Faithfulness



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   15.11.20  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica      World Day of the Poor       Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31,      1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6,      Matthew 25: 14-30
33rd 
Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - The Parable of the Talents

Pope Francis World Day of the Poor - The Parable of the Talents - Holy Mass 15.11.20

The parable we have just listened to has a beginning, a middle and an end, which shed light on the beginning, the middle and the end of our lives.

The beginning. Everything begins with a great good. The master does not keep his wealth to himself, but gives it to his servants; five talents to one, two to another, one to a third, “to each according to his ability” (Mt 25:15). It has been calculated that a single talent was equivalent to the income of some twenty years’ work: it was of enormous value, and would be sufficient for a lifetime. This is the beginning. For us too, everything began with the grace of God – everything always begins with grace, not with our own efforts – with the grace of God, who is a Father and has given us so many good things, entrusting different talents to each of us. We possess a great wealth that depends not on what we possess but on what we are: the life we have received, the good within us, the indelible beauty God has given us by making us in his image… All these things make each of us precious in his eyes, each one of us is priceless and unique in history! This is how God looks at us, how God feels towards us.

We need to remember this. All too often, when we look at our lives, we see only the things we lack, and we complain about what we lack. We then yield to the temptation to say: “If only…!” If only I had that job, if only I had that home, if only I had money and success, if only I didn’t have this or that problem, if only I had better people around me…! But those illusory words – if only! – prevent us from seeing the good all around us. They make us forget the talents we possess. You may not have that, but you do have this, and the “if only” makes us forget this. Yet God gave those talents to us because he knows each of us and he knows our abilities. He trusts us, despite our weaknesses. God even trusts the servant who will hide his talent, hoping that despite his fears, he too will put to good use what he received. In a word, the Lord asks us to make the most of the present moment, not yearning for the past, but waiting industriously for his return. How ugly is that nostalgia, which is like a black mood poisoning our soul and making us always look backwards, always at others, but never at our own hands or at the opportunities for work that the Lord has given us, never at our own situation… not even at our own poverty.

This brings us to the centre of the parable: the work of the servants, which is service. Service is our work too; it makes our talents bear fruit and it gives meaning to our lives. Those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life. We must repeat this, and repeat it often: those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life. We should reflect on this: those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life. But what kind of service are we speaking of? In the Gospel, good servants are those who take risks. They are not fearful and overcautious, they do not cling to what they possess, but put it to good use. For if goodness is not invested, it is lost, and the grandeur of our lives is not measured by how much we save but by the fruit we bear. How many people spend their lives simply accumulating possessions, concerned only about the good life and not the good they can do. Yet how empty is a life centred on our needs and blind to the needs of others! The reason we have gifts is so that we can be gifts for others. And here, brothers and sisters, we should ask ourselves the question: do I only follow my own needs, or am I able to look to the needs of others, to whoever is in need? Are my hands open, or are they closed?

It is significant that fully four times those servants who invested their talents, who took a risk, are called “faithful” (vv. 21, 23). For the Gospel, faithfulness is never risk-free. “But, father, does being a Christian mean taking risks?” – “Yes, dearly beloved, take a risk. If you do not take risks, you will end up like the third [servant]: burying your abilities, your spiritual and material riches, everything”. Taking risks: there is no faithfulness without risk. Fidelity to God means handing over our life, letting our carefully laid plans be disrupted by our need to serve. “But I have my plans, and if I have to serve…”. Let your plans be upset, go and serve. It is sad when Christians play a defensive game, content only to observe rules and obey commandments. Those “moderate” Christians who never go beyond boundaries, never, because they are afraid of risk. And those, allow me this image, those who take care of themselves to avoid risk begin in their lives a process of mummification of their souls, and they end up as mummies. Following rules is not enough; fidelity to Jesus is not just about not making mistakes, this is quite wrong. That is what the lazy servant in the parable thought: for lack of initiative and creativity, he yielded to needless fear and buried the talent he had received. The master actually calls him “wicked” (v. 26). And yet he did nothing wrong! But he did nothing good either. He preferred to sin by omission rather than to risk making a mistake. He was not faithful to God, who spends freely, and he made his offence even worse by returning the gift he had received. “You gave me this, and I give it to you”, nothing more. The Lord, for his part, asks us to be generous, to conquer fear with the courage of love, to overcome the passivity that becomes complicity. Today, in these times of uncertainty, in these times of instability, let us not waste our lives thinking only of ourselves, indifferent to others, or deluding ourselves into thinking: “peace and security!” (1 Thess 5:3). Saint Paul invites us to look reality in the face and to avoid the infection of indifference.

How then do we serve, as God would have us serve? The master tells the faithless servant: “You ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest” (v. 27). Who are the “bankers” who can provide us with long-term interest? They are the poor. Do not forget: the poor are at the heart of the Gospel; we cannot understand the Gospel without the poor. The poor are like Jesus himself, who, though rich, emptied himself, made himself poor, even taking sin upon himself: the worst kind of poverty. The poor guarantee us an eternal income. Even now they help us become rich in love. For the worst kind of poverty needing to be combatted is our poverty of love. The worst kind of poverty needing to be combatted is our poverty of love. The Book of Proverbs praises the woman who is rich in love, whose value is greater than that of pearls. We are told to imitate that woman who “opens her hand to the poor” (Prov 31:20): that is the great richness of this woman. Hold out your hand to the poor, instead of demanding what you lack. In this way, you will multiply the talents you have received.

The season of Christmas is approaching, the holiday season. How often do we hear people ask: “What can I buy? What more can I have? I must go shopping”. Let us use different words: “What can I give to others?”, in order to be like Jesus, who gave of himself and was born in the manger”.

We now come to the end of the parable. Some will be wealthy, while others, who had plenty and wasted their lives, will be poor (cf. v. 29). At the end of our lives, then, the truth will be revealed. The pretence of this world will fade, with its notion that success, power and money give life meaning, whereas love – the love we have given – will be revealed as true riches. Those things will fall, yet love will emerge. A great Father of the Church wrote: “As for this life, when death comes and the theatre is deserted, when all remove their masks of wealth or of poverty and depart hence, judged only by their works, they will be seen for what they are: some truly rich, others poor” (Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Poor Man Lazarus, II, 3). If we do not want to live life poorly, let us ask for the grace to see Jesus in the poor, to serve Jesus in the poor.

I would like to thank all those faithful servants of God who quietly live in this way, serving others. I think, for example, of Father Roberto Malgesini. This priest was not interested in theories; he simply saw Jesus in the poor and found meaning in life in serving them. He dried their tears with his gentleness, in the name of God who consoles. The beginning of his day was prayer, to receive God’s gifts; the centre of his day was charity, to make the love he had received bear fruit; the end was his clear witness to the Gospel. This man realized that he had to stretch out his hand to all those poor people he met daily, for he saw Jesus in each of them. Brothers and sisters, let us ask for the grace to be Christians not in word, but in deed. To bear fruit, as Jesus desires. May this truly be so.