John


 Chapter 1

35-42



Dear Catechumens,

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This concluding moment of the Year of Faith sees you gathered here, with your catechists and family members, also representing many other men and women around the world who are in your same walk of faith. Spiritually, we are all connected at this moment. You come from many different countries, from different cultural traditions and experiences. Yet this evening we feel we have so many things in common among us. We especially have one: the desire for God. This desire is evoked by the words of the Psalmist: “As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42 [41]: 1-2). It is so important to keep this desire alive, this longing to behold the Lord and to experience him, to experience his love, to experience his mercy! If one ceases to thirst for the living God, faith is in danger of becoming a habit, it risks being extinguished, like a fire that is not fed. It risks becoming “rancid”, meaningless.

The Gospel account (cf. Jn 1:35-42) showed us John the Baptist who points out Jesus as the Lamb of God to his disciples. Two of them follow the Master, and then, in turn, become “mediators” who enable others to encounter the Lord, to know him and to follow him. There are three moments in this narrative that recall the experience of the catechumenate. First, there is the moment of listening. The two disciples listened to the witness of the Baptist. You too, dear Catechumens, have listened to those who have spoken to you about Jesus and suggested that you follow him by becoming his disciples through Baptism. Amid the din of many voices that echo around you and within you, you have listened and accepted the voice that points to Jesus as the One who can give full meaning to our life.

The second moment is the encounter. The two disciples encounter the Teacher and stay with him. After having encountered him, immediately they notice something new in their hearts: the need to transmit their joy to others, that they too may meet him. Andrew, in fact, meets his brother Simon and leads him to Jesus. What good it does us to meditate on this scene! It reminds us that God did not create us to be alone, closed in on ourselves, but in order to be able to encounter him and to open ourselves to encounter others. God first comes to each one of us; and this is marvellous! He comes to meet us! In the Bible God always appears as the one who takes the initiative in the encounter with man: it is he who seeks man, and usually he seeks him precisely while man is in the bitter and tragic moment of betraying God and fleeing from him. God does not wait in seeking him: he seeks him out immediately. He is a patient seeker, our Father! He goes before us and he waits for us always. He never tires of waiting for us, he is never far from us, but he has the patience to wait for the best moment to meet each one of us. And when the encounter happens, it is never rushed, because God wants to remain at length with us to sustain us, to console us, to give us his joy. God hastens to meet us, but he never rushes to leave us. He stays with us. As we long for him and desire him, so he too desires to be with us, that we may belong to him, we are his “belonging”, we are his creatures. He, too, we can say, thirsts for us, to meet us. Our God is thirsty for us. And this is God’s heart. It is so beautiful to hear this.

The last part of the narrative is walking. The two disciples walk toward Jesus and then walk a stretch of the road together with him. It is an important teaching for us all. Faith is a walk with Jesus. Remember this always: faith is walking with Jesus; and it is a walk that lasts a lifetime. At the end there shall be the definitive encounter. Certainly, at some moments on the journey we feel tired and confused. But the faith gives us the certainty of Jesus’ constant presence in every situation, even the most painful or difficult to understand. We are called to walk in order to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of the love of God, which reigns over us and permits us to live in serenity and hope.

Dear catechumens, today you begin the journey of the catechumenate. My wish for you is to follow it with joy, sure of the entire Church’s support, who is watching over you with great trust. May Mary, the perfect disciple, accompany you: it is beautiful to have her as our Mother in faith! I invite you to guard the enthusiasm of that first moment in which he opened your eyes to the light of faith; to remember, like the beloved disciple, the day, the hour in which for the first time you stayed with Jesus, felt his gaze upon you. Never forget the gaze of Jesus upon you; upon you, upon you... never forget his gaze! It is a gaze of love. And thus you shall be forever certain of the Lord’s faithful love. He is faithful. Be assured: he will never betray you! 


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This year I wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass that invites and welcomes you especially who are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Some of you have recently arrived in Italy, others are long-time residents and work here, and still others make up the so-called “second-generation”.

For everyone in this assembly, the Word of God has resonated and today invites us to deepen the special call that the Lord addresses to each one of us. As he did with Samuel (cf 1 Sm 3:3b-10,19), he calls us by name - each one of us - and asks us to honour the fact that each of us has been created a unique and unrepeatable being, each different from the others and each with a singular role in the history of the world. In the Gospel (cf Jn 1:35-42), the two disciples of John ask Jesus, “Where do you live?” (v. 38), implying that the reply to this question would determine their judgment upon the master from Nazareth. The response of Jesus is clear: “Come and see!” (v. 39), and opens up to a personal encounter which requires sufficient time to welcome, to know and to acknowledge the other.

In the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees I have written, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Mt 25:35,43).” And for the stranger, the migrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker and the displaced person, every door in a new land is also an opportunity to encounter Jesus. His invitation “Come and see!” is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals. It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her. It is an invitation which offers the opportunity to draw near to the other and see where and how he or she lives. In today’s world, for new arrivals to welcome, to know and to acknowledge means to know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in. It even includes understanding their fears and apprehensions for the future. And for local communities to welcome, to know and to acknowledge newcomers means to open themselves without prejudices to their rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.

True encounter with the other does not end with welcome, but involves us all in the three further actions which I spelled out in the Message for this Day: to protect, to promote and to integrate. In the true encounter with the neighbour, are we capable of recognizing Jesus Christ who is asking to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated? As the Gospel parable of the final judgment teaches us: the Lord was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger and in prison -- by some he was helped and by others not (cf Mt 25:31-46). This true encounter with Christ is source of salvation, a salvation which should be announced and brought to all, as the apostle Andrew shows us. After revealing to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41), Andrew brings him to Jesus so that Simon can have the same experience of encounter.

It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long laboured to build up. And the newly arrived also have fears: they are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure. These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.

From this encounter with Jesus present in the poor, the rejected, the refugee, the asylum seeker, flows our prayer of today. It is a reciprocal prayer: migrants and refugees pray for local communities, and local communities pray for the newly arrived and for migrants who have been here longer. To the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them. In this way, responding to the supreme commandment of charity and love of neighbour, may we all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.

  

 Chapter 2

1-11

 
Pope Francis      20.01.19   Angelus, St Peter's Square        John 2: 1-11
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/fr/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/fr/2019/1/20/angelus.html

It is not by chance that at the beginning of Jesus' public life there is a wedding ceremony. In fact the whole mystery of the sign of Cana is based on the presence of this divine spouse who is beginning to make himself known.

Jesus manifests himself as the spouse of God's people, announced by the prophets, and reveals to us the depth of the relationship that unites us to Him: it is a new Covenant of love. By transforming into wine the water in jars used for the ritual purification of the Jews, Jesus makes an eloquent sign: he transforms the Law of Moses into the Gospel, the bearer of joy.

Mary's words to the servants underline the spousal picture at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you". Also today, Our Lady says to all of us: "Do whatever he says to you." These words are a precious inheritance that our Mother left us.

I would like to underline an experience that certainly many of us have had in our lives. When we are in
difficult situations, when problems occur that we do not know how to solve, when we often feel anxiety and anguish, when we lack joy, go to Our Lady and say: "We have no wine. The wine is finished: look at how I am; look at my heart, look at my soul". Tell the mother. And she will go to Jesus and say: "Look at this, look at this: she/he has no wine". And then, she will come back to us and say to us, "Whatever he says to you, do it."

Serving the Lord means, listening to and putting his word into practice. It is the simple and essential recommendation of the Mother of Jesus, it is the program of life of the Christian. For each of us, to draw from the jar is to entrust ourselves to the Word and the Sacraments to experience the grace of God in our lives.
  

  Chapter 3

7 - 15

 

We asked the Lord to show the world the fullness of new life. After Jesus’ Resurrection a new life begins: as Jesus told Nicodemus, who, a little earlier had answered Jesus: ‘but how can a man be born again, return to his mother’s womb and be born anew?’. Jesus was speaking of another dimension: ‘to be born from on high’, to be born of the Spirit . It is the new life we received in Baptism but which we must develop.

We must do our utmost to ensure that this life develops into new life. And what will this new life be like? It is not that we say today: ‘Yes, I was born today, that’s that, I am starting again’. It is a journey, an arduous journey we must toil to achieve. Yet it does not only depend on us: it depends mainly on the Spirit and we must open ourselves to the Spirit so that he creates this new life within us.

In the First Reading, we have as it were a foretaste, a preview of what ‘new life’ will and should be like. The multitude of those who had become believers were of one heart and one soul: that unity, unanimity and harmony of feelings of
love, mutual love, thinking “others are better than me”, and this is lovely isn’t it?

But this does not happen automatically after Baptism. It must be brought about within us, “on the journey through life by the Spirit”. “This
gentleness is a somewhat forgotten virtue: being gentle, making room for others. There are so many enemies of gentleness, aren’t there? Starting with gossip. When people prefer to tell tales, to gossip about others, to give others a few blows. These are daily events that happen to everyone, and to me too. They are temptations of the Evil One, who does not want the Spirit to create this gentleness, in Christian communities. In the parish the ladies of catechesis quarrel with the ladies of Caritas. These conflicts always exist, in the family, in the neighbourhood, even among friends. And this is not new life. When the Spirit causes us to be born to new life, he makes us gentle and kind, not judgmental: the only Judge is the Lord. The proposal to be silent fits in here. “If I have something to say, let me say it to the individual, not to the entire neighbourhood; only to the one who can remedy the situation”.

This, is only one step. If, with the grace of the Spirit, we succeed in never gossiping, it will be a great and beautiful step ahead and will do everyone good. Let us ask the Lord to show us and the world the beauty and fullness of this new life, of being born of the Spirit, of treating each other with
kindness, with respect. Let us ask for this grace for us all.


Pope Francis  30.04.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta

We can be reborn from our sinful existence only with the help of the same power that raised the Lord: the power of God. That’s why, the Lord sent us the Holy Spirit, because alone, we cannot do it.

The message of the Lord's resurrection is this gift of the Holy Spirit and indeed the
first appearance of Jesus to the apostles, on the Sunday of the Resurrection, the Lord said: “Receive the Holy Spirit”. "This is our strength! We cannot do anything without the Spirit”.

Christian life is not only about behaving well and do this don't do that. We can do this. We can write our lives in flourishing penmanship but the Christian is born again only by the Spirit, therefore we must make room for it:

It is the Spirit that allows us to rise from our limitations, from our deaths, because there are so many neuroses in our life and in our soul. The message of the resurrection is that of Jesus to Nicodemus: we must be born again. But how? A life, that may call itself Christian, but that leaves no room for the Spirit and does not allow itself to be carried forward by the Spirit, is a pagan life, disguised as Christian.

The Spirit is the protagonist of Christian life. The Holy Spirit, who accompanies us, transforms us, and overcomes sin with us.

No one has ever ascended to heaven except He who descended from heaven, that is Jesus. He came down from heaven, and at the moment of the resurrection, he said to us ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’, the companion of Christian life.

There cannot be a Christian life without the Holy Spirit, who is our daily companion, a gift from the Father, a gift from Jesus.

Let us ask the Lord, to give us this awareness that we cannot be Christians without walking with the Holy Spirit, without acting with the Holy Spirit, without letting the Holy Spirit be the protagonist of our lives.

We must, therefore, ask ourselves, what place does the Spirit have in our lives, and we must ask the Lord for the grace to understand this message: "Our companion on our way is the Holy Spirit”.


  

 Chapter 3

13-17

 

It seems that the protagonist of today’s readings is the serpent, and there is a message here. Yes, there is a profound prophecy in this presentation of the serpent, which was the first animal to be presented to man, the first that the Bible mentions and defines as the smartest of the wild animals God created. The serpent’s figure is not beautiful, it always incites fear. Even if the snake’s skin is beautiful, the fact remains that the snake’s behaviour is scary.

The Book of Genesis describes the serpent as ‘the most cunning’, but also that he is a charmer that has the ability to fascinate, to charm you. Moreover, he is a liar, he is jealous; it is because of the devil’s envy — the serpent’s envy — that sin entered the world. He has this ability to ruin us with seduction: he promises you many things, but when the time comes to pay you he pays badly, he is an evil payer. However, the serpent has this ability to seduce and to charm. Paul, for example, was angry with the Christians in Galatia who gave him much to do, and he said to them, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? You who were called to freedom, who has bewitched you?”. It was the serpent himself who corrupted them and this was nothing new: the people of Israel were conscious of it.

Numbers (21:4-9): to save them from the serpent’s venom, the Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent, and that whoever looked at that serpent would be saved. This is an illustration, a prophecy, and a promise. It is a promise that is not easy to understand. Today’s Gospel (Jn 3:13-17) tells us that Jesus himself explained Moses’ act a bit further to Nicodemus: that just as he had lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. The bronze serpent was a figure of Jesus raised up on the Cross.

For what reason would the Lord choose this bad, ugly figure? It was simply because Jesus came to take all our sins upon himself, becoming the greatest sinner without having ever committed a sin. This is why Paul tells us that Jesus became sin for us. Using this figure, then, Christ became a serpent. It’s an ugly figure!” But He really did become sin to save us. This is the message in today’s Liturgy. This is precisely Jesus’ path: God became man and bore his sin.

In the Second Reading from the Letter to the Philippians (2:6-11), Paul explains this mystery, it was done out of love: Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not retain any privilege of being as God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men; he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Jesus emptied himself: he became sin for us, he who knew no sin. This, therefore, is the mystery, and we can say that he became like a serpent, so to speak, which is ugly and disgusting.

There are many beautiful paintings which may help us to contemplate Jesus on the cross. But the reality of it was very different: he was completely torn and bloodied by our sins. Moreover, this is the way that he has taken in order to defeat the serpent in his field. Therefore,  we ought to always look at Jesus’ cross, not at those well-painted artistic crosses, but instead at the reality of what the cross was at that time. Look at his path, recalling that he emptied himself and lowered himself in order to save us.

This is also the Christian’s path. Indeed, if a Christian wants to make progress on the path of the Christian life, he must lower himself, as Jesus lowered himself: this is the path of humility, which means bringing humiliations upon yourself, as Jesus did. This is precisely the message given to us in today’s liturgy on this feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Let us ask that the Lord give us the grace that we ask of Our Lady at the foot of the Cross: the grace to cry, to cry out of love, to cry out of gratitude, because our God loved us so much that he sent his Son to lower himself and allow himself to be crushed in order to save us.
  

 Chapter 3

16 - 21

 

The Lord does not save us with a letter, with a decree, but has already saved us and continues to save us with “his love”; he restores to human beings their “dignity and hope”. For love of us, God through his only begotten Son “became one of us, walked among us”.

At Easter man is restored to his lost dignity and is, consequently, “given hope”. This is
salvation. The Lord gives us the dignity we have lost. This is the road of salvation, and it is beautiful: love alone makes it so. We are worthy, we are men and women of hope.

It happens, however, that at times “we want to save ourselves and we believe that we can. Maybe we don't exactly say it, but that’s how we live”. For example when we think: “I can save myself with money. I am secure, I have some money, there is no problem... I have dignity: the dignity of being rich”. But all that is not enough. Think of the Gospel parable, of that man who had the full granary and said: ‘I will make another, to have more and more, and then I will sleep peacefully”. And the Lord responds: ‘You fool! You will die tonight’. That kind of salvation is wrong, it is temporary, apparent.

Lord, I believe. I believe in your love. I believe that your love has saved me. I believe that your love has given me a dignity that I did not have. I believe that your love gives me hope. It is beautiful to believe in love, because it is the truth. It is the truth of our life.


Pope Francis   15.06.14   Solemnity of the Holy Trinity    Angelus,  St Peter's Square     John 3: 16-18

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we celebrate the
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, which leads us to contemplate and worship the divine life of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: a life of communion and perfect love, origin and aim of all the universe and of every creature: God. We also recognize in the Trinity the model for the Church, in which we are called to love each other as Jesus loved us. And love is the concrete sign that demonstrates faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And love is the badge of the Christian, as Jesus told us: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). It’s a contradiction to think of Christians who hate. It’s a contradiction. And the devil always seeks this: to make us hate, because he’s always a troublemaker; he doesn’t know love; God is love!

We are all called to witness and proclaim the message that “God is love”, that God isn’t far and insensitive to our human affairs. He is close to us, always beside us, walking with us to share our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our struggles. He loves us very much and for that reason he became man, he came into the world not to condemn it, but so the world would be saved through Jesus (cf. Jn 3:16-17). And this is the love of God in Jesus, this love that is so difficult to understand but that we feel when we draw close to Jesus. And he always forgives us, he always awaits us, he loves us so much. And we feel the love of Jesus and the love of God.

The Holy Spirit, gift of the Risen Jesus, conveys divine life to us and thus lets us enter into the dynamism of the Trinity, which is a dynamism of love, of communion, of mutual service, of sharing. A person who loves others for the very joy of love is a reflection of the Trinity. A family in which each person loves and helps one another is a reflection of the Trinity. A parish in which each person loves and shares spiritual and material effects is a reflection of the Trinity.

True love is boundless, but it knows how to limit itself, to interact with others, to respect the freedom of others. Every Sunday we go to Mass, we celebrate the Eucharist together and the Eucharist is like the “burning bush” in which the Trinity humbly lives and communicates; for this reason the Church placed the feast of Corpus Domini after that of the Trinity. Next Thursday, according to Roman tradition, we’ll celebrate Holy Mass at the Basilica of St John Lateran and then, we’ll have the procession with the Most Holy Sacrament. I invite all Romans and pilgrims to participate in order to express our desire to be “a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (St Cyprian). I await everyone next Thursday at 7:00 pm, for the Mass and the Corpus Christi Procession.

May the Virgin Mary, perfect creation of the Trinity, help us to make our whole lives, in small gestures and more important choices, an homage to God, who is Love.

 Chapter 3

31-36

 
Pope Francis  11.04.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta        Acts 5: 27-33,      John 3: 31-36

What does “obeying God” mean? Does it mean that we must be like slaves, in bondage? No, the one who obeys God is free, he is not a slave! And how can this be? I obey, I do not follow my own will, how am I free? It seems like a contradiction. It is not a contradiction. In fact, the word “'obey' comes from Latin, it means to listen, to hear others. Obeying God is listening to God, having an open heart to follow the path that God points out to us. Obedience to God is listening to God and it sets us free.

Peter, “in front of these scribes, priests even the high priest, and the Pharisees”, was called “to make a decision”. Peter “heard what the Pharisees and priests said and he listened to what Jesus was saying in his heart: 'what should I do?'. He said: 'I will do what Jesus tells me and not what you want me to do'. And he went ahead like this”.

In our lives we often are proposed things which do not come from Jesus, which do not come from God. It is clear that at times our weaknesses take us down the wrong road. Or even a more dangerous road. We make a pact, a little of God and a little of you. We make this pact and we go forward in life with a double life: a little bit of the life that Jesus tells us about and a little of the life that the world, the forces of the world and many others tell us about. This is a system that's no good. In fact in the book of Revelation, the Lord says: this is not good because you are neither good nor evil. You are lukewarm. I condemn you.

If Peter had said to these priests: 'let's speak like friends and let's find a status vivendi ', perhaps everything would have worked out”. But it would not have been a decision “of love which comes when we listen to Jesus”. It is a decision which has consequences. What happens when we hear Jesus? At times those who make the other proposal get angry and the road finishes with
persecution. In this moment, as I said, we have many brothers and sisters that who obey, hear, listen what Jesus asks them under persecution. We must always remember these brothers and sisters who placed themselves in the fire and they tell us with their lives: 'I want to obey and to follow the path that Jesus tells me.

In today's liturgy “the Church invites us to take Jesus' path” and “not to listen to the world's proposals, the so-so proposals, the half and half proposals”. They are, he said, a way of living “that is not right” and they “wont' make us happy”.

In choosing to obey God and not the world, in giving no way to compromise, the Christian is not alone. Where can we find help in finding the way to listening to Jesus? In the Holy Spirit. We ourselves are witnesses to this. God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey him. It is the Holy Spirit inside of us who gives us the strength to go forward. The Gospel of John (cf. 3:31-36), proclaimed at the celebration, includes this beautiful passage of assurance: “'He whom God sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit'. Our Father gives us the Spirit without measure to listen to Jesus, to hear Jesus and to follow the path of Jesus”.

Let us ask for the grace of
courage. We will always sin; we are all sinners. But we must have “the courage to say: 'Lord I am a sinner, sometimes I obey mundane things but I want to obey you, I want follow your path”. Let us ask for this grace, to always follow on Jesus' path. And when we do not, let us ask for forgiveness: the Lord forgives us, because he is so good.

 Chapter 6

1-15

 

Gamaliel was a wise man, for “he gives us an example of how God acts in our life. When all the priests, pharisees, and teachers of the law were so nervous, maddened by what the Apostles were doing, and wanted to kill them, he said: but wait yet a while! And remember the stories of Judas the Galilean and of Thaddeus, who in the end managed to do nothing: they said they were Christ, the Messiah, saviours and then they came to nothing. 'Give it time' says Gamaliel”.

That is wise advice also for our life. For
time is the messenger of God: God saves us in time, not in a moment. Sometimes he does miracles, but in everyday life he saves us through time. At times we think that if the Lord comes into our life, we change. Yes, we do change: it is called conversion. 'I want to follow you, Lord'. But this must make history”. The Lord, therefore, “saves us in history: our personal history. The Lord does not do so like some fairy with a magic wand. No. He gives you the grace and he say, as he said to everyone he healed: 'go, walk'. He says it also to us: 'walk through your life, give witness of all that the Lord has done for us'”.

We also need to resist the temptation to
triumphalism. It is a temptation that also attacked the Apostles. Triumphalism is “to believe that in one moment everything happened! No, in a moment it began: there is a grace, but we are the ones who have to journey forward on the path of life.

There was this temptation after the multiplication of the loaves – as was narrated in the Gospel of John (6:1-15). The people “having seen what he had done, said: 'This man is surely the prophet. But Jesus, knowing that they were coming to make him a king', leaves”. He then is the triumphalism but Jesus rebukes them: “you follow me not to hear my words but because I fed you”.

Triumphalism is not from the Lord. The Lord entered the world humbly. He lived his life for 30 years, he grew like a normal child, he had the trial of work, as well as the trial of the cross. And then, at the end, he rose again. The Lord teaches us that in life not all is magic, that triumphalism is not Christian.

This is therefore, a matter of “perseverance on the path of the Lord, all the way to the end, every day. I don't mean to start again every day: no, continue on the path. Continue forever. It is a path of difficulty, of work, and of many joys. But it is the path of the Lord.


Pope Francis   26.07.15    Angelus, St Peter's Square    John 6: 1-15
Pope Francis 26.07.15 Give Freely

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

This Sunday’s Gospel presents the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves, in the account of John the Evangelist (6:1-15). Jesus is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and is surrounded by “a multitude”, who were attracted by “the signs which he did on those who were diseased” (v. 2). Acting in Him is the merciful power of God, who heals every evil of the body and spirit. But Jesus is not only healer, he is also teacher: indeed, he goes up into the hills and sits, with the typical attitude of a teacher when he teaches: he goes up to that natural “pulpit” created by his Heavenly Father. At this point Jesus, who fully understands what he is about to do, puts his disciples to the test. How can they feed all these people? Philip, one of the Twelve, quickly calculates: by taking up a collection, they might collect 200 denarii at most, which would not be enough to feed 5,000 people.

The disciples reason in “marketing” terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with another logic, the logic of giving. It is here that Andrew, one of the Apostles, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a young lad who offers everything he has: five loaves and two fish; but of course, Andrew says, they are nothing for that multitude (cf. v. 9). Jesus actually expecting this. He orders the disciples to make the people sit down, then he takes those loaves and those fish, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them (cf. v. 11). These acts prefigure the Last Supper, which gives the bread of Jesus its truest significance. The bread of God is Jesus Himself. By receiving Him in Communion, we receive his life within us and we become children of the Heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. By receiving communion we meet Jesus truly living and risen! Taking part in the Eucharist means entering into the logic of Jesus, the logic of giving freely, of sharing. And as poor as we are, we all have something to give. “To receive Communion” means to draw from Christ the grace which enables us to share with others all we are and all we have.

The crowd is struck by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves; but the gift Jesus offers is the fullness of life for a hungering mankind. Jesus satiates not only material hunger, but the most profound one, the hunger for the meaning of life, the hunger for God. Before the suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people, what can we ourselves do? Complaining doesn’t resolve anything, but we can offer the little that we have, like the lad in the Gospel. We surely have a few hours of time, certain talents, some skills.... Who among us doesn’t have “five loaves and two fish” of his own? We all have them! If we are willing to place them in the Lord’s hands, they will be enough to bring about a little more love, peace, justice and especially joy in the world. How necessary joy is in the world! God is capable of multiplying our small acts of solidarity and allowing us to share in his gift.

May our prayer sustain the common commitment that no one may lack the heavenly Bread which gives eternal life and the basic necessities for a dignified life, and may it affirm the logic of sharing and love. May the Virgin Mary accompany us with her maternal intercession.



  

 Chapter 6

30-35

 
Pope Francis 07.05.19 Skopje

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Chapter 6

51-58

Pope Francis     16.08.15   Angelus, St Peter's Square    20th Sunday Year B     John 6: 51-58

Pope GFrancis  16.08.15 Angelus - Communion

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

These Sundays the Liturgy is offering us, from the Gospel according to John, Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life, which He himself is, just as the Sacrament of the Eucharist is. Today’s passage (Jn 6:51-58) presents the final part of this discussion, and refers to several of those who were scandalized because Jesus said: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:54). The listeners’ astonishment is understandable; Jesus in fact uses the typical manner of the prophets to provoke questions in people — and also in us — and, ultimately, to provoke a decision. First of all, regarding the questions: what is meant by “eat the flesh and drink the blood” of Jesus? Is it just an image, a figure of speech, a symbol, or does it indicate something real? In order to answer, one must divine what is happening in Jesus’ heart as he breaks the bread for the hungry crowd. Knowing that he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with that bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the “sign” of the Sacrifice that awaits him. This process culminates in the Last Supper, where the bread and wine truly become his Body and his Blood. It is the Eucharist, which Jesus leaves us with a specific purpose: that we may become one with Him. Indeed he says: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (v. 56). That “abiding”: Jesus in us and we in Jesus.
Communion is assimilation: partaking of Him, we become as He is. This requires our “yes”, our adherence of faith.

Regarding the Holy Mass, one sometimes hears this objection: “Of what use is Mass? I go to Church when I feel like it, and I pray better in solitude”. But the
Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual exercise, it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus did at the Last Supper. We say, in order to fully understand, that the Eucharist is “a remembrance”, that is, a gesture which renders real and present the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection: the bread really is his Body given up for us, the wine really is his Blood poured out for us.

The Eucharist is Jesus himself who gives himself entirely to us. Nourishing ourselves of Him and abiding in Him through Eucharistic Communion, if we do so with faith, transforms our life, transforms it into a gift to God and to our brothers and sisters. Nourishing ourselves of that “Bread of Life” means entering into harmony with the heart of Christ, assimilating his choices, his thoughts, his behaviour. It means entering into a dynamism of love and becoming people of peace, people of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of sharing in solidarity. The very things that Jesus did.

Jesus concludes his discourse with these words: “he who eats this bread will live for ever” (Jn 6:58). Yes, living in real communion with Jesus on this earth lets us pass from death to life. Heaven begins precisely in this communion with Jesus.

In Heaven Mary our Mother is already waiting for us — we celebrated this mystery yesterday. May she obtain for us the grace to nourish ourselves with faith in Jesus, Bread of Life.


Pope Francis    18.06.17   Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi      Holy Mass, St John Lateran Square      

 Deuteronomy 8: 2,3,14B - 16AJohn 6: 51-58,     1 Corinthians 10: 16-17

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/en/2017/6/18/corpus-domini.html


On this Solemnity of Corpus Domini, the idea of memory comes up again and again. Moses says to the people: “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you…. Lest… you forget the Lord your God, who fed you in the wilderness with manna” (Dt 8:2, 14, 16). Jesus will tell us: “Do this in memory of me” (1 Cor 11:24). Saint Paul will tell his disciple: “Remember Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 2:8). The “living bread, come down from heaven” (Jn 6:51) is the sacrament of memory, reminding us, in a real and tangible way, of the story of God’s love for us.

Today, to each of us, the word of God says,
Remember! Remembrance of the Lord’s deeds guided and strengthened his people’s journey through the desert; remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation. Remembrance is essential for faith, as water is for a plant. A plant without water cannot stay alive and bear fruit. Nor can faith, unless it drinks deeply of the memory of all that the Lord has done for us. “Remember Jesus Christ”.

Remember. Memory is important, because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return. Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened. Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl. We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories. Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going. In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within.

Yet today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist. In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life. The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love. There, “[Christ’s] sufferings are remembered” (II Vespers, antiphon for the Magnificat) and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey. This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love. A memory that is both recollection and imitation. The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit. When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love. In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers.

The Eucharist gives us a grateful memory, because it makes us see that we are the Father’s children, whom he loves and nourishes. It gives us a free memory, because Jesus’ love and forgiveness heal the wounds of the past, soothe our remembrance of wrongs experienced and inflicted. It gives us a patient memory, because amid all our troubles we know that the Spirit of Jesus remains in us. The Eucharist encourages us: even on the roughest road, we are not alone; the Lord does not forget us and whenever we turn to him, he restores us with his love.

The Eucharist also reminds us that we are not isolated individuals, but one body. As the people in the desert gathered the manna that fell from heaven and shared it in their families (cf. Ex 16), so Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven, calls us together to receive him and to share him with one another. The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”; it is the sacrament of the many, who form one body, God’s holy and faithful people. Saint Paul reminded us of this: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17). The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. Whoever receives it cannot fail to be a builder of unity, because building unity has become part of his or her “spiritual DNA”. May this Bread of unity heal our ambition to lord it over others, to greedily hoard things for ourselves, to foment discord and criticism. May it awaken in us the joy of living in love, without rivalry, jealousy or mean-spirited gossip.

Now, in experiencing this Eucharist, let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his love, that makes us one body and leads us to unity.

 

Pope Francis    18.06.17   Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi  Angelus, St Peter's Square  John 6: 51-581 Corinthians 10: 16-17 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In Italy and in many countries we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ — the Latin name is often used: Corpus Domini or Corpus Christi. Every Sunday the ecclesial community gathers around the Eucharist, the sacrament instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper. Nevertheless, each year we joyfully celebrate the feast dedicated to this Mystery that is central to the faith, in order to fully express our adoration to Christ who offers himself as the food and drink of salvation.

Today’s Gospel passage, taken from Saint John, is part of the sermon on the “bread of life” (cf. 6:51-58). Jesus states: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread...; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (v. 51). He means to say that the Father has sent him into the world as the food of eternal life, and for this reason he will sacrifice himself, his flesh. Indeed, on the Cross, Jesus gave his body and shed his blood. The Son of Man crucified is the true Paschal Lamb, who delivers us from the slavery of sin and sustains us on the journey to the promised land. The Eucharist is the sacrament of his flesh given so as to give life to the world; those who are nourished by this food abide in Jesus and live through him. To assimilate Jesus means to abide in him, to become children in the Son.

In the Eucharist Jesus, as he did with the disciples at Emmaus, draws alongside us, pilgrims in history, to nourish the faith, hope and charity within us; to comfort us in trials; to sustain us in the commitment to justice and peace. This supportive presence of the Son of God is everywhere: in cities and the countryside, in the North and South of the world, in countries with a Christian tradition and in those newly evangelized. In the Eucharist he offers himself as spiritual strength so as to help us put into practice his commandment — to love one another as he loved us — building communities that are welcoming and open to the needs of all, especially the most frail, poor and needy people.

Nourishing ourselves of the Eucharistic Jesus also means abandoning ourselves trustingly to him and allowing ourselves to be guided by him. It means welcoming Jesus in place of one’s own “me”. In this way the love freely received from Jesus in the Eucharistic Communion, by the work of the Holy Spirit, nourishes our love for God and for the brothers and sisters we meet along the daily journey. Nourished by the Body of Christ, we become ever more concretely the mystical Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one bod
y, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:16-17).

May the Virgin Mary, who was ever united to Jesus Bread of Life, help us to rediscover the beauty of the Eucharist, to nourish ourselves of it with faith, so as to live in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

  
 

1 to 11
 





Mercy.        John 8:1-11

This is a beautiful story. First we have Jesus alone on the mountain, praying. He was praying alone (cf. Jn 8:1). Then he went back to the Temple, and all the people went to him (cf. v. 2). Jesus in the midst of the people. And then, at the end, they left him alone with the woman (cf. v. 9). That solitude of Jesus! But it is a fruitful solitude: the solitude of prayer with the Father, and the beautiful solitude that is the Church’s message for today: the solitude of his mercy towards this woman.

And among the people we see a variety of attitudes: there were all the people who went to him; he sat and began to teach them: the people who wanted to hear the words of Jesus, the people with open hearts, hungry for the word of God. There were others who did not hear anything, who could not hear anything; and there were those who brought along this woman: Listen, Master, this woman has done such and such ... we must do what Moses commanded us to do with women like this (cf. vv. 4-5).

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think – and I say it with humility – that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy. It was he himself who said: "I did not come for the righteous". The righteous justify themselves. Go on, then, even if you can do it, I cannot! But they believe they can. "I came for sinners" (Mk 2:17).

Think of the gossip after the call of Matthew: he associates with sinners! (cf. Mk 2:16). He comes for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee, before the altar, who said: I thank you Lord, that I am not like other men, and especially not like the one at the door, like that publican (cf. Lk 18:11-12), then we do not know the Lord’s heart, and we will never have the joy of experiencing this mercy! It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! "Oh, Father, if you knew my life, you would not say that to me!" "Why, what have you done?" "Oh, I am a great sinner!" "All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things!" He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more" (Jn 8:11). That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if we are in the same situation ... Let us go back to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace.


In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. It captures Jesus' attitude: we do not hear words of contempt, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more!' Well, brothers and sisters! God's face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. 'Great is the Lord's mercy', says the Psalm.

“In these days, I have been able to read a book by a cardinal—Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian—on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don't think that I'm publicizing the books of my cardinals. That is not the case! But it did me such good, so much good... Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy changes everything. It is the best thing that we can hear: it changes the world. A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand God's mercy well, this merciful Father who has such patience... Think of the prophet Isaiah who asserts that even if our sins were scarlet red, God's love would make them white as snow. That is beautiful, [this aspect of mercy]. I remember when, just after I was made bishop, in 1992, the Madonna of Fatima came to Buenos Aires and a large Mass for the sick was celebrated. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. Near the end of the Mass I got up because I had to administer a confirmation. An over 80-year-old woman came up to me, humbly, very humbly. I asked her: 'Nonna [grandmother]—because that's how we address our elderly—Nonna, you want to confess?' 'Yes', she told me. 'But if you haven't sinned...' And she said to me: 'We have all sinned...' 'But perhaps the Lord will not forgive you...' 'The Lord forgives everyone', she told me, with certainy. 'But how do you know that, ma'am?' 'If the Lord didn't forgive everyone, the world would not exist.' I wanted to ask her: 'Tell me, have you studied at the Gregorian [Pontifical University]?', because that is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: the inner wisdom of God's mercy. Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving us, never! 'So, Father, what is the problem?' Well, the problem is that we get tired, we don't want to, we get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us never get tired. Let us never get tired. He is the loving Father who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And let us also learn to be merciful with everyone. Let us call upon the intercession of the Madonna who has held in her arms the Mercy of God made human.


Pope Francis   13.03.16  Angelus,  St Peter's Square       John 8: 1-11
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus/2016/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20160313.html

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Lent (cf. Jn 8:1-11) is so beautiful, I really enjoy reading and rereading it. It presents the episode of the adulterous woman, highlighting the theme of the mercy of God, who never wants
the sinner to die, but that the sinner convert and live. The scene unfolds on the Temple grounds. Imagine that there on the parvis of St Peter’s Basilica, Jesus is teaching the people, when several scribes and Pharisees arrive, dragging before him a woman caught in adultery. That woman is thus placed between Jesus and the crowd (cf. v. 3), between the mercy of the Son of God and the violence and anger of her accusers. In fact, they did not come to the Teacher to ask his opinion — they were bad people — but to ensnare him. Indeed, were Jesus to follow the stringent law, approving that the woman be stoned, he would lose his reputation of meekness and goodness which so fascinated the people; however, were he to be merciful, he would be flouting the law, which he himself said he did not wish to abolish but fulfil (cf. Mt 5:17). This is the situation Jesus is placed in.

This wicked intention was hidden behind the question that they asked Jesus: “What do you say about her?” (Jn 8:5). Jesus did not respond; he kept silent and made a mysterious gesture: he “bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground” (v. 7). Perhaps he was drawing, some said that he wrote down the sins of the Pharisees... however, he was writing, as if he were elsewhere. In this way he helped everyone to calm down, not to act on the wave of impulsiveness, and to seek the justice of God. But those wicked men persisted and waited for him to answer. They seemed to thirst for blood. Then Jesus looked up and said: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). This response confounded the accusers, disarming all of them in the true sense of the word: they all lay down their “weapons”, that is, the stones ready to be thrown, both the visible ones against the woman and those concealed against Jesus. While the Lord continued to write on the ground, to draw, I don’t know.... The accusers went away, one after the other, heads down, beginning with the eldest, most aware of not being without sin. How much good it does us to be aware that we too are sinners! When we speak ill of others — something we know well — how much good it will do us to have the courage to drop down the stones we have to throw at others, and to think a little about our own sins!

Only the woman and Jesus remained: misery and mercy. How often does this happen to us when we stop before the confessional, with shame, to show our misery and ask for forgiveness! “Woman, where are they?” (v. 10), Jesus said to her. This question is enough, and his merciful gaze, full of love, in order to let that person feel — perhaps for the first time — that she has dignity, that she is not her sin, she has personal dignity; that she can change her life, she can emerge from her slavery and walk on a new path.

Dear brothers and sisters, that woman represents all of us. We are sinners, meaning adulterers before God, betrayers of his fidelity. Her experience represents God’s will for each of us: not our condemnation but our salvation through Jesus. He is the grace which saves from sin and from death. On the ground, in the dust of which every human being is made (Gen 2:7), he wrote God’s sentence: “I want not that you die but that you live”. God does not nail us to our sin, he does not identify us by the evil we have committed. We have a name, and God does not identify this name with the sin we have committed. He wants to free us, and wants that we too want it together with him. He wants us to be free to convert from evil to good, and this is possible — it is possible! — with his grace.

May the Virgin Mary help us to entrust ourselves completely to God’s mercy, in order to become new creatures.



Pope Francis  29.03.19  Confession

“The two of them alone remained: mercy with misery” (In Joh 33, 5). In this way Saint Augustine sums up the end of the Gospel we have just heard. Those who came to cast stones at the woman or to accuse Jesus with regard to the Law have gone away, having lost interest. Jesus, however, remains. He remains because what is of value in his eyes has remained: that woman, that person. For him, the sinner comes before the sin. I, you, each one of us come first in the heart of God: before mistakes, rules, judgements and our failures. Let us ask for the grace of a gaze like that of Jesus, let us ask to have the Christian perspective on life. Let us look with love upon the sinner before his or her sin; upon the one going astray before his or her error; upon the person before his or her history.

“The two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”. The woman caught in adultery does not represent for Jesus a paragraph of the Law, but instead a concrete situation in which he gets involved. Thus he remains there with the woman, for the most part standing in silence. Meanwhile, he twice performs a mysterious gesture: he writes with his finger on the ground (Jn 8:6, 8). We do not know what he wrote and perhaps that is not the most important element: the attention of the Gospel focuses on the fact that the Lord writes. We think of the episode at Sinai when God wrote the tablets of the Law with his finger (cf. Ex 31:18), just as Jesus does now. Later, God, through the prophets, promised that he would no longer write on tablets of stone, but directly on the heart (cf. Jer 31:33), on the tablets of the flesh of our hearts (cf. 2 Cor 3:3). With Jesus, the mercy of God incarnate, the time has come when God writes on the hearts of men and women, when he gives a sure hope to human misery: giving not so much external laws which often keep God and humanity at a distance, but rather the law of the Spirit which enters into the heart and sets it free. It happens this way for the woman, who encounters Jesus and resumes her life: she goes off to sin no more (cf. Jn 8:11). It is Jesus who, with the power of the Holy Spirit, frees us from the evil we have within us, from the sin which the Law could impede but not remove.

All the same, evil is strong, it has a seductive power: it attracts and fascinates. Our own efforts are not enough to detach ourselves from it: we need a greater love. Without God, we cannot overcome evil. Only his love raises us up from within, only his tender love poured out into our hearts makes us free. If we want to be free from evil, we have to make room for the Lord who forgives and heals. He accomplishes this above all through the sacrament we are about to celebrate.
Confession is the passage from misery to mercy; it is God’s writing upon the heart. There – in our hearts – we constantly read that we are precious in the eyes of God, that he is our Father and that he loves us even more than we love ourselves.

“The two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”. Those two, alone. How many times do we feel alone, that we have lost our way in life. How many times do we no longer know how to begin again, overwhelmed by the effort to accept ourselves. We need to start over, but we don’t know where to begin. Christians are born from the forgiveness they receive in Baptism. They are always reborn from the same place: from the surprising forgiveness of God, from his mercy which restores us. Only by being forgiven can we set out again with fresh confidence, after having experienced the joy of being loved by the Father to the full. Only through God’s forgiveness do truly new things happen within us. Let us hear again words the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, I am doing a new thing” (Is 43:19). Forgiveness gives us a new beginning, makes us new creatures, helps us take hold of a new life. God’s forgiveness is not a photocopy which is identically reproduced in every passage through the confessional. Receiving pardon for our sins through a priest is always a new, distinctive and unique experience. We pass from being alone with our miseries and accusers, like the woman in the Gospel, to being raised up and encouraged by the Lord who grants us a new start.

“The two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”. What do we need to do to come to love mercy, to overcome the fear of Confession? Let us accept once more the invitation of Isaiah: “Do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19). It is important to perceive God’s forgiveness. It would be beautiful, after Confession, to remain like that woman, our eyes fixed on Jesus who has just set us free: no longer looking at our miseries, but rather at his mercy. To look at the Crucified One and say with amazement: “That’s where my sins ended up. You took them upon yourself. You didn’t point your finger at me; instead, you opened your arms and forgave me once again”. It is important to be mindful of God’s forgiveness, to remember his tender love, and taste again and again the peace and freedom we have experienced. For this is the heart of Confession: not the sins we declare, but the divine love we receive, of which we are ever in need. We may still have a doubt: “Confessing is useless, I am always committing the same sins”. The Lord knows us, however; he knows that the interior struggle is difficult, that we are weak and inclined to fall, that we often relapse into doing what is wrong. So he proposes that we begin to relapse into goodness, into asking for mercy. He will raise us up and make us new creatures. Let us start over, then, from Confession, let us restore to this sacrament the place it deserves in life and pastoral ministry!

“The two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”. Today, in Confession, we too draw life from this saving encounter: we with our miseries and sins, and the Lord who knows us, loves us and frees us from evil. Let us enter into this encounter, asking for the grace to rediscover its saving power.


Pope Francis   07.04.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square    John 8: 1-11
Pope Francis Angelus 07.04.19

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the liturgy presents us the episode of the
adulterous woman (cf. Jn 8:1-11). In it, there are two contrasting attitudes: that of the scribes and the Pharisees on the one hand, and that of Jesus on the other. The former want to condemn the woman because they feel they are the guardians of the Law and of its faithful implementation. Jesus, on the other hand, wants to save her because he personifies God’s mercy which redeems by forgiving and renews by reconciling.

Let us thus look at the event. While Jesus is teaching in the Temple, the scribes and the Pharisees bring him a woman who has been caught in adultery. They place her in the middle and ask Jesus if they should stone her as the Law of Moses prescribes. The Evangelist explains that they asked the question in order “to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him” (v. 6). One might think that this was their purpose: behold the iniquity of these people — a ‘no’ to the stoning would have been a pretext to accuse Jesus of disobeying the Law; a ‘yes’ instead, to report him to the Roman Authority which had reserved such sentences to itself and did not permit lynching by the people. And Jesus must respond.

Jesus’ interrogators are confined to narrow legalism and want to oblige the Son of God to conform to their perspective of judgment and condemnation. However, he did not come into the world to judge and condemn, but rather to save and offer people a new life. And how does Jesus react to this test? First of all, he remains silent for some time and then he bends down to write on the ground with his finger, almost as if to remind them that the only Legislator and Judge is God who had inscribed the Law on stone. And then he says: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). In this way, Jesus appeals to the conscience of those men: they felt they were the ‘champions of justice’, but he reminds them of their own condition as
sinners, due to which they cannot claim the right to life or death over one of their fellow human beings. At that point, one after the other, beginning with the eldest — that is, those who were more fully aware of their own failings — they all went away, and desisted from stoning the woman. This episode also invites each of us to be aware that we are sinners, and to let fall from our hands the stones of denigration, of condemnation, of gossip, which at times we would like to cast at others. When we speak ill of others, we are throwing stones, we are like these people.

And in the end only Jesus and the woman are left there in the middle: “misery with mercy”, as Saint Augustine says (In Joh 33:5). Jesus is the only one without fault, the only one who could throw a stone at her, but he does not do so, because God “does not want the death of the wicked but that the wicked convert and live” (cf. Ez 33:11). And Jesus sends the woman on her way with these wonderful words: “Go and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). And thus Jesus opens a new path to her, created by mercy, a path that requires her commitment not to sin again. It is an invitation that applies to each one of us. When Jesus
forgives us, he always opens a new path on which to go forward. In this Lenten Season, we are called to recognize ourselves as sinners and to ask God for forgiveness. And, in its turn, while forgiveness reconciles us and gives us peace, it lets us start again, renewed. Every true conversion is oriented toward a new future, a new life, a beautiful life, a life free from sin, a generous life. Let us not be afraid to ask Jesus for forgiveness because he opens the door to this new life for us. May the Virgin Mary help us to bear witness to all of the merciful love of God, who through Jesus, forgives us and renders our lives new, by always offering us new possibilities.



 Chapter 10

1 - 10

 

‘He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door’ is not the Shepherd”. Whoever does not enter the sheepfold by the door — whom he says “I am” — “‘but climbs in by another way is a thief and a robber’ (Jn 10:1)”, is someone who seeks his own advantage. But how can we be sure that Jesus is the true door? Take the Beatitudes and do what the Beatitudes say. And when someone suggests anything else, do not listen: the door is always Jesus and those who enter by that door are not mistaken. Jesus “is not only the door: he is the way, he is the road”. There are many paths that may be easier, but “they are not true. They are false. Only Jesus is the road. Some of you may ask, “Father are you a fundamentalist?”! No. Jesus said simply this: “I am the door”, “I am the way”, in order to give us life.

Pray for the grace always to knock at that door and to say this prayer: Jesus, “you who gave your life for me, please let me in”.
 
Chapter 10
16
 

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

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The biblical Readings we have heard make us think. They have made me think deeply. I have conceived of a sort of meditation for us bishops, first for me, a bishop like you, and I share it with you.

It is important — and I am particularly glad — that our first meeting should take place here, on the site that guards not only Peter’s tomb but also the living memory of his witness of faith, his service to the Truth, and his gift of himself to the point of martyrdom for the Gospel and for the Church.

This evening this Altar of the Confessio thus becomes for us the Sea of Tiberias, on whose shores we listen once again to the marvellous conversation between Jesus and Peter with the question addressed to the Apostle, but which must also resonate in our own hearts, as Bishops.

“Do you love me?”. “Are you my friend?” (cf. Jn 21, 15ff.).

The question is addressed to a man who, despite his solemn declarations, let himself be gripped by fear and so had denied.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The question is addressed to me and to each one of us, to all of us: if we take care not to respond too hastily and superficially it impels us to look within ourselves, to re-enter ourselves.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The One who scrutinizes hearts (cf. Rom 8:27), makes himself a beggar of love and questions us on the one truly essential issue, a premiss and condition for feeding his sheep, his lambs, his Church. May every ministry be based on this intimacy with the Lord; living from him is the measure of our ecclesial service which is expressed in the readiness to obey, to humble ourselves, as we heard in the Letter to the Philippians, and for the total gift of self (cf. 2:6-11).

Moreover, the consequence of loving the Lord is giving everything — truly everything, even our life — for him. This is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry; it is the litmus test that tells us how deeply we have embraced the gift received in responding to Jesus’ call, and how closely bound we are to the individuals and communities that have been entrusted to our care. We are not the expression of a structure or of an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord; thus to build up the community in brotherly love.

Not that this should be taken for granted: even the greatest love, in fact, when it is not constantly nourished, weakens and fades away. Not for nothing did the Apostle Paul recommend: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own Son's blood” (cf. Acts 20:28).

A lack of vigilance — as we know — makes the Pastor tepid; it makes him absentminded, forgetful and even impatient. It tantalizes him with the prospect of a career, the enticement of money and with compromises with a mundane spirit; it makes him lazy, turning him into an official, a state functionary concerned with himself, with organization and structures, rather than with the true good of the People of God. Then one runs the risk of denying the Lord as did the Apostle Peter, even if he formally presents him and speaks in his name; one obscures the holiness of the hierarchical Mother Church making her less fruitful.

Who are we, Brothers, before God? What are our trials? We have so many; each one of us has his own. What is God saying to us through them? What are we relying on in order to surmount them?

Just as it did Peter, Jesus' insistent and heartfelt question can leave us pained and more aware of the weakness of our freedom, threatened as it is by thousands of interior and exterior forms of conditioning that all too often give rise to bewilderment, frustration, and even disbelief.

These are not of course the sentiments and attitudes that the Lord wants to inspire; rather, the Enemy, the Devil, takes advantage of them to isolate us in bitterness, complaint and despair.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not humiliate or abandon people to remorse. Through him the tenderness of the Father, who consoles and revitalizes, speaks; it is he who brings us from the disintegration of shame — because shame truly breaks us up — to the fabric of trust; he restores courage, re-entrusts responsibility, and sends us out on mission.

Peter, purified in the crucible of forgiveness could say humbly, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). I am sure that we can all say this with heartfelt feeling. And Peter, purified, urges us in his First Letter to tend “the flock of God... not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3).

Yes, being Pastors means believing every day in the grace and strength that come to us from the Lord despite our weakness, and wholly assuming the responsibility for walking before the flock, relieved of the burdens that obstruct healthy apostolic promptness, hesitant leadership, so as to make our voice recognizable both to those who have embraced the faith and to those who “are not [yet] of this fold” (Jn 10:16). We are called to make our own the dream of God, whose house knows no exclusion of people or peoples, as Isaiah prophetically foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 2:2-5).

For this reason being Pastors also means being prepared to walk among and behind the flock; being capable of listening to the silent tale of those who are suffering and of sustaining the steps of those who fear they may not make it; attentive to raising, to reassuring and to instilling hope. Our faith emerges strengthened from sharing with the lowly. Let us therefore set aside every form of arrogance, to bend down to all whom the Lord has entrusted to our care. Among them let us keep a special, very special, place for our priests. Especially for them may our heart, our hand and our door stay open in every circumstance. They are the first faithful that we bishops have: our priests. Let us love them! Let us love them with all our heart! They are our sons and our brothers!

Dear brothers, the profession of faith we are now renewing together is not a formal act. Rather, it means renewing our response to the “Follow me” with which John’s Gospel ends (21:19). It leads to living our life in accordance with God’s plan, committing our whole self to the Lord Jesus. The discernment that knows and takes on the thoughts, expectations and needs of the people of our time stems from this.

In this spirit, I warmly thank each one of you for your service, for your love for the Church.

And the Mother is here! I place you, and myself, under the mantle of Mary, Our Lady.

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,
Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.
Purify the eyes of Pastors with the eye-wash of memory:
Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,
Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.
Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole; let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.

Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,
Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong.
Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the Truth of love.
Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom. Amen.

Chapter 10

 22 - 30

 
Pope Francis   23.04.13    Acts 11: 19-26,     John 10: 22-30 
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Today’s first reading makes me think that, at the very moment when persecution broke out, the Church’s missionary nature also "broke out". These Christians went all the way to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word (cf. Acts 11:19). They had this apostolic fervor in their hearts; and so the faith spread! Some people from Cyprus and Cyrene, not these but others who had become Christians, came to Antioch and began to speak also to the Greeks (cf. Acts 11:20). This is yet another step. And so the Church moves forward. Who took this initiative of speaking to the Greeks, something unheard of, since they were preaching only to Jews? It was the Holy Spirit, the one who was pushing them on, on and on, unceasingly.

But back in Jerusalem, when somebody heard about this, he got a little nervous and they sent a Apostolic Visitation: they sent Barnabas (cf. Acts 11:22). Perhaps, with a touch of humor, we can say that this was the theological origin of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: this Apostolic Visitation of Barnabas. He took a look and saw that things were going well (cf. Acts 11:23). And in this way the Church is increasingly a Mother, a Mother of many, many children: she becomes a Mother, ever more fully a Mother, a Mother who gives us faith, a Mother who gives us our identity. But Christian identity is not an identity card. Christian identity means being a member of the Church, since all these people belonged to the Church, to Mother Church, for apart from the Church it is not possible to find Jesus. The great Paul VI said: it is an absurd dichotomy to wish to live with Jesus but without the Church, to follow Jesus but without the Church, to love Jesus but without the Church (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 16). And that Mother Church who gives us Jesus also gives us an identity which is not simply a rubber stamp: it is membership. Identity means membership, belonging. Belonging to the Church: this is beautiful!

The third idea which comes to my mind – the first was the outbreak of the Church’s missionary nature, and second, the Church as Mother – is that, when Barnabas saw that crowd – the text says: "and a great many people were brought to the Lord" (Acts 11:24) – when he saw that crowd, he rejoiced. "When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced" (Acts 11:23). It is the special joy of the evangelizer. It is, as Paul VI said, "the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing" (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). This joy begins with persecution, with great sadness, and ends in joy. And so the Church moves forward, as a Saint tells us, amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord (cf. Saint Augustine, De Civitate Dei, 18:51,2: PL 41, 614). This is the life of the Church. If we want to take the path of worldliness, bargaining with the world – as the Maccabeans were tempted to do back then – we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek consolation alone, it will be a superficial consolation, not the Lord’s consolation, but a human consolation. The Church always advances between the cross and the resurrection, between persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. This is the path: those who take this path do not go wrong.

Today let us think about the missionary nature of the Church: these disciples who took the initiative to go forth, and those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, something which at that time was almost scandalous (cf. Acts 11:19-20). Let us think of Mother Church, who is increasing, growing with new children to whom she gives the identity of faith, for one cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus himself says so in the Gospel: but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep (cf. Jn 10:26). Unless we are "Jesus’ sheep", faith does not come; it is a faith which is watered down, insubstantial. And let us think of the consolation which Barnabas experienced, which was precisely the "delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing". Let us ask the Lord for this parrhesia, this apostolic fervour which impels us to move forward, as brothers and sisters, all of us: forward! Forward, bearing the name of Jesus in the bosom of holy Mother Church, as Saint Ignatius said, hierarchical and Catholic. Amen.

Chapter 10

 27 - 30

 
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Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation and prayer, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.

In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.

Now, my dear brothers and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy.  Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith!  They transmitted to you this gift of faith.  Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach.  Remember too that the word of God is not your property: it is the word of God.  And the Church is the custodian of the word of God.

In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.

You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance.  Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful.  You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.  You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.



Pope Francis   21.04.13   Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square   4th Sunday of Easter Year C        John 10: 27-30

Dear Brothers and Sisters
Good morning!

The Fourth Sunday of the
Season of Easter is characterized by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd — in chapter ten of St John — which is read every year. Today’s passage records these words of Jesus: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (10:27-30). These four verses contain the whole of Jesus’ message; it is the nucleus of his Gospel: he calls us to share in his relationship with the Father, and this is eternal life.

Jesus wants to establish with his friends a relationship which mirrors his own relationship with the Father: a relationship of reciprocal belonging in full trust, in intimate communion. To express this profound understanding, this relationship of friendship, Jesus uses the image of the shepherd with his sheep: he calls them and they recognize his voice, they respond to his call and follow him. This parable is very beautiful! The mystery of his voice is evocative: only think that from our mother’s womb we learn to recognize her voice and that of our father; it is from the tone of a voice that we perceive love or contempt, affection or coldness. Jesus’ voice is unique! If we learn to distinguish it, he guides us on the path of life, a path that goes beyond even the abyss of death.

However Jesus, at a certain point, said: “my Father, who has given them to me...” (Jn 10:29), referring to his sheep. This is very important, it is a profound mystery, far from easy to understand. If I feel drawn to Jesus, if his voice warms my heart, it is thanks to God the Father who has sown within me the desire for love, for truth, for life, for beauty... and Jesus is all this in fullness! This helps us understand the mystery of vocation and especially of the call to a special consecration. Sometimes Jesus calls us, he invites us to follow him, but perhaps we do not realize that it is he who is calling, like what happened to the young Samuel. There are many young people today, here in the Square. There are large numbers of you aren’t there? It’s clear.... Look! Here in the Square today there are so many of you! I would like to ask you: have you sometimes heard the Lord’s voice, in a desire, in a worry, did he invite you to follow him more closely? Have you heard him? I can’t hear you? There! Have you wanted to be apostles of Jesus? We must bet on youth for the great ideals. Do you think this? Do you agree? Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be brave! Be brave! Ask him this!

Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or to the consecrated life there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community.... This is why Jesus said: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest”, that is, God the Father, “to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38). Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I am pleased to stress this today, which is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations”.

Let us pray in particular for the new Priests of the Diocese of Rome whom I have had the joy to ordain this morning. And let us invoke the intercession of Mary. Today there were 10 young men who said “yes” to Jesus and they have been ordained priests this morning. This is beautiful!

Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the Woman of the “yes”. Mary said “yes” throughout her life! She learned to recognize Jesus’ voice from the time when she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to know Jesus’ voice better and better and to follow it, so as to walk on the path of life! Thank you.

Thank you so much for your greeting, but greet Jesus too. Shout “Jesus” very loudly.... Let us all pray together to Our Lady.



Pope Francis   17.04.16  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square  4th Sunday of Easter Year C     John 10: 27-30

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel (Jn 10:27-30) offers us some of Jesus’ expressions during the feast of the dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem, which is celebrated at the end of December. He is found on the Temple grounds, and perhaps that enclosed sacred space suggested to Him the image of the sheepfold and the shepherd. Jesus is presented as “the Good Shepherd”, and says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (vv. 27-28). These words help us to understand that no one can call himself a follower of Jesus, if he does not listen to His voice. And this “listening” should not be understood in a superficial way, but in an engaging way, to the point of making possible a true mutual understanding, from which one can come to a generous following, expressed in the words, ‘and they follow me’ (v. 27). It is a matter of listening not only with ears, but listening with the heart!

And so, the image of the shepherd and the sheep indicates the close relationship that Jesus wants to establish with each one of us. He is our guide, our teacher, our friend, our model, but above all he is our Saviour. In fact, the following expressions from the Gospel passage affirm, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (v. 28). Who can say that? Only Jesus, because the “hand” of Jesus is one thing with the “hand” of the Father, and the Father is “greater than all” (cf. v. 29).

These words communicate to us a sense of absolute security and immense tenderness. Our life is fully secure in the hands of Jesus and the Father, which are a single thing: a unique love, a unique mercy, revealed once and for all in the sacrifice of the Cross. To save the lost sheep which we all are, the Shepherd became lamb, and let himself be immolated so as to take upon himself and to take away the sin of the world. In this way he has given us life, life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10)! This mystery is renewed, in an always surprising humility, on the Eucharistic table. It is there that the sheep gather to nourish themselves; it is there that they become one, among themselves and with the Good Shepherd.

Because of this we are no longer afraid: our life is now saved from perdition. Nothing and no one can take us from the hands of Jesus, because nothing and no one can overcome his love. Jesus’ love is invincible. The evil one, the great enemy of God and of his creatures, attempts in many ways to take eternal life from us. But the evil one can do nothing if we ourselves do not open the doors of our hearts to him, by following his deceitful enticements.

The Virgin Mary heard and obediently followed the voice of the Good Shepherd. May she help us to welcome with joy Jesus’ invitation to become his disciples, and to always live in the certainty of being in the paternal hands of the Father.



 
Chapter 10

31-42
 
Pope Francis   22.03.13 Mass with Vatican gardeners and cleaners     John 10: 31-42       

When we have a heart of stone it happens that we pick up real stones and stone Jesus Christ in the person of our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest of them. Pope Francis said this, commenting on the day's Readings during the Mass he celebrated on Friday morning in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
It was a simple celebration to which the Pope invited employees of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State. He gave them a brief homily, focused in particular on the Gospel passage of John which recounts the episode of the Jews who wanted to stone Jesus.


  

 Chapter 11

1-45

 
Pope Francis       02.04.17    Holy Mass,  Piazza Martiri, Carpi         John 11: 1-45,     Ezekiel  37: 12-14
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Today’s readings tell us of the God of life, who conquers death. Let us pause in particular on the last of the miraculous signs which Jesus performs before his Easter, at the sepulchre of his friend, Lazarus.

Everything appears to have ended there: the tomb is sealed by a great stone; there is only weeping and desolation there. Even Jesus is shaken by the dramatic mystery of the loss of a dear person: “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (Jn 11:33). Then “Jesus wept” (v. 35) and went to the sepulchre, the Gospel says, “deeply moved again” (v. 38). This is God’s heart: far from evil but close to those who are suffering. He does not make evil disappear magically, but he endures the suffering; he makes it his own and transforms it; he abides it.

We notice, however, that amid the general despair over the death of Lazarus, Jesus does not allow himself to be transported by despair. Even while suffering himself, he asks that people believe steadfastly. He does not close himself within his weeping but, moved, he makes his way to the sepulchre. He does not allow the resigned, emotional atmosphere that surrounds him to seize him, but rather, prays with trust and says, “Father, I thank thee” (v. 41). Thus, in the mystery of suffering, before which thoughts and progress are crushed like flies against glass, Jesus offers us the example of how to conduct ourselves. He does not run away from suffering, which is part of this life, but he does not allow himself to be held captive by
pessimism.

A great “encounter-clash” thus occurred at that sepulchre. On the one hand, there is the great disappointment, the precariousness of our mortal life which, pierced by anguish over death, often experiences defeat, an interior darkness which seems insurmountable. Our soul, created for life, suffers upon hearing that its thirst for eternal good is oppressed by an ancient and dark evil. On the one hand, there is this defeat of the sepulchre. But on the other, there is the
hope that conquers death and evil, and which has a name: the name of hope is Jesus.

He neither brings a bit of comfort nor some remedy to prolong life, but rather, proclaims: “I am the Resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”, (v. 25). It is for this reason that he says decisively, “Take away the stone” (v. 39) and he calls to Lazarus, “Come out” (v. 43).

Dear brothers and sisters, we too are called to decide on which side to stand. One can stand on the side of the sepulchre or on the side of Jesus. There are those who allow themselves to be closed within their pain and those who open up to hope. There are those who remain trapped among the
ruins of life, and those who, like you, with God’s help, pick up the ruins of life and rebuild with patient hope.

In facing life’s great ‘whys?’, we have two paths: either stay and wistfully contemplate past and present sepulchres, or allow Jesus to approach our sepulchres. Yes, because each one of us already has a small sepulchre, some area that has somewhat died within our hearts;
a wound, a wrongdoing endured or inflicted, an unrelenting resentment, a regret that keeps coming back, a sin we cannot overcome. Today, let us identify these little sepulchres that we have inside, and let us invite Jesus into them. It is curious, but we often prefer to be alone in the dark caves within us rather than invite Christ inside them. We are tempted to always seek [solutions for] ourselves, brooding and sinking into anguish, licking our wounds, instead of going to him, who says, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”, (Mt 11:28). Let us not be held captive by the temptation to remain alone and discouraged, crying about what is happening to us. Let us not give in to the useless and inconclusive logic of fear, resignedly repeating that everything is going badly and nothing is as it once was. This is the sepulchral atmosphere. The Lord instead wishes to open the path of life, that of encounter with him, of trust in him, of the resurrection of the heart, the way of: “Arise, Arise, come out”. This is what the Lord asks of us, and he is by our side to do so.

Thus, we hear directed to each one of us Jesus’ words to Lazarus: “Come out”. Come out from the gridlock of hopeless
sadness; unwrap the bandages of fear that impede the journey, the laces of the weaknesses and anxieties that constrain you; reaffirm that God unties the knots. By following Jesus, we learn not to knot our lives around problems which become tangled. There will always be problems, always, and when we solve one, another one duly arrives. We can however, find a new stability, and this stability is Jesus himself. This stability is called Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life. With him, joy abides in our hearts, hope is reborn, suffering is transformed into peace, fear into trust, hardship into an offering of love. And even though burdens will not disappear, there will always be his uplifting hand, his encouraging Word saying to all of us, to each of us: “Come out! Come to me!”. He tells all of us: “Do not be afraid”.

Today, just like then, Jesus says to us to: “take away the stone”. However burdensome the past, great the sin, weighty the
shame, let us never bar the Lord’s entrance. Let us, before him, remove that stone which prevents him from entering. This is the favourable time to remove our sin, our attachment to worldly vanity, the pride that blocks our souls, so much hostility among us, in families.... This is the favourable time for removing all these things.

Visited and liberated by Jesus, we ask for the grace to be witnesses of life in this world that thirsts for it, witnesses who spark and rekindle God’s hope in hearts weary and laden with sadness. Our message is the joy of the living Lord, who says again today, as he did to Ezekiel, “Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people (Ez 37:12).
  
 

1 - 11
 

The emblem of the infinite patience that God has for man is reflected in the infinite patience that Jesus has for Judas.
Jesus did not say: 'You are a thief.’”. Instead “he was patient with Judas, trying to draw him closer through patience, his love. During Holy Week, we would do well to think of the patience of God, the patience that God has with each one of us, with our weaknesses, our sins.
The patience of God is a mystery! How much patience he has with us! We do so many things, but He is patient.
God is patient like the prodigal son’s father who waits everyday for his son to come home. And if we think of this, applying it to each one of us, only one thought can escape our hearts: thank you. This is God's patience, this is the patience of Jesus."
Let us think of our personal relationship, in this week: How patient has Jesus been with me in my life? Just this. And then the words will rise from our hearts: 'Thank you, Lord! Thank you for your patience.
 

1-15
 

This is moving. Jesus, washing the feet of his disciples. Peter didn’t understood it at all, he refused. But Jesus explained it for him. Jesus – God – did this! He himself explains to his disciples: “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:12-15).

It is the Lord’s example: he is the most important, and he washes feet, because with us what is highest must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign, right? Washing feet means: “I am at your service”. And with us too, don’t we have to wash each other’s feet day after day? But what does this mean? That all of us must help one another. Sometimes I am angry with someone or other … but… let it go, let it go, and if he or she asks you a favour, do it.

Help one another: this is what Jesus teaches us and this what I am doing, and doing with all my heart, because it is my duty. As a priest and a bishop, I must be at your service. But it is a duty which comes from my heart: I love it. I love this and I love to do it because that is what the Lord has taught me to do. But you too, help one another: help one another always. One another. In this way, by helping one another, we will do some good.

Now we will perform this ceremony of washing feet, and let us think, let each one of us think: “Am I really willing, willing to serve, to help others?”. Let us think about this, just this. And let us think that this sign is a caress of Jesus, which Jesus gives, because this is the real reason why Jesus came: to serve, to help us.


Pope Francis   18.04.19   Holy Thursday    Mass of The Lord's Supper   Velletri Prison, Coena Domini, Rome       John 13: 1-15




Jesus carries out an act of service, which was usually done by slaves. He, the Lord who contained in himself all power, carries out the gesture of a slave.

Jesus, then told his disciples to do the same for each other in service.

Be brothers in service: not in ambition but in service.

Each of us needs to be at the service of our neighbour.

 
Chapter 13
21 - 33

36-38
 

Everyone experiences the dark night of the sinner”, but Jesus “has an embrace” for us all.  the night envelops Judas, it also envelops his heart. It is the worst kind of night, the "night of the corrupt", a "definitive night, when the heart has closed in on itself” in a way that it “does not know how, does not want to" escape from.
The “nighttime of the sinner” is different, it is "temporary" and it is a night with which “we are all familiar”. How many days of this nighttime “have we known”, how many times has night fallen and cast our hearts in darkness.
It is at these times that hope appears and pushes us towards a new encounter with Jesus. “Do not be afraid”, “of this nighttime of the sinner”. The most beautiful thing is to name the sin," confess our sins, and thus experience along with St. Paul who said that his glory was “Christ crucified in his sins. Why? Because he, in his sins, found Christ crucified who forgave him".

"In the middle of the 'night', the many 'nights', the many sins that we commit, because we are sinners, there is always  the embrace of the Lord" that helps us say, "This is my glory. I am a poor sinner, but You are my Savior." The same sweetness that is expressed in the look Christ turned on Peter, who had denied him.  We think of how nice it is to be saints, but also how nice it is to be forgiven  We trust in this encounter with Jesus "and" sweetness of his
forgiveness.


Pope Francis   24.04.16   Holy Mass, St Peter's Square  Jubilee for Boys and Girls    John 13: 31-35 
 
Pope Francis 24.04.16  Holy Mass St Peter's Square
 
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Dear
young friends, what an enormous responsibility the Lord gives us today! He tells us that the world will recognize the disciples of Jesus by the way they love one another. Love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card, the only valid “document” identifying us as Christians. It is the only valid document. If this card expires and is not constantly renewed, we stop being witnesses of the Master. So I ask you: Do you wish to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to be his disciples? Do you wish to be his faithful friends? The true friends of Jesus stand out essentially by the genuine love; not some “pie in the sky” love; no, it is a genuine love that shines forth in their way of life. Love is always shown in real actions. Those who are not real and genuine and who speak of love are like characters is a soap opera, some fake love story. Do you want to experience his love? Do you want this love: yes or no? Let us learn from him, for his words are a school of life, a school where we learn to love. This is a task which we must engage in every day: to learn how to love.

Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness. But it is not an easy path. It is demanding and it requires effort. Think, for example, of when we receive a gift. It makes us happy, but receiving a gift means that someone generous has invested time and effort; by their gift they also give us a bit of themselves, a sacrifice they have made. Think too of the gift that your parents and group leaders have given you in allowing you to come to Rome for this Jubilee day dedicated to you. They planned, organized, and prepared everything for you, and this made them happy, even if it meant that they had to give up a trip for themselves. This is putting love into action. To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one’s self: one’s own time, one’s friendship, one’s own abilities.

Look to the Lord, who is never outdone in generosity. We receive so many gifts from him, and every day we should thank him… Let me ask you something. Do you thank the Lord every day? Even if we forget to do so, he never forgets, each day, to give us some special gift. It is not something material and tangible that we can use, but something even greater, a life-long gift. What does the Lord give to us? He offers us his faithful friendship, which he will never take back. The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself. This is an example of genuine love that Jesus teaches to us. This is very important! Because the biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us - and that is always a sadness - from feeling that we are all alone. The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes”.

Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection. The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful. He will guide your hearts to “love without being possessive”, to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free. Because love is free! There is no true love that is not free! The freedom that the Lord gives to us is his love for us. He is always close to each one of us. There is always a temptation to let our affections be tainted by an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing; this is selfishness. Our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency. Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside. The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them. This is putting tenderness and love into action.

At this point in life you feel also a great longing for freedom. Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want. But here you have to be able to say no. If you do not know how to say “no”, you are not free. The person who is free is he or she who is able to say “yes” and who knows how to say “no”. Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want. This makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends; it is not true to say “it is good enough if it serves me”. No, this is not true. Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy. I believe that you young men and women are not afraid to make the effort, that you are indeed courageous! Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue. Courageous and noble choices. Do not be content with mediocrity, with “simply going with the flow”, with being comfortable and laid back. Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions. Be sceptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions. Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love. True freedom is something else altogether.

That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart; love is a responsibility, but a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams! Woe to your people who do not know how to dream, who do not dare to dream! If a person of your age is not able to dream, if they have already gone into retirement… this is not good. Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness. Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice! How can we grow in love? The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world. And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall. Throughout life we will fall many times, because we are sinners, we are weak. But there is always the hand of God who picks us up, who raises us up. Jesus wants us to be up on our feet! Think of the beautiful word Jesus said to the paralytic: “Arise!”. God has created us to be on our feet. There is a lovely song that mountain climbers sing as they climb. It goes like this: “In climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but to not remain fallen!. To have the courage to pick oneself up, to allow oneself to be raised up by Jesus. And his hand is often given through the hand of a friend, through the hand of one’s parents, through the hand of those who accompany us throughout life. Jesus himself is present in them. So arise! God wants us up on our feet, ever on our feet!

I know that you are capable of acts of great friendship and goodness. With these you are called to build the future, together with others and for others, but never against anyone! One never builds “against”; this is called “destruction”. You will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life, champions in love! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus. In this way, you will have the identification card of the Christian. And I promise you: your joy will be complete.

 Chapter 14

1 - 6

 

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

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

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

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

Lord give us this strong hope and the courage to greet the homeland from afar. And may he give us the humility to let ourselves be prepared, that is, to let the Lord prepare the definitive dwelling place in our heart, in our sight and in our hearing.
 
Chapter 14
15-16
23B-26


Pope Francis            19.05.13 St Peter's Square, Rome   Solemnity of Pentecost         Acts 2: 1-11   John 14: 15-16, 23B-26

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind”, and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power”.

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.

   1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness - God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.

   2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – “Ipse harmonia est”. He is indeed harmony. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are very dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community – the Apostle John tells us in his Second Letter - and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn v. 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

   3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission? Today let us remember these three words: newness, harmony and mission.

   Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.


 
Pope Francis  15.05.16  Pentecost

“I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18).

The central purpose of Jesus mission, which culminated in the gift of the
Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the sp
irit of sonship, which enables us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:14-15). Here we see our relationship renewed: the paternity of God is re-established in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation”, in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as “brothers” and “sisters”, since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.

Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.

“I will not leave you orphans”. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.

The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood.



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, which completes the Season of Easter, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ. The liturgy invites us to open our mind and our heart to the gift of the
Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised on several occasions to his disciples: the first and most important gift that he obtained for us with his Resurrection. Jesus himself asked the Father for this gift, as today’s Gospel Reading attests, during the Last Supper. Jesus says to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever” (Jn 14:15-16).

These words remind us first of all that love for a person, and for the Lord, is shown not with words but with deeds; and also, “observing the commandments” should be understood in the existential sense, so as to embrace the whole of life. In fact, being Christian does not mean mainly belonging to a certain culture or adhering to a certain doctrine, but rather joining one’s own life, in all its aspects, to the person of Jesus and, through Him, to the Father. For this purpose Jesus promises the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Owing to the Holy Spirit, to the Love that unites the Father and the Son and proceeds from them, we may all live the very life of Jesus. The Spirit, in fact, teaches us all things, that is, the single indispensable thing: to love as God loves.

In promising the Holy Spirit, Jesus defines him as “another Counsellor” (v. 16), which means Paraclete, Advocate, Intercessor, in other words, the One who helps us, protects us, is at our side on the journey of life and in the struggle for good and that against evil. Jesus says “another Counsellor” because He is the first, He himself, who became flesh precisely to take our human condition upon himself and free it from the slavery of sin.

Moreover, the Holy Spirit plays a role in teaching and remembrance. Teaching and remembrance. Jesus told us: “the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (v. 26). The Holy Spirit does not bring a different teaching, but renders alive and brings into effect the teaching of Jesus, so that the passage of time may neither erase nor diminish it. The Holy Spirit instils this teaching in our heart, helps us to internalize it, making it become a part of us, flesh of our flesh. At the same time, he prepares our heart to be truly capable of receiving the words and example of the Lord. Every time the word of Jesus is received with joy in our heart, this is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray the Regina Caeli together — for the last time this year —, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. May she obtain for us the grace to be deeply inspired by the Holy Spirit, to witness with evangelical simplicity to Christ, opening ourselves ever more fully to his love.



Chapter 14

 23-29

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is brave of you to come here in this rain … May the Lord bless you abundantly!

As part of the journey of the Year of Faith, I am happy to celebrate this Eucharist dedicated in a special way to confraternities: a traditional reality in the Church, which in recent times has experienced renewal and rediscovery. I greet all of you with affection, particularly the confraternities which have come here from all over the world! Thank you for your presence and your witness!

1. In the Gospel we heard a passage from the farewell discourses of Jesus, as related by the evangelist John in the context of the Last Supper. Jesus entrusts his last thoughts, as a spiritual testament, to the apostles before he leaves them. Today’s text makes it clear that Christian faith is completely centred on the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whoever loves the Lord Jesus welcomes him and his Father interiorly, and thanks to the Holy Spirit receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life. Here we are shown the centre from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by living the Gospel. When Benedict XVI spoke to you, he used this expression: evangelical spirit. Dear confraternities, the popular piety of which you are an important sign is a treasure possessed by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined, significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is “a place of encounter with Jesus Christ”. Draw always from Christ, the inexhaustible wellspring; strengthen your faith by attending to your spiritual formation, to personal and communitarian prayer, and to the liturgy. Down the centuries confraternities have been crucibles of holiness for countless people who have lived in utter simplicity an intense relationship with the Lord. Advance with determination along the path of holiness; do not rest content with a mediocre Christian life, but let your affiliation serve as a stimulus, above all for you yourselves, to an ever greater love of Jesus Christ.

2. The passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we heard also speaks to us about what is essential. In the early Church there was immediately a need to discern what was essential about being a Christian, about following Christ, and what was not. The apostles and the other elders held an important meeting in Jerusalem, a first “council”, on this theme, to discuss the problems which arose after the Gospel had been preached to the pagans, to non-Jews. It was a providential opportunity for better understanding what is essential, namely, belief in Jesus Christ who died and rose for our sins, and loving him as he loved us. But note how the difficulties were overcome: not from without, but from within the Church. And this brings up a second element which I want to remind you of, as Benedict XVI did, namely: ecclesial spirit. Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors. Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you! Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones. The Latin American Bishops wrote that the popular piety which you reflect is “a legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church” (Aparecida Document, 264). This is wonderful! A legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church. Love the Church! Let yourselves be guided by her! In your parishes, in your dioceses, be a true “lung” of faith and Christian life, a breath of fresh air! In this Square I see a great variety: earlier on it was a variety of umbrellas, and now of colours and signs. This is also the case with the Church: a great wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads back to unity; the variety leads back to unity, and unity is the encounter with Christ.

3. I would like to add a third expression which must distinguish you: missionary spirit. You have a specific and important mission, that of keeping alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom you belong. You do this through popular piety. When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing to the centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us. Likewise, when you express profound devotion for the Virgin Mary, you are pointing to the highest realization of the Christian life, the one who by her faith and obedience to God’s will, and by her meditation on the words and deeds of Jesus, is the Lord’s perfect disciple (cf. Lumen Gentium, 53). You express this faith, born of hearing the word of God, in ways that engage the senses, the emotions and the symbols of the different cultures … In doing so you help to transmit it to others, and especially the simple persons whom, in the Gospels, Jesus calls “the little ones”. In effect, “journeying together towards shrines, and participating in other demonstrations of popular piety, bringing along your children and engaging other people, is itself a work of evangelization” (Aparecida Document, 264). When you visit shrines, when you bring your family, your children, you are engaged in a real work of evangelization. This needs to continue. May you also be true evangelizers! May your initiatives be “bridges”, means of bringing others to Christ, so as to journey together with him. And in this spirit may you always be attentive to charity. Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly.

Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Three themes! Do not forget them! Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Let us ask the Lord always to direct our minds and hearts to him, as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to his mercy and love. In this way we will make our way towards the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, towards that extremely beautiful shrine, the heavenly Jerusalem. There, there is no longer any temple: God himself and the lamb are its temple; and the light of the sun and the moon give way to the glory of the Most High. Amen.


Pope Francis   01.05.16    Regina Caeli,  St Peter's Square            John 14: 23-29

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel takes us back to the Upper Room. During the Last Supper, before confronting his passion and death on the cross, Jesus promises the Apostles the gift of the
Holy Spirit, who will have the task of teaching and recalling Jesus’ words to the community of disciples. Jesus says: “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Teach and recall. This is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts.

At the moment in which he is about to return to the Father, Jesus foretells of the coming of the Spirit who will first teach the disciples to understand the Gospel ever more fully, in order to welcome it in their existence and to render it living and operative by their witness. While he is about to entrust to the Apostles — which in fact means “envoys” — the mission of taking the Gospel to all the world, Jesus promises that they will not be alone. The Holy Spirit, the Counselor, will be with them, and will be beside them, moreover, will be within them, to protect and support them. Jesus returns to the Father but continues to accompany and teach his disciples through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The second aspect of the Holy Spirit’s mission consists in helping the Apostles to remember Jesus’ words. The Spirit has the task of reawakening the memory, recalling Jesus’ words. The divine Teacher has already communicated all that he intended to entrust to the Apostles: with Him, the Word made flesh, the revelation is complete. The Spirit will recall Jesus’ teachings in the various concrete circumstances of life, so that they may be put into practice. That is precisely what still happens today in the Church, guided by the light and the power of the Holy Spirit, so that he may bring to everyone the gift of salvation, which is the love and mercy of God. For example, each day when you read — as I have advised you — a passage, a passage of the Gospel, ask the Holy Spirit: “Let me understand and remember these words of Jesus”. Then read the passage, every day.... But first the prayer to the Spirit, who is in our heart: “Let me remember and understand”.

We are not alone: Jesus is close to us, among us, within us! His new presence in history happens through the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom it is possible to instill a living relationship with Him, the Crucified and Risen One. The Spirit, flowing within us through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, acts in our life. He guides us in the way to think, to act, to distinguish between what is good and what is bad; he helps us to practice the charity of Jesus, his giving of himself to others, especially to the most needy. We are not alone! The sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is also the peace that Jesus gives to his disciples: “My peace I give to you” (v. 27). It is different from what mankind hopes for or tries to achieve. The peace of Jesus flows from victory over sin, over selfishness which impedes us from loving one another as brothers and sisters. It is a gift of God and a sign of his presence. Each disciple called today to follow Jesus carrying the cross, receives within him- or herself the peace of the Crucified and Risen One in the certainty of his victory and in expectation of his definitive coming.

May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome with docility the Holy Spirit as interior Teacher and as the living Memory of Christ on the daily journey.
  

 Chapter 15

1-8

 
Pope Francis    03.05.15    Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      John 15: 1-8

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel shows us Jesus during the Last Supper, in the moment He knows His death is close at hand. His ‘hour’ has come. For it is the last time He is with His disciples, and now He wants to impress firmly a fundamental truth in their minds: even when He will no longer be physically present in the midst of them, they will still be able to remain united to Him in a new way, and thus bear much fruit. Everyone can be united to Jesus in a new way. If, on the contrary, one should lose this unity with Him, this union with Him, would become sterile, or rather, harmful to the community. And to express this reality, this new way of being united to Him, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches: Just “as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:4-5). With this image He teaches us how to abide with Him, to be united to Him, even though He is not physically present.

Jesus is the vine, and through Him — like the sap in the tree — the very love of God, the Holy Spirit is passed to the branches. Look: we are the branches, and through this parable, Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to him. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which the source of their life is found. So it is with us
Christians. Grafted by Baptism in Christ, we have freely received the gift of new life from Him; and thanks to the Church we are able to remain in vital communion with Christ. We must remain faithful to Baptism, and grow in intimacy with the Lord through prayer, listening and docility to His Word — read the Gospel —, participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

When one is intimately united to Jesus, he enjoys the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are — as St Paul tells us — “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). These are the gifts that we receive if we remain united in Jesus; and therefore a person who is so united in Him does so much good for neighbour and society, is a Christian person. In fact, one is recognized as a true Christian by this attitude, as a tree is recognized by its fruit. The fruits of this profound union with Christ are wonderful: our whole person is transformed by the grace of the Spirit: soul, understanding, will, affections, and even body, because we are united body and soul. We receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes our own: we are able to think like Him, to act like Him, to see the world and the things in it with the eyes of Jesus. And so we are able to love our brothers, beginning with the poorest and those who suffer the most, as He did and love them with His heart, and so bear fruits of goodness, of charity, and of peace in the world.

Each one of us is a branch of the one vine; and all of us together are called to bear the fruits of this common membership in Christ and in the Church. Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that we might be able to be living branches in the Church and witness to our faith in a consistent manner — consistency of one’s own life and thought, of life and faith — knowing that all of us, according to our particular vocations, participate in the one saving mission of Christ.
  

 Chapter 15

9 - 17

 

Pope Francis     14.05.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       John 15: 9-17

Jesus says something remarkable to us: ‘Greater
love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. Love always takes this path: to give one’s life. To live life as a gift, a gift to be given — not a treasure to be stored away. And Jesus lived it in this manner, as a gift. And if we lives life as a gift, we does what Jesus wanted: ‘I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit’”. So, we must not burn out life with selfishness.

Judas, whose attitude was contrary to the person who loves, for “he never understood — poor thing — what a gift is”. Judas was one of those people who does not act in altruism and who lives in his own world. On the contrary, the latter was the attitude of “Mary Magdalene, when she washed Jesus’ feet with a nard — very costly. It is a “religious” moment, said the Bishop of Rome, “a moment of thanksgiving, a moment of love”.

  

 Chapter 15

18-21

 
Pope Francis   04.05.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta         John 15: 18-21

So many Christian communities, are persecuted throughout the world. In this time more than in the early times, no? Today, now, this day, this hour. Why? But why does the spirit of the world hate?. Persecution usually comes after a long road. Think, how the prince of the world tried to trick Jesus in the desert, tempting especially his vanity. Jesus never answered this prince with his own words but with the word of God. You cannot dialogue with the prince of the world. Dialogue is necessary between us, necessary for peace. Dialogue is a habit, it is precisely and attitude that we must have among us, to hear one another, to understand one another. It is must always be maintained. Dialogue is born of charity, of love. But with that prince though, you cannot dialogue; you can only answer him with the Word of God who who defends us. The prince of the world, hates us. And what he did with Jesus, he will do with us. With a little word here, a trifle there, he will lead us down a path of injustice. It begins with the little things, “softening us” to the point that “we fall into the trap. Jesus tell us 'I send you like lambs in the midst of wolves'. Be prudent, but simple.”

Jesus is meek and humble of heart. And today, this makes one thing of that hate that the prince of the world has against us, against the followers of Jesus. And let us ponder the weapons that we have to defend ourselves: let us remain lambs forever, because then we will have a shepherd to defend us.

 Chapter 16

5-11

 
Pope Francis         08.05.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta          John 16: 5-11
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/devil/08.5.18.jpg

John’s Gospel 16: 11 “the ruler of this world has been condemned." Even though the devil is defeated and dying he has a great power and capacity to seduce. He promises many things, bringing us beautifully packed gifts, without revealing their contents.

The devil is like a dying crocodile, who hunters advise not to approach because it can still strike you dead with its tail. Hence the devil is very dangerous, his proposals are all lies and we foolishly believe him.

The devil is the father of lies. He speaks well, he can sing in order to deceive and he is a loser who moves about like a winner. His light dazzles like the fireworks but does not last. Instead the light of the Lord is "gentle and permanent".

The devil knows how to seduce us in our vanity and curiosity and we buy everything, falling into temptation. Knowing that a thought, a desire or move is dangerous and we still go there, it is like approaching the devil who is like a chained angry dog that can still bite.

Unlike Eve who thought herself a “great theologian” and fell, we must never dialogue with the devil because he wins, he is more intelligent than us. On the contrary, Jesus in the desert responds to the devil with the Word of God, hunts down demons, sometimes asking his name but doesn't dialogue.

Jesus advised; watch, do penance and fast. We too must do so but never enter into dialogue with the devil. And in moments of temptation we must approach the mother, like frightened children do. According to the Russian mystics, in times of spiritual upheavals, take refuge under the mantle of the great Mother of God.
 
 

Chapter 16
12-15


 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/our-lady/26.05.13.jpg

In his greeting the Parish Priest reminded me of something beautiful about Our Lady. Our Lady, as soon as she had heard the news that she was to be the Mother of Jesus and the announcement that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting a child — the Gospel says — she went to her in haste, she did not wait. She did not say: “But now I am with child I must take care of my health. My cousin is bound to have friends who can care for her”. Something stirred her and she “went with haste” to Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39). It is beautiful to think this of Our Lady, of our Mother, that she hastens, because she intends to help. She goes to help, she doesn't go to boast and tell her cousin: “listen, I’m in charge now, because I am the Mother of God!”. No, she did not do that. She went to help! And Our Lady is always like this. She is our Mother who always hurries to us whenever we are in need.

It would be beautiful to add to the Litany of Our Lady something like this: “O Lady who goes in haste, pray for us!”. It is lovely, isn’t? For she always goes in haste, she does not forget her children. And when her children are in difficulty, when they need something and call on her, she hurries to them. This gives us a security, the security of always having our Mother next to us, beside us. We move forward, we journey more easily in life when our mother is near. Let us think of this grace of Our Lady, this grace that she gives us: of being close to us, but without making us wait for her. Always! She — lets us trust in this — she lives to help us. Our Lady who always hastens, for our sake.

Our Lady also helps us to understand God and Jesus well, to understand Jesus’ life well and God’s life, and to understand properly what the Lord is, what the Lord is like and, God is. I ask you children: “Who knows who God is?”. Raise your hand. Tell me? There! Creator of the earth. And how many Gods are there? One? But I have been told that there are three: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! How can this be explained? Is there one or are there three? One? One? And how is it possible to explain that one is the Father, another the Son and the other the Holy Spirit? Louder, Louder! That girl is right. They are three in one, three Persons in one.

And what does the Father do? The Father is the beginning, the Father who created all things, who created us. What does the Son do? What does Jesus do? Who can tell me what Jesus does? Does he love us? And then? He brings the word of God! Jesus comes to teach us the word of God. This is excellent! And what then? What did Jesus do on earth? He saved us! And Jesus came to give his life for us. The Father creates the world; Jesus saves us.

And what does the Holy Spirit do? He loves us! He gives you love! All the children together: the Father creates all, he creates the world; Jesus saves us; and the Holy Spirit? He loves us! And this is Christian life: talking to the Father, talking to the Son and talking to the Holy Spirit. Jesus has saved us, but he also walks beside us in life. Is this true? And how does he walk? What does he do when he walks beside us in life? This is hard. Anyone who knows this wins the Derby! What does Jesus do when he walks with us? Louder! First: he helps us. He leads us! Very good. He walks with us, he helps us, he leads us and he teaches us to journey on.

And Jesus also gives us the strength to work. Doesn’t he? He sustains us! Good! In difficulty, doesn’t he? And also in our school tasks! He supports us, he helps us, he leads us, he sustains us. That’s it! Jesus always goes with us. Good. But listen, Jesus gives us strength. How does Jesus give us strength? You know this, you know that he gives us strength! Louder, I can’t hear you! In Communion he gives us strength, he really helps us with strength. He comes to us. But when you say, “he gives us Communion”, does a piece of bread make you so strong? Isn’t it bread? Is it bread? This is bread, but is what is on the altar bread? Or isn’t it bread? It seems to be bread. It is not really bread. What is it? It is the Body of Jesus. Jesus comes into our heart.

So let us all think about this: the Father has given us life; Jesus has given us salvation, he accompanies us, he leads us, he supports us, he teaches us; and the Holy Spirit? What does he give us? He loves us! He gives us love. Let us think of God in this way and ask Our Lady, Our Lady our Mother, who always hurries to our aid, to teach us to understand properly what God is like: what the Father is like, what the Son is like, and what the Holy Spirit is like. So be it.



Chapter 16

23-28


 
Pope Francis  11.05.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta         John  16: 23-28  

Jesus’ wounds are still present on this earth. If we are to recognize them we must come out of ourselves and reach out to our needy brethren, to the sick, the ignorant, the poor and the exploited.

“It means coming out of ourselves”, made possible by
prayer, “to the Father in the name of Jesus”. Instead the prayer that “bores us” is “always within us, like a thought that comes and goes, but true prayer is... an exodus from ourselves towards the Father, made “with the intercession of Jesus”.

But how can we recognize Jesus’ wounds? How can we trust in them if we cannot identify them? “Unless we can come out of ourselves towards those wounds, we shall never learn the freedom that brings us to the other way out of ourselves, through the wounds of Jesus”.

The first is “towards the wounds of Jesus, the other is towards the wounds of our brothers and sisters. And this is the path that Jesus wants us to take in prayer”. “If you ask anything of the Father he will give it to you in my name” (Jn16: 23-28). Jesus is disarmingly clear. In these words there is something new, “in my name”.

What does “in my name” mean? It is a new element which Jesus reveals at the Ascension. Jesus, in rising to the Father, left the door open. Not because “he forgot to close it”, but because “he himself is the door”. It is he, our intercessor; so he says: “in my name”. In our prayers let us ask the Father in Jesus’ name: “Look at your Son and do this for me!


 
 

Chapter 17

11-19


 

Pope Francis  15.05.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta   John 17: 11-19

Bishops and priests who succumb to the temptations of money and the vanity of careerism turn into wolves “who devour the flesh of their own sheep”. Anyone who, “takes the flesh of the sheep to eat it, exploit it or trade in it, and who is attached to money, becomes a miser and frequently also a simonist”. Or else he makes use of the wool for his own vanity, in order to boast”. 

Bishops and priests must pray not to give in to these “true and proper temptations”, but they need the prayers of the faithful too. 

(Jn 17:11-19), “keep them”, expresses a relationship of protection and love between God and the pastor and between the pastor and the people. This, is a message for us bishops and for priests and clergymen. They must care for their people and “be ready to sound the alarm when wolves are approaching”. Bishops and priests are not for themselves but for the people. “Do you always think of bishops and priests? We need your prayers.... We too are men and sinners... and are also tempted. What are the temptations of the bishop and the priest?” According to St Augustine these temptations are avarice and vanity. “When a priest takes the road of vanity he enters into the spirit of careerism and does great damage to the Church.... He boasts, he likes to be seen as high and mighty. And the people don’t like it! You see what our difficulties and our temptations are; so you should pray for us that we be humble, gentle, and at the service of the people.


 
Chapter 17
20-26

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/faith/12.05.13.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Chapter 18

33b-37

 
Pope Francis      25.11.18   Solemnity of Christ the King         John 18:33b-37 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-11/pope-francis-angelus-christ-the-king-love.html

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, which we celebrate today, is set at the conclusion of the liturgical year and recalls that the life of creation does not advance at random, but proceeds toward a final destination: the definitive manifestation of Christ, Lord of history and of all creation. The conclusion of history will be his eternal kingdom.

Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Jn 18:33-37) speaks to us about this kingdom, the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of Jesus, recounting the humiliating situation that Jesus is in after being arrested in Gethsemane: bound, insulted, accused and led before the authorities of Jerusalem. And then, he is presented to the Roman prosecutor, as one who seeks to undermine political power, to become the king of the Jews.

So Pilate conducts his inquest and, in a dramatic interrogation, twice asks Jesus if He is a king (cf. vv. 33, 37).

And Jesus initially responds that his kingship “is not of this world” (v. 36). Then he states: “You say that I am a king” (v. 37).

It is evident from his entire life that Jesus does not have political ambitions. Let us recall that after the multiplication of the loaves, the people, excited by the miracle, would have sought to proclaim him king, to overturn the Roman power and re-establish the kingdom of Israel. But for Jesus the kingdom is something else, and it is certainly not achieved by revolt, violence and the force of arms. This is why he withdrew alone to pray on the mount (cf. Jn 6:5-15). Now, in responding, He makes Pilate take note that His disciples did not fight to defend Him. He says: “if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews” (Jn 18:36).

Jesus wants to make it understood that above and beyond political power there is another even greater one, which is not obtained by human means.

He has come to earth to exercise this power, which is love, by bearing witness to the truth (cf. v. 37), the divine truth which ultimately is the essential message of the Gospel: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8); and he wishes to establish in the world his kingdom of love, justice and peace. And this is the kingdom of which Jesus is king, and which extends until the end of times.

History teaches us that kingdoms founded on the force of arms and on the abuse of power are fragile and sooner or later collapse. But the Kingdom of God is founded on his love and is rooted in hearts — the Kingdom of God is rooted in hearts —, conferring peace, freedom and fullness of life upon those who embrace it. We all want peace; we all want freedom and we want fulfilment. And how do you do this? Allow the love of God, the Kingdom of God, the love of Jesus, to take root in your heart and you will have peace, you will have freedom and you will have fulfilment.

Today Jesus asks us to allow him to become our king. A king who, with his word, his example and his life immolated on the cross saved us from death, and — this king — indicates the path to those who are lost, gives new light to our existence marred by doubt, by fear and by everyday trials. But we must not forget that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. He will give new meaning to our life — at times even put to difficult tests through our mistakes and our sins — merely on the condition that we not follow the logics of the world and of its ‘kings’.

May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome Jesus as the king of our life and to spread his kingdom, by bearing witness to the truth which is love.

 
 

Chapter 19
25-27


 

1. I have come to share with you the joys and hopes, the struggles and responsibilities, the ideals and aspirations of your island, and to strengthen you in the faith. Here in Cagliari, as in all Sardinia, there is no

lack of difficulties — there are so many — of problems and concerns. I am thinking especially of the lack of work and of job insecurity, and therefore of uncertainty about the future. Your beautiful region of Sardinia has long suffered from many situations of poverty, which have been worsened by its condition as an island. The faithful collaboration of everyone, along with the responsible commitment of institutions — including the Church — is necessary in order to guarantee that fundamental rights are accorded to persons and to families, and in order to foster a more stable and fraternal society. The right to work, the right to bring home bread, bread earned through work must be guaranteed! I am close to you! I am close to you, I remember you in prayer and I encourage you to persevere in bearing witness to the human and Christian values that are so deeply rooted in the faith and history of this land and of its people. May you always keep the light of hope burning!

2. I have come among you to place myself, together with you, at the feet of Our Lady, who gives us her Son. I am well aware that Mary, our Mother, is very much in your hearts, as this Shrine testifies, to which many generations of Sardinians have climbed — and will continue to climb! — in order to invoke the protection of Our Lady of Bonaria, Principle Patroness of the Island. Here you bring the joys and sufferings of this land, of your families, and even of those of its children who live far away, who have left with great pain and longing, in order to find work and a future for themselves and for those who are dear to them. Today, we who gather here want thank Mary, because she is always near to us. We want to renew our trust and our love for her.

The first Reading we heard shows us Mary in prayer, in the Upper Room, together with the Apostles. Mary prays, she prays together with the community of the disciples, and she teaches us to have complete trust in God and in his mercy. This is the power of prayer! Let us never tire of knocking at God's door. Everyday through Mary let us carry our entire life to God's heart! Knock at the door of God's heart!

In the Gospel, however, we take in Jesus’ last gaze upon his Mother (cf. Jn 19:25-27). From the Cross, Jesus looks at his Mother and entrusts her to the Apostle John, saying: This is your son. We are all present in John, even us, and Jesus’ look of love entrusts us to the maternal care of the Mother. Mary would have remembered another look of love, when she was a girl: the gaze of God the Father, who looked upon her humility, her littleness. Mary teaches us that God does not abandon us; he can do great things even with our weaknesses. Let us trust in him! Let us knock at the door of his heart!

3. The third thought: today I have come among you; or rather, we have come together, to encounter the gaze of Mary, since there, as it were, is reflected the gaze of the Father, who made her the Mother of God, and the gaze of the Son on the Cross, who made her our Mother. It is with that gaze that Mary watches us today. We need her tender gaze, her maternal gaze, which knows us better than anyone else, her gaze full of compassion and care. Mary, today we want to tell you: Mother grant us your gaze! Your gaze leads us to God, your gaze is a gift of the good Father who waits for us at every turn of our path, it is a gift of Jesus Christ on the Cross, who takes upon himself our sufferings, our struggles, our sin. And in order to meet this Father who is full of love, today we say to her: Mother, give us your gaze! Let’s say it all together: “Mother, grant us your gaze!”. “Mother, grant us your gaze!”.

Along our path, which is often difficult, we are not alone. We are so many, we are a people, and the gaze of Our Lady helps us to look at one another as brothers and sisters. Let us look upon one another in a more fraternal way! Mary teaches us to have that gaze which strives to welcome, to accompany and to protect. Let us learn to look at one another beneath Mary's maternal gaze! There are people whom we instinctively consider less and who instead are in greater need: the most abandoned, the sick, those who have nothing to live on, those who do not know Jesus, youth who find themselves in difficulty, young people who cannot find work. Let us not be afraid to go out and to look upon our brothers and sisters with Our Lady's gaze. She invites us to be true brothers and sisters. And let us never allow something or someone to come between us and Our Lady’s gaze. Mother, grant us your gaze! May no one hide from it! May our childlike heart know how to defend itself from the many “windbags” who make false promises? from those who have a gaze greedy for an easy life and full of promises that cannot be fulfilled. May they not rob us of Mary’s gaze, which is full of tenderness, which gives us strength and builds solidarity among us. Let us say together: Mother, grant us your gaze! Mother, grant us your gaze! Mother, grant us your gaze!



 

 Chapter 20

11-18

 

The grace of tears is that special grace which Pope Francis invites us to ask for. Because “they are tears themselves which prepare us to see Jesus”, the Pope explained on Tuesday morning, 2 April, at a Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. After saying various Masses with Vatican employees, this time he celebrated the Eucharist with the Gendarmeria and the Firemen of Vatican City, led by Commandant Domenico Giani.

Commenting on the Gospel passage which John recounts when Mary Magdalen says: “I have seen the Lord”, after washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair (cf. Jn 20:11-18). Having recalled that Jesus forgave Mary Magdalen’s many sins because “she loved so much”, Francis then spoke again about the witness borne by this woman who was “despised by those who considered themselves to be righteous”, at the moment when she had to face “the failure of all her hopes”. Her love, he said, “is no longer and she weeps. This is the moment of darkness”.

It is the Lord who gives the grace to all of us to be able to say “I have seen the Lord”. “Why did he appear? I do not know, but I have seen him in my heart. And so I have seen him alive in this way”. This is the witness. “I have seen the Lord”, how beautiful! And may all of us be able to give this testimony.
  
 
Chapter 20

19-31

22-23
 

1. Today we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as "Divine Mercy Sunday". What a beautiful truth of faith this is for our lives: the mercy of God! God’s love for us is so great, so deep; it is an unfailing love, one which always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up and leads us on.

2. In today’s Gospel, the Apostle Thomas personally experiences this mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the face of Jesus, the risen Jesus. Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: "We have seen the Lord". It isn’t enough for him that Jesus had foretold it, promised it: "On the third day I will rise". He wants to see, he wants to put his hand in the place of the nails and in Jesus’ side. And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief; he gives him a week’s time, he does not close the door, he waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. "My Lord and my God!": with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by divine mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in his open side, and he discovers trust: he is a new man, no longer an unbeliever, but a believer.

Let us also remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: "Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me". Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!

Let us think too of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: their sad faces, their barren journey, their despair. But Jesus does not abandon them: he walks beside them, and not only that! Patiently he explains the Scriptures which spoke of him, and he stays to share a meal with them. This is God’s way of doing things: he is not impatient like us, who often want everything all at once, even in our dealings with other people. God is patient with us because he loves us, and those who love are able to understand, to hope, to inspire confidence; they do not give up, they do not burn bridges, they are able to forgive. Let us remember this in our lives as Christians: God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us.

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father; it impresses me because it always gives me great hope. Think of that younger son who was in the Father’s house, who was loved; and yet he wants his part of the inheritance; he goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the Father, yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the Father’s house and he goes back. And the Father? Had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar, he was waiting for him every hour of every day, the son was always in his father’s heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: he has returned! And that is the joy of the Father. In that embrace for his son is all this joy: he has returned! God is always waiting for us, he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence, hope – always! A great German theologian, Romano Guardini, said that God responds to our weakness by his patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope (cf. Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg, 1949, p. 28). It is like a dialogue between our weakness and the patience of God, it is a dialogue that, if we do it, will grant us hope.

3. I would like to emphasize one other thing: God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands and his feet, and in his side. We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus, we can actually touch him. This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith. Saint Bernard, in a fine homily, says: "Through the wounds of Jesus I can suck honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock (cf. Deut 32:13), I can taste and see the goodness of the Lord" (On the Song of Songs, 61:4). It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. Thomas understood this. Saint Bernard goes on to ask: But what can I count on? My own merits? No, "My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits" (ibid., 5). This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. Saint Bernard even states: "So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? ‘Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20)" (ibid.). Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said: "Father, I have many sins"; and I have always pleaded: "Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything". We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

Adam, after his sin, experiences shame, he feels naked, he senses the weight of what he has done; and yet God does not abandon him: if that moment of sin marks the beginning of his exile from God, there is already a promise of return, a possibility of return. God immediately asks: "Adam, where are you?" He seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness, he took upon himself the shame of Adam, the nakedness of his sin, in order to wash away our sin: by his wounds we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: "What shall I boast of, if not my weakness, my poverty? Precisely in feeling my sinfulness, in looking at my sins, I can see and encounter God’s mercy, his love, and go to him to receive forgiveness.

In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.


Pope Francis 20.11.13 General Audience the ministry of mercy John 20: 22,23

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Last Wednesday I spoke about the remission of
sins , referred to in a special way at Baptism. Today let us continue on the theme of the remission of sins, but in reference to the “ power of the keys ”, as it is called, which is a biblical symbol of the mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles. 
First of all, we must remember that the principal agent in the
forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit . In his first appearance to the Apostles, in the Upper Room, the Risen Jesus made the gesture of breathing on them saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22,23). Jesus, transfigured in his body, is already the new man who offers the Paschal gifts, the fruit of his death and resurrection. What are these gifts? Peace, joy, the forgiveness of sins, mission, but above all he gives the Spirit who is the source of all these. The breath of Jesus, accompanied by the words with which he communicates the Spirit, signifies the transmission of life, the new life reborn from forgiveness. 
But before making this gesture of breathing and transmitting the Holy Spirit, Jesus reveals the wounds in his hands and side: these wounds represent the price of our salvation. The Holy Spirit brings us the God’s pardon “by passing through” Jesus’ wounds. These wounds he wished to keep; even now in Heaven he is showing the Father the wounds by which he redeemed us. By the power of these wounds, our sins are pardoned: thus, Jesus gave his life for our peace, for our joy, for the gift of grace in our souls, for the forgiveness of our sins. It is very very beautiful to look at Jesus in this way! 
And we come to the second element: Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins. It is a little difficult to understand how a man can forgive sins, but Jesus gives this power. The Church is the depository of the power of the keys , of opening or closing to forgiveness. God forgives every man in his sovereign mercy, but he himself willed that those who belong to Christ and to the Church receive forgiveness by means of the ministers of the community. Through the apostolic ministry the mercy of God reaches me, my faults are forgiven and joy is bestowed on me. In this way Jesus calls us to live out reconciliation in the ecclesial, the community, dimension as well. And this is very beautiful. The Church, who is holy and at the same time in need of penitence, accompanies us on the journey of conversion throughout our life. The Church is not mistress of the power of the keys, but a servant of the ministry of mercy and rejoices every time she can offer this divine gift. 
Perhaps many do not understand the ecclesial dimension of forgiveness, because individualism, subjectivism, always dominates, and even we Christians are affected by this. Certainly, God forgives every penitent sinner, personally, but the Christian is tied to Christ, and Christ is united to the Church. For us Christians there is a further gift, there is also a further duty: to pass humbly through the ecclesial community. We have to appreciate it; it is a gift, a cure, a protection as well as the assurance that God has forgiven me. I go to my brother priest and I say: “Father, I did this...”. And he responds: “But I forgive you; God forgives you”. At that moment, I am sure that God has forgiven me! And this is beautiful, this is having the surety that God forgives us always, he never tires of forgiving us. And we must never tire of going to ask for forgiveness. You may feel ashamed to tell your sins, but as our mothers and our grandmothers used to say, it is better to be red once than yellow a thousand times. We blush once but then our sins are forgiven and we go forward. 
Lastly, a final point: the priest is the instrument for the forgiveness of sins . God’s forgiveness is given to us in the Church, it is transmitted to us by means of the ministry our brother, the priest; and he too is a man, who, like us in need of mercy, truly becomes the instrument of mercy, bestowing on us the boundless love of God the Father. Priests and bishops too have to go to
confession: we are all sinners. Even the Pope confesses every 15 days, because the Pope is also a sinner. And the confessor hears what I tell him, he counsels me and forgives me, because we are all in need of this forgiveness. Sometimes you hear someone claiming to confess directly to God... Yes, as I said before, God is always listening, but in the Sacrament of Reconciliation he sends a brother to bestow his pardon, the certainty of forgiveness, in the name of the Church. 
The service that the priest assumes a ministry, on behalf of God, to forgive sins is very delicate and requires that his heart be at peace, that the priest have peace in his heart; that he not mistreat the faithful, but that he be gentle, benevolent and merciful; that he know how to plant hope in hearts and, above all, that he be aware that the brother or sister who approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation seeking forgiveness does so just as many people approached Jesus to be healed. The priest who is not of this disposition of mind had better not administer this sacrament until he has addressed it. The penitent faithful have the right, all faithful have the right, to find in priests servants of the forgiveness of God. 
Dear brothers, as members of the Church are we conscious of the beauty of this gift that God himself offers us? Do we feel the joy of this cure, of this motherly attention that the Church has for us? Do we know how to appreciate it with simplicity and diligence? Let us not forget that God never tires of forgiving us; through the ministry of priests he holds us close in a new embrace and regenerates us and allows us to rise again and resume the journey. For this is our life: to rise again continuously and to resume our journey.


Pope Francis   03.04.16 Divine Mercy Sunday

“Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book” (Jn 20:30). The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, to be read and reread, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of the Father’s mercy. Not everything, however, was written down; the Gospel of mercy remains an open book, in which the signs of Christ’s disciples – concrete acts of love and the best witness to mercy – continue to be written. We are all called to become living writers of the Gospel, heralds of the Good News to all men and women of today. We do this by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which are the hallmarks of the Christian life. By means of these simple yet powerful gestures, even when unseen, we can accompany the needy, bringing God’s tenderness and consolation. Thus continues the great work of Jesus on Easter day, when he poured into the hearts of his fearful disciples the Father’s mercy, bringing them the Holy Spirit who forgives sins and bestows joy.

At the same time, the story we have just heard presents an evident contrast: there is the fear of the disciples, who gathered behind closed doors; and then there is the mission of Jesus, who sends them into the world to proclaim the message of forgiveness. This contrast may also be present in us, experienced as an interior struggle between a closed heart and the call of love to open doors closed by sin. It is a call that frees us to go out of ourselves. Christ, who for love entered through doors barred by sin, death and the powers of hell, wants to enter into each one of us to break open the locked doors of our hearts. Jesus, who by his resurrection has overcome the fear and dread which imprison us, wishes to throw open our closed doors and send us out. The path that the Risen Master shows us is a one way street, it goes in only one direction: this means that we must move beyond ourselves to witness to the healing power of love that has conquered us. We see before us a humanity that is often wounded and fearful, a humanity that bears the scars of pain and uncertainty. Before the anguished cry for mercy and peace, we hear Jesus’ inspiring invitation: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21).

In God’s mercy, all of our infirmities find healing. His mercy, in fact, does not keep a distance: it seeks to encounter all forms of poverty and to free this world of so many types of slavery. Mercy desires to reach the wounds of all, to heal them. Being apostles of mercy means touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters. Curing these wounds, we profess Jesus, we make him present and alive; we allow others, who touch his mercy with their own hands, to recognize him as “Lord and God” (Jn 20:28), as did the Apostle Thomas. This is the mission that he entrusts to us. So many people ask to be listened to and to be understood. The Gospel of mercy, to be proclaimed and written in our daily lives, seeks people with patient and open hearts, “good Samaritans” who understand compassion and silence before the mystery of each brother and sister. The Gospel of mercy requires generous and joyful servants, people who love freely without expecting anything in return.

“Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21) is the greeting of Jesus to his disciples; this same peace awaits men and women of our own day. It is not a negotiated peace, it is not the absence of conflict: it is his peace, the peace that comes from the heart of the Risen Lord, the peace that has defeated sin, fear and death. It is a peace that does not divide but unites; it is a peace that does not abandon us but makes us feel listened to and loved; it is a peace that persists even in pain and enables hope to blossom. This peace, as on the day of Easter, is born ever anew by the forgiveness of God which calms our anxious hearts. To be bearers of his peace: this is the mission entrusted to the Church on Easter day. In Christ, we are born to be instruments of reconciliation, to bring the Father’s forgiveness to everyone, to reveal his loving face through concrete gestures of mercy.

In the responsorial Psalm we heard these words: “His love endures forever” (Ps 117/118:2). Truly, God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires. In this forever we find strength in moments of trial and weakness because we are sure that God does not abandon us. He remains with us forever. Let us give thanks for so great a love, which we find impossible to grasp; it is immense! Let us pray for the grace to never grow tired of drawing from the well of the Father’s mercy and bringing it to the world. Let us ask that we too may be merciful, to spread the power of the Gospel everywhere, and to write those pages of the Gospel which John the Apostle did not write.



Pope Francis       28.04.19   Regina Coeli, St Peter's Square, Rome  Divine Mercy Sunday   2nd Sunday of Easter Year C     John 20: 19-31
 
Pope Francis 28.04.19  Regina Coeli

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel (cf. Jn -31 20.19) tells that the Easter Day Jesus appeared to his disciples in the upper room in the evening, carrying three gifts: the
peace, the joy, the Apostolic mission.

The first words He said were: "peace be with you" (v. 21). The risen one brings true peace, because through his sacrifice on the cross he has made reconciliation between God and humanity and has overcame sin and death. This is peace. His disciples had first need of this peace, because
, after the capture and execution of their master, they were plunged into bewilderment and fear. Jesus came alive in their midst and, showed his wounds on his hands – Jesus wanted to keep his wounds – and in showing them his wounds on his hands, in his glorious body, he gives peace as the fruit of his victory. But that evening the apostle Thomas was not present when Jesus came. When he was informed by the other apostles of this extraordinary event, he expressed disbelief and wanted to verify for himself what they had claimed. Eight days later, the day we mark today, the apparition is repeated: Jesus comes forward to dispel the disbelief of Thomas, inviting him to touch his wounds. They are the source of peace, because they are a sign of the immense love of Jesus who defeated the forces hostile to man; sin, evil and death. He invites him to touch the wounds. It is a lesson for us, as if Jesus said to all of us: "If you're not in peace, touch my wounds".

To touch the wounds of Jesus. The wounds of Jesus are the many problems, hardships, persecutions, sicknesses that many people are suffering. You're not in peace? Go, go to visit someone who is the symbol of the wound of Jesus. Touch the wound of Jesus. From those wounds comes divine mercy. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. A Saint said that the body of Jesus crucified is like a lot of mercy, which passes through the wounds, comes to us all. We all need mercy, we know. Let us draw near to Jesus and touch his wounds in our brothers and sisters who suffer. Jesus ' wounds are a treasure: from there comes mercy. Let us be courageous and touch Jesus ' wounds. With these wounds He stands before the Father, as if to say, "Father, this is the price, these wounds are what I paid for my brothers and sisters". With his wounds Jesus intercedes before the Father. Gives mercy to us and we come near to Him, and He intercedes for us. Don't forget the wounds of Jesus.

The second gift that the risen Jesus brings to his disciples is joy. The Evangelist says that "the disciples rejoice when they saw the Lord" (v. 20). And there is also a verse in Luke's version, saying that they could not believe for joy. And for us, when something good happens, something amazing, beautiful. What happens to us. We almost don't believe what is happening and this is the same for the disciples. The disciples couldn't believe for their joy. This is the joy that the Lord brings. If you're sad, if you're don't have peace, see the crucified Jesus, see Jesus risen, see his wounds and take that joy.

And then, in addition to peace and joy, Jesus brings to the disciples the mission. He tells them: "as the Father has sent me,  I also send you" (v. 21). The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of a new dynamism of love, capable of transforming the world with the power of the Holy Spirit.

On this second Sunday of Easter, we are invited to approach Christ with faith, by opening our hearts to peace, joy and mission. But let us not forget the wounds of Jesus, because from there comes peace, joy and the strength for the mission. We entrust this prayer to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven and Earth.


 

 Chapter 20

24-29


Pope Francis  03.07.13   Holy Mass  Santa Marta            John 20: 24-29 

  
We must come out of ourselves, we must take human routes if we are to discover that Jesus’ wounds are still visible today on the bodies of all our brothers and sisters who are hungry, thirsty, naked, humiliated or slaves, in prisons and hospitals. By touching and caressing these wounds we can adore God alive in our midst.

When Jesus made himself visible after the Resurrection. Some rejoiced, others were filled with doubt. Thomas, to whom the Lord showed himself eight days after he had shown himself to the others, was even incredulous. The Lord, knows when and how to do things. He granted Thomas eight days; and he wanted the wounds still to be visible on his body, although they were “clean, very beautiful, filled with light”, because the Apostle had said he would not believe unless he put his finger in them. He was stubborn! But the Lord, wanted a pig-headed man in order to explain something greater. Thomas placed his fingers in the Lord’s wounds. But he did not say: “it’s true, the Lord is risen”. He went further; he said: “My Lord and my God”. By this, we understand what the Lord wanted of Thomas. Starting with his disbelief he led him to profess not only his belief in the Resurrection but above all — and he was the first to do so — his belief in the divinity of the Lord.

In the Church’s history, there have been errors on the journey towards God when some believed the living God of the Christians was to be found “in loftier meditation” or in mortification and austerity, “they chose the road of penance, only penance”. They are respectively the Gnostics and the Pelagians . However, Jesus says: “we saw Thomas on the way”.

How can I find the wounds of Jesus today? I cannot see them as Thomas saw them. I find them in doing
works of mercy, in giving to the body — to the body and to the soul, but I stress the body — of your injured brethren, for they are hungry, thirsty, naked, humiliated, slaves, in prison, in hospital. These are the wounds of Jesus in our day; and Jesus asks us to make an act of faith to him through these wounds.

Mere philanthropic actions do not suffice. “We must touch the wounds of Jesus, caress them. We must heal the wounds of Jesus with tenderness. We must literally kiss the wounds of Jesus”. The life of St Francis, changed when he embraced the leper because “he touched the living God and lived in adoration”. What Jesus asks us to do with our works of mercy, is what Thomas asked: to enter his wounds.
  
 
  

  Chapter 21

1-14

 

Acts of the Apostles (4:1-12). To the question as to whether they had healed the cripple at the door of the Temple, Peter answered that they had done so “by the name of Christ”. In the name of Jesus: “He is the Saviour, this name, Jesus. When someone says Jesus, it is he himself, that is, the One who works miracles. And this name accompanies us in our heart”.

In John's Gospel too, the Apostles seemed to have taken leave of their senses, “because they had caught nothing after fishing all night. When the Lord asked them for something to eat they were replied somewhat curtly 'no'. Yet “when the Lord told them to 'cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some', perhaps they were thinking of the time when the Lord told Peter to start fishing and he had answered precisely: “We toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets'”.

Peter reveals a truth when he says: 'by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth'. Because he answers inspired by the Holy Spirit. In fact we, cannot profess Jesus, we cannot speak of Jesus, we cannot say anything about Jesus without the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit himself “who urges us to profess Jesus or to talk about Jesus or to have trust in Jesus”. And is it Jesus himself who is beside us “on our journey through life, always.

A man, the father of eight, who worked for 30 years in the Archiepiscopal Curia of Buenos Aires. Before going out, before going to do any of the things he had to do; he would always whisper to himself: 'Jesus!'. I once asked him 'But why do you keep saying “Jesus?”'. 'When I say 'Jesus', this humble man answered me, ‘I feel strong’, I feel able to work because I know he is beside me, that he is keeping me. And yet, this man had not studied theology: he had only the grace of Baptism and the power of the Spirit. And his witnessing, did me so much good. The name of Jesus. There is no other name. Perhaps it will to do good to all of us, who live in a “world that offers us such a multitude of 'saviours'”. At times,“whenever there are problems, people do not commend themselves to Jesus, but to others, even turning to self-styled “magicians”, that they may resolve matters; or people “go to consult tarot cards”, to find out and understand what they should do. Yet it is not by resorting to magicians or to tarot that salvation is found: it is “in the name of Jesus. And we should bear witness to this! He is the one Saviour.

Our Lady, always takes us to Jesus. Call upon Our Lady, and she will do what she did at Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you!'. She “always leads us to Jesus. She was the first person to act in the name of Jesus”. Today, which is a day in the week of the Lord's Resurrection, I would like us to think of this: I entrust myself to the name of Jesus; I pray, 'Jesus, Jesus!
 
Chapter 21
1 - 19
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters! 

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/proclamation/14.04.18.jpg

It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

1. In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

2. But let us take a further step: the proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and he prophesies to him: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives. But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness”, as a French author said, that “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong. But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.

3. But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us. Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him. The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’ – they knew it was the Lord” (Jn 21:12). And this is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord”. Worshipping him! The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honour and glory (cf. Rev 5:11-14). I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.

Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he invites us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. To proclaim, to witness, to adore. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us. Amen.


Pope Francis          10.04.16    Regina Cali, St Peter's Square  3rd Sunday of Easter       John: 21: 1-19

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel recounts the third apparition of the Risen Jesus to the disciples, with the account of the miraculous catch on the shore of the lake of Galilee (cf. Jn 21:1-19). The narrative is situated in the context of the everyday life of the disciples, who returned to their land and to their work as fishermen, after the shocking days of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. It was difficult for them to understand what had taken place. Even though everything seemed finished, Jesus “seeks” his disciples once more. It is He who goes to seek them. This time he meets them at the lake, where they have spent the night in their boats catching nothing. The nets appear empty, in a certain sense, like the tally of their experience with Jesus: they met him, they left everything to follow him, full of hope... and now? Yes, they saw he was risen, but then they were thought: “He went away and left us.... It was like a dream...”.

So it is that at sunrise Jesus presents himself on the lakeshore; however they do not recognize him (cf. v. 4). The Lord says to those tired and disappointed fishermen: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (v. 6). The disciples trust in Jesus and the result is an incredibly abundant catch. At this point John turns to Peter and says: “It is the Lord!” (v. 7). Right away Peter throws himself into the water and swims to the shore, toward Jesus. In that exclamation: “It is the Lord!”, there is all the enthusiasm of the Paschal faith, full of joy and wonder, which sharply contrasts with the disappearance, the dejection, the sense of powerlessness that had accumulated in the disciples’ hearts. The presence of the Risen Jesus transforms everything: darkness has become light, futile work has again become fruitful and promising, the sense of weariness and abandonment give way to a new impetus and to the certainty that He is with us.

From that time, these same sentiments enliven the Church, the Community of the Risen One. All of us are the community of the Risen One! At first glance it might sometimes seem that the darkness of evil and the toil of daily living have got the upper hand, the Church knows with certainty that the now everlasting light of Easter shines upon those who follow the Lord Jesus. The great message of the Resurrection instils in the hearts of believers profound joy and invincible hope. Christ is truly risen! Today too, the Church continues to make this joyous message resound: joy and hope continue to flow in hearts, in faces, in gestures, in words. We Christians are all called
to communicate this message of resurrection to those we meet, especially to those who suffer, to those who are alone, to those who find themselves in precarious conditions, to the sick, to refugees, to the marginalized. Let us make a ray of the light of the Risen Christ, a sign of his powerful mercy, reach everyone.

May he, the Lord, also renew in us the Paschal faith. May he render us ever more aware of our mission at the service of the Gospel and of our brothers and sisters; may he fill us with his Holy Spirit so that, sustained by the intercession of Mary, with all the Church we may proclaim the greatness of his love and the abundance of his mercy.



Pope Francis   05.05.19     Holy Mass,  Prince Alexander I Square, Sofia, Bulgaria     3rd Sunday of Easter  Year C   John 21: 1-19 
 
Pope Francis 05.05.19  Holy Mass, Sofia, Bulgaria

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Christ is risen! Christos vozkrese!

It is wonderful to see how with these words Christians in your country greet one another in the joy of the Risen Lord during the Easter season.

The entire episode we have just heard, drawn from the final pages of the Gospels, helps us immerse ourselves in this joy that the Lord asks us to spread. It does so by reminding us of three amazing things that are part of our lives as disciples: God calls, God surprises, God loves.

God calls. Everything takes place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus first called Peter. He had called him to leave behind his trade as a fisher in order to become a fisher of men (cf. Lk 5:4-11). Now, after all that had happened to him, after the experience of seeing the Master die and hearing news of his resurrection, Peter goes back to his former life. He tells the others disciples, “I am going fishing”. And they follow suit: “We will go with you” (Jn 21:3). They seem to take a step backwards; Peter takes up the nets he had left behind for Jesus. The weight of suffering, disappointment, and of betrayal had become like a stone blocking the hearts of the disciples. They were still burdened with pain and guilt, and the good news of the resurrection had not taken root in their hearts.

The Lord knows what a strong temptation it is for us to return to the way things were before. In the Bible, Peter’s nets, like the fleshpots of Egypt, are a symbol of a tempting nostalgia for the past, of wanting to take back what we had decided to leave behind. In the face of
failure, hurt, or even the fact that at times things do not go the way we want, there always comes a subtle and dangerous temptation to become disheartened and to give up. This is the tomb psychology that tinges everything with dejection and leads us to indulge in a soothing sense of self-pity that, like a moth, eats away at all our hope. Then the worst thing that can happen to any community begins to appear – the grim pragmatism of a life in which everything appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness (cf.
Evangelii Gaudium, 83).

But it was at the very moment of Peter’s failure that Jesus appears, starts over, patiently comes to him and calls him “Simon” (v. 15) – the name Peter received when he was first called. The Lord does not wait for perfect situations or frames of mind: he creates them. He does not expect to encounter people without problems, disappointments, without sins or limitations. He himself confronted sin and disappointment in order to encourage all men and women to persevere. Brothers and sisters, the Lord never tires of calling us. His is the power of a Love that overturns every expectation and is always ready to start anew. In Jesus, God always offers us another chance. He calls us day by day to deepen our love for him and to be revived by his eternal newness. Every morning, he comes to find us where we are. He summons us “to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death”, and to stop seeking “the living among the dead” (
Homily at the Easter Vigil, 20 April 2019). When we welcome him, we rise higher and are able to embrace a brighter future, not as a possibility but as a reality. When Jesus’s call directs our lives, our hearts grow young.

God
surprises. He is the Lord of surprises. He invites us not only to be surprised, but also to do surprising things. The Lord calls the disciples and, seeing them with empty nets, he tells them to do something odd: to fish by day, something quite out of the ordinary on that lake. He revives their trust by urging them once more to take a risk, not to give up on anyone or anything. He is the Lord of surprises, who breaks down paralyzing barriers by filling us with the courage needed to overcome the suspicion, mistrust and fear that so often lurk behind the mindset that says, “We have always done things this way”. God surprises us whenever he calls and asks us to put out into the sea of history not only with our nets, but with our very selves. To look at our lives and those of others as he does, for “in sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand” (
ibid.).

We can now turn to the third amazing thing: God calls and God surprises, because God loves. Love is his language. That is why he asks Peter, and us, to learn that language. He asks Peter: “Do you love me?” And Peter says yes; after spending so much time with Jesus, he now understands that to love means to stop putting himself at the centre. He now makes Jesus, and not himself, the starting point: “You know everything” (Jn 21:18), he says. Peter recognizes his weakness; he realizes that he cannot make progress on his own. And he takes his stand on the Lord and on the strength of his love, to the very end.

The Lord loves us: this is the source of our strength and we are asked to reaffirm it each day. Being a Christian is a summons to realize that God’s love is greater than all our shortcomings and sins. One of our great disappointments and difficulties today comes not from knowing that God is love, but that our way of proclaiming and bearing witness to him is such that, for many people, this is not his name. God is love, a love that bestows itself, that calls and surprises.

Here we see the miracle of God, who makes of our lives works of art, if only we let ourselves to be led by his love. Many of the witnesses of Easter in this blessed land created magnificent masterpieces, inspired by simple faith and great love. Offering their lives, they became living signs of the Lord, overcoming apathy with courage and offering a Christian response to the concerns that they encountered (cf. Christus Vivit, 174). Today we are called to lift up our eyes and acknowledge what the Lord has done in the past, and to walk with him towards the future, knowing that, whether we succeed or fail, he will always be there to keep telling us to cast our nets.

Here I would like to repeat what I said to young people
in my recent Exhortation. A young Church, young not in terms of age but in the grace of the Spirit, is inviting us to testify to the love of Christ, a love that inspires and directs us to strive for the common good. This love enables us to serve the poor and to become protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism. Brimming with the love of Christ, be living witnesses of the Gospel in every corner of this city (cf. Christus Vivit, 174-175). Do not be afraid of becoming the saints that this land greatly needs. Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, it will take away none of your vitality or joy. On the contrary, you and all the sons and daughters of this land will become what the Father had in mind when he created you (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 32).

Called, surprised and sent for love!



 

Chapter 21

 15 - 17

 


Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/profession-of-faith/23.05.13.jpg

The biblical Readings we have heard make us think. They have made me think deeply. I have conceived of a sort of meditation for us bishops, first for me, a bishop like you, and I share it with you.

It is important — and I am particularly glad — that our first meeting should take place here, on the site that guards not only Peter’s tomb but also the living memory of his witness of faith, his service to the Truth, and his gift of himself to the point of martyrdom for the Gospel and for the Church.

This evening this Altar of the Confession thus becomes for us the Sea of Tiberias, on whose shores we listen once again to the marvellous conversation between Jesus and Peter with the question addressed to the Apostle, but which must also resonate in our own hearts, as Bishops.

“Do you love me?”. “Are you my friend?” (cf. Jn 21, 15ff.).

The question is addressed to a man who, despite his solemn declarations, let himself be gripped by fear and so had denied.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The question is addressed to me and to each one of us, to all of us: if we take care not to respond too hastily and superficially it impels us to look within ourselves, to re-enter ourselves.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The One who scrutinizes hearts (cf. Rom 8:27), makes himself a beggar of love and questions us on the one truly essential issue, a premiss and condition for feeding his sheep, his lambs, his Church. May every ministry be based on this intimacy with the Lord; living from him is the measure of our ecclesial service which is expressed in the readiness to obey, to humble ourselves, as we heard in the Letter to the Philippians, and for the total gift of self (cf. 2:6-11).

Moreover, the consequence of loving the Lord is giving everything — truly everything, even our life — for him. This is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry; it is the litmus test that tells us how deeply we have embraced the gift received in responding to Jesus’ call, and how closely bound we are to the individuals and communities that have been entrusted to our care. We are not the expression of a structure or of an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord; thus to build up the community in brotherly love.

Not that this should be taken for granted: even the greatest love, in fact, when it is not constantly nourished, weakens and fades away. Not for nothing did the Apostle Paul recommend: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own Son's blood” (cf. Acts 20:28).

A lack of vigilance — as we know — makes the Pastor tepid; it makes him absentminded, forgetful and even impatient. It tantalizes him with the prospect of a career, the enticement of money and with compromises with a mundane spirit; it makes him lazy, turning him into an official, a state functionary concerned with himself, with organization and structures, rather than with the true good of the People of God. Then one runs the risk of denying the Lord as did the Apostle Peter, even if he formally presents him and speaks in his name; one obscures the holiness of the hierarchical Mother Church making her less fruitful.

Who are we, Brothers, before God? What are our trials? We have so many; each one of us has his own. What is God saying to us through them? What are we relying on in order to surmount them?

Just as it did Peter, Jesus' insistent and heartfelt question can leave us pained and more aware of the weakness of our freedom, threatened as it is by thousands of interior and exterior forms of conditioning that all too often give rise to bewilderment, frustration, and even disbelief.

These are not of course the sentiments and attitudes that the Lord wants to inspire; rather, the Enemy, the Devil, takes advantage of them to isolate us in bitterness, complaint and despair.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not humiliate or abandon people to remorse. Through him the tenderness of the Father, who consoles and revitalizes, speaks; it is he who brings us from the disintegration of shame — because shame truly breaks us up — to the fabric of trust; he restores courage, re-entrusts responsibility, and sends us out on mission.

Peter, purified in the crucible of forgiveness could say humbly, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). I am sure that we can all say this with heartfelt feeling. And Peter, purified, urges us in his First Letter to tend “the flock of God... not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3).

Yes, being Pastors means believing every day in the grace and strength that come to us from the Lord despite our weakness, and wholly assuming the responsibility for walking before the flock, relieved of the burdens that obstruct healthy apostolic promptness, hesitant leadership, so as to make our voice recognizable both to those who have embraced the faith and to those who “are not [yet] of this fold” (Jn 10:16). We are called to make our own the dream of God, whose house knows no exclusion of people or peoples, as Isaiah prophetically foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 2:2-5).

For this reason being Pastors also means being prepared to walk among and behind the flock; being capable of listening to the silent tale of those who are suffering and of sustaining the steps of those who fear they may not make it; attentive to raising, to reassuring and to instilling hope. Our faith emerges strengthened from sharing with the lowly. Let us therefore set aside every form of arrogance, to bend down to all whom the Lord has entrusted to our care. Among them let us keep a special, very special, place for our priests. Especially for them may our heart, our hand and our door stay open in every circumstance. They are the first faithful that we bishops have: our priests. Let us love them! Let us love them with all our heart! They are our sons and our brothers!

Dear brothers, the profession of faith we are now renewing together is not a formal act. Rather, it means renewing our response to the “Follow me” with which John’s Gospel ends (21:19). It leads to living our life in accordance with God’s plan, committing our whole self to the Lord Jesus. The discernment that knows and takes on the thoughts, expectations and needs of the people of our time stems from this.

In this spirit, I warmly thank each one of you for your service, for your love for the Church.

And the Mother is here! I place you, and myself, under the mantle of Mary, Our Lady.

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,
Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.
Purify the eyes of Pastors with the eye-wash of memory:
Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,
Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.
Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole; let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.

Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,
Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong.
Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the Truth of love.
Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom. Amen.

 Chapter 21

15 - 19

 
Pope Francis     17.05.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta        John  21: 15 - 19

What developed between Peter and Jesus after that first “follow me” was a dialogue of love. From the moment that Jesus called Simon by a new name: “Cepha, Peter”, it was the start of a mission, even if Peter understood nothing, the mission was there. And when Peter later remembers how he denied evening knowing Jesus, “he feels ashamed. Peter’s shame.... Peter is a great man. A sinner. But the Lord shows him, him and us all, we are all sinners”. “The problem is not sinning”, but “not repenting of the sin, not feeling ashamed of what we have done. That is the problem”.

However Peter had a great heart and this “brought him to a new encounter with Jesus, in the joy of forgiveness."

 Chapter 21

20-25


 

Gossip, is destructive to the Church. Jesus often spoke of this to Peter and to all the others. He asked Peter several times “if he loved him, if he loved him more than the others. Peter said ‘yes’, and the Lord gave him his role: ‘feed my sheep’”. This was “a real, loving conversation”. However, at a certain point, Peter was tempted to interfere in the life of someone else (cf. Jn 21:20-25).

Peter, was a human being and so could not but likewise be tempted to interfere in the life of others, “as the vulgar expression says, to ‘stick his nose into other people’s affairs’”. This also happens in our lives as Christians. How often, are we tempted to do this? Dialogue “with Jesus has been diverted to a different track”. This interference in others’ lives comes in many different forms. The
constant comparison of oneself to others, and gossip, which is literally, “flaying each other”. Three other common forms of negative behaviour, are misinformation, false accusation, and calumny.