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Chapter 1-10




  
 
Chapter 1
29-34
 
Pope Francis     19.01.14  Holy Mass Roman Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Castro Pretorio      Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A      John 1: 29-34

Pope Francis 19.01.14

This passage from the Gospel is beautiful. John was baptizing; and Jesus, who had been baptized prior to this — some days before — was coming towards him and came before John. And John felt the power of the Holy Spirit within him to bear witness to Jesus. Looking at him, and looking at the people around Him, he said: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. And he bore witness to Jesus: this is Jesus, this is the One who has come to save us; this is the One who will give us the power of hope.

Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them. “But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that..., I can’t even carry it with a truck...”. Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault.... He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin...”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints. Never, never! Listen carefully, young people, who are just beginning life now: Jesus never disappoints. Never. This is the testimony of John: Jesus, the good One, the meek One, will end as a lamb, who is slain. Without crying out. He came to save us, to take away sin. Mine, yours and that of the whole world: all of it, all of it.

And now I invite you to do something: let us close our eyes, let us imagine the scene on the banks of the river, John as he is baptizing and Jesus who is approaching. And let us listen to John’s voice: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Let us watch Jesus and in silence, each one of us, say something to Jesus from his heart. In silence. (Pause for silence).

May the Lord Jesus, who is meek, who is good — he is a lamb — who came to take away sin, accompany us on the path of our life. So be it.




Pope Francis   15.01.17   Holy Mass, Roman Parish of Santa Maria A Setteville      Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A     John 1: 29-34

 
Pope Francis 15.01.17 Santa Maria
The Gospel presents us John at the moment in which he bears witness to Jesus. Seeing Jesus come toward him, he says: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me’” (Jn 1:29-30). This is the Messiah. He bears witness. And several disciples, upon hearing this testimony — John’s disciples — follow Jesus: they go after Him and are happy: “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). They felt Jesus’ presence. But why did they encounter Jesus? Because there was a witness; because there was a man who bore witness to Jesus.

This is how it happens in our life. There are many Christians who profess that Jesus is God; there are many priests who profess that Jesus is God, many bishops.... But does everyone bear witness to Jesus? Or is being Christian ... a way of life like another, like being the fan of a team? ‘Yes, I’m a Christian...’. Or having a philosophy: ‘I follow these commandments, I’m a Christian, I must do this...’. Being Christian, first of all, is bearing witness to Jesus. The first thing. This is what the Apostles did: the Apostles bore witness to Jesus, and because of this, Christianity spread throughout the world. Witness and martyrdom: the same thing. One bears witness in small ways, and some reach greatness, giving their life in martyrdom, like the Apostles. But the Apostles did not take a course to become witnesses to Jesus; they did not study, they did not go to university. They felt the Spirit within and followed the inspiration of the Spirit; they were faithful to this. But they were sinners, all! The Twelve were sinners. ‘No, Father, only Judas!’. No, poor man.... We do not know what happened after his death, because there is also God’s mercy at that moment. But all were sinners, every one. Envious, they had jealousy among them: ‘No, I must have the first place, and you the second’; and two of them spoke to their mother so she went to ask Jesus to give the first place to her sons.... They were like this, with all their sins. They were also traitors, because when Jesus was captured, they all fled, full of fear; they hid: they were frightened. And Peter, who knew he was in charge, felt the need to come a little closer to see what was happening; and when the priest’s housekeeper said: ‘You too were...’, he said: ‘No, no, no!’. He denied Jesus; he betrayed Jesus. Peter! The first Pope. He betrayed Jesus. These are witnesses! Yes, because they were witnesses of the salvation that Jesus brings, and everyone converted for this salvation, they let themselves be saved. It is beautiful when, on the riverbank, Jesus performed that miracle [the miraculous catch of fish] and Peter says: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8). Being a witness does not mean being a saint, but being a poor man, a poor woman who says: ‘Yes, I am a sinner, but Jesus is the Lord and I bear witness to him, and I seek to do good every day, to correct my life, to take the right path’.

I would only like to leave you a message. We all understand this, what I have said: sinful witnesses. But, reading the Gospel, I do not find one [certain type of] sin in the Apostles. There were some brutes, who wanted to burn down a village that had not welcomed them.... They had many sins: traitors, cowards.... But I do not find one [in particular]: they were not gossipmongers; they did not speak ill of others, they did not speak badly of one another. In this they were good. They did not ‘rip off others’. I think of our communities: how many times this sin of ‘flaying one another’, of disparaging, of believing oneself superior to another and secretly speaking ill! In the Gospel, they did not do this. They did terrible things; they betrayed the Lord, but did not do this. Even in one parish, in one community who knows where ... this one cheated, this one did that..., but then they confess, they convert.... We are all sinners. But a community where there are gossipmongers is a community that is incapable of bearing witness.

I will say only this: do you want a perfect parish? No gossiping. None. If you have something against another, go and say it to his face, or tell the parish priest; but not among yourselves. This is a sign that the Holy Spirit is in a parish. Other sins, we all have them. There is a collection of sins: one takes this, one takes that, but we are all sinners. But like a woodworm, what destroys a community is gossip, behind others’ backs.

I would like this community, on this day of my visit, to make the resolution not to gossip. When you have the desire to gossip, bite your tongue: it will swell, but it will do you so much good, because in the Gospel these witnesses to Jesus — sinners: they even betrayed the Lord! — they never gossiped about one another. This is beautiful. A parish where there is no gossip is a perfect parish; it is a parish of sinners, yes, but of witnesses. This is the witness that the first Christians bore: ‘As they love each other, as they love each other!’. Love each other at least in this. May the Lord give you this gift, this grace: never, never speak ill of one another. Thank you.



Pope Francis  19.01.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square   Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A        John 1: 29-34

 
Pope Francis Angelus 19.01.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This second Sunday of Ordinary Time is in continuity with the Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. The Gospel passage (cf. Jn 1: 29-34) again speaks to us of the manifestation of Jesus. Indeed, after being baptized in the River Jordan, He was consecrated by the Holy Spirit Who came upon Him, and was proclaimed Son of God by the voice of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 3: 16-17 et seq.). The Evangelist John, unlike the other three, does not describe the event, but proposes to us the witness of John the Baptist. He was the first witness of Christ. God had called him and prepared him for this.

The Baptist cannot hold back the urgent desire to bear witness to Jesus and declares: “I have seen and have borne witness” (v. 34). John saw something shocking, that is, the beloved Son of God in solidarity with sinners; and the Holy Spirit made him understand this unheard-of novelty, a true reversal. In fact, while in all religions it is man who offers and sacrifices something to God, in the event Jesus is God Who offers His Son for the salvation of humanity. John manifests his astonishment and his consent to this newness brought by Jesus, through a meaningful expression that we repeat each time in the Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29).

The testimony of John the Baptist invites us to start out again and again on our journey of faith: to start afresh from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy that the Father gave for us. Let us be surprised once again by God’s choice to be on our side, to show solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking it on fully.

Let us learn from John the Baptist not to assume that we already know Jesus, that we already know everything about Him (cf. v. 31). This is not so. Let us pause with the Gospel, perhaps even contemplating an icon of Christ, a “Holy face”. Let us contemplate with our eyes and yet more with our hearts; and let us allow ourselves to be instructed by the Holy Spirit, Who tells us inside: It is He! He is the Son of God made lamb, immolated out of love. He alone has brought, He alone has suffered, He alone has atoned for sin, the sin of each one of us, the sin of the world, and also my sins. All of them. He brought them all upon Himself and took them away from us, so that we would finally be free, no longer slaves to evil. Yes, we are still poor sinners, but not slaves, no, not slaves: children, children of God!

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the strength to bear witness to her Son Jesus; to proclaim Him with joy with a life freed from evil and a word full of astonished and grateful faith.

  
 
 Chapter 1
35-42
 


Dear Catechumens,

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/catechumen/23.11.13.jpg

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! 


https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/asylum-seekers/14.01.18.jpg

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 2

13-22

 
Pope Francis   09.11.19  St John's Basilica, Lateran        Ezekiel 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12,       Psalms 46: 2-3, 5-6, 8-9,      1 Corinthians 3: 9c-11, 16-17,      John 2: 13-22
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Pope Francis 09.11.19 St John's Basilica, Lateran

Tonight, in this celebration of dedication, I would like to take three verses from the Word of God and offer them to you, so that you can meditate and pray over them.

The first I feel is addressed to everyone, to the entire diocesan community of Rome. It is the verse of the Psalm: "A river and its streams gladden the city of God" (46:5). The Christians who live in this city are like the river that flows from the temple: they bring a Word of life and hope capable of fertilizing the deserts of hearts, as the stream described in the vision of Ezekiel (cf. 47) that fertilizes the desert of Araba and restores the salty and lifeless waters of the Dead Sea. The important thing is that the stream comes out of the temple and flows to hostile-looking lands. The city can only rejoice when it sees Christians become joyful announcers, determined to share with others the treasures of God's Word and to work for the common good. The land that seemed destined to remain dry forever, reveals an extraordinary potential: it becomes a garden with evergreen trees and leaves and fruits with healing power. Ezekiel explains the reason for so much fertility: "Their waters flow from the sanctuary" (47:12). God is the secret of this new life force!

May the Lord rejoice at seeing us on the move, ready to listen with our hearts to His poor who cry out to Him. May the Mother Church of Rome experience the consolation of seeing once again the obedience and courage of her children, full of enthusiasm for this new season of
evangelization. Meeting others, entering into dialogue with them, listening to them with humility, graciousness and poverty of heart... I invite you to live all this not as something stressful, but with spiritual ease: instead of getting caught up in performance anxieties, it is more important to broaden our perception in order to grasp God's presence and action in the city. It is a contemplation born of love.

To you priests I want to dedicate a verse of the second Reading, of the First Letter to the Corinthians: "No-one can lay a foundation other than the one that is already there, which is Jesus Christ"(3:11). This is your task, the heart of your ministry: to help the community be always at the Lord's feet listening to His Word; to keep it away from all worldliness, from bad compromises; to guard the foundation and blessed roots of the spiritual building; to defend it from rapacious wolves, from those who would like to divert it from the way of the Gospel. Like Paul, you too are "wise architects" (cf. 3:10), wise because you are well aware that any other idea or reality we wanted to place at the base of the Church instead of the Gospel, might perhaps guarantee us more success, perhaps more immediate gratification, but it would inevitably lead to the collapse, the collapse of the whole spiritual building!

Since I have been Bishop of Rome, I have come to know many of you priests more closely: I have admired your faith and love for the Lord, your closeness to the people and generosity in caring for the poor. You know the city's neighbourhoods like no other and keep in your heart the faces, smiles and tears of so many people. You have set aside ideological differences and personal ambition to make room for what God asks of you. The realism of those who have their feet on the ground and know "how things are in this world" has not prevented you from flying high with the Lord and dreaming big. God bless you. May the joy of intimacy with Him be the truest reward for all the good you do on a daily basis.

And finally a verse for you, members of the pastoral teams, who are here to receive a special mandate from the Bishop. I could only choose him from the Gospel(John 2:13-22), where Jesus behaves in a divinely provocative way. In order to shake the dullness of people and induce them to radical changes, sometimes Jesus chooses to take strong action, to break through the situation. With his action Jesus wants to produce a change of pace, a turnaround. Many saints had acted in the same way: some of their actions, incomprehensible by human logic, were the result of insights that came from the Spirit and were intended to provoke their contemporaries and help them understand that "my thoughts are not your thoughts," as God says through the prophet Isaiah (55:8).

In order to understand todays Gospel passage, we need to stress an important detail. The merchants were in the courtyard of the pagans, the place accessible to non-Jews. This very courtyard had been turned into a market. But God wants his temple to be a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56,7). Hence Jesus' decision to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive out the animals. This purification of the sanctuary was necessary for Israel to rediscover its vocation: to be light for all people, a small nation chosen to serve to the salvation that God wants to give to everyone. Jesus knows that this provocation will cost him dearly. And when they ask him, "What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this ?" (v. 18), the Lord responds by saying, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it"( v. 19).

And tonight this is exactly the verse that I want to give to you, pastoral teams. You are entrusted with the task of helping your communities and pastoral workers reach all the inhabitants of the city, finding new ways to meet those who are far from the faith and the Church. But, in fulfilling this service, you carry within yourselves this awareness, this trust: that there is no human heart in which Christ does not want to be and cannot be reborn. In our lives as sinners, we often turn away from the Lord and extinguish the Spirit. We destroy the temple of God that is in each of us. Yet this is never a definitive situation: it takes the Lord three days to rebuild his temple within us!

No one, no matter how wounded by evil, is condemned to be separated from God on this earth forever. In a way that is often mysterious but real, the Lord opens new cracks in our hearts, the desire for truth, goodness and beauty, which make room for evangelization. We may sometimes encounter mistrust and hostility: but we must not allow ourselves to be blocked, rather to hold onto the belief that it takes God three days to raise His Son in someone's heart. It is also the story of some of us: profound conversions resulting from the unpredictable action of grace! I think of the Second Vatican Council: "Christ has died for all and since the ultimate vocation of humanity is in fact one, the divine one; therefore we must believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to everyone the possibility of being associated with the Easter mystery" (Cost. past. Gaudium et spes, 22).

May the Lord let us experience this in all our evangelizing action. May we can grow in faith in the Easter Mystery and be associated with His "zeal" for our house. And may you be blessed on your journey!
  
 
 Chapter 3
1-8
 
Pope Francis  20.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Monday of the Second Week of Easter        Acts 4: 23-31,      John 3:1-8

Pope Francis Santa Marta 20.04.20

Let us pray today for men and women who have a vocation in political life: politics is a high form of charity. For all political parties in different countries, that at this time of the pandemic they seek together the good of the country and not the good of their own party.

This man, Nicodemus, is a leader of the Jews, an authoritative man; he felt the need to go to Jesus. He went at night, because he had to do some balancing, because those who went to talk to Jesus were not looked on well. He was a just Pharisee, because not all Pharisees were bad: no, no; there were also good Pharisees. This was a just Pharisee. He felt restless, because he is a man who had read the prophets and knew that what Jesus did had been announced by the prophets. He felt that restlessness and went to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God": it is a confession, up to a point. "For no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." And he stops. He stops in front of the "therefore." If I say this ... Therefore! ... And Jesus answered. He answered mysteriously, in a way that Nicodemus did not expect. He answered with that symbol of being born: if one is not born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. And Nicodemus feels confused, he doesn't understand and takes Jesus' answer literally: but how can a person be born again if one is an adult? Born from above, born from the Spirit. It's the step forward that Nicodemus has to make and he doesn't know how to do it. Because the Spirit is unpredictable. The definition of the Spirit that Jesus gives here is interesting: "The wind blows where it wants and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes: so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit", that is, free. A person who allows himself to be carried from one side to the other by the Holy Spirit: this is the freedom of the Spirit. And whoever does this is a docile person and here we are speaking about docility to the Spirit.

To be a Christian is not only to carry out the Commandments: they must be done, this is true; but if you stop there, you're not a good Christian. To be a good Christian is to let the Spirit enter into you and take you, take you where he wants. In our Christian life so often we stop like Nicodemus, before the "therefore", we do not know what step to take, we do not know how to do it or we do not have the confidence in God to take this step and let the Spirit enter. To be born again is to let the Spirit enter us and for the Spirit to lead us and not myself, and that is where the freedom is. With this freedom of the Spirit you will never know where you will end up.

The apostles, who were in the Cenacle, when the Spirit came they went out to preach with that courage, that boldness... they didn't know this was going to happen; and they did it, because the Spirit was guiding them. The Christian must never stop only at the fulfilment of the Commandments: it must be done, but go further, towards this new birth that is the birth in the Spirit, which gives you the freedom of the Spirit.

This is what happened to this Christian community in the first Reading, after John and Peter returned from that interrogation they had with the high priests. They went to their brothers in this community and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And the community, when they heard this, all together, they got a little scared. And what did they do? Pray. They did not stop at precautionary measures, "no, now let's do this, let's be a little quieter ...": no. They prayed that the Spirit should tell them what they should do. They raised their voices to God by saying, "Lord!" and prayed. This beautiful prayer in a dark moment, in a time when they had to make decisions and didn't know what to do. They want to be born of the Spirit, they open their hearts to the Spirit: let him tell us ... And they ask, "Lord, Herod and Pontius Pilate made an alliance with the Gentiles and peoples of Israel against your holy servant Jesus," they tell the story and say, "Lord, do something!" "And now, Lord, turn your gaze to their threats", that group of priests, "and allow your servants to proclaim your word with all boldness" – they ask for boldness, courage, not to be afraid – "stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of Jesus." "And when they had finished their prayers, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed the word of God with boldness." A second Pentecost happened here.

Faced with difficulties, in front of a closed door, they did not know how to move forward, they go to the Lord, open their hearts and the Holy Spirit comes and gives them what they need and they go out to preach, courageously, and move forward. This is born of the Spirit, this is not to stop at the "therefore", at the "therefore" of the things I have always done, at the "therefore" that comes after the Commandments, at the "therefore" after religious habits: no! This is being born again. And how does one prepare to be born again? With prayer. Prayer is the thing that opens the door to the Spirit and gives us this freedom, this boldness, this courage of the Holy Spirit. And you'll never know where it's going to take you. But it's the Spirit.

May the Lord help us to always be open to the Spirit, for He will carry us forward in our lives of service to the Lord.
  
 
 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”.




Pope Francis  21.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter     Acts 4: 32-37,    John 3: 7-15

Pope Francis Christian communities 21.04.20

In this time there is so much silence. You can also hear the silence. May this silence, which is a little new in our habits, teach us to listen, make us grow in our ability to listen. Let us pray for it.

"To be born from above" (John 3:7) is to be born with the strength of the Holy Spirit. We cannot take hold of the Holy Spirit for ourselves; we can only allow him transform us. And our docility opens the door to the Holy Spirit: it is he who makes the change, transformation, this rebirth from above. It is Jesus' promise to send the (cf. Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is capable of doing wonders, things that we cannot even think of.

An example is this first Christian community, which is not a fantasy, what they tell us here: it is a model, which can be achieved when there is docility and let the Holy Spirit in and transform us. We can say that this is an "ideal" community. It is true that soon after this problems will begin, but the Lord shows us how far we can go if we are open to the Holy Spirit, if we are docile. In this community there is harmony (cf. Acts 4:32-37). The Holy Spirit is the master of harmony, he is capable of doing it and he has done it here. He must do it in our hearts, he must change so many things about us, to make harmony: because he himself is harmony. The harmony between the Father and the Son and he is also the love of harmony, He. And with harmony he creates things such as this harmonious community. But then, history tells us – the Book of Acts of the Apostles itself – of so many problems in the community. This is a model: the Lord has allowed this model of an almost "heavenly" community to show us where we should go.

But then the divisions began in the community. The Apostle James, in the second chapter of his Letter, says: "May your faith be immune from personal favouritism" (James 2:1): because they were there! "Don't discriminate": the apostles must go out and warn this. And Paul, in the first Letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 11, complains: "I have heard that there are divisions among you" (cf. 1Cor 11:18): internal divisions begin in communities. This "ideal" must be arrived at, but it is not easy: there are many things that divide a community, whether a Christian parish or diocesan community or of priests or religious. So many things come in to divide the community.

Seeing the things that have divided the first Christian communities, I find three: first, money. When the Apostle James says this, not to have personal favouritism, he gives an example because "if in your church, in your assembly someone enters with a golden ring, and they immediately bring him to the front of the community, and the poor person is left on the side" (cf. James 2:2). Money. Paul himself says the same: "The rich bring food and they eat, and the poor standing" (cf. 1Cor 11:20-22), we leave them there as if to say to them: "Take care of yourselves as you can." Money divides, the love of money divides the community, divides the Church.

Many times, in the history of the Church, where there are doctrinal deviations – not always, but often – behind it is money: the money of power, both political power, and cash, but it is money. Money divides the community. For this reason, poverty is the mother of the community, poverty is the wall that guards the community. Money and self-interest divide. Even in families: how many families have ended up divided by an inheritance? How many families? And they never speak anymore ... How many families ... An inheritance ... They divide: money divides.

Another thing that divides a community is vanity, that desire to feel better than others. "I thank you, Lord, because I am not like the others" (cf. Luke 18:11), the prayer of the Pharisee. Vanity, makes me feel this ... And even the vanity to be seen, vanity in habits, in dressing: how many times – not always but how many times – the celebration of a sacrament is an example of vanity, who goes with the best clothes, who does that and the other ... Vanity ... For the biggest party ... That's where vanity comes in. And vanity divides. Because vanity leads you to be like a peacock and where there is a peacock, there is division, always.

A third thing that divides a community is gossip: it is not the first time I have said this, but it is reality. It's reality. That thing the devil puts in us, like a need to talk about others. "But what a good person he is ..." – "Yes, yes, but ...": immediately the "but": that is a stone to disqualify the other person and right away I say something that I have heard and so the other person is diminished a little.

But the Holy Spirit always comes with his strength to save us from this worldliness of money, vanity and gossip, because the Spirit is not of the world: is against the world. He is capable of doing these miracles, these great things.

Let us ask the Lord for this docility to the Spirit so that he may transform us and transform our communities, our parish, diocesan, religious communities: transform them, to always move forward in the harmony that Jesus wants for the Christian community.
  
 
 Chapter 3

13 - 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.






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.





Pope Francis   11.06.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square  Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity     2 Corinthians 13: 11-13,      John 3: 16-18


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Bible readings for this Sunday, feast of the Most Holy Trinity, helps us to enter into the identity of God. The second reading presents the departing words that Saint Paul bids to the community of Corinth: “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13). This — as we say — “blessing” of the Apostle is the fruit of his personal experience with God’s love, that love which the Risen Christ revealed to him, which transformed his life and “impelled” him to take the Gospel to the peoples. Beginning from his experience of grace, Paul could exhort Christians with these words: “... rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another” (v. 11). The Christian community, even with all its human limitations, can become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its kindness, of its beauty. But this — just as Paul himself testifies — necessarily passes through the experience of God’s mercy, of his forgiveness.

It is what happens to the Hebrews in the Exodus journey. When the people break the covenant, God presents himself to Moses in the cloud in order to renew that pact, proclaiming his own name and its meaning. Thus he says: “the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex 34:6). This name implies that God is not distant and closed within himself, but is Life which seeks to be communicated, is openness, is Love which redeems man of his infidelity. God is “merciful”, “gracious” and “rich in charity” because he offers himself to us so as to fill the gap of our limitations and our shortcomings, to forgive our mistakes, to lead us back to the path of justice and truth. This revelation of God is fulfilled in the New Testament thanks to the Word of Christ and to his mission of salvation. Jesus made manifest the face of God, in substance One and in persons Triune; God is all and only Love, in a subsistent relationship that creates, redeems and sanctifies all: Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

Today’s Gospel “sets the stage” for Nicodemus, who, while playing an important role in the religious and civil community of the time, has not ceased seeking God. He did not think: “I have arrived”; he did not cease seeking God; and now he has perceived the echo of His voice in Jesus. In the night-time dialogue with the Nazarene, Nicodemus finally understood that he had already been sought and awaited by God, that he was personally loved by Him. God always seeks us first, awaits us first, loves us first. He is like the flower of the almond tree; thus says the Prophet: “It blooms first” (cf. Jer 1:11-12). In fact Jesus speaks to him in this way: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). What is this eternal life? It is the immeasurable and freely given love of the Father which Jesus gave on the Cross, offering his life for our salvation. And this love with the action of the Holy Spirit has shined a new light on the earth and into every human heart that welcomes him; a light that reveals the dark corners, the hardships that impede us from bearing the good fruits of charity and of mercy. 

May the Virgin Mary help us to enter ever deeper, with our whole being, into the Trinitary Communion, so as to live and witness to the love that gives meaning to our existence.





Pope Francis  22.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter     John 3: 16-21

Pope Francis Talks about Light and Darkness 22.04.20

At a time when so much unity is needed among us, among nations, let us pray today for Europe, for Europe to succeed in having this unity, this fraternal unity that the founding fathers of the European Union dreamed of.

This passage of the Gospel of John, chapter 3, the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, is a true treatise on theology: here is everything. Kerygma, catechesis, theological reflection, the parenesis ... there's everything in this chapter. And every time we read it, we encounter more wealth, more explanations, more things that make us understand the revelation of God. It would be nice to read it many times, to get closer to the mystery of redemption. Today I will only take two points of all this, two points that are in today's passage.

The first is the revelation of God's love. God loves us and loves us – as a saint says – madly: God's love seems crazy. He loves us: "he loved the world so much that he gave his only Son." He gave his Son, sent his Son and sent him to die on the cross. Every time we look at the crucifix, we find this love. The crucifix is precisely the great book of God's love. It is not an object to put here or to put there, more beautiful, not so beautiful, older, more modern ... No. It is precisely the expression of God's love. God loved us like this: he sent his Son, who annihilated himself to the point of death on the cross out of love. He loved the world so much that God gave his Son.

How many people, how many Christians spend their time looking at the crucifix ... and there they find everything, because they understood, the Holy Spirit made them understand that there is all the science, all the love of God, all Christian wisdom. Paul talks about this, explaining that all the human reasoning that he was able to do served only up to a certain point, but the true reasoning, the most beautiful way of thinking, but also that more explains everything is the cross of Christ, it is Christ crucified that is a scandal and madness, but that is the way. And this is God's love. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. And why? So that everyone who believes in Him will not to be lost but may have eternal life. The love of the Father who wants his children to be with him.

Look at the crucifix in silence, look at the wounds, look at the heart of Jesus, look at the whole: Christ crucified, the Son of God, annihilated, humiliated ... out of love. This is the first point that this passage on theology shows us today, this dialogue of Jesus with Nicodemus.

The second point is a point that will also help us: "The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil." Jesus also picks up this theme of the light. There are people – us as well, many times – who cannot live in the light because they are accustomed to darkness. The light dazzles them, they are unable to see. They are human bats: they can only move in the night. And we too, when we are in sin, are in this state: we do not tolerate light. It is more comfortable for us to live in darkness; light hits us, makes us see what we don't want to see. But the worst thing is that the eyes, the eyes of the soul from so much living in darkness get so used to it that they end up ignoring what light is. Losing the sense of light because I get more used to darkness. And so many human scandals, so many corruptions show us this. The corrupt don't know what light is, they don't know. We too, when we are in a state of sin, in a state of distance from the Lord, become blind and feel better in darkness and go forward like this, without seeing, like a blind person, moving around as best we can.

Let the love of God, who sent Jesus to save us, enter into us and the light that Jesus brings, the light of the Spirit enter into us and help us to see things with the light of God, with the true light and not with the darkness that the lord of darkness gives us.

Two things, today: God's love in Christ, crucified; and in everyday life the daily question that we can ask ourselves: "Do I walk in light or walk in darkness? Am I a child of God or have I ended up being a poor bat?"
  
 
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 4

5 - 42
 
Pope Francis   23.03.14 Angelus, St Peter's Square       3rd Sunday of Lent Year A      John 4: 5-42


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!


Today’s Gospel presents Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in Sicar, near an old well where the woman went to draw water daily. That day, she found Jesus seated, “wearied as he was with his journey” (Jn 4:6). He immediately says to her: “Give me a drink” (v. 7). In this way he overcomes the barriers of hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans and breaks the mould of prejudice against women. This simple request from Jesus is the start of a frank dialogue, through which he enters with great delicacy into the interior world of a person to whom, according to social norms, he should not have spoken. But Jesus does! Jesus is not afraid. When Jesus sees a person he goes ahead, because he loves. He loves us all. He never hesitates before a person out of prejudice. Jesus sets her own situation before her, not by judging her but by making her feel worthy, acknowledged, and thus arousing in her the desire to go beyond the daily routine.

Jesus’ thirst was not so much for water, but for the encounter with a parched soul. Jesus needed to encounter the Samaritan woman in order to open her heart: he asks for a drink so as to bring to light her own thirst. The woman is moved by this encounter: she asks Jesus several profound questions that we all carry within but often ignore. We, too, have many questions to ask, but we don’t have the courage to ask Jesus! Lent, dear brothers and sisters, is the opportune time to look within ourselves, to understand our truest spiritual needs, and to ask the Lord’s help in prayer. The example of the Samaritan woman invites us to exclaim: “Jesus, give me a drink that will quench my thirst forever”.

The Gospel says that the disciples marvelled that their Master was speaking to this woman. But the Lord is greater than prejudice, which is why he was not afraid to address the Samaritan woman: mercy is greater than prejudice. We must learn this well! Mercy is greater than prejudice, and Jesus is so very merciful, very! The outcome of that encounter by the well was the woman’s transformation: “the woman left her water jar” (v. 28), with which she had come to draw water, and ran to the city to tell people about her extraordinary experience. “I found a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be be the Christ?” She was excited. She had gone to draw water from the well, but she found another kind of water, the living water of mercy from which gushes forth eternal life. She found the water she had always sought! She runs to the village, that village which had judged her, condemned her and rejected her, and she announces that she has met the Messiah: the one who has changed her life. Because every encounter with Jesus changes our lives, always. It is a step forward, a step closer to God. And thus every encounter with Jesus changes our life. It is always, always this way.

In this Gospel passage we likewise find the impetus to “leave behind our water jar”, the symbol of everything that is seemingly important, but loses all its value before the “love of God”. We all have one, or more than one! I ask you, and myself: “What is your interior water jar, the one that weighs you down, that distances you from God?”. Let us set it aside a little and with our hearts; let us hear the voice of Jesus offering us another kind of water, another water that brings us close to the Lord. We are called to rediscover the importance and the sense of our Christian life, initiated in Baptism and, like the Samaritan woman, to witness to our brothers. A witness of what? Joy! To witness to the joy of the encounter with Jesus; for, as I said, every encounter with Jesus changes our life, and every encounter with Jesus also fills us with joy, the joy that comes from within. And the Lord is like this. And so we must tell of the marvellous things the Lord can do in our hearts when we have the courage to set aside our own water jar.



Pope Francis  19.03.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square   3rd Sunday of Lent Year A     John 4: 5-42    


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel for this Third Sunday of Lent presents Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:5-42). The encounter takes place as Jesus is crossing Samaria, a region between Judea and Galilee inhabited by people whom the Hebrews despised, considering them schismatic and heretical. But this very population would be one of the first to adhere to the Christian preaching of the Apostles. While the disciples go into the village to buy food, Jesus stays near a well and asks a woman for a drink; she had come there to draw water. From this request a dialogue begins. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?”. Jesus responded: If you knew who I am, and the gift I have for you, you would have asked me for and I would have given you “living water”, a water that satisfies all thirst and becomes a boundless spring in the heart of those who drink it (cf. vv. 9-14).

Going to the well to draw water is burdensome and tedious; it would be lovely to have a gushing spring available! But Jesus speaks of a different water. When the woman realizes that the man she is speaking with is a prophet, she confides in him her own life and asks him religious questions. Her thirst for affection and a full life had not been satisfied by the five husbands she had had, but instead, she had experienced disappointment and deceit. Thus, the woman was struck by the great respect Jesus had for her, and when he actually spoke to her of true faith as the relationship with God the Father “in spirit and truth”, she realized that this man could be the Messiah, and Jesus does something extremely rare — he confirms it: “I who speak to you am he” (v. 26). He says he is the Messiah to a woman who had such a disordered life.

Dear brothers and sisters, the water that gives eternal life was poured into our hearts on the day of our Baptism; then God transformed and filled us with his grace. But we may have forgotten this great gift that we received, or reduced it to a merely official statistic; and perhaps we seek “wells” whose water does not quench our thirst. When we forget the true water, we go in search of wells that do not have clean water. Thus this Gospel passage actually concerns us! Not just the Samaritan woman, but us. Jesus speaks to us as he does to the Samaritan woman. Of course, we already know him, but perhaps we have not yet encountered him personally. We know who Jesus is, but perhaps we have not countered him personally, spoken with him, and we still have not recognized him as our Saviour. This Season of Lent is a good occasion to draw near to him, to counter him in prayer in a heart-to-heart dialogue; to speak with him, to listen to him. It is a good occasion to see his face in the face of a suffering brother or sister. In this way we can renew in ourselves the grace of Baptism, quench our thirst at the wellspring of the Word of God and of his Holy Spirit; and in this way, also discover the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and instruments of peace in daily life.

May the Virgin Mary help us to draw constantly from grace, from the water that springs from the rock that is Christ the Saviour, so that we may profess our faith with conviction and joyfully proclaim the wonders of the love of merciful God, the source of all good.



Pope Francis  15.03.20 Angelus Apostolic Palace Library, St Peter's Square        3rd Sunday of Lent Year A       John 4: 5-42   

Pope Francis  Angelus 15.03.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday's Gospel passage, the third of Lent, presents Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:5-42). He is on his way with his disciples and they stop at a well in Samaria. The Samaritans were considered heretics by the Jews, and much despised, as second-class citizens. Jesus is tired, He is thirsty. A woman arrives to get water and He asks her, "Give me a drink" (see 7). Thus, breaking every barrier, He begins a dialogue in which He reveals to that woman the mystery of living water, that is, of the Holy Spirit, a gift from God. Indeed, to the surprised reaction of the woman, Jesus responds, "If you knew God's gift and who is the one who says to you, "Give me a drink!", you would have asked him and He would give you living water" (see 10).

At the heart of this dialogue is water. On the one hand, water as an essential element for living, which satisfies the thirst of the body and sustains life. On the other, water is a symbol of divine grace, which gives eternal life. In the biblical tradition God is the source of living water – as they say in the psalms, in the prophets –: moving away from God, a source of living water, and from his Law brought on the worst drought. This is the experience of the people of Israel in the desert. On the long road to freedom, dying of thirst, they cried out against Moses and against God because there was no water. Then, at God's behest, Moses brings water out of a rock, as a sign of God's providence that accompanies his people and gives them life (cf. Es 17,1-7).

And the Apostle Paul interprets that rock as a symbol of Christ. He will say thus: "And the rock is Christ" (cf. 1 Cor 10,4). He is the mysterious figure of his presence among the people of God on their journey. Christ is, in fact, the Temple from which, according to the vision of the prophets, the Holy Spirit flows, that is, the living water that purifies and gives life. Those who thirst for salvation can draw freely from Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will become in him or in her a source of full and eternal life. The promise of the living water that Jesus made to the Samaritan woman became a reality in His Passion: "blood and water" came out of his pierced ribs (John 19:34). Christ, the lamb immolated and resurrected, is the source from which the Holy Spirit springs, who remits sins and regenerates to new life. 

This gift is also the source of testimony. Like the Samaritan woman, anyone who encounters the living Jesus feels the need to tell others, so that everyone might arrive at the point of professing that Jesus "is truly the savior of the world"(John 4.42), as that woman's fellow townspeople later said. We too, generated in new life through Baptism, are called to testify to the life and hope that are within us. If our search and thirst find in Christ full contentment, we will manifest that salvation lies not in the "things" of this world, which eventually produce drought, but in the One who loved us and always loves us: Jesus our Saviour, in the living water that He offers us.

May Mary most Holy helps us to cultivate the desire for Christ, a source of living water, the only one who can satisfy the thirst for life and love that we carry in our hearts.
  
 
Chapter 4
43-54
 
Pope Francis   23.03.20    Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Monday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II      John 4: 43-54

Pope Francis talks about Prayer 23.03.20

Let us pray today for those persons who are beginning to experience economic problems because of the pandemic, because they cannot work. All of this affects the family. We pray for those people who have this problem.

This father asks for healing for his son (cf. John 4:43-54). The Lord reproves him a bit - all of us, but him as well: "If you do not see signs and wonders, you will not believe" (see v. 48). The official, instead of being silent and keeping quiet, goes ahead and says, "Lord, come down before my child dies." And Jesus said to him, "Go, your son will live."

There are three things that are necessary to make a prayer that is well done. The first is faith: "If you have no faith...". And many times, prayer is only oral, from the mouth, but it does not come from the faith of the heart; or is it a weak faith... Let us think of another father, that of father who has a son possessed, when Jesus responds: "Everything is possible to the those who have faith"; and the father says clearly: "I believe, but increase my faith" (cf. Mark 9:23-24). Faith in prayer. Praying with faith, whether we pray outside [from a place of worship], or when we come here, and the Lord is there: do I have faith or is it a habit? Let us be careful in prayer: do not fall into the routine, without the consciousness that the Lord is there, that I am speaking with the Lord and that he is able to resolve problems. The first condition for a good prayer is faith.

The second condition that Jesus Himself teaches us is perseverance. Some ask but the grace does not come: they do not have this perseverance, because deep down they do not need it, or they do not have faith. And Jesus himself teaches us in the parable of the person who goes to a neighbour to ask for bread at midnight: the perseverance of knocking on the door (cf. Luke 11:5-8). Or the widow, with the unjust judge: who insists and insists and insists: it is perseverance (cf. Luke 18:1-8). Faith and perseverance go together, because if you have faith, you are sure that the Lord will give you what you ask. And if the Lord makes you wait, knock, knock, knock, in the end the Lord will give the grace. But the Lord does not do it to make himself desired, or to say "better to wait", no. He does it for our own good, because we take it seriously. Take prayer seriously, not like parrots: blah blah blah blah and nothing more. Jesus himself reproaches us: "Do not be like the pagans who believe in the effectiveness of prayer and in words, so many words" (cf. Mt 6,7-8). No. It's perseverance. It's faith.

And the third thing God wants in prayer is courage. Someone might think: does it take courage to pray and to stand before the Lord? Yes, it's necessary. The courage to remain there asking and moving forward, indeed, almost... – almost, I do not mean heresy – but almost as if threatening the Lord. Moses' courage before God, when God wanted to destroy the people and he would make him the head of another people. He says, "No. I'm with the people" (cf. Es 32:7-14). Courage. The courage of Abraham, when he negotiates the salvation of Sodom: "And if they were 30, and if they were 25, and if they were 20...": there, courage (cf. Gen 18:22-33). This virtue of courage is very much needed. Not only for apostolic works, but also for prayer.

Faith, perseverance and courage. In these days it is necessary to pray more. Imagine if were to pray like this. With the faith that the Lord can intervene. With perseverance and with courage. The Lord never deludes. He may make us wait. He takes His time but He never deludes.
  
 
 Chapter 5

1-16
 
Pope Francis   24.03.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Ezekiel 47: 1-9, 12,        John 5: 1-16
Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Complaining 24.03.20

Today's liturgy makes us reflect on water, water as a sign of salvation, because it is a means of salvation, but water is also a means of destruction: we think of the Flood ... But in these readings, water is for salvation.

In the first reading, that water that leads to life, that heals the waters of the sea, a new water that heals. And in the Gospel, the pool, that pool where the sick went, full of water, to heal themselves, because it was said that every now and then the waters moved, like a river, because an angel came down from the sky to move them, and the first, or the first, who threw themselves into the water were healed. And many – as Jesus says – many sick people, "lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled", there waiting for healing, for the water to move. There was a man who had been ill for 38 years. 38 years there, waiting for healing. It makes us think. It's a bit long isn't it? Because someone who wants to be healed arranges to have someone to help him move, quickly, even smartly ... but he was there 38 years, at a certain point we don't even know if he is alive or dead ... Jesus, seeing him lying there, and knowing the reality, that he had been there for a long time, said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" And the answer is interesting: he doesn't say yes, he complains. About the disease? No. The sick man said, "Sir, I don't have anyone to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed. While I'm about to go there – I'm about to make the decision to go – another gets down there before me." A man who always gets there late. Jesus says to him, "Get up, pick up your mat and walk." Instantly that man was cured.

It makes us think about this man's behaviour. Was he sick? Yes, maybe he had some paralysis, but it looks like he could walk a little. But he was sick in the heart, he was sick in the soul, he was ill with pessimism, he was ill with sadness, he was sick with spiritual laziness. This was this man's illness: "Yes, I want to live, but ...", he just stayed there. But the answer should have been, "Yes, I want to be healed!" But no, it's complaining, "It's the others who get there first, always the others." The response to Jesus' offering to heal is a complaint against others. And so, 38 years complaining about others. And doing nothing to get better.

It was a sabbath: we heard what the doctors of the law did. But the key is the encounter with Jesus, after. He found him in the Temple and said, "Look, you are healed. Don't sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you." That man was in sin, but he wasn't there because he had done something really wrong, no. The sin of surviving on complaining about the lives of others: the sin of sadness that is the seed of the devil, of that inability to make a decision about one's own life, but yes, to look at the lives of others to complain. Not to criticize them: to complain. "They go first, I am the victim of this life": complaints, they breath complaints, these people.

If we make a comparison with the blind man from the birth that we heard about last Sunday, the other Sunday: how much joy, how decisive he had been about being healed, and also how decisively he went to discuss with the doctors of the Law! This one he just informs, "Yes it's him, that's it." Without involving himself in that life... It makes me think of so many of us, of so many Christians who live in this state of apathy, unable to do anything but complaining about everything. And the apathy is a poison, it is a fog that surrounds the soul and does not make us live. And also, it's a drug because if you taste it often, you like it. And you end up "addicted to sadness", and "addicted to apathy" ... It's like air. And this is a quite habitual sin among us: sadness, apathy, I do not say melancholy but it is very similar.

It will do us good to reread this chapter 5 of John to see what this illness is like into which we may fall. Water is to save us. "But I can't save myself" – "Why?" – "Because it is the fault of others". And he remains there 38 years ... Jesus healed me: we don't see the reaction of others who are healed, who pick up their mat and dance, sing, give thanks, and say it to the whole world? No, he just goes ahead. The others say to him you shouldn't be doing that, he says: "But, the one who healed me told me to do it", and he just goes ahead. And then, instead of going to Jesus to thank he informs: "It was him." A grey life, grey because of this bad spirit that is apathy, sadness, melancholy.

Let us think of water, that water that is a symbol of our strength, of our life, of the water that Jesus used to regenerate us in Baptism. And let us also think of ourselves, if any of us have the danger of slipping into this apathy, into this neutral sin: the sin of neutral is this, neither white nor black, we do not know what it is. And this is a sin that the devil can use to drown our spiritual life and also our personal life. May the Lord help us understand how awful and how evil this sin is.

Spiritual Communion:
My Jesus, I believe you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things and I desire you in my soul. Because I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As I have come, I embrace you and unite myself to you. Don't ever let me be separated from You. Amen
  
  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.




Pope Francis  24.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Friday of the Second Week of Easter   John 6:1-15


Pope Francis talks about Pastors 24.04.20

Let us pray today for teachers who have to work hard to do lessons via the internet and other media routes, and we also pray for students who have to take exams in a way they are not used to. Let us accompany them with prayer.


This sentence of this passage makes us think: "He said this to test him. He himself knew what he was going to do." That's what Jesus had in mind when he said, "Where can we buy bread for them to eat?" But he said it to test him. He knew. Here we see Jesus' attitude with the disciples. He continually tested them to teach them, and when they had deviated from the role they had to do, he would stop them and teach them.

The Gospel is full of these actions of Jesus to allow his disciples to grow, to provoke growth, to become pastors of the people of God, in this case bishops, pastors of the people of God. And one of the things Jesus loved most was being with the crowd because this too is a symbol of the universality of redemption. And one of the things the apostles didn't like the most was the crowd because they liked to be close to the Lord, to hear the Lord, to hear everything the Lord said. Today they went there to take a day off - the other versions in the other Gospels say this, because all four talk about it ... sometimes there were two multiplications of the loaves - and they came from a mission, and the Lord said, "Let's go and get some rest." And they went there and the people noticed where they were going to by the sea, they circled around and waited for them there. And the disciples were not happy because the people had ruined their "holiday", they could not have this feast with the Lord. Despite this, Jesus began to teach, they listened, then they talked to each other and the hours go by, the hours, Jesus spoke and the people were happy. And they said, "Our party is ruined, our rest is ruined."

But the Lord sought closeness to the people and sought to form the hearts of the shepherds in closeness with God's people to serve them. And they, you understand this, they were chosen and felt a bit like a privileged circle, a privileged class, "an aristocracy", we might say, close to the Lord, and many times the Lord took steps to correct them. For example, let's think about children. They protected the Lord: "No, no, no, do not let the children approach who annoy, disturb... No, children with their parents." And what does Jesus say? "Let the children come." And they didn't understand. Then they figured it out. Then I think of the road to Jericho, the one who shouted: "Jesus son of David, have mercy on me." And the disciples said: "Stay quiet this is the Lord passing, do not disturb him." And Jesus says, "But who is that? Let him come." Again, the Lord. And so he taught them that closeness to God's people.

It is true that the people of God tire the shepherd: when there is a good shepherd, things multiply, because people always go to the good shepherd for one reason or for another. Once, a great pastor of a simple, humble neighbourhood, of the diocese ... had the rectory like a normal house and people would knock on the door or knock on the window, at every hour ... and he once said to me, "But I would like to wall the door and the window up so that they will let me rest." But he knew he was a pastor and he had to be with people. And Jesus forms, and teaches the disciples, the apostles this pastoral attitude that is closeness to the people of God.

It is true that God's people tire the shepherd, because they always ask us concrete things, always ask you something concrete, maybe they are mistaken in what they ask, but they ask you for concrete things. And the pastor has to take care of these things. The version in the other Gospels when they show Jesus that the hours have passed and people had to leave because it was starting to get dark, and they say: "But send the people away so that they can buy something to eat", just at the moment of darkness, when darkness was beginning. But what were they thinking? At least to celebrate among themselves, that selfishness is not so bad, but it is understood, to be with the shepherd, to be with Jesus who is the great shepherd, and Jesus responds, to test them: "Give him food". And this is what Jesus says to all the shepherds today: "Give them food." "Are they distressed? Give them consolation? Are they lost? Show them a way forward. Are they making mistakes? Give them a way to solve their problems... Give them yourselves...". And the poor apostles feel that they need to give, and give, and give, but from whom do they receive? Jesus teaches us, from the same one that Jesus received. After this, he dismisses the apostles and goes to pray, to the Father. From prayer. 

This double nearness of the pastor is what Jesus seeks to help the apostles understand to become great shepherds. But so many times the crowd is wrong and here they are wrong. "Then people, seeing the sign that he had given, said, "This really is the prophet, the one who is to come into the world!" But Jesus, knowing that they came to take him to make him king, withdrew again." Perhaps - the Gospel does not say it - some of the apostles would have said to him: "But Lord, let us take advantage of this and take power." Another temptation. And Jesus makes them see that that is not the way.

The power of the pastor is service, he has no other power and when he errs taking other powers he ruins his vocation and becomes, I do not know, a manager of pastoral enterprises but not a pastor. The structure does not do pastoral work: the heart of the pastor does pastoral work. And the pastor's heart is what Jesus teaches us now. 

Today let us pray to the Lord for the pastors of the Church so that the Lord may always speaks to them, because he loves them so much: always speak to us, tell us how things are, explain and above all teach us not to be afraid of God's people, not to be afraid to be close.

  
 
 Chapter 6

22-29
 
Pope Francis  27.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Monday of the Third Week of Easter      John 6: 22-29

Pope Francis Remember the First Encounter with Jesus 27.04.20
 

Let us pray today for artists, who have this great capacity for creativity and through beauty show us the way forward. May the Lord give us all the grace of creativity at this time.

The people who had listened to Jesus throughout the day, and then had this grace of the multiplication of loaves and saw the power of Jesus, wanted to make him king. First they went to Jesus to hear the word and also to ask for the sick to be healed. They stayed all day listening to Jesus without getting bored, without getting tired or being tired, but they were there, happy. But then when they saw that Jesus fed them, which they did not expect, they thought: "But he would be a good leader for us and surely he will be able to free us from the power of the Romans and take the country forward". And they were enthusiastic to make him king. Their intention changed, because they saw and thought: "Well ... a person who does this miracle, who feeds the people, can be a good leader." But they had forgotten at that moment the enthusiasm that the word of Jesus gave rise to in their hearts.

Jesus left and went to pray. These people stayed there, and next day they were looking for Jesus, "because he must be here" they said, because they had seen that he had not boarded the boat with the others. And there was a boat there, it stayed there . But they did not know that Jesus had joined the others by walking on the water. So they decided to go to the other side of the Sea of Tiberias to look for Jesus, and when they saw him, the first word they say to him was ( "Rabbi, when did you get here?", as if saying: "We do not understand, this seems a strange thing".

And Jesus makes them return to their first feelings, to what they had before the multiplication of the loaves, when they listened to the word of God: "I say to you: you are looking for me not because you saw signs - as at the beginning, the sign of the word, that excited them, the signs of healing - not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled." Jesus reveals their intention and says: "But this is how you have changed your attitude." And they, instead of justifying themselves: "No, Lord, no...", were humble. Jesus continues: "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life and that the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal." And being good they said, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" and Jesus says "Believe in the Son of God." This is a case in which Jesus corrects the attitude of the people, of the crowd, because they had gradually distanced themselves from the first spiritual consolation and had taken a path that was not right, a path more worldly than evangelical.

This makes us think that so many times in life we begin to follow Jesus, behind Jesus, with the values of the Gospel, and halfway there comes another idea, we see some signs and we turn away and conform with something more temporal, more material, more worldly, perhaps, and we lose the memory of that first enthusiasm that we had when we heard Jesus speak. The Lord always brings us back to the first encounter, to the first moment when he looked at us, spoke to us and aroused within us the desire to follow him. This is a grace to ask the Lord, because we in life will always have this temptation to move away because we see something else: "But that will be fine, but that idea is good...". We're moving away. The grace to always return to the first call, to the first moment: do not forget, do not forget my story, when Jesus looked at me with love and said to me: "This is your path"; when Jesus through so many people made me understand the path of the Gospel and not other somewhat worldly paths, with other values. Go back to the first encounter.

It has always struck me that among the things Jesus says on the morning of the Resurrection: "Go to my disciples and tell them to go to Galilee, there they will find me", Galilee was the place of the first meeting. There they had met Jesus. Each of us has our own "Galilee" within us, our own moment when Jesus approached us and said, "Follow me." In life similar things happen to us like what happened with these good people, and then they say to him: "But what should we do?", and they obeyed right away - it happens that we move away and look for other values, other ways of interpretation, other things, and we lose the freshness of the first call. The author of the letter to the Hebrews also reminds us of this: "Remember the first days." The memory, the memory of the first encounter, the memory of "my Galilee", when the Lord looked at me with love and said, "Follow me."
  
  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

37-40

 
Pope Francis     04.11.19 Vatican Basilica         2 Maccabees 12: 43-46,        Philippians 3: 20-21,      John 6: 37-40
Holy Mass for the repose of the souls of the Cardinals and Bishops who died in the last year
Pope Francis 04.11.19 Resurrection

The readings we have heard remind us that we came into this world in order to be raised up; we were not born for death but for resurrection. As Saint Paul writes in the second reading, even now “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20) and, as Jesus says in the Gospel, we shall be raised up on the last day (cf. Jn 6:40). It is likewise the thought of the resurrection that leads Judas Maccabaeus in the first reading to do “an excellent and noble thing” (2 Macc 12:43). Today we can ask ourselves: how does the thought of the resurrection affect me? How do I respond to my call to be raised up?

Help comes to us first from Jesus, who in today’s Gospel says: “Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away” (Jn 6:37). That is his invitation: “Come to me” (cf. Mt 11:28). To come to Jesus, the living one, in order to be inoculated against death, against the fear that everything will end. To come to Jesus: this might seem a generic and even banal spiritual exhortation. But let us try to make it concrete by asking a few questions. Today, in the files that I handled in the office, did I draw nearer to the Lord? Did I make them an occasion for speaking to him? In the persons whom I met, did I involve Jesus? Did I bring them to him in prayer? Or did I do everything while thinking only of my concerns, rejoicing only in things that went well for me and complaining about those that didn’t? In a word, did I live my day coming to the Lord, or was I simply orbiting around myself? And where am I headed? Do I seek only to make a good impression, to protect my role, my schedule and my free time? Or do I come to the Lord?

Jesus words are striking: “Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away”. As if to say that any Christian who does not come to him will be driven away. For those who believe, there is no middle ground. We cannot belong to Jesus and orbit around ourselves. Those who belong to Jesus live by constantly going forth from ourselves and towards him.

Life itself is a constant going forth: from our mother’s womb to our birth, from infancy to adolescence, from adolescence to adulthood and so on, until the day of our going forth from this world. Today, as we pray for our brother cardinals and bishops who have gone forth from this life in order to meet the risen Lord, we cannot forget the most important and difficult “going forth”, the one that gives meaning to all the others: that of going forth from our very selves. Only by going forth from ourselves do we open the door that leads to the Lord. Let us implore this grace: “Lord, I want to come to you, along the roads and with my traveling companions each day. Help me to go out of myself in order to come towards you, for you are life itself”.

I would like to propose a second thought, about the resurrection, drawn from the first reading and the “noble thing” that Judas Maccabeus did for those who had died. He did it, we are told, because “he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness” (2 Macc 12:45). Godliness, piety, is richly rewarded. Piety towards others opens the gates of eternity. To bow down before the needy in order to serve them is to be on the path to heaven. If, as Saint Paul says, “love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8), then love is itself the bridge linking earth to heaven. We can ask ourselves whether we are advancing along this bridge. Do I let myself be touched by the situation of someone in need? Can I weep with those who are suffering? Do I pray for those whom no one thinks about? Do I help someone who has nothing to give back to me? This is not to be sentimental or to engage in little acts of charity; these are questions of life, questions of resurrection.

Lastly, I would offer a third thought about the resurrection. I take it from the Spiritual Exercises, where Saint Ignatius suggests that before making any important decision, we should imagine ourselves standing before God at the end of time. That is the final and inevitable moment, one that all of us will have to face. Every life decision, viewed from that perspective, will be well directed, since it is closer to the resurrection, which is the meaning and purpose of life. As the departure is calculated by the goal, as the planting is judged by the harvest, so life is best judged by starting from its end and purpose. Saint Ignatius writes: “Let me consider myself as standing in the presence of my judge on the last day, and reflect what decision on the present matter I would then wish to have made; I will choose now the rule of life that I would then wish to have observed” (Spiritual Exercises, 187). It can be a helpful exercise to view reality through the eyes of the Lord and not only through our own; to look to the future, the resurrection, and not only to this passing day; to make choices that have the flavour of eternity, the taste of love.

Do I go forth from myself each day in order to come to the Lord? Do I feel and practise compassion for those in need? Do I make important decisions in the sight of God? Let us allow ourselves to be challenged at least by one of these three thoughts. We will be more attuned to the desire that Jesus expresses in today’s Gospel: that he lose nothing of what the Father has given him (cf. Jn 6:39). Amid so many worldly voices that make us forget the meaning of life, let us grow attuned to the will of Jesus, risen and alive. Thus we will make of our lives this day a dawn of resurrection.
  
 
Chapter 6
44-51
 
Pope Francis  30.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Thursday of the Third Week of Easter   Acts 8: 26-40,   John 6: 44-51

Pope Francis Santa Marta 30.04.20

Let us pray today for the dead, those who died in the pandemic; and also in a special way for the deceased – who let's say are anonymous: we have seen photographs of common graves. Many are there.

"No one can come to me if the Father does not attract him" (John 6:44): Jesus remembers that even the prophets had foretold this: "They will all be taught by God" (John 6:45). It is God who attracts to the knowledge of the Son. Without this, you cannot know Jesus. Yes, you can study, even study the Bible, even know how he was born, what he did: that yes. But knowing him from within, knowing the mystery of Christ is only for those who are attracted by the Father to this.

This is what happened to this Minister of the Economy of the Queen of Ethiopia. You can see that he was a pious man and that he took the time, in so many of his affairs, to go and worship God. A believer. And he returned to his home reading the prophet Isaiah (cf. Acts 8:27-28). The Lord takes Philip, sends him to that place, and then says to him, "Go and draw near to that chariot" (v.8:29), and he hears the minister reading Isaiah. He approaches and asks him a question: "Do you understand?" – "And how could I understand, if no one guides me?" (v.31), and asks the question: "Who is the prophet talking about?" "Please get in the carriage," and during the journey – I don't know how long, I think that at least a few hours, Philip explained: he explained Jesus.

That restlessness that this gentleman had in reading the prophet Isaiah was precisely of the Father, who drew him to Jesus (cf. John 6:44): he had prepared him, had taken him from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship God, and then, with this reading, he had prepared his heart to reveal Jesus, to the point that as soon as he saw the water he said, "I can be baptized" (cf.36). And he believed.

And this - that no one can know Jesus without the Father attracting him (cf.44) - this is valid for our apostolate, for our apostolic mission as Christians. I'm also thinking about missions. "What are you going to do in missions?" – "I, convert people" – "But stop, you will not convert anyone! It will be the Father who attracts those hearts to recognize Jesus." To go on a mission is to bear witness to one's faith; without witness you will do nothing. Go on a mission – and the missionaries are good! – does not mean making great structures, things ... and stop like this. No: the structures must be witness. You can make a hospital structure, educational of great perfection, of great development, but if a structure is without Christian witness, your work there will not be a work of witness, a work of the true proclamation of Jesus: it will be a charitable society, very good – very good! – but nothing more.

If I want to go on a mission, and I say this if I want to go to the apostolate, I must go with the willingness that the Father will draw people to Jesus, and this is what witness is. Jesus himself said this to Peter, when he confesses that He is the Messiah: "Blessed are you, Simon Peter, because the Father has revealed this to you" (cf. Mt 16:17). It is the Father who attracts, and also attracts with our testimony. "I will do many works, here, here, there, of education, of this, of the other ...", but without witness, they are good things, but they are not the proclamation of the Gospel, they are not places that give the possibility that "the Father will attract to the knowledge of Jesus" (cf. John 6:44). Work and witness.

"But what can I do for the Father to bother to attract those people?" Prayer. And this is prayer for missions: to pray that the Father will draw people to Jesus. Witness and prayer, they go together. Without witness and prayer, you cannot do apostolic proclamation, you cannot proclaim. You will give a good moral sermon, you will do many good things, all good. But the Father will not have the opportunity to draw people to Jesus. And this is the centre: this is the centre of our apostolate, that "the Father can attract people to Jesus" (cf. John 6.44). Our witness opens the doors to the people and our prayer opens the doors to the Father's heart to attract people. Witness and prayer. And this is not only for missions, it is also for our work as Christians. Do I bear witness to Christian life, really, with my way of life? Do I pray that the Father will draw people to Jesus?

This is the great rule for our apostolate, everywhere, and especially for missions. Going on a mission is not proselytizing. Once, a lady – a good lady, you could see that she was of good will – approached with two children, a boy and a girl, and said to me: "This boy, Father, was Protestant and converted: I convinced him. And this girl was ..." - I don't know, animist, I don't know what she said to me - "and I converted her". And the lady was good: good. But she was mistaken. I lost my patience a little and said, "But look, you have not converted anyone: it was God who touches people's hearts. And don't forget: witness, yes; proselytizing, no."

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to live our work with witness and prayer, so that he, the Father, may draw people to Jesus.
  
 

 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.

  
 
Chapter 6

60-69
 
Pope Francis  02.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Saturday of the Third Week of Easter     Acts 9: 31-42,    John 6: 60-69

Pope Francis Faith in times of Crisis 02.05.20

Let us pray today for the leaders who have the responsibility to take care of their people in these times of crisis: heads of state, presidents of government, legislators, mayors, presidents of regions. For the Lord to help them and give them strength, because their work is not easy. And that when there are differences between them, may they understand that, in times of crisis, they must be very united for the good of the people, because unity is superior to conflict.

The first Reading begins: "In those days the Church was at peace throughout Judea, Galilee and Samarìa. It was being built up and walked in fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers." (Acts 9: 31) A time of peace. And the Church grows. The Church is quiet, it has the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it is in consolation. The good times. Then follows the healing of Aeneas, then Peter resurrects Gazzella, Tabitha ... things that are done in peace.

But there are times without peace, in the early Church: times of persecution, difficult times, times that put believers in crisis. Times of crisis. And a time of crisis is what the Gospel of John tells us about today (John 6: 60-69). This passage of the Gospel is the end of an entire episode that began with the multiplication of loaves, when they wanted to make Jesus king, Jesus goes to pray, they do not find him the next day, they go to look for him, they find him and Jesus reproaches them for looking for him to give food and not for the words of eternal life ... and that whole story ends here. They say to him, "Give us this bread," and Jesus explains that the bread he will give is his own body and his own blood.

At that time, many of Jesus' disciples, after hearing this, said, "This word is hard: who can accept it?" (John 6: 60) Jesus had said that those who did not eat his body and blood would not have eternal life. Jesus said, "If you eat my body and my blood, you will rise again on the last day." (:54) These are the things that Jesus said and this word is hard, it is too hard. Something's not right here. This man has gone beyond the limits. And this is a moment of crisis. There were moments of peace and moments of crisis. Jesus knew that the disciples were murmuring: here there is a distinction between the disciples and the apostles. The disciples were those 72 or more, the apostles were the Twelve. Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him. And for this reason, in the face of this crisis, he reminds them: "That is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father." (:65) He repeats being attracted by the Father: the Father draws us to Jesus. And that's how the crisis is resolved.

And from that moment, many of his disciples left and did not go with him anymore. They distanced themselves. "This man is a little dangerous, a little ... But these doctrines ... yes, he is a good man, preaches and heals, but when it comes to these strange things ... please, let's go." And so did the disciples of Emmaus, on the morning of the resurrection. Ah, yes, a strange thing: the women who say that the tomb is empty ... "but it doesn't smell good," they said, "let's go quickly because the soldiers will come and crucify us." ( Luke 24: 22-24). So did the soldiers who guarded the tomb: they had seen the truth, but then they preferred to sell their secret and "we are safe: let's not put ourselves in the middle of this story, which is dangerous" (Matthew 28: 11-15).

A moment of crisis is a moment of choice, it is a moment that puts us in front of the decisions that we have to make: we have all had and will have moments of crisis in our lives. Family crises, marriage crises, social crises, crisis in work, many crises . This pandemic is also a time of social crisis.

How do we react in that moment of crisis? "At that moment, many of his disciples left and no longer accompanied him." (:66) Jesus makes the decision to question the apostles: "Then Jesus said to the Twelve: "Do you want to leave too? Make a decision." (:67)" And Peter makes his second confession: "Simon Peter answered him: "Lord, who shall we go to? You have the words of eternal life and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (: 68,69)Peter confesses, on behalf of the Twelve, that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the Son of God. The first confession – "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" – and immediately after, when Jesus began to explain the passion that would come, he stops him: "No, no, Lord, not this!", and Jesus reproaches him (Matthew 16: 16-23). But Peter has matured a little and here he does not reproach him. He does not understand what Jesus is saying, "eat my flesh, drink my blood" (cf 6: 54-56): he does not understand. But he trusts the Lord. Trust. And he makes this second confession: "But to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life"(v 68).

This helps us all to live in times of crisis. In my land there is a saying that says: "When you ride a horse and you have to cross a river, please do not change horses in the middle of the river." In times of crisis, be very firm in your conviction of faith. These who left, changed horses, looked for another teacher who wasn't as tough; as they said to him. In times of crisis there is perseverance, silence; stay where we are, firm. This is not the time to make changes. It is a time of fidelity, of fidelity to God, of fidelity to the things we have chosen before; also, it is the time of conversion because this fidelity will inspire in us some changes for the better, but not to distance ourselves from good.
Moments of peace and moments of crisis. We Christians must learn to manage both. Both. Some spiritual fathers say that the moment of crisis is like passing through fire to become strong. May the Lord send us the Holy Spirit to be able to resist temptations in times of crisis, to know how to be faithful to the first words, with the hope of living afterward in moments of peace. Let us think of our crises: family crises, neighbourhood crises, crises in work, social crises of the world, of the country ... so many crises, so many crises.

May the Lord allow us the strength – in times of crisis – not to sell our faith.
  
 
Chapter 7
1-2, 10, 25-30
 
Pope Francis   27.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Wisdom 2: 1A, 12-22        John 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30
Friday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Persecution and the devil 27.03.20

The first Reading is almost an early chronicle of what will happen to Jesus. It's a forward chronicle, it's a prophecy. It sounds like a historical description of what happened next. What do the wicked people say? "Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us and opposes our actions. He reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training . To us he is the censure of our thoughts. Merely to see him is a hardship to us, because his life is not like that of others. In fact, if the Just One is the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hands of his foes." Let us think of what they said to Jesus on the Cross: "If you are the Son of God, come down; He will come to save you." And then, their plan of action: let us test him with revilement and torture to prove his gentleness and try his patience, and condemn him to a shameful death for according to his own words, God will take care of him". It's a prophecy, specifically, of what will happen. And the Jews were trying to kill him, the Gospel says. They even tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

This prophecy is too detailed; the action plan of these evil people is just details on details, it doesn't spare anything, with revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness ... let's create pitfalls, let's trick him, to see if he falls ... This is not a simple hatred, there is no bad action plan – certainly – of one party against another: this is something else. This is fierceness: with the devil behind it, always, with every hardship, trying to destroy and does not spare any means. Let us think of the beginning of the Book of Job, which is prophetic about this: God is satisfied with Job's way of life, and the devil says to him: "Yes, because he has everything, he hasn't been tested! Put him to the test!" And first the devil takes away his possessions, then he takes away his health and Job never, never distances himself from God. But the devil, what does he do: torture. All the time. Behind every hardship is the devil, to destroy God's work. Behind a discussion or friendship, it may be that it is the devil behind something with normal temptations that are very distant. But when there is fierceness, there is no doubt: there is the presence of the devil. And he does it very subtly. Let us think of how the devil has been fierce not only against Jesus, but also in the persecution of Christians; how he sought the most sophisticated means to bring them to apostasy, to move them away from God. This is, as we say in daily speech, this is diabolical: yes; diabolical intelligence.

Some bishops from one of the countries that suffered the dictatorship of an atheist regime came to me, in persecution, with details like this: on the Monday after Easter the teachers had to ask the children: "What did you eat yesterday?", and the children said what it was at lunch. And some said, "Eggs," and those who said "eggs" were then persecuted to see if they were Christians because they ate eggs in that country on Easter Sunday. Up to this point, to see, to spy, where there is a Christian to kill him. This a fierce persecution and this is the devil.

And what do you do at the time of the hardship? Only two things can be done: discussing with these people is not possible because they have their own ideas, fixed ideas, ideas that the devil has sown in their hearts. We heard what their plan of action is. What can be done? What Jesus did: to remain silent. It is striking, when we read in the Gospel that before all these accusations, Jesus was silent about all these things. In the face of the spirit of persecution, only silence, never justification. Never. Jesus spoke, He explained. When He realized that there were no words that were valid, silence. And in silence Jesus underwent His Passion. It is the silence of the just in the face of persecution. And this is also valid for – let's call them so – the little daily hardships, when some of us feel that there is a chatter there, against him, and they say things and then nothing comes out ... shut up. Silence. And to endure and tolerate the fierceness of the chatter. The chatter is also a fierceness, a social arousing: in society, in the neighbourhood, in the workplace, but always against him. It is not as strong a hardship as this, but it is a hardship, to destroy the other because you see that the other disturbs, harasses.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to fight against the evil spirit, to discuss when we need to discuss; but in the face of the spirit of persecution, to have the courage to remain silent and let others speak. The same in front of these little daily persecutions that is the chatter: let them talk. In silence, before God.
  
 

Chapter 7
40-53
 

Pope Francis   28.03.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)           John 7: 40-53
Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II

Pope Francis Talks about serving the Poor and Coronavirus 28.03.20

"Everyone one went to their own home" (John. 7.53) : after the discussion and all of that, everyone returned to their own convictions. There is a rift in the people: the people who follow Jesus listen to Him - they do not notice the long time they spend listening to Him, because the Word of Jesus enters their heart - and the group of doctors of the Law who reject Jesus because He does not follow the law, according to them. These are two different groups of people. The people who love Jesus and follow him and the group of intellectuals of the Law, the leaders of Israel, the leaders of the people. This is clear when the guards came back to the chief priests and said, "Why didn't you bring Him here?" the guards replied, "Never has a anyone spoken like Him." But the Pharisees replied to them: "Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd who do not know the Law are dammed" (John. 7:45-49). This group of doctors of the Law, the elite, despise Jesus. But they also despise the people, those people, who are ignorant, who know nothing. The holy faithful people of God believe in Jesus, they follow Him, and this group of elites, the doctors of the Law, detach themselves from the people and do not welcome Jesus. But why, if they were illustrious, intelligent, they had studied? But they had a great flaw: they had forgotten their own belonging to a people.

The people of God follow Jesus ... they can't explain why, but they follows Him and welcome Him to their hearts, and they don't tire at that. Let us think about the day of the multiplication of the loaves: they have been all day with Jesus, to the point that the apostles say to Jesus: "Dismiss them, so that they can go away to buy food" (See Mark 6.36). Even the apostles distanced themselves, they did not consider, they did not despise, but they did not consider the people of God. "Let them go and eat." Jesus' answer: "You give them food" (CFR. Mark: 6.37). He brings them back to the people.

This rift between the elite of religious leaders and the people is a drama that comes from a long time ago. Let's also think, about the Old Testament, of the behaviour of Eli's sons in the temple: perhaps some of them were a little atheistic they saw the people as superstitious. They despised the people. The people were despised because they were not educated like us, we who have studied, who know .... Instead, the people of God have a great grace: the sniff. They knew how to sniff out where the Holy Spirit was. They were sinners, like us: they were sinners. But they had a sense of knowing the path to salvation.

The problem of the elites, of elite clerics like these, is that they had lost the memory of their belonging to God's people; they were sophisticated, they had moved to another social class, they felt authoritative. This is clericalism, which we see there. "But why – I have heard these days – why do these sisters, these priests who are healthy why do they go to the poor to feed them, and they can get the coronavirus? But tell the superior mother that you will not let the sisters out, tell the bishop that not to let the priests out! They are for the sacraments! But it is for the government to provide food!" This is what we are saying these days: the same theme. "The second-class people: we're the upper class, we don't have to get our hands dirty with the poor."

Many times I think: there are good people – priests, sisters – who do not have the courage to go and serve the poor. Something's missing. The same thing that the doctors of the law lacked. They have lost their memory, they have lost what Jesus felt in His heart: that He was a part of His people. They have lost the memory of what God said to David: "I have taken you from the flock." They have lost the memory of their belonging to the flock.

And so each one, each returned to their own home (cf. John: 7.53). A rift. Nicodemus, who saw something – he was a restless man, perhaps not so brave, too diplomatic, but restless – went to Jesus then, but he was as faithful as he could be; he tried to mediate: "Does our Law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?" (John 7.51). They answered him; but they did not answer the question about the Law: "Are you from Galilee also? Go into the matter and see for yourself. Prophets do not come from Galilee" (John 7.52). And so the story ended.

Let us also think today of so many men and women who are qualified in the service of God who are good and go to serve the people; so many priests who do not separate themselves from the people. The day before yesterday I received a photograph of a priest, a mountain parish priest, of many villages, in a place where it snows, and in the snow he brought the ostensorium to the small villages to give the blessing. He did not care about the snow, he did not care about the burning that the cold made him feel in his hands in contact with the metal of the ostensorium: he only cared about bringing Jesus to the people.

Let us think, each of us, which side we are on, if we are in the middle, a little undecided, if we are among the faithful people of God, with the faithful people of God who cannot fail: they have that infallibility of people who believe. And let us think of the elite who separate themselves from the people of God, with a form of clericalism. And perhaps it will be good for us all; the counsel that Paul gave to his disciple, the bishop, young bishop, Timothy: "Remember your mother and your grandmother" (See 2 Tim. 1.5) Remember your mother and grandmother. If Paul advised this, it was because he knew well the danger of where this sense of elitism leads.
  
 

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.


Pope Francis   30.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Daniel 13: 1-9,15-17, 19-30, 33-62,   Psalm 23: 1-6,    John 8: 1-11
Monday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis Casa Santa Marta 30.03.20

In the Psalm, we prayed: "The Lord is my shepherd: There is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose, near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. He guides me on the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil will I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff. With these you give me comfort."

This is the experience that these two women had, whose story we read in the two Readings. An innocent woman, falsely accused, slandered, and a sinful woman. Both sentenced to death. The innocent and the sinner. Some Fathers of the Church saw in these women a figure of the Church: holy, but with sinful children. They said in a beautiful Latin expression: "The Church is the caste meretrix (chaste sinner)", the saint with sinful children.

Both women were desperate, humanly desperate. But Susanna trusts God. There are also two groups of people, of men; both had positions in the Church: the judges and the doctors of the Law. They were not ecclesiastical, but they were in the service of the Church, in the courthouse, and in the teaching of the Law. Different. The first, those who accused Susanna, were corrupt: the corrupt judge, an emblematic figure in history. Even in the Gospel, Jesus recounts, in the parable of the insistent widow, the corrupt judge who did not believe in God and did not care about others. The corrupt. The doctors of the law were not corrupt, but hypocrites.

And these women, one fell into the hands of the hypocrites and the other into the hands of the corrupt: there was no way out. "Even if I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil will I, because you are with me with your crook and staff, with these you give me comfort. " Both women were in a valley of darkness, they went there: a valley of darkness heading towards death. The first explicitly trusts God, and the Lord intervened. The second, poor woman, knows that she is guilty, shamed before all the people – because the people were present in both situations – the Gospel does not say it, but surely she prayed inside, asked for some help.

What does the Lord do with these people? He saves the innocent woman and does her justice. To the sinful woman, He forgives her. The corrupt judges, He condemns them; and the hypocrites, He helps them to convert and in front of the people Jesus says: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone", and one by one they are gone. With what irony the Apostle John says: "When they heard this they went one by one, beginning with the elders." He gives them some time to repent; He does not forgive the corrupt, simply because the corrupt are incapable of asking for forgiveness, of going beyond. They were tired ... no, it's not that they were tired: they are not capable. Corruption has also taken away from them that capacity that we all have to be ashamed of, asking for forgiveness. No, the corrupt are sure of themselves, they go ahead, they destroy, they exploit people, like this woman, everything, everything ... goes on. They put themselves in God's place.

And the Lord responds to the women. To Susanna, He frees her from these corrupt people, and she goes ahead, and the other: "Neither do I condemn you. Go away and don't sin anymore." He lets her go. And this, before the people. In the first case, the people praise the Lord; In the second case, the people learn. Learn what God's mercy is like.
Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own sins. And if you don't remember them, think a little: you'll find them. Thank God if you find them, because if you don't find them, you're corrupt. Each of us has our own sins. Let us look at the Lord who does justice but who is so merciful. Let us not be ashamed of being in the Church: let us be ashamed of ourselves as sinners. The Church is the mother of all. We thank God that we are not corrupt, but are sinners. And each of us, looking at how Jesus acts in these cases, trusts God's mercy. And pray, with confidence in God's mercy, pray for forgiveness. "Because God guides me on the right path because He is true to His name. Even if I walk in the valley of darkness – the valley of sin – no evil will I fear you are there. With your crook and staff. With these you give me comfort."

  
 
Chapter 8
21-30
 
Pope Francis   31.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Numbers 21: 4-9,        John 8: 21-30
Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II

Pope Francis talks about serpents, the devil, evil, sin and Jesus 31.03.20

The serpent is certainly not a friendly animal: it is always associated with evil. Even in Revelation, the serpent is the very animal that the devil uses to cause sin. In the Book of Revelation  the devil is called  the "ancient serpent", the one who from the beginning bites, poisons, destroys, kills. That's why he can't succeed. He is someone who proposes beautiful things if you want to succeed, but these are a fantasy: we believe them and so we sin. This is what happened to the people of Israel: they could not bear the journey. They were tired. And the people speak against God and against Moses. It's always the same tune, isn't it? "Why did you get us out of Egypt? To make us die in this desert? Because there is no food or water and we are nauseated by this food so light, manna". (Cf. Nm. 21:4-5) And their imagination – we have read it in recent days – always goes to Egypt: "But, there we were doing well, we ate well ...". And also, it seems that the Lord couldn't put up with His  people at this moment. He was angry: the wrath of God is seen, sometimes ... And then the Lord sent saraph serpents among the people who bit the people so that many of them died. "A large number of Israelites died" (Nm: 21.5). At that time, the serpent was always the image of evil: the people see in the serpent their sin, they see in the serpent what they had done wrong. And they went to Moses and said, "We have sinned because we have complained against the Lord and against you. Pray the Lord to take away these serpents from us" (Nm 21:7). They repent. This is what happened in the desert. Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, "Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten and looks at it he will live" (Nm. 21:8).

I think: isn't this idolatry? There is the serpent, there, an idol, which gives me health ... It's not understandable. Logically, it's not understandable, but this is a prophecy, this is a proclamation of what will happen. Because we have also heard as a prophecy in the Gospel: "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am and that I do nothing on my own" (John. 8:28). Jesus raised: on the cross. Moses makes a serpent and mounts it. Jesus will be lifted up, like the serpent, to give salvation. But the core of the prophecy is precisely that Jesus has made Himself sin for us. He did not sin: he made Himself sin. As St. Peter says in his letter: "He bore all of our sins in Himself" (Cf. 1Pt 2:24) And when we look at the crucifix, we think of the Lord who suffers: all that is true. But let's stop before we get to the centre of that truth: right now, you seem to be the greatest sinner, you have sinned. He has taken upon Himself all our sins, he has annihilated Himself until now. There was a vendetta by the doctors of the law who didn't want Him. All this is true. But the truth that comes from God is that He came into the world to take our sins upon Himself to the point of making Himself sin. All complete sin. Our sins are there.

We need to get used to looking at the crucifix in this light, which is the truest, is the light of redemption. In Jesus made sin we see the total defeat of Christ. He does not pretend to die, he does not pretend not to suffer, alone, abandoned ... "Father, why did you abandon me?" (Cf Mt 27.46; Mark 15:34). A serpent: I'm raised up like a serpent, as something that's completely sinful.

It is not easy to understand this and, if we think about it, we will never arrive at a conclusion. We can only, contemplate, pray and give thanks.
  
 
Chapter 8
31-42
 
Pope Francis  01.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        John 8: 31-42       
Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Disciples and the Holy Spirit 01.04.20

In these days, the Church has us listen to the eighth chapter of John: there is a strong discussion between Jesus and the doctors of the Law. And above all, He is trying to reveal His true identity: John wants to bring us close to that argument to reveal the identity of Jesus through the doctors of the law. Jesus puts them in a corner by showing them their own contradictions. And they, in the end, find no other way out than insult: it's one of the saddest pages, it's blasphemy. They insult Our Lady.

But speaking of His identity, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, he advised them: "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples." He returns to that word so dear to the Lord that He will repeat it so many times, and then at the Last Supper: remain. "Stay in me." Remain in the Lord. He doesn't say, "Study well, learn the arguments well": that is taken for granted. But He goes to the most important thing, the one that is most dangerous in life, if you do not do it: remain. "Remain in my word." And those who remain in the word of Jesus have their own Christian identity. And what is it? "You will truly be my disciples." Christian identity is not a card that says "I am a Christian", an identity card: no. It's discipleship. If you remain in the Lord, in the Word of the Lord, in the life of the Lord, you will be a disciple. If you do not remain you will be someone who sympathizes with doctrine, who follows Jesus as a man who does so much charity, is so good, that He has just values, but discipleship is precisely the true identity of the Christian.

And it will be discipleship that will give us freedom: the disciple is a someone who is free because they remain in the Lord. And "remain in the Lord," what does it mean? To allow the Holy Spirit guide you. The disciple allows himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, for this reason the disciple is always someone of tradition and but can embrace novelty, he is a free man. Free. Never subject to ideologies, to doctrines within Christian life, doctrines that can be discussed. He remains in the Lord, it is the Spirit who inspires them. When we sing to the Holy Spirit, we tell him that he is a guest of the soul, that he dwells in us. But this is true, only if we remain in the Lord.

I ask the Lord the grace to let us know this wisdom to remain in Him and to let us know familiarity with the Spirit: the Holy Spirit gives us freedom. And this is an anointing. Those who remain in the Lord are disciples, and the disciple is anointed, an anointment of the Spirit, someone who has received the anointment of the Spirit carries it forward and allows it to bear fruit. This is the path that Jesus shows us for freedom and also for life. And the discipleship is the anointing that those who remain in the Lord receive.

May the Lord help us understand this, it's not easy: because the doctors did not understand it, it is not understood only with the head; we understand with our minds and hearts, this wisdom of the anointing of the Holy Spirit which makes us disciples.
  
 
Chapter 8
51-59
 
Pope Francis   02.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Genesis 17: 3-9,    Psalm 105: 4-9,    John 8: 51-59
Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Christian Life 02.04.20

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

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

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

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

Chapter 9

1-41

 

Pope Francis   30.03.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square    4th Sunday of Lent Year A      John 9: 1-41


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Today’s Gospel sets before us the story of the man born blind, to whom Jesus gives sight. The lengthy account opens with a blind man who begins to see and it closes — and this is curious — with the alleged seers who remain blind in soul. The miracle is narrated by John in just two verses, because the Evangelist does not want to draw attention to the miracle itself, but rather to what follows, to the discussions it arouses, also to the gossip. So many times a good work, a work of charity arouses gossip and discussion, because there are some who do not want to see the truth. The Evangelist John wants to draw attention to something that also occurs in our own day when a good work is performed. The blind man who is healed is first interrogated by the astonished crowd — they saw the miracle and they interrogated him —, then by the doctors of the law who also interrogate his parents. In the end the blind man who was healed attains to faith, and this is the greatest grace that Jesus grants him: not only to see, but also to know Him, to see in Him “the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).

While the blind man gradually draws near to the light, the doctors of the law on the contrary sink deeper and deeper into their inner blindness. Locked in their presumption, they believe that they already have the light, therefore, they do not open themselves to the truth of Jesus. They do everything to deny the evidence. They cast doubt on the identity of the man who was healed, they then deny God’s action in the healing, taking as an excuse that God does not work on the Sabbath; they even doubt that the man was born blind. Their closure to the light becomes aggressive and leads to the expulsion from the temple of the man who was healed.

The blind man’s journey on the contrary is a journey in stages that begins with the knowledge of Jesus’ name. He does not know anything else about him; in fact, he says: “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes” (v. 11). Following the pressing questions of the lawyers, he first considers him a prophet (v. 17) and then a man who is close to God (v. 31). Once he has been banished from the temple, expelled from society, Jesus finds him again and “opens his eyes” for the second time, by revealing his own identity to him: “I am the Messiah”, he tells him. At this point the man who had been blind exclaims: “Lord, I believe!” (v. 38), and he prostrates himself before Jesus. This is a passage of the Gospel that makes evident the drama of the inner blindness of so many people, also our own for sometimes we have moments of inner blindness.

Our lives are sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opened himself to the light, who opened himself to God, who opened himself to his grace. Sometimes unfortunately they are similar to that of the doctors of the law: from the height of our pride we judge others, and even the Lord! Today, we are invited to open ourselves to the light of Christ in order to bear fruit in our lives, to eliminate unchristian behaviours; we are all Christians but we all, everyone sometimes has unchristian behaviours, behaviours that are sins. We must repent of this, eliminate these behaviours in order to journey well along the way of holiness, which has its origin in baptism. We, too, have been “enlightened” by Christ in baptism, so that, as St Paul reminds us, we may act as “children of light” (Eph 5:8), with humility, patience and mercy. These doctors of the law had neither humility, nor patience, nor mercy!

I suggest that today, when you return home, you take the Gospel of John and read this passage from Chapter nine. It will do you good, because you will thus see this road from blindness to light and the other evil road that leads to deeper blindness. Let us ask ourselves about the state of our own heart? Do I have an open heart or a closed heart? It is opened or closed to God? Open or closed to my neighbour? We are always closed to some degree which comes from original sin, from mistakes, from errors. We need not be afraid! Let us open ourselves to the light of the Lord, he awaits us always in order to enable us to see better, to give us more light, to forgive us. Let us not forget this! Let us entrust this Lenten journey to the Virgin Mary, so that we too, like the blind man who was healed, by the grace of Christ may “come to the light”, go forward towards the light and be reborn to new life.




Pope Francis  26.03.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square   4th Sunday of Lent Year A          John 9: 1-41       


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

At the centre of the Gospel this Fourth Sunday of Lent we find Jesus and a man blind from birth (cf. Jn 9:1-41). Christ restores his sight and performs this miracle with a type of symbolic ritual: first, He mixes dirt with saliva and spreads it on the blind man’s eyes; then, He orders him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The man goes, washes, and regains his sight. He was blind from birth. With this miracle, Jesus manifests himself, and He manifests himself to us as the Light of the World. The man blind from birth represents each one of us, who was created to know God; but due to sin has become blind; we are in need of a new light; we are all in need of a new light: that of faith, which Jesus has given us. Indeed, that blind man in the Gospel, by regaining his sight, is opened to the mystery of Christ. Jesus asks him: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” (v. 35). “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”, the healed blind man replied. “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you” (v. 37). “Lord, I believe”, [the blind man said,] and he prostrated himself before Jesus.

This episode induces us to reflect on our faith, our faith in Christ, the Son of God; and at the same time, it also refers to Baptism, which is the first Sacrament of faith: the Sacrament which makes us “come to the light”, by being reborn through the water and through the Holy Spirit; as happens to the man born blind, whose eyes are opened after being cleansed in the water of the pool of Siloam. The man born blind and healed represents us when we do not realize that Jesus is the light; he is “the Light of the World”, when we are looking elsewhere, when we prefer to entrust ourselves to little lights, when we are groping in the dark. The fact that the blind man has no name helps us to see our face reflected and our name in his story. We too have been “illuminated” by Christ in Baptism, and thus we are called to behave as children of the light. Acting as children of the light requires a radical change of mind-set, a capacity to judge men and things according to another scale of values, which comes from God. The Sacrament of Baptism, in fact, requires the choice of living as children of the light and walking in the light. If I were to ask you: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that he can change your heart? Do you believe that he can show reality as he sees it, not as we see it? Do you believe that he is light, that he gives us the true light?”. How would you answer? Each of you, respond in your heart.

What does it mean to have the true light, to walk in the light? First of all it means abandoning false lights: the cold, vain light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and ladens us with aversion to those whom we judge without mercy and condemn without appeal. This is our daily bread! When you gossip about others, you do not walk in the light, you walk in shadows. Another false light, because it is seductive and ambiguous, is that of self-interest: if we value men and things on the basis of usefulness to us, of pleasure, of prestige, we are not truthful in our relationships and situations. If we go down this path of seeking self-interest, we are walking in shadows.

May the Blessed Virgin, who was the first to welcome Jesus, the Light of the World, obtain for us this grace of welcoming anew the light of faith this Lent, rediscovering the inestimable gift of Baptism, which all of us have received. And may this new illumination transform us in attitude and action, so that we too, beginning with our poverty, our narrow-mindedness, may be bearers of a ray of the light of Christ.




Pope Francis 02.06.19
   
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (cf. Jn 9:2). The disciples’ question to Jesus triggers a series of actions and events that will accompany the entire Gospel account and clearly reveal what really blinds the human heart.

Jesus, like his disciples, sees the man blind from birth. He acknowledges him and gives him his full attention. After making it clear that the man’s blindness was not the result of
sin, he mixes dirt with his saliva and smears it on the man’s eyes. Then he tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. After washing, the man blind from birth recovers his sight. It is significant that the miracle is recounted in just two verses; everything else has to do, not with the blind man who has recovered his sight, but with the arguments that followed his healing. It seems that his life and especially the story of his cure are of little interest, except as an occasion of debate, irritation and anger. The man healed of his blindness is questioned first by the astonished crowd, then by the Pharisees, who also interrogate his parents. They question the identity of the man who was healed; then they deny the act of God, with the excuse that God does not work on the Sabbath. They even go so far as to doubt that the man was actually born blind.

The whole scene and the arguments that follow show how hard it is to understand the actions and priorities of Jesus, who brings someone from the periphery into the centre. It is particularly hard for people who think that “the Sabbath” is more important than the love of the Father who wills all people to be saved (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). The blind man had to live not only with his own blindness, but also with the blindness of those around him. We see the resistance and the hostility that can arise in the human heart when, instead of putting people at the centre, we put special interests, labels, theories, abstractions and ideologies, which manage only to blind everything around them. The Lord’s approach is different: far from hiding himself behind inaction or ideological abstractions, he looks people in the eye. He sees their hurts and their history. He goes out to meet them and he does not let himself be side-tracked by discussions that fail to prioritize and put at the centre what is really important.

These lands know well how greatly people suffer when an ideology or a regime takes over, setting itself up as a rule for the very life and faith of people, diminishing and even eliminating their ability to make decisions, their freedom and their room for creativity (cf.
Laudato Si’, 108). Brothers and sisters, you were forced to endure a way of thinking and acting that showed contempt for others and led to the expulsion and killing of the defenceless and the silencing of dissenting voices. I think in particular of the seven Greek-Catholic Bishops whom I have had the joy of beatifying. In the face of fierce opposition from the regime, they demonstrated an exemplary faith and love for their people. With great courage and interior fortitude, they accepted harsh imprisonment and every kind of mistreatment, in order not to deny their fidelity to their beloved Church. These pastors, martyrs for the faith, re-appropriated and handed down to the Romanian people a precious legacy that we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy.

With regard to freedom, I cannot help but note that we are celebrating this Divine Liturgy in the “Field of Liberty”. This place, filled with meaning, evokes the unity of your people, which is found in the diversity of its religious expressions. All these things constitute a spiritual patrimony that enriches and distinguishes Romanian culture and national identity. The new Beati endured suffering and gave their lives to oppose an illiberal ideological system that oppressed the fundamental rights of the human person. In that tragic period, the life of the Catholic community was put to a harsh test by a dictatorial and atheistic regime. All the Bishops and faithful of the Greek-Catholic Church and those of the Latin-rite Catholic Church were persecuted and imprisoned.

The other aspect of the spiritual legacy of the new Beati is mercy. Their tenacity in professing fidelity to Christ was matched by their readiness to suffer martyrdom without showing hatred towards their persecutors and indeed responding to them with great meekness. The words spoken by Bishop Iuliu Hossu during his imprisonment are eloquent: “God has sent us into this darkness of suffering in order to offer forgiveness and to pray for the conversion of all”. These words are the symbol and synthesis of the attitude with which these Beati, at the time of testing, sustained their people in confessing the faith without compromise or retaliation. The mercy they showed to their tormentors is a prophetic message, for it invites everyone today to conquer anger and resentment by love and forgiveness, and to live the Christian faith with consistency and courage.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, too, we witness the appearance of new ideologies that quietly attempt to assert themselves and to uproot our peoples from their richest cultural and religious traditions. Forms of ideological colonization that devalue the person, life, marriage and the family (cf.
Amoris Laetitia, 40), and above all, with alienating proposals as atheistic as those of the past, harm our young people and children, leaving them without roots from which they can grow (cf. Christus Vivit, 78). Everything then becomes irrelevant unless it serves our immediate interests; people are led to take advantage of others and treat them as mere objects (cf. Laudato Si’, 123-124). Those voices, by sowing fear and division, seek to cancel and bury the best that the history of these lands have bequeathed to you. Regarding this legacy, I think, for example, of the Edict of Torda in 1568, which forbade all forms of radicalism and was one of the first in Europe to promote an act of religious tolerance.

I would like to encourage you to bring the light of the Gospel to our contemporaries and to continue, like these Beati, to resist these new ideologies now springing up. It is our turn to struggle now, as it was theirs to struggle in their
time. May you be witnesses of freedom and mercy, allowing fraternity and dialogue to prevail over divisions, and fostering the fraternity of blood that arose in the period of suffering, when Christians, historically divided, drew closer and more united to one another. Dear brothers and sisters, may the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and the intercession of the new Beati accompany you on your journey.



Pope Francis   22.03.20  Angelus Apostolic Palace Library, St Peter's Square      4th Sunday of Lent Year A     John 9: 1-41 

Pope Francis talks about Light 22.03.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

At the centre of the liturgy of this fourth Sunday of Lent is the theme of light. The Gospel (cf. John 9:1-41) tells the story of the man blind from birth, to whom Jesus gives sight. This miraculous sign is confirmation of Jesus' affirmation of : "I am the light of the world" (v. 5), the light that illuminates our darkness. This is who Jesus is. He operates illumination on two levels: a physical one and a spiritual one: the blind man first receives the sight of the eyes and then is led to faith in the "Son of Man" (v. 35), that is, in Jesus. It's all a path. Today it would be good if all of you took the Gospel of John, Chapter 9, and read this passage: it is so beautiful and it will do us good to read it one or two more times. The wonders that Jesus performs are not only spectacular gestures, but they are meant to lead to faith through a process of inner transformation.

The Pharisees and the doctors of the law – who were there as a group – refused to acknowledge the miracle, and ask the healed man insidious questions. But he disconcerts them with the power of reality: "One thing I know: I was blind and now I see" (v. 25). Between the mistrust and hostility of those who surround him and question him in disbelief, he gradually takes a route that leads him to discover the identity of the one who opened his eyes and to confess his faith in Him. At first he considers Him a prophet (see 17); then recognizes Him as one who comes from God (cf. v. 33); Finally, he welcomes Him as the Messiah and prostrate himself before Him (see vv. 36-38). He understood that by giving him sight Jesus had "displayed the works of God" (cf. v. 3).

May we too have this experience! With the light of faith, the blind man discovers his new identity. He is now a "new creature", able to see his life and the world around him in a new light , because he entered into communion with Christ, he entered another dimension. He is no longer a beggar marginalized from the community; he is no longer a slave to blindness and prejudice. His path of enlightenment is a metaphor for the path of liberation from sin to which we are called. Sin is like a dark veil that covers our face and prevents us from clearly seeing ourselves and the world; the Lord's forgiveness takes away this blanket of shadow and darkness and gives us new light. The Lent we are living is an opportune and valuable time to approach the Lord, asking for His mercy, in the different forms that the Mother Church proposes to us.

The healed blind man, who now sees both with the eyes of the body and those of the soul, is the image of every baptized man, who immersed in Grace has been pulled out of the darkness and placed in the light of faith. But it is not enough to receive light, it is necessary to become light. Each of us is called to receive the divine light in order to manifest it with our whole life. The first Christians, the theologians of the first centuries, said that the community of Christians, that is, the Church, is the "mystery of the moon", because they gave light but it was not their own light, it was the light they received from Christ. We also must be "mystery of the moon": to give the light received from the son, who is Christ the Lord. St Paul reminds us of this today: "Be a child of light; for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, justice, and truth"(Eph 5:8-9). The seed of new life placed in us in Baptism is like a spark of a fire, which purifies us first, burning the evil that we have in our hearts, and allows us to shine and illuminate. With the light of Jesus.

May Mary Most Holy help us to imitate the blind man of the Gospel, so that we can be flooded with the light of Christ and walk with him on the path of salvation. 

  
  

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‘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”.





Pope Francis  11.05.14 Holy Mass with Priestly Ordinations, Vatican Basilica      4th Sunday of Easter Year A       John 10: 1-10

Pope Francis Priestly Ordinations 11.05.14

Beloved Brothers,

These our sons and brothers have been called to the dignity of the Priesthood. As you well know, the Lord Jesus is the one and only Great High Priest of the New Testament; but in him, God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood. Nevertheless, among his disciples, the Lord Jesus wills to choose certain ones to carry out a priestly office publicly in the Church, in his name and on behalf of mankind, in order that they may continue his personal mission as Teacher, Priest and Shepherd.

After mature deliberation, we are about to elevate these, our brothers, to the Order of the Presbyterate, so that in service to Christ the Teacher, Priest and Shepherd, they may cooperate in building up the Body of Christ, which is the Church, into the People of God, a holy temple of the Spirit.

Indeed, in being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest, and joined to the priesthood of their Bishop, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, to preside at worship, and especially to celebrate the Lord’s Sacrifice.

For your part, most beloved brothers and sons, who are about to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood, consider that in exercising the ministry of sacred doctrine you will share in the mission of Christ, the one Teacher. Impart to everyone the Word which you have received from your mothers, from your catechists. Diligently read and meditate on the Word of the Lord that you may believe what you read, teach what you have learned in faith, and practice what you teach. May the People of God be nourished by your teaching, which is not your own: you are not masters of doctrine! It is the Lord’s doctrine, and you must be faithful to the doctrine of the Lord!

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

Likewise you will continue the sanctifying work of Christ. 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 on behalf of the whole Church in an unbloody manner on the altar, in the celebration of the sacred mysteries.

Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate so that, participating in the Mystery of the Lord’s death and Resurrection, you may bear the death of Christ in your members and walk with him in newness of life.

Through Baptism you gather new faithful into the People of God; through the Sacrament of Penance you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. And here I want to pause to ask you, for the love of Jesus Christ: never tire of being merciful! Please! Have the ability to forgive that the Lord had, who came not to condemn but to forgive! Be greatly merciful! And if you have scruples about being too “forgiving”, think of that holy priest about whom I have told you, who went before the Tabernacle and said: “Lord, pardon me if I have forgiven too much, but it is you who have set me a bad example!”. And I tell you, truly: it grieves me when I come across people who no longer confess because they have been beaten and scolded. They have felt as though the church doors were being closed in their faces! Please, do not do this: mercy, mercy! The Good Shepherd enters through the door, and the doors of mercy are the wounds of the Lord: if you do not enter into your ministry through the Lord’s wounds, you will not be good shepherds.

With Chrism oil you will comfort the sick; in celebrating the sacred rites and raising up the prayer of praise and supplication at various hours of the day, you will become the voice of the People of God and of all humanity.

Remembering that you have been chosen from among men and constituted on their behalf to attend to the things of God, exercise the priestly ministry of Christ with joy and genuine love, with the sole intention of pleasing God and not yourselves.And consider what St Augustine said regarding pastors who seek to please themselves, who use God’s sheep to feed and clothe themselves, to invest themselves with the majesty of a ministry they knew not whether it was of God. Finally, participating in the mission of Christ, Head and Shepherd, in filial communion with your Bishop, seek to bring the faithful together into one single family, so that you may lead it 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 those that were lost.





Pope Francis   11.05.14 Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      4th Sunday of Easter Year A      John 10: 1-10


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Evangelist John presents us, on this Fourth Sunday of the Easter Season, with the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. In contemplating this page of the Gospel, we can understand the kind of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples: a relationship based on tenderness, love, mutual knowledge and the promise of an immeasurable gift: “I came”, Jesus said, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). This relationship is the model for relations between Christians and for human relationships.

Today, too, as in the time of Jesus, many put themselves forward as “shepherds” of our lives; but only the Risen One is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance. I invite everyone to place their trust in the Lord who guides us. But he not only guides us: he accompanies us, he walks with us. Let us listen to his Word with minds and hearts opened, to nourish our faith, enlighten our conscience and follow the teaching of the Gospel.

On this Sunday let us pray for the Shepherds of the Church, for all Bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, for all priests, for everyone! We pray especially for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I ordained a short while ago in St Peter’s Basilica. A greeting to these 13 priests! May the Lord help us pastors always to be faithful to the Master and wise and enlightened guides of the People of God, entrusted to us. I also ask you to please help us: help us to be good shepherds. Once I read something very beautiful on how the People of God help the bishops and priests to be good shepherds. It is a writing of St Caesarius of Arles, a Father of the first centuries of the Church. He explained how the People of God must help the pastor, and he gave this example: when a calf is hungry it goes to the cow, its mother, to get milk. The cow, however, does not give it right away: it seems that she withholds it. And what does the calf do? It knocks with its nose at the cow’s udder, so that the milk will come. It is a beautiful image! “So also you must be with your pastors”, this saint said: always knock at their door, at their hearts, that they may give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace and the milk of guidance.

And I ask you, please, bother the pastors, disturb the pastors, all of us pastors, so that we might give you the milk of grace, doctrine and guidance. Bother them! Think of that beautiful image of the little calf, how it bothers its mother so that she might give it something to eat.

In imitation of Jesus, every pastor “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 31). May all pastors be so! But you must bother your pastors so that they may provide the guidance of doctrine and grace.

This Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this year’s Message I recalled that “every vocation, even within the variety of paths, always requires an exodus from oneself in order to centre one’s life on Christ and on his Gospel” (n. 2). Therefore, the call to follow Jesus is both exciting and challenging. In order that it may be realized, it is always necessary to enter into deep friendship with the Lord in order to live from Him and for Him.

Let us pray that also, in these times, many young people may hear the voice of the Lord, which is always in danger of being suffocated by the clamour of other voices. Let us pray for young people: perhaps there is someone here in the Square who hears the voice of the Lord calling him to the priesthood; let us pray for him, if he is here, and for all young people who are being called.




Pope Francis  07.05.17 Holy Mass for Ordinations to the Sacred Priesthood, Vatican Basilica    4th Sunday of Easter Year A      John 10: 1-10

Pope Francis Ordination of Priests 07.05.17

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Our sons have been called to the order of priests. Let us consider the position to which they are to be promoted in the Church. It is true, brothers and sisters, that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind. They were elected by the Lord Jesus, not to further their careers, but to offer this service.

He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people.

Our brothers have seriously prayed and considered this step, and are now to be ordained to priesthood in the presbyteral order. They are to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, into the people of God, a holy temple of the Holy Spirit.

They are called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be moulded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest. By consecration, they will be made true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and celebrate the Liturgy, above all, the Lord’s sacrifice.

My beloved sons and brothers, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all mankind the Word of God you received with joy as children. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach.

Let the doctrine you teach be nourishment for the people of God; let it be simple, as the Lord spoke, so as to touch the heart. Do not preach homilies that are too intellectual and elaborate. Speak in a simple way; speak to hearts. And this preaching will be true nourishment. Let the example of your life — because the Word without the example of life is ineffective. It is better to turn back. A double life is a serious disease in the Church — attract the followers of Christ so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God’s Church. In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands.

Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ. A presbyter who has studied perhaps a lot of theology and has one, two, three degrees, but has not learned to carry Christ’s Cross, is ineffective. He will be a good scholar, a good professor, but not a priest.

When you baptize, you will bring new men and women into the people of God. In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. I ask you, please, in the name of Christ and the Church, to always be merciful; do not encumber the faithful, nor yourselves, with unbearable burdens. For this Jesus reproached the doctors of the law and called them hypocrites. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. One of the tasks — perhaps the most tedious, even painful one — is to visit the sick. Do this. Yes, it is good that the lay faithful and deacons go, but do not neglect to touch the flesh of the suffering Christ in the sick. This sanctifies you; it brings you closer to Christ. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world.

Remember that you are chosen from among God’s people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love. Be joyful, never sad. Joyful, with the joy of Christ’s service, even amid suffering, misunderstandings, and your own sins. Keep your gaze ever fixed on the example of the Good Shepherd who did not come to be served but to serve. Please, do not be “lords”. Do not be “state clerics”, but rather shepherds of the people of God.





Pope Francis      07.05.17 Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      4th Sunday of Easter Year A       John 10: 1-10


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning!

In the Gospel for this Sunday (cf. Jn 10:1-10), known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, Jesus presents to us two images which complete each other. The image of the shepherd and the image of the door of the sheepfold. The flock, which is all of us, has a sheepfold as its home, which serves as a refuge, where the sheep live and rest after the toils of the journey. And the sheepfold has an enclosure with a door, where there is a gatekeeper. Different people approach the flock: there is one who enters the enclosure by the door and one who “climbs in by another way” (cf. v. 1). The first is the shepherd, the second a stranger who does not love the sheep and wants to enter for other reasons. Jesus identifies with the first and shows a familiar relationship with the sheep, expressed by his voice, by which he calls them and which they recognize and follow (cf. v. 3). He calls them, to lead them out to grassy pastures where they find good food.

The second image by which Jesus presents himself is that of the “door of the sheep” (v. 7). In fact, he says: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved” (v. 9); that is, they “will have life and will have it abundantly” (v. 10). Christ, the Good Shepherd, became the door of mankind’s salvation, because he offered his life for his sheep.

Jesus, Good Shepherd and door of the sheep, is a leader whose authority is expressed in service, a leader who, in order to command, gives his life and does not ask others to sacrifice theirs. One can trust in a leader like this, as the sheep who heed their shepherd’s voice because they know that with him one goes to good and abundant pastures. A signal, a call suffices, and they follow; they obey; they begin to walk, guided by the voice of the One whom they feel as a friendly presence, strong and mild at once, who calls, protects, consoles and soothes.

This is how Christ is for us. There is a dimension of the Christian experience, that perhaps we leave somewhat in the shadows: the spiritual and affective dimension. Feeling connected to the Lord by a special bond, as sheep to their shepherd. At times we rationalize faith too much and we run the risk of losing the perception of the timbre of that voice, of the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd, which motivates and fascinates. This is what happened to the two disciples of Emmaus, whose hearts burned as the Risen One spoke along the way. It is the wondrous experience of feeling loved by Jesus. Ask yourselves the question: “Do I feel loved by Jesus? Do I feel loved by Jesus?”. To him we are never strangers, but friends and brothers. Yet it is not always easy to discern the Good Shepherd’s voice. Be careful. There is always the risk of being distracted by the din of so many other voices. Today we are invited not to let ourselves be distracted by the false wisdom of this world, but to follow Jesus, the Risen One, as the one sure guide who gives meaning to our life.

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations — in particular for priestly vocations, so that the Lord may send us good pastors — let us invoke the Virgin Mary: May she accompany the 10 new priests whom I have just ordained.

I asked four of them from the Diocese of Rome to come forward and join me in giving the blessing. May Our Lady offer her help in support of those who are called by Him, that they may be ready and generous in following his voice.




Pope Francis  03.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Martha)    1 Peter 2: 20b-25,     Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b, 4-6,      John 10: 1-10
Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A

Pope Francis Jesus the Good Shepherd 03.05.20

Three weeks after the Lord's Resurrection, the Church today on the fourth Sunday of Easter celebrates the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, Jesus the Good Shepherd. This makes me think of so many shepherds in the world who give their lives for the faithful, even in this pandemic, many, more than 100 here in Italy have died. I also think of other shepherds who care for the good of the people, the doctors. We are talking about doctors, about what they do, but we must realize that, in Italy alone, 154 doctors have died, in an act of service. May the example of these pastors, priests and medical pastors help us take care of the holy faithful people of God.

The First Letter of the Apostle Peter, which we have heard, is a passage of serenity. It's about Jesus. He says: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness; By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls." (1 Peter 2: 24-25) Jesus is the shepherd - as Peter sees him - who comes to save, to save the wandering sheep: it was us. And in Psalm 23 that we read after this reading, we repeated, "The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want." The presence of the Lord as a shepherd, as a shepherd of the flock. 

And Jesus, in chapter 10 of John, which we have read, presents himself as the shepherd. Indeed, not only the shepherd, but the "door" through which the flock enters. All those who came and did not enter through that door were thieves or robbers or wanted to take advantage of the flock: the false shepherds. And in the history of the Church there have been many of them who exploited the flock. They weren't interested in the flock, it was just a career or politics or money. But the flock knows them, they always know them and they go in search of God by their own paths.

But when there is a good shepherd, there is a flock that goes on, that carries on. The good shepherd listens to the flock, leads the flock, heals the flock. And the flock knows how to distinguish between shepherds, it is not wrong: the flock trusts the good shepherd, trusts Jesus. Only the shepherd who resembles Jesus gives confidence to the flock, because he is the door. The style of Jesus must be the style of the shepherd, there is no other. 

But even Jesus, the good shepherd, as Peter says in the first reading: "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you would follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was insulted, he returned no insult, when he suffered, he did not threaten", (1 Peter 2: 21-23) he was meek. One of the signs of a good shepherd is meekness, it is meekness. A good shepherd is meek. A shepherd who is not meek is not a good shepherd. He has something hidden, because meekness shows him as he is, without defending himself. And furthermore, the shepherd is tender, has that tenderness of closeness, knows the sheep one by one by name and takes care of each one as if it were the only one, to the point that when he comes home after a day's work, tired, he realizes that he is missing one, goes out to work again to look for it and he brings it back with him, he carries it on his shoulders. 

This is the good shepherd, this is Jesus, this is the one who accompanies us on the journey of life, for everyone. And this idea of the shepherd, and this idea of the flock and the sheep, is an Easter idea. The Church in the first week of Easter sings that beautiful song for the newly baptized: "These are the new lambs", the hymn we heard at the beginning of Mass. It is an idea of community, of tenderness, of kindness, of meekness. It is the Church that loves Jesus and he guards this Church.

This Sunday is a beautiful Sunday, it is a Sunday of peace, it is a Sunday of tenderness, of meekness, because our pastor takes care of us. "The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want."




Pope Francis   03.05.20 Regina Caeli, Apostolic Palace Library    Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A       John 10: 1-10

Pope Francis God's Voice 03.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The fourth Sunday of Easter, which we celebrate today, is dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd. The Gospel says, "The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep, by name" (John 10: 3). The Lord calls us by name, calls us because he loves us. But, the Gospel then tells us, there are other voices not to be followed: those of strangers, thieves and robbers who want evil for the sheep.

These different voices resonate within us. There is the voice of God, who speaks kindly to the conscience, and there is the tempting voice that leads to evil. How can we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the thief, how can we distinguish God's inspiration from the suggestion of the evil one

We can learn to discern these two voices: in fact they speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking on our hearts. They speak different languages. As we know how to distinguish one language from another, we can also distinguish the voice of God and the voice of the evil one. The voice of God never forces us: God proposes himself, he does not impose himself. Instead, the evil voice seduces, assails, forces: it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting emotions that are fleeting. At first it flatters us, it makes us believe that we are all-powerful, but then leaves us with emptiness inside and accuses us: "You are worth nothing". God's voice, on the other hand, corrects us, with so much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us: it always nourishes hope. The voice of God is a voice that has a horizon, instead the voice of the evil one leads you to a wall, it takes you to a corner.

Another difference. The voice of the enemy distracts us from the present and wants us to focus on the fears of the future or the sadness of the past – the enemy does not want the present –: it brings back the bitterness, the memories of the wrongs suffered, of those who hurt us, so many bad memories. Instead, God's voice speaks to the present: "Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can renounce the regrets and remorse that hold your heart captive." It enlivens us, it brings us forward, but it speaks of the present: now.

In addition: the two voices raise different questions in us. What comes from God will be, "What is good for me?" Instead, the tempter will insist on another question: "What do I want to do?" What would I like: the evil voice always revolves around the self, its impulses, its needs, everything and immediately. It's like the whims of children: everything right now. The voice of God, on the other hand, never promises cheap joy. It invites us to go beyond our self to find the true good, peace. Let us remember: evil never gives us peace, it puts frenzy first and leaves bitterness after. That's the style of evil.

Finally, the voice of God and that of the tempter, speak in different "environments": the enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, gossip; the Lord loves sunlight, truth, sincere transparency. The enemy will say to us: "Close yourself in on yourself, for no one understands you and listens to you, do not trust others!". Good, on the other hand, invites us to open up, to be transparent and trusting in God and in others. 

Dear brothers and sisters, in this time many thoughts and concerns lead us to turn inwards. Let us pay attention to the voices that reach our hearts. Let's ask ourselves where they come from. Let us ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who brings us out of the enclosures of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom. May Our Lady, Mother of good Counsel, guide and accompany our discernment.

  
 
Chapter 10

11-18
 

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 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.


Pope Francis   04.05.20   Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Acts 11: 1-18,      John 10: 11-18
Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Pope Francis  Everyone 04.05.20

When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the faithful reproached him (cf. Acts 11: 1-18). They reproached him for entering the house of uncircumcised men and of having eaten with them, with the pagans: they couldn't do that, it was a sin. The purity of the law did not allow this. But Peter had done it because it was the Spirit that brought him there. There is always in the Church – especially in the early Church, because it was not clear – this spirit of "we are the righteous, the others the sinners". This "us and them", "us and them", divisions: "We have the right position before God". Instead there are "the others", sometimes we say: "They are already the condemned" . And this is a disease of the Church, a disease that arises from ideologies or religious parties. 

At the time of Jesus, there were at least four religious parties: the Pharisees party, the party of the Sadducees, the party of Zealots and the party of the Essenes, and each interpreted the law according to the "idea" that it had. And this idea is a school that is outside of the law when it's a way of thinking, of feeling worldly you make yourself an interpreter of the law. They also reproached Jesus for entering the house of the tax collectors – who were sinners, according to them – and for eating with them, with sinners, because the purity of the law did not allow it; and he didn't wash his hands before lunch. There is always this reproach that makes division: this is important, and I would like to emphasize it.

There are ideas, positions that divide, to the point that division is more important than unity. My idea is more important than the Holy Spirit who guides us. There is an "emeritus" cardinal who lives here in the Vatican, a good pastor, and he said to his faithful: "But the Church is like a river, you know? Some are more on this side, some on the other side, but the important thing is that everyone is inside the river." This is the unity of the Church. No one outside, everyone inside. Then, with the peculiarities: this does not divide, it is not ideology, it is lawful. But why does the Church have this breadth of river? It's because the Lord wants it that way.

The Lord, in the Gospel, tells us: "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also must I lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16). The Lord says, "I have sheep everywhere, and I am everyone's shepherd." This "everyone" in Jesus is very important. Let us think of the parable of the wedding feast (cf. Mt 22: 1-10), when the guests did not want to go there: one because he had bought a field, one had married; everyone gave their reason not to go. And the master became angry and said, "Go to the crossroads and bring everyone to the feast" (v. 9). All of them. Big and small, rich and poor, good and bad. Everyone. This "everyone" is a bit of the vision of the Lord who came for everyone and died for everyone. "But did he also die for that wretched person who made my life impossible?" He died for him, too. "And for that robber?": he died for him. For everyone. And also for people who do not believe in him or are of other religions: he died for everyone. That doesn't mean you have to proselytize: no. But he died for everyone, he justified everyone.

Here in Rome there is a lady, a good woman, a teacher, Professor Mara, who when there were difficulties with various things, among different parties, said: "But Christ is dead for everyone: let's just go ahead with it!". That constructive ability. We have only one Redeemer, one unity: Christ died for everyone. Instead the temptation ... Paul also suffered: "I am from Paul, I am from Apollo, I am of this, I am of the other ...". And let us think of us, fifty years ago, after the Council: the divisions that the Church suffered. "I am on this side, I think so, you do ...". Yes, it is permissible to think so, but in the unity of the Church, under Jesus the Shepherd.

Two things. The reproach of the faithful to Peter because he had entered the house of the pagans and Jesus who says: "I am the shepherd of all". I'm everyone's shepherd. And who says: "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also must I lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock" (cf. John 10:16). It is prayer for the unity of all men, because all men and women all have one Shepherd: Jesus.

May the Lord frees us from that psychology of division, from dividing, and help us to see this of Jesus, this great thing of Jesus, that in him we are all brothers and sisters and he is the Shepherd of everyone. That word, today: "Everyone, everyone!", to accompany us throughout the day.
  
 
Chapter 10

 22 - 30

 
Pope Francis   23.04.13    Acts 11: 19-26,     John 10: 22-30 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/church-1/23.04.13%202.jpg

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.



Pope Francis  05.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter     John 10: 22-30

Pope Francis Part of the sheep of Jesus 05.05.20

Let us pray today for the deceased who have died because of the pandemic. They died alone. They died without the caress of their loved ones. So many of them did not even have a funeral. May the Lord receive them in glory.


Jesus was in the temple, the feast of Easter was near (John 10:22-30). Even the Jews, at that time, came around him and said, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly" (10: 24). They would make some lose patience, but Jesus meekly answered them, "I told you and you do not believe" (10: 25). They kept saying. "But is it you? Is it you?" and Jesus said "Yes, I told you, but you do not believe" "But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep" (10:26). And this, perhaps, raises a doubt: I believe and I am a part of the sheep of Jesus. But if Jesus said to us: "You cannot believe because you are not a part?".. What is this to be part of Jesus' faith? What is the thing that stops me in front of the door that is Jesus? 

There are pre-confession attitudes, even for us, who are in the flock of Jesus.. that do not let us go forward in the knowledge of the Lord. The first of all is wealth. So many of us, who have entered through the door of the Lord, then stop and do not move forward because we are imprisoned by wealth. The Lord was hard, with wealth: he was very hard, very hard. To the point of saying that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 19:24). That's hard. Wealth is an impediment to moving forward. But should we fall into poverty? No. But do not be slaves to wealth, do not live for wealth, because riches are a lord, they are the lord of this world and we cannot serve two lords (cf. Luke 16:13). And wealth stop us.

Another thing that prevents us from moving forward in the knowledge of Jesus, and in belonging to Jesus, is rigidity: the rigidity of the heart. Even the rigidity in the interpretation of the Law. Jesus reproached the Pharisees, the doctors of the Law for this rigidity ( Mt 23: 1-36). That is not fidelity: faithfulness is always a gift of God; rigidity is a security for myself. I remember once when I walked into a parish and a lady – a good lady – came up to me and said, "Father, a piece of advice..." – "Say ..." – "Last week, Saturday, not yesterday, the other Saturday, we went as a family to a wedding: it was with Mass. It was Saturday afternoon, and we thought that with this Mass we had fulfilled the Sunday precept. But then, on my way home, I thought the Readings of that Mass were not the ones of Sunday. And so I realized that I am in mortal sin, because I did not go on Sunday because I went Saturday, but to a Mass that was not right, because the readings were not right." That's rigidity. And that lady belonged to a church movement. Rigidity. This distances us from the wisdom of Jesus, from the beauty of Jesus; it takes away your freedom. And so many pastors make this rigidity grow in the souls of the faithful, and this rigidity does not allow us enter through the door of Jesus (John 1: 7). Is it more important to observe the law as it is written or how I interpret it, rather than the freedom to move forward following Jesus?

Another thing that does not let us go forward in the knowledge of Jesus is the apathy. That tiredness. Let's think of that man at the pool: there 38 years (cf. John 5: 1-9). It's apathy. It takes away the will to go on and everything is "yes, but ... no, now no, no, but ...", it makes you tepid and makes you lukewarm. Apathy, it's another thing that keeps us from moving forward.

Another that is quite ugly is a clerical attitude. Clericalism puts itself in the place of in Jesus. It says: "No, this must be so, so..." – "But, the Master ..." – "Leave the Master aside: this is so, so, so, and if you do not do so, so, so you cannot enter." A clericalism that takes away the freedom of the faith of believers. It is a disease, in the church: the clerical attitude.

Then, another thing that prevents us from moving forward, of coming in to know Jesus and confessing Jesus is the worldly spirit. When the observance of faith, the practice of faith ends in worldliness. And everything is worldly. Let us think of the celebration of some sacraments in some parishes: how much worldliness there is there! And the grace of Jesus' presence is not well understood.

These are the things that stop us from being part of Jesus' sheep. We are "sheep" of all these things: wealth, apathy, rigidity, worldliness, clericalism, ideologies.. Freedom is lacking. And you cannot follow Jesus without freedom. But sometimes freedom goes too far and one slips: yes, it is true. It's true. We can slip on the way of freedom. But it is worse to slip before you go, with these things that prevent you from starting to go towards Jesus.

May the Lord enlightens us to see within us if there is the freedom to pass through the door that is Jesus and go beyond; to become a flock, to become sheep of his flock.

  
 
Chapter 10

 27 - 30

 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/priests/21.04.13.jpg

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..


Pope Francis 12.05.19  Priests

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Our sons have been called to the
order of priests. It will do us all good to consider carefully the position to which they are to be promoted in the Church. It is true that the Lord Jesus is the High Priest of the New Testament and God has also made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But Jesus Christ also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind, continuing his personal mission as Teacher, as Priest, as Shepherd.

Indeed, for this reason he was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent into the world the Apostles, and then the Bishops and their successors. Priests are co-workers of the order of Bishops, to whom they are joined in the priestly office and are called to serve the People of God.

After many years of reflection — their own reflection, the reflection of their superiors, of those who have accompanied them on this path —, they have presented themselves today so that I may confer on them the priestly Order.

They are called to be moulded into the likeness of Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest. By consecration, they will be made true priests of the New Testament, and in this role, sharing in the priesthood of their Bishop, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and preside at rites of worship, above all the celebration of the Lord’s sacrifice, that is, the Eucharist.

My beloved brothers and sons, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. This is not a cultural association; it is not a union. You will participate in Christ’s ministry. Share with all mankind the Word of God you received with joy. And for this reason, read and meditate on the Word of the Lord, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach. You should never deliver a homily without much prayer, with the Bible in hand. Do not forget this.

Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the People of God: when it comes from the heart and arises from prayer, it will be very fruitful. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ: men of prayer, men of sacrifice so that by word and action you may build up the House of God which is the Church. In the same way you must continue the sanctifying work of Christ. The spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be perfected through your ministry, united to Christ’s sacrifice, and through your hands be offered sacramentally on the altar in celebration of the Holy mysteries. Be attentive in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In memory of the Lord’s death and Resurrection, carry Christ’s death within you and walk with him in the newness of life.

The Lord wished to save us gratuitously. He himself said: “Freely give what you freely received”. The celebration of the Eucharist is the culmination of the Lord’s gratuitousness. Please do not soil it with petty interests.

When you baptize you will bring new men and women into the People of God. In the Sacrament of Penance, you will forgive sins in the name of God, of Christ and of the Church. And here, I ask you, please, never tire of being merciful. Merciful like the Father, as Jesus was merciful with us, with all of us. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. Idle away time visiting the sick and the invalid. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the People of God, but for the whole of humanity.

Remember that you are chosen from among mankind and appointed to act in their favour by attending to the things of God. Carry out the work of Christ’s ministry with genuine joy and love, with sincerity, seeking only to please God and not yourselves. Priestly joy is found only on this path, in trying to please God who elected us.

Finally conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the Bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family. These are the affinities proper to priests: close to God in prayer, close to the bishop who is your father, close to the presbytery, to other priests, as brothers, without excoriating each other [speaking ill of each other], and close to the People of God. Always keep in mind the example of
the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.



Pope Francis 12.05.19 The Good Shepherd

Dear Brothers and Sisters Good Morning.

In today's Gospel Jesus presents himself as the true shepherd of Gods' people. He speaks of the relationship that binds Him to the sheep of the flock; that is to say his disciples. And he insists on the fact that it is a relationship of mutual knowledge. He says  "My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me . I give them eternal life and they will not be lost." Reading this sentence carefully we see that the work of Jesus  is expressed in some actions. He speaks, He knows, Jesus gives eternal life, Jesus guards.

The Good Shepherd Jesus is attentive to each one of us. He seeks and loves us addressing to us His words, knowing the depths of our hearts, our desires and our hopes as well as our failures and our disappointments . He welcomes us and loves us as we are with our strengths and weaknesses for each one of us He gives eternal life. That is He offers the possibility of leading a full life without end. Moreover, He protects us and guides us with love, helping us to cross the impervious paths and sometimes risky roads that arise in the path of life. 

The verbs and gestures that describe this way in which Jesus the Good Shepherd communicates with us are matched by the verbs that concern the sheep us. "They listen to my voice; They follow me." These are actions that show how we must correspond to the tender and caring attitudes of the Lord. Listening and recognising His voice in fact implies intimacy with Him who us joined in prayer in the heart to heart encounter with the divine master and pastor of our souls . This intimacy which opens us to speak with Jesus  strengthens in us the desire to follow Him coming out of the labyrinths of wrong paths abandoning selfish behaviour to set out on the new paths of brotherhood and the gift of ourselves in imitation of Him.

Don't forget that Jesus is the one Pastor who speaks, who knows, who gives life eternal and who guards us. We are the one flock. We are strengthened by listening to his voice in the sincerity of our hearts, and we continue this intimacy with our pastors. This helps us to enter into the fullness of life eternal.

Let us turn now to the mother of Christ the Good Shepherd. May she who responded promptly to Gods call help in particular those called to the priesthood and to consecrated life to accept with joy the availability of Christ's invitation to be His most direct collaborators in the proclamation of the Gospel and the service of Gods kingdom in our time.

  
 
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.