked at me with love and said, "Follow me."





Pope Francis        08.07.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Hosea 10: 1-3, 7-8, 12      Psalm 105: 2-7,       Matthew 10: 1-7
Wednesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time

Pope Francis The Face of Jesus 08.07.20

The Responsorial Psalm invites us always to seek the Lord’s face: “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Ps 105:4). This quest is fundamental for the life of every believer, for we have come to realize that our ultimate goal in life is the encounter with God.

To seek the face of God is an assurance that our journey through this world will end well. It is an exodus towards the Promised Land, our heavenly home. The face of God is our destination and the guiding star that helps us not to lose our way.

The people of Israel, as described by the prophet Hosea in the first reading (cf. 10:1-3.7-8.12), had gone astray. They had lost sight of the Promised Land and were wandering in the desert of iniquity. Abundance, prosperity and wealth had caused their hearts to drift away from the Lord and had filled them instead with falsehood and injustice.

We too, as Christians today, are not immune to this sin. “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!” (Homily in Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).

Hosea’s words reach us today as a renewed summons to conversion, a call to turn our eyes to the Lord and recognize his face. The prophet says: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (10:12).

Our efforts to seek the face of God are born of the desire for an encounter with the Lord, a personal encounter, an encounter with his immense love, with his saving power. The twelve apostles described in today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 10:1-7) received the grace to encounter him physically in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Jesus – as we heard – called each of them by name. He looked them in the eye, and they in turn gazed at his face, listened to his voice and beheld his miracles. The personal encounter with the Lord, a time of grace and salvation, entails a mission: “As you go”, Jesus tells them, proclaim the good news: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (v. 7). Encounter and mission must not be separated.

This kind of personal encounter with Jesus Christ is possible also for us, who are the disciples of the third millennium. In our effort to seek the Lord’s face, we can recognize him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. This encounter becomes also for us a time of grace and salvation, and summons us to the same mission entrusted to the Apostles.

Today marks the seventh year, the seventh anniversary of my visit to Lampedusa. In the light of God’s word, I would like to repeat what I said to those taking part in the meeting “Free from Fear” in February last year: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us this. He is the one knocking on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned; he is the one seeking an encounter with us, asking our help, asking to come ashore. And lest we have any doubt, he tells us categorically: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me’” (Mt 25:40).

“Whatever you did...” for better or for worse! This admonition is all the more timely today. We ought to use it as a basic starting point for our daily examination of conscience. Here I think of Libya, detention camps, the abuses and violence to which migrants are subjected; I think of journeys of hope, rescue operations, and cases of rejection. “Whatever you did… you did to me.”

I remember that day, seven years ago, in the very south of Europe, on that island… A number of people told me their stories and all that they had gone through to get there. There were interpreters present. One person was telling me about terrible things in his language, and the interpreter seemed to translate well, but this person spoke so long and the translation was brief. “Well”, I thought, “their language must require more words to express an idea”. When I returned home that afternoon, in the reception area there was a lady – God bless her, she has since passed away - who was a daughter of Ethiopians. She understood the language and she had seen our conversation on television. She said this to me. “Listen, what the Ethiopian translator told you is not even a quarter of the torture and suffering that those people experienced”. They gave me the “distilled” version. This is what is happening today with Libya: they are giving us a “distilled version”. The war is indeed horrible, we know that, but you cannot imagine the hell that people are living there, in that detention camp. And those people came only with hope of crossing the sea.

May the Virgin Mary, Solacium migrantium, “Solace of Migrants”, help us discover the face of her Son in all our brothers and sisters forced to flee their homeland because of the many injustices that continue to afflict our world.