Fraternity



Pope Francis       12.07.15 Holy Mass Campo Grande, Ñu Guazú, Asuncion, Paraguay       Psalm 85: 8-14,      Mark 6: 7-13

Pope Francis Welcoming others 12.07.15

“The Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase”. These are the words of the Psalm. We are invited to celebrate this mysterious communion between God and his People, between God and us. The rain is a sign of his presence, in the earth tilled by our hands. It reminds us that our communion with God always brings forth fruit, always gives life. This confidence is born of faith, from knowing that we depend on grace, which will always transform and nourish our land.

It is a confidence which is learned, which is taught. A confidence nurtured within a community, in the life of a family. A confidence which radiates from the faces of all those people who encourage us to follow Jesus, to be disciples of the One who can never deceive. A disciple knows that he or she is called to have this confidence; we feel Jesus’s invitation to be his friend, to share his lot, his very life. “No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”. The disciples are those who learn how to live trusting in the friendship offered by Jesus.

The Gospel speaks to us of this kind of discipleship. It shows us the identity card of the Christian. Our calling card, our credentials.

Jesus calls his disciples and sends them out, giving them clear and precise instructions. He challenges them to take on a whole range of attitudes and ways of acting. Sometimes these can strike us as exaggerated or even absurd. It would be easier to interpret these attitudes symbolically or “spiritually”. But Jesus is quite precise, very clear. He doesn’t tell them simply to do whatever they think they can.

Let us think about some of these attitudes: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money...” “When you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” (cf. Mk 6:8-11). All this might seem quite unrealistic.

We could concentrate on the words, “bread”, “money”, “bag”, “staff”, “sandals” and “tunic”. And this would be fine. But it strikes me that one key word can easily pass unnoticed among the challenging words I have just listed. It is a word at the heart of Christian spirituality, of our experience of discipleship: “welcome”. Jesus as the good master, the good teacher, sends them out to be welcomed, to experience hospitality. He says to them: “Where you enter a house, stay there”. He sends them out to learn one of the hallmarks of the community of believers. We might say that a Christian is someone who has learned to welcome others, who has learned to show hospitality.

Jesus does not send them out as men of influence, landlords, officials armed with rules and regulations. Instead, he makes them see that the Christian journey is simply about changing hearts. One’s own heart first all, and then helping to transform the hearts of others. It is about learning to live differently, under a different law, with different rules. It is about turning from the path of selfishness, conflict, division and superiority, and taking instead the path of life, generosity and love. It is about passing from a mentality which domineers, stifles and manipulates to a mentality which welcomes, accepts and cares.

These are two contrasting mentalities, two ways of approaching our life and our mission.

How many times do we see mission in terms of plans and programs. How many times do we see evangelization as involving any number of strategies, tactics, manoeuvres, techniques, as if we could convert people on the basis of our own arguments. Today the Lord says to us quite clearly: in the mentality of the Gospel, you do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by simply learning how to welcome them.

The Church is a mother with an open heart. She knows how to welcome and accept, especially those in need of greater care, those in greater difficulty. The Church, as desired by Jesus, is the home of hospitality. And how much good we can do, if only we try to speak this language of hospitality, this language of receiving and welcoming. How much pain can be soothed, how much despair can be allayed in a place where we feel at home! This requires open doors, especially the doors of our heart. Welcoming the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner (Mt 25:34-37), the leper and the paralytic. Welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it. And sometimes, we are to blame. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, of which our earth is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners, because each one of us is also a sinner.

So often we forget that there is an evil underlying our sins, that precedes our sins. There is a bitter root which causes damage, great damage, and silently destroys so many lives. There is an evil which, bit by bit, finds a place in our hearts and eats away at our life: it is isolation. Isolation which can have many roots, many causes. How much it destroys our life and how much harm it does us. It makes us turn our back on others, God, the community. It makes us closed in on ourselves. From here we see that the real work of the Church, our mother, should not be mainly about managing works and projects, but rather about learning to experience fraternity with others. A welcome-filled fraternity is the best witness that God is our Father, for “by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

In this way, Jesus teaches us a new way of thinking. He opens before us a horizon brimming with life, beauty, truth and fulfilment.

God never closes off horizons; he is never unconcerned about the lives and sufferings of his children. God never allows himself to be outdone in generosity. So he sends us his Son, he gives him to us, he hands him over, he shares him... so that we can learn the way of fraternity, of self-giving. In a definitive way, he opens up a new horizon; he is a new word which sheds light on so many situations of exclusion, disintegration, loneliness and isolation. He is a word which breaks the silence of loneliness.

And when we are weary or worn down by our efforts to evangelize, it is good to remember that the life which Jesus holds out to us responds to the deepest needs of people. “We were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters” (Evangelii Gaudium, 265).

On thing is sure: we cannot force anyone to receive us, to welcome us; this is itself part of our poverty and freedom. But neither can anyone force us not to be welcoming, hospitable in the lives of our people. No one can tell us not to accept and embrace the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who have lost hope and zest for life. How good it would be to think of our parishes, communities, chapels, wherever there are Christians, with open doors, true centres of encounter between ourselves and God.

The Church is a mother, like Mary. In her, we have a model. We too must provide a home, like Mary, who did not lord it over the word of God, but rather welcomed that word, bore it in her womb and gave it to others.

We too must provide a home, like the earth, which does not choke the seed, but receives it, nourishes it and makes it grow.

That is how we want to be Christians, that is how we want to live the faith on this Paraguayan soil, like Mary, accepting and welcoming God’s life in our brothers and sisters, in confidence and with the certainty that “the Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase”. May it be so.




Pope Francis 07.05.19 Skopje

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). We have just heard the Lord speak these words.

In the Gospel, a crowd had gathered around Jesus. They had just seen the multiplication of the loaves; it was one of those events that remained etched in the mind and heart of the first community of disciples. There had been a party: a feast that showed God’s superabundant generosity and concern for his children, who became brothers and sisters in the sharing of bread. Let us imagine for a moment that crowd. Something had changed. For a few moments, those thirsting and silent people who followed Jesus in search of a word were able to touch with their hands and feel in their bodies the miracle of a fraternity capable of satisfying superabundantly.

The Lord came to give life to the world. He always does so in a way that defies the narrowness of our calculations, the mediocrity of our expectations and the superficiality of our rationalizations. A way that questions our viewpoints and our certainties, while inviting us to move to a new horizon enabling us to view reality in a different way. He is the living Bread come down from heaven, who tells us: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”.

All those people discovered that hunger for bread has other names too: hunger for God, hunger for fraternity, hunger for encounter and a shared feast.

We have become accustomed to eating the stale bread of disinformation and ending up as prisoners of dishonour, labels and ignominy. We thought that conformism would satisfy our thirst, yet we ended up drinking only indifference and insensitivity. We fed ourselves on dreams of splendour and grandeur, and ended up consuming distraction, insularity and solitude. We gorged ourselves on networking, and lost the taste of fraternity. We looked for quick and safe results, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by impatience and anxiety. Prisoners of a virtual reality, we lost the taste and flavour of the truly real.

Let us not be afraid to say it clearly: Lord, we are hungry. We are hungry, Lord, for the bread of your word, which can open up our insularity and our solitude. We are hungry, Lord, for an experience of fraternity in which indifference, dishonour and ignominy will not fill our tables or take pride of place in our homes. We are hungry, Lord, for encounters where your word can raise hope, awaken tenderness and sensitize the heart by opening paths of transformation and conversion.

We are hungry, Lord, to experience, like that crowd, the multiplication of your mercy, which can break down our stereotypes and communicate the Father’s compassion for each person, especially those for whom no one cares: the forgotten or despised. Let us not be afraid to say it clearly: we are hungry for bread, Lord: the bread of your word, the bread of fraternity.

In a few moments, we will approach the table of the altar, to be fed by the Bread of Life. We do so in obedience to the Lord’s command: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). All that the Lord asks of us is that we come. He invites us to set out, to be on the move, to go forth. He urges us to draw near to him and to become sharers in his life and mission. “Come”, he says. For the Lord, that does not mean simply moving from one place to another. Instead, it means letting ourselves be moved and transformed by his word, in our choices, our feelings and our priorities, daring in this way to adopt his own way of acting and speaking. For his is “the language of bread that speaks of tenderness, companionship, generous dedication to others” (Corpus Christi Homily, Buenos Aires, 1995), the language of a love that is concrete and tangible, because it is daily and real.

In every Eucharist, the Lord breaks and shares himself. He invites us to break and share ourselves together with him, and to be part of that miraculous multiplication that desires to reach out and touch, with tenderness and compassion, every corner of this city, this country, and this land.

Hunger for bread, hunger for fraternity, hunger for God. How well Mother Teresa knew all this, and desired to build her life on the twin pillars of Jesus incarnate in the Eucharist and Jesus incarnate in the poor! Love received and love given. Two inseparable pillars that marked her journey and kept her moving, eager also to quench her own hunger and thirst. She went to the Lord exactly as she went to the despised, the unloved, the lonely and the forgotten. In drawing near to her brothers and sisters, she found the face of the Lord, for she knew that “love of God and love of neighbour become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God” (
Deus Caritas Est, 15). And that love alone was capable of satisfying her hunger.

Brothers and sisters, today the Risen Lord continues to walk among us, in the midst of our daily life and experience. He knows our hunger and he continues to tell us: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). Let us encourage one another to get up and experience the abundance of his love. Let us allow him to satisfy our hunger and thirst: in the sacrament of the altar and in the sacrament of our brothers and sisters.




Pope Francis     01.09.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome    22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 14: 1, 7-14

Pope Francis   01.09.19 Angelus Humility

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

First of all, I have to apologize for the delay, but there was an accident: I was locked in the elevator for 25 minutes! There was a drop in voltage and the elevator stopped. Thank God for the Fire Brigade who came – thank you so much! – and after 25 minutes of work they managed to get it to go. A round of applause for the Fire Department!

The Gospel of this Sunday (cf. Lc 14:1,7-14) shows us Jesus attending a banquet in the house of a Pharisee leader. Jesus watches and observes as the guests run, and hurry to get the top places. It is a rather widespread attitude, even in today, and not only when you are invited to a meal: usually, you look for the top place to assert a supposed superiority over others. In fact, this race to the top is bad for the community, both civil and ecclesiastical, because it ruins fraternity. We all know these people: climbers, who always climb to go higher, and higher... They hurt fraternity, they wound fraternity. Faced with that scene, Jesus recounts two short parables.

The first parable is addressed to the one who is invited to a banquet, and urges him not to put himself first, because, he says, "a more distinguished guest than you, may have been invited by him and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say: "Give your place to that person!" An embarrassment! "and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place" (see Vv. 8-9). Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us to have the opposite attitude: "When you are invited, go and take the lowest place, so that when the host comes to you he may say : "My friend, move up to a higher position!" (see 10). Therefore, we should not seek on our own initiative the attention and consideration of others, but rather let others give it to us. Jesus always shows us the way of humility - we must learn the way of humility! – because it is the most authentic one, which also allows us to have authentic relationships. True humility, not fake humility, that in the Piedmont is called quaciamiller, no, not that. But true humility. 

In the second parable, Jesus addresses the one who invites and, referring to the way of selecting the guests, tells him: "When you offer a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because they of their inability to repay you" (v. 13-14). Here, too, Jesus goes completely against the tide, manifesting as always the logic of God the Father. And he also adds the key to interpreting His speech. And what's the key? A promise: if you do so, "you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (v. 14). This means that whoever behaves in this way will have the divine reward, much higher than any human exchange expected: I do you this favour and wait for you to give me one in return. No, this is not Christian. Humble generosity is Christian. Human exchange, in fact, usually distorts relationships, makes them "commercial", introducing self-interest into a relationship that should be generous and free. Instead, Jesus invites selfless generosity, to open the way to a much greater joy, the joy of being part of God's own love that awaits us, all of us, in the heavenly banquet.

May the Virgin Mary, "the humblest and highest of creatures" (Dante, Paradise, XXXIII, 2), help us to recognize ourselves as we are, that is, small; and to rejoice in giving without something in return.