Genesis

 Chapter 1

1-19

 
Pope Francis           06.02.17   Holy Mass  Santa Marta           Genesis 1: 1-19,          Psalm 104: 1-2A, 5,6,10,12,24,35C,         Mark 6: 53-56 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/creation/06.02.17.png

In Psalm 104, “we praised the Lord”, saying: “You are very great, O Lord, my God! You are great indeed!”. This Psalm, is a song of praise: we praise the Lord for the things we heard in both readings, for creation, so great; and in the second reading, for the re-creation, the even more wondrous creation that Jesus makes. The Father labours and thus, Jesus says: ‘My Father labours and I too labour”. It is a way of saying ‘labour’, ad instar laborantis, as one who labours, as Saint Ignatius defines in the Exercises (cf. Spiritual Exercises, n. 236).

In this way, the Father labours to make this wonder of creation, and with the Son to make this wonder of re-creation; to make that passing from chaos to cosmos, from disorder to order, from sin to grace. And, this is the Father’s labour and for this reason we praised the Father, the Father who labours.

But, “why did God want to create the world?”. This is one of the difficult questions. Once, a boy put me in difficulty because he asked me this question: ‘tell me, Father, what did God do before he created the world;  was he bored?”. Surely, children know how to ask questions, and they ask the right questions that put you in difficulty.

To answer that child, the Lord helped me and I told the truth: God loved; in his fullness, he loved, among the three Persons, he loved and needed nothing more. The answer, gave rise to another question: if God “needed nothing more, why did he create the world? This is a question,not posed in a childlike manner but as the first theologians did, the great theologians, the first. Thus, why did God “create the world?”. The response to give is this: “Simply to share his fullness, to have someone whom to give and with whom to share his fullness”. In a word, “to give”.

We can ask “the same question, in regard to re-creation: “why did he send his Son for this work of re-creation?”. He did so “in order to share, to re-organize”. And in the first creation, as in the second, he makes out of chaos a cosmos, out of ugliness something beautiful, out of a mistake a truth, out of bad something good. This is precisely the labour of creation that is God, and one he does by hand. And,in Jesus we clearly see: with his body he gives life completely. Thus, “when Jesus says: ‘The Father labours always, and I too labour always ’, the doctors of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him because they did not know how to receive the things of God as a gift, but “only as justice”; and so they even came to think: the commandments are few: let’s make more!

Thus,instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid; they sought refuge in the rigidity of the commandments, which they had increased up to 500 or more: they did not know how to receive the gift. The gift, is only received with freedom, but these rigid men were afraid of God-given freedom; they were afraid of love. For this reason, they wanted to kill Jesus, because He said the Father had done this wonder as a gift: receive the gift of the Father!

You are great, Lord, I love you, because you have given me this gift, you have saved me, you created me: this, is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the cheerfulness of Christian life. It is not that closed, sad prayer of people who are never able to receive a gift because they are afraid of the freedom that a gift always brings. Thus, in the end, they know only duty, but a closed duty: slaves to duty, but not to love. But, when you become a slave to love you are free: it is a beautiful slavery, but they did not understand this.

Therefore, these are the two wonders of the Lord: the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, of re-creation; that of the beginning of the world and that, after the fall of man, of restoring the world and this is why he sent the Son: it is beautiful. Of course, we can ask ourselves how I receive these wonders, how I receive this creation God has given me as a gift. And, if I receive it as a gift, I love creation, I safeguard creation because it was a gift.

In this light, we should ask ourselves: how I receive redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, making me a son or daughter with his Son, with love, with tenderness, with freedom. We must never hide in the rigidity of closed commandments that are always, always more ‘certain’ — in quotation marks — but which give you no joy because they do not make you free. Each one of us, can ask ourselves how we can live these two wonders: the wonder of creation and the even greater wonder of re-creation. We must do so with the hope that the Lord will help us understand this great thing and help us understand what he did before creating the world: he loved. May he help us understand his love for us and may we say — as we have said today — ‘You are very great, O Lord. Thank you, thank you!’”. And let us go forth in this way.

 
Chapter 1
12,18,21-25

Pope Francis       07.09.13  Vigil prayer for Peace    Genesis 1:12,18,21,25        Genesis 3: 10     Genesis 4:9

“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12, 18, 21, 25). The biblical account of the beginning of the history of the world and of humanity speaks to us of a God who looks at creation, in a sense contemplating it, and declares: “It is good”. This, dear brothers and sisters, allows us to enter into God’s heart and, precisely from within him, to receive his message.

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/peace/07.09.13.jpg

We can ask ourselves: what does this message mean? What does it say to me, to you, to all of us?

1. It says to us simply that this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the “house of harmony and peace”, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel “at home”, because it is “good”. All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: the other person is a brother or sister to love, and our relationship with God, who is love, fidelity and goodness, mirrors every human relationship and brings harmony to the whole of creation. God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other. This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the world that I desire? Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts? Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

2. But then we wonder: Is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work. But there is also “violence, division, disagreement, war”. This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness.  

  
 
 Chapter 1

26-31

Chapter 2

1-3

 

Today, we bless St Joseph as a worker, but recalling St Joseph the Worker reminds us of God the Worker and Jesus the Worker. And the theme of work is very, very, very evangelical.

Even Jesus, worked a lot on earth, in St Joseph's workshop. He worked until the Cross. He did what the Father had commanded him to do. This makes me think of the many people today who work and have this dignity...Thanks be to God. We know that dignity does not give us power, money or culture. No! It is work that gives us dignity, even if society does not allow for all to work.

Social, political and economic systems that in various places around the world are based on exploitation. Thus, they choose to “not pay the just” and to strive to make maximum profit at any cost, taking advantage of other's work without worrying the least bit about their dignity”. This “goes against God!”. There are dramatic situations which keep happening in the world, which we have also “read many times in L'Osservatore Romano ”. Sunday, 28 April, article about the garment factory collapse in Dhaka which killed hundreds of workers who were being exploited and who worked without the proper safety preoccupations. It is a title, which struck me the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh: 'How to die for 38 euros a month'”.
'Slave labour' exploits “the most beautiful gift which God gave man: the ability to create, work and to discover one's own dignity. How many of our brothers and sisters in the world are in this situation at the hands of these economic, social and political attitudes.


Pope Francis   25.11.19  Holy Mass, Tokyo Dome             Genesis 1: 1, 26-31b        Matthew 6: 24-34

Pope Francis Tokyo Dome 25.11.19

The Gospel we have heard is part of Jesus’ first great sermon. We know it as the Sermon on the Mount, and it describes for us the beauty of the path we are called to take. In the Bible, the mountain is the place where God reveals himself and makes himself known. “Come up to me”, God says to Moses (cf. Ex 24:1). A mountain whose summit is not reached by willpower or social climbing, but only by attentive, patient and sensitive listening to the Master at every crossroads of life’s journey. The summit presents us with an ever new perspective on all around us, centred on the compassion of the Father. In Jesus, we encounter the summit of what it means to be human; he shows us the way that leads to a fulfilment exceeding all our hopes and expectations. In him, we encounter a new life, where we come to know the freedom of knowing that we are God’s beloved children.

Yet all of us know that along the way, the freedom of being God’s children can be repressed and weakened if we are enclosed in a vicious circle of anxiety and competition. Or if we focus all our attention and energy on the frenetic pursuit of productivity and consumerism as the sole criterion for measuring and validating our choices, or defining who we are or what we are worth. This way of measuring things slowly makes us grow impervious or insensible to the really important things, making us instead pant after things that are superfluous or ephemeral. How greatly does the eagerness to believe that everything can be produced, acquired or controlled oppress and shackle the soul!

Here in Japan, in a society with a highly developed economy, the young people I met this morning spoke to me about the many people who are socially isolated. They remain on the margins, unable to grasp the meaning of life and their own existence. Increasingly, the home, school and community, which are meant to be places where we support and help one another, are being eroded by excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency. Many people feel confused and anxious; they are overwhelmed by so many demands and worries that take away their peace and stability.

The Lord’s words act as a refreshing balm, when he tells us not to be troubled but to trust. Three times he insists: “Do not be anxious about your life… about tomorrow” (cf. Mt 6:25.31.34). This is not an encouragement to ignore what happens around us or to be irresponsible about our daily duties and responsibilities. Instead, it is an invitation to set our priorities against a broader horizon of meaning and thus find the freedom to see things his way: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:33).

The Lord is not telling us that basic necessities like food and clothing are unimportant. Rather, he invites us to re-evaluate our daily decisions and not to become trapped or isolated in the pursuit of success at any cost, including the cost of our very lives. Worldly attitudes that look only to one’s own profit or gain in this world, and a selfishness that pursues only individual happiness, in reality leave us profoundly unhappy and enslaved, and hinder the authentic development of a truly harmonious and humane society.

The opposite of an isolated, enclosed and even asphyxiated “I” can only be a “we” that is shared, celebrated and communicated (cf.
General Audience, 13 February 2019). The Lord’s call reminds us that “we need to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 55). In today’s first reading, the Bible tells us how our world, teeming with life and beauty, is above all a precious gift of the Creator: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). God offers us this beauty and goodness so that we can share it and offer it to others, not as masters or owners, but as sharers in God’s same creative dream. “Genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (Laudato Si’, 70).

Given this reality, we are invited as a Christian community to protect all life and testify with wisdom and courage to a way of living marked by gratitude and compassion, generosity and simple listening. One capable of embracing and accepting life as it is, “with all its fragility, its simplicity, and often enough too, with its conflicts and annoyances” (
Address at the Vigil of World Youth Day, Panama, 26 January 2019). We are called to be a community that can learn and teach the importance of accepting “things that are not perfect, pure or ‘distilled’, yet no less worthy of love. Is a disabled or frail person not worthy of love? Someone who happens to be a foreigner, someone who made a mistake, someone ill or in prison: is that person not worthy of love? We know what Jesus did: he embraced the leper, the blind man, the paralytic, the Pharisee and the sinner. He embraced the thief on the cross and even embraced and forgave those who crucified him” (ibid.).

The proclamation of the Gospel of Life urgently requires that we as a community become a field hospital, ready to heal wounds and to offer always a path of reconciliation and forgiveness. For the Christian, the only possible measure by which we can judge each person and situation is that of the Father’s compassion for all his children.

United to the Lord, in constant cooperation and dialogue with men and women of good will, including those of other religious convictions, we can become the prophetic leaven of a society that increasingly protects and cares for all life.



Pope Francis  01.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Friday of the Third Week of Easter     Genesis 1: 26 - 2: 3

Pope Francis Talks about Creation and Work 01.05.20

Today, which is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, also the day of workers, we pray for all workers. For all of us. So that no one lacks work and that everyone is justly paid and can enjoy the dignity of work and the beauty of rest.

God created. (Gen 1:27). A Creator. He created the world, created man, and gave man a mission: to manage, to work, to carry on creation. And the word "work" is the one that the Bible uses to describe this activity of God: "He completed the work he had been doing and rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done," (Gen 2:2), and he gave this activity to man: "You must do this, watch over this, that other, you must work with me to create this world – it is as if he said it – for it to continue." So much so that the work is only the continuation of God's work: human work is the vocation of man received from God at the end of the creation of the universe.

And work is what makes man like God, because with work man is creator, he is able to create, to create so many things, even to create a family to move forward. Man is a creator and creates with work. This is the vocation. And the Bible says that "God looked at everything he had made and found it very good." (Gen 1:31). That is, work has within itself a goodness and creates the harmony of things – beauty, goodness – and involves man in everything: in his thought, in his act, everything. Man is involved in working. It is man's first vocation: to work. And this gives dignity to man. The dignity that makes him like God. The dignity of work.

Once, in a Caritas centre, an employee of Caritas said to a man who had no job and went to look for something for the family, : "At least he can bring bread home" – "But this is not enough for me, it is not enough", was the answer: "I want to earn bread to bring it home". He lacked the dignity, the dignity of "making" the bread his, with his work, and bringing him home. The dignity of work, which is so trampled on, unfortunately. In history we read the brutality that they did with slaves: they brought them from Africa to America – I think of that story that touches my land – and we say "how barbaric" ... But even today there are many slaves, so many men and women who are not free to work: they are forced to work, to survive, nothing more. They are slaves: forced labour . They are forced, unjust, unpaid and poorly paid jobs that lead man to live with trampled dignity. There are many, many in the world. Many. In the papers a few months ago we read, in that country of Asia, how a gentleman had beaten his employee who was earning less than half a dollar a day, because he had hurt one thing. 

Today's slavery is our "in-dignity", because it takes away dignity from men and women, and all of us. "No, I work, I have my dignity": yes, but your brothers, don't. "Yes, Father, it is true, but this, as it is so far away, it is difficult for me to understand it. But here among us ...": also here, with us. Here, with us. Think of the workers, the day-to-day people, that work for a minimum wage and not eight, but twelve, fourteen hours a day: this happens today, here. All over the world, but also here. Think of the domestic worker who does not have a just wage, who has no social security care, who has no pension: this is not only the case in Asia. It is here.

Every injustice that is done to a working person is to trample on human dignity, even on the dignity of the one who does the injustice: the level is lowered and we end up in that tension between a dictator and a slave. Instead, the vocation that God gives us is so beautiful: to create, to re-create, to work. But this can only be done when the conditions are just and the dignity of the person is respected.

Today we join many men and women, believers and non-believers, who commemorate Worker's Day, Labour Day, for those who fight for justice at work, for those – good entrepreneurs – who manage work with justice, even if they themselves lose. Two months ago I heard a businessman on the phone, here in Italy, asking me to pray for him because he didn't want to fire anyone and said, "Because firing one of them is like firing myself." 

This conscience of so many good employers, who take care of workers as if they were their children. Let us pray for them. And we ask St. Joseph - with this beautiful image with the tools of work in hand - to help us fight for the dignity of work, so that there is work for all and that it is dignified work. Not slave labour. May this be our prayer today.





  

 Chapter 2
4-7
 
Pope Francis  22.04.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis on the occasion of the 50th Earth Day     Genesis 2: 4-7     Psalm 104: 30
Pope Francis Care for our Common Home - Earth Day 22.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we celebrate the 50th Earth Day. It is an opportunity to renew our commitment to love and care for our common home and the weakest members of our family. Just as the tragic coronavirus pandemic is showing us, only together and by embracing the most vulnerable, can we overcome global challenges. The Laudato Si Encyclical Letter has just this subtitle: "on the care for our common home". Today we will reflect a little together on this responsibility that characterizes "our passage on this earth" (LS, 160). We must grow in our awareness of the care for our common home.

We are made of earthly matter, and the fruits of the earth sustain our lives. But, as the book of Genesis reminds us, we are not simply "earthly": we also carry in us the vital breath that comes from God (cf. Gen 2:4-7). We therefore live in this common home as one human family and in biodiversity with the other creatures of God. As an imago Dei, the image of God, we are called to care of and respect all creatures and to nurture love and compassion for our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest, in imitation of God's love for us, manifested in his Son Jesus, who became a man to share this situation with us and save us.

Because of selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility as custodians and stewards of the earth. "But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair"(ibid., 61). We polluted it, we plundered it, endangering our own lives. For this reason, various international and local movements have been formed to awaken our consciences. I sincerely appreciate these initiatives, and it will still be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us what is obvious, namely that there is no future for us if we destroy the environment that sustains us.

We have failed to care for the earth, our garden home, and in caring for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours and, ultimately, against the Creator, the good Father who provides for everyone and wants us to live together in communion and prosperity. And how does the earth react? There is a Spanish saying that is very clear in this, and says thus: "God always forgives; we men and women forgive sometimes and sometimes we don't; the earth never forgives." The earth does not forgive: if we have made the earth deteriorate, the response will be very ugly.

How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship ... So often we lose the vision of harmony: harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even in our common home, on the earth, also in our relationship with the people, with our neighbours, with the poorest, how can we restore this harmony? We need a new way of looking at our common home. Let's understand each other, it is not a store house of resources to be exploited. For us believers, the natural world is the "Gospel of Creation", which expresses God's creative power in shaping human life and making the world exist along with what it contains to support humanity. The biblical account of creation concludes: "God saw all that he had made, and saw that it was very good." When we see these natural tragedies that are the earth's response to our mistreatment, I think, "If I ask the Lord now what he thinks, I don't think he will tell me it's a very good thing." We ruined the Lord's work!

In celebrating Earth Day today, we are called to rediscover a sense of sacred respect for the earth, because it is not only our home, but also God's home. This should make us aware of being on holy ground!

Dear brothers and sisters, "Let us awaken the aesthetic and contemplative sense that God has placed in us" (Esort. ap. postsin. Exultation Amazonia, 56). The prophetic gift of contemplation is something we especially learn from indigenous peoples, who teach us that we cannot heal the earth unless we love it and respect it. They have that wisdom of "living well", not in the sense of getting through life well, no: but of living in harmony with the earth. They call this harmony "living well."

At the same time, we need an ecological conversion that is expressed in concrete action. As a single, interdependent family, we need a shared plan to ward off threats against our common home. "Interdependence obliges us to think of one world, with a common plan" (LS, 164). We are aware of the importance of working together as an international community to protect our common home. I urge those with authority to guide the preparations for two major international conferences: COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming(China) and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow (United Kingdom). These two meetings are very important.

I would like to encourage concerted interventions at national and local level as well. It is good to come together from all levels of society and also to create a popular movement "from below". The same Earth Day, which we celebrate today, was itself born just like that. Each of us can make our own small contribution: "We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread" (LS, 212).
In this Easter time of renewal, let us commit ourselves to love and appreciate the magnificent gift of the earth, our common home, and to take care of all members of the human family. As brothers and sisters as we are, let us together plead with our Heavenly Father: "Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth" (cf. Psalm 104:30).
  
 
Chapter 2

15

 


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today I would like to reflect on the issue of the
environment, as I have already had an opportunity to do on various occasions. I was also prompted to think about this because of today’s World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which is launching a pressing appeal for the need to eliminate waste and the destruction of food.

When we talk about the environment, about
creation, my thoughts go to the first pages of the Bible, to the Book of Genesis, where it says that God puts men and women on the earth to till it and keep it (cf. 2:15). And these questions occur to me: What does cultivating and preserving the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb “cultivate” reminds me of the care a farmer takes to ensure that his land will be productive and that his produce will be shared.

What great attention, enthusiasm and dedication! Cultivating and caring for creation is an instruction of God which he gave not only at the beginning of history, but has also given to each one of us; it is part of his plan; it means making the world increase with responsibility, transforming it so that it may be a garden, an inhabitable place for us all. Moreover on various occasions
Benedict XVI has recalled that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the pace and the logic of creation. Instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating and exploiting; we do not “preserve” the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after.

We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret in it what
Benedict XVI calls “the rhythm of the love-story between God and man”. Why does this happen? Why do we think and live horizontally, we have drifted away from God, we no longer read his signs.

However “cultivating and caring” do not only entail the relationship between us and the environment, between man and creation. They also concern human relations. The popes have spoken of a human ecology, closely connected with environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis; we see it in the environment, but above all we see it in men and women. The human person is in danger: this much is certain — the human person is in danger today, hence the urgent need for human ecology! And the peril is grave, because the cause of the problem is not superficial but deeply rooted. It is not merely a question of
economics but of ethics and anthropology. The Church has frequently stressed this; and many are saying: yes, it is right, it is true... but the system continues unchanged since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money, money, cash commands. And God our Father gave us the task of protecting the earth — not for money, but for ourselves: for men and women. We have this task! Nevertheless men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the “culture of waste”. If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal. If on a winter's night, here on the Via Ottaviano — for example — someone dies, that is not news. If there are children in so many parts of the world who have nothing to eat, that is not news, it seems normal. It cannot be so! And yet these things enter into normality: that some homeless people should freeze to death on the street — this doesn’t make news. On the contrary, when the stock market drops 10 points in some cities, it constitutes a tragedy. Someone who dies is not news, but lowering income by 10 points is a tragedy! In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash.

This “culture of waste” tends to become a common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person, are no longer seen as a primary value to be respected and safeguarded, especially if they are poor or
disabled, if they are not yet useful — like the unborn child — or are no longer of any use — like the elderly person. This culture of waste has also made us insensitive to wasting and throwing out excess foodstuffs, which is especially condemnable when, in every part of the world, unfortunately, many people and families suffer hunger and malnutrition. There was a time when our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any left over food. Consumerism has induced us to be accustomed to excess and to the daily waste of food, whose value, which goes far beyond mere financial parameters, we are no longer able to judge correctly.

Let us remember well, however, that whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry! I ask everyone to reflect on the problem of the loss and waste of food, to identify ways and approaches which, by seriously dealing with this problem, convey solidarity and sharing with the underprivileged.

A few days ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read the account of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish. And the end of this passage is important: “and all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces (Lk 9:17). Jesus asked the disciples to ensure that nothing was wasted: nothing thrown out! And there is this fact of 12 baskets: why 12? What does it mean? Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel, it represents symbolically the whole people. And this tells us that when the food was shared fairly, with solidarity, no one was deprived of what he needed, every community could meet the needs of its poorest members. Human and environmental ecology go hand in hand.

I would therefore like us all to make the serious commitment to respect and care for creation, to pay attention to every person, to combat the culture of waste and of throwing out so as to foster a culture of solidarity and encounter. Thank you.
  

 Chapter 2

18-24

 
Pope Francis    04.10.15   Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica   27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B      Genesis 2: 18-24,    1 John 4: 12,    Mark 10: 2-16

Pope Francis   04.10.15

“If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration.

The readings centre on three themes:
solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden. He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them. Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20). He was lonely.

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture.

Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom… The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of
love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as the Psalm proclaimed today says (cf. Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self. It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question – probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact – Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense.

For God,
marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.

Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.

To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously.

The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (Benedict XVI,
Caritas in Veritate, 3).

And the Church is called to carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II,
Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide his Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
  

 Chapter 3
1-7
 
Pope Francis   27.05.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace     Catechesis: 4. The Prayer of the Just      Genesis 3: 4: 5: 6:

Pope Francis Prayer of the Just 27.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us dedicate today's catechesis to the prayer of the just. 

God's plan towards humanity is for the good, but in our every day lives we experience the presence of evil: it is an everyday experience. The first chapters of the book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human life. Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 3: 1-7) doubt God's good intentions, thinking they are dealing with a jealous god who prevents their happiness. Hence the rebellion: they no longer believe in a generous Creator, who desires their happiness. Their hearts, yielding to the temptation of the evil one, are taken in by the delirium of omnipotence: "When you eat the fruit of the tree, you will become like God" (cf. v. 5). And this is the temptation: this is the ambition that enters the heart. But the experience goes in the opposite direction: their eyes open and they discover that they are naked (see 7), they don't have anything. Don't forget this: the tempter is a bad payer, he pays badly.

Evil becomes even more disruptive with the second human generation, it is stronger: it is the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gen 4: 1-16). Cain is envious of his brother: that is the worm of envy; Although he is the eldest son, he sees Abel as a rival, one who undermines his primacy. Evil is in his heart and Cain cannot control it. Evil begins to enter the heart: his thoughts are always to look with evil at the other, with suspicion. And this also happens with the thought: "He is bad, he will hurt me". And this thought enters into his heart ... And so the story of the first fraternity ends in a murder. I think, today, of human fraternity .... wars everywhere.

Cain's descendants develop crafts and arts, but violence also develops, expressed by the sinister song of Lamech, which sounds like a hymn of revenge: "I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for bruising me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times"(Gen 4:23-24). Revenge: "You did it, you will pay for it." But that's not what the judge says, I say it. And I judge the situation. And so evil spreads like wildfire, to the point of occupying the whole picture: "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of men was on earth and that every intimate intent of their hearts was nothing but evil, always." The great frescoes of the universal flood and the tower of Babel reveal that there was a need for a new beginning, as well as a new creation, which would have its fulfilment in Jesus Christ.

Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another story is also written, less apparent, much more humble and devout, which represents the redemption of hope. Even though almost everyone behaves atrociously, making hatred and conquest the great engine of human affairs, there are people capable of praying to God with sincerity, able to write the destiny of man in a different way . Abel offers God a sacrifice of first-fruits. After his death, Adam and Eve had a third child, Seth, from whom Enosh was born, meaning mortal, and it is said: "At that time people began to invoke the Lord by name" (4: 26). Then Enoch appears, a man who "walks with God" and who is taken up into heaven (cf. 5: 22,24). And finally there is the story of Noah, a just man who "walked with God" (6: 9), before whom God withholds his plan to destroy humanity (cf. 6,7-8).

Reading these stories, one gets the impression that prayer is an embankment, and man's refuge from the wave of evil that grows in the world. On closer inspection, we also pray to be saved from ourselves. It is important to pray: "Lord, please, save me from myself, from my ambitions, from my passions." The prayers of the first pages of the Bible are men who work for peace: in fact, prayer, when it is authentic, liberates from the instincts of violence and is a gaze toward God, so that he might return to take care of the heart of man. We read in the Catechism: "This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions"(CCC,2569). Prayer cultivates flower beds of rebirth in places where human hatred has only been able to sow a desert. And prayer is powerful, because it attracts the power of God and the power of God always gives life: always. He is the God of life, and he renews us.

That is why the God's lordship passes through the chain of these men and women, who are often misunderstood or marginalized in the world. But the world lives and grows thanks to the power of God that these servants attract with their prayers. They are a chain that is not at all noisy, rarely making the headlines, yet it is so important in restoring confidence to the world! I remember the story of a man: an important head of government, not of this time, of bygone times. An atheist who had no sense of religion in his heart, but as a child he heard his grandmother praying, and this remained in his heart. And at a difficult time in his life, that memory came back to his heart and said, "But Grandma prayed ...". So he began to pray with his grandmother's formulas, and there he found Jesus. Prayer is a chain of life, always: so many men and women who pray, sow life. Prayer sows life, small prayer: that is why it is so important to teach children to pray. It pains me when I find children who can't make the sign of the cross. They must be taught to do the sign of the cross well, because it is the first prayer. It is important that children learn to pray. Then, perhaps, they will be forgotten, take another path; but the first prayers learned as a child remain in the heart, because they are a seed of life, the seed of dialogue with God.

God's path and God's story has passed down through them: it has passed through the remnant of humanity that has not conformed to the law of the strongest, but has asked God to perform his miracles, and above all to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (cf. Ezek 36: 26). And this helps prayer: because prayer opens the door to God, transforming our hearts so often of stone, into hearts of flesh. And it takes so much humanity, and with humanity you pray well.
  
 
Chapter 3
10
 

Pope Francis       07.09.13  Vigil prayer for Peace    Genesis 1:12,18,21,25        Genesis 3: 10     Genesis 4:9    cont.
….
When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict. This is precisely what the passage in the Book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked and he hides himself because he is afraid (cf. Gen 3: 10), he is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh (cf. v. 12); he breaks harmony with creation, he begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him. Can we say that from harmony he passes to “disharmony”? No, there is no such thing as “disharmony”; there is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, fear ….
  

 Chapter 4

1-15, 25

 
Pope Francis    18.02.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta     Genesis 4: 1-15,25
Pope Francis  18.02.19 Holy Mass Santa Marta - Our Brothers and Sisters

“Where is your brother?” This is the question that God asks each one of us in our hearts regarding our brother who is sick, in prison or hungry.

Mankind, like Cain, often attempts to reply to God’s uncomfortable and embarrassing questions with regard to our neighbours. “What have I got to do with my brother's life? Am I his keeper? I wash my hands of him….” Cain, who killed his brother, tries to escape the gaze of God.

Jesus also asked such uncomfortable questions. He asked Peter three times whether he loved Him. He asked his disciples what people said about Him and what they themselves thought about Him.

Today the Lord asks each one of us some personal questions such as these:

"Where is your brother who is
hungry?" the Lord asks us. And to save our skin, we answer, “Surely he is at lunch with the parish Caritas group that is feeding him.”  

“What about the other, the
sick…?" “Oh well, he is in the hospital!" "But there's no place in the hospital! And did you give him any medicine? " "But, that’s his business, I cannot meddle in the life of others ... and besides, he will have relatives who give him medicine ". And so I wash my hands of him.

"Where is your brother, the
prisoner?" "Ah, he deserves and is paying for it.  We are tired of seeing so many criminals on the street."

Perhaps you never hear such answers from the Lord. “Where is your brother, your
exploited brother, the one who works illegally, nine months a year… with no security, no holiday ...?"

Each one of us should put a name to each one of those that the Lord mentions in Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel - the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, without clothes, the little one who cannot go to school, the drug addict, the prisoner ... where is he?

Questions are constantly being asked of us. “Where is your brother in your heart? Is there room for these people in our hearts? Or do we try to calm our conscience by giving some alms?” 

We are accustomed to giving compromising answers in order to escape from the problem, not to see the problem, not to touch the problem.

Unless we put names to the list in Matthew’s Gospel Cha
pter 25, we will create “a dark life” for us with sin crouching at our door, waiting to enter and destroy us.

When God asked Adam in the Book of Genesis, “Adam, where are you?" - Adam hid himself out of shame. Perhaps we don’t notice these things, these sufferings, these pains. Let us as
 Christians not hide from reality but answer openly, faithfully and joyfully to the questions that the Lord asks us about our brothers.
  
 
Chapter 4
9
 
Pope Francis       07.09.13  Vigil prayer for Peace    Genesis 1:12,18,21,25        Genesis 3: 10     Genesis 4:9    cont,
...

It is exactly in this chaos that God asks man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill. What violence occurs at that moment, how many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history! We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. All of us! And even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!

After the chaos of the flood, when it stopped raining, a rainbow appeared and the dove returned with an olive branch. Today, I think also of that olive tree which representatives of various religions planted in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires in 2000, asking that there be no more chaos, asking that there be no more war, asking for peace.

3. And at this point I ask myself: Is it possible to walk the path of peace? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow – I think of the children: look upon these… look at the sorrow of your brother, stay your hand and do not add to it, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter! May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! ... war never again, never again war!” (Address to the United Nations, 1965). “Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love” (World Day of Peace Message, 1975). Brothers and Sisters, forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world! Let us pray this evening for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace! So may it be

  

 Chapter 6

5-8

Chapter 7

1-5, 10

 
Pope Francis  19.02.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta      Genesis 6: 5-8, 7: 1-5,10
Pope Francis 19.02.19 Holy Mass, Santa Marta - Our Heart

There is a golden thread running through the story of the flood and modern-day conflicts. We must ask God for the grace to cry and lament when faced with the world’s calamities and the victims of war, many of whom are starving children, orphans, and the poor who pay the highest price.

Faced with these realities
let us to have a heart like God’s – capable of anger, pain, and closeness to others – one that is both human and divine.

God suffers when He sees the evil of men and women, and God regretted having created people so much that He decided to erase us from the face of the earth.

This is a God with feelings, who is not abstract and who suffers,  this is the mystery of the Lord.

These are the feelings of God, God the Father who loves us – and love is a relationship. He is able to get angry and to feel rage. It is Jesus who comes and gives us the path, with the suffering of the heart, everything… But our God has feelings. Our God loves us with the heart; He doesn’t love us with ideas but loves us with the heart. And when He caresses us, He caresses us with His heart, and when He disciplines us, like a good father, He disciplines us with His heart, suffering more than we do.

Our relationship with God is one of heart to heart, of son to Father who opens Himself, and if He is capable of feeling pain in His heart, then we, too, will be able to feel pain before Him. This is not sentimentalism, but the truth.

Our times are not so different from those of the flood. There are problems and calamities, poor, hungry, persecuted, and tortured people. People who die in war because others throw bombs as if they were candy.

I don’t think our times are better than those of the flood; I don’t think so. Calamities are more or less the same; the victims are more or less the same. Let’s think about the example of the weakest: children. The many hungry children and children without education cannot grow in peace. Many are without parents because they have been massacred in war… child soldiers… Let us just think about those children.

We need to ask for the grace to have a heart like the heart of God – one made in the likeness of God that feels pain when witnessing others suffer.

There is the great calamity of the flood; there is the great calamity of
today’s wars, where the price of the party is paid by the weak, the poor, children, and those who have no resources to carry on. Let us consider that the Lord is pained in His heart, and let us draw near to the Lord and speak to Him, saying: ‘Lord, observe these things; I understand you.’ Let us console the Lord: ‘I understand you, and I am with you. I accompany you in prayer and intercede for all of these calamities which are the fruit of the devil who wants to destroy the work of God.
  

 Chapter 11

1-9

 
Pope Francis   08.06.19  St Peter's Square, Rome      Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Year C     Genesis  11: 1-9,    Exodus 3: 1-15,    Joel 3: 1-5

Pope Francis 08.06.19

Once again tonight, the eve of the last day of Easter, the feast of Pentecost, Jesus is among us and proclaiming out loud, "if anyone thirsts, come to me and drink. As Scripture says: "rivers of living water will flow from him who believes in me "(Jn 7: -38 ).

He is the river of living water of the Holy Spirit that flows from Jesus's heart; from His side pierced by the spear (cf. Jn 19.36), which cleanses and makes the Church fruitful, the mystical spouse represented by Mary, the new Eve, at the foot of the cross.

The
Holy Spirit pours forth from the heart of mercy of the risen Jesus, and fills our hearts with a good measure, pressed down, filled and to overflowing with mercy "(cf. Lk 6.38) and transforms us into the Church - with a womb filled with mercy, that is into a mother with an open heart for everyone! I wish the people who live in Rome would recognize the Church, recognize us because of this being more merciful – not because they have more things – for this being more filled with humanity and tenderness, of which there is much need! That they would feel at home, in the maternal home where there is always welcome and where they can always return. That they would feel always welcome, listened to, understood, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the Kingdom of God ... As a mother knows how, even when the children have grown up.

This thought about the maternity of the church reminds me that 75 years ago, on 11 June 1944, Pope Pius XII carried out a special act of thanksgiving and supplication of the Virgin, for the protection of the city of Rome. He did this in the church of St Ignatius, where the venerated image of the divine Madonna had been brought. Divine love is the Holy Spirit that springs from the heart of Christ. It is He that is the spiritual rock that accompanied the people of God in the desert, so that they might draw water from it to quench their thirst along their journey (cf. 1 Cor 10.4). In the burning bush that is not consumed, an image of Mary, Virgin and mother, is the risen Christ who speaks to us, gives us the fire of the Holy Spirit, inviting us to descend in the midst of the people to hear their cry, inviting us to open the paths of freedom that lead to the land promised by God.

We know: there is even today, as in every age, people who seek to build a city and a tower that reaches to heaven "(cf. Gen 11.4). These are human projects, even our projects, done at the service of an ' I ' always greater, toward a heaven where there is no longer room for God. God lets us do that for a while, so that we might experience to what point of evil and sadness we are capable of arriving without him. But the spirit of Christ, the Lord of history, can't wait to knock it all down, to make us start over! We are always a bit narrow both in sight and heart; left to ourselves we end up losing the horizon; We arrive and convince ourselves as having understood everything, we have taken into account all the variables, of having foreseen what will happen and how it will happen... these are all of our own constructions that give us the illusion of touching heaven. Instead the spirit explodes into the world from on high, from the womb of God, where the son was created, and makes all things new.

What are we celebrating today, all together, in our city of Rome? We are celebrating the primacy of the spirit that makes us fall silent before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then fills us with joy: so it was this that God bore in his womb for us!: this journey as Church, this passage, this Exodus, this arrival in the promised land, at the city of Jerusalem of the doors that are always open for everyone, where the various languages spoken by man are composed in the harmony of the spirit, because the spirit is harmony.

And if we have in mind the pains of giving birth, we understand that our cry, that of the people who live in this city and the cry of creation as a whole is none other than the cry of the Spirit: it is the birth of a new world. God is the father and the mother, God is the midwife, God is the cry, God is the Son generated in the world and we, the Church, we are at the service of this birth. We are not at the service of ourselves, we are not at the service of our ambitions and all these dreams of power, no: we are at the service of God, at the marvels of God.

If the pride and presumed moral superiority do not dull our hearing, we realize that behind the cry of so many people there is none other than the authentic cry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who pushes us once again not to be content, to seek to put ourselves back on the road; It is the Spirit who will save us from every diocesan re-organisation (address to the Diocesan Convention, 9 may 2019). This is a danger, this desire to confuse the newness of the Spirit with a method of re-organising everything down. No, that is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God upsets everything and makes us start not all over again, but as a new beginning.

Let us then allow the Spirit to take us by the hand and bring us to the heart of the city to hear its cry, the groan. God says to Moses that this hidden cry of the people has reached even up to him: He has heard, He has seen their oppression and sufferings ... And He has decided to take action by sending Moses to arose and nourish the dream of freedom in the Israelites and to reveal to them that this dream is His will: to make of Israel a free people, His people, bound to him by a Covenant of love, called to witness the faithfulness of the Lord before all the people.

But for Moses to be able to fulfil his mission, God instead wants him to descend with him in the midst of the Israelites. Moses heart must become God's, attentive and sensitive to the suffering and dreams of men and women, to those who cry in secret when they raise their hands towards heaven, because they have nothing else to hold onto on Earth. It is the groaning of the Spirit, and Moses must listen not with his ears but with his heart. Today we can ask ourselves, Christians, to learn how to listen with our heart. The one who teaches how to listen this way is the Spirit. He is the one who teaches us to listen with the heart. To open it.

And to listen to the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us go down, descend from our locations, among the brothers and sisters who live in our city, to hear their need for Salvation, the cry that goes up to Him, that we usually do not hear. It is not about explaining ideas, ideologies. I love it when I see a church who wants to update itself and then finds only functional ways to improve. These ways don't come from the Spirit of God. This church does not know how to descend, and if it does not know how to descend it is not the Holy Spirit that is commanding. It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all the heart, listening with your heart. Then we will truly be on the way. Then we will feel the fire of Pentecost within ourselves which pushes us to cry out to the men and women of this city that their slavery is over and that it is Christ who is the way that leads to the city of heaven. And this needs faith, brothers and sisters. Let us ask today the gift of faith in order to take that path.
  
 

 Chapter 13

2, 5-18

 

Pope Francis      25.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       Genesis 13: 2, 5-18

The way to
peace in
the Middle East is indicated in the “wisdom” of Abraham, the father of the faith shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

Gen 13:2, 5-18 When I read this I think of the Middle East and insistently implore the Lord to give wisdom to us all”, so “let us not quarrel — you here and I there — over peace. Abraham also reminds us that no one is Christian by accident for God calls us by name and with a promise.
 
There is a promise at the origin of the history of Abraham who is willing to leave his land “to go he knew not where, but wherever the Lord told him”. Looking back at his vicissitudes, the journey to Egypt and the conflict and then peace with Lot on the issue of land. “Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are”, everywhere, it is all yours, “it will all be yours and belong to your descendants for ever”. 

Abraham left his land with a promise. His entire journey was oriented by this promise, and his itinerary is also a model of our own journey. God called Abraham, a person, and from this person he made a people. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, in the Creation, we can find that God created the stars, he created the plants, he created the animals. All in the plural. But he created man: in the singular. Because he created us in his image and likeness.
 
We Christians are called in the singular. None of us is Christian purely by chance. No one. There is a call to you, to you, to you. It is a call with a name, with a promise: Go ahead, I am with you, I am walking beside you. This is also known to Jesus who in the most difficult moments turns to the Father. Then likewise when Jesus parts from us on the day of the Ascension, he says that beautiful word to us: ‘I will be with you always to the close of the age’, beside you, next to you... for ever'.

Abraham, in this passage of Scripture, is anointed father for the first time, father of the people, let us think too of our anointing in Baptism and think of our Christian life. And to those who say “Father, but I am a sinner!” We are all sinners. The important thing is to move ahead with the Lord. The Lord is with us, the Lord has chosen us and never abandons us. This Christian certainty will do us good.

  

 Chapter 14

8-20


 
Pope Francis      23.06.19  Holy Mass Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ , Church of Santa Maria Consolatrice, Roman Quarter of Casal Bertone                                 Corpus Christie Year C       Genesis 14: 8-20,      Luke 9: 11B-17
Pope Francis  23.06.19  Corpus Christie

Today, God’s word helps us to appreciate more deeply two verbs that are simple, yet essential for daily life: to speak and to give.

To speak. In the first reading, Melchizedek says: “Blessed be Abram
by God Most High… and blessed be God Most High” (Gen 14:19-20). For Melchizedek, to speak is to
bless. He blesses Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth will be blessed (cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:8). Everything begins with blessing: words of goodness create a history of goodness. The same thing happens in the Gospel: before multiplying the loaves, Jesus blesses them: “Taking the five loaves, he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples” (Lk 9:16). A blessing turns five loaves into food enough for a great crowd: the blessing releases a cascade of goodness.

Why is it good to bless? Because it turns a word into a gift. When we bless, we are not doing something for ourselves, but for others. Blessing is not about saying nice words or trite phrases. No, it is about speaking goodness, speaking with love. That is what Melchizedek did, when he spontaneously blessed Abram, who had not said or done anything for him. Jesus did the same thing, and he showed what the blessing meant by freely distributing the loaves. How many times too, have we been blessed, in church or in our homes? How many times have we received words of encouragement, or a sign of the cross on our forehead? We were blessed on the day of our baptism, and we are blessed at the end of every Mass. The Eucharist is itself a school of blessing. God blesses us, his beloved children, and thus encourages us to keep going. And we, in turn, bless God in our assemblies (cf. Ps 68:26), rediscovering the joy of praise that liberates and heals the heart. We come to Mass, certain that we will be blessed by the Lord, and we leave in order to bless others in turn, to be channels of goodness in the world.

This is also true for us: it is important for us pastors to keep blessing God’s people. Dear priests, do not be afraid to give a blessing, to bless the People of God. Dear priests, continue to bless: the Lord wants to bless his people; he is happy to make us feel his affection for us. Only as those who are themselves blessed, can we in turn bless others with that same anointing of love. It is sad to think of how easily people today do the opposite: they curse, despise and insult others. In the general frenzy, we lose control and vent our rage on everything and everyone. Sadly, those who shout most and loudest, those angriest, often appeal to others and persuade them. Let us avoid being infected by that arrogance; let us not let ourselves be overcome by bitterness, for we eat the Bread that contains all sweetness within it. God’s people love to praise, not complain; we were created to bless, not grumble. In the presence of the Eucharist, Jesus who becomes bread, this simple bread that contains the entire reality of the Church, let us learn to bless all that we have, to praise God, to bless and not curse all that has led us to this moment, and to speak words of encouragement to others.

The second verb is
to give. “Speaking” is thus followed by “giving”. This was the case with Abraham who, after being blessed by Melchizedek, “gave him a tenth of everything” (Gen 14:20). It was the case, too, with Jesus who after reciting the blessing, gave the loaves to be distributed among the crowd. This tells us something very beautiful. Bread is not only something to be consumed; it is a means of sharing. Surprisingly, the account of the multiplication of the loaves does not mention the multiplication itself. On the contrary, the words that stand out are: “break”, “give” and “distribute” (cf. Lk 9:16). In effect, the emphasis is not on the multiplication but the act of sharing. This is important. Jesus does not perform a magic trick; he does not change five loaves into five thousand and then to announce: “There! Distribute them!” No. Jesus first prays, then blesses the five loaves and begins to break them, trusting in the Father. And those five loaves never run out. This is no magic trick; it is an act of trust in God and his providence.

In the world, we are always trying to increase our profits, to raise our income. But why? Is it to give, or to have? To share or to accumulate? The “economy” of the Gospel multiplies through sharing, nourishes through distributing. It does not sate the greed of a few, but gives life to the world (cf. Jn 6:33). The verb Jesus uses is not to have but to give.

He tells his disciples straight out: “You give them something to eat” (Lk 9:13). We can imagine the thoughts that went through their minds: “We don’t have enough bread for ourselves, and now we are supposed to think about others? Why do we have to give them something to eat, if they came to hear our Teacher? If they didn’t bring their own food, let them go back home, it’s their problem; or else give us some money to buy food”. This way of thinking is not wrong, but it isn’t the way Jesus thinks. He will have none of it: “You give them something to eat”. Whatever we have can bear fruit if we give it away – that is what Jesus wants to tell us – and it does not matter whether it is great or small. The Lord does great things with our littleness, as he did with the five loaves. He does not work spectacular miracles or wave a magic wand; he works with simple things. God’s omnipotence is lowly, made up of love alone. And love can accomplish great things with little. The Eucharist teaches us this: for there we find God himself contained in a piece of bread. Simple, essential, bread broken and shared, the Eucharist we receive allows us to see things as God does. It inspires us to give ourselves to others. It is the antidote to the mindset that says: “Sorry, that is not my problem”, or: “I have no time, I can’t help you, it’s none of my business”. Or that looks the other way…

In our city that hungers for love and care, that suffers from decay and neglect, that contains so many elderly people living alone, families in difficulty, young people struggling to earn their bread and to realize their dreams, the Lord says to each one of you: “You yourself give them something to eat”. You may answer: “But I have so little; I am not up to such things”. That is not true; your “little” has great value in the eyes of Jesus, provided that you don’t keep it to yourself, but put it in play. Put yourself in play! You are not alone, for you have the Eucharist, bread for the journey, the bread of Jesus. Tonight too, we will be nourished by his body given up for us. If we receive it into our hearts, this bread will release in us the power of love. We will feel blessed and loved, and we will want to bless and love in turn, beginning here, in our city, in the streets where we will process this evening. The Lord comes to our streets in order to speak a blessing for us and to give us courage. And he asks that we too be blessing and gift for others.



  

 Chapter 15

1-6
 
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.
  
 

 Chapter 17

1,  9-10, 15-22

 

Pope Francis         28.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta           Genesis 17: 1, 9-10, 15-22           Matthew 8: 1-4

When the Lord intervenes he does not always do so in the same way. There is no ‘set protocol’ for God’s action in our life... it does not exist. He intervenes in one way, later in another but he always intervenes.

The Lord always chooses his way to enter into our lives. Often he does so slowly, so slowly that we are in danger of losing our
patience a little. But Lord, when? And we pray.... Or when we think of what the Lord has promised us, that it such a huge thing, we do not believe it, we are somewhat sceptical, like Abraham. A bit of scepticism: What? Me? I am almost a hundred years old, how will I and my wife at 90 have a son?

Sarah is equally sceptical. Do we become impatient or sceptical? How often, when the Lord does not intervene... does not do what we want him to do.

But he does not, he cannot for sceptics. The Lord takes his time. But even he, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. He waits for us! And he waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives — that's for sure! — But often we do not see. This demands our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, he also has a lot of patience with us.

Sometimes in life things become so dark, there is so much darkness, that we want — if we are in trouble — to come down from the cross. This is the precise moment: the night is at its darkest, when dawn is about to break. And when we come down from the Cross, we always do so just five minutes before our liberation comes, at the very moment when our impatience is greatest.

Jesus on the Cross, heard them challenging him: ‘Come down, come down! Come’. Patience until the end, because he has patience with us. He always enters, he is involved with us, but he does so in his own way and when he thinks it’s best. He tells us exactly what he told Abraham: Walk in my presence and be blameless, be above reproach, this is exactly the right word. Walk in my presence and try to be above reproach. This is the journey with the Lord and he intervenes, but we have to wait, wait for the moment, walking always in his presence and trying to be beyond reproach. We ask this grace from the Lord, to walk always in his presence, trying to be blameless.


Pope Francis   02.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Genesis 17: 3-9,    Psalm 105: 4-9,    John 8: 51-59

Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II

Pope Francis talks about Christian Life 02.04.20


The Lord remembers His covenant forever. We repeated this in the Psalm. The Lord never forgets, He never forgets. Yes, He only forgets in one case, when He forgives sins. After forgiving He loses his memory, He does not remember sins. In other cases God does not forget. His fidelity is memory. His fidelity with His people. His fidelity with Abraham is a memory of the promise He had made. God chose Abraham to go on a journey. Abraham is chosen, he was chosen. God chose him. Then in that election He promised him an inheritance and today, in the passage of the book of Genesis, there is one more step. As for you, my covenant is with you is this. The covenant. A covenant that makes him see his fruitfulness in the future: you will become the father of a host of nations. 

The election, the promise and the covenant, are the three dimensions of the life of faith, the three dimensions of Christian life. Each of us has been chosen, no one chooses to be a Christian among all the possibilities that the religious market offers him, we have been chosen. We are Christians because we have been chosen. In this election there is a promise, there is a promise of hope, the promise is fruitfulness: Abraham will be the father of a host of nations and ... we will be fruitful in faith. Your faith will flourish in works, in good works, in works of fruitfulness also, a fruitful faith. But you must take a step to keep the covenant with me. And the covenant is fidelity, to be faithful. We were chosen, the Lord gave us a promise, now He asks us to enter into a covenant. A covenant of faithfulness. Jesus says that Abraham rejoiced thinking, seeing his day, the day of great fruitfulness, that son of his - Jesus was the son of Abraham - who came to remake creation, which was more difficult than doing it, says the liturgy - came to in act the redemption of our sins, to free us.

A Christian isn't someone who can just show their Baptismal certificate: the certificate of Baptism is just a piece of paper. You are a Christian if you say yes to the election that God has made of you, if you follow the promise that the Lord has made to you and if you live the covenant with the Lord: this is Christian life. 

The sins on the journey are always against these three dimensions: not accepting ones election and we "choose" so many idols, so many things that are not of God; not accepting hope in the promise which is looking far away to the promise, even so many times, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, greeting them from afar and but we want the promises to be today with the little idols that we make; and forgetting the covenant, living without the covenant, as if we were without the covenant. Fruitfulness is the joy, that joy of Abraham who saw Jesus' day and was full of joy. This is the revelation that today the word of God gives us about our Christian existence.
 
May we be like our Father: conscious of having been chosen, joyful of going toward a promise and faithful in fulfilling the covenant.


  

 Chapter 18

16-33

 

This is a true example of familiarity and respect for God. Abraham was more than 100 years old. He had been conversing with the Lord for a good 25 years and was well acquainted with him and so could ask the Lord “what to do with that sinful city”. Abraham feels “strong enough to speak to the Lord face to face and seeks to defend the city. He is insistent”.

The first thing we notice in the Bible, is the affirmation that “
prayer must be courageous”. When we speak of courage “we always think of apostolic courage” that spurs us “to go and preach the Gospel”. But there is also courage in standing before the Lord... in going bravely to the Lord to ask him things”. Abraham insists and “from 50, he manages to get the price down to 10”, although he knows it is impossible to save sinful cities from punishment.

How often we must have found ourselves praying for someone. But if a person wants the Lord to grant a grace he must go courageously and do what Abraham did with insistence, Jesus himself tells us we must pray like this. Abraham had been with the Lord for 25 years, he had acquired familiarity with him so he dared to embark on this form of prayer. Insistence, courage. It is tiring, true, but this is prayer. This is what receiving a grace from God is.

He does not say ‘poor things, they will be burned.... but ‘forgive them’. Do you want to do this? You who are so good, do you want to do the same to the wicked as to the righteous? Of course not! He takes the arguments of God’s own heart. “Convince the Lord with the virtues of the Lord and this is beautiful”.

The suggestion is to go to the Lord’s heart. Jesus teaches us: the Father knows things. Do not worry, the Father sends rain on the righteous and on sinners, he causes the sun to rise on the righteous and on sinners.

I would like us all to take up the Bible, starting today, and to recite slowly Psalm 103[102]: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul’.... Pray it all and in this way we will learn what to say to the Lord when we ask for a grace.
  

 Chapter 28

10-22A

 
Pope Francis    08.07.19  Holy Mass for Migrants,  St Peter's Basilica, Rome     Monday of 14th Week of Ordinary Time   Year C    Genesis 28: 10-22A,   Matthew 9: 18-26

Pope Francis  08.07.19  Holy Mass for Migrants

Today the word of God speaks to us of salvation and liberation.

Salvation. During his journey from Beersheba to Haran, Jacob decides to stop and rest in a solitary place. In a dream, he sees a ladder: its base rests on the earth and its top reaches to heaven (cf. Gen 28:10-22). The ladder, on which angels of God are ascending and descending, represents the connection between the divine and the human, fulfilled historically in Christ’s incarnation (cf. Jn 1:51), which was the Father’s loving gift of revelation and salvation. The ladder is an allegory of the divine action that precedes all human activity. It is the antithesis of the Tower of Babel, built by men with their own strength, who wanted to reach heaven to become gods. In this case, however, it is God who comes down; it is the Lord who reveals himself; it is God who saves. And Emmanuel, God-with-us, fulfils the promise of mutual belonging between the Lord and humanity, in the sign of an incarnate and merciful love that gives life in abundance.

Faced with this revelation, Jacob makes an act of trust in the Lord, which becomes a work of recognition and adoration that marks a key moment in the history of salvation. He asks the Lord to protect him on the difficult journey he must make, and says: “The Lord shall be my God” (Gen 28:21).

Echoing the words of the patriarch, we repeated in the psalm: “O my God, I trust in you”. He is our refuge and our strength, our shield and our armour, our anchor in times of trial. The Lord is a refuge for the faithful who call on him in times of tribulation. For it is indeed at such moments that our prayer is made purer, when we realize that the security the world offers has little worth, and only God remains. God alone opens up heaven for those who live on earth. Only God saves.

This total and absolute trust is shared by the head of the synagogue and the sick woman in the Gospel (cf. Mt 9:18-26). These are scenes of liberation. Both draw close to Jesus in order to obtain from him what no one else can give them: liberation from sickness and from death. On the one hand, there is the daughter of one of the city authorities; on the other, a woman afflicted by a sickness that has made her an outcast, marginalized, someone impure. But Jesus makes no distinctions: liberation is generously given to each of them. Their longing places both the woman and the girl among the “least” who are to be loved and raised up.

Jesus reveals to his disciples the need for a preferential option for the least, those who must be given the front row in the exercise of charity. There are many forms of poverty today; as
Saint John Paul II wrote: “The ‘poor’, in varied states of affliction, are the oppressed, those on the margin of society, the elderly, the sick, the young, any and all who are considered and treated as ‘the least’” (Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, 82).

On this sixth anniversary of the visit to Lampedusa, my thoughts go out to those “least ones” who daily cry out to the Lord, asking to be freed from the evils that afflict them. These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary. These are only some of the least ones who Jesus asks us to love and raise up. Unfortunately the existential peripheries of our cities are densely populated with persons who have been thrown away, marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against, abused, exploited, abandoned, poor and suffering. In the spirit of the Beatitudes we are called to comfort them in their affliction and offer them mercy; to sate their hunger and thirst for justice; to let them experience God’s caring fatherliness; to show them the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are persons; these are not mere social or migrant issues! “This is not just about migrants”, in the twofold sense that migrants are first of all human persons, and that they are the symbol of all those rejected by today’s globalized society.

We spontaneously return to the image of Jacob’s ladder. In Christ Jesus, the connection between earth and heaven is guaranteed and is accessible to all. Yet climbing the steps of this ladder requires commitment, effort and grace.
The weakest and most vulnerable must to be helped. I like to think that we could be those angels ascending and descending, taking under our wings the little ones, the lame, the sick, those excluded: the least ones, who would otherwise stay behind and would experience only grinding poverty on earth, without glimpsing in this life anything of heaven’s brightness.

This is, brothers and sisters, a tremendous responsibility, from which no one is exempt if we wish to fulfil the mission of salvation and liberation in which the Lord himself has called us to cooperate. I know that many of you, who arrived just a few months ago, are already assisting brothers and sisters who have come even more recently. I want to thank you for this most beautiful example of humanity, gratitude and solidarity.
  
 
Chapter 32

25-30
 
Pope Francis  10.06.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis - 6. Jacob's Prayer      Genesis 32: 25-30

Pope Francis Jacob's Prayer 10.06.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Let us continue with our catechesis on the subject of prayer. The Book of Genesis, through the occurrences of men and women of a far off time, tells us stories that we can reflect on in our own lives. In the Patriarch Cycle, we also find that of a man who shrewdly developed his best talent: Jacob. The biblical account tells us about the difficult relationship Jacob had with his brother Esau. Ever since childhood, there was a rivalry between them, which was never overcome later on. Jacob is the second-born - they were twins - but through trickery he manages to obtain the blessing and birthright of their father Isaac (cf. Gen 25:19-34). It is only the first in a long series of ploys of which this unscrupulous man is capable. Even the name “Jacob” means someone who is cunning in his movements.

Forced to flee far from his brother, he seems to succeed in every undertaking in his life. He is adept at business: he greatly enriches himself, becoming the owner of an enormous flock. With tenacity and patience he manages to marry Laban's most beautiful daughter, with whom he is truly in love. Jacob – as we would say in modern terms – is a “self-made” man; with his ingenuity, his cunning, he manages to obtain everything he wants. But he lacks something. He lacks a living relationship with his own roots.
And one day he hears the call of home, of his ancient homeland, where his brother Esau, with whom he has always had a terrible relationship, still lives. Jacob sets out, undertaking a long journey with a caravan of many people and animals, until he reaches the final step, the Jabbok stream. Here the Book of Genesis offers us a memorable page (cf. 32:23-33). It describes that the patriarch, after having all of his people and all the livestock - and they were many - cross the stream, remains alone on the bank of the river on the foreign side. And he ponders: What awaits him the following day? What attitude will his brother Esau, from whom he stole his birthright, assume? Jacob's mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.... And, as it is getting dark, suddenly a stranger grabs him and begins to wrestle with him. The Catechism explains: “the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance” (CCC, 2573).

Jacob wrestles the entire night, never letting go of his adversary. In the end he is beaten, his sciatic nerve is struck by his opponent, and thereafter he will walk with a limp for the rest of his life. That mysterious wrestler asks the patriarch for his name and tells him: “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Gen 32:28). As if to say: you will never be the man who walks this way, straight. He changes his name, he changes his life, he changes his attitude. You will be called Israel. Then Jacob also asks the other: “Tell me, I pray, your name”. The other does not reveal it to him, but blesses him instead. Then Jacob understands he has encountered God “face to face” (vv. 29-30).

Wrestling with God: a metaphor for prayer. Other times Jacob has shown himself able to dialogue with God, to sense Him as a friendly and close presence. But that night, through a lengthy struggle that nearly makes him succumb, the patriarch emerges changed. A change of name, a change in his way of life and a personality change: he comes out of it a changed man. For once he is no longer master of the situation - his cunning is no use to him - he is no longer a strategic and calculating man. God returns him to his truth as a mortal man who trembles and fears, because in the struggle, Jacob was afraid. For once Jacob has only his frailty and powerlessness, and also his sins, to present to God. And it is this Jacob who receives God's blessing, with which he limps into the promised land: vulnerable and wounded, but with a new heart. Once I heard an elderly man - a good man, a good Christian, but a sinner who had great trust in God - who said: “God will help me; He will not leave me alone. I will enter Heaven; limping, but I will enter”. First he was a self-assured man; he trusted in his own shrewdness. He was a man impervious to grace, immune to mercy; he did not know what mercy was. “Here I am, I am in command!”. He did not think he was in need of mercy. But God saved what had been lost. He made him understand that he was limited, that he was a sinner who was in need of mercy, and He saved him.

We all have an appointment during the night with God, in the night of our life, in the many nights of our life: dark moments, moments of sin, moments of disorientation. And there we have an appointment with God, always. He will surprise us at the moment we least expect, when we find ourselves truly alone. That same night, struggling against the unknown, we will realize that we are only poor men and women - “poor things”, I dare say - but right then, in that moment in which we feel we are “poor things”, we need not fear: because God will give us a new name, which contains the meaning of our entire life; He will change our heart and He will offer us the blessing reserved to those who have allowed themselves to be changed by Him. 

This is a beautiful invitation to let ourselves be changed by God. He knows how to do it, because He knows each one of us. “Lord, You know me”, every one of us might say. “Lord, You know me. Change me”.