Faith


Faith - Pope Francis    

06.04.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta       Acts 4: 13-21,     Mark  16: 9-15


When I read this Gospel it occurs to me that St Mark may not have liked Mary Magdalen much, since he recalled that the Lord had driven seven demons out of her, didn’t he? It was a question of liking....

Faith: “a grace”, and “a gift of the Lord” which should not be glossed over — and is thus extended “to the peoples who believe in you”, as the Collect of Mass says, for “we are not attached to a fantasy”, but “to a reality we have seen and heard”. Acts of the Apostles (4:13-21). In response to the order given by the head priests and Pharisees not to speak of Jesus, Peter and John, “stood firm in this faith” saying, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”.

Their testimony, reminds me of our faith. And what is our faith like? Is it strong? Or is it at times a little like rosewater, a somewhat watered down faith? When problems arise are we brave like Peter or inclined to be lukewarm?.

Peter, teaches us that “faith is not negotiable. Among the People of God this temptation has always existed: to downsize faith, and not even by “much”. However “faith”, is like this, as we say in the Creed so we must get the better of “the temptation to behave more or less ‘like everyone else’, not to be too, too rigid”, because it is “from this that a path which ends in apostasy unfolds”. Indeed, “when we begin to cut faith down, to negotiate faith and more or less to sell it to the one who makes the best offer, we are setting out on the road of apostasy, of no fidelity to the Lord”.

Yet the very “example of Peter and John helps us, gives us strength”; as does the example of the martyrs in the Church’s history. It is they “who say, like Peter and John, ‘we cannot but speak’. And this gives strength to us, whose faith is at times rather weak. It gives us the strength to carry on living with this faith we have received, this faith which is the gift that the Lord gives to all peoples”.

Lord, thank you so much for my faith. Preserve my faith, increase it. May my faith be strong and courageous. And help me in the moments when, like Peter and John, I must make it public
.




Faith is not alienation or a crooked deal, but a path of beauty and truth marked out by Jesus to prepare our eyes to gaze without glasses at “the marvellous face of God”, in the definitive dwelling place prepared for each one of us. It is an invitation not to let ourselves be gripped by fear and to live life as a preparation for seeing better, hearing better and loving more.

John (14:1-6). “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself...that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going”.

Jesus’ words, are very beautiful. At a time of taking leave, Jesus speaks to his disciples from his heart. He knows they are sad, for they realize that things are not going well. So now Jesus encourages them, cheers them, reassures them and unfolds before them a horizon of
hope. “Let not your hearts be troubled”.

“I am going to prepare a place for you”. What is this preparation? How is it done? What is this place like? What does preparing the place mean? Renting a room in heaven? Preparing a place means preparing “our capacities for enjoying, for seeing, for hearing and for understanding the beauty of what awaits us, of that homeland for which we are bound”.

Lord give us this strong hope and the courage to greet the homeland from afar. And may he give us the humility to let ourselves be prepared, that is, to let the Lord prepare the definitive dwelling place in our heart, in our sight and in our hearing.




Pope Francis      12.05.13 Seventh Sunday of Easter     Holy Mas and Canonizations      Acts 6:5 7:55-60       John 17:20-26  
  

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/faith/12.05.13.jpg
  

On this Seventh Sunday of Easter we gather together in joy to celebrate a feast of holiness. Let us give thanks to God who made his glory, the glory of Love, shine on the Martyrs of Otranto, on Mother Laura Montoya and on Mother María Guadalupe García Zavala. I greet all of you who have come for this celebration — from Italy, Colombia, Mexico and other countries — and I thank you! Let us look at the new saints in the light of the word of God proclaimed. It is a word that has invited us to be faithful to Christ, even to martyrdom; it has reminded us of the urgency and beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; and it has spoken to us of the testimony of charity, without which even martyrdom and the mission lose their Christian savour.

1. When the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the Deacon Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, it is written that he was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit” (6:5; 7:55). What does this mean? It means that he was filled with the Love of God, that his whole self, his life, was inspired by the Spirit of the Risen Christ so that he followed Jesus with total fidelity, to the point of giving up himself.

Today the Church holds up for our veneration an array of martyrs who in 1480 were called to bear the highest witness to the Gospel together. About 800 people, who had survived the siege and invasion of Otranto, were beheaded in the environs of that city. They refused to deny their faith and died professing the Risen Christ. Where did they find the strength to stay faithful? In the faith itself, which enables us to see beyond the limits of our human sight, beyond the boundaries of earthly life. It grants us to contemplate “the heavens opened”, as St Stephen says, and the living Christ at God’s right hand. Dear friends, let us keep the faith we have received and which is our true treasure, let us renew our faithfulness to the Lord, even in the midst of obstacles and misunderstanding. God will never let us lack strength and calmness. While we venerate the Martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain all the Christians who still suffer violence today in these very times and in so many parts of the world and to give them the courage to stay faithful and to respond to evil with goodness.

2. We might take the second idea from the words of Jesus which we heard in the Gospel: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn 17:20). St Laura Montoya was an instrument of evangelization, first as a teacher and later as a spiritual mother of the indigenous in whom she instilled hope, welcoming them with this love that she had learned from God and bringing them to him with an effective pedagogy that respected their culture and was not in opposition to it. In her work of evangelization Mother Laura truly made herself all things to all people, to borrow St Paul’s words (cf. 1 Cor 9:22). Today too, like a vanguard of the Church, her spiritual daughters live in and take the Gospel to the furthest and most needy places.

This first saint, born in the beautiful country of Colombia, teaches us to be generous to God and not to live our faith in solitude — as if it were possible to live the faith alone! — but to communicate it and to make the joy of the Gospel shine out in our words and in the witness of our life wherever we meet others. Wherever we may happen to be, to radiate this life of the Gospel. She teaches us to see Jesus’ face reflected in others and to get the better of the indifference and individualism that corrode Christian communities and eat away our heart itself. She also teaches us to accept everyone without prejudice, without discrimination and without reticence, but rather with sincere love, giving them the very best of ourselves and, especially, sharing with them our most worthwhile possession; this is not one of our institutions or organizations, no. The most worthwhile thing we possess is Christ and his Gospel.

3. Lastly, a third idea. In today’s Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father with these words: “I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:26). The martyr’s fidelity event to the death and the proclamation of the Gospel to all people are rooted, have their roots, in God’s love, which was poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), and in the witness we must bear in our life to this love.

St Guadalupe García Zavala was well aware of this. By renouncing a comfortable life — what great harm an easy life and well-being cause; the adoption of a bourgeois heart paralyzes us — by renouncing an easy life in order to follow Jesus’ call she taught people how to love poverty, how to feel greater love for the poor and for the sick. Mother Lupita would kneel on the hospital floor, before the sick, before the abandoned, in order to serve them with tenderness and compassion. And this is called “touching the flesh of Christ”. The poor, the abandoned, the sick and the marginalized are the flesh of Christ. And Mother Lupita touched the flesh of Christ and taught us this behaviour: not to feel ashamed, not to fear, not to find “touching Christ’s flesh” repugnant. Mother Lupita had realized what “touching Christ’s flesh” actually means. Today too her spiritual daughters try to mirror God’s love in works of charity, unsparing in sacrifices and facing every obstacle with docility and with apostolic perseverance (hypomon?), bearing it with courage.

This new Mexican saint invites us to love as Jesus loved us. This does not entail withdrawal into ourselves, into our own problems, into our own ideas, into our own interests, into this small world that is so harmful to us; but rather to come out of ourselves and care for those who are in need of attention, understanding and help, to bring them the warm closeness of God’s love through tangible actions of sensitivity, of sincere affection and of love.

Faithfulness to Christ and to his Gospel, in order to proclaim them with our words and our life, witnessing to God’s love with our own love and with our charity to all: these are the luminous examples and teachings that the saints canonized today offer us but they call into question our Christian life: how am I faithful to Christ? Let us take this question with us, to think about it during the day: how am I faithful to Christ? Am I able to “make my faith seen with respect, but also with courage? Am I attentive to others, do I notice who is in need, do I see everyone as brothers and sisters to love? Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the new saints, to fill our life with the joy of his love. So may it be.



Salt is something good... which the Lord created; but if the salt has lost its flavour, how shall its saltiness be restored?

This refers to the salt of
faith, hope and charity. The Lord gives us this salt. What can we do to prevent salt from losing its power? The savour of Christian salt comes from the certainty of the faith, hope and charity that springs from the awareness “that Jesus rose for us” and saved us. But this certainty was not given to us so that we might simply keep it. If that were so, the salt would end up being kept in a bottle: “it doesn't do anything, it doesn't serve any purpose”. On the contrary, the purpose of salt is to give things flavour.

But salt also has another trait: when “it is used well, one does not taste the flavour of salt”. Thus salt does not change the flavour of things; rather “the taste of every dish is noticed”. It is improved and it becomes more savoury. “And this is Christian originality: when we proclaim the faith with this salt, all those who receive it do so with their distinctive features, like different foods”.

Nevertheless, Christian originality is not uniform... it takes everyone for who he is.

In the service of people: give it, give it, give it!... Salt is not preserved only by giving it in preaching. It needs transcendence, prayer and adoration.





Pope Francis  29.06.13    ENCYCLICAL LETTER on Faith  -  LUMEN FIDEI   The light of Faith



Pope Francis   18.08.13   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome   20th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C   Hebrews 12: 1-4    Luke  12: 49-53

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In today’s liturgy we listen to these words from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2). We must give special emphasis to this affirmation in this
Year of Faith. Let us too, throughout this Year, keep our gaze fixed on Jesus because faith, which is our “yes” to the filial relationship with God, comes from him, comes from Jesus. He is the only mediator of this relationship between us and our Father who is in heaven. Jesus is the Son and we are sons in him.

This Sunday, however, the word of God also contains a word of Jesus which alarms us and must be explained, for otherwise it could give rise to misunderstanding. Jesus says to his disciples: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Lk 12:51). What does this mean? It means that faith is not a decorative or ornamental element; living faith does not mean decorating life with a little religion, as if it were a cake and we were decorating it with cream. No, this is not faith. Faith means choosing God as the criterion and basis of life, and God is not empty, God is not neutral, God is always positive, God is love, and love is positive! After Jesus has come into the world it is impossible to act as if we do not know God, or as if he were something that is abstract, empty, a purely nominal reference. No, God has a real face, he has a name: God is mercy, God is faithfulness, he is life which is given to us all. For this reason Jesus says “I came to bring division”. It is not that Jesus wishes to split people up. On the contrary Jesus is our peace, he is our reconciliation! But this peace is not the peace of the tomb, it is not neutrality, Jesus does not bring neutrality, this peace is not a compromise at all costs. Following Jesus entails giving up evil and selfishness and choosing good, truth and justice, even when this demands sacrifice and the renunciation of our own interests. And this indeed divides; as we know, it even cuts the closest ties. However, be careful: it is not Jesus who creates division! He establishes the criterion: whether to live for ourselves or to live for God and for others; to be served or to serve; to obey one’s own ego or to obey God. It is in this sense that Jesus is a “sign that is spoken against” (Lk 2:34).

This word of the Gospel does not therefore authorize the use of force to spread the faith. It is exactly the opposite: the Christian’s real force is the force of truth and of love, which involves renouncing all forms of violence. Faith and violence are incompatible! Instead, faith and strength go together. Christians are not violent; they are strong. And with what kind of strength? That of meekness, the strength of meekness, the strength of love.

Dear friends, even among Jesus’ relatives there were some who at a certain point did not share his way of life and preaching, as the Gospel tells us (cf. Mk 3:20-21). His Mother, however, always followed him faithfully, keeping the eyes of her heart fixed on Jesus, the Son of the Most High, and on his mystery. And in the end, thanks to Mary’s faith, Jesus’ relatives became part of the first Christian community (cf. Acts 1:14). Let us ask Mary to help us too to keep our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus and to follow him always, even when it costs what it may.




Pope Francis   06.10.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square         27th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 17: 5-10

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

First of all, I want to give thanks to God for
the day I spent in Assisi, the day before yesterday. Just think, it was my first visit to Assisi and it was a great gift to make this pilgrimage on the Feast of St Francis. I thank the people of Assisi for their warm welcome: thank you very much!

Today, the Reading from the Gospel begins like this: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Lk 17:5). It seems that we can all make this our invocation, especially during this
Year of Faith. Let us too, like the Apostles, say to the Lord: “Increase our faith!”. Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak and fragile, but we offer it to you as it is, so that you can make it grow. Would it be good to say this all together? Shall we repeat together: “Lord, increase our faith!”? Shall we? Everyone: Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Make it grow!

And how does the Lord answer us? He responds: “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you” (v. 6). A mustard seed is tiny, yet Jesus says that faith this size, small but true and sincere, suffices to achieve what is humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but whose faith is so strong it can move mountains! Let us think, for example, of some mothers and fathers who face very difficult situations; or of some sick, and even gravely ill, people who transmit serenity to those who come to visit them. These people, because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say: “‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Lk 17:10). How many people among us have such strong, humble faith, and what good they do!

In this month of October, that is dedicated in a special way to missions, let us bear in mind the many missionaries, men and women, who in order to bring the Gospel have overcome obstacles of every kind, they have truly given their lives. As St Paul says to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8). This, however, is for us all; each one of us in our own daily lives can testify to Christ by the power of God, the power of faith. The faith we have is miniscule, but it is strong! With this power to testify to Jesus Christ, to be Christians with our life, with our witness!

And how do we draw from this strength? We draw it from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith: in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be left out, and prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God. October is also the month of the Rosary, and on this first Sunday it is tradition to recite the Prayer to Our Lady of Pompeii, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Most Holy Rosary. Let us join spiritually together in this act of trust in our Mother, and let us receive from her hands the crown of the Rosary: The Rosary is a school of prayer, the Rosary is a school of faith!




Pope Francis   13.10.13  Holy Mass for Marian Day, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      2 Kings 5: 14-17,   2 Timothy 2: 8-13,   Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis 13.10.13

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1).

Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.

1. First:
God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.

This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?

2. In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ; if we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in
faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.

3. The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.

Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “
thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Sorry”, “excuse me”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Sorry”, “excuse me”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”.

As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercessio
n. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.



https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/family/27.10.13.jpg

The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

1. First: the family prays.  The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector.  The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction.  The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal.  The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words.  His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs.  Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his mercy.

The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God.  It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, “will reach to the clouds” (Sir 35:20), unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family?  Some of you do, I know.  But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does, it is clear: humbly, before God.  Each one, with humility, allowing themselves to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us.  But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace…  Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God, like the tax collector!  And all families, we need God: all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness.  And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength!  And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents….praying for each other.  This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

2. The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith.  The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning and says: “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).  But how did he keep the faith?  Not in a strong box!  Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant.  Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race.  He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, brought it to distant lands.  He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to “embalm” the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine.  That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly.  Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away, he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family?  Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness?  We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do.  But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith?  Christian families are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!  Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

3. And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy.  In the responsorial psalm we find these words: “let the humble hear and be glad” (33/34:2).  The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace.  What is the reason for this gladness?  It  is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil.  As Saint Paul himself writes: “Rejoice always … The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).  I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of “homework”.  Only you must answer.  How are things when it comes to joy at home?  Is there joy in your family?   You can answer this question.

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well...  True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.  But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all.  And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love.  God alone knows how to create harmony from differences.  But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades.  But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.  That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth!  The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!


Pope Francis          13.02.14   Holy Mass  Santa  Marta         1 Kings 11: 4-13,          Mark 7: 24-30
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/pagan-worship/13.02.14.png

Today the Church invites us to reflect on the journey from paganism and idolatry to the living God, and also on the journey from the living God to idolatry.

The Gospel tells us that, in turning to Jesus, the woman is “brave”, like any “desperate mother” who would do anything “for the health of their child”. “She had been told that there was a good man, a prophet, and so she went to look for Jesus, even though she “did not believe in the God of Israel”. For the sake of her daughter “she was not ashamed of how she might look before the Apostles”, who might say amongst themselves “what is this pagan doing here?”. She approached Jesus to beg him to help her daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. But Jesus responds to her request saying “I came first for the sheep of the house of Israel”. He “speaks with harsh words”, saying: “Let the children help themselves first, because it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs”.

The woman — who certainly had never attended university — did not respond to Jesus with intelligence, but instead with a mother's gut, with love. She said: “Even the dogs under the table will eat the children’s crumbs”, as if to say: “Give these crumbs to me!”. Moved by her
faith, “the Lord worked a miracle”. She returned home, found her daughter lying on her bed, and the demon was gone.

Essentially, it is the story of a mother who risked making a fool of herself, but still insisted out of love for her daughter. She left “paganism and idolatry, and found health for her daughter” and, for herself she “found the living God”. Hers is “the way of a person of good will, who
seeks God and finds him”. For her faith, “the Lord blesses her”. This is also the story of so many people who still “make this journey”. “The Lord waits for” these people, who are moved by the Holy Spirit. “There are people who make this journey every day in the Church of God, silently seeking the Lord”, because they “let themselves be carried forward by the Holy Spirit”.

However, there is also “the opposite path”, which is represented by the figure of Solomon, “the wisest man on earth, who had received many great blessings; he had inherited a united country, the union that his father David had made”. King Solomon had “universal fame”, he had “complete power”. He was also “a believer in God”. So why did he
lose his faith? The answer lies in the biblical passage: “His women made him divert his heart to follow other gods, and his heart did not remain with the Lord, his God, as the heart of David his father did”. 

Solomon liked women. He had many concubines and would travel with them here and there: each with her own god, her own idol. “These women slowly weakened Solomon’s heart”. He, therefore, “lost the integrity” of the faith. When one woman would ask him for a small temple for “her god”, he would build it on a mountain. And when another woman would ask him for incense to burn for an idol, he would buy it. In doing so “his heart was weakened and he lost his faith”.

"The wisest man in the world” lost his faith this way. Solomon allowed himself to become corrupt because of an indiscreet love, without discretion, because of his passions. Yet, you might say: “But Father, Solomon did not lose his faith, he still believed in God, he could recite the Bible” from memory. Having faith does not mean being able to recite the Creed: you can still recite the Creed after having lost your faith!.

Solomon, was a sinner in the beginning like his father David. But then he continued living as a sinner and became corrupt: his heart was corrupted by idolatry. His father David was a sinner, but the Lord had forgiven all of his sins because he was humble and asked for forgiveness. Instead, Solomon’s “vanity and passions led” him to “corruption”. For, the Pope explained, “the heart is precisely the place where you can lose your faith”.

The king, therefore, takes the opposite path than that of the Syro-Phoenician woman: "she leaves the idolatry of paganism and comes to find the living God”, while Solomon instead “left the living God and finds idolatry": what a poor man! She was a sinner, sure, just as we all are. But he was corrupt.

I hope that “no evil seed will grow” in the human heart. It was the seed of evil passions, growing in Solomon’s heart that led him to idolatry. To prevent this seed from developing: “Receive with meekness the Word that has been planted in you and it can lead you to salvation”. With this knowledge, we follow the path of the Canaanite woman, the pagan woman, accepting the Word of God, which was planted in us and will lead us to salvation. The Word of God is powerful, and it will safeguard us on the path and prevent us from the destruction of corruption and all that leads to idolatry.





Pope Francis    10.08.14 Angelus, St Peter's Square       19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A          Matthew 14: 22-33


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

In today’s Gospel, we are presented with the account of Jesus walking on the water of the lake (cf. Mt 14:22-23). After the multiplication of loaves and fish, He asks the disciples to get into the boat and go before him to the other side of the lake while He dismisses the crowds. He then goes up into the hills by himself to pray until late at night. Meanwhile a strong storm blows up on the lake and right in the middle of the storm Jesus reaches the disciples’ boat, walking upon the water of the lake. When they see him, the disciples are terrified, but He calms them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear!” (v. 27). Peter, with his usual passion, practically puts him to the test: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water”; and Jesus answers “Come!” (vv. 28-29). Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water; but a strong wind hits him and he begins to sink. And so he yells: “Lord, save me!” (30), and Jesus reaches out his hand and catches him.

This story is a beautiful icon of the faith of the Apostle Peter. In the voice of Jesus who tells him: “Come!”, he recognizes the echo of the first encounter on the shore of that very lake, and right away, once again, he leaves the boat and goes toward the Teacher. And he walks on the waters! The faithful and ready response to the Lord’s call always enables one to achieve extraordinary things. But Jesus himself told us that we are capable of performing miracles with our faith, faith in Him, faith in his word, faith in his voice. Peter however begins to sink the moment he looks away from Jesus and he allows himself to be overwhelmed by the hardships around him. But the Lord is always there, and when Peter calls him, Jesus saves him from danger. Peter’s character, with his passion and his weaknesses, can describe our faith: ever fragile and impoverished, anxious yet victorious, Christian faith walks to meet the Risen Lord, amid the world’s storms and dangers.

And the final scene is also very important. “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’!” (vv. 32-33). All the disciples are on the boat, united in the experience of weakness, of doubt, of fear and of “little faith”. But when Jesus climbs into that boat again, the weather suddenly changes: they all feel united in their faith in Him. All the little and frightened ones become great at the moment in which they fall on their knees and recognize the Son of God in their Teacher. How many times the same thing happens to us! Without Jesus, far from Jesus, we feel frightened and inadequate to the point of thinking we cannot succeed. Faith is lacking! But Jesus is always with us, hidden perhaps, but present and ready to support us.

This is an effective image of the Church: a boat which must brave the storms and sometimes seems on the point of capsizing. What saves her is not the skill and courage of her crew members, but faith which allows her to walk, even in the dark, amid hardships. Faith gives us the certainty of Jesus’ presence always beside us, of his hand which grasps us to pull us back from danger. We are all on this boat, and we feel secure here despite our limitations and our weaknesses. We are safe especially when we are ready to kneel and worship Jesus, the only Lord of our life. This is what our Mother, Our Lady always reminds us. We turn to her trustingly.





Pope Francis       24.08.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square       21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A        Matthew 16: 13-20


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 16:13-20) is a well-known passage, central to Matthew’s account, in which Simon, on behalf of the Twelve, professes his faith in Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”; and Jesus calls Simon “blessed” for this faith, recognizing in him a special gift of the Father, and tells him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”.

Let us pause on this very point, on the fact that Jesus gives Simon this name, “Peter”, which in Jesus’ language is pronounced “Kefa”, a word which means “rock”. In the Bible this term, “rock”, refers to God. Jesus gives it to Simon not because of his character or for his merits as a human, but for his genuine and steadfast faith, which comes to him from above.

Jesus feels great joy in his heart because, in Simon, he recognizes the hand of the Father, the work of the Holy Spirit. He recognizes that God the Father has given Simon “steadfast” faith on which He, Jesus, can build his Church, meaning his community, that is, all of us. Jesus intends to give life to “his” Church, a people founded no longer on heritage, but on faith, which means on the relationship with Him, a relationship of love and trust. The Church is built on our relationship with Jesus. And to begin his Church, Jesus needs to find solid faith, “steadfast” faith in his disciples. And it is this that He must verify at this point of the journey.

The Lord has in mind a picture of the structure, an image of the community like a building. This is why, when he hears Simon’s candid profession of faith, he calls him a “rock”, and declares his intention to build his Church upon this faith.

Brothers and sisters, what happened in a unique way in St Peter, also happens in every Christian who develops a sincere faith in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Today’s Gospel passage also asks each of us, is your faith good? Each one answer in his or her heart. Is my faith good? How does the Lord find our hearts? A heart that is firm as a rock, or a heart like sand, that is doubtful, diffident, disbelieving? It will do us good to think about this throughout the day today. If the Lord finds in our heart, I don’t say a perfect, but sincere, genuine faith, then He also sees in us living stones with which to build his community. This community’s foundation stone is Christ, the unique cornerstone. On his side, Peter is the rock, the visible foundation of the Church’s unity; but every baptized person is called to offer Jesus his or her lowly but sincere faith, so that He may continue to build his Church, today, in every part of the world.

Even today, so many people think Jesus may be a great prophet, knowledgeable teacher, a model of justice.... And even today Jesus asks his disciples, that is, all of us: “Who do you say that I am?”. What do we answer? Let us think about this. But above all, let us pray to God the Father, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary; let us pray that He grant us the grace to respond, with a sincere heart: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. This is a confession of faith, this is really “the Creed”. Let us repeat it together three times: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.





Pope Francis     02.10.16  Holy Mass, Baku, Azerbaijan     27th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Habakkuk 1: 2-3, 2: 2-4,  Luke 17: 5-10

Pope Francis  02.10.16 Baku

The word of God presents us today with two essential aspects of the Christian life: faith and service. With regard to faith, two specific requests are made to the Lord.

The first is made by the Prophet Habakkuk, who implores God to intervene in order to re-establish the justice and peace which men have shattered by violence, quarrels and disputes: “O Lord, how long”, he says, “shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab 1:2). God, in response, does not intervene directly, does not resolve the situation in an abrupt way, does not make himself present by a show of force. Rather, he invites patient waiting, without ever losing hope; above all, he emphasizes the importance of faith, since it is by faith that man will live (cf. Hab 2:4). God treats us in the same way: he does not indulge our desire to immediately and repeatedly change the world and other people. Instead, he intends primarily to heal the heart, my heart, your heart, and the heart of each person; God changes the world by transforming our hearts, and this he cannot do without us. The Lord wants us to open the door of our hearts, in order to enter into our lives. And this act of opening to him, this trust in him is precisely “the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4). For when God finds an open and trusting heart, then he can work wonders there.

But to have faith, a lively faith, is not easy; and so we pass to the second request, which the Apostles bring to the Lord in the Gospel: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:6). It is a good question, a prayer which we too can direct to the Lord each day. But the divine response is surprising and here too turns the question around: “If you had faith…”. It is the Lord who asks us to have faith. Because faith, which is always God’s gift and always to be asked for, must be nurtured by us. It is no magic power which comes down from heaven, it is not a “talent” which is given once and for all, not a special force for solving life’s problems. A faith useful for satisfying our needs would be a selfish one, centred entirely on ourselves. Faith must not be confused with well-being or feeling well, with having consolation in our heart that gives us inner peace. Faith is the golden thread which binds us to the Lord, the pure joy of being with him, united to him; it is a gift that lasts our whole life, but bears fruit only if we play our part.

And what is our part? Jesus helps us understand that it consists of service. In the Gospel, immediately following his words on the power of faith, Jesus speaks of service. Faith and service cannot be separated; on the contrary, they are intimately linked, interwoven with each other. In order to explain this, I would like to take an image very familiar to you, that of a beautiful carpet. Your carpets are true works of art and have an ancient heritage. The Christian life that each of you has, also comes from afar. It is a gift we received in the Church which comes from the heart of God our Father, who wishes to make each of us a masterpiece of creation and of history. Every carpet, and you know this well, must be made according to a weft and a warp; only with this form can the carpet be harmoniously woven. So too in the Christian life: every day it must be woven patiently, intertwining a precise weft and warp: the weft of faith and the warp of service. When faith is interwoven with service, the heart remains open and youthful, and it expands in the process of doing good. Thus faith, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, becomes powerful and accomplishes marvellous deeds. If faith follows this path, it matures and grows in strength, but only when it is joined to service.
02.10.16 Pope Francis Baku, Azerbaijan

But what is service? We might think that it consists only in being faithful to our duties or carrying out some good action. Yet for Jesus it is much more. In today’s Gospel, and in very firm and radical terms, he asks us for complete availability, a life offered in complete openness, free of calculation and gain. Why is Jesus so exacting? Because he loved us in this way, making himself our servant “to the end” (Jn 13:1), coming “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk 10:45). And this takes place again every time we celebrate the Eucharist: the Lord comes among us, and as much as we intend to serve him and love him, it is always he who precedes us, serving us and loving us more than we can imagine or deserve. He gives us his very own life. He invites us to imitate him, saying: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).

And so, we are not called to serve merely in order to receive a reward, but rather to imitate God, who made himself a servant for our love. Nor are we called to serve only now and again, but to live in serving. Service is thus a way of life; indeed it recapitulates the entire Christian way of life: serving God in adoration and prayer; being open and available; loving our neighbour with practical deeds; passionately working for the common good.

For Christians too, there are no shortage of temptations which lead us away from the path of service and end up by rendering life useless. Where there is no service, life is useless. Here too we can identify two forms. One is that of allowing our hearts to grow lukewarm. A lukewarm heart becomes self-absorbed in lazy living and it stifles the fire of love. The lukewarm person lives to satisfy his or her own convenience, which is never enough, and in that way is never satisfied; gradually such a Christian ends up being content with a mediocre life. The lukewarm person allocates to God and others a “percentage” of their time and their own heart, never spending too much, but rather always trying to economize. And so, he or she can lose the zest for life: rather like a cup of truly fine tea, which is unbearable to taste when it gets cold. I am sure, however, that when you look to the example of those who have gone before you in faith, you will not let your hearts become lukewarm. The whole Church, in showing you special affection, looks to you and offers you encouragement: you are a little flock that is so precious in God’s eyes.

There is a second temptation, which we can fall into not so much because we are passive, but because we are “overactive”: the one of thinking like masters, of giving oneself only in order to gain something or become someone. In such cases service becomes a means and not an end, because the end has become prestige; and then comes power, the desire to be great. “It shall not be so among you”, Jesus reminds all of us, “but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:26). This is the way the Church grows and is adorned. Returning to our image of the carpet, and applying it to your fine community: each of you is like a magnificent silk thread. Only if you are woven together, however, will the different threads form a beautiful composition; on their own, they are of no use. Stay united always, living humbly in charity and joy; the Lord, who creates harmony from differences, will protect you.

May we be aided by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the saints, especially Saint Teresa of Calcutta, the fruits of whose faith and service are in your midst. Let us recall some of her noble words to summarize today’s message: “The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace” (A Simple Path, Introduction).





Pope Francis    13.08.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square       19th Sunday Year A        Matthew 14: 22-33


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today the Gospel passage (Mt 14:22-33) describes the episode about Jesus who, after praying all night on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, makes his way towards his disciples’ boat, walking on the water. The boat is in the middle of the lake, halted by a strong wind blowing against it. When they see Jesus come walking on the water, the disciples mistake him for a ghost and they are afraid. But he reassures them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear!” (v. 27). Peter, with his characteristic impetuousness, says to him: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water”; And Jesus calls him: “Come!” (vv. 28-29). Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water towards Jesus; but because of the wind, he is afraid and begins to sink. So he cries out: “Lord, save me!” And Jesus reaches out his hand and catches him (vv. 30-31).

This Gospel narrative contains rich symbolism and makes us reflect on our faith, both as individuals and as an ecclesial community, also the faith of all of us who are here today in the Square. Does the community, this ecclesial community, have faith? How is the faith in each of us, and the faith of our community? The boat is the life of each one of us, but it is also the life of the Church. The wind against it represents difficulties and trials. Peter’s invocation — “Lord, bid me come to you!” — and his cry — “Lord, save me!” — are very similar to our desire to feel the Lord’s closeness, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the most difficult moments of our life and of our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.

At that moment, Jesus’ word of reassurance, which was like an outstretched rope to cling to in the face of the hostile and turbulent waters, was not enough for Peter. This is what can happen to us as well. When one does not cling to the Word of the Lord to feel secure, but consults horoscopes and fortune tellers, one begins to sink. This means that the faith is not very strong. Today’s Gospel reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his Word does not open a way for us where everything is easy and calm; it does not rescue us from life’s storms. Faith gives us the assurance of a Presence, the presence of Jesus who encourages us to overcome the existential tempests, the certainty of a hand that grabs hold of us so as to help us face the difficulties, pointing the way for us even when it is dark. Faith, in short, is not an escape route from life’s problems, but it sustains the journey and gives it meaning.

This episode offers a wonderful image of the reality of the Church throughout the ages: a boat that, as she makes the crossing, must also weather contrary winds and storms which threaten to capsize her. What saves her are not the courage and qualities of her men: the guarantee against shipwreck is faith in Christ and in his Word. This is the guarantee: faith in Jesus and in his Word. We are safe on this boat, despite our wretchedness and weaknesses, especially when we are kneeling and worshiping the Lord, like the disciples who, in the end, fell down before him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God!” (v. 33). How beautiful it is to say this to Jesus: “Truly you are the Son of God!”. Shall we say it together, all of us? “Truly you are the Son of God!”.

May the Virgin Mary help us to remain steadfast in the faith, to resist life’s tempests, to remain on the barque of the Church by shunning the temptation to embark on the seductive but insecure boats of ideologies, fashions and slogans.




Pope Francis        20.08.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square      20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A       Matthew 15: 21-28


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel (Mt 15:21-28) presents us a unique example of faith in Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman, a foreigner to the Jews. The scene unfolds as he is walking toward the cities of Tyre and Sidon, northwest of Galilee: it is here that the woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter, who — the Gospel says — “is severely possessed by a demon” (v. 22). The Lord, at first, seems not to hear this cry of pain, such that it causes the intervention of the disciples who intercede for her. Jesus’ seeming indifference does not discourage this mother, who persists in her invocation.

This woman’s inner strength, which enables her to overcome every obstacle, is to be found in her maternal love and in her faith that Jesus can grant her request. This makes me think of the strength of women. With their strength they are able to obtain great things. We have known many [such women]! We could say that it is love that stirs faith, and faith, for its part, becomes love’s reward. Heartrending love for her daughter causes the woman to cry: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David” (v. 22). And her untiring faith in Jesus allows her not to become discouraged even in the face of his initial rejection; thus the woman “knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me’” (v. 25).

In the end, before such persistence, Jesus was in awe, nearly astonished, by the faith of a pagan woman. Therefore he acquiesces, saying: “‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly” (v. 28). Jesus points to this humble woman as a model of unwavering faith. Her persistence in beseeching Christ’s intervention is incentive for us not to become discouraged, not to despair when we are burdened by life’s difficult trials. The Lord does not turn away in the face of our needs and, if at times he seems insensitive to our requests for help, it is in order to put to the test and to strengthen our faith. We must continue to cry out like this woman: “Lord, help me! Lord, help me!”. In this way, with perseverance and courage. This is the courage needed in prayer.

This Gospel episode helps us to understand that we all need to grow in faith and fortify our trust in Jesus. He can help us to find our way, when we have lost the compass of our journey; when the road no longer seems flat but rough and arduous; when it is hard to be faithful to our commitments. It is important to nourish our faith every day, by carefully listening to the Word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments, with personal prayer as a “cry” to him — “Lord, help me!” — and with concrete acts of charity toward our neighbour.

Let us entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that he may help us to persevere in faith. The Spirit instils courage in the heart of believers; he gives our life and our Christian witness the power of conviction and persuasion; he helps us to overcome scepticism toward God and indifference toward our brothers and sisters.

May the Virgin Mary render us ever more aware of our need of the Lord and of his Spirit; may she obtain for us a strong faith, full of love, and a love capable of making itself a supplication, a courageous supplication to God.




Pope Francis    27.08.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square        21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A        Matthew 16: 13-20


Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 16:13-20) takes us back to a key juncture along Jesus’ journey with his disciples: the moment in which he wants to assess the extent of their faith in him. First, he wants to know what the people think of him; and the people think that Jesus is a prophet, which is true, but they do not grasp the centrality of his Person; they do not understand the centrality of his mission. Then he asks the disciples the question closest to his heart, that is, he asks them directly: “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). And with that ‘but’ Jesus firmly separates the Apostles from the multitudes, as if to say: but you, who are with me every day and know me personally, what more have you understood? The Master expects from his own a lofty response different from that of public opinion. And indeed, such an answer gushes forth from the heart of Simon, called Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Simon Peter finds on his lips words greater than he, words that do not spring from his natural faculties. Perhaps he did not attend elementary school, and [yet] he is capable of saying these words, stronger than he! But they are inspired by the Heavenly Father (cf. v. 17), who reveals Jesus’ true identity to the first of the Twelve: he is the Messiah, the Son sent by God to save mankind. And from this answer, Jesus understands that, thanks to the faith given by the Father, there is a solid foundation upon which he can build his community, his Church. Thus, he says to Simon: You, Simon, “you are Peter” — that is, stone, rock — “and on this rock I will build my Church” (v. 18).

With us too, today, Jesus wants to continue building his Church, this house with solid foundations but where cracks are not lacking, and which is in constant need of repair. Always. The Church always needs to be reformed, repaired. We certainly do not feel like rocks, but only like small stones. However, no small stone is useless; indeed, in Jesus’ hands the smallest stone becomes precious, because he picks it up, gazes at it with great tenderness, fashions it with his Spirit, and positions it in the right place that he had always had in mind and where it can be more useful to the whole structure. Each of us is a small stone, but in Jesus’ hands participates in the building of the Church. And all of us, as small as we are, are rendered “living stones” because when Jesus takes his stone in hand, he makes it his own; he infuses it with life, full of life, full of life from the Holy Spirit, full of life from his love. And thus we have a place and a mission in the Church: she is a community of life, made up of very many stones, all different, which form a single edifice as a sign of fraternity and communion.

Moreover, today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus also wanted Peter as a visible centre of communion for his Church — he too, is not a great stone; he is a small stone, but taken up by Jesus, he becomes the centre of communion — in Peter and in those who would succeed him in the same responsibility of primacy, who since the beginning have been identified as the Bishops of Rome, the city where Peter and Paul bore witness in blood.

Let us entrust ourselves to Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Mother of the Church. She was in the Upper Room next to Peter when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and spurred them to go out to proclaim to all that Jesus is Lord. Today may our Mother sustain us and accompany us through her intercession, so that we may fully realize that unity and that communion for which Christ and the Apostles prayed and gave their lives.





Pope Francis       12.11.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square         32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A          Matthew 25: 1-13


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Pope Francis - The Parable of the 10 Virgins - Angelus 12.11.17

Good morning!

This Sunday, the Gospel (cf. Mt 25:1-13) indicates the condition that would allow us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and it does so with the parable of the 10 virgins: it is about those maiden brides who were designated to welcome and accompany the bridegroom to the wedding ceremony and, since at that time it was customary to celebrate the ceremony at night, the maiden brides were provided with lamps. The parable states that five of these maidens are wise and five are foolish: indeed, the wise ones have brought oil for their lamps, while the foolish have brought none. The bridegroom’s arrival is delayed and they all fall asleep. At midnight the bridegroom’s arrival is announced; at that moment the foolish maidens realize they have no oil for their lamps, and they ask the wise ones for some. But the latter reply that they cannot give them any because there would not be enough for everyone. Thus, while the foolish maidens go in search of oil, the bridegroom arrives; the wise maidens go in with him to the marriage feast and the door is shut. The five foolish maidens return too late; they knock on the door, but the response is “I do not know you” (v. 12), and they remain outside.

What does Jesus wish to teach us with this parable? He reminds us that we must be ready for the encounter with him. Many times, in the Gospel, Jesus exhorts keeping watch, and he also does so at the end of this narrative. He says: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13). But with this parable he tells us that keeping watch does not only mean not to sleep, but to be ready; in fact all the maidens are asleep before the bridegroom’s arrival, but upon waking some are ready and others are not. Thus, here is the meaning of being wise and prudent: it is a matter of not waiting until the last minute of our lives to cooperate with the grace of God, but rather to do so as of now. It would be good to consider for a moment: one day will be the last. If it were today, how prepared am I? But I must do this and that.... Be ready as if it were the last day: this does us good.

The lamp is a symbol of the faith that illuminates our life, while the oil is a symbol of the charity that nourishes the light of faith, making it fruitful and credible. The condition for being prepared for the encounter with the Lord is not only faith, but a Christian life abundant with love and charity for our neighbour. If we allow ourselves to be guided by what seems more comfortable, by seeking our own interests, then our life becomes barren, incapable of giving life to others, and we accumulate no reserve of oil for the lamp of our faith; and this — faith — will be extinguished at the moment of the Lord’s coming, or even before. If instead we are watchful and seek to do good, with acts of love, of sharing, of service to a neighbour in difficulty, then we can be at peace while we wait for the bridegroom to come: the Lord can come at any moment, and even the slumber of death does not frighten us, because we have a reserve of oil, accumulated through everyday good works. Faith inspires charity and charity safeguards faith.

May the Virgin Mary help our faith to be ever more effective through charity; so that our lamp may already shine here, on the earthly journey and then for ever, at the marriage feast in heaven.






Pope Francis             03.12.18 Holy Mass Santa Marta     Matthew 8: 5-11
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-12/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-advent-purifying-faith.html

Advent, which began on Sunday, is a good time for purifying the spirit, for making the faith grow with this purification. Even today, it can happen that faith can become a habit for us; we can get used to it, forgetting its “liveliness.” When the faith becomes a habit, we lose that strength of the faith, that newness of the faith that is always renewed.

The first dimension of Advent is the past, “the purification of memory”: We have to remember that
Christmas is not about the birth of a Christmas tree, but about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Lord is born, the Redeemer who has come to save us. Yes, it is a celebration…but we always face the danger, we will always have within us the temptation to make Christmas mundane, worldly… When the celebration stops being about contemplation—a beautiful family celebration with Jesus at the centre—it begins to be a worldly celebration: all about shopping, presents, this and that… and the Lord remains there, forgotten. Even in our own life: yes, He is born, at Bethlehem, but then what?… Advent is a time for purifying the memory of this time past, of that dimension.

Advent also serves to purify hope, preparing us for the definitive encounter with the Lord.

Because the Lord who came then will return! He will return! He will return to ask us: “How did your life go?” It will be a personal encounter. We have a personal encounter with the Lord, today, in the Eucharist; we cannot have such a personal with the Christmas of 2000 years ago: we have the memorial of that. But when He will return, we will have that personal encounter. It is purifying hope.

I invite everyone to cultivate the daily dimension of the faith, despite so many cares and worries, taking custody of our own interior home. Our God, in fact, is the God of surprises, and Christians must constantly discern what the heavenly Father is saying to us today.

The third dimension is more daily: purifying our watchfulness. Vigilance and prayer are two words for Advent: Because historically the Lord came in Bethlehem; and He will come, at the end of the world and also at the end of our individual lives. But every day, every moment, He comes into our hearts, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.



Pope Francis       10.12.18   Holy Mass Santa Marta        Luke 5: 17-26
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/faith/10.12.18.jpg

It’s not easy to keep the faith, to defend the faith.

Faith gives us courage and shows us the way to touch the heart of the Lord.  in the parable, the Lord saw the faith of those who brought the man and set him in His presence. It took courage, to go up on the roof and lower him on the stretcher through the tiles…. Those people had faith: They knew that if the sick man was put in front of Jesus, he would be healed

Jesus expressed admiration for people’s faith in the case of the centurion who asked for the healing of his servant; and in the Syrophoenician woman who interceded for her daughter who was possessed by the devil, and in the woman afflicted with hemorrhages who was healed after having touched the hem of Jesus’  cloak. Jesus, reproaches people of little faith, like Peter who doubts, with faith everything is possible.

In this second week of Advent, we ask for the grace to prepare ourselves with faith to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is often marked in a worldly or pagan fashion, it's not easy to keep the faith, it's not easy to defend the faith… it's not easy!

It will do us good today, and also tomorrow, during the week, to take chapter 9 of the Gospel of John and read this beautiful story of the boy who was blind from birth.

From the bottom of our hearts utter an act of faith and say: I believe Lord. Help me in my faith. Defend my faith from worldliness, from superstitions, from all that is not faith. Keep it from being reduced to theory, be it theological or moral… Faith in You, Lord.



Pope Francis       23.12.18    Angelus St Peter's Square   4th Sunday of Advent Year C    Luke 1: 39-45


https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-12/pope-francis-angelus-4th-sunday-advent-catechesis.html

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The liturgy of this Fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on the figure of Mary, the Virgin Mother, expecting the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. Let us fix our gaze upon her, a model of faith and of charity; and we can ask ourselves: what were her thoughts in the months while she was expecting? The answer comes precisely from today’s Gospel passage, the narrative of Mary’s visit to her elderly relative Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39-45). The Angel Gabriel had revealed that Elizabeth was expecting a son and was already in her sixth month (cf. Lk 1:26, 36). So the Virgin, who had just conceived Jesus by the power of God, set out with haste for Nazareth, in Galilee, to reach the mountains of Judea, and visit her cousin.

The Gospel states: “she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (v. 40). Surely she congratulated her on her maternity, as in turn Elizabeth congratulated Mary, saying: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (vv. 42-43). And she immediately lauds Mary’s faith: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (v. 45). The contrast is obvious between Mary, who had faith, and Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, who doubted, and did not believe the angel’s promise and therefore is left dumb until John’s birth. It is a contrast.

This episode helps us to interpret the mystery of man’s encounter with God in a very special light. An encounter that is not characterized by astonishing miracles, but rather, is characterized by faith and charity. Indeed, Mary is blessed because she believed: the encounter with God is the fruit of faith. Zechariah, however, who doubted and did not believe, was left deaf and dumb. To grow in faith during the long silence: without faith one remains inevitably deaf to the consoling voice of God; and incapable of speaking words of consolation and hope to our brothers and sisters. We see it every day: when people who have no faith, or who have very little faith, have to approach a person who is suffering, they speak words suited to the occasion, but they do not manage to touch the heart because they have no strength. They have no strength because they have no faith, and if they have no faith they do not find the words that can touch others’ hearts. Faith, in its turn, is nourished by charity. The Evangelist recounts that “Mary arose and went with haste” (v. 39) to Elizabeth: with haste, not with distress, not anxiously, but with haste, in peace. “She arose”: a gesture full of concern. She could have stayed at home to prepare for the birth of her son, but instead she takes care of others before herself, showing through her deeds that she is already a disciple of that Lord whom she carries in her womb. The event of Jesus’ birth began in this way, with a simple gesture of charity; after all, authentic charity is always the fruit of God’s love.

The Gospel passage about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, which we heard at Mass today, prepares us to experience Christmas properly, by communicating to us the dynamism of faith and charity. This dynamism is the work of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Love who made Mary’s virginal womb fruitful and who spurred her to hasten to the service of her elderly relative. A dynamism full of joy, as seen in the encounter between the two mothers, which is entirely a hymn of joyful exultation in the Lord, who does great things with the little ones who trust in him.

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to experience an ‘extroverted’ Christmas, but not a scattered one: extroverted. May our ‘I’ not be at the centre, but rather the ‘You’ of Jesus and the ‘you’ of brothers and sisters, especially of those who need a hand. Then we will leave room for the Love that, even today, seeks to become flesh and to come to dwell in our midst.



Pope Francis      13.01.19       Holy Mass Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord Sistine Chapel      Luke 3: 15-16, 21,22
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-francis-baptism-of-lord-mass-transmit-faith.html

You have asked the Church for faith for your children, and today they will receive the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith in each one’s heart and soul.
But this faith must be developed; it must grow.

Before children study the faith in catechism classes, parents must transmit it at home, because the faith is always transmitted ‘in dialect’, that is, the native language spoken in the environs of the home.

Parents transmit the faith through their example and words, and by teaching their children to make the Sign of the Cross.
Faith must be transmitted with your faith-filled lives, so children see married love and peace within the family home. May they see Jesus there.

Never fight in front of your children. It’s normal that parents should argue; the opposite would be strange. Do it, but without letting them hear or see.
You have no idea the anguish it causes a child to see his or her parents fight.

Allow me this advice that will help you to transmit the faith.




Pope Francis   06.10.19  Angelus , St Peters Square      27th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C       Luke 17: 5-10

Pope Francis 06.10.19 Angelus Faith

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel page (cf. Luke 17:5-10) presents the theme of faith, introduced by the disciples' question: "Increase our faith!" (see 6). A beautiful prayer, which we should pray often throughout the day: "Lord, increase our faith!". Jesus responds with two images: the mustard seed and the attentive servant. "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree: "Be uprooted planted in the sea", and it would obey you" (v. 6). The mulberry tree is a sturdy tree, well rooted in the earth and resistant to the winds. Jesus, therefore, wants to make it clear that even if faith is as small as a mustard seed, ot has the strength to uproot even a mulberry, and then to transplant it into the sea, which is something even more unlikely: but nothing is impossible to those who have faith, because they do not rely on their own strength, but on God, who can do everything.

Faith compared to the mustard seed is a faith that is not proud and self-confident; and doesn't pretend to be that of a great believer! It is a faith that in its humility feels a great need for God and in its smallness it abandons itself with total confidence to God. It is a faith that gives us the ability to look with hope at the ups and downs of life, which also helps us to accept defeats, and sufferings, in the knowledge that evil never has, nor never will never have, the last word.

How can we know if we really have faith, that is, if our faith, though tiny, is genuine, pure, and honest? Jesus explains this to us by pointing out that the measure of faith is service. And he does so with a parable that at first glance is a little disconcerting, because it presents the figure of an arrogant and indifferent master. But it is exactly waht this master does brings that highlights the true heart of the parable, that is, the attitude of the availability of the servant. Jesus wants to say that this is how a person of faith is should be in relation to God: he is completely surrendering to Gods will, without expectations or pretensions.

This attitude towards God is also reflected in the way we behave in the community: it is reflected in the joy of being at the service of one another, already finding in this its own reward and not in the recognitions and advantages that can result from it. It is what Jesus teaches at the end of this story: "When you have done all you have been commanded, say: "We are useless servants. We have done what we were obliged to do."

Useless servants, that is, with no expectations of being thanked, with no demands. "We are useless servants" is an expression of humility, and willingness that does so much good to the Church and reminds us of the correct attitude needed to work in the Church: that of humble service, of which Jesus has set the example, in washing the feet of his disciples (cf. John 13:3-17).

May the Virgin Mary, the woman of faith, help us to go down this road. We turn to her on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, in communion with the faithful gathered in Pompeii for the traditional Supplica prayer.



Pope Francis   13.10.19 Holy Mass and Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis  13.10.19

“Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19). This is the climax of today’s Gospel, which reflects the journey of faith. There are three steps in this journey of faith. We see them in the actions of the lepers whom Jesus heals. They cry out, they walk and they give thanks.

First, they cry out. The lepers were in a dreadful situation, not only because of a disease that, widespread even today, needs to be battled with unremitting effort, but also because of their exclusion from society. At the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and, as such, had to be isolated and kept apart (cf. Lev 13:46). We see that when they approach Jesus, they “kept their distance” (Lk 17:12). Even though their condition kept them apart, the Gospel tells us that they “called out” (v. 13) and pleaded with Jesus. They did not let themselves be paralyzed because they were shunned by society; they cried out to God, who excludes no one. We see how distances are shortened, how loneliness is overcome: by not closing in on ourselves and our own problems, by not thinking about how others judge us, but rather by crying out to the Lord, for the Lord hears the cry of those who find themselves alone.

Like those lepers, we too need healing, each one of us. We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think. The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: “Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear”. The lepers are the first people, in this Gospel, who called on the name of Jesus. Later, a blind man and a crucified thief would do so: all of them needy people calling on the name of Jesus, which means: “God saves”. They call God by name, directly and spontaneously. To call someone by name is a sign of confidence, and it pleases the Lord. That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting prayer. Prayer in which we bring to Jesus who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus: “God saves”. Let us repeat it: that is prayer, to say “Jesus“ is to pray. And prayer is essential! Indeed, prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart.

The second word is to walk. It is the second stage. In today’s brief Gospel, there are several verbs of motion. It is quite striking is that the lepers are not healed as they stand before Jesus; it is only afterwards, as they were walking. The Gospel tells us that: “As they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). They were healed by going up to Jerusalem, that is, while walking uphill. On the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights. Faith calls for journey, a “going out” from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks. Faith advances when we make our way equipped with trust in God. Faith advances with humble and practical steps, like the steps of the lepers or those of Naaman who went down to bathe in the river Jordan (cf. 2 Kings 5:14-17). The same is true for us. We advance in faith by showing humble and practical love, exercising patience each day, and praying constantly to Jesus as we keep pressing forward on our way.

There is a further interesting aspect to the journey of the lepers: they move together. The Gospel tells us that, “as they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). The verbs are in the plural. Faith means also walking together, never alone. Once healed, however, nine of them go off on their own way, and only one turns back to offer thanks. Jesus then expresses his astonishment: “The others, where are they?” (v. 17). It is as if he asks the only one who returned to account for the other nine. It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way. We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters, all of us! We are to intercede for them; we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart. Do you want to grow in faith? You, who are here today, do you want to grow in faith? Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister.

To cry out. To walk. And to give thanks. This is the final step. Only to the one who thanked him did Jesus say: “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). It made you both safe, and sound. We see from this that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus. Salvation is not drinking a glass of water to keep fit; it is going to the source, which is Jesus. He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful. Whenever we meet Jesus, the word “thanks” comes immediately to our lips, because we have discovered the most important thing in life, which is not to receive a grace or resolve a problem, but to embrace the Lord of life. And this is the most important thing in life: to embrace the Lord of life.

It is impressive to see how the man who was healed, a Samaritan, expresses his joy with his entire being: he praises God in a loud voice, he prostrates himself, and he gives thanks (cf. vv. 15-16). The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving. Let us ask ourselves: do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise? Are we closed in on ourselves, waiting to ask another blessing, or do we find our joy in giving thanks? When we express our gratitude, the Father’s heart is moved and he pours out the Holy Spirit upon us. To give thanks is not a question of good manners or etiquette; it is a question of faith. A grateful heart is one that remains young. To say “Thank you, Lord” when we wake up, throughout the day and before going to bed: that is the best way to keep our hearts young, because hearts can grow old and be spoilt. This also holds true for families, and between spouses. Remember to say thank you. Those words are the simplest and most effective of all.

To cry out. To walk. To give thanks. Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession. Three of them were religious women; they show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world. Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving. That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life, in her humbleness. Such is the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described in these words: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5).

Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, “stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others” (Meditations on Christian Doctrine, VII, 3). Amen.




Pope Francis  14.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Easter Tuesday     Acts 2: 36-41,     John 20: 11-18 

Pope Francis Talks about Faithfulness 14.04.20

Let us pray that the Lord will give us the grace of unity among us. May the difficulties of this time allow us discover the communion between us, the unity that is always superior to any division.

Peter's preaching, on the day of Pentecost, pierces people's hearts: "He whom you crucified has is risen" (cf. Acts 2:36). "Hearing this, they were cut to the hearts and they said to Peter and the other apostles, 'What must we do?'" (Acts 2:37). And Peter is clear: "You must Repent. Change your life. You who have received the promise of God and you who have strayed from the Law of God, because of so many things of yours, idols, and so many things ... Repent. Return to fidelity" (cf. Acts . 2: 38). Converting oneself is this: to be faithful again. Fidelity, that human behaviour that is not so common in people's lives, in our lives. There are always illusions that attract attention and so often we want to go after these illusions. Faithfulness: in good times and bad times.

There is a passage from the Second Book of Chronicles that strikes me so much. It's in Chapter XII at the beginning. "When the kingdom was consolidated," it says, "King Rehoboam felt safe and walked away from the law of the Lord, and all Israel followed him" (cf. 2 Chron. 12:1). That's what the Bible says. It is a historical fact, but it is a universal fact. Many times, when we feel safe and secure, we begin to make our own plans and slowly move away from the Lord; we do not remain faithful. And my security is not what the Lord gives me. It's an idol. This is what happened to Rehoboam and the people of Israel. He felt safe - a consolidated kingdom - he distanced himself from the law and began to worship idols. Yes, we can say, "Father, I do not kneel in front of idols." No, maybe you don't kneel, but you look for them and so many times in your heart you love idols, it's true. So many times. Your own security opens the door to idols.

But is your own security bad? No, it's a grace. Be sure, but also be sure that the Lord is with you. But when there is security and I am at the centre, and I distance myself from the Lord, like King Rehoboam, I become unfaithful. It is so difficult to maintain faithfulness. The whole history of Israel, and then the whole history of the Church, is full of infidelity. Full. Full of selfishness, of self assuredness that make the people of God move away from the Lord, faithfulness is lost, the grace of being faithful. And even among us, among people, faithfulness is certainly not a cheap virtue. One is not faithful to the other, to the other ... "Repent, return to being faithful to the Lord" (cf. Acts . 2:38).

And in the Gospel, the icon of fidelity: that faithful woman who had never forgotten all that the Lord had done for her. She was there, faithful, before the impossible, in the face of tragedy, a fidelity that also makes her think that she is capable of carrying the body from one place to another (cf. John. 20:15) A weak but faithful woman. The icon of the fidelity of this Mary of Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles.

Let us pray today to the Lord for the grace of being faithful: of thanking Him when he gives us security, but never thinking that it's my own security and always to look beyond my own security; the grace to be faithful even before the tomb, in the face of the collapse of so many illusions. To remain faithful, but it is not easy to maintain it. May He, the Lord, preserve it.



Pope Francis  15.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Easter Wednesday    Acts 3: 1-10,    Luke 24: 13-35

Pope Francis Talks about Faithfulness 15.04.20

Let us pray today for the elderly, especially for those who are isolated or in nursing homes. They're afraid, they're afraid to die alone. They feel this pandemic as an aggressive thing for them. They are our roots, our history. They gave us faith, tradition, a sense of belonging to a homeland. Let us pray for them that the Lord may be close to them at this time.

Yesterday we reflected on Mary of Magdalene as the icon of fidelity: fidelity to God. But what is this fidelity to God? To what God? It is to the faithful God.

Our faithfulness is nothing more than a response to God's faithfulness. God who is faithful to his word, who is faithful to his promise, who walks with his people bringing the promise close to his people. True to the promise: God, who continually reveals himself as a Saviour of the people because he is faithful to his promise. God, who is capable of re-doing things, of re-creating, as he did with this crippled man from birth who re-created his feet, and healed him, the God who heals, the God who always brings consolation to his people. The God who re-creates. A new re-creation: this is his faithfulness to us. A re-creation that is more wonderful than creation.

A God who goes forward and who never tires of working – we say "work", "ad instar laborantis", as theologians say – to bring his people forward, and is not afraid to "get tired", let's say put it that way. Like that shepherd who when he comes home realizes that he misses a sheep and goes back to look for the sheep that has been lost there. The pastor who does overtime, but out of love, for fidelity ... And our God is a God who does overtime, but not for a fee: for free. It is the faithfulness of gratuitousness, of abundance. And it's the faithfulness of a father who is able to go up so many times to the terrace to see if his son returns and does not tire of going up there: he waits for him to celebrate. 

God's fidelity is a feast, it is joy, it is such a joy that makes us do what this crippled did: he entered the temple walking, jumping, praising God. God's faithfulness is a celebration, it's a free celebration. And a celebration for all of us.

God's faithfulness is a patient faithfulness: he has patience with his people, he listens to them, guides them, slowly explains and rekindles their hearts, as he did with these two disciples who went far from Jerusalem: he warms their hearts to return home. God's faithfulness is that we do not know what happened in that dialogue, but he is a generous God who sought after Peter who had denied him, who had renounced him. We only know that the Lord has risen and appeared to Simon: we do not know what happened in that dialogue . But yes, we know that it was God's faithfulness that sought Peter. God's fidelity always precedes us, and our fidelity is always a response to that fidelity that precedes us. It is God who always precedes us. And the almond blossom, in the spring: it blooms first.

To be faithful is to praise this fidelity, to be faithful to this fidelity. It's a response to this faithfulness.





Pope Francis  02.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Saturday of the Third Week of Easter     Acts 9: 31-42,    John 6: 60-69

Pope Francis Faith in times of Crisis 02.05.20

Let us pray today for the leaders who have the responsibility to take care of their people in these times of crisis: heads of state, presidents of government, legislators, mayors, presidents of regions. For the Lord to help them and give them strength, because their work is not easy. And that when there are differences between them, may they understand that, in times of crisis, they must be very united for the good of the people, because unity is superior to conflict.

The first Reading begins: "In those days the Church was at peace throughout Judea, Galilee and Samarìa. It was being built up and walked in fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers." (Acts 9: 31) A time of peace. And the Church grows. The Church is quiet, it has the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it is in consolation. The good times. Then follows the healing of Aeneas, then Peter resurrects Gazzella, Tabitha ... things that are done in peace.

But there are times without peace, in the early Church: times of persecution, difficult times, times that put believers in crisis. Times of crisis. And a time of crisis is what the Gospel of John tells us about today (John 6: 60-69). This passage of the Gospel is the end of an entire episode that began with the multiplication of loaves, when they wanted to make Jesus king, Jesus goes to pray, they do not find him the next day, they go to look for him, they find him and Jesus reproaches them for looking for him to give food and not for the words of eternal life ... and that whole story ends here. They say to him, "Give us this bread," and Jesus explains that the bread he will give is his own body and his own blood.

At that time, many of Jesus' disciples, after hearing this, said, "This word is hard: who can accept it?" (John 6: 60) Jesus had said that those who did not eat his body and blood would not have eternal life. Jesus said, "If you eat my body and my blood, you will rise again on the last day." (:54) These are the things that Jesus said and this word is hard, it is too hard. Something's not right here. This man has gone beyond the limits. And this is a moment of crisis. There were moments of peace and moments of crisis. Jesus knew that the disciples were murmuring: here there is a distinction between the disciples and the apostles. The disciples were those 72 or more, the apostles were the Twelve. Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him. And for this reason, in the face of this crisis, he reminds them: "That is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father." (:65) He repeats being attracted by the Father: the Father draws us to Jesus. And that's how the crisis is resolved.

And from that moment, many of his disciples left and did not go with him anymore. They distanced themselves. "This man is a little dangerous, a little ... But these doctrines ... yes, he is a good man, preaches and heals, but when it comes to these strange things ... please, let's go." And so did the disciples of Emmaus, on the morning of the resurrection. Ah, yes, a strange thing: the women who say that the tomb is empty ... "but it doesn't smell good," they said, "let's go quickly because the soldiers will come and crucify us." ( Luke 24: 22-24). So did the soldiers who guarded the tomb: they had seen the truth, but then they preferred to sell their secret and "we are safe: let's not put ourselves in the middle of this story, which is dangerous" (Matthew 28: 11-15).

A moment of crisis is a moment of choice, it is a moment that puts us in front of the decisions that we have to make: we have all had and will have moments of crisis in our lives. Family crises, marriage crises, social crises, crisis in work, many crises . This pandemic is also a time of social crisis.

How do we react in that moment of crisis? "At that moment, many of his disciples left and no longer accompanied him." (:66) Jesus makes the decision to question the apostles: "Then Jesus said to the Twelve: "Do you want to leave too? Make a decision." (:67)" And Peter makes his second confession: "Simon Peter answered him: "Lord, who shall we go to? You have the words of eternal life and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (: 68,69)Peter confesses, on behalf of the Twelve, that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the Son of God. The first confession – "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" – and immediately after, when Jesus began to explain the passion that would come, he stops him: "No, no, Lord, not this!", and Jesus reproaches him (Matthew 16: 16-23). But Peter has matured a little and here he does not reproach him. He does not understand what Jesus is saying, "eat my flesh, drink my blood" (cf 6: 54-56): he does not understand. But he trusts the Lord. Trust. And he makes this second confession: "But to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life"(v 68).

This helps us all to live in times of crisis. In my land there is a saying that says: "When you ride a horse and you have to cross a river, please do not change horses in the middle of the river." In times of crisis, be very firm in your conviction of faith. These who left, changed horses, looked for another teacher who wasn't as tough; as they said to him. In times of crisis there is perseverance, silence; stay where we are, firm. This is not the time to make changes. It is a time of fidelity, of fidelity to God, of fidelity to the things we have chosen before; also, it is the time of conversion because this fidelity will inspire in us some changes for the better, but not to distance ourselves from good.
Moments of peace and moments of crisis. We Christians must learn to manage both. Both. Some spiritual fathers say that the moment of crisis is like passing through fire to become strong. May the Lord send us the Holy Spirit to be able to resist temptations in times of crisis, to know how to be faithful to the first words, with the hope of living afterward in moments of peace. Let us think of our crises: family crises, neighbourhood crises, crises in work, social crises of the world, of the country ... so many crises, so many crises.

May the Lord allow us the strength – in times of crisis – not to sell our faith.





Pope Francis    03.06.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis: 5. Abraham's Prayer        Genesis 15: 1, 3-6

Pope Francis - Abraham's Prayer 03.06.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

There is a voice that suddenly resonates in Abraham's life. A voice that invites him to set out on a path that sounds absurd: a voice that encourages him to uproot himself from his homeland, from the roots of his family, to move towards a new future, a different future. And all on the basis of a promise, which only needs to be trusted. And trusting a promise is not easy, it takes courage. And Abraham trusted himself to God.

The Bible is silent on the past of the first patriarch. The logic of things suggests that he worshipped other divinities; perhaps he was a wise man, accustomed to searching the sky and the stars. The Lord, in fact, promises him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars that dot the sky.

And Abraham leaves. He listens to God's voice and trusts his word. This is important: he trusts God's word. And with his departure a new way of conceiving the relationship with God is born; it is for this reason that the patriarch Abraham is present in the great Jewish, Christian and Islamic spiritual traditions as the perfect man of God, capable of submitting to him, even when his will proves difficult, if not downright incomprehensible. 

Abraham is therefore the man of the Word. When God speaks, man becomes the receptor of that Word and his life the place where it seeks to be incarnated. This is a great novelty in the religious journey of man: the life of the believer begins to be conceived as a vocation, that is, as a call, as a place where a promise is fulfilled; and he moves in the world not so much under the weight of an enigma, but with the strength of that promise, which will one day come true. And Abraham believed in God's promise. He believed and went, not knowing where he was going – so says the Letter to the Hebrews ( 11: 8 ). But he trusted.

Reading the book of Genesis, we discover how Abraham lived prayer in continuous fidelity to that Word, which periodically appeared along his path. In summary, we can say that in Abraham's life faith becomes history. Faith becomes history. Indeed, Abraham, with his life, by his example, teaches us this path, this road on which faith becomes history. God is no longer seen only in cosmic phenomena, like a distant God who can strike terror. The God of Abraham becomes "my God", the God of my personal story, who guides my steps, who does not abandon me; the God of my days, the companion of my adventures; the God of providence. I ask myself and I ask you: do we have this experience of God? The "my God", the God who accompanies me, the God of my personal history, the God who guides my steps, who does not abandon me, the God of my days? Do we have this experience? Let's think about it.

This experience of Abraham is also witnessed by one of the most original texts in the history of spirituality: the Memorial of Blaise Pascal. It begins thus: "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certainty, certainty. Feeling. Joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ." This memorial, written on a small parchment, and found after his death sewn into a philosopher's garment, expresses not an intellectual reflection that a wise man like him can conceive of God, but the living sense, experienced, of his presence. Pascal even notes the precise moment when he felt that reality, having finally encountered it: on the evening of November 23, 1654. It's not an abstract God or a cosmic God, no. He is the God of a person, of a call, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, the God who is certainty, of feeling, of joy.

"Abraham's prayer is expressed first of all by his deeds: a man of silence, at each stage he builds an altar to the Lord"(Catechism of the Catholic Church,2570). Abraham does not build a temple, but spreads the path with stones to commemorate God's passage. A surprising God, as when he visits him in the figure of three guests, whom he and Sara welcome with care and who announce to them the birth of their son Isaac (cf. Gen 18: 1-15). Abraham was a hundred years old, and his wife ninety, more or less. And they believed, they trusted God. And Sara, his wife, conceived. At that age! This is the God of Abraham, our God, who accompanies us.

Thus Abraham becomes familiar with God, able also to discuss with him, but always faithful. To talk to God and discuss. Until the supreme trial, when God asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son of old age, the sole heir. Here Abraham lives the faith as a drama, like a stumbling walk in the night, under a sky this time devoid of stars. And so often it also happens to us, to walk in the dark, but with faith. God himself will stop Abraham's hand ready to strike, because he has seen his truly total obedience (cf. Gen 22,1-19).
Brothers and sisters, let us learn from Abraham, let us learn to pray with faith: to listen to the Lord, to walk, to dialogue, even to argue. Let us not be afraid to argue with God! I will also say something that sounds like heresy. Many times I have heard people say to me: "You know, this happened to me and I got angry with God" – "You had the courage to be angry with God?" – "Yes, I got angry" – "But this is a form of prayer". Because only a son is able to get angry with dad and then make up with him. 

Let us learn from Abraham to pray with faith, to dialogue, to discuss, but always be willing to accept the word of God and to put it into practice. With God, let us learn to speak like a son with his father: listen to him, answer him, discuss. But be transparent, like a son with his dad. This is how Abraham teaches us to pray. Thank you.





Pope Francis       09.08.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square        19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A        Matthew 14: 22-33

Pope Francis When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear - Angelus 09.08.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good day!

This Sunday's Gospel passage (see Mt 14:22-33) speaks of Jesus walking on the water of the stormy lake. After feeding the crowds with five loaves and two fish – as we saw last Sunday – Jesus commands the disciples to get into the boat and return to the other shore. He dismisses the people and then climbs the hill, alone, to pray. He immerses Himself in communion with the Father.

During the crossing of the lake by night, the disciples' boat is hindered by a sudden wind storm. This is normal on a lake. At a certain point, they see someone walking on the water, coming toward them. Upset, they think it is a ghost and cry out in fear. Jesus reassures them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear”. Then Peter – Peter who was so decisive – answers: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water”. A challenge. And Jesus tells him: “Come”. Peter gets out of the boat and takes a few steps; then the wind and waves frighten him and he begins to sink. “Lord, save me”, he cries, and Jesus grasps him by the hand and says to him: “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”.

This Gospel narrative is an invitation to abandon ourselves trustingly to God in every moment of our life, especially in the moment of trial and turmoil. When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear and we seem to be sinking, in life’s difficult moments where everything becomes dark, we must not be ashamed to cry out like Peter: “Lord, save me” (v. 30). To knock on God’s heart, on Jesus’s heart. “Lord, save me.” It is a beautiful prayer! We can repeat it many times. “Lord, save me.” And Jesus’s gesture, who immediately reaches out His hand and grasps that of His friend, should be contemplated at length: this is Jesus. Jesus does this. Jesus is the Father’s hand who never abandons us, the strong and faithful hand of the Father, who always and only wants what is good for us. God is not in the loud sound, God is not the hurricane, He is not in the fire, He is not in the earthquake – as the narrative about the Prophet Elijah also recalls today that says God is the light breeze – literally it says this: He is in the “ thread of melodious silence” – that never imposes itself, but asks to be heard (see 1 Kgs 19:11-13). Having faith means keeping your heart turned to God, to His love, to His Fatherly tenderness, amid the storm. Jesus wanted to teach this to Peter and the disciples, and also to us today. In dark moments, in sad moments He is well aware that our faith is weak –all of us are people of little faith, all of us, myself included, everyone – and that our faith is weak our journey can be troubled, hindered by adverse forces. But He is the Risen One! Let’s not forget this: He is the Lord who passed through death in order to lead us to safety. Even before we begin to seek Him, He is present beside us lifting us back up after our falls, He helps us grow in faith. Maybe in the dark, we cry out: “Lord, Lord!” thinking He is far away. And He says, “I am here.” Ah, He was with me! That is the Lord.

The boat at the mercy of the storm is the image of the Church, which in every age encounters headwinds, very harsh trials at times: we recall certain long and ferocious persecutions of the last century and even today in certain places. In situations like that, she may be tempted to think that God has abandoned her. But in reality it is precisely in those moments that the witness of faith, the witness of love, the witness of hope shines the most. It is the presence of the Risen Christ in His Church that gives the grace of witness unto martyrdom, from which buds new Christians and fruit of reconciliation and peace for the entire world.

May the intercession of Mary help us to persevere in faith and fraternal love when the darkness and storms of life place our trust in God in crisis.





Pope Francis      16.08.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square       20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A        Matthew 15: 21-28

Pope Francis  What type of faith is great? Angelus  16.08.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

This Sunday’s Gospel (see Mt 15:21-28) describes the meeting between Jesus and the Canaanite woman. Jesus is to the north of Galilee, in foreign territory. The woman was not Jewish, she was Canaanite. Jesus is there to spend some time with His disciples away from the crowds, from the crowds whose numbers are always growing. And behold, a woman approached Him seeking help for her sick daughter: “Have mercy on me, Lord!” (v. 22). It is the cry that is born out of a life marked by suffering, from the sense of the helplessness of a mamma who sees her daughter tormented by evil who cannot be healed; she cannot heal her. Jesus initially ignores her, but this mother insists; she insists, even when the Master says to the disciples that His mission is directed only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 24) and not to the pagans. She continues to beg Him, and at that point, He puts her to the test, citing a proverb. It’s a bit…this seems almost a bit cruel, but he puts her to the test: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (v. 26). And right away, the woman, quick, anguished, responds: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27).

And with these words, that mother shows that she has perceived the goodness of the Most High God present in Jesus who is open to any of His creatures necessities. And this wisdom, filled with trust, touches Jesus’s heart and provokes words of admiration: “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” (v. 28). What type of faith is great? Great faith is that which brings its own story, marked even by wounds, and brings it to the Lord’s feet asking Him to heal it, to give it meaning.

Each one of us has our own story and it is not always a story “for export”, it is not always a clean story. Many times it is a difficult story, with a lot of pain, many misfortunes and many sins. What do I do with my story? Do I hide it? No! We must bring it before the Lord. “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” This is what this woman teaches us, this wonderful mother: the courage to bring our own painful story before God, before Jesus, to touch God’s tenderness, Jesus’s tenderness. Let’s try this story, this prayer: let each one of us think of his or her own story. There are always ugly things in a story, always. Let us go to Jesus, knock on Jesus’s heart and say to Him: “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” And we can do this if we always have the face of Jesus before us, if we understand what Christ’s heart is like, what Jesus’s heart is like: a heart that feels compassion, that bears our pains, that bears our sins, our mistakes, our failures. But it is a heart that love us like that, as we are, without make-up: He loves us like that. “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!”

This is why it is necessary to understand Jesus, to be familiar with Jesus. I always go back to the advice that I give you: always carry a small pocket-size Gospel and read a passage every day. There you will find Jesus as He is, as He presents Himself; you will find Jesus who loves us, who loves us a lot, who tremendously wants our well-being. Let us remember the prayer: “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” A beautiful prayer. Carry the Gospel: in your purse, in your pocket and even on your mobile phone, to look at. May the Lord help us, all of us, to pray this beautiful prayer, that a pagan woman teaches us: not a Christian woman, not a Jewish woman, a pagan woman.

May the Virgin Mary intercede with her prayer so that the joy of faith might grow in every baptized person as well as the desire to communicate it through a consistent witness of life, that she give us the courage to approach Jesus and to say to Him: “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!”




Pope Francis       23.08.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square        21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A       Matthew 16: 13-20

Pope Francis    Faith is Life  Angelus 23.08.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (see Mt 16:13-20) presents the moment in which Peter professes his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. The Apostle’s confession is provoked by Jesus Himself, who wishes to lead His disciples to take the decisive step in their relationship with Him. Indeed, the entirety of Jesus’s journey with those who follow Him, especially with the Twelve, is one of educating their faith. First of all, He asks: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (v. 13). The Apostles liked talking about people, as we all do. We like to gossip. Speaking of others is not so demanding, this is why we like it; even “flaying” others. In this case the perspective of faith rather than gossip is already required, and so He asks, “What do the people say I am?”. And the disciples seem to compete in reporting the different opinions, which perhaps, to a large extent, they themselves shared. They too shared them. In essence, Jesus of Nazareth was considered to be a prophet (v. 14).

With the second question, Jesus touches them to the core: “But what about you? … Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). At this point, we seem to perceive a moment of silence, as each one of those present is called to put themselves on the line, manifesting the reason why they follow Jesus; therefore a certain hesitation is more than legitimate. Even if I were to ask you now, “For you, who is Jesus?”, there would be a little hesitation. Simon takes them off the hook by declaring forthrightly, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). This answer, so complete and enlightening, does not come from an impulse of his own, however generous - Peter was generous - but rather is the fruit of a particular grace of the heavenly Father. Indeed, Jesus Himself says, “This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood” - that is, by culture, what you have studied, no this has not revealed it to you. It was revealed to you “by my Father in heaven” (v. 17). To confess Jesus is a grace of the Father. To say that Jesus is the Son of the living God, who is the Redeemer, is a grace that we must ask for: “Father, give me the grace of confessing Jesus”. At the same time, the Lord acknowledges Simon’s prompt response to the inspiration of grace and therefore adds, in a solemn tone, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it”. (v. 18). With this affirmation, Jesus makes Simon aware of the meaning of the new name He has given him, “Peter”: the faith he has just shown is the unshakeable “rock” on which the Son of God wishes to build His Church, that is, community. And the Church goes forward always on the basis of Peter’s faith, that faith that Jesus recognises [in Peter] and which makes him the head of the Church.

Today, we hear Jesus’s question directed to each one of us: “And you, who do you say I am?”. To each one of us. And every one of us must give not a theoretical answer, but one that involves faith, that is, life, because faith is life! “For me you are …” and then to confess Jesus. An answer that demands that we too, like the first disciples, inwardly listen to the voice of the Father and its consonance with what the Church, gathered around Peter, continues to proclaim. It is a matter of understanding who Christ is for us: if He is the centre of our life, if He is the goal of our commitment in the Church, our commitment in society. Who is Jesus Christ for me? Who is Jesus Christ for you, for you, for you …? An answer that we should give every day.

But beware: it is indispensable and praiseworthy that the pastoral care of our communities be open to many forms of poverty and crises, which are everywhere. Charity is always the high road of the journey of faith, of the perfection of faith. But it is necessary that works of solidarity, the works of charity that we carry out, not divert us from contact with the Lord Jesus. Christian charity is not simple philanthropy but, on the one hand, it is looking at others through the eyes of Jesus Himself and, on the other hand, seeing Jesus in the face of the poor. This is the true path of Christian charity, with Jesus at the centre, always.

May Mary Most Holy, blessed because she believed, be our guide and model on the path of faith in Christ, and make us aware that trust in Him gives full meaning to our charity and to all our existence.




Pope Francis       08.11.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square        32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A        Matthew 25: 1-13

Pope Francis  Parable of the ten Virgins  08.11.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

This Sunday’s Gospel passage (Mt 25:1-13) invites us to prolong the reflection on eternal life that we began on the occasion of the Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Jesus recounts the parable of the ten virgins invited to a wedding feast, symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven.

In Jesus' time it was customary for weddings to be celebrated at night; so the procession of guests took place with lit lamps. Some bridesmaids are foolish: they take their lamps but do not take oil with them; instead, the wise ones take the oil with them together with their lamps. The bridegroom is late, late in coming, and they all fall asleep. When a voice alerts them that the bridegroom is about to arrive, the foolish ones, at that moment, realise that they do not have oil for their lamps; they ask the wise ones for some, but they reply that they cannot give any oil, because there would not be enough for them all. While the foolish virgins go to buy oil, the bridegroom arrives. The wise virgins enter the banquet hall with him, and the door is closed. The others arrive too late and are turned away.

It is clear that with this parable, Jesus wants to tell us that we must be prepared for His coming. Not only the final coming, but also for the everyday encounters, great and small, with a view to that encounter, for which the lamp of faith is not enough; we also need the oil of charity and good works. As the apostle Paul says, the faith that truly unites us to Jesus is, “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). It is what is represented by the behaviour of the wise virgins. Being wise and prudent means not waiting until the last moment to correspond to God’s grace, but to do so actively and immediately, starting right now. “I… yes, I will convert soon”… “Convert today! Change your life today!” “Yes, yes, tomorrow”. And the same thing is said tomorrow, and so it never arrives. Today! If we want to be ready for the final encounter with the Lord, we must cooperate with Him now and perform good deeds inspired by His love.

We know that it happens that, unfortunately, we forget the purpose of our life, that is, the definitive appointment with God, thus losing the sense of expectation and making the present absolute. When one makes the present absolute, he or she looks only to the present, losing the sense of expectation, which is so good, and so necessary, and also pulls us away from the contradictions of the moment. This attitude - when one loses the sense of expectation - precludes any view of the hereafter: people do everything as if we they will never depart for the other life. And so people care only about possessing, of going about, establishing themselves… And more and more. If we allow ourselves to be guided by what seems most attractive to us, of what we like, by the search for our interests, our life becomes sterile; we do not accumulate any reserve of oil for our lamp, and it will be extinguished before the Lord’s coming. We must live today, but a today that goes towards tomorrow, towards that coming, a present full of hope. If, on the other hand, we are vigilant and correspond to God’s grace by doing good, we can serenely await the bridegroom’s coming. The Lord will be able to come even while we are sleeping: this will not worry us, because we have the reserve of oil accumulated through our daily good works, accumulated with that expectation of the Lord, that He may come as soon as possible and that He may come to take us with Him.

Let us invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she may help us to live an active faith, as she did: it is the shining lamp with which we can pass through the night beyond death and reach the great feast of life.




Pope Francis   11.11.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace        Catechesis on prayer - 14. The persevering prayer       Luke 11: 9-13


Dear Brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis The persevering prayer  11.11.20 General Audience


We continue the catechesis on prayer. Someone said to me: “You talk too much about prayer. It is not necessary”. Yes, it is necessary. Because if we do not pray, we will not have the strength to go forward in life. Prayer is like the oxygen of life. Prayer draws down on us the Holy Spirit’s presence who always leads us forward. For this reason, I speak a lot about prayer.

Jesus has given an example of continual prayer, practiced perseveringly. Constant dialogue with His Father, in silence and in recollection, was the fulcrum of His entire mission. The Gospels also report His exhortations to the disciples, so that they might pray insistently, without getting tired. The Catechism recalls three parables contained in the Gospel of Luke that underline this characteristic of Jesus’s prayer (see CCC, 2613).

First of all, prayer must be tenacious: like the person in the parable who, having to welcome a guest who arrived unexpectedly in the middle of the night, goes to knock on the door of a friend and asks him for some bread. The friend responds, “No!”, because he is already in bed – but he insists and insists until he constrains his friend to get up and give him some bread (see Lk 11:5-8). A tenacious request. But God is more patient with us, and the person who knocks with faith and perseverance on the door of His heart will not be disappointed. God always responds. Always. Our Father knows well what we need; insistence is necessary not to inform Him or to convince Him, but is necessary to nurture the desire and expectation in us.

The second parable is that of the widow who goes to the judge for his help in obtaining justice. This judge is corrupt, he is a man without scruples, but in the end, exasperated by the insistence of the widow, decides to please her (see Lk 18:1-8)… He thought: “But, it is better to resolve this problem and get her off my back so she will not continue coming to me to complain”. This parable makes us understand that faith is not a momentary choice, but a courageous disposition to call on God, even to “argue” with Him, without resigning oneself to evil and injustice.

The third parable presents a Pharisee and a tax collector who go to the Temple to pray. The first turns to God boasting of his merits; the other feels unworthy even to enter the sanctuary. While God does not listen to the prayer of the first, that is of those who are proud, He does grant the prayer of the humble (see Lk 18:9-14). There is no true prayer without a spirit of humility. It is specifically humility that leads us to ask in prayer.

The teaching of the Gospel is clear: we need to pray always, even when everything seems in vain, when God appears to be deaf and mute and it seems we are wasting time. Even if the sky darkens, the Christian does not stop praying. A Christian’s prayer goes hand in hand with his or her faith. There are many days of our life when faith seems to be an illusion, a sterile effort. There are moments of darkness in our life, and in those moments, faith may seem to be an illusion. But the practice of prayer means accepting even this effort. “Father, I pray and do not feel anything … It feels like my heart is dry, that my heart is arid”. But we must continue exerting ourselves in the tough moments, the moments in which we feel nothing. Many saints experienced the night of faith and God’s silence – when we know and God does not respond – and these saints were persevering.

During those nights of faith, the one who prays is never alone. Jesus, in fact, is not only a witness and teacher of prayer; He is more. He welcomes us in His prayer so that we might pray in Him and through Him. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the Gospel invites us to pray to the Father in Jesus’s name. Saint John provides these words of the Lord: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13). And the Catechism explains that “the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus” (n. 2614). It gives the wings that the human person’s prayer has always desired to possess.

How can we fail to recall here the words of Psalm 91, laden with trust, springing from a heart that hopes for everything from God: “he will conceal you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that prowls in darkness, nor the scourge that lays waste at noon” (vv. 4-6). It is in Christ that this stupendous prayer is fulfilled, and in Him that it finds its complete truth. Without Jesus, our prayer risks being reduced to human effort, destined most of the time to failure. But He has taken on Himself every cry, every groan, every jubilation, every supplication…every human prayer. And let us not forget that the Holy Spirit prays in us; it is He who leads us to pray, who leads us to Jesus. He is the gift that the Father and the Son gave us to foster an encounter with God. And when we pray, it is the Holy Spirit who prays in our hearts.

Christ is everything for us, even in our prayer life. Saint Augustine said this with an enlightening expression that we also find in the Catechism: Jesus “prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us” (n. 2616). This is why the Christian who prays fears nothing, he or she trusts in the Holy Spirit who was given to us as a gift and who prays in us, eliciting prayer. May the Holy Spirit, Teacher of prayer, teach us the path of prayer.