Ephesians

  

 Chapter 1
3-6, 15-18
 
Pope Francis   08.12.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square   Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary   Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12,     Luke 1: 26-38


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


The message of today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary can be summed up in these words: everything is a free gift from God, everything is grace, everything is a gift out of his love for us. The Angel Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace” (Lk 1:28): in her there is no room for sin, because God chose her from eternity to be the mother of Jesus and preserved her from original sin. And Mary corresponds to the grace and abandons herself, saying to the Angel: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (v. 38). She does not say: “I shall do it according to your word”: no! But: “Let it be done to me...”. And the Word was made flesh in her womb. We too are asked to listen to God who speaks to us, and to accept his will; according to the logic of the Gospel nothing is more productive and fruitful than listening to and accepting the Word of the Lord, which comes from the Gospel, from the Bible. The Lord is always speaking to us!

The attitude of Mary of Nazareth shows us that being comes before doing, and to leave the doing to God in order to be truly as he wants us. It is He who works so many marvels in us. Mary is receptive, but not passive. Because, on the physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit and then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God who forms within her. Thus, on the spiritual level, she accepts the grace and corresponds to it with faith. That is why St Augustine affirms that the Virgin “conceived in her heart before her womb” (Discourses, 215, 4). She conceived first faith and then the Lord. This mystery of the acceptance of grace, which in Mary, as a unique privilege, was without the obstacle of sin, is a possibility for all. St Paul, indeed, opens his Letter to the Ephesians with these words of praise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3). As Mary was greeted by St Elizabeth as “blessed among women” (cf. Lk 1:42), so too we have always been “blessed”, that is, loved, and thus “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless” (Eph 1:4). Mary was pre-served, while we have been saved thanks to Baptism and to the faith. However, all people, she and we together, through Christ, “to the praise of his glorious grace” (v. 6), with which grace the Immaculata was endowed to the fullest.

Regarding this love, regarding this mercy, the divine grace poured into our hearts, one single thing is asked in return: unreserved giving. Not one of us can buy salvation! Salvation is a free gift of the Lord, a free gift of God that comes within us and dwells in us. As we have received freely, so are we called to give freely (cf. Mt 10:8); imitating Mary, who, immediately upon receiving the Angel’s announcement, went to share the gift of her fruitfulness with her relative Elizabeth. Because if everything has been given to us, then everything must be passed on. How? By allowing that the Holy Spirit make of us a gift for others. The Spirit is a gift for us and we, by the power of the Spirit, must be a gift for others and allow the Holy Spirit to turn us into instruments of acceptance, instruments of reconciliation, instruments of forgiveness. If our life is allowed to be transformed by the grace of the Lord, for the grace of the Lord does transform us, we will not be able to keep to ourselves the light that comes from his face, but we will let it pass on to enlighten others. Let us learn from Mary, who kept her gaze, constantly fixed on the Son and her face became “the face that looked most like Christ’s” (Dante, Paradiso, XXXII, 87). And to her let us now turn with the prayer that recalls the annunciation of the Angel.




Pope Francis          18.01.15  Holy Mass, Rizal Pak, Manila, Philippines          Santo Niño Sunday Year B      Isaiah 9: 1-6,     Ephesians 1; 3-6, 15-18,     Mark 10: 13-16


Pope Francis - Holy Mass Santo Niño Sunday - Manila 18.01.2015

“A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Is 9:5). It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness. It brings the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guides us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children”. That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.

The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph 1:3). These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.

God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4). He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”. He distracts us with the view of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: forget, at heart, that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.

The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.
Pope Francis - Mass Santo Niño Sunday - Manila, Philippines 18.01.2015

In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16). We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.

It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless





Pope Francis  05.01.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square     Second Sunday after Christmas Year A       Ephesians 1: 3-6, 15-18

Pope Francis Angelus 05.01.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On this second Sunday of Christmas Time, the Scripture Readings help us to broaden our gaze, in order to have a full awareness of the meaning of Jesus' birth.
The Gospel, with the Prologue of St. John, shows us the shocking novelty: the eternal Word, the Son of God, "became flesh" (v. 14). Not only did he come to live among the people, but he became one of the people, one of us! After this event, to guide our lives we no longer have only a law, an institution, but a Person, a divine Person, Jesus, who guides our lives, makes us go on the right path because He has done it before. 

St. Paul blesses God for his design of love made in Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 1:3-6, 15-18). In this plan each of us finds our fundamental vocation. What is it? So Paul says: we are predestined to be children of God by the work of Jesus Christ. The Son of God became a man to make us, men, children of God. For this reason the Eternal Son has made himself flesh: to introduce us into his filial relationship with the Father. 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, as we continue to contemplate the admirable sign of the Nativity scene, today's Liturgy tells us that the Gospel of Christ is not a fairy tale, it is not a myth, an uplifting tale, no. The Gospel of Christ is the full revelation of God's plan, of God's plan for human beings and the world. It is a message that is both simple and grandiose, that prompts us to ask ourselves: what concrete project has the Lord placed in me, as He continues to make His birth present among us?

It is the Apostle Paul who suggests the answer: "God has chosen us. To be holy and without blemish before him. In love" (v. 4). That's what Christmas means. If the Lord continues to come among us, if he continues to give us his Word, it is for each of us to respond to this call: to become saints in love. Holiness is belonging to God, it is communion with him, and becoming a manifestation of his infinite goodness. Holiness is to preserve the gift that God has given us. Only this: to guard the gratuitousness. This is being holy. Therefore, those who accept holiness as a gift of grace cannot fail to translate it into concrete action in everyday life. This gift, this grace that God has given me, I translate it into concrete actions in everyday life, in the encounter with others. This charity, this mercy towards our neighbour, is a reflection of God's love, and at the same time purifies our hearts and gives us forgiveness, making us "without blemish" day after day. But without blemish not in the sense that I take a stain off: immaculate in the sense that God enters us, the gift, the gratuitousness of God enters us and we guard it and give it to others. 

May the Blessed Virgin Mary helps us to welcome with joy and gratitude the divine design of love realized in Jesus Christ.




Pope Francis          02.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis on Prayer - 17. The Blessing        Ephesians 1: 3-6,       Genesis 1: 22,28, 2: 3


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis -  Talks about Blessing - General Audience - 02.12.2020


Today we will reflect on an essential dimension of prayer: blessing. We are continuing the reflections on prayer. In the creation accounts (see Gn 1-2), God continually blesses life, always. He blesses the animals (1:22), He blesses the man and the woman (1:28), finally, He blesses the Sabbath, the day of rest and the enjoyment of all of creation (2:3). It is God who blesses. On the first pages of the Bible, there is a continual repetition of blessings. God blesses, but men give blessings as well, and soon they discover that the blessing possesses a special power that accompanies the person who receives it throughout his or her entire life, and disposes the person’s heart to allow God to change it (see Second Vatican Council Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 61).

At the world’s beginning, therefore, there is a God who “speaks well”[1], who blesses. He sees that every work of His hands is good and beautiful, and when He creates man, and creation is complete, He recognizes that he is “very good” (Gn 1:31). Shortly thereafter, the beauty that God had imprinted within His work will be altered, and the human being will become a degenerate creature, capable of spreading evil and death in the world; but nothing will ever take away God’s original imprint of goodness that God placed in the world, in human nature, in all of us: the capacity of blessing and of being blessed. God did not make a mistake with creation nor with the creation of man. The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good[2], He is the first, as the poet Péguy said,[3] to continue to hope for our good.

God’s greatest blessing is Jesus Christ; His Son is God’s greatest. He is a blessing for all of humanity, He is the blessing that saved us all. He is the eternal Word with which the Father blessed us “while we were yet sinners” (Rm 5:8), St Paul says: the Word made flesh and offered for us on the cross.

St Paul proclaims with emotion God’s plan of love. And he says it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:3-6). There is no sin that can completely erase the image of Christ present in each one of us. No sin can erase that image that God has given us – the image of Christ. Sin can disfigure it, but not remove it from God’s mercy. A sinner can remain in error for a long time, but God is patient till the end, hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change. God is like a good father, He is a Father, and like a good mother, He is a good mother as well: they never stop loving their child, no matter what he or she may have done wrong, always. What comes to my mind is the many times that I have seen people in line to go into a prison, how many mothers are there in line to see their imprisoned child. They do not cease to love their child and they know that the people passing by on the bus are thinking: “Ah, that is the mother of a prisoner…”. They are not embarrassed about this. Yes, they are embarrassed but they go ahead. Just as their child is more important than their embarrassment, so we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit. Because He is a Father, He is a Mother, He is pure love, He has blessed us forever. And He will never cease blessing us.

What an impressive experience it is to read these biblical texts of blessing in a prison, or in a rehabilitation group. To allow these people to hear that they are still blessed, notwithstanding their grave errors, that the heavenly Father continues to desire their good and to hope that they will open themselves in the end to the good. Even if their closest relatives have abandoned them – many abandon them, they are not like those mothers who wait in life to see them, they are not important, they abandon them – they have abandoned them since they by now judge them to be irredeemable, they are always children to God. God cannot erase in us the image of sons and daughters, each one of us is His son, His daughter. At times we see miracles happen: men and women who are reborn because they find this blessing that has anointed them as children. For God’s grace changes lives: He takes us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are.

Let us think about what Jesus did with Zacchaeus (see Lk 19:1-10), for example. Everyone saw evil in him; instead, Jesus spots a glimmer of good, and from that – from his curiosity to see Jesus – He allows the mercy that saves to pass through. Thus, first Zaccaeus’s heart was changed, and then his life. Jesus sees the indelible blessing of the Father in the people who are rejected and repudiated. He was a public sinner, he had done so many awful things, but Jesus saw that indelible sign of the Father’s blessing and because of that, He had compassion. That phrase that is repeated often in the Gospel, “He was moved with compassion”, and that compassion leads Him to help him and to change his heart. What’s more, Jesus came to identify Himself with every person in need (see Mt 25:31-46). In the passage about the final protocol on which all of us will be judged, Matthew 25, Jesus says: “I was there, I was hungry, I was naked, I was in prison, I was in hospital, I was there”.

To the God who blesses we, too, respond by blessing – God has taught us how to bless and we must bless – through the prayer of praise, of adoration, of thanksgiving. The Catechism writes: “The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing” (n. 2626). Prayer is joy and thanksgiving. God did not wait for us to convert ourselves before beginning to love us, but He loved us a long time before, when we were still in sin.

We cannot but bless this God who blesses us; we must bless everyone in Him, all people, to bless God and to bless our brothers and sisters, to bless the world – and this is the root of Christian meekness, the ability of feeling blessed and the ability to bless. If all of us were to do this, wars would surely not exist. This world needs blessings, and we can give blessings and receive blessings. The Father loves us. The only thing that remains for us is the joy of blessing Him, and the joy of thanking Him, and of learning from Him not to curse, but to bless. Here, just one word for the people who have the habit of cursing, people who always have a bad word, a curse, on their lips and in their hearts. Each one of us can think: Do I have this habit of cursing like this? And ask the Lord the grace to change this habit because we have a blessed heart and curses cannot come out of a heart that has been blessed. May the Lord teach us never to curse, but to bless.


[1]Translator’s note: the Italian word for bless is benedire: bene (well or good), dire (to speak), which literally corresponds with the English word benediction .
[2]Translator’s note: literal translation of the Italian expression volere bene: volere (to desire or wish), bene (well); this expression is used often in Italian to say “I love you”
[3] The Portico of the Mystery of the Second Virtue; first edition, Le porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, published in 1911.



Pope Francis   08.12.20 Angelus, St Peter's Square   Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year B   Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12,   Luke 1: 26-38


Dear Brothers and Sisters, good afternoon!

Pope Francis Angelus 08.12.2020


Today’s liturgical feast celebrates one of the wonders of the story of salvation: the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Even she was saved by Christ, but in an extraordinary way, because God wanted that the mother of His Son not be touched by the misery of sin from the moment of her conception. And so, for the entire course of her earthly life, Mary was free from any stain of sin, she was the “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), as the angel called her. She was favoured by a singular action of the Holy Spirit so as to always remain in perfect relationship with her Son, Jesus. Rather, she was Jesus’s disciple: His Mother and disciple. But there was no sin in her.

In the magnificent hymn that opens the Letter to the Ephesians (see 1:3-6, 11-12), St Paul makes us understand that every human being is created by God for that fullness of holiness, for that beauty of which the Madonna was clothed from the beginning. The goal to which we are called is also a gift of God for us, for which, the Apostles says He “chose us before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish” (v. 4); He predestined us (see v. 5), in Christ to be totally free from sin one day. And this is grace, it is gratuitous, it is a gift of God.

And what Mary had from the beginning, will be ours in the end, after we have passed through the purifying “bath” of God’s grace. What opens the gates of paradise to us is God’s grace, received by us with faithfulness. Even the most innocent were, nevertheless, marked by original sin and fought with all their strength against its consequences. They passed through the “narrow door” that leads to life (see Lk 13:24). And do you know who is the first person we are sure entered paradise? Do you know who? A “ruffian”: one of the two who was crucified with Jesus. And he turned to Jesus saying: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. And He responded: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:42-43). Brothers and sisters, God’s grace is offered to everyone; and many who are the least on this earth will be the first in heaven (see Mk 10:31).

But be careful. It does not pay to be clever – to continually postpone a serious evaluation of one’s own life, taking advantage of the Lord’s patience. He is patient. He waits for us, He is always ready to give us grace. We may be able to deceive people, but not God; He knows our hearts better than we ourselves do. Let us take advantage of the present moment! This, yes, is the Christian sense of seizing the day. Not to enjoy life in each passing moment – no, this is the worldly sense. But to seize today, to say “no” to evil and “yes” to God, to open oneself to His grace, to once and for all stop thinking of ourselves, dragging ourselves into hypocrisy and to face our own reality as we are –this is who we are – to recognize that we have not loved God and neighbour as we should have. And to confess it, this is the beginning of a journey of conversion, asking God’s pardon first of all in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and then to repair the harm done to others. But always open to grace: the Lord knocks on our door, He knocks on our heart to enter into friendship with us, in communion, to give us salvation.

And this, for us, is the path for becoming “holy and immaculate”. The uncontaminated beauty of our Mother is incomparable, but at the same time it attracts us. Let us entrust ourselves to her and say “no” to sin and “yes” to Grace once and for all.




  

 Chapter 2

4-10


Pope Francis    15.03.15  Angelus, St Peter's Square        4th Sunday of Lent Year B            Ephesians 2: 4-10,         John 3: 14-21


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
God's Love


Today’s Gospel again offers us the words that Jesus addressed to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). In hearing these words, we turn our heart’s gaze to Jesus Crucified and we feel within us that God loves us, truly loves us, and He loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that epitomizes all of the Gospel, all of the faith, all of theology: God loves us with a free and boundless love.

This is how God loves us and God shows this love first through creation, as the Liturgy announces, in the fourth Eucharistic Prayer: “You have created all things, to fill your creatures with every blessing and lead all men to the joyful vision of your light”. At the beginning of the world there is only the freely given love of the Father. St Irenaeus, a saint of the first centuries, writes: “In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have one upon whom to confer His benefits” (Adversus Haereses, IV, 14, 1). It is like this, God’s love is like this.

Thus the fourth Eucharistic Prayer continues: “Even when he disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon him to the power of death”, but with your mercy “helped all men to seek and find you”. He came with his mercy. As in creation, and also in the subsequent stages of salvation history, the freely given love of God returns: the Lord chooses his people not because they are deserving but because they are the smallest among all peoples, as He says. And when “the fullness of time” arrived, despite the fact that man had repeatedly broken the covenant, God, rather than abandoning him, formed a new bond with him, in the blood of Jesus — the bond of a new and everlasting covenant — a bond that nothing will ever break.

St Paul reminds us: “God, who is rich in mercy”, — never forget that He is rich in mercy — “out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4). The Cross of Christ is the supreme proof of the mercy and love that God has for us: Jesus loved us “to the end” (Jn 13:1), meaning not only to the last instant of his earthly life, but to the farthest limit of love. While in creation the Father gave us proof of his immense love by giving us life, in the passion and death of his Son He gave us the proof of proofs: He came to suffer and die for us. So great is God’s mercy: He loves us, He forgives us; God forgives all and God forgives always.

May Mary, who is the Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certitude that we are loved by God. May she be close to us in moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of her Son, so our Lenten journey may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome, and of charity.
  

 Chapter 2

12-22

 

Pope Francis     23.10.18   Holy Mass Santa Marta      Ephesians 2: 12-22

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-10/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-hope-encounter-jesus.html


Hope,  is not something abstract. Hope instead means living in expectation of the concrete encounter with Jesus. And wisdom consists in being able to rejoice in the “little encounters of the life with Jesus."

The first Reading, taken from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, speaks about citizenship: It is a gift that God has given us, making us citizens. It consists in having given us an identity, our identity papers, so to speak. God, in Jesus, has abolished the law (cf. 2:15) in order to reconcile us, putting that enmity to death by it, so that through Him both Jews and Gentiles might both have access in one Spirit to the Father — and so you are fellow citizens with the saints, in Jesus.

Our identity lies precisely in this, in being healed by the Lord, being built into a community and having the Holy Spirit within.

God is leading us on the journey toward the inheritance, secure in the knowledge that we are fellow citizens, and that God is with us. The inheritance, is that which we seek in our journey, that which we will receive in the end. But we need to seek it each day; and it is precisely hope which carries us forward in the journey toward that inheritance. Hope, is perhaps the smallest virtue, perhaps the most difficult to understand.

Faith, hope, and charity are one gift. Faith and charity are easy to understand. “But what is hope?”  It is hoping for heaven, hoping to encounter the Saints, eternal happiness. But what,is heaven for you?

Living in hope is journeying towards a reward, yes, toward a happiness that we do not have but we will have there. It is a difficult virtue to understand. It is a humble virtue, very humble. It is a virtue that never disappoints: if you hope, you will never be disappointed. Never, never. It is also a concrete virtue. “But how can it be concrete,” [you ask,] “if I don’t know heaven, or what awaits me there?” Hope, our inheritance which is hope directed towards something, is not an idea, it is not being in a good place… no. It is an encounter. Jesus always emphasizes this part of hope, this living in expectation, encountering

Something comes to mind, when I think of hope, an image: a pregnant woman, a woman expecting a child. She goes to the doctor, she sees the ultrasound. Is she indifferent? Does she say, “Oh look, a baby. Ok.” No! She rejoices! And every day she touches her belly to caress that child, in anticipation of that child, living in anticipation of that son. This image can help us understand what hope is: living for that encounter. That woman imagines what her son’s eyes will be like, what his smile will be like, whether he’ll be blonde or dark-haired… but she imagines meeting her son. She imagines meeting her son.

Do I hope like this, concretely, or is my hope a little dispersed, a little gnostic? Hope is concrete, it is an everyday thing, because it is an encounter. And every time we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the Gospel, in the poor, in the life of the community, every time we take another step toward this definitive encounter. This is the wisdom of knowing how to rejoice in the little encounters of daily life with Jesus, preparing for that definitive encounter.

The word “identity” refers to our having been made one community; and the inheritance is the strength of the Holy Spirit that carries us forward with hope. Ask yourselves how you live out your identity as Christians, whether you are expecting an inheritance in heaven that is somewhat abstract – or whether you are really hoping for an encounter with the Lord.

  

 Chapter 3

8-12, 14-19

 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-06/pope-santa-marta-homily-love-god.html

It is not us who first loved God, it's the other way around: it is He who loved us first.

The prophets used the symbol of the almond blossom to explain this reality highlighting the fact that the almond blossom is the first to bloom in spring.

God is like that: he is always first. He's the first to wait for us, the first to love us, the first to help us.

However, it is not easy to understand
God's love as is narrated in the passage from today liturgical reading in which the Apostle Paul speaks of "preaching to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ.”

It is a love that cannot be understood. A love that surpasses all knowledge. It surpasses everything. The love of God is so great; a poet described it as a “bottomless sea without shores…” This is the love that we must try to understand, the love that we receive.

Throughout the history of salvation the Lord has revealed his love to us: He has been a great teacher.

God did not reveal his love through power but by loving His people, teaching them to walk, taking them in His arms, caring for them.

How does God manifest his love? With great works? No: He makes himself smaller and smaller with gestures of tenderness and goodness. He approaches His children and with his closeness He makes us understand the greatness of love.

God sent us His Son. He sent Him in the flesh and the Son humbled himself until death.

This, is the mystery of God's love: the greatest greatness expressed in the smallest smallness. This, allows us to understand Christianity.

Jesus teaches us the kind of attitude a Christian should have; it is all about carrying on God’s own work in your own small way: that is feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, visiting the sick and the prisoner.

Works of mercy, pave the path of love that Jesus teaches us in continuity with God’s great love for us!

We do not need great discourse on love, but men and women who know how to do these little things for Jesus, for the Father.

Our works of mercy, he said, are the continuity of this love.
  

 Chapter 3

14-21

 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-10/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-knowing-jesus.html

Who is Jesus Christ for you?  If someone asks us the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”, we should say what we have learned: He is the Saviour of the world, the Son of the Father, which we recite in the Creed. But it is a little more difficult to answer the question of who Jesus Christ is “for me.” It is a question that can embarrass us a little bit, because in order to answer that question, I have to dig into my heart; that is, we have to begin from our own experience.

Saint Paul experienced precisely this uneasiness in bearing witness to Jesus Christ. He knew Jesus through his own experience of being thrown from his horse, when the Lord spoke to his heart. He didn’t begin to know Christ by studying theology, even if later he went to see how Jesus was proclaimed in Scripture.

Paul wants Christians to feel what he himself felt. In response to the question that we can put to Paul – “Paul, who is Christ for you?” – he spoke simply about his own experience: “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.” But he was involved with Christ who paid for him. And Paul wants every Christian – in this case, the Christians of Ephesus – to have this experience, to enter into this experience, to the point that each one can say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me,” but to say it from their own personal experience.

Reciting the Creed can help us to know about Jesus. But in order to really know Him, as St Paul came to know Him, it is better to begin by acknowledging that we are sinners. This, is the first step. When Paul says that Jesus gave Himself for him, he is saying that He paid for him, and this comes out in all of his letters. And the first definition Paul gives of himself follows from this: He says he is a sinner, he admits that he persecuted Christians. He begins precisely by recognising that he was chosen through love, although he is a sinner.

The first step in knowing Christ, lies precisely in recognising that we are sinners. He said that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we confess our sin – but, he noted, it is one thing to tell our sins, and another to recognise ourselves as sinners, capable of doing anything. St Paul had this experience of his own wretchedness, and recognised that he needed to be redeemed, recognised that he needed someone who would pay for his right to call himself a ‘son of God’: We are all sinners, but to say it, to feel it, we need the sacrifice of Christ.

But in order to know Jesus, there is also a second step: we get to know Him through contemplation and prayer.  ‘Lord, let me know You, and know myself.' We should not content ourselves with saying three or four good things about Jesus, because knowing Jesus is an adventure, but a serious adventure, not an adventure of a child, because the love of Jesus is without limits.

Paul says that He “is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” He has the power to do it. But we have to ask Him: “Lord, let me know you; so that when I talk about you, I am not repeating words like a parrot, but rather I am saying words born from my own experience. So that like Paul I can say: ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me’ – and say it with conviction. This is our strength, this is our witness. Christians of words, we have many words; we too, so many words. And this is not sanctity. Sanctity is being Christians who work in life that which Jesus has taught and what Jesus has sown in our hearts.

The first step is knowing oneself: that we are sinners, sinners. Without this understanding, and without this interior confession – that I am a sinner – we cannot go forward. The second step is prayer to the Lord, who with His power makes us know this mystery of Jesus, which is the fire that He has brought upon the earth. It would be a good habit if every day, in every moment, we could say, “Lord, let me know You, and know myself."
  

  Chapter 4

1-6

 
Pope Francis           26.10.18    Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Ephesians 4: 1-6        Luke 12: 54-59
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/conflict/26.10.18.jpg
 
St. Paul from the solitude of his imprisonment was writing to the Ephesians a true "hymn to unity", recalling the "dignity of vocation". Paul’s solitude would accompany him until his death in Rome, because Christians were “too busy” in their "internal struggles". And before Paul, Jesus Himself “asked for the grace of unity from the Father for all of us."

Yet, today we are "used to breathing the air of
conflict". Every day, on the TV and in newspapers, we hear about conflicts and wars "one after the other", "without peace, without unity”. Agreements made to stop conflicts are ignored, thus the arms race and preparation for war and destruction go ahead.

Even
world institutions created with the best of intentions for peace and unity, fail to come to an agreement because of a veto here and an interest there ... While they are struggling to arrive at peace agreements, children have no food, no school, no education and hospitals because the war has destroyed everything.

There is a tendency to destruction, war and
disunity in us. It is the tendency that the devil, the enemy and destroyer of humanity sows in our hearts. The Apostle teaches us that the journey of unity is, so to say, clad or “armoured' with the bond of peace. Peace, he said, leads to unity.

We who are used to
insulting and shouting at each other, need to make peace and unity among us with gentleness and patience

Christians open your hearts and make peace in the world taking the path of the “three little things” - "
humility, gentleness and patience". Paul's advice is “bear with one another in love". It’s not easy as there is always a judgement, a condemnation which leads to separation and distances

When a
rift is created between members of the family, the devil is happy with the start of war . The advice is then to bear with one another because we always have an excuse to be annoyed and impatient because we are all sinners with defects. St. Paul, inspired by Jesus at the Last Supper who urged for “one body and one spirit”, thus urges us to “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace".

The next step is to see the horizon of peace with God, just as Jesus made us see the horizon of peace with prayer: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one'. In today's Gospel of Luke Jesus advises us to strike an
agreement with our adversary along the way. It’s good advice, because "it is not difficult to come to an agreement at the beginning of a conflict.

The advice of Jesus is to
settle the matter and make peace at the beginning, which calls for humility, gentleness and patience. One can build peace throughout the world with these little things, which are the attitudes of Jesus who is humble, meek and forgives everything.

Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. I invite Christians to start putting into practice humility, gentleness and patience saying this is the path to making peace and consolidating unity
  
 
Chapter 6

18-20


Pope Francis     16.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace    Catechesis on prayer: 19. The Prayer of Intercession     Ephesians 6: 18-20


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - The prayer of intercession - General Audience  16.12.2020


Those who pray never turn their backs on the world. If prayer does not gather the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the anxieties of humanity, it becomes a “decorative” activity, a superficial, theatrical, solitary way of behaving. We all need interiority: to retreat within a space and a time dedicated to our relationship with God. But this does not mean that we evade reality. In prayer, God “takes us, blesses us, then breaks us and gives us”, to satisfy everyone’s hunger. Every Christian is called to become in God’s hands bread, broken and shared. That is, it is concrete prayer, that is not an escape.

So, men and women of prayer seek solitude and silence, not so as not be disturbed, but so as to listen better to God’s voice. Sometimes they withdraw from the world altogether, in the secret of their own room, as Jesus recommended (see Mt 6:6). But wherever they are, they always keep the doors of their hearts wide open: an open door for those who pray without knowing how to pray; for those who do not pray at all but who carry within themselves a suffocating cry, a hidden invocation; for those who have erred and have lost the way… Whoever can knock on the door of someone who prays finds a compassionate heart which does not exclude anyone. Prayer comes from our hearts and our voices and gives heart and voice to so many people who do not know how to pray or who do not want to pray or for whom it is impossible to pray: we are the heart and the voice of these people, rising to Jesus, rising to the Father as intercessors. In the solitude of those who pray, whether the solitude lasts a long time or only a half hour, to pray, those who pray separate themselves from everything and from everyone to find everything and everyone in God. These people pray for the whole world, bearing its sorrows and sins on their shoulders. They pray for each and every person: they are like God’s “antennas” in this world. The one who prays sees the face of Christ in every poor person who knocks at the door, in every person who has lost the meaning of things. In the Catechism we read: “intercession - asking on behalf of another (…) has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy”. This is beautiful. When we pray we are in tune with God’s mercy; having mercy regarding our sins, being merciful with ourselves, but also merciful with all those who have asked to be prayed for, those for whom we want to pray in tune with God’s heart. This is true prayer: in tune with God’s mercy, with His merciful heart. “In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints” (n. 2635). What does it mean to participate in Christ’s intercession? When I intercede for someone or pray for someone: because Christ is before the Father He is the intercessor, He prays for us, He prays showing the Father the wounds of His hands because Jesus is physically present before the Father with His body. And Jesus is our intercessor and to pray is to be a bit like Jesus: to intercede in Jesus to the Father, for others. This is very beautiful.

The human heart tends toward prayer. It is simply human. Those who do not love their brother or sister do not pray seriously. Someone might say: one cannot pray when steeped in hatred; one cannot pray when steeped in indifference. Prayer is offered only in the spirit of love. Those who do not love pretend to pray, they believe they are praying, but they are not praying because the lack the proper spirit, which is love. In the Church, those who are familiar with the sadness and joy of others dig deeper than those who investigate the worlds “chief systems”. Because of this, human experience is present in every prayer, because no matter what mistakes people may have committed, they should never be rejected or set aside.

When believers, moved by the Holy Spirit, pray for sinners, no selection is made, no judgement or condemnation is uttered: they pray for everyone. And they pray for themselves. At that moment they know they are not that different from those for whom they pray. They realize they are sinners among sinners and they pray for everyone. The lesson of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican is always alive and always relevant (see Lk 18:9-14): we are not better than anyone, we are all brothers and sisters who bear fragility, suffering and being sinners in common. Therefore, a prayer that we can say to God is this: “Lord, no one is just in your sight” (see Ps 143:2), this is what one of the Psalms says: “Lord, no one who lives is just in your sight, none of us: we are all sinners – we are all in debt, each with an outstanding balance to pay; no one is without sin in Your eyes. Lord, have mercy on us!” And with this spirit, prayer is fruitful because we go humbly before God and pray for everyone. Instead, the Pharisee was praying proudly: “I thank you, Lord, because I am not like others, sinners: I am just, I always do…”. This is not prayer: this is looking at yourself in a mirror, it is not looking at one’s own reality, no. It is like looking at yourself made-up in a mirror because of your pride.

The world keeps going thanks to this chain of people who pray, who intercede, and who are unknown for the most part…but not unknown to God! There are many anonymous Christians who, in times of persecution, have repeated the words of our Lord: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).

The Good Shepherd remains faithful even before the awareness of the sin of His own people: the Good Shepherd continues to be a Father even when His children distance themselves and abandon Him. He perseveres in His service as shepherd even with those who have bloodied His hands; He does not close His heart to those who have even made Him suffer.

The Church, in all of her members, has the mission to practice the prayer of intercession: to intercede for others. This is especially so for those who exercise roles of responsibility: parents, teachers, ordained ministers, superiors of communities… Like Abraham and Moses, they must at times “defend” the people entrusted to them before God. In reality, we are talking about protecting them with God’s eyes and heart, with His same invincible compassion and tenderness. Pray with tenderness for others.

Brothers and sisters, we are all leaves on the same tree: each one that falls reminds us of the great piety that must be nourished in prayer, for one another. So let us pray for each other. It will do us good and do good for everyone. Thank you.