Kingdom of God


Pope Francis   14.6.15   Angelus, St Peter's Square    Mark 4: 26-34

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel is composed of two very brief parables: that of the seed that sprouts and grows on its own, and that of the mustard seed (cf. Mk 4:26-34). Through these images taken from the rural world, Jesus presents the efficacy of the Word of God and the requirements of his Kingdom, showing the reasons for our hope and our commitment in history.

In the first parable, attention is placed on the fact that the seed scattered on the ground (v. 26) takes root and develops on its own, regardless of whether the farmer sleeps or keeps watch. He is confident in the inner power of the seed itself and in the fertility of the soil. In the language of the Gospel, the seed is the symbol of the Word of God, whose fruitfulness is recalled in this parable. As the humble seed grows in the earth, so too does the Word by the power of God work in the hearts of those who listen to it. God has entrusted his Word to our earth, that is to each one of us with our concrete humanity. We can be confident because the Word of God is a creative word, destined to become the “full grain in the ear” (v. 28). This Word, if accepted, certainly bears fruit, for God Himself makes it sprout and grow in ways that we cannot always verify or understand. (cf. v. 27). All this tells us that it is always God, it is always God who makes his Kingdom grow. That is why we fervently pray “thy Kingdom come”. It is He who makes it grow. Man is his humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices in divine creative action and waits patiently for its fruits.

The Word of God makes things grow, it gives life. And here, I would like to remind you once again, of the importance of having the Gospel, the Bible, close at hand. A small Gospel in your purse, in your pocket and to nourish yourselves every day with this living Word of God. Read a passage from the Gospel every day, a passage from the Bible. Please don’t ever forget this. Because this is the power that makes the life of the Kingdom of God sprout within us.

The second parable uses the image of the mustard seed. Despite being the smallest of all the seeds, it is full of life and grows until it becomes “the greatest of all shrubs” (Mk 4:32). And thus is the Kingdom of God: a humanly small and seemingly irrelevant reality. To become a part of it, one must be poor of heart; not trusting in their own abilities, but in the power of the love of God; not acting to be important in the eyes of the world, but precious in the eyes of God, who prefers the simple and the humble. When we live like this, the strength of Christ bursts through us and transforms what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the entire mass of the world and of history.

An important lesson comes to us from these two parables: God’s Kingdom requires our cooperation, but it is above all the initiative and gift of the Lord. Our weak effort, seemingly small before the complexity of the problems of the world, when integrated with God’s effort, fears no difficulty. The victory of the Lord is certain: his love will make every seed of goodness present on the ground sprout and grow. This opens us up to trust and hope, despite the tragedies, the injustices, the sufferings that we encounter. The seed of goodness and peace sprouts and develops, because the merciful love of God makes it ripen.

May the Holy Virgin, who like “fertile ground” received the seed of the divine Word, sustain us in this hope which never disappoints.



Pope Francis   03.07.16   Angelus,  St Peter's Square    14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C     Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20
   
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage, taken from the tenth Chapter of the Gospel of Luke (vv. 1-12, 17-20), makes us consider how necessary it is to invoke God, “the Lord of harvest to send out laborers” (v. 2). The “laborers” whom Jesus speaks of are the
missionaries of the Kingdom of God, whom he himself calls and sends on “ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come” (v. 1). Their task is to proclaim a message of salvation addressed to everyone. Missionaries always proclaim a message of salvation to everyone; not only those missionaries who go afar, but we too, [are] Christian missionaries who express a good word of salvation. This is the gift that Jesus gives us with the Holy Spirit. This message is to say: “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (v. 9), because God has “come near” to us through Jesus; God became one of us; in Jesus, God reigns in our midst, his merciful love overcomes sin and human misery.

This is the Good News that the “laborers” must bring to everyone: a message of hope and comfort, of peace and charity. When Jesus sends the disciples ahead of him into the villages, he tells them: “first, say ‘Peace be to this house!’ [...]; heal the sick in it” (vv. 5, 9). All of this signifies that the
Kingdom of God is built day by day and already offers on this earth its fruits of conversion, of purification, of love and of comfort among men. It is a beautiful thing! Building day by day this Kingdom of God that is to be made. Do not destroy, build!

With what spirit must
disciples of Jesus carry out this mission? First of all they must be aware of the difficult and sometimes hostile reality that awaits them. Jesus minces no words about this! Jesus says: “I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (v. 3). This is very clear. Hostility is always at the beginning of persecutions of Christians; because Jesus knows that the mission is blocked by the work of evil. For this reason, the labourer of the Gospel will strive to be free from every kind of human conditioning, carrying neither purse nor bag nor sandals (cf. v. 4), as Jesus counselled, so as to place reliance solely in the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. This means abandoning every motive of personal advantage, careerism or hunger for power, and humbly making ourselves instruments of the salvation carried out by Jesus’ sacrifice.

A Christian’s mission in the world is splendid, it is
a mission intended for everyone, it is a mission of service, excluding no one; it requires a great deal of generosity and above all setting one’s gaze and heart facing on High, to invoke the Lord’s help. There is a great need for Christians who joyfully witness to the Gospel in everyday life. The disciples, sent out by Jesus, “returned with joy” (v. 17). When we do this, our heart fills with joy. This expression makes me think of how much the Church rejoices, she revels when her children receive the Good News thanks to the dedication of so many men and women who daily proclaim the Gospel: priests — those brave parish priests whom we all know —, nuns, consecrated women, missionary men and women.... I ask myself — listen to the question —: how many of you young people who are now present today in the Square, hear the Lord’s call to follow him? Fear not! Be courageous and bring to others this guiding light of apostolic zeal that these exemplary disciples have given to us.

Let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that the Church may never lack generous hearts that work to bring everyone the love and kindness of our heavenly Father.