Luke Chapter 3-6




Chapter 3-6                                                        Chapter 1    Chapter 2     Chapter 7-10    Chapter 11-14    Chapter 15-17    Chapter 18-21    Chapter 22-24  



Chapter 3-6




Chapter 3




Chapter 3

10-18


Pope Francis      16.12.18   Angelus St Peter's Square    Zephaniah 3: 14-18A,     Philippians 4: 4-7,      Luke 3: 10-18


https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/joy/16.12.18.jpg
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this third Sunday of Advent, the liturgy invites us to joy. Listen carefully: to joy. The prophet Zephaniah addresses these words to a small group of the people of Israel: “Sing aloud, O Daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (3:14) Shout with joy, rejoice, exult: this is this Sunday’s invitation. The inhabitants of the Holy City are called to rejoice because the Lord has taken away his judgments against them (cf v. 15). God has forgiven, he did not wish to punish! As a result the people no longer have any reason for sadness. There is no longer reason for desolation, but rather, everything leads to joyful gratitude toward God who always wishes to deliver and save those he loves. And the Lord’s love for his people is endless, tantamount to the tenderness of a father for his children, of a groom for his bride, as Zephaniah again says: “he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (v. 17). This is — so it is called — the Sunday of joy: the third Sunday of Advent, before Christmas.

This appeal by the prophet is particularly appropriate during the Season in which we are preparing ourselves for Christmas, because it can be applied to Jesus, the Emmanuel, the God-with-us: his presence is the wellspring of joy. Indeed, Zephaniah proclaims: “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst”, and a little later he repeats: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory” (vv. 15, 17). This message finds its full meaning in the moment of the Annunciation to Mary, narrated by the evangelist Luke. The words addressed to the Virgin by the Angel Gabriel are like an echo of those of the prophet. What does the Archangel Gabriel say? “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you! (Lk 1:28). He tells Our Lady to “Rejoice”. In an isolated hamlet of Galilee, in the heart of a young woman unknown to the world, God kindles the spark of happiness for the entire world. And today, the same announcement is addressed to the Church, called to receive the Gospel so that it may become flesh, concrete life. He says to the Church, to all of us: “Rejoice, little Christian community, poor and humble but beautiful in my eyes because you ardently desire my Kingdom, you hunger and thirst for justice, you patiently weave the fabric of peace, you do not pursue the powerful of the moment but remain faithfully beside the poor. And thus you fear nothing but your heart is in joy”. If we live like this, in the presence of the Lord, our heart will always be in joy — when there is ‘high-level’, full joy, and the humble everyday joy, which is peace. Peace is the smallest joy, but it is joy.

Saint Paul, too, exhorts us today to have no anxiety, to have no despair about anything, but rather, in every circumstance, to make our requests, our needs, our worries known to God “by prayer and supplication” (Phil 4:6). The awareness that we can always turn to the Lord in our difficulties, and that he never rejects our invocations, is a great reason for joy. No worry, no fear will ever be able to take away this serenity which comes not from human things, from human comforts, no: the serenity that comes from God, from knowing that God lovingly guides our lives, and he always does so. Even in the midst of problems and suffering, this certainty fosters hope and courage.

However, in order to receive the Lord’s invitation to joy, it is necessary to be people willing to call ourselves into question. What does this mean? Just like those who, after listening to the preaching of John the Baptist, ask him: You preach this, but we, “What then shall we do” (Lk 3:10). What should I do? This question is the first step for the conversion that we are called to carry out during this Season of Advent. Let each of us ask ourself: what should I do? A very small thing, but “what should I do?”. And may the Virgin Mary, who is our mother, help us to open our heart to the God-who-comes, so that he may shower our whole life with joy.




Chapter 3

15-22


Pope Francis      13.01.19       Holy Mass Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord Sistine Chapel      Luke 3: 15-16, 21,22
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-francis-baptism-of-lord-mass-transmit-faith.html

You have asked the Church for faith for your children, and today they will receive the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith in each one’s heart and soul.
But this faith must be developed; it must grow.

Before children study the faith in catechism classes, parents must transmit it at home, because the faith is always transmitted ‘in dialect’, that is, the native language spoken in the environs of the home.

Parents transmit the faith through their example and words, and by teaching their children to make the Sign of the Cross.
Faith must be transmitted with your faith-filled lives, so children see married love and peace within the family home. May they see Jesus there.

Never fight in front of your children. It’s normal that parents should argue; the opposite would be strange. Do it, but without letting them hear or see.
You have no idea the anguish it causes a child to see his or her parents fight.

Allow me this advice that will help you to transmit the faith.





Chapter 3

15-22 cont.



Pope Francis          28.10.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall         Catechesis on prayer - 12. Jesus, man of prayer         Luke 3: 21-22


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis The prayer of Jesus  28.10.20


Today, in this audience, as we have done in the previous audiences, I will stay here. I like to come down and greet each one of you, but we must keep our distance, because if I come down, then a crowd forms to greet me, and this is contrary to the measures and the precautions we must take in order to face “Madame Covid”, and it is harmful to us. Therefore, please excuse me if I do not come down to greet you: I will greet you from here but I hold you in my heart, all of you. And you, please hold me in your heart, and pray for me. From a distance, we can pray for each other … and thank you for your understanding.

In our itinerary of catechesis on prayer, after travelling through the Old Testament, we now arrive at Jesus. And Jesus prayed. The beginning of His public ministry takes place with His baptism in the river Jordan. The Evangelists are in agreement in attributing fundamental importance to this episode. They narrate how all the people came together in prayer, and specify that this gathering had a clearly penitential nature (see Mk 1:5; Mt 3:8). The people went to John to be baptised, for the forgiveness of sins: it is of a penitential character, of conversion.

Jesus’ first public act is therefore participation in a choral prayer of the people, a prayer of the people who went to be baptised, a penitential prayer, in which everyone recognises him- or herself as a sinner. This is why the Baptist wishes to oppose it, and says: “I need to be baptised by you, and you come to me?” (Mt 3:14). The Baptist understands who Jesus was. But Jesus insists: His act is an act of obedience to the will of the Father (v. 5), an act of solidarity with our human condition. He prays with the sinners of the people of God. Let us keep this clearly in mind: Jesus is the Righteous One, He is not a sinner. But He wished to come down to us, sinners, and He prays with us, and when we pray He is with us, praying; He is with us because He is in heaven, praying for us. Jesus always prays with His people, He always prays with us: always. We never pray alone, we always pray with Jesus. He does not stay on the opposite side of the river - “I am righteous, you are sinners” - to mark His difference and distance from the disobedient people, but rather He immerses His feet in the same purifying waters. He acts as if He were a sinner. And this is the greatness of God, Who sent His Son and annihilated Himself, and appears as a sinner.


Jesus is not a distant God, and He cannot be. Incarnation revealed Him in a complete and humanly unthinkable way. Thus, inaugurating His mission, Jesus places Himself at the forefront of a people of penitents, as if He were responsible for opening a breach through which all of us, after Him, must have the courage to pass. But the road, the journey, is difficult; but He goes ahead, opening the way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that this is the newness of the fullness of time. It says: “His filial prayer, which the Father awaits from His children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in His humanity, with and for men” (no. 2599). Jesus prays with us. Let us keep this clear in our mind and in our heart: Jesus prays with us.

On that day, on the bank of the river Jordan, there is therefore all of humanity, with its unexpressed yearning for prayer. There is, above all, the population of sinners: those who thought they were not beloved by God, those who did not dare cross the threshold of the temple, those who did not pray because they did not consider themselves worthy. Jesus came for everyone, even for them, and He begins precisely by joining them. At the forefront.

The Gospel of Luke, in particular, highlights the climate of prayer in which the baptism of Jesus took place: “Now when all the people were baptised, and when Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heaven was opened” (3:21). By praying, Jesus opens the door to the heavens, and the Holy Spirit descends from that breach. And from on high a voice proclaims the wonderful truth: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (v. 22). This simple phrase encloses an immense treasure; it enables us to understand something of Jesus’ ministry and of His heart, always turned to the Father. In the whirlwind of life and the world that will come to condemn him, even in the hardest and most sorrowful experiences He will have to endure, even when He experiences that he has no place to lay His head (see Mt 8: 20), even when hatred and persecution are unleashed around Him, Jesus is never without the refuge of a dwelling place: He dwells eternally in the Father.

This is the unique greatness of Jesus' prayer: the Holy Spirit takes possession of His person and the voice of the Father attests that He is the beloved, the Son in whom He fully reflects Himself.

This prayer of Jesus, which on the banks of the river Jordan is totally personal - and will be thus for all His earthly life - in Pentecost becomes the grace of prayer for all those baptised in Christ. He Himself obtained for us this gift, and He invites us to pray as He prayed.

Therefore, if during an evening of prayer we feel sluggish and empty, if it seems to us that life has been completely useless, we must at that moment beg that Jesus' prayer also become our own. “I cannot pray today, I don’t know what to do: I don’t feel like it, I am unworthy… In that moment, may your prayer to Jesus be mine”. And entrust yourself to Him, that He may pray for us. He in this moment is before the Father, praying for us, He is the intercessor; He shows the wounds to the Father, for us. Let us trust in this, it is great. We will then hear, if we are trustful, we will then hear a voice from heaven, louder than the voice rising from the depths of ourselves, and we will hear this voice whispering words of tenderness: “You are God's beloved, you are a son, you are the joy of the Father in heaven”. Just for us, for each one of us, echoes the word of the Father: even if we were rejected by all, sinners of the worst kind. Jesus did not descend into the waters of the Jordan for Himself, but for all of us. It was the entire people of God who went to the Jordan to pray, to ask for forgiveness, to receive that baptism of penance. And as that theologian said, they approached the Jordan with a “bare soul and bare feet”. This is humility. It takes humility to pray. He opened the heavens, as Moses opened the waters of the Red Sea, so that we could all pass behind Him. Jesus gave us His own prayer, which is His loving dialogue with the Father. He gave it to us like a seed of the Trinity, which He wants to take root in our hearts. Let us welcome him! Let us welcome this gift, the gift of prayer. Always with Him. And we will not go wrong. Thank you.




Chapter 4





Chapter 4

1-13


Pope Francis    14.02.16   Holy Mass, Study Centre of Ecatepec, Mexico   Luke 4: 1-13
Pope Francis 14.02.16 Mexico

Last Wednesday we began the liturgical season of Lent, during which the Church invites us to prepare ourselves to celebrate the great feast of Easter. This is a special time for recalling the gift of our baptism, when we became children of God. The Church invites us to renew the gift she has given us, not to let this gift lie dormant as if it were something from the past or locked away in a “memory chest”. Lent is a good time to recover the joy and hope that make us feel like beloved sons and daughters of the Father. The Father who waits for us in order to cast off our garments of exhaustion, of apathy, of mistrust, and so clothe us with the dignity which only a true father or mother knows how to give their children, with the garments born of tenderness and love.

Our Father, He is the Father of a great family; he is our Father. He knows that he has a unique love, but he does not know how to bear or raise an “only child”. He is the God of the home, of brotherhood, of bread broken and shared. He is the God who is “Our Father”, not “my father” or “your stepfather”.

God’s dream makes its home and lives in each one of us so that at every Easter, in every Eucharist we celebrate, we may be the children of God. It is a dream which so many of our brothers and sisters have had through history. A dream witnessed to by the blood of so many martyrs, both from long ago and from now.

Lent is a time of conversion, of daily experiencing in our lives how this dream is continually threatened by the father of lies — and we hear in the Gospel how he acted towards Jesus — by the one who tries to separate us, making a divided and confrontational family; a society which is divided and at loggerheads, a society of the few, and for the few. How often we experience in our own lives, or in our own families, among our friends or neighbours, the pain which arises when the dignity we carry within is not recognized. How many times have we had to cry and regret on realizing that we have not acknowledged this dignity in others. How often — and it pains me to say it — have we been blind and impervious in failing to recognize our own and others’ dignity.

Lent is a time for reconsidering our feelings, for letting our eyes be opened to the frequent injustices which stand in direct opposition to the dream and the plan of God. It is a time to unmask three great 
temptations that wear down and fracture the image which God wanted to form in us: There are three temptations of Christ... three temptations for the Christian, which seek to destroy what we have been called to be; three temptations which try to corrode us and tear us down.

First, wealth: seizing hold of goods destined for all, and using them only for “my own people”. That is, taking “bread” based on the toil of others, or even at the expense of their very lives. That wealth which tastes of pain, bitterness and suffering. That is the bread that a corrupt family or society gives its own children.

The second temptation, vanity: the pursuit of prestige based on continuous, relentless exclusion of those who “are not like me”. The futile chasing of those five minutes of fame which do not forgive the “reputation” of o
thers. “Making firewood from a felled tree” gradually gives way to the third temptation, the worst. It is that of pride, or rather, putting oneself on a higher level than one truly is on, feeling that one does not share the life of “mere mortals”, and yet being one who prays every day: “I thank you Lord that you have not made me like those others...”.

The three temptations of Christ.... Three temptations which the Christian is faced with daily. Three temptations which seek to corrode, destroy and extinguish the joy and freshness of the Gospel. Three temptations which lock us into a cycle of destruction and sin.

It is worth asking ourselves:

To what degree are we aware of these temptations in our lives, in our very selves?

How much have we become accustomed to a lifestyle where we think that our source and life force lies only in wealth?

To what point do we feel that caring about others, our concern and work for bread, for the good name and dignity of others, are wellsprings of happiness and hope?

We have chosen Jesus, not the evil one. If we remember what we heard in the Gospel, Jesus does not reply to the devil with any of his own words, but rather he the words of God, the words of scripture. Because brothers and sisters, and let us be clear about this, we cannot dialogue with the devil, we cannot do this because he will always win. Only the power of God’s word can overcome him. We have opted for Jesus and not for the devil; we want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, even though we know that this is not easy. We know what it means to be seduced by money, fame and power. For this reason, the Church gives us the gift of this Lenten season, invites us to conversion, offering but one certainty: he is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that tears us down. He is the God who has a name: Mercy. His name is our wealth, his name is what makes us famous, his name is our power and in his name we say once more with the Psalm: “You are my God and in you I trust”. Will you repeat it together? Three times: “You are my God and in you I trust”. “Your are my God and in you I trust”.

In this Eucharist, may the Holy Spirit renew in us the certainty that his name is Mercy, and may he let us experience each day that “the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus...”, knowing that “with Christ and in Christ joy is constantly born anew” (cf. 
Evangelii Gaudium, 1).




Chapter 4

1-13 cont.



Pope Francis      10.03.19        Angelus, St Peter's Square          Luke 4: 1-13
Pope Francis  10.03.19   Temptaions

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel passage for this first Sunday of Lent (cf. Lk 4:1-13) recounts the experience of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus is tempted three times by the devil. First he invites Him to change stone into bread (v. 3); then, from above, he shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and the prospect of becoming a powerful and glorious messiah (vv. 5-6); lastly he takes Him to the pinnacle of the temple of Jerusalem and invites Him to throw himself down, so as to manifest His divine power in a spectacular way (vv. 9-11). The three temptations point to three paths that the world always offers, promising great success, three paths to mislead us: greed for possession — to have, have, have —, human vainglory and the exploitation of God. These are three paths that will lead us to ruin.

The first, the path of greed for possession. This is always the devil’s insidious logic He begins from the natural and legitimate need for nourishment, life, fulfilment, happiness, in order to encourage us to believe that all this is possible without God, or rather, even despite Him. But Jesus countervails, stating: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’’’ (v. 4). Recalling the long journey of the chosen people through the desert, Jesus affirms his desire to fully entrust himself to the providence of the Father, who always takes care of his children.

The second temptation: the path of human vainglory. The devil says: “If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours” (v. 7). One can lose all personal dignity if one allows oneself to be corrupted by the idols of 
moneysuccess and power, in order to achieve one’s own self-affirmation. And one tastes the euphoria of a fleeting joy. And this also leads us to be ‘peacocks’, to vanity, but this vanishes. For this reason Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (v. 8).

And then the third temptation: exploiting God to 
one’s own advantage. In response to the devil — who, citing Scripture, invites Him to seek a conspicuous miracle from God — Jesus again opposes with the firm decision to remain humble, to remain confident before the Father: “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (v. 12). Thus, he rejects perhaps the most subtle temptation: that of wanting to ‘pull God to our side’, asking him for graces which in reality serve and will serve to satisfy our pride.

These are the paths that are set before us, with the illusion that in this way one can obtain success and 
happiness. But in reality, they are completely extraneous to God’s mode of action; rather, in fact they distance us from God, because they are the works of Satan. Jesus, personally facing these trials, overcomes temptation three times in order to fully adhere to the Father’s plan. And he reveals the remedies to us: interior life, faith in God, the certainty of his love — the certainty that God loves us, that he is Father, and with this certainty we will overcome every temptation.

But there is one thing to which I would like to draw your attention, something interesting. In responding to the tempter, Jesus does not enter a discussion, but responds to the three challenges with only the Word of God. This teaches us that one does not dialogue with the devil; one must not discuss, one only responds to him with the Word of God.

Therefore, let us benefit from Lent as a privileged time to purify ourselves, to feel God’s comforting presence in our life.

May the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, icon of faithfulness to God, sustain us in our journey, helping us to always reject evil and welcome good.





Chapter 4

16-31


 


The readings and the Psalm of our Mass speak of God’s “anointed ones”: the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God’s faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed… A fine image of this “being for” others can be found in the Psalm 133: “It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe” (v. 2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe.
The sacred robes of the High Priest are rich in symbolism. One such symbol is that the names of the children of Israel were engraved on the onyx stones mounted on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, the ancestor of our present-day chasuble: six on the stone of the right shoulder-piece and six on that of the left (cf. Ex 28:6-14). The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were also engraved on the breastplate (cf. Es 28:21). This means that the priest celebrates by carrying on his shoulders the people entrusted to his care and bearing their names written in his heart. When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs who are numerous in these times.
From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn now to a consideration of activity, action. The precious oil which anoints the head of Aaron does more than simply lend fragrance to his person; it overflows down to “the edges”. The Lord will say this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone. My dear brothers, the ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter.
A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed: this is a clear proof. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me Father”, “Pray for me” – these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into a prayer of supplication, the supplication of the People of God. When we have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal – but only apparently so – the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it. To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples – future priests – see or understand: on the “existential outskirts”, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.
We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.
The priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say “not at all” because, thank God, the people take the oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, “has already received his reward”, and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason for the dissatisfaction of some, who end up sad – sad priests - in some sense becoming collectors of antiques or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with “the odour of the sheep”. This I ask you: be shepherds, with the “odour of the sheep”, make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men. True enough, the so-called crisis of priestly identity threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis; but if we can resist its onslaught, we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and cast our nets. It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to “put out into the deep”, where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is “unction” – not function – and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.
Dear lay faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.
Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those “outskirts” where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen.




Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis   01.09.14  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Monday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time    1 Corinthians 2: 1-5,     Luke 4: 16-30


In the first reading, St Paul reminds the Corinthians what his message was like, how he had proclaimed the Gospel: “I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom”. Paul continues by saying that he did not present himself in order to convince his interlocutors with arguments, with words, even with images. The Apostle chose instead another mode, another style, and that is a demonstration of the Spirit and power, that — these are Paul’s words — “your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.

In effect the Apostle recalled that the Word of God is something different, something which is unequalled by a human word, a wise word, a scientific word, a philosophical word. The Word of God, indeed, is something else, it comes in another way: it is different because it is how God speaks.

Luke confirms this in the Gospel passage which tells of Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth, where he grew up and where everyone knew him as a child. In that context, he began to speak and the people listened to him, commenting: “Oh, how interesting!”. Then they bore witness: they were amazed with the words he spoke. And among them they observed: “Look at him, this one! How good, this boy whom we know, how good he has become! But where must he have studied?”.

However, Jesus stopped them and said to them: “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country”. Thus, to those who listened to him in the Synagogue at first it seemed a good thing and they accepted that manner of conversation and reception. But when Jesus began to give the Word of God they became furious and they wanted to kill him. Thus they passed from one side to the other, because the Word of God is different from the word of man, even from the loftiest word of man, the most philosophical word of man.

And so, what is the Word of God like? The Letter to the Hebrews, began by saying that, since ancient times, God had spoken, and he spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these times, at the end of that world, he spoke through the Son. In other words, the Word of God is Jesus, Jesus himself. That is what Paul was preaching, when he said: “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Christ crucified”.

This is the Word of God, the only Word of God. And Jesus Christ is a reason for scandal: the Cross of Christ scandalizes. That is the strength of the Word of God: Jesus Christ, the Lord.

It becomes so important, to ask ourselves: “How do we receive the Word of God?”. The response is clear: “As one receives Jesus Christ. The Church tells us that Jesus is present in the Scripture, in His Word”. This is why, I have advised you many times to always carry a small Gospel with you — moreover, it costs little to buy it, to keep it in your purse, in your pocket, and read a passage from the Gospel during the day. Some practical advice, not so much to learn something, but mostly to find Jesus, because Jesus actually is in His Word, in His Gospel. Every time I read the Gospel, I find Jesus.

And what is the right attitude to receive this Word? It must be received as one receives Jesus, that is, with an open heart, with a humble heart, with the spirit of the Beatitudes. Because this is how Jesus came, in humility: he came in poverty, he came anointed by the Holy Spirit. Such that he himself began his discourse in the Synagogue of Nazareth with these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”.

Thus, he is strength, he is the Word of God, because he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. In this way, , we too, if we want to hear and receive the Word of God, we must pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for this anointing of the heart, which is the unction of the Beatitudes. Thus, to have a heart like the heart of the Beatitudes.

As Jesus is present in the Word of God, and He speaks to us in the Word of God, it will do us good during the day today to ask ourselves: How do I receive the Word of God?




Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis        29.02.16   Holy Mass  Santa Marta      2 Kings 5: 1-15B,        Luke 4: 24-30

The Church prepares us for Easter and today makes us reflect on salvation: what do we think salvation is like, the salvation that we all want?. The story of “Naaman’s disease”, narrated in the Second Book of Kings (5:1-15), presents the fact of death: and afterwards?. Indeed, when there is sickness, it always leads us back to that thought: salvation. But, how does salvation come about? What is the path to salvation? What is God’s revelation to us Christians with regard to salvation?

The key word to understanding the Church’s message today is 
disdain. After “Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house and asked to be cured, Elisha sent a boy to tell him to wash in the Jordan seven times. A simple thing. Perhaps for this reason “Naaman disdained”, exclaiming: “I have made such a journey, with so many gifts...”. Instead everything was resolved by simply bathing in the river. Moreover, Naaman continued, “our rivers are more beautiful than this one”. 

In Luke (4:24-30), the inhabitants of Nazareth similarly disdained after hearing Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah that Sabbath in the synagogue, when he said “‘today this has happened’, speaking of the liberation, of how the people would be freed”. The people commented: “What do you think about this man? He is one of us, we saw him grow up from boyhood, he never studied”. And the people “disdained” and even “wanted to kill him”. 

Again, later on Jesus felt this disdain on the part of the leaders, the doctors of the law who sought salvation in moral casuistry — ‘this can be done to this point, to that point...’ — and thus I don’t know how many commandments they had, and the poor people.... This is why the people did not trust them. The same thing happened with the Sadducees, who sought salvation in compromises with the powerful men of the world, with the emperor: some with clerical networks, others with political networks sought salvation in this way. But the people had an instinct and didn’t believe in them. Instead, they believed in Jesus because he spoke with authority.

And so, “why this disdain?”. It is because, in our imagination salvation must come from something great, from something majestic: only the powerful can save us, those who have strength, who have money, who have power, these people can save us. Instead, “God’s plan is different”. Thus, they feel disdain because they cannot understand that salvation comes only from little things, from the simplicity of the things of God. And when Jesus proposes the way of salvation, he never speaks of great things, but only “little things”.

Re-read the Gospel 
BeatitudeMathew 5: 1-12 — “you will be saved if you do this” — and of Matthew, Chapter 25. They are the two pillars of the Gospel: ‘Come, come with me because you have done this’. It involves simple things: you did not seek salvation or hope in power, in networks, in negotiations, no; you simply did this. Yet actually, this gives rise to much disdain.

Prepare for Easter, by reading the Beatitudes and reading Matthew 25, and thinking and seeing if something about this causes me disdain, takes peace away from me. Because disdain is a luxury that only the 
vain, the proud allow themselves.

Here at the end of the Beatitudes Jesus says something powerful: “Blessed is he who is not shocked by me”, who “does not disdain this, who does not feel disdain”. It will do us good to take a little time — today, tomorrow — and read the Beatitudes, read Matthew and pay attention to what is happening in our heart: whether there is something that causes disdain. And “ask the Lord for the grace to understand that the only way to salvation is the folly of the Cross, that is, the annihilation of the Son of God, of his becoming small. In today’s liturgy, “the little thing” is “represented by bathing in the Jordan and by the little village of Nazareth.




Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis  13.04.17  Chrism Mass, Vatican Basilica      Holy Thursday        Luke 4: 16-21

Pope Francis Chrism Mass 13.04.17

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18). Jesus, anointed by the Spirit, brings good news to the poor. Everything he proclaims, and we priests too proclaim, is good news. News full of the joy of the Gospel – the joy of those anointed in their sins with the oil of forgiveness and anointed in their charism with the oil of mission, in order to anoint others in turn. 

Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible! –, he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer. Like every other missionary disciple, the priest makes the message joyful by his whole being. For as we all know, it is in the little things that joy is best seen and shared: when by taking one small step, we make God’s mercy overflow in situations of desolation; when we decide to pick up the phone and arrange to see someone; when we patiently allow others to take up our time… 

The phrase “good news” might appear as just another way of saying “the Gospel”. Yet those words point to something essential: the joy of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news because it is, in essence, a message of joy. 

The good news is the precious pearl of which we read in the Gospel. It is not a thing but a mission. This is evident to anyone who has experienced the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Evangelii Gaudium, 10). 

The good news is born of Anointing. Jesus’ first “great priestly anointing” took place, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of Mary. The good news of the Annunciation inspired the Virgin Mother to sing her Magnificat. It filled the heart of Joseph, her spouse, with sacred silence, and it made John leap for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, his mother. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to Nazareth and the joy of the Spirit renews that Anointing in the little synagogue of that town: the Spirit descends and is poured out upon him, “anointing him with the oil of gladness” (cf. Ps 45:8). 

Good news. A single word – Gospel – that, even as it is spoken, becomes truth, brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone. Truth, mercy and joy: these three go together. 

The truth of the good news can never be merely abstract, incapable of taking concrete shape in people’s lives because they feel more comfortable seeing it printed in books. 

The mercy of the good news can never be a false commiseration, one that leaves sinners in their misery without holding out a hand to lift them up and help them take a step in the direction of change. 

This message can never be gloomy or indifferent, for it expresses a joy that is completely personal. It is “the joy of the Father, who desires that none of his little ones be lost” (Evangelii Gaudium, 237). It is the joy of Jesus, who sees that the poor have the good news preached to them, and that the little ones go out to preach the message in turn (ibid., 5) 

The joys of the Gospel are special joys. I say “joys” in the plural, for they are many and varied, depending on how the Spirit chooses to communicate them, in every age, to every person and in every culture. They need to be poured into new wineskins, the ones the Lord speaks of in expressing the newness of his message. I would like to share with you, dear priests, dear brothers, three images or icons of those new wineskins in which the good news is kept fresh – for we have to keep it fresh – never turning sour but rather pouring forth in abundance. 

A first icon of the good news would be the stone water jars at the wedding feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:6). In one way, they clearly reflect that perfect vessel which is Our Lady herself, the Virgin Mary. The Gospel tells us that the servants “filled them up to the brim” (Jn 2:7). I can imagine one of those servants looking to Mary to see if that was enough, and Mary signaling to add one more pailful. Mary is the new wineskin brimming with contagious joy. Without her, dear priests, we cannot move forward in our priesthood! She is “the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286), Our Lady of Prompt Succour, who, after conceiving in her immaculate womb the Word of life, goes out to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth. Her “contagious fullness” helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim and even overflowing, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy. This cannot be, for “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (ibid., 1) 

A second icon of the good news that I would like to share with you today is the jug with its wooden ladle that the Samaritan woman carried on her head in the midday sun (cf. Jn 4:5-30). It speaks to us of something crucial: the importance of concrete situations. The Lord, the Source of Living Water, had no means of drawing the water to quench his thirst. So the Samaritan woman drew the water with her jug, and with her ladle she sated the Lord’s thirst. She sated it even more by concretely confessing her sins. By mercifully shaking the vessel of that Samaritan women’s soul, the Holy Spirit overflowed upon all the people of that small town, who asked the Lord to stay with them. 

The Lord gave us another new vessel or wineskin full of this “inclusive concreteness” in that Samaritan soul who was Mother Teresa. He called to her and told her: “I am thirsty”. He said: “My child, come, take me to the hovels of the poor. Come, be my light. I cannot do this alone. They do not know me, and that is why they do not love me. Bring me to them”. Mother Teresa, starting with one concrete person, thanks to her smile and her way of touching their wounds, brought the good news to all. The way we touch wounds with our hands, our priestly way of caressing the sick and those who have lost hope. The priest must be a man of tender love. Concreteness and tenderness! 

The third icon of the good news is the fathomless vessel of the Lord’s pierced Heart: his utter meekness, humility and poverty which draw all people to himself. From him we have to learn that announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way. Concrete, tender and humble: in this way our evangelization will be joyful. Evangelization cannot be presumptuous, nor can the integrity of the truth be rigid, because truth became flesh, it became tenderness, it became a child, it became a man and, on the cross, it became sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21). The Spirit proclaims and teaches “the whole truth” (cf. Jn 16:3), and he is not afraid to do this one sip at a time. The Spirit tells us in every situation what we need to say to our enemies (cf. Mt 10:19), and at those times he illumines our every small step forward. This meekness and integrity gives joy to the poor, revives sinners, and grants relief to those oppressed by the devil. 

Dear priests, as we contemplate and drink from these three new wineskins, may the good news find in us that “contagious fullness” which Our Lady radiates with her whole being, the “inclusive concreteness” of the story of the Samaritan woman, and the “utter meekness” whereby the Holy Spirit ceaselessly wells up and flows forth from the pierced heart of Jesus our Lord.






Chapter 4

16-31 cont.




Pope Francis    29.03.18   Chrism Mass, Vatican Basilica       Holy Thursday     Isaiah 61: 1-3A,6A,8B-9      Revelations 1: 5-8        Luke 4:16-21 


Dear brother priests of the Diocese of Rome and other dioceses throughout the world!
Pope Francis  Chrism Mass   29.03.18

When I was reading the texts of today’s liturgy, I kept thinking of the passage from Deuteronomy: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (4:7). The closeness of God... our apostolic closeness.

In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, we contemplate the Servant, “anointed and sent” among his people, close to the poor, the sick, the prisoners… and the Spirit who is “upon him”, who strengthens and accompanies him on his journey.

In Psalm 88, we see how the closeness of God, who led King David by the hand when he was young, and sustained him as he grew old, takes on the name of fidelity: closeness maintained over time is called fidelity.

The Book of Revelation brings us close to the Lord who always “comes” – erchómenos – in person, always. The words “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him” makes us realize that the wounds of the Risen Lord are always visible. The Lord always comes to us, if we choose to draw near, as “neighbours”, to the flesh of all those who suffer, especially children.

At the heart of today’s Gospel, we see the Lord through the eyes of his own people, which were “fixed on him” (Lk 4:20). Jesus stood up to read in his synagogue in Nazareth. He was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled it until he found, near the end, the passage about the Servant. He read it aloud: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed and sent me...” (Is 61:1). And he concluded by challenging his hearers to recognize the closeness contained in those words: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21).

Jesus finds the passage and reads it with the proficiency of a scribe. He could have been a scribe or a doctor of the law, but he wanted to be an “evangelizer”, a street preacher, the “bearer of joyful news” for his people, the preacher whose feet are beautiful, as Isaiah says. The Preacher is always close.

This is God’s great choice: the Lord chose to be close to his people. Thirty years of hidden life! Only then did he begin his preaching. Here we see the pedagogy of the Incarnation, a pedagogy of inculturation, not only in foreign cultures but also in our own parishes, in the new culture of young people…

Closeness is more than the name of a specific virtue; it is an attitude that engages the whole person, our way of relating, our way of being attentive both to ourselves and to others... When people say of a priest, “he is close to us”, they usually mean two things. The first is that “he is always there” (as opposed to never being there: in that case, they always begin by saying, “Father, I know you are very busy...”). The other is that he has a word for everyone. “He talks to everybody”, they say, with adults and children alike, with the poor, with those who do not believe... Priests who are “close”, available, priests who are there for people, who talk to everyone... street priests.

And one of those who learned from Jesus how to be a street preacher was Philip. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that he went about evangelizing in all the cities and that they were filled with joy (cf. 8:4.5-8). Philip was one of those whom the Spirit could “seize” at any moment and make him go out to evangelize, moving from place to place, someone capable of even baptizing people of good faith, like the court official of the Queen of the Ethiopians, and doing it right there at the roadside (cf. Acts 8:5.36-40).

Closeness, dear brothers, is crucial for an evangelizer because it is a key attitude in the Gospel (the Lord uses it to describe his Kingdom). We can be certain that closeness is the key to mercy, for mercy would not be mercy unless, like a Good Samaritan, it finds ways to shorten distances. But I also think we need to realize even more that closeness is also the key to truth; not just the key to mercy, but the key to truth. Can distances really be shortened where truth is concerned? Yes, they can. Because truth is not only the definition of situations and things from a certain distance, by abstract and logical reasoning. It is more than that. Truth is also fidelity (émeth). It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, before categorizing them or defining “their situation”. There is a distasteful habit, is there not, of following a “culture of the adjective”: this is so, this is such and such, this is like… No! This is a child of God. Then come the virtues or defects, but [first] the faithful truth of the person and not the adjective regarded as the substance.

We must be careful not to fall into the temptation of making idols of certain abstract truths. They can be comfortable idols, always within easy reach; they offer a certain prestige and power and are difficult to discern. Because the “truth-idol” imitates, it dresses itself up in the words of the Gospel, but does not let those words touch the heart. Much worse, it distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus.

Here, let us turn to Mary, Mother of priests. We can call upon her as “Our Lady of Closeness”. “As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love”, in such a way that no one feels left out (Evangelii Gaudium, 286). Our Mother is not only close when she sets out “with haste” to serve, which is one means of closeness, but also by her way of expressing herself (ibid., 288). At the right moment in Cana, the tone with which she says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”, will make those words the maternal model of all ecclesial language. But to say those words as she does, we must not only ask her for the grace to do so, but also to be present wherever the important things are “concocted”: the important things of each heart, each family, each culture. Only through this kind of closeness – “concocted” in the same way meals are prepared and cooked in a kitchen – can we discern that wine that is missing, and what is the best wine that the Lord wants to provide.

I suggest that you meditate on three areas of priestly closeness where the words, “Do everything Jesus tells you”, need to be heard – in a thousand different ways but with the same motherly tone – in the hearts of all those with whom we speak. Those words are “spiritual accompaniment”, “confession” and “preaching”.

Closeness in spiritual conversation. Let us reflect on this by considering the encounter of the Lord with the Samaritan woman. The Lord teaches her to discern first how to worship, in spirit and in truth. Then, he gently helps her to acknowledge her sin, without offending her. And finally, the Lord infects her with his missionary spirit and goes with her to evangelize her village. The Lord gives us a model of spiritual conversation; he knows how to bring the sin of the Samaritan woman to light without its overshadowing her prayer of adoration or casting doubt on her missionary vocation.

Closeness in confession. Let us reflect on this by considering the passage of the woman caught in adultery. It is clear that here closeness is everything, because the truths of Jesus always approach and can be spoken face to face. Looking the other in the eye, like the Lord, who, after kneeling next to the adulteress about to be stoned, stood up and said to her, “Nor do I condemn you” (Jn 8:11). This is not to go against the law. We too can add, “Go and sin no more”, not with the legalistic tone of truth as definition – the tone of those who feel that that they have to determine the parameters of divine mercy. On the contrary, those words need to be spoken with the tone of truth as fidelity, to enable the sinner to look ahead and not behind. The right tone of the words “sin no more” is seen in the confessor who speaks them and is willing to repeat them seventy times seven.

Finally, closeness in preaching. Let us reflect on this by thinking of those who are far away, and listening to Peter’s first sermon, which is part of the Pentecost event. Peter declares that the word is “for all that are far off” (Acts 2:39), and he preaches in such a way that they were “cut to the heart” by the kerygma, which led them to ask: “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). A question, as we said, we must always raise and answer in a Marian and ecclesial tone. The homily is the touchstone “for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people” (Evangelii Gaudium, 135). In the homily, we can see how close we have been to God in prayer and how close we are to our people in their daily lives.

The good news becomes present when these two forms of closeness nourish and support one another. If you feel far from God, please draw nearer to your people, who will heal you from the ideologies that cool your fervour. The little ones will teach you to look at Jesus in a different way. For in their eyes, the person of Jesus is attractive, his good example has moral authority, his teachings are helpful for the way we live our lives. And if you feel far from people, approach the Lord and his word: in the Gospel, Jesus will teach you his way of looking at people, and how precious in his eyes is every individual for whom he shed his blood on the Cross. In closeness to God, the Word will become flesh in you and you will become a priest close to all flesh. Through your closeness to the people of God, their suffering flesh will speak to your heart and you will be moved to speak to God. You will once again become an intercessory priest.

A priest who is close to his people walks among them with the closeness and tenderness of a good shepherd; in shepherding them, he goes at times before them, at times remains in their midst and at other times walks behind them. Not only do people greatly appreciate such a priest; even more, they feel that there is something special about him: something they only feel in the presence of Jesus. That is why discerning our closeness to them is not simply one more thing to do. In it, we either make Jesus present in the life of humanity or let him remain on the level of ideas, letters on a page, incarnate at most in some good habit gradually becoming routine.

Dear brother priests, let us ask Mary, “Our Lady of Closeness” to bring us closer to one another, and, when we need to tell our people to “do everything Jesus tells them”, to speak with one tone of voice, so that in the diversity of our opinions, her maternal closeness may become present. For she is the one who, by her “yes”, has brought us close to Jesus forever.








Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis           03.09.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta                 Luke 4: 16-30
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-mass-santa-marta-silence-truth-humble-silent.html

When Jesus arrived at the synagogue, he aroused curiosity. Everyone wanted to see the person they had heard was working miracles in other places. Instead of satisfying their curiosity, the Son of the Heavenly Father uses only “the Word of God”. This is the attitude Jesus adopted when confronting the devil. Jesus’ humility opens the door to his first words meant to construct a bridge but instead sow doubt immediately changing the atmosphere from peace to war, from amazement to fury.

Jesus responds with 
silence before those who wanted to throw him out of the city.

They were not thinking, they were shouting. Jesus stayed silent… The Gospel passage ends with: ‘But he passed through the midst of them and went away’

Jesus’ dignity shines through this silence
 that triumphs over his attackers. The same thing would happen again on Good Friday.

The people who were saying ‘crucify him’ had praised Jesus on Palm Sunday saying, ‘Blessed are You, Son of David’. They had changed.

The truth is humble and silent and is not noisy, acknowledging that what Jesus did is not easy. However, the dignity of the Christian is anchored in the power of God. Even in a family, there are times when division occurs because of discussions on politics, sports, money.

With people lacking good will, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within the family: silence, prayer.

May the Lord give us the grace to discern when we should speak and when we should stay silent. This applies to every part of life: to work, at home, in society…. Thus we will be closer imitators of Jesus.




Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis    18.04.19    Holy Thursday,  Chrism Mass,  Vatican Basilica    Luke 4: 16-21
Pope Francis 18.014.19 Chrism Mass

The Gospel of Luke, which we just heard, makes us relive the excitement of that moment when the Lord made his own the prophecy of Isaiah, as he read it solemnly in the midst of his people. The synagogue in Nazareth was filled with his relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, friends… and not only. All had their eyes fixed on him. The Church always has her eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, whom the Spirit sends to anoint God’s people.

The Gospels frequently present us with this image of the Lord in the midst of a crowd, surrounded and pressed by people who approach him with their sick ones, who ask him to cast out evil spirits, who hear his teachings and accompany him on the way. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me” (Jn 10:27-28).

The Lord never lost that direct contact with people. Amid those crowds, he always kept the grace of closeness with the people as a whole, and with each individual. We see this throughout his public life, and so it was from the beginning: the radiance of the Child gently attracted shepherds, kings and elderly dreamers like Simeon and Anna. So it was on the cross: his Heart draws all people to himself (Jn 12:32): Veronicas, Cyreneans, thieves, centurions…

The term “crowd” is not disparaging. Perhaps to some people’s ears, it can evoke a faceless, nameless throng… But in the Gospel we see that when the crowd interacts with the Lord – who stands in their midst like a shepherd among his flock – something happens. Deep within, people feel the desire to follow Jesus, amazement wells up, discernment grows apace.

I would like to reflect with you on these three graces that characterize the relationship between Jesus and the crowd.

The grace of following

Saint Luke says that the crowds “looked for Jesus” (4:42) and “travelled with him” (14:25). They “pressed in on him” and “surrounded him” (8:42-45); they “gathered to hear him” (5:15). Their “following” is something completely unexpected, unconditional and full of affection. It contrasts with the small-mindedness of the disciples, whose attitude towards people verges on cruelty when they suggest to the Lord that he send them away, so that they can get something to eat. Here, I believe, was the beginning of clericalism: in this desire to be assured of a meal and personal comfort without any concern for the people. The Lord cut short that temptation: “You, give them something to eat!” was Jesus’ response. “Take care of the people!”

The grace of amazement

The second grace that the crowd receives when it follows Jesus is that of joy-filled amazement. People were amazed by Jesus (Lk 11:14), by his miracles, but above all by his very person. People loved to meet him along the way, to receive his blessing and to bless him, like the woman in the midst of the crowd who blessed his Mother. The Lord himself was amazed by people’s faith; he rejoiced and he lost no opportunity to speak about it.

The grace of discernment

The third grace that people receive is that of discernment. “The crowds found out [where Jesus had gone], and followed him” (Lk 9:11). They “were astounded by his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority” (Mt 7:28-29; cf. Lk 5:26). Christ, the Word of God come in the flesh, awakens in people this charism of discernment, which is certainly not the discernment of those who specialize in disputed questions. When the Pharisees and the teachers of the law debated with him, what people discerned was Jesus’ authority, the power of his teaching to touch their hearts, and the fact that evil spirits obeyed him (leaving momentarily speechless those who tried to trap him by their questions; the people liked that; they were able to distinguish this and they liked it).

Let us take a closer look at the way the Gospel views the crowd. Luke points out four large groups who are the preferred beneficiaries of the Lord’s anointing: the poor, the blind, the oppressed and captives. He speaks of them in general terms, but then we are glad to see that, in the course of the Lord’s life, these anointed ones gradually take on real names and faces. When oil is applied to one part of the body, its beneficial effect is felt throughout the entire body. So too, the Lord, taking up the prophecy of Isaiah, names various “crowds” to whom the Spirit sends him, according to what we may call an “inclusive preferentiality”: the grace and the charism given to one individual person or a particular group then redounds, like every action of the Spirit, to the good of all.

The poor (in Greek, ptochoi) are those who are bent over, like beggars who bow down and ask for alms. But poor too (ptochè) was that widow who anointed with her fingers the two small coins which were all she had to live on that day. The anointing by the widow to give alms went unnoticed by the eyes of all except Jesus, who looks kindly on her lowliness. Through her, the Lord can accomplish fully his mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the poor. Paradoxically, the disciples heard the good news that people like her exist. She – the generous woman – could not imagine that she would “make it to the Gospel”, that her simple gesture would be recorded in the Gospel. Like all those men and women who are the “saints next door”, she lives interiorly the joyful fact that her actions “carry weight” in the Kingdom, and are worth more than all the riches of the world.

The blind are represented by one of the most likable figures in the Gospel: Bartimaeus (cf. Mt 10:46-52), the blind beggar who regained his sight and, from that moment on, only had eyes to follow Jesus on his journey. The anointing of the gaze! Our gaze, to which the eyes of Jesus can restore the brightness which only gratuitous love can give, the brightness daily stolen from us by the manipulative and banal images with which the world overwhelms us.

To refer to the oppressed (in Greek, tethrausmenoi), Luke uses a word that contains the idea of “trauma”. It is enough to evoke the parable – perhaps Luke’s favourite – of the Good Samaritan, who anoints with oil and binds the wounds (traumata: Lk 10:34) of the man who had been beaten by robbers and left lying at the side of the road. The anointing of the wounded flesh of Christ! In that anointing we find the remedy for all those traumas that leave individuals, families and entire peoples ignored, excluded and unwanted, on the sidelines of history.

The captives are prisoners of war (in Greek, aichmalotoi), those who had been led at the point of a spear (aichmé). Jesus would use the same word in speaking of the taking of Jerusalem, his beloved city, and the deportation of its people (Lk 21:24). Our cities today are taken prisoner not so much at spear point, but by more subtle means of ideological colonization.

Only the anointing of culture, built up by the labour and the art of our forebears, can free our cities from these new forms of slavery.

As for us, dear brother priests, we must not forget that our evangelical models are those “people”, the “crowd” with its real faces, which the anointing of the Lord raises up and revives. They are the ones who complete and make real the anointing of the Spirit in ourselves; they are the ones whom we have been anointed to anoint. We have been taken from their midst, and we can fearlessly identify with these ordinary people. Each of us has our own story. A little bit of memory will do us much good. They are an image of our soul and an image of the Church. Each of them incarnates the one heart of our people.

We priests are the poor man and we would like to have the heart of the poor widow whenever we give alms, touching the hand of the beggar and looking him or her in the eye. We priests are Bartimaeus, and each morning we get up and pray: “Lord, that I may see”. We priests are, in some point of our sinfulness, the man beaten by the robbers. And we want first to be in the compassionate hands of the good Samaritan, in order then to be able to show compassion to others with our own hands.

I confess to you that whenever I confirm and ordain, I like to smear with chrism the foreheads and the hands of those I anoint. In that generous anointing, we can sense that our own anointing is being renewed. I would say this: We are not distributors of bottled oil. We have been anointed to anoint. We anoint by distributing ourselves, distributing our vocation and our heart. When we anoint others, we ourselves are anointed anew by the faith and the affection of our people. We anoint by dirtying our hands in touching the wounds, the sins and the worries of the people. We anoint by perfuming our hands in touching their faith, their hopes, their fidelity and the unconditional generosity of their self-giving, which many significant figures describe as superstition.

The one who learns how to anoint and to bless is thus healed of meanness, abuse and cruelty.

Let us pray, dear brothers; being with Jesus in the midst of our people is the most beautiful place to be. May the Father renew deep within us the Spirit of holiness; may he grant that we be one in imploring his mercy for the people entrusted to our care and for all the world. In this way, the multitude of the peoples, gathered in Christ, may become the one faithful people of God, which will attain its fullness in the Kingdom (cf. Prayer of Priestly Ordination).




Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis   16.03.20 Holy Mass Santa Marta       2 Kings 5: 1-15,      Luke 4: 24-30 
Monday of the Third Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II 
Pope Francis Talks about Disdain and the Simplicity of God 16.03.2016

In both texts that the Liturgy proposes for our meditation today there is an attitude that attracts attention, a human behaviour, but not good spirit: indignation. The people of Nazareth began to listen to Jesus, and they liked how He spoke, but then someone said: "But in which university did you study? This is the son of Mary and Joseph, this was the carpenter! What can He come to tell us?" And the people became disdained. They become indignant (cf. Luke 4:28). And this outrage leads them to violence. And so Jesus who they admired at the beginning of His preaching is driven out, to throw Him down the cliff (cf. v. 29).

Even Naamàn, a good man, and Naamàn was also open to faith, but when the prophet sends someone to him to say that he bathes seven times in the Jordan he becomes indignant. But why? "Here, I thought, of course he will come out and stand there, and he will invoke the name of the Lord his God, he will wave his hand over the sick part and he will take away my leprosy. Surely the Abanà and Parpar, rivers of Damascus, are better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I bathe there and cleanse myself? He turned and left angry." With disdain.

Even in Nazareth there were good people; but what is behind these good people that leads them to this indignant behaviour? And in Nazareth it was worse: because of the violence. Both the people of the synagogue of Nazareth and Naamàn thought that God manifested himself only in the extraordinary, in things out of the ordinary; that God could not act in the common things of life, in simplicity. They disdained the simple. They were indignant, they despised simple things. And our God makes us understand that He always acts in simplicity: in simplicity, in the house of Nazareth, in the simplicity of everyday work, in the simplicity of prayer... The simple things. Instead, the worldly spirit leads us towards vanity, towards appearances...

And both end in violence: Naamàn was very educated, but he slams the door in the prophet's face and leaves. Violence, an act of violence. The people of the synagogue begin to get angry, to get heated, and they make the decision to kill Jesus, but unconsciously, and they kick Him out to throw him down. Indignation is an ugly temptation that leads to violence.

They showed me, a few days ago, on a mobile phone, a video of the door of a building that was quarantined. There was one person, a young gentleman, who wanted to go out. And the policeman told him he couldn't. And he punched him, with disdain, with contempt. "But who are you, 'negro', to prevent me from leaving?" It is the indignation of the proud, of the proud ... but with a poverty of spirit that is really awful, of the proud who live only with the illusion of being more than they are. It is a spiritual "illness", people who are indignant: indeed, many times these people need to be indignant, to be indignant to feel like they are someone.

This too can happen to us: "the Pharisaical scandal", the theologians call it, or the scandal of the Pharasees , that is, to scandalize those things such as the simplicity of God, the simplicity of the poor, the simplicity of Christians, as if to say: "But this is not God. No, no. Our God is more cultured, he is wiser, he is more important. God cannot act in this simplicity." And always indignation leads you to violence; both physical violence and verbal violence, which always kills like physical violence.

Let us think of these two passages: the indignation of the people in the synagogue of Nazareth and the indignation of Naamàn, because they did not understand the simplicity of our God.





Chapter 4

16-31 cont.



Pope Francis           01.04.21  Holy Chrism Mass, Vatican Basilica          Holy Thursday             Luke 4: 16-30

Pope Francis Chrism Mass 01.04.2021

The Gospel shows us a change of heart among the people who were listening to the Lord. The change was dramatic, and it reveals the extent to which persecution and the cross are linked to the proclamation of the Gospel. The admiration aroused by the grace-filled words spoken by Jesus did not last long in the minds of the people of Nazareth. A comment that someone murmured went insidiously viral: “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Lk 4:22).
It was one of those ambiguous expressions that are blurted out in passing. One person can use it approvingly to say: “How wonderful that someone of such humble origin speaks with this authority!” Someone else can use it to say in scorn: “And this one, where did he come from? Who does he think he is?” If we think about it, we can hear the same words spoken on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, began to preach the Gospel. Some said: “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?” (Acts 2:7). While some received the word, others merely thought that the apostles were drunk.

Strictly speaking, those words spoken in Nazareth might go either way, but if we look at what followed, it is clear that they contained a seed of violence that would then be unleashed against Jesus.

They were “words of justification”,[1] as, for example, when someone says: “That is altogether too much!” and then either attacks the other person or walks away.

This time, the Lord, who at times said nothing or simply walked away, did not let the comment pass. Instead, he laid bare the malevolence concealed in the guise of simple village gossip. “You will quote me the proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’. What we have heard that you did in Capernaum, do here also in your own country!” (Lk 4:23). “Heal yourself…”

“Let him save himself”. There is the poison! Those same words will follow the Lord to the cross: “He saved others, let him save himself” (Lk 23:35). “And save us”, one of the thieves will add (cf. v. 39).

As always, the Lord refuses to dialogue with the evil spirit; he only replies in the words of Scripture. The prophets Elijah and Elisha, for their part, were accepted not by their own countrymen but by a Phoenician widow and a Syrian who had contracted leprosy: two foreigners, two people of another religion. This is itself striking and it shows how true was the inspired prophecy of the aged Simeon that Jesus would be a “sign of contradiction (semeion antilegomenon)” (Lk 2:34)[2].

Jesus’ words have the power to bring to light whatever each of us holds in the depths of our heart, often mixed like the wheat and the tares. And this gives rise to spiritual conflict. Seeing the signs of the Lord’s superabundant mercy and hearing the “beatitudes” but also the “woes” found in the Gospel, we find ourselves forced to discern and decide. In this case, Jesus’ words were not accepted and this made the enraged crowd attempt to kill him. But it was not yet his “hour”, and the Lord, so the Gospel tells us, “passing through the midst of them, went away”.

It was not his hour, yet the swiftness with which the crowd’s fury was unleashed, and the ferocity of a rage prepared to kill the Lord on the spot, shows us that it is always his hour. That is what I would like to share with you today, dear priests: that the hour of joyful proclamation, the hour of persecution and the hour of the cross go together.

The preaching of the Gospel is always linked to the embrace of some particular cross. The gentle light of God’s word shines brightly in well-disposed hearts, but awakens confusion and rejection in those that are not. We see this over and over again in the Gospels.

The good seed sown in the field bears fruit – a hundred, sixty and thirty-fold – but it also arouses the envy of the enemy, who is driven to sow weeds during the night (cf. Mt 13:24-30.36-43).

The tender love of the merciful father irresistibly draws the prodigal son home, but also leads to anger and resentment on the part of the elder son (cf. Lk 15:11-32).

The generosity of the owner of the vineyard is a reason for gratitude among the workers called at the last hour, but it also provokes a bitter reaction by one of those called first, who is offended by the generosity of his employer (cf. Mt 20:1-16).

The closeness of Jesus, who dines with sinners, wins hearts like those of Zacchaeus, Matthew and the Samaritan woman, but it also awakens scorn in the self-righteous.

The magnanimity of the king who sends his son, thinking that he will be respected by the tenant farmers, unleashes in them a ferocity beyond all measure. Here we find ourselves before the mystery of iniquity, which leads to the killing of the Just One (cf. Mt 21:33-46).

All this, dear brother priests, enables us to see that the preaching of the Good News is mysteriously linked to persecution and the cross.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola – excuse the “family advertising” – expresses this evangelical truth in his contemplation on the Nativity of the Lord. There he invites us “to see and consider what Saint Joseph and Our Lady did in setting out on their journey so that the Lord could be born in extreme poverty and after many labours – experiencing hunger, thirst, heat and cold, injuries and indignities – die on the Cross, and all this for me”. He then invites us, “in reflecting on this, to draw some spiritual profit” (Spiritual Exercises, 116). The joy of the Lord’s birth; the pain of the Cross; persecution.

What reflection can we make to “draw some profit” for our priestly life by contemplating this early appearance of the cross – of misunderstanding, rejection and persecution – at the beginning and at the very heart of the preaching of the Gospel?

Two thoughts occur to me.

First: we are taken aback to see the cross present in the Lord’s life at the very beginning of his ministry, even before his birth. It is already there in Mary’s initial bewilderment at the message of the angel; it is there in Joseph's sleeplessness, when he felt obliged to send Mary away quietly. It is there in the persecution of Herod and in the hardships endured by the Holy Family, like those of so many other families obliged to live in exile from their homeland.

All this makes us realize that the mystery of the cross is present “from the beginning”. It makes us understand that the cross is not an afterthought, something that happened by chance in the Lord’s life. It is true that all who crucify others throughout history would have the cross appear as collateral damage, but that is not the case: the cross does not appear by chance. The great and small crosses of humanity, the crosses of each of us, do not appear by chance.

Why did the Lord embrace the cross fully and to the end? Why did Jesus embrace his entire Passion: his betrayal and abandonment by his friends after the Last Supper, his illegal arrest, his summary trial and disproportionate sentence, the gratuitous and unjustifiable violence with which he was beaten and spat upon...? If mere circumstances conditioned the saving power of the cross, the Lord would not have embraced everything. But when his hour came, he embraced the cross fully. For on the cross there can be no ambiguity! The cross is non-negotiable.

A second thought: true, there is an aspect of the cross that is an integral part of our human condition, our limits and our frailty. Yet it is also true that something happens on the Cross that does not have to do with our human weakness but is the bite of the serpent, who, seeing the crucified Lord defenceless, bites him in an attempt to poison and undo all his work. A bite that tries to scandalize – and this is an era of scandals – a bite that seeks to disable and render futile and meaningless all service and loving sacrifice for others. It is the venom of the evil one who keeps insisting: save yourself.

It is in this harsh and painful “bite” that seeks to bring death, that God’s triumph is ultimately seen. Saint Maximus the Confessor tells us that in the crucified Jesus a reversal took place. In biting the flesh of the Lord, the devil did not poison him, for in him he encountered only infinite meekness and obedience to the will of the Father. Instead, caught by the hook of the cross, he devoured the flesh of the Lord, which proved poisonous to him, whereas for us it was to be the antidote that neutralizes the power of the evil one.[3]

These are my reflections. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to profit from this teaching. It is true that the cross is present in our preaching of the Gospel, but it is the cross of our salvation. Thanks to the reconciling blood of Jesus, it is a cross that contains the power of Christ’s victory, which conquers evil and delivers us from the evil one. To embrace it with Jesus and, as he did before us, to go out and preach it, will allow us to discern and reject the venom of scandal, with which the devil wants to poison us whenever a cross unexpectedly appears in our lives.

“But we are not among those who shrink back (hypostoles)” (Heb 10:39), says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. “We are not among those who shrink back”. This is the advice that the author gives us. We are not scandalized, because Jesus himself was not scandalized by seeing that his joyful preaching of salvation to the poor was not received wholeheartedly, but amid the shouts and threats of those who refused to hear his word or wanted to reduce it to legalisms such as moralism or clericalism.

We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalized by having to heal the sick and to set prisoners free amid the moralistic, legalistic and clerical squabbles that arose every time he did some good.

We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalized by having to give sight to the blind amid people who closed their eyes in order not to see, or looked the other way.

We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalised that his proclamation of a year of grace of the Lord – a year that embraces all of history - provoked a public scandal in matters that today would barely make the third page of a local newspaper.

We are not scandalized because the preaching of the Gospel is effective not because of our eloquent words but because of the power of the cross (cf. 1 Cor 1:17).

The way we embrace the cross in our preaching of the Gospel – with deeds and, when necessary, with words – makes two things clear. That the sufferings that come from the Gospel are not ours, but rather “the sufferings of Christ in us” (2 Cor 1:5), and that “we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants of all for the love of Jesus” (2 Cor 4:5).

I would like to end by sharing one of my memories. “Once, at a dark moment in my life, I asked the Lord for the grace to free me from a difficult and complex situation. A dark moment. I had to preach the Spiritual Exercises to some women religious, and on the last day, as was customary in those days, they all went to confession. One elderly Sister came; she had a clear gaze, eyes full of light. A woman of God. At the end of the confession, I felt the urge to ask her a favour, so I said to her, ‘Sister, as your penance pray for me, because I need a particular grace. Ask the Lord for it. If you ask the Lord, surely he will give it to me’. She paused in silence for a moment and seemed to be praying, then she looked at me and said, ‘The Lord will certainly give you that grace, but make no mistake about it: he will give it to you in his own divine way’. This did me much good, hearing that the Lord always gives us what we ask for, but that he does so in his divine way. That way involves the cross. Not for masochism. But for love, love to the very end”.[4]



[1] A master of the spiritual life, Father Claude Judde speaks of expressions that accompany our decisions and contain “the
final word”, the word that prompts a decision and moves a person or a group to act. Cf. C. JUDDE, Oeuvres spirituelles, II, 1883 (Instruction sur la connaissance de soi-même), pp. 313-319), in M. Á. FIORITO, Buscar y hallar la voluntad de Dios, Buenos Aires, Paulinas, 2000, 248 s.
[2] “Antilegomenon” means they would speak in different ways about him: some would speak well of him and others ill.
[3] Cf. Cent. I, 8-13.
[4] Homily at Mass in Santa Marta, 29 May 2013.




Chapter 5




Chapter 5

1-11



St Augustine would repeat a sentence that I have always found striking. ‘I am afraid when the Lord passes’. Why? ‘Because I am afraid that he will pass and that I might not notice him’. And the Lord passes in our life as happened here, in the life of Peter, of James and of John”.

In this case the Lord passed with a miracle in the life of his disciples. However, Jesus does not always pass in our life with a miracle. Even though, he always makes himself heard. Always. And when the Lord passes what happened here always occurs. He tells us something, he makes us understand something, then he says a word to us which is a promise; he asks something of us in our way of life, asks us to give up something, to rid ourselves of something. And he then gives us a mission.

These three aspects of Jesus’ passing in our life — he asks of us “a word that is a promise”, he asks us “to get rid of something”, he entrusts us with a “mission” — are clearly portrayed in the passage from Luke. Simon, who was so hot-tempered, went to him: ‘but Lord depart from me for I am a sinful man’. He really felt this for he was such. And what did Jesus say to him? ‘Do not be afraid’”.

“This is a beautiful phrase, so often repeated: ‘Do not be afraid, do not fear’. And then – and here comes the promise, ‘henceforth you will be catching men’. When the Lord enters our life, when he passes in our heart, he always says a word to us and makes us a promise: ‘go ahead, take heart, do not be afraid: you will do this!’”. It is “an invitation to follow him”. And “when we hear this invitation and see that there is something wrong in our life, we must correct it”, and be prepared to renounce generously anything. Even if “in our life”, there is something good, Jesus asks us to leave it in order to follow him more closely. This is what happened to the Apostles who left everything as the Gospel says: ‘And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him’”.

Christian life, therefore, “means following the Lord always”. However, if we are to follow him we must first “
listen to what he is telling us”; and then we must “leave what we have to leave at that moment and follow him”.

Lastly there is the 
mission that Jesus entrusts to us. Indeed, he never says: “Follow me!” without then speaking of the mission. He always says: ‘leave it, and follow me for such and such’”. Therefore if “we take Jesus’ route”, it is in order to do something. This is the mission”.

It is “a sequence that is also repeated when we go to pray”. In fact “our prayers”, must always have these three moments. First of all, listening to the word of Jesus, a word through which he gives us peace and assures us of his closeness. Then the moment of our renunciation: we must be ready to “leave something: ‘Lord, what do you want me to leave in order to be closer to you?”. Perhaps at that moment he does not tell you – but let us ask the question generously. Lastly, the moment of mission: prayer always helps us to understand what “we must do”.

This sums up our prayer: “Listening to the Lord, having the courage to rid ourselves of something that prevents us from making haste to follow him and, finally, from taking on the mission”. This does not mean that we do not have to face temptations. Peter, sinned gravely by denying Jesus. Yet later the Lord pardoned him. James and John committed the sin of careerism, but the Lord granted them forgiveness too. It is therefore important to keep these three moments in mind while praying. “We can ask the Apostles”, who experienced these things from so close at hand, to give us the grace always to pray seeking to listen to the word and to the promise of Jesus; to have the willingness to let go of whatever it may be that prevents us from following the Lord closely; and to open our heart to receive the mission.




Chapter 5

1-11 cont.



Pope Francis      03.09.15 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        Luke 5: 1-11
Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

In this passage, taken from Luke (5:1-11), Peter is told to cast his nets after he spent a fruitless night of fishing. It’s the first time that this happens, this miraculous catch. But after the Resurrection there will be another, with similar characteristics. Simon Peter falls down at Jesus’ knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord”. From this gesture, Jesus encounters the people and how the people encounter Jesus.

First of all, Jesus takes to the streets, he spends most of his time on the streets, with the people; then late in the evening he goes alone to pray. Thus, he encounters people, he seeks them. But, how do the people encounter Jesus? Basically, there are two different ways. One is what we see from Peter and the other is what the people do. The Gospel uses the same word for these people: for the people, for the Apostles, and for Peter. It says that upon encountering Jesus, they were ‘astonished’. Peter, the Apostles, and the people, show this feeling of astonishment and say: “This man speaks with authority”. On the contrary, however, the Gospels also speak of another group who encounter Jesus but who do not let astonishment enter their heart. They are the doctors of the Law, who hear Jesus and calculate: “He is intelligent, a man who says things that are true, but these things are not appropriate for us”.

Basically, they distance themselves. Then there are those who listen to Jesus, and there are demons, such as in the Gospel Reading on Wednesday, 2 September. There, we read that Jesus laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God’. The demons, the doctors of the Law, the wicked Pharisees do not have a capacity for astonishment, they are closed by their self-importance, by their arrogance.

Instead, the people and Peter are capable of astonishment. What is the difference? In fact, Peter confesses what the demons confess. When, in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks: “Who am I?”, and Peter answers, “You are the Son of God, you are the Messiah”. Peter makes a confession, saying who He is. And the demons also do the same, acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God. But Peter adds another something that the demons do not say. That is, he speaks about himself and says: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner”. The Pharisees, the doctors of the Law, the demons are unable to say this, they are incapable. The demons, can speak the truth about him, but they say nothing about themselves, because their arrogance is so great that it prevents them from saying it.

Even the doctors of the Law acknowledge that this man is intelligent, he is a competent rabbi, he works miracles. But they are unable to add: “We are arrogant, we are self-important, we are sinners”.

Here then is the lesson that applies to everyone: The inability to acknowledge that we are sinners distances us from the true confession of Jesus Christ. This, precisely, is the difference. Jesus illustrates it in that beautiful parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee in the temple, where we are met with the Pharisee’s arrogance before the altar. The man speaks highly of himself, but never says: “I am a sinner, I have made mistakes”. This is compared with the humility of the tax collector, who would not even lift up his eyes, and who says only: “Have mercy, Lord, I am a sinner”, opening himself to astonishment at the encounter with Jesus Christ, the true encounter.

In our parishes, in our societies, among consecrated people too: how many people are able to say that Jesus is the Lord? Quite a lot! But it is difficult to hear a sincerely stated ‘I am a sinful man, I am a sinful woman’. It is probably, easier to say it about others, when gossiping” and pointing the finger: “This one, that one, this yes...”. In doing so, we are all doctors.

Instead, to come to a true encounter with Jesus, a twofold confession is necessary: ‘You are the Son of God and I am a sinner’. But not just in theory: we have to be honest with ourselves, be able to identify our mistakes and admit: I am a sinner for this, for this, for this and for this....

Later Peter perhaps forgets this astonishment at the encounter, the astonishment that he had when Jesus said to him: “You are Simon, Son of John, but I will call you Peter”. And one day, the same Peter who makes this twofold confession will deny the Lord. However, being humble, he even lets himself be encountered by the Lord, and when their eyes meet, he cries, returning to the confession: ‘I am a sinner’.

May the Lord give us the grace, to encounter him but also to let ourselves be encountered by him. The beautiful grace of astonishment at the encounter, but also the grace of having the twofold confession in our life: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I believe. And I am a sinner, I believe'.





Chapter 5

1-11 cont.



Pope Francis    07.02.16   Angelus, St Peter's Square    Luke 5: 1-11

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel tells us — in St Luke’s narrative — of the call of Jesus’ first disciples (5:1-11). The event takes place in the context of everyday life: there are several fishermen on the shore of the lake of Galilee, who, after working all night and catching nothing, are washing and arranging their nets. Jesus gets into one of the boats, that of Simon, called Peter, whom he asks to put out a little from the shore, and he starts to preach the Word of God to the crowd of people who had gathered. When he is finished speaking, he tells them to put out into the deep and cast the nets. Simon had previously met Jesus and felt the prodigious power of his word. Therefore, he responds: “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets” (v. 5). And this faith of his did not disappoint: indeed, the nets filled with so many fish that they nearly broke (cf. v. 6). Facing this extraordinary event, the fishermen are greatly astonished. Simon Peter throws himself at Jesus’ feet, saying: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (v. 8). That prodigious sign convinces him that Jesus is not only a formidable master whose word is true and powerful, but he is the Lord, he is the manifestation of God. For Peter this close presence brings about a strong sense of his own pettiness and unworthiness. From a human point of view, he thinks that there should be distance between the sinner and the Holy One. In truth, his very condition as a sinner requires that the Lord not distance Himself from him, in the same way that a doctor cannot distance himself from those who are sick.

Jesus’ response to Simon Peter is reassuring and decisive: “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men” (v. 10). Once again the fisherman of Galilee, placing his trust in this word, leaves everything and follows the one who has become his Lord and Master. Simon’s workmates, James and John, do the same. This is the logic that guides Jesus’ mission and the 
mission of the Church: go in search, “fish” for men and women, not to proselytize, but to restore full dignity and freedom to all, through the forgiveness of sins. This is the essential point of Christianity: to spread the free and regenerative love of God, with a welcoming and merciful attitude toward everyone, so that each person can encounter God’s tenderness and have the fullness of life. Here, in a particular way, I think of confessors: they are the first who must give the Father’s mercy, following Jesus’ example, as did the two holy Brothers, Fr Leopold and Padre Pio.

Today’s Gospel challenges us: do we know how to truly trust in the Word of the Lord? Or do we let ourselves become discouraged by our failures? In this Holy Year of Mercy we are called to comfort those who feel they are sinners, unworthy before the Lord, defeated by their mistakes, by speaking to them the very words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid. The Father’s mercy is greater than your sins! It is greater, do not be afraid!”. May the Virgin Mary help us to ever better understand that being disciples means placing our feet in the footsteps left by the Master: 
they are the footprints of divine grace that restore life for all.





Chapter 5

1-11 cont.



Pope Francis      06.09.18   Holy Mass Santa Marta        Luke 5: 1-11
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-accuse-oneself-not-others.html

St Luke 5: 1-11. It is an episode that reminds us of the other miraculous catch of fish, which took place after the Resurrection, when Jesus asked His disciples if they had anything to eat. In both cases, there is an anointing of Peter: first as a fisher of men, then as a pastor. Jesus then changes his name from Simon to Peter; and, as a good Israelite, Peter knows that a change of name signifies a change of mission. Peter felt proud because he truly loved Jesus, and this miraculous catch represents a step forward in his life.

After seeing that the nets were at the point of breaking on account of the great number of fish, Peter throws himself at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for 
I am a sinful man.”

This is the first decisive step of Peter along the path of discipleship, of the disciple of Jesus, accusing himself: ‘I am a sinner.’ This is Peter’s first step; and also the first step for each one of us, if you want to go forward in the spiritual life, in the life of Jesus, serving Jesus, following Jesus, must be this, accusing oneself: without accusing oneself you cannot walk in the Christian life.

There is a risk, however. We all know that we are sinners in a general way, but it is not easy to accuse ourselves of being sinners concretely. We are so used to saying, ‘I am a sinner,’ but in the same way that we say, “I am human,” or “I am an Italian citizen.” But to truly accuse ourselves, on the other hand, means really feeling our own misery: to feel miserable, misery, before the Lord. It’s related to feeling shame. And this is something that does not come from words, but from the heart. That is, there is a concrete experience, like that of Peter when he said to Jesus, “Depart from me, a sinner.” He really felt himself to be a sinner; and then he felt himself to be saved.

The salvation that Jesus brings us requires this sincere 
confession precisely because it is not a cosmetic thing, that changes your looks with “two brushstrokes.” Rather, it transforms – but because you enter into it, you have to make room for it with a sincere confession of your own sins; and so one experiences the wonder that Peter felt.

The first step of conversion, then, is to accuse oneself with 
shame, and to try to experience the wonder of feeling that you are saved. We have to be converted, we must do penance.

There are people who go through life talking about others, accusing others and never thinking of their own sins. And when I go to make my confession, how do I confess? Like a parrot? ‘Bla, bla, bla… I did this, this…’ But are you touched at heart by what you have done? Many times, no. You go there to put on make-up, to make-yourself up a little bit in order to look beautiful. But it hasn’t entered completely into your heart, because you haven’t left room, because you are not capable of accusing yourself.

And so that first step is also a grace: the grace of learning to accuse oneself, and not others.

A sign that a person does not know, that a Christian does not know how to accuse himself is when he is accustomed to accusing others, to talking about others, to being nosy about the lives of others. And that is an ugly sign. Do I do this? It’s a good question to get to the heart of things.

Today let us ask the Lord for the grace, the grace to find ourselves face to face with Him with this wonder that His presence gives; and the grace to feel that we are sinners, but concretely, and to say with Peter: 'Depart from me, for I am a sinner'.





Chapter 5

1-11 cont.



Pope Francis   10.02.19      Angelus, St Peter's Square       Luke 5: 1-11
Pope Francis 10.02.19 Angelus, St Peter's Square

The days Gospel tells how Jesus surprised Simon by climbing in his boat, and going out a little ways from the shore to teach the people. Then Jesus made another surprising move by asking Simon to put out into the deep and lower his nets for a catch.

Simon (to whom Jesus would later give the name Peter) seems at first to offer an objection; but inspired by the presence of Jesus, and illuminated by His word, Simon does as he is asked. It is the response of faith, the response that that we too are called to give; and the attitude of openness that the Lord asks of all His disciples, especially insofar as they have duties of responsibility in the Church.

It is Simon’s trusting obedience that prompts the miraculous catch of fish. When we come with generosity to His service, Jesus accomplishes great things in us.

This is how Jesus deals with each of us: He asks us to welcome Him into the boat of our life, to begin again with Him and set out on a new sea, that turns out to be full of 
surprises. Jesus’ invitation gives new meaning to our existence. If we, like Peter, are sometimes surprised or hesitant at this call, Jesus encourages us. If we trust in Him God will free us from our sin, and open us up to new horizons, to collaborate in his mission.

The greatest miracle accomplished by Jesus for Simon and the other disappointed and tired fishermen, is not so much the nets filled with fish, but to have helped them to not fall victim to 
disappointment and discouragement in the face of setbacks. He opened the way for them to become heralds and witnesses of His word and of the Kingdom of God.





Chapter 5

17-26



Pope Francis       10.12.18   Holy Mass Santa Marta        Luke 5: 17-26
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/faith/10.12.18.jpg

It’s not easy to keep the faith, to defend the faith.

Faith gives us courage and shows us the way to touch the heart of the Lord.  in the parable, the Lord saw the faith of those who brought the man and set him in His presence. It took courage, to go up on the roof and lower him on the stretcher through the tiles…. Those people had faith: They knew that if the sick man was put in front of Jesus, he would be healed

Jesus expressed admiration for people’s faith in the case of the centurion who asked for the healing of his servant; and in the Syrophoenician woman who interceded for her daughter who was possessed by the devil, and in the woman afflicted with haemorrhages who was healed after having touched the hem of Jesus’  cloak. Jesus, reproaches people of little faith, like Peter who doubts, with faith everything is possible.

In this second week of Advent, we ask for the grace to prepare ourselves with faith to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is often marked in a worldly or pagan fashion, it's not easy to keep the faith, it's not easy to defend the faith… it's not easy!

It will do us good today, and also tomorrow, during the week, to take chapter 9 of the Gospel of John and read this beautiful story of the boy who was blind from birth.

From the bottom of our hearts utter an act of faith and say: I believe Lord. Help me in my faith. Defend my faith from worldliness, from superstitions, from all that is not faith. Keep it from being reduced to theory, be it theological or moral… Faith in You, Lord.




Chapter 6





Chapter 6

12-19


Pope Francis    11.09.18      Holy Mass  Santa Marta        Luke 6: 12-19


https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-mass-great-accuser-bishops-scandal.html
It seems the "Great Accuser" is attacking the bishops of the Catholic Church to create scandal.

Bishops must first of all be men of prayer
. Prayer, is a bishop’s consolation in difficult times, since he knows that “Jesus is praying for me and for all bishops.”

This will bring consolation and strength to bishops, who are then called to pray for themselves and the people of God. This, is a bishop’s first duty.

The bishop who loves Jesus is not trying to climb a ladder, advancing his vocation as if it were a mere task or seeking a better placement or promotion. No. A bishop feels chosen, and has the certainty of being chosen. This drives him to speak with the Lord: ‘You chose me, of little importance, a sinner.’ He is humble, because he feels chosen and feels Jesus’ gaze upon his whole being. This gives him strength.

The bishop cannot remain distant from the people; he cannot have attitudes that take him away from them… He doesn’t try to find refuge with the powerful or elite. No. The ‘elites’ criticize bishops, while the people has an attitude of love towards the bishop. This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation

In these times, it seems like the 'Great Accuser' has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'. A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.






Chapter 6

17-26


Pope Francis   17.02.19  Angelus  St Peter's Square     Luke 6: 17, 20-26
Pope Francis 17.02.19 - Angelus St Peter's Square - Beatitudes

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel presents us Saint Luke’s passage on the 
Beatitudes (cf. 6:17, 20-26). The text is arranged into four beatitudes and four admonitions denoted by the expression, “woe to you”. With these assertive and sharp words, Jesus opens our eyes and lets us look with his gaze, beyond appearances, beyond the surface and teaches us to discern situations with faith.

Jesus proclaims the poor, the hungry, the suffering and the persecuted blessed, and he admonishes those who are rich, satisfied, who laugh and are praised by the people. The reason behind this paradoxical beatitude lies in the fact that God is close to those who suffer, and intercedes to free them from their bondage. Jesus sees this; he already sees the beatitude beyond its negative reality. And likewise, the “woe to you” addressed to those who are doing well today, has the purpose of “waking” them from the dangerous deceit of egotism, and opening them up to the logic of love, while they still have the time to do so.

The page from today’s Gospel thus invites us to reflect on the profound sense of having faith, which consists in our trusting completely in the Lord. It is about demolishing worldly idols in order to open our hearts to the true and living God. He alone can give our life that fullness so deeply desired and yet difficult to attain. Brothers and sisters, indeed there are many in our day too who purport to be dispensers of happiness: they come and promise us swift success, great profits within our reach, magical solutions to every problem and so on. And here it is easy to slip unwittingly into sinning against the first Commandment: namely 
idolatry, substituting God with an idol. Idolatry and idols seem to be things from another age, but in reality they are of all ages! Even today. They describe certain contemporary attitudes better than many sociological studies do.

This is why Jesus opens our eyes to reality. We are called to happiness, to be blessed, and we become so as of now, to the measure in which we place ourselves on the side of God, of his Kingdom, on the side of what is not ephemeral but rather endures for eternal life. We are happy if we acknowledge we are needy before God — and this is very important: “Lord, I need you” — and if, like him and with him, we are close to the poor, the suffering and the hungry. We too are like this before God: we are poor, suffering, we are hungry before God. Although we possess worldly goods, we experience joy when we do not idolize or sell our souls out to them, but are able to share them with our brothers and sisters. Today the liturgy invites us once again to question ourselves about this and to be truthful in our heart.

Jesus’ Beatitudes are a decisive message which urges us not to place our trust in material and fleeting things, not to seek happiness by following smoke vendors — who are often vendors of death — experts in illusion. We should not follow them because they are unable to give us hope. May the Lord help us open our eyes to acquire a more penetrating view of reality, to heal the chronic short-sightedness with which the worldly spirit infects us. With his paradoxical Word he stirs us and enables us to recognize what truly enriches us, satisfies us, gives us joy and dignity; in other words, what truly gives meaning and fullness to our lives. May the Virgin Mary help us listen to this Gospel passage with open hearts and minds so that it may bear fruit in our life and that we may become witnesses of the happiness that does not disappoint, that of God who never disappoints.





Chapter 6

27-38


Pope Francis  11.09.14   Holy Mass  Santa Marta     Luke 6: 27-38
Pope Francis  11.09.14 Holy Mass, Santa Marta - Love your enemies

Jesus gave us the law of love: to love God and to love one another as brothers. And the Lord did not fail to explain it a bit further, with the Beatitudes which nicely summarize the Christian approach.

In the day’s Gospel passage, however, Jesus goes a step further, explaining in greater detail to those who surrounded Him to hear Him. Let us look first of all at the verbs Jesus uses: love; do good; bless; pray; offer; do not refuse; give. With these words, Jesus shows us the path that we must take, a path of generosity. He asks us first and foremost to love. And we ask, “whom must I love?”. He answers us, “your 
enemies”. And, with surprise, we ask for confirmation: “our actual enemies?”. “Yes”, the Lord tells us, "actually your enemies!"

But the Lord also asks us to do good. And if we do not ask him, to whom? He tells us straight away, “to those who hate us”. And this time too, we ask the Lord for confirmation: “But must I do good to those who hate me?”. And the Lord’s reply is again, “yes”.

Then he even asks us to 
bless those who curse us. And to pray not only for my mama, for my dad, my children, my family, but for those who abuse us. And not to refuse anyone who begs from you. The newness of the Gospel lies in the giving of oneself, giving the heart, to those who actually dislike us, who harm us, to our enemies. The passage from Luke reads: “And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”. It would merely be an exchange: you love me, I love you. But Jesus reminds us that even sinners — and by sinners he means pagans — love those who love them. This is why, there is no credit.

The passage continues: “And if you 
do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same”. Again, it is simply an exchange: I do good to you, you do good to me!. And yet the Gospel adds: “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you?”. No credit, because it’s a bargain. St Luke then indicates, “even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again”.

All of Jesus’ reasoning leads to a firm conclusion: “Love your enemies instead. Do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Without interest. And your reward will be great”. And thus you will be sons of the Most High.

It is therefore evident that the Gospel is a new message that is difficult to carry forward. In a word, it means “go behind Jesus”. Follow him. Imitate him. Jesus does not answer his Father by saying, “I shall go and say a few words, I shall make a nice speech, I shall point the way and then come back”. No, Jesus’ response to the Father is: “I shall do your will”. And indeed, in the Garden of Olives he says to the Father: “Thy will be done”. And thus he gives his life, not for his friends but for his enemies!

The Christian way is not easy, but this is it. Therefore, to those who say, “I don’t feel like doing this”, the response is “if you don’t feel like it, that’s your problem, but this is the Christian way. This is the path that Jesus teaches us. This is the reason to take the path of Jesus, which is mercy: be merciful as your Father is merciful. Because only with a merciful heart can we do all that the Lord advises us, until the end. And thus it is obvious that the Christian life is not a self-reflexive life but it comes outside of itself to give to others: it is a gift, it is love, and love does not turn back on itself, it is not selfish: it gives itself!

The passage of St Luke concludes with the invitation 
not to judge and to be merciful. However, it often seems that we have been appointed judges of others: gossiping, criticizing, we judge everyone. But Jesus tells us: “Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”. And so, we say it every day in the Our Father: forgive us as we forgive. In fact if I do not first forgive, how can I ask the Father to forgive me?

There is also another really beautiful image in the Gospel reading: “Give and it will be given to you”. And here “Jesus’ heart can be seen to grow and he makes this promise which is perhaps an image of heaven. The Christian life as Jesus presents it truly seems to be “folly”. St Paul himself speaks of the folly the cross of Christ, which is not part of the wisdom of the world. For this reason to be a Christian is to become a bit foolish, in a certain sense. And to renounce that worldly shrewdness in order to do all that Jesus tells us to do. And, if we make an accounting, if we balance things out, it seems to weigh against us. But the path of Jesus is magnanimity, 
generosity, the giving of oneself without measure. He came into the world to save and he gave himself, he forgave, he spoke ill of no one, he did not judge.

Of course, being Christian isn’t easy and we cannot become Christian with our own strength; we need “
the grace of God”. Therefore, there is a prayer which should be said every day: “Lord, grant me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it alone."

A first reading of Chapter Six of Luke’s Gospel is unnerving. But, if we take the Gospel and we give it a second, a third, a fourth reading, we can then ask the Lord for the grace to understand what it is to be Christian. And also for the
 grace that He make Christians of us. Because we cannot do it alone.




Chapter 6

27-38 cont.



Pope Francis        10.09.15 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)          Colossians 3: 12-17,       Luke 6: 27-38
Thursday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time Year B


Several days ago, the Liturgy spoke of the work that was done by Jesus Christ, the Lord: the work of making peace and reconciling. And, the other day, on the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, we asked for this grace of peace and reconciliation.

Peace and reconciliation, therefore, is what Jesus did: he made peace, and this is why he is called the Prince of Peace. The Prophet Micah says in this regard that he shall be peace and that he brings peace, that he makes peace. Even in our hearts, in our souls. So, how did he make peace? By giving his life as an offering, a prayer for the forgiveness of all.

I wonder, if we are really thankful for this gift of peace that we received in Jesus. Because peace was made, but it wasn’t accepted. And thus, still, every day on the news, in the papers, we see that there are wars, destruction, hatred, enmity, and that enmity that the Lord spoke of to the serpent after the sin, it’s there!.

After all, there are also men and women who have worked so much — they work a lot! — to produce weapons to kill, arms that in the end become bathed in the blood of so many innocent people, so many people. There are wars and there is the wickedness of preparing for war, of making arms against the other, to kill. The terms of the issue are clear: Peace saves, peace lets you live, peace lets you grow; war destroys you, it brings you down. People often say, Father, it’s awful that this has happened there!. But certain situations, do not only happen in faraway places: War even exists in our Christian communities, among ourselves. The advice that today’s Liturgy offers us: ‘Make peace among yourselves’, Colossians 3:12-17.

So, there are two key words. The first is forgiveness: if we do not learn to forgive one another, we will always be at war. As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do. But if you do not know how to forgive, you are not a Christian, because you do not do as the Lord did. Moreover, if you don’t forgive, you cannot receive the Lord’s peace, the Lord’s forgiveness.

Each day, when we pray the Our Father, we say: ‘forgive us, as we forgive’. And this, is in the ‘conditional’: we are trying to convince God to be good, as we are good in forgiving: in reverse. Words, no? Like she sings in that beautiful song: ‘Words, words, words’, no? I think the singer is Mina.... Words!.

This is the right path: Forgive one another! As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do! Forgive one another! And some good advice for forgiving each other: forbear one another at home, in your neighbourhood, at work.... Bear with each other, without resorting to whispering: “He did that...”. It’s important to forbear, because he too bears with me”. In short, it takes Christian patience.

How many heroic women there are among our people who, for the good of their family, of their children, forbear so much brutality, so much injustice: they forbear and go forward with their family. And how many heroic men there are among our Christian people who forbear getting up early in the morning and going to work — often unfair, poorly paid work — to return late in the evening, in order to provide for their wife and children. These people are the just ones.

However, how many others there are who, instead of doing what they should, wag their tongue and create conflict. Indeed, the same damage that a bomb creates in a town, the tongue creates in a family, in a neighbourhood, in a workplace. Because the tongue destroys, it creates war. And I’m not saying this, the Apostle James says it. Here then is the practical advice of St Paul: “As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do: forbear one another and forgive one another”.

Then, there is another word that Jesus says in the Gospel, because it repeats the same topic: mercy. In the passage of Luke 6:27-38, the Lord says: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”. It is an invitation to understand others, not to condemn them: the Lord, the Father, is so merciful, he always forgives, he always wants to make peace with us. But, if you are not merciful, how can the Lord be merciful with you, since we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge others?.

For this reason, if you are a priest and don’t feel you are merciful, tell your bishop so you can be given administrative work, but don’t go down to the confessional, please! Because a priest who isn’t merciful does so much harm in the confessional: he lambastes people!. Perhaps one could justify it, saying: “No, father, I am merciful, but I’m a little upset...”. Before entering the confessional, go to the doctor who can give a pill for your nerves! But be merciful!

One must be merciful even among ourselves. Instead of complaining — “he did this...” — we should ask ourselves: “what have I done?”. After all, who can say that he is a worse sinner than I am? None of us can say this. Only the Lord can. All of us, can say, ‘I am a sinner and I need mercy and I need forgiveness. And this is why I forbear others, I forgive others and I am merciful with others’. For when the soul is like this, the Christian way is what Paul teaches to his own in the Letter to the Colossians: ‘Put on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience’.

This, then, is the Christian way: it is not arrogance, it is not condemnation, it is not speaking ill of others. The Christian way is compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience. Ultimately, it is the way of Jesus, the way by which Jesus made peace and reconciliation, until the end. Indeed, at the end, in the final yearnings of life, he managed to hear something that the thief said: ‘Yes, yes, yes, come with me, dear one, come to Paradise’.

Let us ask the Lord to give each of us the grace to forbear others, to forgive, to be merciful, as the Lord is merciful with us; and to have this Christian way of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience.





Chapter 6

27-38 cont.



https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-at-mass-mercy-is-the-christian-style.html

The Lord always indicates to us what the life of the disciple must be. He does so, for example, through the Beatitudes or the Works of Mercy.

In a particular way, the day’s liturgy focuses on four details for living the Christian life: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Christians should never enter into gossiping, or into the logic of insults, which only cause war, but to always find time to pray for annoying people.

This is the Christian style, this is the manner of Christian living. But if I do not do these four things? Loving enemies, doing good to those who hate me, blessing those who curse me, and praying for those who mistreat me, am I not a Christian? Yes, you are a Christian because you have received Baptism, but you are not living like a Christian. You are living like a pagan, with the spirit of worldliness.

It is certainly easy to badmouth enemies or those who are of a different party, but Christian logic goes against the current, and follows the folly of the Cross. The ultimate goal, is to get to the point where we behave ourselves like children of our Father.

Only the merciful are like God the Father. ‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’ This is the path, the path that goes against the spirit of the world, that thinks differently, that does not accuse others. Because among us is the “Great Accuser,” the one who is always going about to accuse us before God, to destroy. 
Satan: he is the “Great Accuser.” And when I enter into this logic of accusing, of cursing, seeking to do evil to others, I enter into the logic of the “Great Accuser” who is the “Destroyer,” who does not know the word mercy, does not know, has never lived it.

Life fluctuates between two invitations: That of the Father and that of the “Great Accuser,” “who pushes us to accuse others, to destroy them”.

But it is he who is destroying me! And you cannot do it to the other. You cannot enter into the logic of the accuser. ‘But Father, I have to accuse.’ Yes, accuse yourself. You do well. For the other, only mercy, because we are children of the Father who is merciful.




Chapter 6

27-38 cont.


Pope Francis   24.02.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square   Luke 6: 27-38
Pope Francis 24.02.19  Angelus St Peter's Square

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Lk 6:27-38) concerns a central point that characterizes Christian life: love for 
enemies. Jesus’ words are clear: “I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (vv. 27-38). And this is not optional, it is a command. It is not for everyone, but for the disciples, whom Jesus calls “you that hear”. He is well aware that loving enemies exceeds our possibilities, but this is why he became man: not to leave us as we are, but to transform us into men and women capable of a greater love, that of his Father and ours. This is the love that Jesus gives to those who ‘hear him’. Thus it becomes possible! With him, thanks to his love, to his Spirit, we are able to love even those who do not love us, even those who do us harm.

In this way, Jesus wants God’s love to triumph over hatred and rancour in every heart. The logic of love, which culminates in Christ’s Cross, is a Christian’s badge and induces us to meet everyone with the heart of brothers and sisters. But how is it possible to overcome human instinct and the worldly law of 
retaliation? Jesus provides the answer in the same Gospel passage: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). Those who hear Jesus, who make an effort to follow him even at a cost, become children of God, and begin to truly resemble the Father who is in heaven. We become capable of things we never thought we could say or do, and of which we would have been rather ashamed, but which now give us joy and peace instead. We no longer need to be violent, with words and gestures: we discover that we are capable of tenderness and goodness; and we sense that all of this comes not from ourselves but from him! And thus we do not brag about it but are grateful for it.

There is nothing greater and more fruitful than love: it bestows all dignity to the person, while, on the contrary, hatred and vengeance decrease it, marring the beauty of the creature made in God’s image.

This command, to respond to insult and wrongdoing with love, has created a new culture in the world: “a culture of mercy” — we need to learn this well! And properly practice this culture of mercy — which “can set in motion a real cultural revolution” (Apostolic Letter 
Misericordia et Misera, 20). It is the revolution of love, in which the protagonists are the martyrs of all times. And Jesus assures us that our behaviour, inspired by love for those who do us harm, will not be in vain. He tells us: “forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you” (vv. 37-38). This is beautiful. God will give us something beautiful if we are generous, merciful. We must forgive because God has forgiven us and always forgives us. If we do not forgive completely, we cannot expect to be forgiven completely. However, if our hearts are open to mercy, if we seal forgiveness with a brotherly embrace and secure the bonds of communion, we proclaim to the world that it is possible to overcome evil with good. At times it is easier for us to remember the harm they have done to us and not the good things; to the point that there are people who have this habit and it becomes a sickness. They are “collectors of injustice”: they only remember the bad things done. And this is not a path. We must do the opposite, Jesus says. Remember the good things, and when someone comes with some gossip, and speaks ill of another, say: “Yes, perhaps ... but he has this good quality...”. Turn the discussion around. This is the revolution of mercy.

May the Virgin Mary help us to let our heart be touched by this holy word of Jesus, burning like fire, that it may transform us and make us able to do good without 
reciprocation, doing good without reciprocation, witnessing everywhere to the victory of love.





Chapter 6

27-38 cont.


Pope Francis         06.09.19  Holy Mass, Zimpeto Stadium, Maputo, Mozambique        Colossians 3: 12-17,     Luke 6: 27-38

Pope Francis   06.09.19 Mozambique

Dear brothers and sisters!

We have heard a passage of the Sermon on the Plain, taken from the Gospel of Luke. After choosing his disciples and proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus adds: “But I say to you that listen, 
love your enemies” (Lk 6:27). Today, his words are also addressed to us, who hear them in this Stadium.

Jesus speaks with clarity, simplicity and firmness as he traces a path, a narrow path that demands certain virtues. For Jesus is no idealist, someone who ignores reality. He is talking about specific enemies, real enemies, the kind he described in the previous Beatitude (v. 22): those who hate us, exclude us, revile us and defame us.

Many of you can still tell your own stories of violence, hatred and conflict; some concerning things that happened to you personally, others concerning people you knew who are no longer alive, and others still, out of fear that the past wounds will reopen and reverse the progress already made towards peace, as in Cabo Delgado.

Jesus is not calling us to an abstract, ethereal or theoretical love, like that celebrated in fine speeches. The path he proposes is one that he himself already took, the path that led him to love those who betrayed him, who judged him unjustly, who would kill him.

It is not easy to speak of reconciliation while wounds are still open from the years of conflict, or to take a step towards forgiveness, which is not the same as ignoring pain or giving up our memories or ideals (cf. 
Evangelii Gaudium, 100). Even so, Jesus is calling us to love and to do good. This means much more than simply ignoring the persons who harmed us, or trying to avoid encountering them. Jesus commands us to show an active, impartial and extraordinary benevolence towards those who have hurt us. Nor does Jesus stop there. He also asks us to bless them and to pray for them. In other words, to speak of them with words of blessing, with words of life not death, to speak their names not in insult or revenge, but to establish a new bond which brings peace. It is a high standard that the Master sets before us!

In inviting us to do this, Jesus wants to end forever that common practice of being Christians yet living under the law of retaliation. We cannot look to the future, or build a nation, an equitable society, on the basis of violence. I cannot follow Jesus if I live my life by the rule of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for tooth”.

No family, no group of neighbours, no ethnic group, much less a nation, has a future if the force that unites them, brings them together and resolves their differences is vengeance and hatred. We cannot come to terms and unite for the sake of revenge, or treating others with the same violence with which they treated us, or plotting opportunities for retaliation under apparently legal auspices. “Weapons of violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts” (
Evangelii Gaudium, 60). An “equity” born of violence is always a spiral with no escape, and its cost is extremely high. Yet another path is possible, for it is crucial not to forget that our peoples have a right to peace. You have a right to peace.

To make his commandment more concrete and applicable in daily life, Jesus proposes a first golden rule, one within the reach of all. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk 6:31). And he helps us realize what is most important in this way of acting towards others: to love each other, to help each other and to lend without expecting anything in return.

“Love one another”, Jesus tells us. Paul translates this as “clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness” (Col 3:12). The world disregards and continues to ignore the virtue of mercy, of compassion. It kills or abandons the handicapped and the elderly, eliminates the wounded and infirm, or shows itself more concerned with the suffering of animals. It has not practiced the goodness and kindness that lead us to consider the needs of our beloved neighbour as our own.

Overcoming times of division and violence calls not only for an act of reconciliation or peace, in the sense of an absence of conflict. It also calls for daily commitment on the part of everyone to an attentive and active concern that makes us treat others with the same mercy and goodness with which we ourselves want to be treated. An attitude of mercy and goodness above all towards those who, by their place in society, quickly encounter rejection and exclusion. An attitude not of the weak but of the strong, an attitude of men and women who realize that it is not necessary to mistreat, denigrate or crush others in order to feel ourselves important, but rather the contrary… And this attitude is the prophetic strength that Jesus Christ himself showed us by his desire to be identified with them (cf. Mt 25:35-45) and by teaching us the path of service.

Mozambique is a land of abundant natural and cultural riches, yet paradoxically, great numbers of its people live below the poverty level. And at times it seems that those who approach with the alleged desire to help have other interests. Sadly, this happens with brothers and sisters of the same land, who let themselves be corrupted. It is very dangerous to think that corruption is the price to be paid for foreign aid.

“It cannot be like that with you” (Mt 20:26; cf. vv. 26-28). Jesus’ words urge us to take the lead in a different way of acting: that of his kingdom. To be seeds, here and now, of joy and hope, peace and reconciliation. What the Spirit has come to bring about is not a feverish activism but above all a concern for others, acknowledging and appreciating them as our brothers and sisters, even to the point of identifying with their lives and their pain. This is the best barometer for gauging any kind of ideology that would manipulate the poor and situations of injustice for the sake of political or personal interest (cf. 
Evangelii Gaudium, 199). In this way, in all those places where we encounter one another, we can be seeds and instruments of peace and reconciliation.

We want 
peace to reign in our hearts and in the lives of our people. We want a future of peace. We want “the peace of Christ to reign in our hearts” (Col 3.15), as the letter of Saint Paul said so well. Here Paul uses a word taken from the world of sports, which evokes the umpire or referee who settles disputed issues. “May the peace of Christ act as the umpire in your hearts”. If the peace of Christ acts as the umpire in our hearts, whenever our feelings are in conflict or we feel torn between two contrary feelings, “we should play Christ’s game”, and let his decision keep us on the path of love, the path of mercy, in the option for the most poor and the protection of nature. The path of peace. If Jesus were to serve as the umpire for the conflicting emotions in our hearts, in the complex decisions of our country, then Mozambique will be ensured a future of hope. Then your country will “sing with heartfelt gratitude to God in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col 3:16).







Chapter 6

36-38


Pope Francis   17.03.14   Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Daniel 9: 4B-10,      Luke  6: 36-38
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/judgement/17.03.14.png

Jesus’ invitation to mercy is intended to draw us into a deeper imitation of God our Father: be merciful, as your Father is merciful. However, it is not easy to understand this willingness to show mercy, because we are accustomed to presenting the bill to others: you’ve done this, now you have to do this. In short, we judge, and we fail … to leave space for understanding and mercy.

In order to be merciful, two attitudes are needed. The first is “self-knowledge”. In today’s first reading, Daniel recounts the humble prayer of the people before God and their acknowledgement that they are sinners: “We have sinned and done wrong, but to thee belongs righteousness, and to us shame”. In the presence of a repentant people, God’s justice is transformed into mercy and forgiveness.

This challenges us, by inviting us to make room for this same inner attitude. Therefore, to become merciful, we must first acknowledge that we have done many things wrong: we are sinners! We need to know how to say: Lord, I am ashamed of what I have done in life.

Even though none of us has ever killed anyone, nonetheless we still have committed many daily sins. Therefore, acknowledging that we have sinned against the Lord, and being ashamed in his presence is a grace: the grace of knowing that one is a sinner! It is easy, and yet “so very difficult” to say: “I am a sinner and I am ashamed of it before you and I ask for your forgiveness”.

Our Father Adam gave us an example of what one should not do. For he blamed the woman for having eaten the fruit and he justified himself, saying: “I have not sinned; it is she who made me go down this road!”. Eve then does the same thing, blaming the serpent. Yet one should acknowledge one's sin and one’s need for God’s forgiveness, and not look for excuses and load the blame onto others. Perhaps someone helped me to sin, and opened the road: but I did it!

If we act in this way, how many good things will follow: we will truly be men. Furthermore, with this attitude of repentance we will be more capable of being merciful, because we will feel God’s mercy for us. In the Our Father, in fact, we do not only pray: “forgive us our trespasses”. We also pray “forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

The second attitude we need is “an openness to expanding our hearts”. It is precisely shame and repentance that expands a small, selfish heart, since they give space to God to forgive us. What does it mean to open and expand one’s heart? First, it means acknowledging ourselves to be sinners and not looking to what others have done. And from here, the basic question becomes: “Who am I to judge this? Who am I to gossip about this? Who am I, who have done the same things, or worse?”

The Lord says it in the Gospel: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap”. This is the “generosity of heart” that the Lord presents through the image of those going to collect grain who enlarged their aprons in order to received more. In fact, you can receive far more if you have a big heart! A big heart doesn’t get entangled in other peoples lives, it doesn’t condemn but forgives and forgets as “God has forgiven and forgotten my sins”. 

In order to be merciful we need to call upon the Lord's help, since “it is a grace”. And we also need to “recognize our sins and be ashamed of them” and forgive and forget the offences of others. Men and women who are merciful have big, big hearts: they always excuse others and think more of their own sins. Were someone to say to them: ‘but do you see what so and so did?’, they respond in mercy saying: ‘but I have enough to be concerned over with all I have done’. If all of us, all peoples, all families, all quarters had this attitude, how much peace there would be in the world, how much peace there would be in our hearts, for mercy brings us peace! Let us always remember: who am I to judge? To be ashamed of oneself and to open and expand one’s heart, may the Lord give us this grace!




Chapter 6

36-38




Pope Francis    18.03.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta    Luke 6: 36-38
Pope Francis  18.03.19

Do not judge others; do not condemnforgive: in this way you imitate the mercy of the Father. In order not to not go astray in life, we need to imitate God; walk in the sight of the Father.

The mercy of God is such a great thing, very great. We must not forget this. How many people say: “I have done such terrible things. I have purchased my place in 
hell, I can’t turn back”. But do they think about the mercy of God? Let us remember that story about the poor widow lady who went to confess to the Curé of Ars. Her husband had committed suicide; he jumped from the bridge into the river. And she wept. She said, “But I am a sinner, a poor woman. But my poor husband! He is in hell. He committed suicide, and suicide is a mortal sin. He is in hell”. And the Curé of Ars said, “But wait a moment, ma’am, because between the bridge and the river, there is the mercy of God”. But to the very end, to the very end, there is the mercy of God.

Jesus gives three practical suggestions to help us get in the habit of being merciful. First: to not judge. We should refrain from judging, especially in this time of Lent.
Also, it is a habit that gets mixed up in our life even without us realizing it. Always! Even by beginning a conversation: “Did you see what he did?” Judgement of others. Let us think about how many times each day we judge. All of us. But always through beginning a conversation, a comment about someone else: “But look, that person had plastic surgery! They’re uglier than before”.

Learn the wisdom of generosity, the main way to overcome gossiping. When we gossip about others we are continually judging, continually condemning, and hardly forgiving.

The Lord teaches us: “Give and it will be given to you”: be generous in giving. Don’t be “closed pockets”; be generous in giving to the poor, to those who are in need, and also in giving many things: in giving counsel, in giving a smile to people, in 
smiling. “Give and it will be given to you. And it will be given to you in good measure, flowing over, pressed down, running over”, because the Lord will be generous: We give one, and He gives us one hundred of all that we have given. And this is the attitude that provides armour for not judging, not condemning; for forgiving. The importance of giving alms, but not only material alms, but spiritual alms too: spending time with someone in need, visiting someone who is sick, offering a smile.




Chapter 6

39-45


Pope Francis   12.09.14   Holy Mass,  Santa Marta    Luke 6: 39-42

In recent days the liturgy has led us to meditate on many Christian attitudes: to give, to be generous, to serve others, to forgive, to be merciful. These are approaches which help the Church to grow. But today especially, the Lord makes us consider one of these approaches, which he has already spoken of, and that is brotherly correction. The bottom line is: When a brother, a sister from the community makes a mistake, how does one correct them?

Always through the liturgy the Lord has given us advice on how to correct others. But today he resumes and says: one must correct him or her, but as a person who sees and not as one who is blind. Luke (6:39-42): “Can a blind man lead a blind man?”.

Thus to correct it is necessary to see clearly. And to follow several rules of behaviour that the Lord himself proposed. First of all, the advice he gives to correct a brother, we heard the other day. It is to take aside your brother who made the error and speak to him, telling him, brother, in this regard, I believe you did not do right!

And to take him aside, indeed, means to correct him with 
charity. It would otherwise be like performing surgery without anaesthesia, resulting in a patient’s painful death. And charity is like anaesthesia which helps him to receive the care and to accept the correction. Here then is the first step toward a brother: take him aside, gently, lovingly, and speak to him.

Let us always speak with charity, without wounding, in our communities, parishes, institutions, religious communities, when one must say something to a sister, to a brother.

Along with charity, it is necessary to tell the 
truth and never say something that isn’t true. In fact many times in our communities things are said to another person that aren’t true: they are libellous. Or, if they are true however, they harm the reputation of that person.

In this respect the following may be a way to approach a brother: I am telling you this, to you, what you have done. It is true. It isn’t a rumour that I heard. Because rumours wound, they are insults to a person’s reputation, they are strikes at a person’s heart. And so the truth is always needed, even if at times it isn’t good to hear it. In every case if the truth is told with charity and with love, it is easier to accept. This is why it is necessary to speak the truth with charity: this is how one must speak to others about faults.

Jesus speaks of the third rule, 
humility, in the passage of Luke’s Gospel: correct others without hypocrisy, that is, with humility. It is good to point out to oneself if you must correct a tiny flaw there, consider that you have so many that are greater. The Lord says this effectively: first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck from the eye of another. Only in this way will you not be blind and will you see clearly to truly help your brother. Thus humility is important in order to recognize that I am a greater sinner than him, a greater sinner than her. Afterwards I must help him and her to correct this flaw.

If I do not perform brotherly correction with charity, do not perform it in truth and do not perform it with humility, I become blind. And if I do not see, it is asked, how do I heal another blind person.

In substance, fraternal correction is an act to heal the body of the Church. It is like mending a hole in the fabric of the Church. However, one must proceed with much sensitivity, like mothers and grandmothers when they mend, and this is the very manner with which one must perform brotherly correction.

On the other hand if you are not capable of performing fraternal reproof with love, with charity, in truth and with humility, you will offend, damage that person’s heart: you will create an extra tale that wounds and you will become a blind hypocrite, as Jesus says. Indeed, the day’s reading from the Gospel of Luke reads: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye”. And while it is necessary to recognize oneself as being a greater sinner than the other, as brothers, however, we are called to help to correct him. 

There is a sign which perhaps can help us: when one sees something wrong and feels that he should correct it but perceives a certain pleasure in doing so, then it is time to pay attention, because that is not the Lord’s way. Indeed, in the Lord there is always the cross, the difficulty of doing something good. And love and gentleness always come from the Lord.

This whole line of reasoning on fraternal correction,  demands that we not judge. Even if we Christians are tempted to act as scholars, almost as if to move outside the game of sin and of grace, as if were angels.

This is a temptation that St Paul also speaks of in his First Letter to the Corinthians (9:16-19, 22-27): “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. The Apostle therefore reminds us, “a Christian who, in community, doesn’t do things, even brotherly correction, in charity, in truth and with humility, is disqualified”. Because he has not managed to become a mature Christian. 

Let us pray that the Lord help us in this brotherly service, so beautiful and so agonizing, of helping brothers and sisters to be better, pushing ourselves to always do so with charity, in truth and with humility.




Chapter 6

39-45



Pope Francis    03.03.19     Angelus St Peter's Square   Luke 6: 39-45
Pope Francis 03.03.19 Gossip

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage presents brief parables with which Jesus seeks to indicate to his disciples the 
path to follow in order to live wisely. With the question: can a blind man lead a blind man?” (Lk 6:39), he wishes to emphasize that a leader cannot be blind, but must see clearly, that is, he must have wisdom in order to lead wisely, otherwise he risks causing damage to the people who are entrusted to him. Jesus thus calls attention to those who have educational responsibility or who govern: spiritual pastors, public authorities, legislators, teachers, parents, exhorting them to be aware of their delicate role and to always discern the right path on which to lead people.

And Jesus borrows a wise expression in order to designate himself as an example of teacher and leader to be followed: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher” (v. 40). It is a call to follow his example and his teaching in order to be sound and wise leaders. And this teaching is included above all in the Sermon on the Mount — which, in the past three Sundays the liturgy has offered us in the Gospel — indicating the attitude of meekness and of mercy in order to be honest, humble and just people. In today’s passage we find another significant phrase, which exhorts us to be neither presumptuous nor hypocritical. It says: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (v. 41). So often, as we all know, it is easy or convenient to see and condemn the flaws and sins of others, without being able to see our own with such clarity. We always hide our flaws; we even hide them from ourselves; while it is easy to see the flaws of others. The temptation is to be indulgent with ourselves — lenient with ourselves — and severe with others. It is always useful to help one’s neighbour with wise advice, but while we observe and
 correct our neighbour’s flaws, we must be aware that we too have flaws. If I believe I have none, I cannot condemn or correct others. We all have flaws: everyone. We must be aware of them, and, before condemning others, we must look within ourselves. In this way we can act in a credible way, with humility, witnessing to charity.

How can we understand if our view is clear or if it is obstructed by a log? And again Jesus tells us so: “no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit” (vv. 43-44). The fruits are actions but also words. A tree’s quality can also be understood from words. Indeed, those who are good draw good from their hearts and their mouths, and those who are
 bad draw bad, by practicing the most damaging exercise among us, which is grumbling, gossiping, speaking ill of others. This destroys. It destroys the family, destroys school, destroys the workplace, destroys the neighbourhood. Wars begin from the tongue. Let us consider a bit this lesson of Jesus and ask ourselves the question: do I speak ill of others? Do I always seek to tarnish others? Is it easier for me to see others’ flaws than my own? And let us try to correct ourselves at least a little: it will do us all good.

Let us invoke Mary’s support and intercession in order to follow the Lord on this journey.







Chapter 6

46-49



Pope Francis    03.12.20, Saint John Lateran, Rome       Message for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities    Matthew 7:24-27;     Luke 6:46-49


Dear brothers and sisters,


This year’s celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an occasion to express my closeness to those experiencing situations of particular difficulty during the crisis caused by the pandemic. All of us are in the same boat in the midst of a turbulent sea that can frighten us. Yet in this same boat, some of us are struggling more; among them are persons with serious disabilities.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Building Back Better: Toward a Disability-inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable post-COVID-19 World”. I find the expression “building back better” quite striking. It makes me think of the Gospel parable of the house built on rock or sand (cf. Mt 7:24-27; Lk 6:46-49). So I take this special occasion to share some reflections based on that parable.

1. The threat of the throwaway culture

In the first place, the “rain”, the “rivers” and the “winds” that threaten the house can be identified with the throwaway culture widespread in our time (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 53). For that culture, “some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others considered worthy of a carefree existence. Ultimately, persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor and disabled” (Fratelli Tutti, 18).

That culture affects especially the most vulnerable, among whom are the persons with disabilities. In the last fifty years, important steps forward have been taken on both the civil and ecclesial levels. Awareness of the dignity of each person has grown, and this has resulted in courageous decisions to promote the inclusion of those experiencing physical and psychological limitations. Yet, on the cultural level, much still stands in the way of this trend. We see it in attitudes of rejection, due also to a narcissistic and utilitarian mentality, that give rise to marginalization that ignores the inevitable fact that frailty is part of everyone’s life. Indeed, some with even severe disabilities, despite great challenges, have found the way to a beautiful and meaningful life, whereas many “able-bodied” people feel dissatisfied or even desperate. “Vulnerability is intrinsic to the essential nature of humanity” (Address to the Conference “Catechesis and People with Disabilities”, 21 October 2017).

Consequently, it is important, on this Day, to promote a culture of life that constantly affirms the dignity of every person and works especially to defend men and women with disabilities, of all ages and social conditions.

2. The “rock” of inclusion

The present pandemic has further highlighted the disparities and inequalities widespread in our time, particularly to the detriment of the most vulnerable. “The virus, while it does not distinguish between people, has found, in its devastating path, great inequalities and discrimination. And it has only made them worse” (Catechesis at the General Audience of 19 August 2020).

For this reason, inclusion should be the first “rock” on which to build our house. Although this term is at times overused, the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) continues to be timely. Along the road of life, we often come across wounded people, and these can include persons with disabilities and particular needs. “The decision to include or exclude those lying wounded along the roadside can serve as a criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project. Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders” (Fratelli Tutti, 69).

Inclusion should be the “rock” on which to build programmes and initiatives of civil institutions meant to ensure that no one, especially those in greatest difficulty, is left behind. The strength of a chain depends upon the attention paid to its weakest links.

As for ecclesial institutions, I reiterate the need to make available suitable and accessible means for handing on the faith. I also hope that these can be made available to those who need them, cost-free to the extent possible, also through the new technologies that have proven so important for everyone in the midst of this pandemic. I also encourage efforts to provide all priests, seminarians, religious, catechists and pastoral workers with regular training concerning disabilities and the use of inclusive pastoral tools. Parish communities should be concerned to encourage among the faithful a welcoming attitude towards people with disabilities. Creating a fully accessible parish requires not only the removal of architectural barriers, but above all, helping parishioners to develop attitudes and acts of solidarity and service towards persons with disabilities and their families. Our aim should be to speak no longer about “them”, but rather about “us”.

3. The “rock” of active participation

To help our society to “build back better”, inclusion of the vulnerable must also entail efforts to promote their active participation.

Before all else, I strongly reaffirm the right of persons with disabilities to receive the sacraments, like all other members of the Church. All liturgical celebrations in the parish should be accessible to them, so that, together with their brothers and sisters, each of them can deepen, celebrate, and live their faith. Special attention should be paid to people with disabilities who have not yet received the sacraments of Christian initiation: they should be welcomed and included in programmes of catechesis in preparation for these sacraments. No one should be excluded from the grace of these sacraments.

“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples. All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120). People with disabilities, both in society and in the Church, also wish to become active subjects of our pastoral ministry, and not simply its recipients. “Many persons with disabilities feel that they exist without belonging and without participating. Much still prevents them from being fully enfranchised. Our concern should be not only to care for them, but also to ensure their ‘active participation’ in the civil and ecclesial community. That is a demanding and even tiring process, yet one that will gradually contribute to the formation of consciences capable of acknowledging each individual as a unique and unrepeatable person” (Fratelli Tutti, 98). Indeed, the active participation of people with disabilities in the work of catechesis can greatly enrich the life of the whole parish. Precisely because they have been grafted onto Christ in baptism, they share with him, in their own particular way, the priestly, prophetic, and royal mission of evangelizing through, with and in the Church.

The presence of persons with disabilities among catechists, according to their own gifts and talents, is thus a resource for the community. Efforts should be made to provide them with appropriate training, so that they can acquire greater knowledge also in the areas of theology and catechesis. I trust that, in parish communities, more and more people with disabilities can become catechists, in order to pass on the faith effectively, also by their own witness (cf. Address to the Conference “Catechesis and People with Disabilities”, 21 October 2017).

“Even worse than this crisis would be the tragedy of squandering it” (Homily on the Solemnity of Pentecost, 31 May 2020). For this reason, I encourage all those who daily and often silently devote themselves to helping others in situations of fragility and disability. May our common desire to “build back better” give rise to new forms of cooperation between both civil and ecclesial groups and thus build a solid “house” ready to withstand every storm and capable of welcoming people with disabilities, because built on the rock of inclusion and active participation.