Following


Pope Francis       30.05.13  Solemnity of Corpus Christi       Luke 9: 11B-17       1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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In the Gospel we have listened to, Jesus says something that I always find striking: “you give them something to eat” (Lk 9:13). Starting with this sentence I am letting myself be guided by three words; following [sequela], communion, sharing.

1. First of all: who are those who must be given something to eat? We find the answer at the beginning of the Gospel passage: it is the crowd, the multitude. Jesus is in the midst of the people, he welcomes them, he speaks to them, he heals them, he shows them God’s mercy; it is from among them that he chooses the Twelve Apostles to be with him and, like him, to immerse themselves in the practical situations of the world. Furthermore the people follow him and listen to him, because Jesus is speaking and behaving in a new way, with the authority of someone who is authentic and consistent, someone who speaks and acts with truth, someone who gives the hope that comes from God, someone who is a revelation of the Face of a God who is love. And the people joyfully bless God.

This evening we are the crowd of the Gospel, we too seek to follow Jesus in order to listen to him, to enter into communion with him in the Eucharist, to accompany him and in order that he accompany us. Let us ask ourselves: how do I follow Jesus? Jesus speaks in silence in the Mystery of the Eucharist. He reminds us every time that following him means going out of ourselves and not making our life a possession of our own, but rather a gift to him and to others.

2. Let us take another step. What does Jesus’ request to the disciples, that they themselves give food to the multitude, come from? It comes from two two things: first of all from the crowd, who in following Jesus find themselves in the open air, far from any inhabited areas, while evening is falling; and then from the concern of the disciples who ask Jesus to send the crowd away so that they can go to the neighbouring villages to find provisions and somewhere to stay (cf. Lk 9:12).

Faced with the needs of the crowd the disciples’ solution was this: let each one think of himself — send the crowd away! How often do we Christians have this temptation! We do not take upon ourselves the needs of others, but dismiss them with a pious: “God help you”, or with a not so pious “good luck”, and if I never see you again…. But Jesus’ solution goes in another direction, a direction that astonishes the disciples: “You give them something to eat”. Yet how could we be the ones to give a multitude something to eat? “We have no more than five loaves and two fish — unless we are to go and buy food for all these people” (Lk 9:13). However Jesus does not despair. He asks the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50 people. He looks up to heaven, recites the blessing, breaks the bread and fish into pieces and gives them to the disciples to distribute (cf. Lk 9:16). It is a moment of deep communion: the crowd is satisfied by the word of the Lord and is now nourished by his bread of life. And they were all satisfied, the Evangelist notes (cf. Lk 9:17).

This evening we too are gathered round the table of the Lord, the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in which he once again gives us his Body and makes present the one sacrifice of the Cross. It is in listening to his word, in nourishing ourselves with his Body and his Blood that he moves us on from being a multitude to being a community, from anonymity to communion. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion that brings us out of individualism so that we may follow him together, living out our faith in him. Therefore we should all ask ourselves before the Lord: how do I live the Eucharist? Do I live it anonymously or as a moment of true communion with the Lord, and also with all the brothers and sisters who share this same banquet? What are our Eucharistic celebrations like?

3. A final element: where does the multiplication of the loaves come from? The answer lies in Jesus’ request to the disciples: “You give them…”, “to give”, to share. What do the disciples share? The little they have: five loaves and two fish. However it is those very loaves and fish in the Lord's hands that feed the entire crowd. And it is the disciples themselves, bewildered as they face the insufficiency of their means, the poverty of what they are able to make available, who get the people to sit down and who — trusting in Jesus’ words — distribute the loaves and fish that satisfy the crowd. And this tells us that in the Church, but also in society, a key word of which we must not be frightened is “solidarity”, that is, the ability to make what we have, our humble capacities, available to God, for only in sharing, in giving, will our life be fruitful. Solidarity is a word seen badly by the spirit of the world!

This evening, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread that is his Body, he makes himself a gift; and we too experience “God’s solidarity” with man, a solidarity that is never depleted, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God makes himself close to us, in the sacrifice of the Cross he humbles himself, entering the darkness of death to give us his life which overcomes evil, selfishness and death. Jesus, this evening too, gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares in our journey, indeed he makes himself food, the true food that sustains our life also in moments when the road becomes hard-going and obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist the Lord makes us walk on his road, that of service, of sharing, of giving; and if it is shared, that little we have, that little we are, becomes riches, for the power of God — which is the power of love — comes down into our poverty to transform it.

So let us ask ourselves this evening, in adoring Christ who is really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to going out ever more from my little enclosure, in order to give, to share, to love him and others?

Brothers and sisters, following, communion, sharing. Let us pray that participation in the Eucharist may always be an incentive: to follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion and to share what we are with him and with our neighbour. Our life will then be truly fruitful. Amen.




Pope Francis          14.01.18  Angelus, St Peter's Square      2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B       John 1: 35-42

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Pope Francis - the Journey of Faith - Angelus 14.01.2018

As in the Feast of the Epiphany and in that of the Baptism of Jesus, so too today’s Gospel passage (cf. Jn 1:35-42) proposes the theme of the manifestation of the Lord. This time it is John the Baptist who points Him out to his disciples as “the Lamb of God” (v. 36), thus inviting them to follow Him. And thus it is for us: the One whom we have contemplated in the Mystery of Christmas, we are now called to follow in daily life. Therefore, today’s Gospel passage introduces us perfectly into Ordinary Liturgical Time, a time that helps to invigorate and affirm our journey of faith in ordinary life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and sequela, between manifestation and vocation.

The Gospel narrative indicates the essential characteristics of the journey of faith. There is a journey of faith, and this is the journey of the disciples of all times, ours too, beginning with the question that Jesus asks the two who, urged by the Baptist, set out to follow Him: “What do you seek?” (v. 38). It is the same question that the Risen One asks Mary Magdalene on Easter morning: “Woman, whom do you seek?” (cf. Jn 20:15). Each of us, as a human being, is seeking: seeking happiness, seeking love, a good and full life. God the Father has given us all this in his Son Jesus.

In this search, the role of a true witness — of a person who first made the journey and encountered the Lord — is fundamental. In the Gospel, John the Baptist is this witness. For this reason he is able to direct the disciples toward Jesus, who engages them in a new experience, saying: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39). And those two [disciples] will never forget the beauty of that encounter, to the extent that the Evangelist even notes the time of it: “It was about the tenth hour” (ibid.). Only a personal encounter with Jesus engenders a journey of faith and of discipleship. We will be able to experience many things, to accomplish many things, to establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at that hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our life and render our plans and our initiatives fruitful.

It is not enough to build an image of God based on the words that are heard; one must go in search of the divine Master and go to where he lives. The two disciples ask Jesus, “where are you staying?” (v. 38). This question has a powerful spiritual meaning: it expresses the wish to know where the Lord lives, so as to abide with him. The life of faith consists in the wish to abide in the Lord, and thus in a continuing search for the place where he lives. This means that we are called to surpass a methodical and predictable religiosity, rekindling the encounter with Jesus in prayer, in meditating on the Word of God and in practicing the Sacraments, in order to abide with him and bear fruit thanks to him, to his help, to his grace.

Seeking Jesus, encountering Jesus, following Jesus: this is the journey. Seeking Jesus, encountering Jesus, following Jesus.

May the Virgin Mary support us in this prospect of following Jesus, of going to abide where he lives, in order to listen to his Word of life, to adhere to him who takes away the sin of the world, to recover in him hope and spiritual impulse.