Luke‎ > ‎

Chapter 13-24




  
 

 Chapter 13

1-9

 

Pope Francis   28.02.16   Angelus St Peter's Square     Luke 13: 1-9

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Unfortunately, every day the press reports bad news: homicides, accidents, catastrophes.... In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus refers to two
tragic events which had caused a stir: a cruel suppression carried out by Roman soldiers in the temple, and the collapse of the tower of Siloam in Jerusalem, which resulted in 18 deaths (cf. Lk 13:1-5).

Jesus is aware of the superstitious mentality of his listeners and he knows that they misinterpreted that type of event. In fact, they thought that, if those people died in such a cruel way it was a sign that God was punishing them for some grave sin they had committed, as if to say “they deserved it”. Instead, the fact that they were saved from such a disgrace made them feel “good about themselves”. They “deserved it”; “I’m fine”.

Jesus clearly rejects this outlook, because God does not allow
tragedies in order to punish sins, and he affirms that those poor victims were no worse than others. Instead, he invites his listeners to draw from these sad events a lesson that applies to everyone, because we are all sinners; in fact, he said to those who questioned him, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (v. 3).

Today too, seeing certain misfortunes and sorrowful events, we can be tempted to “unload” the responsibility onto the victims, or even onto God himself. But the Gospel invites us to reflect: What idea do we have of God? Are we truly convinced that God is like that, or isn’t that just our projection, a god made to “our image and likeness”?

Jesus, on the contrary, invites us to change our heart, to make a radical about-face on the
path of our lives, to abandon compromises with evil — and this is something we all do, compromises with evil, hypocrisy.... I think that nearly all of us has a little hypocrisy — in order to decidedly take up the path of the Gospel. But again there is the temptation to justify ourselves. What should we convert from? Aren’t we basically good people? — How many times have we thought this: “But after all I am a good man, I’m a good woman”... isn’t that true? “Am I not a believer and even quite a churchgoer?” And we believe that this way we are justified.

Unfortunately, each of us strongly resembles the tree that, over many years, has repeatedly shown that it’s infertile. But, fortunately for us, Jesus is like a farmer who, with limitless patience, still obtains a concession for the fruitless vine. “Let it alone this year” — he said to the owner — “we shall see if it bears fruit next year” (cf. v. 9).

A “year” of grace: the period of Christ’s ministry, the time of the Church before his glorious return, an interval of our life, marked by a certain number of Lenten seasons, which are offered to us as occasions of repentance and salvation, the duration of a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The invincible patience of Jesus! Have you thought about the patience of God? Have you ever thought as well of his limitless concern for sinners? How it should lead us to impatience with ourselves! It’s never too late to convert, never. God’s patience awaits us until the last moment.

Remember that little story from St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, when she prayed for that man who was condemned to death, a criminal, who did not want to receive the comfort of the Church. He rejected the priest, he didn’t want [forgiveness], he wanted to die like that. And she prayed in the convent, and when, at the moment of being executed, the man turned to the priest, took the Crucifix and kissed it. The patience of God! He does the same with us, with all of us. How many times, we don’t know — we’ll know in heaven — but how many times we are there, there ... [about to fall off the edge] and the Lord saves us. He saves us because he has great patience with us. And this is his mercy. It’s never too late to convert, but it’s urgent. Now is the time! Let us begin today.

May the Virgin Mary sustain us, so that we can open our hearts to the grace of God, to his mercy; and may she help us to never judge others, but rather to allow ourselves to be struck by daily misfortunes and to make a serious examination of our consciences and to repent.


Pope Francis     24.03.19      Angelus, St Peter's Square         Luke 13: 1-9 
Pope Francis   24.03.19  Conversion

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

The Gospel for this third Sunday of Lent (cf. Lk 13: 1-9) speaks to us about God’s mercy and of our conversion. Jesus recounts the parable of the barren fig tree. A man has planted a fig tree in his vineyard, and with great confidence, each summer, he goes in search of its fruits, but he finds none because that tree is barren. Spurred by this disappointment which has recurred for at least three years, the man considers cutting down the fig tree in order to plant another. So he calls the field hand who is in the vineyard and tells him of his disappointment, ordering him to cut down the tree so as not to use up the ground needlessly. But the vinedresser asks the master to be patient and asks him for one more year during which the vinedresser himself would take special and delicate care of the fig tree, so as to stimulate its productivity. This is the parable. What does this parable symbolize? What do the characters in this parable symbolize?

The master represents God the Father and the vinedresser is the image of Jesus, while the fig tree is the symbol of an indifferent and insensitive humanity. Jesus intercedes with the Father in favour of humanity — and he always does so — and implores him to wait and to give it more time so that it may bring forth the fruits of love and justice. The fig tree that the master in the parable wants to uproot represents a sterile existence that is incapable of giving, incapable of doing good. It is the symbol of one who lives for himself, sated and calm, enjoying his own comforts, incapable of turning his gaze and his heart to those beside him who find themselves in conditions of suffering, poverty and hardship. This attitude of selfishness and spiritual barrenness, is compared to the vinedresser’s great love for the fig tree. He asks the master to wait. He is patient, knows how to wait, and devotes his time and his work to it. He promises the master to take special care of that unfortunate tree.

And this vinedresser’s likeness manifests the mercy of God who leaves us time for
conversion. We all need to convert ourselves, to take a step forward; and God’s patience and mercy accompanies us in this. Despite the barrenness that marks our lives at times, God is patient and offers us the possibility to change and make progress on the path towards good. However, the deferment requested and received in expectation of the tree bearing fruit also indicates the urgency of conversion. The vinedresser tells the master: “Let it alone, sir, this year also” (v. 8). The possibility of conversion is not unlimited; thus, it is necessary to seize it immediately; otherwise it might be lost forever. This Lent, we can consider: what do I have to do to draw nearer to the Lord, to convert myself, to “cut out” those things that are not good? “No, no, I will wait for next Lent”. But will I be alive next Lent? Today, let us each think: what must I do before this mercy of God who awaits me and who always forgives? What must I do? We can have great trust in God’s mercy but without abusing it. We must not justify spiritual laziness, but increase our commitment to respond promptly to this mercy with heartfelt sincerity.

During the time of Lent, the Lord invites us to convert. Each of us must feel addressed by this call, and correct something in our lives, in our way of thinking, of behaving and of living our relationships with others. At the same time, we must imitate the patience of God who trusts in everyone’s ability to “rise again” and to continue the journey. God is Father and does not extinguish the weak flame, but rather, accompanies and cares for those who are weak so that they may gain strength and bring their contribution of love to the community. May the Virgin Mary help us to live these days of preparation for Easter as a time of spiritual renewal and trusting openness to the grace of God and his mercy.
  

  Chapter 13

18-21

 
Pope Francis   29.10.19   Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Romans 8: 18-25,      Luke 13: 18-21

Pope Francis  29.10.19  Santa Marta

In the First Reading of today's Liturgy, taken from St Paul's letter to the Romans (Rom 8:18-25) the Apostle sings a hymn to hope. Certainly some of the Romans have come to complain and Paul exhorts us to look ahead. "I believe that the sufferings of the present time are not comparable to the future glory that will be revealed in us," he says, speaking also of Creation as "awaiting with eager expectation for the revelation of the children of God". There may be suffering and problems but this is tomorrow, while today you have the security of the promise that it is the Holy Spirit who awaits us and works already from this moment.

Hope is in fact like throwing an anchor to the other shore and clinging to the rope. But not only we, but of all Creation in hope will be freed, will enter into the glory of the children of God. And we too, who possess the first fruits of the Spirit, the security deposit, groan inwardly waiting for adoption.

Hope is this living in tension, always; knowing that we cannot make a nest here: the life of the Christian is in ongoing tension. If a Christian loses this perspective, his life becomes static and things that do not move are corroded. Let's think of water: when the water is still, it doesn't run, it doesn't move, it stagnates. A Christian who is not capable of being stretched, of being in tension, is missing something: he will end up stagnant. For him, the Christian life will be a philosophical doctrine, he will live it like that, he will say that it is faith but without hope it is not.

It is difficult to understand hope. If we speak of faith, we refer to faith in God who created us, in Jesus who redeemed us; and to reciting the Creed and to knowing concrete things about faith. If we speak of charity, it concerns doing good to one's neighbour, to others, many works of charity that are done to others. But hope is difficult to understand: it is the most humble of virtues that only the poor can have.

If we want to be men and women of hope, we must be poor, poor, not attached to anything. Poor. And open. Hope is humble, and it is a virtue that we work at - so to speak - every day: every day we have to take it back, every day we have to take the rope and see that the anchor is fixed there and I hold it in my hand; every day we have to remember that we have the security, that it is the Spirit who works in us with small things.

In today's Gospel (Lk 13:18-21) Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the mustard seed planted in the garden. Let's wait for it to grow. We don't go every day to see how it goes, because otherwise it will never grow, because, as Paul says, "hope needs patience". It is the patience of knowing that we sow, but it is God who gives growt". Hope is artisanal, small, it is sowing a grain and letting the earth give growth.

To talk about hope, Jesus, in today's Gospel, also uses the image of the yeast that a woman took and mixed in three portions of flour. Yeast not kept in the fridge but kneaded in life, just as the grain is buried underground.

For this reason, hope is a virtue that cannot be seen: it works from below; it makes us go and look from below. It is not easy to live in hope, but I would say that it should be the air that a Christian breathes, an air of hope; on the other hand, he cannot walk, he cannot go on because he does not know where to go. Hope - yes, it's true - gives us security: hope does not disappoint. Never. If you hope, you will not be disappointed. We must be open to that promise of the Lord, leaning towards that promise, but knowing that there is the Spirit that works in us.

May the Lord give us, to all of us, this grace of living in tension, in tension but not through nerves, problems, no: in tension through the Holy Spirit who throws us to the other shore and keeps us in hope.
  

 Chapter 13

22-30

 
Pope Francis   25.08.13   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome   21st Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C        Luke 13: 22-30

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on the theme of
salvation. Jesus was journeying from Galilee towards Jerusalem — the Evangelist Luke recounts — when someone asked him: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” (13:23). Jesus does not answer the question directly: there is no need to know how many are saved; rather it is important to know which path leads to salvation. And so it was that Jesus replied saying: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (v. 24). What does Jesus mean? Through which door should we enter? And why does Jesus speak of a narrow door?

The image of the door recurs in the Gospel on various occasions and calls to mind the door of the house, of the home, where we find safety, love and warmth. Jesus tell us that there is a door which gives us access to God’s family, to the warmth of God’s house, of communion with him. This door is Jesus himself (cf. Jn 10:9). He is the door. He is the entrance to salvation. He leads us to the Father and the door that is Jesus is never closed. This door is never closed it is always open and to all, without distinction, without exclusion, without privileges. Because, you know, Jesus does not exclude anyone. Some of you, perhaps, might say to me: “But, Father, I am certainly excluded because I am a great sinner: I have done terrible things, I have done lots of them in my life”. No, you are not excluded! Precisely for this reason you are the favourite, because Jesus prefers sinners, always, in order to forgive them, to love them. Jesus is waiting for you to embrace you, to pardon you. Do not be afraid: he is waiting for you. Take heart, have the courage to enter through his door. Everyone is invited to cross the threshold of this door, to cross the threshold of faith, to enter into his life and to make him enter our life, so that he may transform it, renew it and give it full and enduring joy.

In our day we pass in front of so many doors that invite us to come in, promising a happiness which later we realize lasts only an instant, exhausts itself with no future. But I ask you: by which door do we want to enter? And who do we want to let in through the door of our life? I would like to say forcefully: let’s not be afraid to cross the threshold of faith in Jesus, to let him enter our life more and more, to step out of our selfishness, our closure, our indifference to others so that Jesus may illuminate our life with a light that never goes out. It is not a firework, not a flash of light! No, it is a peaceful light that lasts for ever and gives us peace. Consequently it is the light we encounter if we enter through Jesus’ door.

Of course Jesus’ door is a narrow one but not because it is a torture chamber. No, not for that reason! Rather, because he asks us to open our hearts to him, to recognize that we are sinners in need of his salvation, his forgiveness and his love in order to have the humility to accept his mercy and to let ourselves be renewed by him. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that being Christians does not mean having a “label”! I ask you: are you Christians by label or by the truth? And let each one answer within him- or herself! Not Christians, never Christians by label! Christians in truth, Christians in the heart. Being Christian is living and witnessing to faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. The whole of our life must pass through the narrow door which is Christ.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, Door of Heaven, to help us cross the threshold of faith and to let her Son transform our life, as he transformed hers to bring everyone the joy of the Gospel.



Pope Francis   21.08.16  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome     21st Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C           Luke 13: 22-30
    
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage urges us to meditate on the topic of
salvation. St Luke the Evangelist tells us that while Jesus was travelling to Jerusalem, he was approached by a man who asked him this question: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” (Lk 13:23). Rather than giving a direct answer, Jesus shifts the issue to another level in an evocative way, which the disciples don’t understand at first: “strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (v. 24). Using the image of a door, he wants his listeners to understand that it is not a question of numbers — how many will be saved —, how many is not relevant, but rather, it is important for everyone to know the way that leads to salvation.

This way means entering through a door. But where is the door? Who is the door? Jesus himself is that door. He says so in the Gospel of John: “I am the door” (10:9). He leads us to communion with the Father, where we find love, understanding and protection. But why is this door narrow, one might ask? Why does he say it is narrow? It is a narrow door not because it is oppressive, but because it demands that we restrain and limit our pride and our fear, in order to open ourselves to Him with humble and trusting hearts, acknowledging that we are sinners and in need of his forgiveness. This is why it is narrow, to limit our pride, which swells us. The door of God’s mercy is narrow but is always open to everyone! God does not have preferences, but always welcomes everyone, without distinction. A narrow door to restrain our pride and our fear; a door open wide because God welcomes us without distinction. And the salvation that He gives us is an unending flow of mercy that overcomes every barrier and opens surprising perspectives of light and peace. The door is narrow but always open wide: do not forget this.

Once more, Jesus extends a pressing invitation to us today to go to Him, to pass through the door of a full, reconciled and happy life. He awaits each one of us, no matter what sins we have committed, to embrace us, to offer us his forgiveness. He alone can transform our hearts, He alone can give full meaning to our existence, giving us true joy. By entering Jesus’ door, the door of faith and of the Gospel, we can leave behind worldly attitudes, bad habits, selfishness and narrow-mindedness. When we encounter the love and mercy of God, there is authentic change. Our lives are enlightened by the light of the Holy Spirit: an inextinguishable light!

I would like to propose something to you. Let us think now for a moment, in silence, of the things that we have inside us which prevent us from entering the door: my pride, my arrogance, my sins. Then, let us think of the other door, the one opened wide by the mercy of God who awaits us on the other side to grant us forgiveness.

The Lord offers us many opportunities to be saved and to enter through the door of salvation. This door is an occasion that can never be wasted: we don’t have to give long, erudite speeches about salvation, like the man who approached Jesus in the Gospel. Rather, we have to accept the opportunity for salvation. Because at a certain moment, the master of the house will rise and shut the door (cf. Lk 13:25), as the Gospel reminded us. But if God is good and loves us, why would he close the door at a certain point? Because our life is not a video game nor a television soap opera. Our life is serious and our goal is important: eternal salvation.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the Gate of Heaven, to help us seize the opportunities the Lord gives us in order to cross the threshold of faith and thus to enter a broad path: it is the path of salvation that can embrace all those who allow themselves to be enraptured by love. It is love that saves, the love that already on this earth is a source of happiness for all those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget about themselves and give themselves to others, especially to those who are most weak.



Pope Francis    25.08.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome       21st Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 13: 22-30

Pope Francis  25.08.19 Angelus - Salvation

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel (cf. Luke 13:22-30) presents Jesus who passes through cities and villages teaching, heading to Jerusalem, where He knows that He must die on the cross for the salvation of all of us. In this context, a certain person asks Him a question, saying: "Lord, will only a few people be
saved?" (see 23). The question was debated at that time – how many would be saved, how many would not... – and there were different ways of interpreting the scriptures in this regard, depending on the verse that someone would site. Jesus, however, turned the question around – a question that dwelt only on the quantity - a few - and instead placed the answer on the plain of responsibility, inviting us to use the present time well. He says: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but they will not succeed" (v. 24).

With these words, Jesus makes it clear that it is not a matter of numbers, there is no "limited number" in Heaven! But it's a question from this point forward of going through the correct door. This is a place that everyone can enter but it's narrow. This is the problem. Jesus does not want to deceive us, by saying: "Yes, rest assured, it is easy, there is a beautiful highway and at the end a huge door...". No Jesus doesn't tell us this: Jesus tells us that the door is narrow. He tells us exactly how things stand: the passage is narrow. In what sense? In the sense that in order to save oneself you have to love God and your neighbour, and this is not comfortable! It is a "narrow gate" because it is demanding, love is always demanding, it requires a commitment, indeed, effort, that is, a determined and persevering will to live according to the Gospel. St. Paul calls it "the good fight of faith"(1Tm 6.12). It requires commitment every day, all of the day to love the Lord and ones neighbour.

And, to explain Himself better, Jesus tells a parable. There is a landlord, who represents the Lord. His home symbolizes eternal life, that is, salvation. And here comes the image of the door. Jesus says: "When the landlord stands up and closes the door, then you are left outside, you will begin to knock on the door, and say, "Lord, open the door for us." But he will answer you, "I don't know where you are from" (v. 25). These people will then try to be recognized, reminding the landlord: "I ate with you, I drank with you... I have listened to your advice, your teachings in public..." (see v. 26); "I was there when you gave that lecture..." But the Lord will repeat again that he does not know them, and calls them "evil doers" That's the problem! The Lord will not recognize us because of the titles we have – "But look, Lord, I belonged to that association, I was a friend of that monsignor, of that cardinal, of that priest...". No, titles don't matter, they don't matter. The Lord will recognize us only because of a humble life, a good life, a life of faith that results in works.

And for us Christians, this means that we are called to establish a true communion with Jesus, praying, going to church, approaching the Sacraments and nourishing ourselves on His Word. This keeps us in faith, nourishes our hope, and revives charity. And so, with the grace of God, we can and must spend our lives for the good of our brothers and sisters, struggling against all forms of evil and injustice.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary assist us in this. She passed through the narrow gate that is Jesus. She welcomed Him with all her heart and followed Him every day of her life, even when she did not understand, even when a sword pierced her soul. For this reason we invoke her as "The Gate of Heaven": Mary, Gate of Heaven; a gate that follows exactly the model of Jesus: the gate of God's heart, a demanding heart, but which is open to all of us.
  

 Chapter 13

31-35

 
Pope Francis   31.10.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Romans 8: 31b-39,     Luke 13: 31-35
Thursday of the Thirtieth week in Ordinary Time
Pope Francis  31.10.19 Santa Marta

The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the love of Christ for us and to prepare our hearts to allow ourselves to be loved by the Lord.

In the First Reading (Rom 8:31b-39), St Paul could seem to some to be too proud or too sure of himself when he affirms that anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword will succeed in separating us from Christ.

St Paul is really showing us that we conquer overwhelmingly through the love of Christ. Ever since the Lord called to Paul along the road to Damascus, the Apostle to the Gentiles sought to understand the mystery of Christ.

He had fallen in love with Christ, caught up in a strong love and not in a soap opera type of story. St Paul felt the Lord always accompanied him through all manner of good and bad times.

He felt this in love. I ask myself: do I love the Lord like him? When hard times come, how often do we feel the desire to say: ‘The Lord has abandoned me. He doesn’t love me anymore’ and then seek to abandon the Lord in turn. But Paul was sure that the Lord would never abandon him. He understood the love of Christ in his own life. This is the path that Paul shows us: the path of love at all times, through thick and thin, at every moment. This is the greatness of Paul.

Christ’s love, cannot be described. It is immeasurable.

It is really He who was sent by the Father to save us and He did so with love. He gave His life for me: there is no greater love than to give your life for another person. We can think
about a mother – the love of a mother, for example – who gives her life for her child, accompanying him or her through life in difficult times… Jesus’ love is near to us, and is not an abstract love. It is a You-Me/Me-You love – each of us – with our own first and last name.

In Luke’s Gospel, something concrete in Jesus’ love. Speaking about Jerusalem, Jesus recalls the times He tried to gather her children, "like a hen gathers her brood under her wings", but was opposed. So he wept.

Chris's love leads Him to tears, to weep for each of us. What tenderness is in this expression. Jesus could have condemned Jerusalem, said horrible things… But he laments that she would not allow herself to be loved like the hen’s chicks. This is the tender love of God in Jesus. Which is exactly what Paul understood. If we cannot feel or understand the tender love of God in Jesus for each of us, then we will never, never, be able to understand the love of Christ. It is a type of love that always waits patiently, like the love with which He plays His last card with Judas: ‘Friend’, offering him a way out, even until the end. He loves even the worst sinners with this tenderness, all the way up to the end. I’m not sure we think about Jesus being so tender – Jesus who cries, as He cried before the tomb of Lazarus, as He cried here looking out over Jerusalem.

Let us ask ourselves if Jesus weeps for us, He who has given us so many things while we often choose to take another path.

The love of God, is expressed in the tender tears of Jesus, which is why St Paul had fallen so in love with Christ that nothing could drag him away from Him.
  

 Chapter 14

1, 7-14

 
Pope Francis     28.06.16  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome       22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Luke 14:1, 7-14

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the scene from today’s Gospel passage, Jesus, in the home of one of the chief Pharisees, observes that the guests at lunch rush to choose the first place. It is a scene that we have seen so often: seeking the best place even “with our elbows”. Observing this scene, Jesus shares two short parables, and with them two instructions: one concerning the place, and the other concerning the reward.

The first analogy is set at a wedding banquet. Jesus says: “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man’, and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place” (Lk 14:8-9). With this recommendation, Jesus does not intend to give rules of social behaviour, but rather a lesson on the value of
humility. History teaches that pride, careerism, vanity and ostentation are the causes of many evils. And Jesus helps us to understand the necessity of choosing the last place, that is, of seeking to be small and hidden: humility. When we place ourselves before God in this dimension of humility, God exalts us, he stoops down to us so as to lift us up to himself; “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exhalted.” (v. 11).

Jesus’ words emphasize completely different and opposing attitudes: the attitude of those who choose their own place and the attitude of those who allow God to assign it and await a reward from Him. Let us not forget this: God pays much more than men do! He gives us a much greater place than that which men give us! The place that God gives us is close to his heart and his reward is eternal life. “You will be blessed”, Jesus says, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (v. 14).

This is what is described in the second parable, in which Jesus points out the attitude of selflessness that ought to characterize hospitality, and he says: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (vv. 13-14). This means choosing
gratuitousness rather than self-seeking and calculating to obtain a reward, seeking interest and trying to increase your wealth. Indeed, the poor, the simple, those who ‘don’t count’, can never reciprocate an invitation to a meal. In this way Jesus shows his preference for the poor and the excluded, who are the privileged in the Kingdom of God, and he launches the fundamental message of the Gospel which is to serve others out of love for God. Today, Jesus gives voice to those who are voiceless, and to each one of us he addresses an urgent appeal to open our hearts and to make our own the sufferings and anxieties of the poor, the hungry, the marginalized, the refugees, those who are defeated by life, those who are rejected by society and by the arrogance of the strong. And those who are discarded make up the vast majority of the population.

At this time, I think with gratitude of the soup kitchens
where many volunteers offer their services, giving food to people who are alone, in need, unemployed or homeless. These soup kitchens and other works of mercy — such as visiting the sick and the imprisoned — are a training ground for charity that spreads the culture of gratuity, as those who work in these places are motivated by God’s love and enlightened by the wisdom of the Gospel. In this way serving others becomes a testimony of love, which makes the love of Christ visible and credible.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, who was humble throughout her whole life, to lead us every day along the way of humility, and to render us capable of free gestures of welcome and solidarity with those who are marginalized, so as to become worthy of the divine reward.



Pope Francis     01.09.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome    22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 14: 1, 7-14

Pope Francis   01.09.19 Angelus Humility

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

First of all, I have to apologize for the delay, but there was an accident: I was locked in the elevator for 25 minutes! There was a drop in voltage and the elevator stopped. Thank God for the Fire Brigade who came – thank you so much! – and after 25 minutes of work they managed to get it to go. A round of applause for the Fire Department!

The Gospel of this Sunday (cf. Lc 14:1,7-14) shows us Jesus attending a banquet in the house of a Pharisee leader. Jesus watches and observes as the guests run, and hurry to get the top places. It is a rather widespread attitude, even in today, and not only when you are invited to a meal: usually, you look for the top place to assert a supposed superiority over others. In fact, this race to the top is bad for the community, both civil and ecclesiastical, because it ruins
fraternity. We all know these people: climbers, who always climb to go higher, and higher... They hurt fraternity, they wound fraternity. Faced with that scene, Jesus recounts two short parables.

The first parable is addressed to the one who is invited to a banquet, and urges him not to put himself first, because, he says, "a more distinguished guest than you, may have been invited by him and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say: "Give your place to that person!" An embarrassment! "and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place" (see Vv. 8-9). Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us to have the opposite attitude: "When you are invited, go and take the lowest place, so that when the host comes to you he may say : "My friend, move up to a higher position!" (see 10). Therefore, we should not seek on our own initiative the attention and consideration of others, but rather let others give it to us. Jesus always shows us the way of
humility - we must learn the way of humility! – because it is the most authentic one, which also allows us to have authentic relationships. True humility, not fake humility, that in the Piedmont is called quaciamiller, no, not that. But true humility. 

In the second parable, Jesus addresses the one who invites and, referring to the way of selecting the guests, tells him: "When you offer a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because they of their inability to repay you" (v. 13-14). Here, too, Jesus goes completely against the tide, manifesting as always the logic of God the Father. And he also adds the key to interpreting His speech. And what's the key? A promise: if you do so, "you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (v. 14). This means that whoever behaves in this way will have the divine reward, much higher than any human exchange expected: I do you this favour and wait for you to give me one in return. No, this is not Christian. Humble
generosity is Christian. Human exchange, in fact, usually distorts relationships, makes them "commercial", introducing self-interest into a relationship that should be generous and free. Instead, Jesus invites selfless generosity, to open the way to a much greater joy, the joy of being part of God's own love that awaits us, all of us, in the heavenly banquet.

May the Virgin Mary, "the humblest and highest of creatures" (Dante, Paradise, XXXIII, 2), help us to recognize ourselves as we are, that is, small; and to rejoice in giving without something in return.
  

 Chapter 14

12-14

 
Pope Francis        05.11.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta         Philippians 2: 1-4         Luke 14: 12-14
do not do things out of self-interest

Jesus’ teaching is clear: “do not do things out of self-interest”, do not choose your friendships on the basis of convenience.

Reasoning on the basis of one's own advantage is a form of selfishness, segregation and self-interest whilst Jesus’ message is exactly the opposite.

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory but humbly regard others as more important than ourselves.

Gossip, stems from
rivalry and is used to destroy others.

Rivalry is ugly: you can perpetrate it openly, in a direct way, or with white gloves. But it always aims to destroy the other and to ‘raise oneself up’ by diminishing the other. Rivalry stems from self- interest.

Equally harmful, is someone who prides himself on being superior to others.

This attitude, destroys communities and families: “Think of the rivalry between siblings for the father’s inheritance for example”, it is something we see every day.

Christians, must follow the example of the Son of God, cultivating “
gratuitousness”: doing good without expecting or wanting to be repaid, sowing unity and abandoning rivalry or vainglory.

Building peace with small gestures paves a path of harmony throughout the world
.

When we read of wars, of the famine of children in Yemen caused by the conflict there, we think “that’s far away, poor children… why don't they have food?”

The same war is waged at home and in our institutions, stemming from rivalry: that’s where war begins! And that’s where peace must be made: in the family, in the parish, in the institutions, in the workplace, always seeking unanimity and harmony and not one's own interest.
  

 Chapter 14

15-24

 
Pope Francis   07.11.17  Holy Mass, Domus Sanctae Marthae  (Santa Marta ), Rome         31st Week in Ordinary Time Year A      Luke 14: 15-24

There is an “entrance ticket” to the Lord’s salvation; it is a free ticket, but one which will be appointed to the men and women who realise that they “need care and healing in body and soul”.

The Lord goes to the house of a leader of the Pharisees
for a meal and there he is reproached for not observing the ablutions. Then, during the banquet the Lord advises not to seek the place of honour because there is the danger that one more eminent could come and the master of the house say: ‘give up your place for this person, move!’. It would be embarrassing.

The passage continues with the advice that the Lord gives as to who should be invited to a banquet at home, identifying the elect as those who have nothing to give you in exchange. Such is the gratuity of the banquet. Consequentially, after the Lord had finished explaining this, one of the fellow diners said to Jesus: ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ The Lord, without explanation, responded to him with a parable of this man who held a great banquet and invited many. However, the first ones to be invited did not want to go to the dinner; they did not care about the meal or the people who were there, or of the Lord who invited them; they were interested in other things.

In fact, one after the other they began to make excuses,  thus the first said to him, ‘I have bought a field’; the other, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen’; another, ‘I have married’. They each had their own interests which were greater to them than the invitation. The fact is, that they clung to interests asking themselves, ‘what could I gain?’ For this reason, their response to the freely given invitation was “‘I do not care; perhaps another day, I am so busy, I cannot go’”. They were busy like the man who, after the harvest, after the gathering of the grain, made store houses in order to expand his goods, poor man, he died that night.

These people are attached to interests to the point in which they fall into slavery of the spirit, and they are incapable of understanding the gratuity of the invitation. Indeed, if one does not understand the gratuity of God’s invitation, then one understands nothing.

God’s invitation is always free thus posing the question: “In order to go to this banquet what should one pay?”. The entrance ticket is to be sick, to be poor, to be a sinner, that is, we must be in need, both in body and in soul; “need of care, healing, and love”.

Here one sees two attitudes. The first, that of God, is always free: in order to save, God does not charge anything. God’s freely given love is universal, for the gratuity of God has no limits, He receives everyone. Indeed, in the scripture passage, the master gets angry, saying to his servant, “go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame”, and in Matthew’s version of the parable, the master even says to bring the good and bad.

However, those who mind their own interests do not understand the gratuity. They are like the son who remained by the father’s side when the younger son left; then, after much time he returned, poor, and the father holds a feast and this son does not want to enter into that banquet. He does not want to enter into that feast because he does not understand, and says: ‘He has spent all the money; he has spent the inheritance, on vice and sin, and you hold him a feast? And I, who am a practising Catholic, I go to mass every Sunday, I carry out my duties, and to me, nothing?’

The fact is that he does not understand the gratuity of salvation; he thinks that salvation is the fruit of ‘I pay and you save me’”. Rather, “salvation is free”, and if you do not enter into such a dynamic of gratuity you will not understand anything.

Salvation, is a gift from God to which I respond with another gift, the gift of my heart. There are those however, who have other interests when they hear talk of gifts, and they say to themselves: “‘I will give this gift and tomorrow and the next day, or on another occasion, he will give me another’”. As such there is always an exchange.

Rather, the Lord does not ask for anything in exchange, only love and faithfulness, for He is love and He is faithful. Indeed, salvation is not bought, one simply enters the banquet: ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! This, is salvation.

I ask myself, what do they feel, the ones who are indisposed to come to this banquet? They feel safe, they feel secure, they feel saved in their own way, outside of the banquet, for they have lost the meaning of gratuity; they have lost the meaning of love and they have lost a greater and more beautiful thing, namely the capacity to feel themselves loved, which leaves no hope; when you no longer feel loved, you have lost everything.

Let us turn our gaze towards the master of the house who wants his house filled: he is so full of love that in his gratuity he wants to fill his home, and therefore, we implore the Lord to save us from losing the capacity to feel loved.



Pope Francis      06.11.18  Holy Mass Santa Marta         Philippians 2: 5-11,      Luke 14: 15-24
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/busy/06.11.18.jpg

The parable of the man who gave a great banquet, and sent out many invitations. His servants told the guests, “‘Come: everything is now ready.’ But one by one they all began to excuse themselves. There is always an apology. They apologize. Apologizing is the polite word we use in order not to say, ‘I refuse.’

And so the master then told his servants to bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.

This passage, ends with a second refusal, this one from the mouth of Jesus Himself. When someone rejects Jesus, the Lord waits for them, gives them a second chance, perhaps even a third, a fourth, a fifth… but in the end, He rejects them.

And this refusal makes us think of ourselves, of the times that Jesus calls us; calls us to celebrate with Him, to be close to Him, to change our life. Think about seeking out His most intimate friends and they refuse! Then He seeks out the sick… and they go; perhaps some refuse. How many times do we hear the call of Jesus to come to Him, to do a
work of charity, to pray, to encounter Him, and we say: “Excuse me Lord, I’m busy, I don’t have time. Yes, tomorrow today I can’t…” And Jesus remains there.

How often do we, too, ask Jesus to excuse us when “He calls us to meet Him, to speak with Him, to have a nice chat.” “We, too, refuse Him." 

Each one of us should think: In my life, how many times have I felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do a work of charity, to encounter Jesus in that work of charity, to go to pray, to
change your life in this area, in this area that is not going well? And I have always found a reason to excuse myself, to refuse.

In the end, those who do not reject Jesus, and are not rejected by Him, will enter the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Father had a warning for those who think to themselves “Jesus is so good, in the end He forgives everything”.

Yes, He is good, He is merciful – He is merciful, but He is also just. And if you close the door of your heart from within, He cannot open it, because He is very respectful of our heart.
Refusing Jesus is closing the door from within, and He cannot enter.

It is Jesus Himself who pays for the feast. In the first Reading, St Paul reveals the cost of the banquet, speaking of Jesus, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, humbling Himself to the point of dying on the Cross.” Jesus, paid for the feast with His life.”



Pope Francis   05.11.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Tuesday of the Thirty-first week in Ordinary Time     Luke 14: 15-24

Pope Francis  05.11.19  Salvation

In Saint Luke’s Gospel today, Jesus tells the parable of a man who wants to give a great feast. But his guests offer various excuses and refuse his invitation. Instead, the man sends his servants to call the poor and the lame to fill his house and enjoy his hospitality.

This story both summarizes the history of
salvation and describes the behaviour of many Christians.

The dinner, the feast, represents Heaven, eternity with the Lord. You never know whom you might meet at a dinner; you meet new people; you also find people you may not want to see; but the atmosphere of the feast is joy and lavishness. Because a true feast must be freely given. Our God always invites us this way, He doesn’t make us pay an entrance fee. At real celebrations, you don't pay to get in: the host pays, the one who invites you pays. But there are those who put their own interests first before that freely-given invitation:

Faced with that lavishness, that universality of the feast, there is an attitude that blocks the heart: "
I'm not going. I prefer to be alone, with the people I like, closed up". And this is sin; the sin of the people of Israel, the sin of all of us. Closure. "No, this is more important to me than that. No, it’s mine". Always mine.

This refusal, is also a sign of contempt toward the one inviting
us: It is like saying to the Lord: "Don’t disturb me with your celebration". It is closing ourselves off to what the Lord offers us: the joy of encountering Him.

And we will be faced with this choice, this option, many times along the journey of life: either the lavishness of the Lord, going to visit the Lord, encountering the Lord, or closing myself in on my own affairs, my own interests. That is why the Lord, speaking of one way of being closed, said it is very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. But there are good rich people, saints, who are not attached to wealth. But most of them are attached to wealth, they are closed. And that's why they can't understand what the celebration is. But they have the security of things they can touch.

The Lord's reaction to our refusal is firm: he wants all sorts of people called to the feast, brought there, even forced to come, good people and bad. Everyone is invited. Everyone. No one can say, 'I am bad, I can’t ...'. No. The Lord is waiting for you in a special way because you are bad. The response of the father to the prodigal son who returns home: the son starts a speech, but the father stops him and embraces him. That’s the way the Lord is, He is gratuitous.

In the First Reading where the Apostle Paul warns against hypocrisy Jesus’ response to the Jews who rejected Him because they believed themselves to be just was: "I tell you that prostitutes and tax collectors will enter the kingdom of heaven before you". The Lord loves those who are most disregarded, but He calls us. Faced with our closure, however, He keeps His distance and becomes angry, as we heard in the Gospel.

Let us think about this parable the Lord tells us today. How is our life going? What do I prefer? Do I always accept the invitation of the Lord or close myself off in my interests, in my smallness? And let us ask the Lord for the grace always to accept to go to His feast, which is free.
  

 Chapter 14

25-33

 
Pope Francis   08.09.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome       23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C       Luke 14: 25-33

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning! In today’s Gospel Jesus insists on the conditions for being his disciples: preferring nothing to the love of Christ, carrying one’s cross and following him. Many people in fact drew near to Jesus, they wanted to be included among his followers; and this would happen especially after some miraculous sign which accredited him as the Messiah, the King of Israel. However Jesus did not want to disappoint anyone. He knew well what awaited him in Jerusalem and which path the Father was asking him to take: it was the Way of the Cross, the way of sacrificing himself for the forgiveness of our sins. Following Jesus does not mean taking part in a triumphal procession! It means sharing his merciful love, entering his great work of mercy for each and every man and for all men. The work of Jesus is, precisely, a work of mercy, a work of forgiveness and of love! Jesus is so full of mercy! And this universal pardon, this mercy, passes through the Cross. Jesus, however, does not want to do this work alone: he wants to involve us too in the mission that the Father entrusted to him. After the Resurrection he was to say to his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you”... if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:21-22). Jesus’ disciple renounces all his possessions because in Jesus he has found the greatest Good in which every other good receives its full value and meaning: family ties, other relationships, work, cultural and economic goods and so forth....
The Christian detaches him or herself from all things and rediscovers all things in the logic of the Gospel, the logic of love and of service.

To explain this requirement, Jesus uses two parables: that of the tower to be built and that of the king going to war. The latter says: “What king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace” (Lk 14:31-32). Jesus does not wish to address the topic of war here; it is only a parable. Yet at this moment in which we are praying intensely for peace, this word of the Lord touches us to the core, and essentially tells us: there is a more profound war that we must all fight! It is the firm and courageous decision to renounce
evil and its enticements and to choose the good, ready to pay in person: this is following Christ, this is what taking up our cross means! This profound war against evil! What is the use of waging war, so many wars, if you aren't capable of waging this profound war against evil? It is pointless! It doesn’t work.... Among other things this war against evil entails saying “no” to the fratricidal hatred and falsehood that are used; saying “no” to violence in all its forms; saying “no” to the proliferation of weapons and to the illegal arms trade. There is so much of it! So much of it! And the doubt always remains: is this war or that war — because wars are everywhere — really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade? These are the enemies to fight, united and consistent, following no other interests than those of peace and of the common good.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we are also commemorating
the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a Feast particularly dear to the Eastern Churches. And let all of us now send a beautiful greeting to all the brothers, sisters, bishops, monks and nuns of the Eastern Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, a beautiful greeting! Jesus is the sun, Mary is the dawn that heralds his rising. Yesterday evening we kept vigil, entrusting to her intercession our prayers for peace in the world, especially in Syria and throughout the Middle East. Let us now invoke her as Queen of Peace. Queen of Peace pray for us! Queen of Peace pray for us!


Pope Francis     08.09.19  Holy Mass,  Soamandrakizay diocesan field (Antananarivo), Madagascar     23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C       Luke 14: 25-33 
  
Pope Francis  08.09.19 Madagascar

The Gospel tells us that “great multitudes accompanied Jesus” (Lk 14:25). Like the multitudes gathered along his path, you too have come in great numbers to receive his message and follow in his footsteps. But you also know that following Jesus is not easy. You haven’t had much rest, and many of you have even spent the night here. Today, Luke’s Gospel reminds us of how demanding that commitment can be.

We should realize that Luke sets out those demands within his account of Jesus’ ascent to Jerusalem. He starts with the parable of the banquet to which everyone is invited, especially the outcasts living on the streets, in the squares and at the crossroads. And he concludes with the three “parables of mercy”, where a party is celebrated when what was lost was found, where someone who seemed dead is welcomed with joy and restored to life with the possibility of making a new start. For us as Christians, our sacrifices only make sense in the light of the joyful celebration of our encounter with Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ first demand has to do with
family relationships. The new life the Lord holds out to us seems troubling and scandalously unjust to those who think that entry into the kingdom of heaven can be limited or reduced only to bonds of blood or membership in a particular group, clan or particular culture. When “family” becomes the decisive criterion for what we consider right and good, we end up justifying and even “consecrating” practices that lead to the culture of privilege and exclusion: favouritism, patronage and, as a consequence, corruption. The Master demands that we see beyond this. He says this clearly: anyone incapable of seeing others as brothers or sisters, of showing sensitivity to their lives and situations regardless of their family, cultural or social background “cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). His devoted love is a free gift given to all and meant for all.

Jesus’ second demand shows us how hard it is to follow him if we seek to identify the kingdom of heaven with our personal agenda or our attachment to an ideology that would abuse the name of God or of religion to justify acts of violence, segregation and even murder, exile, terrorism and marginalization. This demand encourages us not to dilute and narrow the Gospel message, but instead to build history in fraternity and solidarity, in complete respect for the earth and its gifts, as opposed to any form of exploitation. It encourages us to practise “dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard” (
Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019). And not to be tempted by teachings that fail to see that the wheat and the chaff must grow together until the return of the Master of the harvest (cf. Mt 13:24-30).

Finally, how difficult it can be to share the new life that the Lord offers us when we are continually driven to self-justification, because we think that everything depends exclusively on our efforts and resources! Or, as we heard in the first reading, when the race to amass possessions becomes stifling and overwhelming, which only increases our selfishness and our willingness to use immoral means. Jesus’ demand is that we rediscover how to be grateful and to realize that, much more than a personal triumph, our life and our talents are the fruit of a gift (cf.
Gaudete et Exsultate, 55), a gift created by God through the silent interplay of so many people whose names we will only know in the kingdom of heaven.

With these three demands, the Lord wants to prepare his disciples for the celebration of the coming of the kingdom of God, and to free them from the grave obstacle that, in the end, is one of the worst forms of enslavement: living only for oneself. It is the temptation to fall back into our little universe, and it ends up leaving little room for other people. The poor no longer enter in, we no longer hear the voice of God, we no longer enjoy the quiet joy of his love, we are no longer eager to do good… Many people, by shutting themselves up in this way, can feel “apparently” secure, yet they end up becoming bitter, querulous and lifeless. This is no way to live a full and dignified life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit that has its source in the heart of the risen Christ (cf.
Evangelii Gaudium
, 2).

With these demands, the Lord, as he walks towards Jerusalem, asks us to lift our gaze, to adjust our priorities and, above all, to make room for God to be the centre and axis of our life.

As we look around us, how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need! This is not part of God’s plan. How urgently Jesus calls us to die to our self-centredness, our individualism and our pride! In this way, we can allow the spirit of fraternity to triumph – a spirit born from the pierced side of Jesus Christ, in which we are born as God’s family – and in which everyone can feel loved because understood, accepted and appreciated in his or her dignity. “In the face of contempt for human dignity, we often remain with arms folded or stretched out as a sign of our frustration before the grim power of evil. Yet we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness. No. As believers, we must stretch out our hands, as Jesus does with us” (
Homily for the World Day of the Poor, 18 November 2018).

The Word of God that we have just heard bids us set out once more, daring to take this qualitative leap and to adopt this wisdom of personal detachment as the basis for social justice and for our personal lives. Together we can resist all those forms of idolatry that make us think only of the deceptive securities of power, career, money and of the search for human glory.

The demands that Jesus sets before us cease to be burdensome as soon as we begin to taste the joy of the new life that he himself sets before us. It is the joy born of knowing that he is the first to seek us at the crossroads, even when we are lost like the sheep or the prodigal son. May this humble realism – it is a realism, a Christian realism – inspire us to take on great challenges and give you the desire to make your beautiful country a place where the Gospel becomes life, and where life is for the greater glory of God.

Let us commit ourselves and let us make the Lord’s plans our own.
  

 Chapter 15

1-3, 11-32

 
Pope Francis         06.03.16   Angelus, St Peter's Square          Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, we find three parables of
mercy: that of the sheep found (vv. 4-7), that of the coin found (vv. 8-10), and the great parable of the prodigal son, or rather, of the merciful father (vv. 11-32). Today, it would be nice for each of us to open Chapter 15 of the Gospel according to Luke, and read these three parables. During the Lenten itinerary, the Gospel presents to us this very parable of the merciful Father, featuring a father with his two sons. The story highlights some features of this father who is a man always ready to forgive and to hope against hope. Especially striking is the father’s tolerance before the younger son’s decision to leave home: he could have opposed it, knowing that he was still immature, a youth, or sought a lawyer not to give him his inheritance, as the father was still living. Instead, he allows the son to leave, although foreseeing the possible risks. God works with us like this: He allows us to be free, even to making mistakes, because in creating us, He has given us the great gift of freedom. It is for us to put it to good use. This gift of freedom that God gives us always amazes me!

But the separation from his son is only physical; for the father always carries him in his heart; trustingly, he awaits his return; the father watches the road in the hope of seeing him. And one day he sees him appear in the distance (cf. v. 20). But this means that this father, every day, would climb up to the terrace to see if his son was coming back! Thus the father is moved to see him, he runs toward him, embraces him, kisses him. So much tenderness! And this son got into trouble! But the father still welcomes him so.

The father treated the eldest son the same way, but as he had always stayed at home, he is now indignant and complains because he does not understand and does not share all that kindness toward his brother that had wronged. The father also goes to meet this son and reminds him that they were always together, they share everything (v. 31), one must welcome with joy the brother who has finally returned home. And this makes me think of something: When one feels one is a sinner, one feels worthless, or as I’ve heard some — many — say: ‘Father, I am like dirt’, so then, this is the moment to go to the Father. Instead, when one feels righteous — ‘I always did the right thing …’ —, equally, the Father comes to seek us, because this attitude of feeling ‘right’, is the wrong attitude: it is pride! It comes from the devil. The Father waits for those who recognize they are sinners and goes in search of the ones who feel ‘righteous’. This is our Father!

In this parable, you can also glimpse a third son. A third son? Where? He’s hidden! And it is the one, ‘who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:6-7). This Servant-Son is Jesus!

He is ‘the extension of the arms and heart of the Father: he welcomed the prodigal Son and washed his dirty feet; he prepared the banquet for the feast of forgiveness. He, Jesus, teaches us to be “merciful as the Father is merciful”.

The figure of the Father in the parable reveals the heart of God. He is the Merciful Father who, in Jesus, loves us beyond measure, always awaits our conversion every time we make mistakes; he awaits our return when we turn away from him thinking, we can do without him; he is always ready to open his arms no matter what happened. As the father of the Gospel, God also continues to consider us his children, even when we get lost, and comes to us with tenderness when we return to him. He addresses us so kindly when we believe we are right. The errors we commit, even if bad, do not wear out the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can always start out anew: He welcomes us, gives us the dignity of being his children and tells us: “Go ahead! Be at peace! Rise, go ahead!”

In this time of Lent that still separates us from Easter, we are called to intensify the inner journey of conversion. May the loving gaze of our Father touch us. Let us return and return to him with all our heart, rejecting any compromise with sin. May the Virgin Mary accompany us until the regenerating embrace with Divine Mercy.


     
Pope Francis 31.03.19  Morocco

“While he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20).

Here the Gospel takes us to the heart of the parable, showing the father’s response at seeing the return of his son. Deeply moved, he runs out to meet him before he can even reach home. A son long awaited. A father rejoicing to see him return.

That was not the only time the father ran. His joy would not be complete without the presence of his other son. He then sets out to find him and invites him to join in the festivities (cf. v. 28). But the older son appeared upset by the homecoming celebration. He found his father’s joy hard to take; he did not acknowledge the return of his brother: “that son of yours”, he calls him (v. 30). For him, his brother was still lost, because he had already lost him in his heart.

By his unwillingness to take part in the celebration, the older son fails not only to recognize his brother, but his father as well. He would rather be an orphan than a brother. He prefers isolation to encounter, bitterness to rejoicing. Not only is he unable to understand or forgive his brother, he cannot accept a father capable of forgiving, willing to wait patiently, to trust and to keep looking, lest anyone be left out. In a word, a father capable of compassion.

At the threshold of that home, something of the mystery of our humanity appears. On the one hand, celebration for the son who was lost and is found; on the other, a feeling of betrayal and indignation at the celebrations marking his return. On the one hand, the welcome given to the son who had experienced misery and pain, even to the point of yearning to eat the husks thrown to the swine; on the other, irritation and anger at the embrace given to one who had proved himself so unworthy.

What we see here yet again is the tension we experience in our societies and in our communities, and even in our own hearts. A tension deep within us ever since the time of Cain and Abel. We are called to confront it and see it for what it is. For we too ask: “Who has the right to stay among us, to take a place at our tables and in our meetings, in our activities and concerns, in our squares and our cities?” The murderous question seems constantly to return: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9).

At the threshold of that home, we can see our own divisions and strife, the aggressiveness and conflicts that always lurk at the door of our high ideals, our efforts to build a society of fraternity, where each person can experience even now the dignity of being a son or daughter.

Yet at the threshold of that home, we will also see in all its radiant clarity, with no ifs and buts, the father’s desire that all his sons and daughters should share in his joy. That no one should have to live in inhuman conditions, as his younger son did, or as orphaned, aloof and bitter like the older son. His heart wants all men and women to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).

It is true that many situations can foment division and strife, while others can bring us to confrontation and antagonism. It cannot be denied. Often we are tempted to believe that
hatred and revenge are legitimate ways of ensuring quick and effective justice. Yet experience tells us that hatred, division and revenge succeed only in killing our peoples’ soul, poisoning our children’s hopes, and destroying and sweeping away everything we cherish.

Jesus invites us, then, to stop and contemplate the heart of our Father. Only from that perspective can we acknowledge once more that we are brothers and sisters. Only against that vast horizon can we transcend our short-sighted and divisive ways of thinking, and see things in a way that does not downplay our differences in the name of a forced unity or a quiet marginalization. Only if we can raise our eyes to heaven each day and say “Our Father”, will we be able to be part of a process that can make us see things clearly and risk living no longer as enemies but as brothers and sisters.

“All that is mine is yours” (Lk 15:31), says the father to his older son. He is not speaking so much about material wealth, as about sharing in his own
love and own compassion. This is the greatest legacy and wealth of a Christian. Instead of measuring ourselves or classifying ourselves according to different moral, social, ethnic or religious criteria, we should be able to recognize that another criterion exists, one that no one can take away or destroy because it is pure gift. It is the realization that we are beloved sons and daughters, whom the Father awaits and celebrates.

“All that is mine is yours”, says the Father, including my capacity for compassion. Let us not fall into the temptation of reducing the fact that we are his children to a question of rules and regulations, duties and observances. Our identity and our mission will not arise from forms of voluntarism, legalism, relativism or fundamentalism, but rather from being believers who daily beg with humility and perseverance: “May your Kingdom come!”

The Gospel parable leaves us with an open ending. We see the father asking the older son to come in and share in the celebration of mercy. The Gospel writer says nothing about what the son decided. Did he join the party? We can imagine that this open ending is meant to be written by each individual and every community. We can complete it by the way we live, the way we regard others, and how we treat our neighbour. The Christian knows that in the Father’s house there are many rooms: the only ones who remain outside are those who choose not to share in his joy.

Dear brothers and dear sisters, I want to thank you for the way in which you bear witness to the Gospel of mercy in this land. Thank you for your efforts to make each of your communities an oasis of mercy. I encourage you to continue to let the culture of mercy grow, a culture in which no one looks at others with indifference, or averts his eyes in the face of their suffering (cf.
Misericordia et Misera, 20). Keep close to the little ones and the poor, and to all those who are rejected, abandoned and ignored. Continue to be a sign of the Father’s loving embrace.

May the Merciful and Compassionate One – as our Muslim brothers and sisters frequently invoke him – strengthen you and make your works of love ever more fruitful.
  

 Chapter 15

3-7

 
Pope Francis  07.11.13   Holy Mass       Luke 15: 1-10

The scribes and the Pharisees who studied Jesus' actions were scandalised by the things that Jesus did and murmured against him: “This man is dangerous!” What scandalised them most was the fact that “Jesus ate with publicans and sinners, that he talked with them”. Hence their reaction: “this man offends God, he desecrates the ministry of the prophet which is a sacred ministry” and “he desecrates it in order to draw close to these people”.

The music of their murmuring is the music of hypocrisy, and “Jesus responds to this murmuring hypocrisy with a parable” in which the words “joy and rejoicing” recur four times.

Practically speaking, it is as though Jesus were saying to the scribes and Pharisees: “you are scandalised, but my Father rejoices”. In fact, this is the deepest message of the parable: God's joy. He is a God “who does not like to lose what is his, and in order not to lose it, he goes out from himself, and seeks out” the lost. He is a God “who searches for all those who are far from him,” like the shepherd recounted in St Luke's Gospel who “goes in search of the
lost sheep”.

Our God is a God who searches. His work is to search: to search and seek out the lost in order to invite them back. For “God cannot abide losing what is his; thus on Holy Thursday Jesus would pray ‘that none of those whom thou hast given me may be lost’”.

Indeed, God “has a certain weakness of love for those who are furthest away, who are lost. He goes in search of them. And how does he search? He searches to the very end. Like the shepherd who journeys into the darkness looking for his lost sheep until he finds it” or “like the woman who, when she loses her coin, lights a lamp, sweeps the house and seeks diligently until she finds it”. God, seeks out the lost because he thinks: “I will not lose this son, he is mine! And I don’t want to lose him!”.

However, God’s work does not consist only in seeking out the lost. “When he finds us, when he has found the lost sheep” he neither sets it aside nor does he ask us: “Why did you get lost? Why did you fall?”. Rather, he restores what was lost to its proper place. And when this happens “it is God who rejoices. God rejoices not in the death of the sinner but rather that he be restored to life.
  

 Chapter 15

1-19

 

Pope Francis    08.11.18    Holy Mass  Santa Marta     Luke 15: 1-19

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-11/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-witness-complaining-questions.html

Witness, complaining, questions.

The first word, then, is the “
witness” of Jesus, which, was a new thing for the time, because going to sinners made you unclean, like touching a leper. For this reason, the doctors of the law kept away from them. Bearing witness has never been a convenient thing, either for the witnesses – who often paid with martyrdom – or for the powerful.

Bearing witness is breaking a habit, a way of being… Breaking it for the better, changing it. For this reason, the Church advances through witness. What is attractive [to people] is the witness. Not the words, which help, yes; but witness is what is attractive, and what makes the Church grow. It is a new thing, but not entirely new, because the mercy of God was also there in the Old Testament. They, these doctors of the law, never understood the meaning of the words: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ They had read about mercy, but they had not understood what it was. And Jesus, with His way of acting, proclaimed this mercy with His witness.

Witness, always breaks a habit, and also puts you at risk.

In fact, Jesus’ witness caused people to murmur. The Pharisees, the scribes, the doctors of the law
complained about Him, saying, “He welcomes sinners, and eats with them.” They did not say, “Look, this man seems to be good because he seeks to convert sinners.” This, is an attitude that consists in always making negative comments “to destroy the one bearing witness.” This sin of complaining about others, is a part of daily life, in big and small ways. In our own lives, we can find ourselves murmuring “because we don’t like something or other”; and instead of dialoguing, or trying to resolve a conflict situation, we secretly complain, always in a low voice, because there is no courage to speak clearly.

And so it happens, even in smaller societies, “in parishes.” How often is there murmuring in parishes?” Whenever I don’t like the testimony, or there is a person that I don’t like, murmuring immediately breaks out.

And in dioceses? ‘Infra-diocesan’ conflicts… Internal conflict within the diocese. You know this. And also in
politics. And this is bad. When a government is not honest, it seeks to soil its opponents with murmuring. There’s always defamation, slander, always looking for something [to criticize]. And you know dictatorial governments well, because you have experienced it. What makes a dictatorial government? Taking control first of the means of communication with a law, and from there, it begins to murmur, to belittle everyone that is a danger to the government. Murmuring is our daily bread, at the level of persons, of the family, the parish, the diocese, the social level.

It’s a matter of finding a way “to not look at reality,”  “of not allowing people to think.” Jesus knows this, but the Lord is good, and instead of condemning them for murmuring, He asks a question. He uses the method they use. They ask questions with evil intentions, in order to test Jesus, “to make Him fall”; as, for example, when they asked Him about paying taxes, or about divorce. Jesus asks them, in today’s Gospel, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” And “the normal thing would be for them to understand”; instead they do the calculation: “I have 99,” so what if one is lost?"

"We’ll let this one perish, and in the balance it will result in profit and loss, and we will save these." This is the logic of the doctors of the law. ‘Which one of you?’ And their choice is the opposite of Jesus’. For this reason, they do not go to speak with sinners, they do not go to the tax collectors, they do not go because ‘it is better not to dirty myself with these people, it is a risk. Let us save ourselves.’ Jesus is smart in asking them this question: He enters into their casuistry, but puts them in a position contrary to what is right. ‘Which one of you?’ And not one of them says, ‘Yes, it’s true,’ but all of them say, ‘No, no, I would not do it.’ And for this reason they are unable to forgive, to be merciful, to receive.

"Witness,” which is provocative, and makes the Church grow; “murmuring,” which is like a “guardian of my inner self, so that the witness doesn’t wound me”; and Jesus’ “question".

Another word: "joy", the feast, which these people do not know: “All those who follow the path of the doctors of the law, do not know the joy of the Gospel”.

Pray, “That the Lord might make us understand this logic of the Gospel, in contrast to the logic of the world.”
  

 Chapter 15

1-32

 
Pope Francis     15.09.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome     24th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Luke 15: 1-32

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the Liturgy today we read chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, which contains three parables of
mercy: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and then the longest of them, characteristic of St Luke, the parable of the father of two sons, the “prodigal” son and the son who believes he is “righteous”, who believes he is saintly. All three of these parables speak of the joy of God. God is joyful. This is interesting: God is joyful! And what is the joy of God? The joy of God is forgiving, the joy of God is forgiving! The joy of a shepherd who finds his little lamb; the joy of a woman who finds her coin; it is the joy of a father welcoming home the son who was lost, who was as though dead and has come back to life, who has come home. Here is the entire Gospel! Here! The whole Gospel, all of Christianity, is here! But make sure that it is not sentiment, it is not being a “do-gooder”! On the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the “cancer” that is sin, moral evil, spiritual evil. Only love fills the void, the negative chasms that evil opens in hearts and in history. Only love can do this, and this is God’s joy!

Jesus is all mercy, Jesus is all love: he is God made man. Each of us, each one of us, is that little lost lamb, the coin that was mislaid; each
one of us is that son who has squandered his freedom on false idols, illusions of happiness, and has lost everything. But God does not forget us, the Father never abandons us. He is a patient father, always waiting for us! He respects our freedom, but he remains faithful forever. And when we come back to him, he welcomes us like children into his house, for he never ceases, not for one instant, to wait for us with love. And his heart rejoices over every child who returns. He is celebrating because he is joy. God has this joy, when one of us sinners goes to him and asks his forgiveness.

What is the danger? It is that we presume we are righteous and judge others. We also judge God, because we think that he should punish sinners, condemn them to death, instead of forgiving. So ‘yes’ then we risk staying outside the Father’s house! Like the older brother in the parable, who rather than being content that his brother has returned, grows angry with the father who welcomes him and celebrates. If in our heart there is no mercy, no joy of forgiveness, we are not in communion with God, even if we observe all of his precepts, for it is love that saves, not the practice of precepts alone. It is love of God and neighbour that brings fulfilment to all the Commandments. And this is the love of God, his joy: forgiveness. He waits for us always! Maybe someone has some heaviness in his heart: “But, I did this, I did that...”. He expects you! He is your father: he waits for you always!

If we live according to the law “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, we will never escape from the spiral of evil. The evil one is clever, and deludes us into thinking that with our human justice we can save ourselves and save the world! In reality, only the justice of God can save us! And the justice of God is revealed in the Cross: the Cross is the judgement of God on us all and on this world. But how does God judge us? By giving his life for us! Here is the supreme act of justice that defeated the prince of this world once and for all; and this supreme act of justice is the supreme act of mercy. Jesus calls us all to follow this path: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). I now ask of you one thing. In silence, let's all think... everyone think of a person with whom we are annoyed, with whom we are angry, someone we do not like. Let us think of that person and in silence, at this moment, let us pray for this person and let us become merciful with this person. [silent prayer].

Let us now invoke the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy.



Pope Francis          11.09.16  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome      24th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C    Luke 15: 1-32

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s liturgy brings us to Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, considered the chapter on
mercy. It relates three parables with which Jesus responds to the grumbling of the scribes and the Pharisees, who are criticizing his actions, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (v. 2).

With these three stories, Jesus wants to make us understand that God the Father is the first one to have a welcoming and merciful attitude toward sinners. This is God’s attitude.

In the first parable, God is presented as a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go and look for the one that is lost. In the second, he is compared to a woman who has lost a coin and searches until she finds it. In the third parable, God is imagined as a father who welcomes the son who had distanced himself; the figure of the father reveals the heart of a merciful God, manifested in Jesus.

A common element in these parables is expressed by the verbs that mean rejoice together, join in merry-making. Mourning is not spoken of; there is rejoicing, there is celebrating. The shepherd calls his friends and neighbours and says, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” (v 6). The woman calls her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost” (v. 9). And the father says to his other son: “It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (v. 32).

In the first two parables, the focus is on the
joy that is so uncontainable that it must be shared with “friends and neighbours”. In the third parable, the focus is on the joy that springs from the heart of the merciful father and expands to the whole household. God’s rejoicing over those who return to Him repentant is intoned as never before in this Jubilee Year that we are living, as the term itself expresses: “jubilee”, that is, jubilation!

With these three parables, Jesus presents to us the true face of God, a God with open arms, a God who deals with sinners with tenderness and compassion. The parable that is most moving for everyone — because it manifests the infinite love of God — is that of the father who enfolds in a close embrace the son who has been found. What strikes us is not so much the sad story of a youth who falls into dissolute ways, but rather his decisive words, “I will arise and go to my father” (v. 18).

The path to return home is the path of hope and new life. God always expects us to resume our journey, he awaits us with patience, he sees us when we are still a long way off, he runs to meet us, he embraces us, he kisses us, he
forgives us. That is how God is. That is how our Father is. And his forgiveness cancels the past and regenerates us in love. Forgetting the past — this is God’s weakness. When he embraces us, he forgives us, and forgets it. He doesn’t remember. He forgets the past. When we sinners convert and let ourselves be re-encountered by God, reproach and sternness do not await us, because God saves, he welcomes us home again with joy and prepares a feast.

Jesus himself in today’s Gospel says, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Lk 15:7).

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever thought about how each time we go to the confessional, there is joy and celebration in heaven? Have you ever thought about this? It’s beautiful.

This fills us with a great hope because there is no sin into which we may have fallen, from which, with the grace of God, we cannot rise up again. There is never a person who can’t be recovered; no one is irrecoverable, because God never stops wanting our good — even when we sin!

May the Virgin Mary, Refuge of Sinners, kindle in our hearts the confidence that was lit in the heart of
the prodigal son: “I will arise and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you’” (v. 18). On this path, we can give glory to God, and his glory can become his celebration, and ours.




Pope Francis   25. 01.19    Penitential Liturgy with Young Detainees, Panama       Luke 15: 1-32
Pope Francis - Prisoners

“He receives sinners and eats with them”. We just heard this in the Gospel reading (Lk 15:2). They are the words muttered by some of the Pharisees and scribes, doctors of the law, who were greatly upset and scandalized by the way Jesus was behaving.

With those words, they tried to discredit and dismiss Jesus in the eyes of everyone. But all they managed to do was point out one of his most ordinary, most distinctive, most beautiful ways of relating to others: “He receives sinners and eats with them”. Now we are all sinners, all of us, and for that reason Jesus receives with care all of us who are here, and if anyone does not feel that they are sinners – among all of us who are here – they should know that Jesus is not going to receive them, and they would miss out on the best part.

Jesus is not afraid to approach those who, for countless reasons, were the object of social hatred, like the publicans – we know that tax collectors grew rich by exploiting their own people and they caused great resentment –or those on the receiving end of social hatred because they had made an error in their lives, because of their errors and mistakes, some fault, and now they were called sinners. Jesus does this because he knows that in heaven there is more joy for a single one of those who make mistakes, for a single converted sinner, than for ninety-nine righteous people who remain good (Lk 15:7).

And whereas these people were content to grumble or complain because Jesus was meeting people who were marked by some kind of social error, some sin, and closed the doors on conversion, on dialogue with him – Jesus approaches and engages, Jesus puts his reputation at risk. He asks us, as he always does, to lift our eyes to a horizon that can renew our life, that can renew our history. All of us, all have a horizon. All of us. Someone may say: “I do not have one”. Open the window and you will find it, open the window of love which is Jesus and you will find him. We all have a horizon. They are two very different, contrasting approaches, Jesus’ one, and that of the doctors of the law. A sterile, fruitless approach – that of complaining and gossip, the person who is always speaking badly about others and is self-righteous – and another, one that invites us to change and to conversion, which is the Lord’s approach, a new life as you have just said a short while ago [turning to the young man who gave testimony].

The approach of complaining and of gossip

Now this is not something from a long time ago, it is current. Many people do not tolerate this attitude of Jesus; they don’t like it. First by complaining under their breath and then by shouting, they make known their displeasure, seeking to discredit Jesus’ way of acting and that of all those who are with him. They do not accept and they reject this option of drawing near to others and giving them another chance. These people condemn once and for all, they discredit once and for all and forget that in God’s eyes they are disqualified and need tenderness, need love and understanding, but do not wish to accept it. Where people’s lives are concerned, it seems easier to attach signs and labels that petrify and stigmatize not only people’s past but also their present and future. We put labels on people: “this one is like that”, “this one did that thing, and that’s it”, and he has to bear this for the rest of his days. That’s how people are who mutter – the gossips – they are like this. And labels ultimately serve only to divide: good people over here, and bad ones over there; the righteous over here and sinners over there. And this Jesus does not accept; this is the culture of the adjective; we delight in “adjectivizing” people, it gives us delight: “What is your name? My name is ‘good’”. No, that is an adjective. “What is your name?” Go to the person’s name: Who are you? What do you do? What dreams do you have? What does your heart feel? Gossips are not interested in this; they are quickly looking for a label to knock someone down off their pedestal. The culture of the adjective which discredits people. Think about that so as not to fall into what society so easily offers us.

This attitude spoils everything, because it erects an invisible wall that makes people think that, if we marginalize, separate and isolate others, all our problems will magically be solved. When a society or community allows this, and does nothing more than complain, gossip and backbite, it enters into a vicious circle of division, blame and condemnation. Strange that these people who do not accept Jesus, and what Jesus is teaching us, are people who are always on bad terms with each other, among those who call themselves righteous. And what’s more, it is an attitude of discrimination and exclusion, of confrontation leading people to say irresponsibly, like Caiaphas: “It is better that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish” (Jn 11:50). Better that they should all be kept over there, so that they will not give trouble; we want to live in peace. This is hard-hearted, and Jesus had to confront this; and we are also confronted with this today. Normally the thread is cut at the thinnest part: that of the poor and the defenceless. And it is they who suffer the most from this social disapproval that does allow them to raise themselves up.

How painful it is to see a society concentrate its energies more on complaining and backbiting than on fighting tirelessly to create opportunities and change.

The approach of conversion: the other approach

The Gospel, on the other hand, is completely characterized by this other approach, which is nothing more or less than that of God’s own heart. God never chases you away, God never chases anyone away; God says to you: “Come”. God waits for you and embraces you, and if you do not know the way, he is going to show you, as this shepherd did with the sheep. The other approach, however, excludes. The Lord wants to celebrate when he sees his children returning home (Lk 15:11-31). And Jesus testified to this by showing to the very end the merciful love of the Father. We have a Father – you said it yourself – I enjoyed your testimony: we have a Father. I have a Father who loves me, a beautiful thing. A love, Jesus’ love, that has no time for complaining, but seeks to break the circle of useless, needless, cold and sterile criticism. “I give you thanks, Lord – said that doctor of the law – that I am not like that one, I am not like him. The ones who believe they have a soul ten times purified in the illusion of a sterile life that is no good for anything. I once heard a country farmer saying something that struck me: “What is the purest water? Yes, distilled water”, he said; “You know, Father, that when I drink it, it has no flavour at all”. This is how life is for those who criticize and gossip and separate themselves from others: they feel so pure, so sterile, that they have no flavour at all; they are incapable of inviting someone; they live to take care of themselves, to have cosmetic surgery done on their souls and not to hold out their hand to others and help them to grow, which is what Jesus does; he accepts the complexity of life and of every situation. The love of Jesus, the love of God, the love of God our Father – as you said to us – is a love that initiates a process capable of inventing ways, offering means for integration and transformation, healing, forgiveness and salvation. By eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus shatters the mentality that separates, that excludes, that isolates, that falsely separates “the good and the bad”. He does not do this by decree, or simply with good intentions, or with slogans or sentimentality. How does Jesus do it? By creating bonds, relationships capable of enabling new processes; investing in and celebrating every possible step forward. That’s why Jesus does not say to Matthew when he converts – you will see it in the Gospel: “Well, this is good, I congratulate you, come with me”. No, he says to him: “Let us celebrate in your home”, and he invites all his friends, who with Matthew had been condemned by the society, to celebrate. The gossipmonger, the one who separates, does not know how to celebrate because he has an embittered heart.

Creating relationships, celebrating. This is what Jesus does, and that way he breaks with another form of complaining, one even harder to detect, one that “stifles dreams” because it keeps whispering: “you can’t do it, you can’t do it”. How many times you have heard this: “you can’t do it”. Watch out! This is like a woodworm that eats you from the inside out. Watch out when you feel “you can’t do it”, give yourself a slap: “Yes, I can and I will show you”. The whisper, the interior whisper that haunts those who repent of their sin and acknowledge their mistakes, but don’t think that they can change. And this happens when they think that those who are born publicans will always die publicans; and that is not true. The Gospel tell us quite the opposite. Eleven of the twelve disciples were bad sinners, because they committed the worst sin: they abandoned their Master, others disowned him, others ran far away. The Apostles betrayed him, and Jesus went to look for them one by one, and they are the ones who changed the whole world. It did not occur to any of them to say: “you can’t do it”, because having seen Jesus’ love after their betrayal, “I am going to be able to do it, because you give me the strength”. Watch out for the “you-can’t-do-it” woodworm, be very careful.

Friends, each of us is much more than our labels which people attach to us; each is much more than the adjectives that they want to give us, each is much more than the condemnation foisted on us. And that is what Jesus teaches us and asks us to believe. Jesus’ approach challenges us to ask and seek help when setting out on the path of improvement. There are times when complaining seems to have the upper hand, but don’t believe it, don’t listen to it. Seek out and listen to the voices that encourage you to look ahead, not those that pull you down. Listen to the voices that open the window for you and let you see the horizon: “Yes, but it’s far off”. “But you can do it. Focus on it carefully and you will be able to do it”. And every time the woodworm comes with “you can’t do it”, answer it from within: “I can do it”, and focus on the horizon.

The joy and hope of every Christian – of all of us, and the Pope too – comes from having experienced this approach of God, who looks at us and says, “You are part of my family and I cannot leave you at the mercy of the elements”; this is what God says to each one of us, because God is Father – you said it yourself: “You are part of my family and I am not going to leave you to the mercy of the elements, I am not going to leave you lying in the ditch, no, I cannot lose you along the way – God says to us, to each of us, by name and surname – I am here at your side”. Here? Yes, Lord. It is that feeling that you, Luis, described at those times when it seemed it was all over, yet something said: “No! It is not all over”, because you have a bigger purpose that lets you see that God our Father is always with us. He gives us people with whom we can walk, people to help us achieve new goals.

So Jesus turns complaining into celebration, and tells us: “Rejoice with me, we are going to celebrate!” In the parable of the prodigal son – I like a translation I found once – it says that the father said, when he saw his son who had returned home: “We are going to celebrate”, and then the feast began. And one translation said: “And then the dance began”. The joy, the joy with which God receives us, with the Father’s embrace; the dance began.

Brothers and sisters: You are part of the family; you have a lot to share with others. Help us to discern how best to live and to accompany one another along the path of change that we, as a family, all need.

A society grows sick when it is unable to celebrate change in its sons and daughters. A community grows sick when it lives off relentless, negative and heartless complaining, gossip. But a society is fruitful when it is able to generate processes of inclusion and integration, of caring and trying to create opportunities and alternatives that can offer new possibilities to the young, to build a future through community, education and employment. Such a community is healthy. Even though it may feel the frustration of not knowing how to do so, it does not give up, it keeps trying. We all have to help each other to learn, as a community, to find these ways, to try again and again. It is a covenant that we have to encourage one another to keep: you, young men and women, those responsible for your custody and the authorities of the Centre and the Ministry, and all your families, as well as your pastoral assistants. Keep fighting, all of you – but not among yourselves, please –fighting for what? – to seek and find the paths of integration and transformation. And this the Lord blesses, this the Lord sustains and this the Lord accompanies.

Shortly we will continue with the penitential service, where we will all be able to experience the Lord’s gaze, which never looks at adjectives, but looks at a name, looks into our eyes, looks at our heart; he does not look at labels and condemnation, but at his sons and daughters. That is God’s approach, his way of seeing things, which rejects exclusion and gives us the strength to build the covenants needed to help us all to reject complaining: those fraternal covenants that enable our lives to be a constant invitation to the joy of salvation, to the joy of keeping a horizon open before us, to the joy of the son’s feast. Let us go this way. Thank you.



Pope Francis      15.09.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome      Angelus  24th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 15: 1-32

Pope Francis  15.09.19 Angelus Prodigal Son

Today's Gospel (Luke 15:1-32) begins with some criticizing Jesus, seeing him in the company of tax collectors and sinners, and they say with disdain: "He welcomes sinners and eats with them" (v. 2). This phrase actually turns out to be a wonderful announcement. Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. This is what happens to us, in every Mass, in every church: Jesus is happy to welcome us to his table, where he offers himself for us. It is the phrase that we could write on the doors of our churches: "Here Jesus welcomes sinners and invites them to his table." And the Lord, responding to those who criticized him, recounts three parables, three beautiful parables, which show his preference for those who feel distant from him. Today it would be nice for each of you to take the Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, and read the three parables. They're beautiful.

In the first parable, he says, "Which one of you, if you have a hundred sheep and loses one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go in search of
the lost one?" (v. 4) Which one of you? A sensible person does not: he makes two calculations and sacrifices one to keep the ninety-nine. God, on the other hand, does not resign himself, for him you are at the centre of his heart, you who do not yet know the beauty of his love, you who have not yet welcomed Jesus to the centre of your life, you who cannot overcome your sin, you who perhaps because of the bad things that have happened in your life, you do not believe in love.

In the second parable, you are that little coin that the Lord does not resign himself to losing and he searches relentlessly: He wants to tell you that you are precious in his eyes, that you are unique. No one can replace you in God's heart. You have a place, it is you, and no one can replace you; and even me, no one can replace me in God's heart.

And in the third parable God is a father who awaits the return of
the prodigal son: God always waits for us, he does not get tired, he does not lose heart. Because it is us, each of us is that reunited son, that rediscovered coin, that caressed sheep that he puts back on his shoulder. He waits every day for us to notice his love. And you say, "But I've done many horrible things, I've done too many!" Don't be afraid: God loves you, loves you as you are and knows that only his love can change your life.

But this infinite love of God for us
sinners, which is the heart of the Gospel, can be rejected. That's what the eldest son of the parable does. He does not understand love at that moment and has in his mind a master other than a father. It can also happen to us: when we believe in a more rigorous than merciful God, a God who defeats evil with power rather than with forgiveness. It is not like that, God saves with love, not by force; He proposes and does not impose himself. But the eldest son, who does not accept his father's mercy, closes himself, makes a worse mistake: he believes he is right, he believes he has been betrayed and judges everything on the basis of his thought of justice. So he gets angry with his brother and reproaches his father: "You have killed the fat calf now that your son is back" (cf. v. 30). This son of yours: he doesn't call him my brother, but your son. He feels like an only child. We also make mistakes when we believe ourselves to be right, when we think that the bad ones are the others. Let us not believe ourselves to be good, because alone, without the help of God who is good, we do not know how to overcome evil. Today, don't forget, take the gospel, and read Luke's three parables, chapter 15. It will do you good, it will be healthy for you.

How do we defeat evil? By accepting God's
forgiveness and the forgiveness of brothers and sisters. It happens every time we go to confession: there we receive the love of the Father who overcomes our sin: our sin is no more, because God forgets it. When God forgives, he loses his memory, He forgets our sins, forgets. He's so good to us! Not like us, who after saying "Don't mind about it", at the first opportunity we remember the injuries that we have suffered. No, God cancels evil, He makes us new inside and so makes joy reborn in us, not sadness, not darkness in our heart, not suspicion, but joy.

Brothers and sisters, courage, with God sin does not have the last word. Our Lady, who unties the knots of life, frees us from the pretence of believing ourselves to be righteous and makes us feel the need to go to the Lord, who is always waiting for us to embrace, and to forgive us.

  
 

 Chapter 16

1-8

 

Pope Francis       08.11.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta        Luke 16:1-8

The Lord speaks to us again about the spirit of the world, about worldliness: how this worldliness works and how perilous it is. In his prayer after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Jesus besought the Father not to allow his disciples to fall into worldliness. Worldliness is the enemy, and the devil derives great pleasure” in seeing us live according to its ways.
Some of you might say: 'But this man only did what everyone does!'. No, not everyone! Some company administrators, public administrators, government administrators … but perhaps there are not many. It's an attitude of taking short cuts, of taking the easy road to earn a living.
The master praises the dishonest steward in the Gospel. He is praising bribery! The habit of giving bribes is a worldly and very sinful habit … God commanded us to bring home bread through honest work. This steward was giving dirty bread to his children to eat. And his children, who perhaps were educated in expensive universities and were raised in very cultured circles, were fed dirt by their father. For in bringing home unclean bread, their father lost his dignity. And this is a grave sin. It might start with a small bribe, but it is like a drug.
In fact, that it is such a serious sin “because it is so against our dignity”. That dignity by which we are united through our work. Not through bribes. Not through this addiction to worldly cleverness. When read in the papers or hear someone on the news speak about
corruption, perhaps we think that corruption is just a word. This is corruption: not earning our daily bread with dignity.
However, there is another road. It is the path of “Christian cleverness”. This path, allows us to be cunning but not according to the spirit of the world. Jesus himself said it: be wise as serpents, innocent as doves. Uniting these two realities is a grace and a gift of the Holy Spirit. This Christian cleverness is a gift; it is a grace that the Lord gives to us. But we need to ask for it.
Perhaps today, it would be good for all of us to pray for the many children who receive dirty bread from their parents, since they too are hungry; they are hungry for dignity. Ask the Lord to change the hearts of those who are devoted to the goddess of bribery in order that they might understand that dignity comes from noble work, from honest work, from daily work, and not from the easy road which in the end strips you of everything. For when they face death, these poor people who lose their dignity through the practice of bribery do not take with them the money they earned; they only take their lack of dignity. Let us pray for them.

  

 Chapter 16

1-13

 
Pope Francis   18.09.16   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome    25th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C    Luke 16: 1-13

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, Jesus invites us to reflect on two opposing ways of
life: the way of the world and that of the Gospel — the worldly spirit is not the spirit of Jesus — and He does so by recounting the parable of the unfaithful and corrupt steward, who is praised by Jesus, despite his dishonesty (cf. Lk 16:1-13). We must point out immediately that this administrator is not presented as a model to follow, but as an example of deceitfulness. This man is accused of mismanaging his master’s affairs, and before being removed, astutely he tries to ingratiate himself with the debtors, condoning part of their debt so as to ensure himself a future. Commenting on this behaviour, Jesus observes: “For the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light” (v. 8).

We are called to respond to this worldly astuteness with Christian astuteness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a matter of departing from the worldly spirit and values, which the
devil really favours, in order to live according to the Gospel. How is worldliness manifested? Worldliness is manifested by attitudes of corruption, deception, subjugation, and it constitutes the most ill-chosen road, the road of sin, because one leads you to the other! It’s like a chain, even if — it’s true — it is generally the easiest road to travel. Instead, the spirit of the Gospel requires a serious lifestyle — serious but joyful, full of joy! — serious and challenging, marked by honesty, fairness, respect for others and their dignity, and a sense of duty. And this is Christian astuteness!

The
journey of life necessarily involves a choice between two roads: between honesty and dishonesty, between fidelity and infidelity, between selfishness and altruism, between good and evil. You can not waver between one and the other, because they move on different and conflicting forms of logic. The prophet Elijah said to the people of Israel that went on these two roads: “You are limping with both feet!” (cf. 1 Kings 18:21). It’s a fine image. It is important to decide which direction to take and then, once you have chosen the right one, to walk it with enthusiasm and determination, trusting in God’s grace and the support of His Spirit. The conclusion of the Gospel passage is powerful and categorical: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Lk 16:13).

With this teaching, Jesus today urges us to make a clear choice between Him and the worldly spirit, between the logic of corruption, of the abuse of power and greed, and that of righteousness, meekness and sharing. Some people conduct themselves with
corruption as they do with drugs: they think they can use it and stop when they want. It starts out small: a tip here, a bribe over there.... And between this and that, one’s freedom is slowly lost. Corruption is also habit-forming, and generates poverty, exploitation, and suffering. How many victims there are in the world today! How many victims of this widespread corruption. But when we try to follow the Gospel logic of integrity, clarity in intentions and in behaviour, of fraternity, we become artisans of justice and we open horizons of hope for humanity. In gratuitousness and by giving of ourselves to our brothers and sisters, we serve the right master: God.

May the Virgin Mary help us to choose at every opportunity and at all costs, the right way, even finding the courage to go against the tide, in order to follow Jesus and his Gospel.


Pope Francis  22.09.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Vatican City       25th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 16: 1-13
Pope Francis 22.09.19 Possessions

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The parable contained in this Sunday's Gospel (cf. Luke 16:1-13) features a clever and dishonest steward who, accused of having squandered his master's assets, is about to be fired. In this difficult situation, he does not make counter accusations, seeks no justification and does not let himself be discouraged, but devises a way out to ensure a secure future for himself. His reaction at first is one of lucidity, recognising his limitations: "I do not have the strength to dig; I am ashamed to beg" (v. 3); then he acts cunningly, robbing his master for the last time. In fact, he calls the debtors and reduces the debts they have to the master, to make them friends and then be rewarded by them. This is making friends with corruption and getting gratitude with corruption, as is unfortunately customary today.

Jesus presents this example certainly not to encourage dishonesty, but to show shrewdness. In fact, he points out: "The master praised the dishonest steward, for his astuteness " (v. 8), meaning, that he acted with a mixture of intelligence and craftiness, which allows one to overcome difficult situations. The key to understanding this storey lies in Jesus' invitation at the end of the parable: "Make friends for yourself with dishonest
wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings" (v. 9). It seems a little confusing, but it is not: the "dishonest wealth" is money – also called "the devil's dung" – when we refer to material things.

Wealth can lead to building walls, to division and to discrimination. Jesus, on the other hand, invites his disciples to change course: "Make friends with wealth." It is an invitation to know how to turn goods and riches into relationships, because people are worth more than
possessions and matter more than the wealth they possess. In life, in fact, those who are really wealthy are not necessarily those who are very rich, rather those who are truly rich are those who create and maintain many relationships, one who has many friends as a result of the different riches, that is, the different gifts which God has given him. Jesus also indicates the ultimate purpose of his exhortation: "Make friends with wealth, so that they may welcome you in eternal dwellings." To welcome us in Paradise, if we are able to transform riches into instruments of fraternity and solidarity, there will be not only God, but also those with whom we have shared, those to whom we administered, including all those the Lord has put into our hands.

Brothers and sisters, this gospel passage finds an echo in us particularly the question of the dishonest steward, driven out by the master: He asks himself "What am I going to do now?" (see 3). In the face of our shortcomings, and our failures, Jesus assures us that we are always in time to correct our wrongs by doing good. Whoever has caused tears, make someone happy; whoever has misappropriated something, give to those in need. In so doing, we will be praised by the Lord "because we have acted shrewdly", that is, with the wisdom of one who recognizes himself as a child of God and stake themselves for the Kingdom of Heaven.

May the Blessed Virgin help us to be shrewd in ensuring for ourselves not only worldly success, but eternal life, so that at the time of the final judgment all the needy people we have helped may testify that in them we have seen and served the Lord.
  

 Chapter 16

19-31

 
 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C 

1. “Woe to the complacent in Zion, to those who feel secure … lying upon beds of ivory!” (Am 6:1,4). They eat, they drink, they sing, they play and they care nothing about other people’s troubles.

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/material-things/29.09.13.jpg

These are harsh words which the prophet Amos speaks, yet they warn us about a danger that all of us face. What is it that this messenger of God denounces; what does he want his contemporaries, and ourselves today, to realize? The danger of complacency, comfort, worldliness in our lifestyles and in our hearts, of making our well-being the most important thing in our lives. This was the case of the rich man in the Gospel, who dressed in fine garments and daily indulged in sumptuous banquets; this was what was important for him. And the poor man at his doorstep who had nothing to relieve his hunger? That was none of his business, it didn’t concern him. Whenever material things, money, worldliness, become the centre of our lives, they take hold of us, they possess us; we lose our very identity as human beings. Think of it: the rich man in the Gospel has no name, he is simply “a rich man”. Material things, his possessions, are his face; he has nothing else.

Let’s try to think: How does something like this happen? How do some people, perhaps ourselves included, end up becoming self-absorbed and finding security in material things which ultimately rob us of our face, our human face? This is what happens when we become complacent, when we no longer remember God. “Woe to the complacent in Zion”, says the prophet. If we don’t think about God, everything ends up flat, everything ends up being about “me” and my own comfort. Life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having. When we no longer remember God, we too become unreal, we too become empty; like the rich man in the Gospel, we no longer have a face! Those who run after nothing become nothing – as another great prophet Jeremiah, observed (cf. Jer 2:5). We are made in God’s image and likeness, not the image and likeness of material objects, of idols!

2. So, as I look out at you, I think: Who are catechists? They are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others. This is something beautiful: to remember God, like the Virgin Mary, who sees God’s wondrous works in her life but doesn’t think about honour, prestige or wealth; she doesn’t become self-absorbed. Instead, after receiving the message of the angel and conceiving the Son of God, what does she do? She sets out, she goes to assist her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. And the first thing she does upon meeting Elizabeth is to recall God’s work, God’s fidelity, in her own life, in the history of her people, in our history: “My soul magnifies the Lord … For he has looked on the lowliness of his servant … His mercy is from generation to generation” (Lk 1:46, 48, 50). Mary remembers God.

This canticle of Mary also contains the remembrance of her personal history, God’s history with her, her own experience of faith. And this is true too for each one of us and for every Christian: faith contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encountering God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves and transforms us. Faith is remembrance of his word which warms our heart, and of his saving work which gives life, purifies us, cares for and nourishes us. A catechist is a Christian who puts this remembrance at the service of proclamation, not to seem important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity. To talk about and to pass down all that God has revealed, his teaching in its totality, neither trimming it down nor adding on to it.

Saint Paul recommends one thing in particular to his disciple and co-worker Timothy: Remember, remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, whom I proclaim and for whom I suffer (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-9). The Apostle can say this because he too remembered Christ, who called him when he was persecuting Christians, who touched him and transformed him by his grace.

The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others. This is not easy! It engages our entire existence! What is the Catechism itself, if not the memory of God, the memory of his works in history and his drawing near to us in Christ present in his word, in the sacraments, in his Church, in his love? Dear catechists, I ask you: Are we in fact the memory of God? Are we really like sentinels who awaken in others the memory of God which warms the heart?

3. “Woe to the complacent in Zion!”, says the prophet. What must we do in order not to be “complacent” – people who find their security in themselves and in material things – but men and woman of the memory of God? In the second reading, Saint Paul, once more writing to Timothy, gives some indications which can also be guideposts for us in our work as catechists: pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (cf. 1 Tim 6:11).

Catechists are men and women of the memory of God if they have a constant, living relationship with him and with their neighbour; if they are men and women of faith who truly trust in God and put their security in him; if they are men and women of charity, love, who see others as brothers and sisters; if they are men and women of “hypomoné”, endurance and perseverance, able to face difficulties, trials and failures with serenity and hope in the Lord; if they are gentle, capable of understanding and mercy.

Let us ask the Lord that we may all be men and women who keep the memory of God alive in ourselves, and are able to awaken it in the hearts of others. Amen.


Pope Francis           05.03.15 Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        Jeremiah 17: 10-15,      Luke 16: 19-31
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Pope Francis 05.03.15 Santa Marta

Today’s Lenten Liturgy offers us two stories, two judgements and three names. The two stories are those of the parable, narrated by Luke (16:19-31), of the rich man and of the poor man named Lazarus. In particular, the first story is that of the rich man, who was clothed in purple and the finest linen, who took good care of himself, and feasted sumptuously every day. The text, doesn’t say he was bad, but rather that he had a comfortable life, he gave himself a good life. In fact, the Gospel doesn’t say that he overindulged; instead his was a quiet life, with friends. Who knows, perhaps if he had parents, he surely sent them things so they would have the necessities of life. And maybe he was a religious man, in his way. Perhaps he recited a few prayers; and surely two or three times a year he went to the temple to make sacrifices and gave large offerings to the priests. And they, with their clerical cowardliness, thanked him and made him sit in the place of honour. This was the social lifestyle of the rich man presented by Luke.

Then there is the second story, that of Lazarus, the poor mendicant who lay at the rich man’s gate. How is it possible that this man didn’t realize that Lazarus was there, below his house, poor and starving? The wounds that the Gospel speaks of, are a symbol of the many needs he had. However, when the rich man left the house, perhaps the car he left in had darkly tinted windows so he couldn’t see out. But surely his soul, the eyes of his soul were tinted dark so he couldn’t see. And thus the rich man saw only his life and didn’t realize what was happening to Lazarus.

In the final analysis, the rich man wasn’t bad, he was sick: afflicted with
worldliness. And worldliness transforms souls, makes them lose consciousness of reality: they live in an artificial world, which they create. Worldliness anaesthetizes the soul, and this is why that worldly man wasn’t able to see reality.

This is why, the second story is clear: there are so many people who conduct their lives in a difficult way but if I have a worldly heart, I will never understand this. After all, with a worldly heart it is impossible to comprehend the necessities and needs of others. With a worldly heart you can go to Church, you can pray, you can do many things. But what did Jesus pray for at the Last Supper? "Please, Father, protect these disciples" so that "they do not fall in the world, do not fall into worldliness". And worldliness is a subtle sin, it’s more than a sin: it’s a sinful state of soul.

These are the two stories presented by the Liturgy. The two judgements, instead, are a curse and a blessing. The First Reading from Jeremiah (17:5-10) reads: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord". This, is the profile of the worldliness we saw in the rich man. And how will this man end up? Scripture defines him as "a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness" — his soul is a desert — "an uninhabited salt land". And all of this because, in truth, the worldly are alone with their selfishness. Then in the text of Jeremiah there is also a blessing: "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water", while the other "was like a shrub in the desert". This, then, is the final judgement: nothing is more treacherous for a heart and difficult to heal: that man had a sick heart, so battered by this worldly lifestyle that it was very difficult to heal.

There are the three names offered in the Gospel Reading: they are that of the poor man, Lazarus, that of Abraham, and that of Moses. Another key to understanding is that the rich man had no name, because the worldly lose their name, which is merely a feature of the well-off crowd who need nothing. On the other hand are Abraham, our father; Lazarus, a man who struggles because he is good and poor and has so much pain; and Moses, the man who gives us the law. But "the worldly have no name. They didn’t listen to Moses, because they only need extraordinary manifestations.

In the Church, everything is clear, Jesus spoke clearly: this is the way. But at the end there is a word of consolation: when that unfortunate worldly man, in torment, asks that Lazarus be sent with a bit of water to help him, Abraham, who is the figure of God the Father, responds: "Son, remember...". Thus the worldly have lost their name and we too, should we have a worldly heart, we have lost our name. However, we are not orphans. Until the very end, until the final moment, there is the assurance that we have a Father who awaits us. Let us trust in Him. And the Father turns to us, calling us ‘son’ and ‘daughter’, even in the midst of that worldliness: ‘son’. And this means that we are not orphans.

In the opening, we asked the Lord for the grace to turn our hearts toward Him, who is Father. Let us continue the celebration of Mass thinking of these two stories, of these two judgements, of the three names; but above all, of that beautiful word that will always be said until the final moment: ‘son’



Pope Francis     25.09.16   Holy Mass, St Peter's Square, Vatican City    Mass for Catechists  26th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C   1 Timothy 6: 11-16Luke 16: 19-31   

Pope Francis  25.09.16 Lazarus


In the second reading the Apostle Paul offers to Timothy, but also to us, some advice which is close to his heart. Among other things, he charges him “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach” (1 Tim 6:14). He speaks simply of a commandment. It seems that he wants to keep our attention fixed firmly on what is essential for our faith. Saint Paul, indeed, is not suggesting all sorts of different points, but is emphasizing the core of the faith. This centre around which everything revolves, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day. We must never forget this. On this Jubilee for Catechists, we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and centre: the Lord is risen. Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centrepiece, if it is saturated by the Paschal proclamation. If it remains in isolation, however, it loses its sense and force. We are called always to live out and proclaim the newness of the Lord’s love: “Jesus truly loves you, just as you are. Give him space: in spite of the disappointments and wounds in your life, give him the chance to love you. He will not disappoint you”.

The commandment which Saint Paul is speaking of makes us think also of Jesus’ new commandment: “that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). It is by loving that the God-who-is-Love is proclaimed to the world: not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation. God is proclaimed through the encounter between persons, with care for their history and their journey. Because the Lord is not an idea, but a living person: his message is passed on through simple and authentic testimony, by listening and welcoming, with joy which radiates outward. We do not speak convincingly about Jesus when we are sad; nor do we transmit God’s beauty merely with beautiful homilies. The God of hope is proclaimed by living out the Gospel of love in the present moment, without being afraid of testifying to it, even in new ways.

Pope Francis 25.09.16


This Sunday’s Gospel helps us understand what it means to love, and more than anything how to avoid certain risks. In the parable there is a rich man who does not notice Lazarus, a poor man who was “at his gate” (Lk 16:20). This rich man, in fact, does not do evil towards anyone; nothing says that he is a bad man. But he has a sickness much greater than Lazarus’, who was “full of sores” (ibid.): this rich man suffers from terrible blindness, because he is not able to look beyond his world, made of banquets and fine clothing. He cannot see beyond the door of his house to where Lazarus lies, because what is happening outside does not interest him. He does not see with his eyes, because he cannot feel with his heart. For into it a worldliness has entered which anaesthetizes the soul. This worldliness is like a “black hole” that swallows up what is good, which extinguishes love, because it consumes everything in its very self. And so here a person sees only outward appearances, no longer noticing others because one has become indifferent to everyone. The one who suffers from grave blindness often takes on “squinting” behaviour: he looks with adulation at famous people, of high rank, admired by the world, yet turns his gaze away from the many Lazaruses of today, from the poor, from the suffering who are the Lord’s beloved.

But the Lord looks at those who are neglected and discarded by the world. Lazarus is the only one named in all of Jesus’ parables. His name means “God helps”. God does not forget him; he will welcome him to the banquet in his kingdom, together with Abram, in communion with all who suffer. The rich man in the parable, on the other hand, does not even have a name; his life passes by forgotten, because whoever lives for himself does not write history. And a Christian must write history! He or she must go out from themselves, to write history! But whoever lives for themselves cannot write history. Today’s callousness causes chasms to be dug that can never be crossed. And we have fallen, at this time, into the sickness of indifference, selfishness and worldliness.

There is another detail in the parable, a contrast. The opulent life of this nameless man is described as being ostentatious: everything about him concerns needs and rights. Even when he is dead he insists on being helped and demands what is to his benefit. Lazarus’ poverty, however, is articulated with great dignity: from his mouth no complaints or protests or scornful words issue. This is a valuable teaching: as servants of the word of Jesus we have been called not to parade our appearances and not to seek for glory; nor can we be sad or full of complaints. We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations; we are not people who become ensconced in our own surroundings, handing out bitter judgments on our society, on the Church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity. Pitiful scepticism does not belong to whoever is close to the word of God.

Whoever proclaims the hope of Jesus carries joy and sees a great distance; such persons have the horizon open before them; there is no wall closing them in; they see a great distance because they know how to see beyond evil and beyond their problems. At the same time, they see clearly from up close, because they are attentive to their neighbour and to their neighbour’s needs. The Lord is asking this of us today: before all the Lazaruses whom we see, we are called to be disturbed, to find ways of meeting and helping, without always delegating to others or saying: “I will help you tomorrow; I have no time today, I’ll help you tomorrow”. This is a sin. The time taken to help others is time given to Jesus; it is love that remains: it is our treasure in heaven, which we earn here on earth.

And so, dear catechists, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give us the grace to be renewed every day by the joy of the first proclamation to us: Jesus died and is risen, Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.


Pope Francis   29.09.19  St Peter's Square,  Holy Mass World Day for Migrants and Refugees        26th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C               Amos 6: 1A, 4-7,    Psalms 146; 7-10,      1 Timothy 6: 11-16,        Luke 16: 19-31
Pope Francis  29.09.19 Mass for Migrants and Refugees

Today’s Responsorial Psalm reminds us that the Lord upholds the stranger as well as the widow and the orphan among his people. The Psalmist makes explicit mention of those persons who are especially vulnerable, often forgotten and subject to oppression. The Lord has a particular concern for foreigners, widows and orphans, for they are without rights, excluded and marginalized. This is why God tells the Israelites to give them special care.

In the Book of Exodus, the Lord warns his people not to mistreat in any way widows and orphans, for he hears their cry (cf. 22:23). Deuteronomy sounds the same warning twice (cf. 24:17; 27:19), and includes strangers among this group requiring protection. The reason for that warning is explained clearly in the same book: the God of Israel is the one who “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (10:18). This loving care for the less privileged is presented as a characteristic trait of the God of Israel and is likewise required, as a moral duty, of all those who would belong to his people.

That is why we must pay special attention to the strangers in our midst as well as to widows, orphans and all the outcasts of our time. In the
Message for this 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the theme “It is not Just about Migrants” is repeated as a refrain. And rightly so: it is not only about foreigners; it is about all those in existential peripheries who, together with migrants and refugees, are victims of the throwaway culture. The Lord calls us to practise charity towards them. He calls us to restore their humanity, as well as our own, and to leave no one behind.

Along with the exercise of charity, the Lord also invites us to think about the injustices that cause exclusion – and in particular
the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status, act to the detriment of the many. “Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded”: this is a painful truth; our word is daily more and more elitist, more cruel towards the excluded. “Developing countries continue to be drained of their best natural and human resources for the benefit of a few privileged markets. Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts. Those who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable, who are prevented from sitting at the table and are left with the ‘crumbs’ of the banquet” (
Message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees).

It is in this context that the harsh words of the Prophet Amos proclaimed in the first reading (6:1.4-7) should be understood. Woe to those who are at ease and seek pleasure in Zion, who do not worry about the ruin of God’s people, even though it is in plain sight. They do not notice the destruction of Israel because they are too busy ensuring that they can still enjoy the good life, delicious food and fine drinks. It is striking how, twenty-eight centuries later, these warnings remain as timely as ever. For today too, the “culture of comfort… makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people… which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference” (
Homily in Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).

In the end, we too risk becoming like
that rich man in the Gospel who is unconcerned for the poor man Lazarus, “covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table” (Lk 16:20-21). Too intent on buying elegant clothes and organizing lavish banquets, the rich man in the parable is blind to Lazarus’s suffering. Overly concerned with preserving our own well-being, we too risk being blind to our brothers and sisters in difficulty.
Pope Francis  29.09.19  Holy Mass for Migrants and Refugees

Yet, as Christians, we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to “our” group. We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of tears, the tears that can convert our hearts before such sins.

If we want to be men and women of God, as Saint Paul urges Timothy, we must “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tm 6:14). The commandment is to love God and love our neighbour; the two cannot be separated! Loving our neighbour as ourselves means being firmly committed to building a more just world, in which everyone has access to the goods of the earth, in which all can develop as individuals and as families, and in which fundamental rights and dignity are guaranteed to all.

Loving our neighbour means feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them, touching their sores and sharing their stories, and thus manifesting concretely God’s tender love for them. This means being a neighbour to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met.

God gave this holy commandment to his people and sealed it with the blood of his Son Jesus, to be a source of blessing for all mankind. So that all together we can work to build the human family according to his original plan, revealed in Jesus Christ: all are brothers and sisters, all are sons and daughters of the same Father.

Today we also need a mother. So we entrust to the maternal love of Mary, Our Lady of the Way, of so many painful journeys, all migrants and refugees, together with those who live on the peripheries of our world and those who have chosen to share their journey.

  

 Chapter 17

5-10

 
Pope Francis   06.10.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square         27th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke 17: 5-10

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

First of all, I want to give thanks to God for
the day I spent in Assisi, the day before yesterday. Just think, it was my first visit to Assisi and it was a great gift to make this pilgrimage on the Feast of St Francis. I thank the people of Assisi for their warm welcome: thank you very much!

Today, the Reading from the Gospel begins like this: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our
faith!’” (Lk 17:5). It seems that we can all make this our invocation, especially during this
Year of Faith. Let us too, like the Apostles, say to the Lord: “Increase our faith!”. Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak and fragile, but we offer it to you as it is, so that you can make it grow. Would it be good to say this all together? Shall we repeat together: “Lord, increase our faith!”? Shall we? Everyone: Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Make it grow!

And how does the Lord answer us? He responds: “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you” (v. 6). A mustard seed is tiny, yet Jesus says that faith this size, small but true and sincere, suffices to achieve what is humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but whose faith is so strong it can move mountains! Let us think, for example, of some mothers and fathers who face very difficult situations; or of some sick, and even gravely ill, people who transmit serenity to those who come to visit them. These people, because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say: “‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Lk 17:10). How many people among us have such strong, humble faith, and what good they do!

In this month of October, that is dedicated in a special way to missions, let us bear in mind the many missionaries, men and women, who in order to bring the Gospel have overcome obstacles of every kind, they have truly given their lives. As St Paul says to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8). This, however, is for us all; each one of us in our own daily lives can testify to Christ by the power of God, the power of faith. The faith we have is miniscule, but it is strong! With this power to testify to Jesus Christ, to be Christians with our life, with our witness!

And how do we draw from this strength? We draw it from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith: in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be left out, and prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God. October is also the month of the Rosary, and on this first Sunday it is tradition to recite the Prayer to Our Lady of Pompeii, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Most Holy Rosary. Let us join spiritually together in this act of trust in our Mother, and let us receive from her hands the crown of the Rosary: The Rosary is a school of prayer, the Rosary is a school of faith!



Pope Francis     02.10.16  Holy Mass, Baku, Azerbaijan     27th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Habakkuk 1: 2-3, 2: 2-4,  Luke 17: 5-10

Pope Francis  02.10.16 Baku

The word of God presents us today with two essential aspects of the Christian life: faith and service. With regard to faith, two specific requests are made to the Lord.

The first is made by the Prophet Habakkuk, who implores God to intervene in order to re-establish the justice and peace which men have shattered by violence, quarrels and disputes: “O Lord, how long”, he says, “shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab 1:2). God, in response, does not intervene directly, does not resolve the situation in an abrupt way, does not make himself present by a show of force. Rather, he invites patient waiting, without ever losing hope; above all, he emphasizes the importance of faith, since it is
by faith that man will live (cf. Hab 2:4). God treats us in the same way: he does not indulge our desire to immediately and repeatedly change the world and other people. Instead, he intends primarily to heal the heart, my heart, your heart, and the heart of each person; God changes the world by transforming our hearts, and this he cannot do without us. The Lord wants us to open the door of our hearts, in order to enter into our lives. And this act of opening to him, this trust in him is precisely “the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4). For when God finds an open and trusting heart, then he can work wonders there.

But to have faith, a lively faith, is not easy; and so we pass to the second request, which the Apostles bring to the Lord in the Gospel: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:6). It is a good question, a prayer which we too can direct to the Lord each day. But the divine response is surprising and here too turns the question around: “If you had faith…”. It is the Lord who asks us to have faith. Because faith, which is always God’s gift and always to be asked for, must be nurtured by us. It is no magic power which comes down from heaven, it is not a “talent” which is given once and for all, not a special force for solving life’s problems. A faith useful for satisfying our needs would be a selfish one, centred entirely on ourselves. Faith must not be confused with well-being or feeling well, with having consolation in our heart that gives us inner peace. Faith is the golden thread which binds us to the Lord, the pure joy of being with him, united to him; it is a gift that lasts our whole life, but bears fruit only if we play our part.

And what is our part? Jesus helps us understand that it consists of service. In the Gospel, immediately following his words on the power of faith, Jesus speaks of service. Faith and service cannot be separated; on the contrary, they are intimately linked, interwoven with each other. In order to explain this, I would like to take an image very familiar to you, that of a beautiful carpet. Your carpets are true works of art and have an ancient heritage. The Christian life that each of you has, also comes from afar. It is a gift we received in the Church which comes from the heart of God our Father, who wishes to make each of us a masterpiece of creation and of history. Every carpet, and you know this well, must be made according to a weft and a warp; only with this form can the carpet be harmoniously woven. So too in the Christian life: every day it must be woven patiently, intertwining a precise weft and warp: the weft of faith and the warp of service. When faith is interwoven with service, the heart remains open and youthful, and it expands in the process of doing good. Thus faith, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, becomes powerful and accomplishes marvellous deeds. If faith follows this path, it matures and grows in strength, but only when it is joined to service.
02.10.16 Pope Francis Baku, Azerbaijan

But what is service? We might think that it consists only in being faithful to our duties or carrying out some good action. Yet for Jesus it is much more. In today’s Gospel, and in very firm and radical terms, he asks us for complete availability, a life offered in complete openness, free of calculation and gain. Why is Jesus so exacting? Because he loved us in this way, making himself our servant “to the end” (Jn 13:1), coming “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk 10:45). And this takes place again every time we celebrate the Eucharist: the Lord comes among us, and as much as we intend to serve him and love him, it is always he who precedes us, serving us and loving us more than we can imagine or deserve. He gives us his very own life. He invites us to imitate him, saying: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).

And so, we are not called to serve merely in order to receive a reward, but rather to imitate God, who made himself a servant for our love. Nor are we called to serve only now and again, but to live in serving. Service is thus a way of life; indeed it recapitulates the entire Christian way of life: serving God in adoration and prayer; being open and available; loving our neighbour with practical deeds; passionately working for the common good.

For Christians too, there are no shortage of temptations which lead us away from the path of service and end up by rendering life useless. Where there is no service, life is useless. Here too we can identify two forms. One is that of allowing our hearts to grow lukewarm. A lukewarm heart becomes self-absorbed in lazy living and it stifles the fire of love. The lukewarm person lives to satisfy his or her own convenience, which is never enough, and in that way is never satisfied; gradually such a Christian ends up being content with a mediocre life. The lukewarm person allocates to God and others a “percentage” of their time and their own heart, never spending too much, but rather always trying to economize. And so, he or she can lose the zest for life: rather like a cup of truly fine tea, which is unbearable to taste when it gets cold. I am sure, however, that when you look to the example of those who have gone before you in faith, you will not let your hearts become lukewarm. The whole Church, in showing you special affection, looks to you and offers you encouragement: you are a little flock that is so precious in God’s eyes.

There is a second temptation, which we can fall into not so much because we are passive, but because we are “overactive”: the one of thinking like masters, of giving oneself only in order to gain something or become someone. In such cases service becomes a means and not an end, because the end has become prestige; and then comes power, the desire to be great. “It shall not be so among you”, Jesus reminds all of us, “but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:26). This is the way the Church grows and is adorned. Returning to our image of the carpet, and applying it to your fine community: each of you is like a magnificent silk thread. Only if you are woven together, however, will the different threads form a beautiful composition; on their own, they are of no use. Stay united always, living humbly in charity and joy; the Lord, who creates harmony from differences, will protect you.

May we be aided by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the saints, especially Saint Teresa of Calcutta, the fruits of whose faith and service are in your midst. Let us recall some of her noble words to summarize today’s message: “The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace” (A Simple Path, Introduction).


Pope Francis   06.10.19  Angelus , St Peters Square      27th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C       Luke 17: 5-10

Pope Francis 06.10.19 Angelus Faith

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel page (cf. Luke 17:5-10) presents the theme of
faith, introduced by the disciples' question: "Increase our faith!" (see 6). A beautiful prayer, which we should pray often throughout the day: "Lord, increase our faith!". Jesus responds with two images: the mustard seed and the attentive servant. "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree: "Be uprooted planted in the sea", and it would obey you" (v. 6). The mulberry tree is a sturdy tree, well rooted in the earth and resistant to the winds. Jesus, therefore, wants to make it clear that even if faith is as small as a mustard seed, ot has the strength to uproot even a mulberry, and then to transplant it into the sea, which is something even more unlikely: but nothing is impossible to those who have faith, because they do not rely on their own strength, but on God, who can do everything.

Faith compared to the mustard seed is a faith that is not proud and self-confident; and doesn't pretend to be that of a great believer! It is a faith that in its humility feels a great need for God and in its smallness it abandons itself with total confidence to God. It is a faith that gives us the ability to look with hope at the ups and downs of life, which also helps us to accept defeats, sufferings, in the knowledge that evil never has, nor never will never have, the last word.

How can we know if we really have faith, that is, if our faith, though tiny, is genuine, pure, and honest? Jesus explains this to us by pointing out that the measure of faith is service. And he does so with a parable that at first glance is a little disconcerting, because it presents the figure of an arrogant and indifferent master. But it is exactly waht this master does brings that highlights the true heart of the parable, that is, the attitude of the availability of the servant. Jesus wants to say that this is how a person of faith is should be in relation to God: he is completely surrendering to Gods will, without expectations or pretensions.

This attitude towards God is also reflected in the way we behave in the community: it is reflected in the joy of being at the service of one another, already finding in this its own reward and not in the recognitions and advantages that can result from it. It is what Jesus teaches at the end of this story: "When you have done all you have been commanded, say: "We are useless servants. We have done what we were obliged to do."

Useless servants, that is, with no expectations of being thanked, with no demands. "We are useless servants" is an expression of humility, and willingness that does so much good to the Church and reminds us of the correct attitude needed to work in the Church: that of humble service, of which Jesus has set the example, in washing the feet of his disciples (cf. John 13:3-17).

May the Virgin Mary, the woman of faith, help us to go down this road. We turn to her on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, in communion with the faithful gathered in Pompeii for the traditional Supplica prayer.
  
 

 Chapter 17

11-19

 

Pope Francis   13.10.13  Holy Mass for Marian Day, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      2 Kings 5: 14-17,   2 Timothy 2: 8-13,   Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis 13.10.13

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1).

Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.

1. First:
God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.

This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?

2. In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ; if we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in
faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.

3. The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.

Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “
thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Sorry”, “excuse me”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Sorry”, “excuse me”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”.

As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercessio
n. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.


Pope Francis   09.10.16  Holy Mass for Marian Day, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      2 Kings 5: 14-17,      Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis  09.10.16

This Sunday’s Gospel (cf. Lk 17:11-19) invites us to acknowledge God’s gifts with wonder and gratitude. On the way to his death and resurrection, Jesus meets ten lepers, who approach him, keep their distance and tell their troubles to the one whom their faith perceived as a possible saviour: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13). They are sick and they are looking someone to heal them. Jesus responds by telling them to go and present themselves to the priests, who according to the Law were charged with certifying presumed healings. In this way, Jesus does not simply make them a promise; he tests their faith. At that moment, in fact, the ten were not yet healed. They were restored to health after they set out in obedience to Jesus’ command. Then, rejoicing, they showed themselves to the priests and continued on their way. They forgot the Giver, the Father, who cured them through Jesus, his Son made man.

All but one: a Samaritan, a foreigner living on the fringes of the chosen people, practically a pagan! This man was not content with being healed by his faith, but brought that healing to completion by returning to express his gratitude for the gift received. He recognized in Jesus the true Priest, who raised him up and saved him, who can now set him on his way and accept him as one of his disciples.

To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what he has done for us: this is important! So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying “
Thank you”? How many times do we say “Thank you” in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say “Thank you” to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted! This also happens with God. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to return and give thanks... That is why Jesus so emphasizes the failure of the nine ungrateful lepers: “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Lk 17:17-18).

On this Jubilee day, we are given a model, indeed the model, to whom we can look:
Mary, our Mother. After hearing the message of the Angel, she lifted up her heart in a song of praise and thanksgiving to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord…” Let us ask our Lady to help us recognize that everything is God’s gift, and to be able to say “Thank you”. Then, I assure you, our joy will be complete. Only those who know how to say “Thank you”, will experience the fullness of joy.

It also takes
humility to be able to give thanks. In the first reading we heard the singular story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the King of Aram (cf. 2 Kg 5:14-17). In order to be cured of his leprosy, he accepts the suggestion of a poor slave and entrusts himself to the prophet Elisha, whom he considered an enemy. Naaman was nonetheless ready to humble himself. Elisha asks nothing of him, but simply orders him to bathe in the waters of the River Jordan. This request leaves Naaman perplexed, even annoyed. Can a God who demands such banal things truly be God? He would like to turn back, but then he agrees to be immersed in the Jordan and immediately he is cured.

The heart of Mary, more than any other, is a humble heart, capable of accepting God’s gifts. In order to become man, God chose precisely her, a simple young woman of Nazareth, who did not dwell in the palaces of power and wealth, who did not do extraordinary things. Let us ask ourselves – it will do us good – if we are prepared to accept God’s gifts, or prefer instead to shut ourselves up within our forms of material security, intellectual security, the security of our plans.

Significantly, Naaman and the Samaritans were two foreigners. How many foreigners, including persons of other religions, give us an example of values that we sometimes forget or set aside! Those living beside us, who may be scorned and sidelined because they are foreigners, can instead teach us how to walk on the path that the Lord wishes. The Mother of God, together with Joseph her spouse, knew what it was to live far from home. She too was long a foreigner in Egypt, far from her relatives and friends. Yet her faith was able to overcome the difficulties. Let us cling to this simple faith of the Holy Mother of God; let us ask her that we may always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from his mercy.


Pope Francis   13.10.19 Holy Mass and Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis  13.10.19

“Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19). This is the climax of today’s Gospel, which reflects the journey of faith. There are three steps in this journey of faith. We see them in the actions of the lepers whom Jesus heals. They cry out, they walk and they give thanks.

First, they
cry out. The lepers were in a dreadful situation, not only because of a disease that, widespread even today, needs to be battled with unremitting effort, but also because of their exclusion from society. At the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and, as such, had to be isolated and kept apart (cf. Lev 13:46). We see that when they approach Jesus, they “kept their distance” (Lk 17:12). Even though their condition kept them apart, the Gospel tells us that they “called out” (v. 13) and pleaded with Jesus. They did not let themselves be paralyzed because they were shunned by society; they cried out to God, who excludes no one. We see how distances are shortened, how loneliness is overcome: by not closing in on ourselves and our own problems, by not thinking about how others judge us, but rather by crying out to the Lord, for the Lord hears the cry of those who find themselves alone.

Like those lepers, we too need healing, each one of us. We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think. The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: “Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear”. The lepers are the first people, in this Gospel, who called on the name of Jesus. Later, a blind man and a crucified thief would do so: all of them needy people calling on the name of Jesus, which means: “God saves”. They call God by name, directly and spontaneously. To call someone by name is a sign of confidence, and it pleases the Lord. That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting
prayer. Prayer in which we bring to Jesus who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus: “God saves”. Let us repeat it: that is prayer, to say “Jesus“ is to pray. And prayer is essential! Indeed, prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart.

The second word is to walk. It is the second stage. In today’s brief Gospel, there are several verbs of motion. It is quite striking is that the lepers are not healed as they stand before Jesus; it is only afterwards, as they were walking. The Gospel tells us that: “As they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). They were healed by going up to Jerusalem, that is, while walking uphill. On
the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights. Faith calls for journey, a “going out” from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks. Faith advances when we make our way equipped with trust in God. Faith advances with humble and practical steps, like the steps of the lepers or those of Naaman who went down to bathe in the river Jordan (cf. 2 Kings 5:14-17). The same is true for us. We advance in faith by showing humble and practical love, exercising patience each day, and praying constantly to Jesus as we keep pressing forward on our way.

There is a further interesting aspect to the journey of the lepers: they move together. The Gospel tells us that, “as they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). The verbs are in the plural. Faith means also walking together, never alone. Once healed, however, nine of them go off on their own way, and only one turns back to offer thanks. Jesus then expresses his astonishment: “The others, where are they?” (v. 17). It is as if he asks the only one who returned to account for the other nine. It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way. We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters, all of us! We are to intercede for them; we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart. Do you want to grow in faith? You, who are here today, do you want to grow in faith? Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister.

To cry out. To walk. And to
give thanks. This is the final step. Only to the one who thanked him did Jesus say: “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). It made you both safe, and sound. We see from this that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus. Salvation is not drinking a glass of water to keep fit; it is going to the source, which is Jesus. He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful. Whenever we meet Jesus, the word “thanks” comes immediately to our lips, because we have discovered the most important thing in life, which is not to receive a grace or resolve a problem, but to embrace the Lord of life. And this is the most important thing in life: to embrace the Lord of life.

It is impressive to see how the man who was healed, a Samaritan, expresses his joy with his entire being: he praises God in a loud voice, he prostrates himself, and he gives thanks (cf. vv. 15-16). The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving. Let us ask ourselves: do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise? Are we closed in on ourselves, waiting to ask another blessing, or do we find our joy in giving thanks? When we express our gratitude, the Father’s heart is moved and he pours out the Holy Spirit upon us. To give thanks is not a question of good manners or etiquette; it is a question of faith. A grateful heart is one that remains young. To say “Thank you, Lord” when we wake up, throughout the day and before going to bed: that is the best way to keep our hearts young, because hearts can grow old and be spoilt. This also holds true for families, and between spouses. Remember to say thank you. Those words are the simplest and most effective of all.

To cry out. To walk. To give thanks. Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new
Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession. Three of them were religious women; they show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world. Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving. That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life, in her humbleness. Such is the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described in these words: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5).

Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, “stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others” (Meditations on Christian Doctrine, VII, 3). Amen.

  

 Chapter 17

20-25

 
The Church grows through witness, through prayer, through the attraction of the Spirit who is within

The Church grows in simplicity, in silence, in praise, in the Eucharistic sacrifice, in fraternal community, where all are loved, and none are rejected. The Kingdom of God is not spectacular, and grows in silence.

The Church is manifested in the Eucharist and in good works, even if they don’t make the news. The Bride of Christ has a temperament given to silence; she produces fruit without making a fuss, without sounding the trumpet, like the Pharisees.

The Lord explains to us how the Church grows with the parable of the sower. The sower sows and the seed grows by day, by night… - God gives the growth – and then the fruit is seen. But this is important: First, the Church grows in silence, in secret; it is the ecclesiastical style. And how is this manifested in the Church? By the fruits of good works, so that the people see and glorify the Father who is in heaven, Jesus says. And in the celebration, the praise and the sacrifice of the Lord – that is, in the Eucharist. There the Church is manifested: in the Eucharist and in good works.

The Church grows through witness, through prayer, through the attraction of the Spirit who is within, and not through events. These events certainly help, but the growth proper to the Church, that which bears fruit, is in silence, in hiding, with good works, and the celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery, the praise of God.

The Lord helps us to not fall into the temptation of seduction. “We want the Church to be seen more; what can we do so that it will be seen?” So usually one falls into a Church of events that is not capable of growing in silence with good works, in secret.

In a world that too often gives into the temptation to sensation, to worldliness, to appearance, Jesus Himself was tempted to create a sensation: “But why take so long to accomplish the work of redemption? Perform a good miracle. Cast yourself down from the temple, and everyone will see; they will see, and they will believe in you.” But He chose the path of preaching, of prayer, of good works, the way of the Cross and of suffering.

The Church grows also with the blood of the martyrs, men and women who give their lives. Today there are many [martyrs]. It’s strange; they don’t make the news. The world hides this fact. The spirit of the world does not tolerate martyrdom; it hides it.

  

 Chapter 18

1-8

 
Pope Francis    20.10.13  Angelus , St Peter's Square    29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Exodus 17: 8-13,       Luke 18: 1-8

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable on the need to
pray always, never wearying. The main character is a widow whose insistent pleading with a dishonest judge succeeds in obtaining justice from him. Jesus concludes: if the widow succeeded in convincing that judge, do you think that God will not listen to us if we pray to him with insistence? Jesus' words are very strong: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7).

“Crying day and night” to God! This image of prayer is striking, but let us ask ourselves: Why does God want this? Doesn’t he already know what we need? What does it mean to “insist” with God?

This is a good question that makes us examine an important aspect of the faith: God invites us to pray insistently not because he is unaware of our needs or because he is not listening to us. On the contrary, he is always listening and he knows everything about us lovingly. On our daily journey, especially in times of difficulty, in the battle against the evil that is outside and within us, the Lord is not far away, he is by our side. We battle with him beside us, and our weapon is prayer which makes us feel his presence beside us, his mercy and also his help. But the battle against evil is a long and hard one; it requires patience and endurance, like Moses who had to keep his arms outstretched for the people to prevail (cf Ex 17:8-13). This is how it is: there is a battle to be waged each day, but God is our ally, faith in him is our strength and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore Jesus assures us of the victory, but at the end he asks: “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). If faith is snuffed out, prayer is snuffed out, and we walk in the dark. We become lost on the path of life.

Therefore, let us learn from the widow of the Gospel to pray always without growing weary. This widow was very good! She knew how to battle for her children! I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray and never grow weary. Today let us all remember these women who by their attitude provide us with a true witness of faith and courage, and a model of prayer. Our thoughts go out to them!

Pray always, but not in order to convince the Lord by dint of words! He knows our needs better than we do! Indeed persevering prayer is the expression of faith in a God who calls us to fight with him every day and at every moment in order to conquer evil with good.


Pope Francis         16.11.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta          Wisdom 18:14-16;      19: 6-9        Luke 18: 1-8

God will secure the rights of His chosen ones who call out to him day and night, as he did when he called Moses and told him, 'I have heard the cries and laments of my people'; for the Lord is listening.
When the Lord takes to the defence of his people … he is a mighty warrior who saves his people. He saves, he renews all things: the whole creation was fashioned anew, according to its own nature as it had been before. The Red Sea became an unhindered way and the raging waves became a grassy plain; those whom thy hand protected passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvellous wonders. For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who didst deliver them. He is the Lord. He heard the
prayer of his people; He knew in his heart that his people were suffering. For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from thy royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of the authentic command (18:15)
It is a pleasure to hear these readings with the canons of St Peter's present, since your chief work is to knock on the door of God's heart … to pray to the Lord for God's people. And you, who reside in the basilica closest to the Pope, where prayers of petition are gathered from around the world, you receive these petitions and present them to the Lord with your prayer. You are like the widow. You must pray, ask, knock at the heart of God every day. The widow never tired, she was always courageous.
The Lord listens to the prayers of his people. You are privileged representatives of God's people who exercise the role of praying to the Lord for the many needs of the Church, of all humanity, of everyone. I thank you for this work. Let us always remember that
God has the power to change everything- all creation was fashioned anew - he is able to fashion everything anew. However, he also has a weakness, our prayer, our universal prayer, close to the Pope in St Peter's. Thank you for your service; and continue on for the good of the Church.


Pope Francis  16.10.16  Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square  29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C  Exodus 17: 8-13,    2 Timothy 3: 14 -  4: 2,    Luke 18: 1-8

Pope Francis  16.10.16  Prayer
At the start of today’s celebration, we addressed this prayer to the Lord: “Create in us a generous and steadfast heart, so that we may always serve you with fidelity and purity of spirit” (Collect).

By our own efforts, we cannot give ourselves such a heart. Only God can do this, and so in the prayer we ask him to give it to us as his “creation”. In this way, we come to the theme of
prayer, which is central to this Sunday’s scriptural readings and challenges all of us who are gathered here for the canonization of new Saints. The Saints attained the goal. Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart. They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious.

So pray! Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer. We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised. From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people. So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won.

This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace!

There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another. Weariness is inevitable. Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work.

Saint Paul writes to Timothy, his disciple and co-worker, and urges him to hold fast to what he has learned and believed (cf. 2 Tim 3:14). But Timothy could not do this by his own efforts: the “battle” of perseverance cannot be won without prayer. Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Pray always, without ever losing heart” (Lk 18:1). This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony. Here once again we may hear a voice within us, saying: “But Lord, how can we not grow weary? We are human… even Moses grew weary...!” True, each of us grows weary. Yet we are not alone; we are part of a Body! We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, whose arms are raised day and night to heaven, thanks to the presence of the Risen Christ and his Holy Spirit. Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.

We have heard the promise Jesus makes in the Gospel: “God will grant justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night” (cf. Lk 18:7). This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised. This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit. To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm. On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us. For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray. He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.

The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them. They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers. That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart. Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer. May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart. May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.



Pope Francis   20.10.19  Angelus St Peter's Square   World Missionary Day   29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C   2 Timothy 3: 14 - 4: 2,        Luke 18: 1-8

Pope Francis  20.10.19 Angelus - Mission

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The second reading of today's liturgy presents us with the plea that the Apostle Paul addresses to his faithful collaborator Timothy: "Proclaim the Word, be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching" (2 Tim 4:2). The tone is heartfelt: Timothy must feel responsible for the proclamation of the Word. Taking on a commitment in every field, which does not exclude any existential fear.

The
World Missionary Day, which is celebrated today, is a good opportunity for every baptized person to become more aware of the need to cooperate in the proclamation of the Word, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God with a renewed commitment. Pope Benedict XV, a hundred years ago, gave new impetus to the missionary responsibility of the whole Church when he promulgated the Apostolic Letter Maximum delude. He felt the need to evangelically retrain the mission in the world, so that it would be purified from any colonial overlay and so that it could be freed from the conditioning of the expansionist policies of the European nations.

In today's changed context, Benedict XV's message is still relevant and stimulates us to overcome the temptation of any self-reverential closure and all forms of pastoral pessimism, to open ourselves to the joyful novelty of the Gospel. In these our times, marked by a globalization that should be sympathetic and respectful of the particularity of peoples, and instead still suffers from the conformity and the old conflicts of power that fuel wars and destroy the planet, believers are called to bring everywhere, with new impetus, the good news that in Jesus mercy conquers sin, hope overcomes fear, fraternity overcomes hostility. Christ is our peace and in him every division is overcome, in him alone there is the salvation of every man and of every people. It means hearing strongly the call to all missions of peoples and to all who live among us on the margins.

To live the mission in the full there is an indispensable condition: prayer, a fervent and incessant prayer, according to the teaching of Jesus also proclaimed in the Gospel of today, in which He tells a parable "on the need to pray always, never getting tired"(Luke 18:1). Prayer is the first power of proclamation. Missionaries are above all men and women of prayer, who nourish faith in a constant bond with the Lord in order to overcome the difficulties that evangelisation entails. And I pray for those who are far away. Let us think of those who are witness to these things with affection and gratitude for their difficult task of announcing and giving the light and grace of the gospel to those who have not yet received it. It is also a good opportunity today to ask ourselves: do I pray for the missionaries? Do I pray for those who go far to bring the Word of God with testimony? Let's think about it.

May Mary the Mother of all nations accompany and protect missionaries of the Gospel every day.
 
  
 

 Chapter 18

9-14

 

27.10.13    Holy Mass for the Family Day  Saint Peter's Square      Sirach 35:12-14,16-18         2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18        Psalms  34:2-3,17-18,19,23       Luke 18: 9-14

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/family/27.10.13.jpg
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C

The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

1. First: the family prays.  The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector.  The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction.  The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal.  The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words.  His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs.  Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his mercy.

The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God.  It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, “will reach to the clouds” (Sir 35:20), unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family?  Some of you do, I know.  But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does, it is clear: humbly, before God.  Each one, with humility, allowing themselves to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us.  But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace…  Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God, like the tax collector!  And all families, we need God: all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness.  And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength!  And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents….praying for each other.  This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

2. The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith.  The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning and says: “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).  But how did he keep the faith?  Not in a strong box!  Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant.  Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race.  He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, brought it to distant lands.  He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to “embalm” the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine.  That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly.  Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away, he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family?  Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness?  We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do.  But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith?  Christian families are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!  Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

3. And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy.  In the responsorial psalm we find these words: “let the humble hear and be glad” (33/34:2).  The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace.  What is the reason for this gladness?  It  is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil.  As Saint Paul himself writes: “Rejoice always … The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).  I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of “homework”.  Only you must answer.  How are things when it comes to joy at home?  Is there joy in your family?   You can answer this question.

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well...  True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.  But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all.  And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love.  God alone knows how to create harmony from differences.  But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades.  But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.  That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth!  The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!




Pope Francis  27.10.19 Pan-Amazon Synod

The word of God today helps us to pray through three figures: in Jesus’ parable both the Pharisee and the tax collector pray, while the first reading speaks of the prayer of a poor person.

1. The prayer of the Pharisee begins in this way: “God, I thank you”.

This is a great beginning, because the best prayer is that of gratitude, that of praise. Immediately, though, we see the reason why he gives thanks: “that I am not like other men” (Lk 18:11). He also explains the reason: he fasts twice a week, although at the time there was only a yearly obligation; he pays tithes on all that he has, though tithing was prescribed only on the most important products (cf. Dt 14:22ff). In short, he boasts because he fulfils particular commandments to the best degree possible. But he forgets the greatest commandment: to love God and our neighbour (cf. Mt 22:36-40). Brimming with self-assurance about his own ability to keep the commandments, his own merits and virtues, he is focused only on himself. The tragedy of this man is that he is without love. Even the best things, without love, count for nothing, as Saint Paul says (cf. 1 Cor 13). Without love, what is the result? He ends up praising himself instead of praying. In fact, he asks nothing from the Lord because he does not feel needy or in debt, but he feels that God owes something to him. He stands in the temple of God, but he worships a different god: himself. And many “prestigious” groups, “Catholic Christians”, go along this path.

Together with God, he forgets his neighbour; indeed, he despises him. For the Pharisee, his neighbour has no worth, no value. He considers himself better than others, whom he calls literally “the rest, the remainders” (loipoi, Lk 18:11). That is, they are “leftovers”, they are scraps from which to keep one’s distance. How many times do we see this happening over and over again in life and history! How many times do those who are prominent, like the Pharisee with respect to the tax collector, raise up walls to increase distances, making other people feel even more rejected. Or by considering them backward and of little worth, they despise their traditions, erase their history, occupy their lands, and usurp their goods. How much alleged superiority, transformed into oppression and exploitation, exists even today! We saw this during the Synod when speaking about the exploitation of creation, of people, of the inhabitants of the Amazon, of the trafficking of persons, the trade in human beings! The mistakes of the past were not enough to stop the plundering of other persons and the inflicting of wounds on our brothers and sisters and on our sister earth: we have seen it in the scarred face of the Amazon region. Worship of self carries on hypocritically with its rites and “prayers” – many are Catholics, they profess themselves Catholic, but have forgotten they are Christians and human beings – forgetting the true worship of God which is always expressed in love of one’s neighbour. Even Christians who pray and go to Mass on Sunday are subject to this religion of the self. Let us examine ourselves and see whether we too may think that someone is inferior and can be tossed aside, even if only in our words. Let us pray for the grace not to consider ourselves superior, not to believe that we are alright, not to become cynical and scornful. Let us ask Jesus to heal us of speaking ill and complaining about others, of despising this or that person: these things are displeasing to God. And at Mass today we are accompanied providentially not only by indigenous people of the Amazon, but also by the poorest from our developed societies: our disabled brothers and sisters from the Community of L’Arche. They are with us, in the front row.

2. Let us turn to the other prayer. The prayer of the tax collector helps us understand what is pleasing to God. He does not begin from his own merits but from his shortcomings; not from his riches but from his poverty. His was not economic poverty – tax collectors were wealthy and tended to make money unjustly at the expense of their fellow citizens – but he felt a poverty of life, because we never live well in sin. The tax collector who exploited others admitted being poor before God, and the Lord heard his prayer, a mere seven words but an expression of heartfelt sincerity. In fact, while the Pharisee stood in front on his feet (cf. v. 11), the tax collector stood far off and “would not even lift up his eyes to heaven”, because he believed that God is indeed great, while he knew himself to be small. He “beat his breast” (cf. v. 13), because the breast is where the heart is. His prayer is born straight from the heart; it is transparent. He places his heart before God, not outward appearances. To pray is to stand before God’s eyes – it is God looking at me when I pray – without illusions, excuses or justifications. Often our regrets filled with self-justification can make us laugh. More than regrets, they seem as if we are canonizing ourselves. Because from the devil come darkness and lies – these are our self-justifications; from God come light and truth, transparency of my heart. It was a wonderful experience, and I am so grateful, dear members of the Synod, that we have been able to speak to one another in these weeks from the heart, with sincerity and candour, and to place our efforts and hopes before God and our brothers and sisters.

Today, looking at the tax collector, we rediscover where to start: from the conviction that we, all of us, are in need of salvation. This is the first step of the true worship of God, who is merciful towards those who admit their need. On the other hand, the root of every spiritual error, as the ancient monks taught, is believing ourselves to be righteous. To consider ourselves righteous is to leave God, the only righteous one, out in the cold. This initial stance is so important that Jesus shows it to us with an unusual comparison, juxtaposing in the parable the Pharisee, the most pious and devout figure of the time, and the tax collector, the public sinner par excellence. The judgment is reversed: the one who is good but presumptuous fails; the one who is a disaster but humble is exalted by God. If we look at ourselves honestly, we see in us all both the tax collector and the Pharisee. We are a bit tax collectors because we are sinners, and a bit Pharisees because we are presumptuous, able to justify ourselves, masters of the art of self-justification. This may often work with ourselves, but not with God. This trick does not work with God. Let us pray for the grace to experience ourselves in need of mercy, interiorly poor. For this reason too, we do well to associate with the poor, to remind ourselves that we are poor, to remind ourselves that the salvation of God operates only in an atmosphere of interior poverty.

3. We come now to the prayer of
the poor person, from the first reading. This prayer, says Sirach, “will reach to the clouds” (35:21). While the prayer of those who presume that they are righteous remains earthly, crushed by the gravitational force of egoism, that of the poor person rises directly to God. The sense of faith of the People of God has seen in the poor “the gatekeepers of heaven”: the sense of faith that was missing in [the Pharisee’s] utterance. They are the ones who will open wide or not the gates of eternal life. They were not considered bosses in this life, they did not put themselves ahead of others; they had their wealth in God alone. These persons are living icons of Christian prophecy.

In this Synod we have had the grace of listening to the voices of the poor and reflecting on the precariousness of their lives, threatened by predatory models of development. Yet precisely in this situation, many have testified to us that it is possible to look at reality in a different way, accepting it with open arms as a gift, treating the created world not as a resource to be exploited but as a home to be preserved, with trust in God. He is our Father and, Sirach says again, “he hears the prayer of one who is wronged” (v. 16). How many times, even in the Church, have the voices of the poor not been heard and perhaps scoffed at or silenced because they are inconvenient. Let us pray for the grace to be able to listen to the cry of the poor: this is the cry of hope of the Church. The cry of the poor is the Church’s cry of hope. When we make their cry our own, we can be certain, our prayer too will reach to the clouds.
  

  Chapter 19

1-10

 
Pope Francis        03.11.13    Angelus, St Peter's Square     31st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C       Luke 19: 1-10

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The page of Luke’s Gospel chosen for this Sunday shows us Jesus who, on his way to Jerusalem, enters the city of Jericho. This is the final stage of a journey that sums up the meaning of the whole of Jesus’ life, which was dedicated to searching and saving the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the more the journey comes to a close, the more hostility envelops Jesus.

Yet one of the most joyful events recounted by St Luke happens in Jericho: the conversion of Zacchaeus. This man is a lost sheep, he is despised and “excommunicated” because he is a tax collector, indeed he is the head of the tax collectors of the city, a friend of the hated Roman occupants; he is a thief and an exploiter.

Being short in stature and prevented from approaching Jesus, most likely because of his bad reputation, Zacchaeus climbs a tree to be able to see the Teacher who is passing by. This exterior action, which is a bit ridiculous, expresses the interior act of a man seeking to bring himself above the crowd in order to be near Jesus. Zacchaeus himself does not realize the deep meaning of his action; he doesn’t understand why he does it, but he does. Nor does he dare to hope that the distance which separates him from the Lord may be overcome; he resigns himself to seeing him only as he passes by. But when Jesus comes close to the tree he calls him by name: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Lk 19:5). The man of small stature, rejected by everyone and far from Jesus, is lost in anonymity; but Jesus calls him. And the name “Zacchaeus” in the language of the time has a beautiful meaning, full of allusion. “Zacchaeus” in fact, means “God remembers”.

So Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’ house, drawing criticism from all the people of Jericho (even in those days there was a lot of gossip!), who said: How can this be? With all the good people in the city, how can he go stay with a tax collector? Yes, because he was lost. Jesus said: “Today salvation has come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham” (Lk 19:9). From that day forward in Zacchaeus’ house joy entered, peace entered, salvation entered and Jesus entered.

There is no profession or social condition, no sin or crime of any kind that can erase from the memory and the heart of God even one of his children. “God remembers”, always, he never forgets those who he created. He is the Father, who watchfully and lovingly waits to see the desire to return home be reborn in the hearts of his children. And when he sees this desire, even simply hinted at and so often almost unconsciously, immediately he is there, and by his forgiveness he lightens the path of conversion and return. Let us look at Zacchaeus today in the tree: his is a ridiculous act but it is an act of salvation. And I say to you: if your conscience is weighed down, if you are ashamed of many things that you have done, stop for a moment, do not be afraid. Think about the fact that someone is waiting for you because he has never ceased to remember you; and this someone is your Father, it is God who is waiting for you! Climb up, as Zacchaeus did, climb the tree of desire for forgiveness. I assure you that you will not be disappointed. Jesus is merciful and never grows tired of forgiving! Remember that this is the way Jesus is.

Brothers and sisters, let Jesus also call us by name! In the depths of our hearts, let us listen to his voice which says: “Today I must stop at your house”; that is, in your heart, in your life. And let us welcome him with joy. He can change us, he can transform our stoney hearts into hearts of flesh, he can free us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love. Jesus can do this; let Jesus turn his gaze to you!



Pope Francis     30.10.16  Angelus, St Peter's Square    31st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C       Luke 19: 1-10

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel presents us with an event that happened in Jericho, when Jesus entered the city and was welcomed by the crowd (cf. Lk 19:1-10). In Jericho lived Zacchaeus, the chief of the “publicans”, that is, of the tax collectors. Zacchaeus was a wealthy agent of the hated Roman occupation, an exploiter of his people. Out of curiosity, he too wanted to see Jesus, but his status as a public sinner did not allow him to approach the Master; moreover, he was small of stature, and for this reason he climbed a sycamore tree, along the road where Jesus was to pass.

When he neared that tree, Jesus looked up and said to him: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). We can imagine Zacchaeus’ astonishment! Why does Jesus say “I must stay at your house”? What duty does this refer to? We know that his highest duty is to implement the Father’s plan for all of mankind, which is fulfilled in Jerusalem with his death sentence, the crucifixion and, on the third day, the Resurrection. It is the Father’s merciful plan of salvation. And in this plan there is also the salvation of Zacchaeus, a dishonest man who is despised by all, and therefore in need of conversion. In fact, the Gospel says that when Jesus called him, “they all murmured, ‘He has gone into the house of a sinner!’” (cf. v. 7). The people saw Zacchaeus as a scoundrel who became rich at his neighbours’ expense. Had Jesus said: “Come down, you, exploiter, you traitor of the people! Come to speak with me and settle the score!”, surely the people would have applauded. Instead, they began to whisper: “Jesus is going to his house, the house of the sinner, the exploiter”.

Guided by mercy, Jesus looks for him precisely. And when he enters Zacchaeus’ house he says: “Today, salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (vv. 9-10). Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices. And this is important! We must learn this. Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices; he sees the person through the eyes of God, who does not stop at past faults, but sees the future good; Jesus is not resigned to closing, but always opens, always opens new spaces of life; he does not stop at appearances, but looks at the heart. And here he sees this man’s wounded heart: wounded by the sin of greed, by the many terrible things that Zacchaeus had done. He sees that wounded heart and goes there.

Sometimes we try to correct or convert a sinner by scolding him, by pointing out his mistakes and wrongful behaviour. Jesus’ attitude toward Zacchaeus shows us another way: that of showing those who err their value, the value that God continues to see in spite of everything, despite all their mistakes. This may bring about a positive surprise, which softens the heart and spurs the person to bring out the good that he has within himself. It gives people the confidence which makes them grow and change. This is how God acts with all of us: he is not blocked by our sin, but overcomes it with love and makes us feel nostalgia for the good. We have all felt this nostalgia for the good after a mistake. And this is what God Our Father does, this is what Jesus does. There is not one person who does not have some good quality. And God looks at this in order to draw that person away from evil.

May the Virgin Mary help us to see the good that there is in the people we encounter each day, so that everyone may be encouraged to bring out the image of God imprinted in their hearts. In this way we can rejoice in the surprises of the mercy of God! Our God, who is the God of surprises!



Pope Francis      21.09.19  Holy Mass, Piazza Pia, Albano      Luke 19: 1-10
Pope Francis 21.09.19  Albano

The reading we heard Luke 19: 1-10 takes place in Jericho, the famous city destroyed in Joshua's time which, according to the Bible, should no longer have been rebuilt (Joshua 6: 26): It should have been the forgotten city. But Jesus, the Gospel says, enters and crosses Jericho. And this city, which is below sea level, is not afraid to reach the lowest level, represented by Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector, indeed the chief the tax collector, that is, of those Jews and was hated by the people as he collected the tributes for the Roman Empire. He was "a wealthy man" (v. 2) and it is easy to see how he had become: at the expense of his fellow citizens, exploiting his fellow citizens. In their eyes Zacchaeus was the worst, the unsalvaible. But not in the eyes of Jesus, who calls, Zacchaeus, by name his own, which means "God remembers". In the forgotten city, God remembers the greatest sinner.

The Lord, first of all, remembers us. He does not forget us, he does not lose sight of us despite the obstacles that can keep us away from Him. Obstacles that were not missed in the case of Zacchaeus: his short stature, physical and moral, but also his shame, for which he tried to see Jesus hidden among the branches of the tree, probably hoping not to be seen. And then the external criticisms: in the city because of that meeting "everyone grumbled" (v. 7) - but I believe that in Albano it is the same: murmurings... Limits, sins, shame, gossip and prejudice: no obstacle makes Jesus forget the essential, to love and save people.

What does this gospel tell us on the anniversary of your Cathedral? That
every church, that the Church with capital letters exists to keep alive in the hearts of men the memory that God loves them. It exists to say to each one, even to the most distant: "You are loved and you are called by name by Jesus; God doesn't forget you, he cares about you." Dear brothers and sisters, like Jesus, do not be afraid to "cross" your city, to go to those who are most forgotten, to those who are hiding behind the branches of shame, fear, loneliness, to tell them: "God remembers you".

I would like to emphasize a second action of Jesus. In addition to remembering, recognizing Zacchaeus, He anticipates. We see it in the game of looks with Zacchaeus. He "tried to see who Jesus was" (v. 3). It is interesting that Zacchaeus was not only trying to see Jesus, but to see who Jesus was: that is, to understand what kind of teacher he was, what his distinctive trait was. And he discovers it not when he looks at Jesus, but when he is looked at by Jesus. Because while Zacchaeus tries to see him, Jesus sees him first; Before Zacchaeus speaks, Jesus speaks to him; before inviting Jesus, Jesus comes to his house.

This is who Jesus is: the one who sees us first, the one who loves us first, the one who welcomes us first. When we discover that his love anticipates us, that he reaches us first, life changes. Dear brother, dear sister, if like Zacchaeus you are looking for meaning in life but, not finding it, you are throwing yourself away with "surrogates of love", such as riches, career, pleasure, some addiction, let yourself be watched by Jesus. Only with Jesus will you discover that you have always been loved and will you make the discovery of life. You will feel touched within by the invincible tenderness of God, who moves and moves the heart. So it was for Zacchaeus and so it is for each of us, when we discover the "first" of Jesus: Jesus who anticipates us, who looks at us first, who speaks to us first, who waits for us first.

I would like to highlight one last action of Jesus, which makes you feel at home. He says to Zacchaeus, "Today I must stay at your house" (v. 5). At your house. Zacchaeus, who felt like a stranger in his city, returns to his home as a loved one. And, loved by Jesus, he rediscovers his neighbours and says, "I give half of what I have to the poor, and if I stole from someone – and this man had stolen so much – I shall repay four times as much" (v. 8). The Law of Moses asked a fifth to be returned, Zacchaeus gives four times as much: he goes far beyond the Law because he has found love. Feeling at home, he opened the door to his neighbour.

How beautiful it would be if our neighbours and acquaintances felt the Church as their home! Unfortunately, it happens that our communities become alien to so many and unattractive. Sometimes we too are tempted to create closed circles, intimate places among the chosen. We feel electable, we feel elite... But there are many brothers and sisters who are homesick, who do not have the courage to approach, perhaps because they have not felt welcomed; perhaps because they knew a priest who treated them badly or kicked them out, wanted to make them pay for the sacraments – a bad thing – and walked away. The Lord wants his Church to be a house between houses, a hospitable tent where every man, the traveller of existence, meets Him, who has come to live among us (cf. John 1:14).

Brothers and sisters, the Church may be the place where we never look at others from top to bottom but, like Jesus with Zacchaeus, from the bottom up. Remember that the only time it is permissible to look down on a person is to help them get up, otherwise it is not permissible. Only in that moment: look at a person like this, because they fell. We should never look at people as judges, always as brothers. We are not inspectors of the lives of others, but promoters of the good of all. And to be promoters of the good of all, one thing that helps so much is to keep your tongue still: not to speak of others. But sometimes, when I say these things, I hear, "Father, look, it's a bad thing, but it comes to me, because I see something and I want to criticize." I suggest good medicine for this – apart from prayer –; effective medicine is: bite your tongue. It will swell in your mouth and you won't be able to talk! 

"The Son of Man," the Gospel concludes, "has come to seek and save what was lost"(Luke 19:10). If we avoid those who seem lost to us, we are not like Jesus. We ask for the grace to meet each one as a brother and not to see anyone as an enemy. And if we've been hurt, we're returning good. Jesus' disciples are not slaves to past evils but, forgiveness by God, they do like Zacchaeus: they think only of the good they can do. We give for free, if we love the poor and those who have nothing to give back to us: we will be rich in the eyes of God.

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that your Cathedral, like every Church, will be the place where everyone feels remembered by the Lord, anticipated by his mercy and welcomed home. So that the most beautiful thing happens in the Church: to rejoice because salvation has entered life (cf. 9). Amen.


Pope Francis    03.11.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square       31st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C     Luke 19: 1-10

Pope Francis  03.11.19 Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel (cf. Lk 19: 1-10) places us in the footsteps of Jesus Who, on His way to Jerusalem, stopped in Jericho. There was a great crowd to welcome Him, including a man named Zacchaeus, the head of the “publicans”, that is, of those Jews who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman Empire. He was rich not from honest earnings, but because he asked for “bribes”, and this increased contempt for him. Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was” (v. 3); he didn’t want to meet Him, but he was curious: he wanted to see that character about whom he had heard extraordinary things. He was curious. And being short in stature, “to see him” (v. 4) he climbs up a tree. When Jesus comes close, he looks up and sees Him (cf. v. 5).

And this is important: the first glance is not from Zacchaeus, but from Jesus, who among the many faces that surrounded Him – the crowd – seeks precisely that one. The
merciful gaze of the Lord reaches us before we ourselves realize that we need it in order to be saved. And with this gaze of the divine Master there begins the miracle of the conversion of the sinner. Indeed, Jesus calls to him, and He calls him by his name: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). He does not reproach him, He does not deliver a “sermon” to him; He tells him that he must go to Him: “he must”, because it is the will of the Father. Despite the murmuring of the people, Jesus chose to stay at the home of that public sinner.

We too would have been scandalized by this behaviour of Jesus. But contempt for and rejection of the sinner only isolate him and cause him to harden in the evil he commits against himself and the community. Instead, God condemns sin, but tries to save the sinner; He goes looking for him to bring him back on the right path. Those who have never felt they are sought by God’s mercy find it difficult to grasp the extraordinary greatness of the gestures and words with which Jesus approaches Zacchaeus.

Jesus’ acceptance and attention to him lead him to a clear change of mentality: in just a moment he realized how petty life is when it revolves around money, at the cost of stealing from others and receiving their contempt. Having the Lord there, in his house, makes him see everything with different eyes, even with a little of the tenderness with which Jesus looked at him. And his way of seeing and using money also changes: the gesture of grabbing is replaced by that of giving. Indeed, he decides to give half of what he possesses to the poor and to return four times the sum to those from whom he has stolen (cf. v. 8). Zacchaeus discovers from Jesus that it is possible to love gratuitously: until this moment he was mean, but now he becomes generous; he had a taste for amassing wealth, now he rejoices in distributing. By encountering Love, by discovering that he is loved despite his sins, he becomes capable of loving others, making money a sign of solidarity and communion.

May the Virgin May obtain for us the grace always to feel Jesus’ merciful gaze upon us, to go with mercy towards those who have erred, so that they too may welcome Jesus, Who “came to seek and to save the lost” (v. 10).
  
 

28 to 40
 
Pope Francis 24.03.13          Celebration of Palm Sunday the Passion of our Lord      Luke 19: 28-40

Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul.

This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light - the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart - of joy, of celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we too repeated it. We waved our palms, our olive branches. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.

...

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.



Pope Francis 20.03.16  Palm Sunday

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (cf. Lk 19:38), the crowd of Jerusalem exclaimed joyfully as they welcomed Jesus. We have made that enthusiasm our own: by waving our olive and palm branches we have expressed our praise and our joy, our desire to receive Jesus who comes to us. Just as he entered Jerusalem, so he desires to enter our cities and our lives. As he did in the Gospel, riding on a donkey, so too he comes to us in humility; he comes “in the name of the Lord”. Through the power of his divine love he forgives our sins and reconciles us to the Father and with ourselves.

Jesus is pleased with the crowd’s showing their affection for him. When the Pharisees ask him to silence the children and the others who are acclaiming him, he responds: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40). Nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for Jesus’ entry. May nothing prevent us from finding in him the source of our joy, true joy, which abides and brings peace; for it is Jesus alone who saves us from the snares of sin, death, fear and sadness.

Today’s liturgy teaches us that the Lord has not saved us by his triumphal entry or by means of powerful miracles. The Apostle Paul, in the second reading, epitomizes in two verbs the path of redemption: Jesus “emptied” and “humbled” himself (Phil 2:7-8). These two verbs show the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied himself: he did not cling to the glory that was his as the Son of God, but became the Son of man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet he was without sin. Even more, he lived among us in “the condition of a servant” (v. 7); not of a king or a prince, but of a servant. Therefore he humbled himself, and the abyss of his humiliation, as Holy Week shows us, seems to be bottomless.

The first sign of this love “without end” (Jn 13:1) is the washing of the feet. “The Lord and Master” (Jn 13:14) stoops to his disciples’ feet, as only servants would have done. He shows us by example that we need to allow his love to reach us, a love which bends down to us; we cannot do any less, we cannot love without letting ourselves be loved by him first, without experiencing his surprising tenderness and without accepting that true love consists in concrete service.

But this is only the beginning. The humiliation of Jesus reaches its utmost in
the Passion: he is sold for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed by the kiss of a disciple whom he had chosen and called his friend. Nearly all the others flee and abandon him; Peter denies him three times in the courtyard of the temple. Humiliated in his spirit by mockery, insults and spitting, he suffers in his body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make his face unrecognizable. He also experiences shame and disgraceful condemnation by religious and political authorities: he is made into sin and considered to be unjust. Pilate then sends him to Herod, who in turn sends him to the Roman governor. Even as every form of justice is denied to him, Jesus also experiences in his own flesh indifference, since no one wishes to take responsibility for his fate. And I think of the many people, so many outcasts, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees, all of those for whose fate no one wishes to take responsibility. The crowd, who just a little earlier had acclaimed him, now changes their praise into a cry of accusation, even to the point of preferring that a murderer be released in his place. And so the hour of death on the cross arrives, that most painful form of shame reserved for traitors, slaves and the worst kind of criminals. But isolation, defamation and pain are not yet the full extent of his deprivation. To be totally in solidarity with us, he also experiences on the Cross the mysterious abandonment of the Father. In his abandonment, however, he prays and entrusts himself: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Hanging from the wood of the cross, beside derision he now confronts the last temptation: to come down from the Cross, to conquer evil by might and to show the face of a powerful and invincible God. Jesus, however, even here at the height of his annihilation, reveals the true face of God, which is mercy. He forgives those who are crucifying him, he opens the gates of paradise to the repentant thief and he touches the heart of the centurion. If the mystery of evil is unfathomable, then the reality of Love poured out through him is infinite, reaching even to the tomb and to hell. He takes upon himself all our pain that he may redeem it, bringing light to darkness, life to death, love to hatred.

God’s way of acting may seem so far removed from our own, that he was annihilated for our sake, while it seems difficult for us to even forget ourselves a little. He comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves. Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the Crucifix; it is the “royal seat of God”. I invite you during this week to gaze often upon this “royal seat of God”, to learn about the humble love which saves and gives life, so that we may give up all selfishness, and the seeking of power and fame. By humbling himself, Jesus invites us to walk on his path. Let us turn our faces to him, let us ask for the grace to understand at least something of the mystery of his obliteration for our sake; and then, in silence, let us contemplate the mystery of this Week.
  
 

 Chapter 20

27-38


Pope Francis   10.11.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square        32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C     Luke 20: 27-38


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel sets before us Jesus grappling with the Sadducees, who deny that there is a
resurrection. They pose a question to Jesus on this very matter, in order to trip him up and ridicule faith in the resurrection of the dead. They begin with an imaginary case: “A woman had seven husbands, who died one after the other,” and they ask Jesus: “Whose wife will the woman be after her death?”. Jesus, ever meek and patient, first replies that life after death does not have the same parameters as earthly life. Eternal life is another life, in another dimension where, among other things, there will be no marriage, which is tied to our existence in this world. Those who rise — Jesus says — will be like the angels and they will live in a different state, which now we can neither experience nor imagine. This is the way Jesus explains it.

But then Jesus, as it were, moves to the counterattack. And he does so by citing the Sacred Scripture with a simplicity and originality which leaves us full of admiration for our Teacher, the only Teacher! Jesus finds proof for the resurrection in the account of Moses and the burning bush (cf. Ex 3:1-6), where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob. The name of God is bound to the names of men and women to whom he binds himself, and this bond is stronger than death. And we can also say this about God’s relationship with us, with each one of us: He is our God! He is the God of each one of us! As though he bore each of our names. It pleases him to say it, and this is the covenant. This is why Jesus states: “God is not the god of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk 20:38). And this is the decisive bond, the fundamental covenant, the covenant with Jesus: He himself is the Covenant, he himself is the Life and the Resurrection, for by his crucified love he has triumphed over death. In Jesus, God gives us eternal life, he gives it to everyone, and thanks to him everyone has the hope of a life even truer than this one. The life that God prepares for us is not a mere embellishment of the present one: it surpasses our imagination, for God continually amazes us with his love and with his mercy.

Therefore, what will happen is quite the opposite of what the Sadducees expected. It is not this life that will serve as a reference point for eternity, for the other life that awaits us; rather, it is eternity — that life — which illumines and gives hope to the earthly life of each one of us! If we look at things from only a human perspective, we tend to say that man’s journey moves from life to death. This is what we see! But this is only so if we look at things from a human perspective. Jesus turns this perspective upside down and states that our pilgrimage goes from death to life: the fullness of life! We are on a journey, on a pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that fullness of life is what illumines our journey! Therefore death stands behind us, not before us. Before us is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our names stand before us, as he said: “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob”, and also the God with my name, with your name..., with our names. The God of the living! ... Before us stands the final defeat of sin and death, the beginning of a new time of joy and of endless light. But already on this earth, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in fraternity, we encounter Jesus and his love, and thus we may already taste something of the risen life. The experience we have of his love and his faithfulness ignites in our hearts like a fire and increases our faith in the resurrection. In fact, if God is faithful and loves, he cannot be thus for only a limited time: faithfulness is eternal, it cannot change. God’s love is eternal, it cannot change! It is not only for a time: it is forever! It is for going forward! He is faithful forever and he is waiting for us, each one of us, he accompanies each one of us with his eternal faithfulness.




Pope Francis      06.11.16  Jubilee for Prisoners, Vatican Basilica         32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C         2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14,       Luke 20: 27-38

Pope Francis  06.11.16 Jubilee for Prisoners
The message that God’s word wants to bring us today is surely that of hope, the hope that does not disappoint.

One of the seven brothers condemned to death by King Antiochus Epiphanes speaks of “the hope God gives of being raised again by him” (2 Macc 7:14). These words demonstrate the faith of those martyrs who, despite suffering and torture, were steadfast in looking to the future. Theirs was a faith that, in acknowledging God as the source of their hope, reflected the desire to attain a new life.

In the Gospel, we have heard how Jesus, with a simple yet complete answer, demolishes the banal casuistry that the Sadducees had set before him. His response – “He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk 20:38) – reveals the true face of God, who desires only life for all his children. The hope of being born to a new life, then, is what we must make our own, if we are to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus.

Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it. It is placed deep within each human heart in order to shed light on this life, so often troubled and clouded by so many situations that bring sadness and pain. We need to nourish the roots of our hope so that they can bear fruit; primarily, the certainty of God’s closeness and compassion, despite whatever evil we have done. There is no corner of our heart that cannot be touched by God’s love. Whenever someone makes a mistake, the Father’s mercy is all the more present, awakening repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

Today we celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy for you and with you, our brothers and sisters who are
imprisoned. Mercy, as the expression of God’s love, is something we need to think about more deeply. Certainly, breaking the law involves paying the price, and losing one’s freedom is the worst part of serving time, because it affects us so deeply. All the same, hope must not falter. Paying for the wrong we have done is one thing, but another thing entirely is the “breath” of hope, which cannot be stifled by anyone or anything. Our heart always yearns for goodness. We are in debt to the mercy that God constantly shows us, for he never abandons us (cf. Augustine, Sermo 254:1).

In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of God as “the God of hope” (15:13). It is as if Paul wants to say also to us: “God hopes”. While this may seem paradoxical, it is true: God hopes! His mercy gives him no rest. He is like that Father in the parable, who keeps hoping for the return of his son who has fallen by the wayside (Lk 15:11-32). God does not rest until he finds the sheep that was lost (Lk 15:5). So if God hopes, then no one should lose hope. For hope is the strength to keep moving forward. It is the power to press on towards the future and a changed life. It is the incentive to look to tomorrow, so that the love we have known, for all our failings, can show us a new path. In a word, hope is the proof, lying deep in our hearts, of the power of God’s mercy. That mercy invites us to keep looking ahead and to overcome our attachment to evil and sin through faith and abandonment in him.

Dear friends, today is your Jubilee! Today, in God’s sight, may your hope be kindled anew. A Jubilee, by its very nature, always brings with it a proclamation of freedom (Lev 25:39-46). It does not depend on me to grant this, but the Church’s duty, one she cannot renounce, is to awaken within you the desire for true freedom. Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer. I want to tell you, every time I visit a prison I ask myself: “Why them and not me?”. We can all make mistakes: all of us. And in one way or another we have made mistakes. Hypocrisy leads us to overlook the possibility that people can change their lives; we put little trust in rehabilitation, rehabilitation into society. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners. At times we are locked up within our own prejudices or enslaved to the idols of a false sense of wellbeing. At times we get stuck in our own ideologies or absolutize the laws of the market even as they crush other people. At such times, we imprison ourselves behind the walls of individualism and self-sufficiency, deprived of the truth that sets us free. Pointing the finger against someone who has made mistakes cannot become an alibi for concealing our own contradictions.

We know that in God’s eyes no one can consider himself just (cf. Rom 2:1-11). But no one can live without the certainty of finding forgiveness! The repentant thief, crucified at Jesus’ side, accompanied him into paradise (cf. Lk 23:43). So may none of you allow yourselves to be held captive by the past! True enough, even if we wanted to, we can never rewrite the past. But the history that starts today, and looks to the future, has yet to be written, by the grace of God and your personal responsibility. By learning from past mistakes, you can open a new chapter of your lives. Let us never yield to the temptation of thinking that we cannot be forgiven. Whatever our hearts may accuse us of, small or great, “God is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). We need but entrust ourselves to his mercy.

Faith, even when it is as tiny as a grain of mustard seed, can move mountains (cf. Mt 17:20). How many times has the power of faith enabled us to utter the word pardon in humanly impossible situations. People who have suffered violence and abuse, either themselves, or in the person of their loved ones, or their property… there are some wounds that only God’s power, his mercy, can heal. But when violence is met with forgiveness, even the hearts of those who have done wrong can be conquered by the love that triumphs over every form of evil. In this way, among the victims and among those who wronged them, God raises up true witnesses and workers of mercy.

Today we venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary in this statue, which represents her as a Mother who holds Jesus in her arms, together with a broken chain; it is the chain of slavery and imprisonment. May Our Lady look upon each of you with a Mother’s love. May she intercede for you, so that your hearts can experience the power of hope for a new life, one worthy of being lived in complete freedom and in service to your neighbour.



Pope Francis   10.11.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square        32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C      Luke 20: 27-38

Pope Francis  Angelus  10.11.19

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel passage (cf. Luke 20:27-38) offers us a wonderful teaching of Jesus on the
resurrection of the dead. Which falls precisely in this month of November when we pray especially for the dead. Jesus is asked by some Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection and therefore provoke Him with an insidious question. It refers to a paradoxical case based on the Mosaic law. Whose wife, in the resurrection, would a woman be, who has had seven successive husbands, all brothers, who one after another have died? Jesus does not fall into the trap and replies that the risen in the hereafter "neither marry nor are given in marriage: in fact, they can no longer die, because they are equal to angels and, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection" (vv. 35-36). This is how Jesus responds.

With this answer, Jesus first invites His interlocutors – and us too – to think that this earthly dimension in which we live now is not the only dimension, but that there is another dimension, no longer subject to death, in which it will be fully manifested that we are children of God. It gives great consolation and hope to listen to this simple and clear word of Jesus about life beyond death; we need it so much especially in our time, so rich in knowledge about the universe but so poor in wisdom about eternal life.

This clear certainty of Jesus about the resurrection is based entirely on the fidelity of God, who is the God of life. In fact, behind the question of the Sadducees lies a deeper one: not only whose wife the widow of the seven husbands will be, but to whom will her life belong. It is a doubt that has been felt by man down through the ages and also us: after this earthly pilgrimage, what will become of our lives? Will it belong to nothing, to death?

Jesus answered that life belongs to God, who loves us and cares so much about us, to the point of linking his name to ours: he is "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for to Him all are alive. Here is the wisdom that no science can ever give. Here the mystery of the resurrection is revealed. Because the mystery of life is revealed. Life exists where there is bond, communion, and brotherhood; and it is a stronger life than death when it is built on true relationships and bonds of fidelity. On the contrary, there is no life where one has the pretension of belonging only to oneself and of living as an island: in these attitudes death prevails. It's selfishness. If I live for myself, I am sowing death in my heart. Eternal life is our destiny. The horizon of definitive fulness of our history, and it is this life that we are called to prepare through evangelical choices.

May the Virgin Mary helps us to live every day in the perspective of what we say in the final part of the Creed: "I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." Awaiting the hereafter

  

 Chapter 21

1-4

 
Pope Francis       26.11.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta          Luke 21: 1-4
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-11/pope-francis-mass-generosity-enlarges-heart.html

There are many places in the Gospels in which Jesus contrasts the rich and the poor. We can think of Jesus’ comment to the rich young man: “It will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:23).

Some would call Christ “a communist”. “The Lord, when he said these things, knew that behind riches there always lurks the evil spirit: the spirit of the world.” But, Jesus also said: “No one can serve two masters” (Mt 6:24)"

The rich in this episode are not evil but are good people who go to the Temple and make their offering.

Widows, orphans, migrants, and foreigners were the poorest people in Israel. The widow had offered her whole livelihood, because she trusted in the Lord. She gives everything, because the Lord is greater than all else. The message of this Gospel passage is an invitation to generosity.

The many children who die of hunger or lack medicine are an invitation to ask ourselves: “But how can I resolve this situation?” This question, comes from the desire to do good.

An appeal to
generosity. Generosity belongs to everyday life; it’s something we should think: ‘How can I be more generous, with the poor, the needy… How can I help more?’ ‘But Father, you know that we can barely get through the month.’ ‘But surely you have at least a couple of coins left over? Think about it: you can be generous with those…’ Consider the little things. For example, look through your room or your wardrobe. How many pairs of shoes do I have? One, two, three, four, fifteen, twenty… Each of us knows. Maybe too many… I knew a monsignor who had 40… But if you have many pairs of shoes, give away half. How many clothes do I not use or use only once a year? This is one way to be generous, to give what we have, and to share.

A lady that I met; when she went grocery shopping, spent 10% on buying food for the poor. She gave her “tithe” to the poor.

We can do miracles through generosity. Generosity in little things. Maybe we don’t do it because we just don’t think about it. The Gospel message makes us reflect: How can I be more generous? Just a little more, not much… ‘It’s true, Father, you’re right but… I don’t know why, but I’m always afraid…’ But nowadays there is another disease, which works against generosity: The disease of
consumerism.

Consumerism consists in always buying things. When I lived in Buenos Aires, “every weekend there was a TV show about retail-tourism”. They would hop on an airplane on Friday evening, fly to a country about 10 hours away, and then spend all Saturday shopping before returning home on Sunday.

It’s a terrible disease nowadays, consumerism. I’m not saying all of us do it, no. But consumerism – excessive spending to buy more than we need – is a lack of austerity in life. This is the enemy of generosity. And material generosity – thinking about the poor: ‘I can give this so that they can eat or have clothes’ – has an ulterior result: It enlarges the heart and helps us be magnanimous.

We need to have a magnanimous heart, where all can enter. Those wealthy people who gave money were good; that elderly lady was a saint.

I invite you to be generous and to start by inspecting your houses to discover what you don’t need and could
be useful for someone else. We should ask God, to free us from that dangerous disease of consumerism, which makes us slaves and creates dependence on spending money.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace of being generous, so that our hearts may be opened and we may become kinder.
  

 Chapter 21

5-19

 
Pope Francis   17.11.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square    33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C    Luke 21: 5-19 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel passage (Lk 21:5-19) is the first part of Jesus’ discourse on
the end times. He delivers it in Jerusalem, close to the Temple, prompted by people discussing the Temple and its beauty. The Temple was very beautiful. Jesus says: “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another” (Lk 21:6). Of course they asked him: When will this happen? What will the signs be? But Jesus moves the focus from these secondary aspects — i.e. when will it be? What will it be like? — to the truly important questions. Firstly, not to let oneself be fooled by false prophets nor to be paralyzed by fear. Secondly, to live this time of expectation as a time of witness and perseverance. We are in this time of waiting, in expectation of the coming of the Lord.

Jesus’ words are perennially relevant, even for us today living in the 21st century too. He repeats to us: “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name” (v. 8). This Christian virtue of understanding is a call to discern where the Lord is, and where the evil spirit is present. Today, too, in fact there are false “saviours” who attempt to replace Jesus: worldly leaders, religious gurus, even sorcerers, people who wish to attract hearts and minds to themselves, especially those of young people. Jesus warns us: “Do not follow them, do not follow them!”.

The Lord also helps us not to be afraid in the face of war, revolution, natural disasters and epidemics. Jesus frees us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions.

The second aspect challenges us as Christians and as a Church: Jesus predicts that his disciples will have to suffer painful trials and
persecution for his sake. He reassures them, however, saying: “Not a hair of your head will perish” (v. 18). This reminds us that we are completely in God’s hands! The trials we encounter for our faith and our commitment to the Gospel are occasions to give witness; we must not distance ourselves from the Lord, but instead abandon ourselves even more to him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace.

I am thinking at this moment, let everyone think together. Let us do so together: let us think about our many Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution for their faith. There are so many. Perhaps more now than in past centuries. Jesus is with them. We too are united to them with our prayers and our love; we admire their courage and their witness. They are our brothers and sisters who, in many parts of the world, are suffering for their faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Let us greet them with heartfelt affection.

At the end Jesus makes a promise which is a guarantee of victory: “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (v. 19). There is so much hope in these words! They are a call to hope and patience, to be able to wait for the certain fruits of salvation, trusting in the profound meaning of life and of history: the trials and difficulties are part of the bigger picture; the Lord, the Lord of history, leads all to fulfilment. Despite the turmoil and disasters that upset the world, God’s design of goodness and mercy will be fulfilled! And this is our hope: go forward on this path, in God’s plan which will be fulfilled. This is our hope.

Jesus’ message causes us to reflect on our present time and gives us the strength to face it with courage and hope, with Mary who always accompanies us.




Pope Francis     13.11.16    Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica, Rome      Jubilee for Socially Excluded People       Malachi 3: 19-20A,     Luke 21: 5-19
Pope Francis  13.11.16 Socially Excluded People

“For you… the sun of justice shall rise, with healing in its wings” (Mal 3:20). The words of the Prophet Malachi, which we heard in the first reading, shed light on today’s Jubilee. They come to us from the last page of the last Old Testament prophet. They are words directed to those who trust in the Lord, who place their hope in him, who see in him life’s greatest good and refuse to live only for themselves and their own interests. For those who are materially poor but rich in God, the sun of justice will rise. These are the poor in spirit, to whom Jesus promised the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3) and whom God, through the words of the Prophet Malachi, calls “my special possession” (Mal 3:17). The prophet contrasts them with the proud, those who seek a secure life in their self-sufficiency and their earthly possessions. This last page of the Old Testament raises challenging questions about the ultimate meaning of life: where do I look for security? In the Lord or in other forms of security not pleasing to God? Where is my life headed, what does my heart long for? The Lord of life or ephemeral things that cannot satisfy?

Similar questions appear in today’s Gospel. Jesus is in Jerusalem for the last and most important page of his earthly life: his death and resurrection. He is in the precincts of the Temple, “adorned with noble stones and offerings” (Lk 21:5). People were speaking of the beautiful exterior
of the temple, when Jesus says: “The days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another” (v. 6). He adds that there will be no lack of conflicts, famine, convulsions on earth and in the heavens. Jesus does not want to frighten us, but to tell us that everything we now see will inevitably pass away. Even the strongest kingdoms, the most sacred buildings and the surest realities of this world do not last for ever; sooner or later they fall.

In response, people immediately put two questions to the Master: “When will this be, and what will be the sign?” (v. 7). When and what… We are constantly driven by curiosity: we want to know when and we want to see signs. Yet Jesus does not care for such curiosity. On the contrary, he exhorts us not to be taken in by apocalyptic preachers. Those who follow Jesus pay no heed to prophets of doom, the nonsense of horoscopes, or terrifying sermons and predictions that distract from the truly important things. Amid the din of so many voices, the Lord asks us to distinguish between what is from him and what is from the false spirit. This is important: to distinguish the word of wisdom that the God speaks to us each day from the shouting of those who seek in God’s name to frighten, to nourish division and fear.

Jesus firmly tells us not to be afraid of the upheavals in every period of history, not even in the face of the most serious trials and injustices that may befall his disciples. He asks us to persevere in the good and to place all our trust in God, who does not disappoint: “Not a hair of your head will perish” (v. 18). God does not forget his faithful ones, his precious possession. He does not forget us.

Today, however, he questions us about the meaning of our lives. Using an image, we could say that these readings serve as a “strainer” through which our life can be poured: they remind us that almost everything in this world is passing away, like running water. But there are treasured realities that remain, like a precious stone in a strainer. What endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear? Surely these two: the Lord and our neighbour. These two riches do no disappear! These are the greatest goods; these are to be loved. Everything else – the heavens, the earth, all that is most beautiful, even this Basilica – will pass away; but we must never exclude God or others from our lives.

Today, though, when we speak of exclusion, we immediately think of concrete people, not useless objects but precious persons. The human person, set by God at the pinnacle of creation, is often discarded, set aside in favour of ephemeral things. This is unacceptable, because in God’s eyes man is the most precious good. It is ominous that we are growing used to this rejection. We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetized and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side, or notice the grave problems in our world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news.

Dear brothers and sisters, today is your Jubilee. Your presence here helps us to be attuned to God’s wavelength, to see what he sees. He sees not only appearances (cf. 1 Sam 16:7), but turns his gaze to the “humble and contrite in spirit” (Is 66:2), to the many poor Lazaruses of our day. What harm we do to ourselves when we fail to notice Lazarus, excluded and cast out (cf. Lk 16:19-21)! It is turning away from God himself. It is the symptom of a spiritual sclerosis when we are only interested in objects to be produced rather than on persons to be loved. This is the origin of the tragic contradiction of our age: as progress and new possibilities increase, which is a good thing, less and less people are able to benefit from them. This is a great injustice that should concern us much more than knowing when or how the world will end. Because we cannot go about our business quietly at home while Lazarus lies at the door. There is no peace in the homes of the prosperous as long as justice is lacking in the home of everyone.

Today, in the cathedrals and sanctuaries throughout the world, the Doors of Mercy are being closed. Let us ask for the grace not to close our eyes to God who sees us and to our neighbour who asks something of us. Let us open our eyes to God, purifying the eye of our hearts of deceitful and fearful images, from the god of power and retribution, the projection of human pride and fear. Let us look with trust to the God of mercy, with the certainty that “love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8). Let us renew our hope in the true life to which we are called, the life that will not pass away and that awaits us in communion with the Lord and with others, in a joy that will last forever, without end. And let us open our eyes to our neighbour, especially to our brothers and sisters who are forgotten and excluded, to the “Lazarus” at our door. That is where the Church’s magnifying glass is pointed. May the Lord free us from turning it towards ourselves. May he turn us away from the trappings that distract us, from interests and privileges, from attachment to power and glory, from being seduced by the spirit of the world. Our Mother the Church looks “in particular to that portion of humanity that is suffering and crying out, because she knows that these people belong to her by evangelical right” (PAUL VI, Address at the beginning of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council, 29 September 1963). By right but also by evangelical duty, for it is our responsibility to care for the true riches which are the poor. In the light of these reflections, I would like today to be the “day of the poor”. We are reminded of this by an ancient tradition according to which the Roman martyr Lawrence, before suffering a cruel martyrdom for the love of the Lord, distributed the goods of the community to the poor, whom he described as the true treasure of the Church. May the Lord grant that we may look without fear to what truly matters, and turn our hearts to our true treasure.


Pope Francis   17.11.19 Vatican Basilica  World Day of the Poor       33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C    Luke 21: 5-19


Pope Francis  End of the World

In today’s Gospel, Jesus astounds both his contemporaries and us. While every else was praising the magnificent temple in Jerusalem, Jesus tells them that “one stone” will not be left “upon another” (Lk 21:6). Why does he speak these words about so sacred an institution, which was not merely a building but a unique religious symbol, a house for God and for the believing people? Why does he prophesy that the firm certitude of the people of God would collapse? Why, ultimately, does the Lord let our certitudes collapse, when our world has fewer and fewer of them?

Let us look for answers in the words of Jesus. He tells us that
almost everything will pass away. Almost everything, but not everything. On this next to last Sunday in Ordinary Time, he explains that what will collapse and pass away are the penultimate things, not the ultimate ones: the temple, not God; kingdoms and human events, not humanity itself. The penultimate things, which often appear definitive but are not, pass away. They are majestic realities like our temples, and terrifying ones like earthquakes; they are signs in heaven and wars on the earth (cf. vv. 10-11). To us, these are front page news, but the Lord puts them on the second page. That which will never pass away remains on the front page: the living God, infinitely greater than any temple we build for him, and the human person, our neighbour, who is worth more than all the news reports of the world. So, to help us realize what really counts in life, Jesus warns us about two temptations.

The first is the temptation of haste, of the right now. For Jesus, we must not follow those who tell us that the end is coming immediately, that “the time is at hand” (v. 8). That is, we must not follow the alarmists who fuel fear of others and of the future, for fear paralyzes the heart and mind. Yet how often do we let ourselves be seduced by a frantic desire to know everything right now, by the itch of curiosity, by the latest sensational or scandalous news, by lurid stories, by the screaming those who shout loudest and angriest, by those who tell us it is “now or never”. This haste, this everything right now, does not come from God. If we get worked up about the right now, we forget what remains forever: we follow the passing clouds and lose sight of the sky. Drawn by the latest outcry, we no longer find time for God or for our brother and sister living next door. How true this is today! In the frenzy of running, of achieving everything right now, anyone left behind is viewed as a nuisance. And considered disposable. How many elderly, unborn, disabled and poor persons are considered useless. We go our way in haste, without worrying that gaps are increasing, that the greed of a few is adding to the poverty of many others.

As an antidote to haste, Jesus today proposes to each of us perseverance. “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (v. 19). Perseverance entails moving forward each day with our eyes fixed on what does not pass away: the Lord and our neighbour. This is why perseverance is the gift of God that preserves all his other gifts (cf. SAINT AUGUSTINE, De Dono Perseverantiae, 2.4). Let us ask that each of us, and all of us as Church, may persevere in the good and not lose sight of what really counts.

There is a second illusion that Jesus wants to spare us. He says: “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ Do not go after them” (v. 8). It is the temptation of self-centredness. Christians, since we do not seek the right now but the forever, are not concerned with the me but with the you. Christians, that is, do not follow the siren song of their whims, but rather the call of love, the voice of Jesus. How is Jesus’ voice discerned? “Many will come in my name”, the Lord says, but they are not to be followed: wearing the label “Christian” or “Catholic” is not enough to belong to Jesus. We need to speak the same language as Jesus: that of love, the language of the you. Those who speak the language of Jesus are not the ones who say I, but rather the ones who step out of themselves. And yet how often, even when we do good, does the hypocrisy of the self take over? I do good so that I can be considered good; I give in order to receive in turn; I offer help so that I can win the friendship of some important person. That is how the language of the self speaks. The word of God, however, spurs us to a “genuine love” (Rom 12:9), to give to those who cannot repay us (cf. Lk 14:14), to serve others without seeking anything in return (cf. Lk 6:35). So let us ask ourselves: “Do I help someone who has nothing to give me in return? Do I, a Christian, have at least one poor person as a friend”?

The poor are valuable in the eyes of God because they do not speak the language of the self: they do not support themselves on their own, by their own strength; they need someone to take them by the hand. The poor remind us how we should live the Gospel: like beggars reaching out to God. The presence of the poor makes us breathe the fresh air of the Gospel, where the poor in spirit are blessed (cf. Mt 5:3). Instead of feeling annoyed when they knock on our doors, let us welcome their cry for help as a summons to go out of ourselves, to welcome them with God’s own loving gaze. How beautiful it would be if the poor could occupy in our hearts the place they have in the heart of God! Standing with the poor, serving the poor, we see things as Jesus does; we see what remains and what passes away.

Let us return to our initial questions. Amid so many penultimate and passing realities, the Lord wants to remind us today of what is ultimate, what will remain forever. It is love, for “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). The poor person who begs for my love leads me straight to God. The poor facilitate our access to heaven: this is why the sense of the faith of God’s People has viewed them as the gatekeepers of heaven. Even now, they are our treasure, the treasure of the Church. For the poor reveal to us the riches that never grow old, that unite heaven and earth, the riches for which life is truly worth living: the riches of love.


Pope Francis    17.11.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square       33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C        Luke 21: 5-19

Pope Francis Angelus about the End of the World 17.11.19

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Gospel of this penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year (cf. Lk 21: 5-19) presents to us Jesus’ discourse on the
end of time. Jesus pronounces it in front of the temple of Jerusalem, a building admired by the people for its grandeur and splendour. But He prophesied that of all the beauty of the temple, that grandeur, “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (v. 6). The destruction of the temple foretold by Jesus is not so much a figure of the end of history as of the purpose of history. Indeed, before the listeners who want to know how and when these signs will happen, Jesus responds with the typical apocalyptic language of the Bible.

He uses two apparently contrasting images: the first is a series of frightening events: catastrophes, wars, famines, riots and persecutions (vv. 9-12); the other is reassuring: “Not a hair of your head will perish” (v. 18). First of all there is a realistic look at history, marked by calamities and also by violence, by traumas that wound creation, our common home, and also the human family that lives there, and the Christian community itself. Think of the many wars today, so many calamities today. The second image – enclosed in Jesus’ reassurance – tells us the attitude that the Christian must adopt in living this story, characterized by violence and adversity.

And what is the attitude of the Christian? It is the attitude of hope in God, which allows us not to be overwhelmed by tragic events. Indeed, they are an “opportunity to bear witness“ (v. 13). Christ’s disciples cannot remain slaves to fears and anxieties; instead they are called to live history, to stem the destructive force of evil, with the certainty that the Lord’s action of goodness is always accompanied by His providential and reassuring tenderness. This is the eloquent sign that the Kingdom of God is coming to us, that is, that the realization of the world as God wants it is approaching. It is He, the Lord, Who guides our existence and knows the ultimate purpose of things and events.

The Lord calls us to collaborate in the construction of history, becoming, together with Him, peacemakers and witnesses of hope in a future of salvation and resurrection. Faith makes us walk with Jesus on the very often tortuous roads of this world, in the certainty that the power of His Spirit will bend the forces of evil, subjecting them to the power of God’s love. Love is superior, love is more powerful, because it is God: God is love. The Christian martyrs are an example to us – our martyrs, of our times too, who are more numerous than those of the beginnings – who, despite persecution, are men and women of peace. They give us an inheritance to preserve and imitate: the Gospel of love and mercy. This is the most precious treasure that has been given to us and the most effective witness that we can give to our contemporaries, responding to hatred with love, to offence with forgiveness. Even in our daily lives: when we receive an offence, we feel pain; but we must forgive from the heart. When we feel we are hated, we must pray with love for the person who hates us. May the Virgin Mary, through her maternal intercession, sustain our daily journey of faith, following the Lord Who guides history.
  

 Chapter 21

20-28

 
Pope Francis        29.11.18    Holy Mass Santa Marta        Revelation 18: 1,2, 21-23, 19: 1-3, 9A ,        Luke 21: 20-28
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-11/pope-francis-mass-christian-societies-end-if-pagan.html

On the day of judgment, Babylon will be destroyed with a mighty cry of victory. The great harlot will fall, condemned by the Lord, and she will show her truth: “a haunt for demons, a cage for every unclean spirit.”

Corruption will be revealed under her magnificent beauty and that her feasts will be exposed as false happiness.

"The melodies of musicians, harpists, flutists, and trumpeters will never be heard in you again. There will be no more beautiful feasts… Craftsmen of every type will never be found in you again; because you are not a city of work but of corruption. The sound of the millstone will not be heard in you again; no lamplight will be seen in you again. The city may be illuminated, but she will be without light, not luminous. Hers is a corrupt society – the voices of brides and grooms will never be heard in you again." There were many couples, many people, but there will no longer be any love. This destruction starts from within and ends when the Lord says: ‘Enough’. And there will come a day when the Lord says: ‘Enough with the appearances of this world.’ This is the crisis of a society that sees itself as proud, self-sufficient, dictatorial, and it ends in this manner.

Jerusalem will see her ruin, in another type of corruption, the corruption that comes from unfaithfulness to love; she was not able to recognize the love of God in His Son.

The holy city will be trampled underfoot by pagans and punished by the Lord, because she opened the doors of her heart to pagans.

The
paganization of life can occur, in our case the Christian life. Do we live as Christians? It seems like we do. But really our life is pagan, when these things happen: when we are seduced by Babylon and Jerusalem lives like Babylon. The two seek a synthesis which cannot be effected. And both are condemned. Are you a Christian? Are you Christian? Live like a Christian. Water and oil do not mix. They are always distinct. A contradictory society that professes Christianity but lives like a pagan shall end.

After the condemnation of the two cities, the voice of the Lord will be heard: Salvation follows destruction. And the Angel said: ‘Come: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ The great feast; the true feast.

Faced with the tragedies of life, we are called to look to the horizon, because we have been redeemed and the Lord will come to save us. This teaches us to live the trials of the world, not in a compromise with worldliness or paganism which brings about our destruction, but in hope, separating ourselves from this worldly and pagan seduction by looking to the horizon and hoping in Christ the Lord. Hope is our strength for moving forward. But we must ask it of the Holy Spirit.

Think about the Babylonians of our time and about the many powerful empires of the last century which have fallen.

The
great cities of today will also end, and so will our lives, if we continue along this road towards paganism.

The only ones who will remain are those who place their hope in the Lord. Let us open our hearts with hope and distance ourselves from the paganization of life.

  

 Chapter 21

25-28, 34-36

 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/advent/02.12.18%20a.jpg

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today Advent begins, the liturgical time which prepares us for Christmas, inviting us to lift our gaze and open our hearts to welcome Jesus. During Advent we do not just live in anticipation of Christmas; we are also called to rekindle the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ — when he will return at the end of time — preparing ourselves, with consistent and courageous choices, for the final encounter with him. We remember Christmas, we await the glorious return of Christ, and also our personal encounter: the day in which the Lord will call.

During these four weeks we are called to leave behind a resigned and routine way of life and to go forth, nourishing hope, nourishing dreams for a new future. This Sunday’s Gospel (cf. Lk 21:25-28, 34-36) goes in this very direction and puts us on guard against allowing ourselves to be oppressed by an egocentric lifestyle or by the phrenetic pace of our days. Jesus’ words resonate in a particularly incisive way: “take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly ... But watch at all times, praying” (vv. 34, 36).

To be mindful and to pray: this is how to live the time between now and Christmas. To be mindful and to pray. Inner listlessness comes from always turning around ourselves and being blocked by our own life, with its problems, its joy, and suffering, but always turning around ourselves. And this is wearying; this is dull, this closes us off to hope. Here lies the root of the lethargy and laziness that the Gospel speaks about. Advent invites us to a commitment to vigilance, looking beyond ourselves, expanding our mind and heart in order to open ourselves up to the needs of people, of brothers and sisters, and to the desire for a new world. It is the desire of many people tormented by hunger, by injustice and by war. It is the desire of the poor, the weak, the abandoned. This is a favourable time to open our hearts, to ask ourselves concrete questions about how and for whom we expend our lives.

The second attitude to best experience the time of awaiting the Lord is that of prayer. Arise, “look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v. 28), the Gospel of Luke cautions. It is about standing up and praying, turning our thoughts and our hearts to Jesus who is about to come. One stands when awaiting something or someone. We await Jesus and we wish to await him in prayer which is closely linked to vigilance. Praying, awaiting Jesus, opening oneself to others, being mindful, not withdrawn in ourselves. But if we think of Christmas in the light of consumerism, of seeing what I can buy in order to do this and that, of a worldly celebration, Jesus will pass by and we will not find him. We await Jesus and we wish to await him in prayer which is closely linked to vigilance.

But what is the horizon of our prayerful anticipation? In the Bible the voices of the prophets are especially revealing to us. Today it is that of Jeremiah who speaks to the people who had been harshly tried by exile and who risked losing their very identity. We Christians too, who are also the People of God, run the risk of becoming worldly and of losing our identity, indeed of ‘paganizing’ the Christian way. Therefore, we need the Word of God through which the prophet proclaims: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made ... I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 33:14-15). And that righteous branch is Jesus. It is Jesus who comes and whom we await. May the Virgin Mary, who leads us to Jesus, a woman of expectation and prayer, help us to strengthen our hope in the promises of her Son Jesus, in order to enable us to understand that through the travail of history, God always remains steadfast and uses human errors, too, to manifest his mercy.


Pope Francis   29.11.19 Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)  Friday of Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time Year C   Luke 21: 29-33

Pope Francis 29.11.19 Santa Marta Homily about Death

In this last week of the liturgical year the Church invites us to reflect on the end: the end of the world and the end of each of us. This theme is echoed in the Gospel reading (Luke 21: 29-33) in which Luke repeats Jesus’s words: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

This is how it is "everything will end" but "He will remain". I invite everyone to reflect on the moment of the end, that is,
death. None of us knows exactly when it will happen; indeed, we often tend to put off that thought believing ourselves eternal, but it is not so.

We all have this weakness, this vulnerability. Yesterday I was thinking about this with a article just published in the Jesuit publication Civiltà Cattolica that tells us that what we all have in common is that vulnerability. We are all vulnerable, and at some point
this vulnerability leads us to death. That's why we go to the doctor or to psychologists in search of healing for our bodies or for our minds.

Vulnerability therefore unites us and no illusion protects us. In my country, there was a fashion for people paying for their own funerals in advance with the illusion of saving money for the family. But when it came to light that some funeral companies were scamming people, that trend ended. How many times are we cheated by an illusion? Like the illusion of being eternal. The certainty of death is written in the Bible and in the Gospel, but the Lord always presents it to us as an encounter with Him and accompanies it with the word hope.

The Lord tells us to be prepared for the encounter, death is an encounter: it is He who comes to visit us, it is He who comes to take us by the hand and take us with Him. I wouldn't want this simple sermon to be a funeral notice! It is simply Gospel, it is simply life, it is simply saying to one another: "we are all vulnerable and we all have a door on which one day the Lord will knock."

Therefore, it is necessary to prepare well for that moment when the bell will ring, the moment when the Lord will knock on our door: let us pray for each other.

My invitation, is to be ready to open the door with trust and confidence to the Lord who comes. All of the things that we have collected, that we have saved, even good, we will not bring anything.. But, yes, we will bring the Lord's embrace. Think of one's own death: I will die, when? It is not marked on the calendar but he Lord knows it. And pray to the Lord: " Lord, prepare my heart to die well, to die in peace, to die with hope." This is the word that must always accompany our lives, the hope of living with the Lord here and then living with the Lord somewhere else. Let us pray for one another for this.
  
 

14 to  71


1 to 56 
 
Pope Francis 24.03.13          Celebration of Palm Sunday the Passion of our Lord     Luke 22:14 - 23:56

...
Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus; they have that sense of the faith which says: here is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! It reminds me of what Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals: you are princes, but of a king crucified. That is the throne of Jesus. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money that you can’t take with you and have to leave. When we were small, our grandmother used to say: a shroud has no pocket. Love of power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – as each one of us knows and is aware - our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation. Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death...

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.



Pope Francis 20.03.16  Palm Sunday

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (cf. Lk 19:38), the crowd of Jerusalem exclaimed joyfully as they welcomed Jesus. We have made that enthusiasm our own: by waving our olive and palm branches we have expressed our praise and our joy, our desire to receive Jesus who comes to us. Just as he entered Jerusalem, so he desires to enter our cities and our lives. As he did in the Gospel, riding on a donkey, so too he comes to us in humility; he comes “in the name of the Lord”. Through the power of his divine love he forgives our sins and reconciles us to the Father and with ourselves.

Jesus is pleased with the crowd’s showing their affection for him. When the Pharisees ask him to silence the children and the others who are acclaiming him, he responds: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40). Nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for Jesus’ entry. May nothing prevent us from finding in him the source of our joy, true joy, which abides and brings peace; for it is Jesus alone who saves us from the snares of sin, death, fear and sadness.

Today’s liturgy teaches us that the Lord has not saved us by his triumphal entry or by means of powerful miracles. The Apostle Paul, in the second reading, epitomizes in two verbs the path of redemption: Jesus “emptied” and “humbled” himself (Phil 2:7-8). These two verbs show the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied himself: he did not cling to the glory that was his as the Son of God, but became the Son of man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet he was without sin. Even more, he lived among us in “the condition of a servant” (v. 7); not of a king or a prince, but of a servant. Therefore he humbled himself, and the abyss of his humiliation, as Holy Week shows us, seems to be bottomless.

The first sign of this love “without end” (Jn 13:1) is the washing of the feet. “The Lord and Master” (Jn 13:14) stoops to his disciples’ feet, as only servants would have done. He shows us by example that we need to allow his love to reach us, a love which bends down to us; we cannot do any less, we cannot love without letting ourselves be loved by him first, without experiencing his surprising tenderness and without accepting that true love consists in concrete service.

But this is only the beginning. The humiliation of Jesus reaches its utmost in
the Passion: he is sold for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed by the kiss of a disciple whom he had chosen and called his friend. Nearly all the others flee and abandon him; Peter denies him three times in the courtyard of the temple. Humiliated in his spirit by mockery, insults and spitting, he suffers in his body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make his face unrecognizable. He also experiences shame and disgraceful condemnation by religious and political authorities: he is made into sin and considered to be unjust. Pilate then sends him to Herod, who in turn sends him to the Roman governor. Even as every form of justice is denied to him, Jesus also experiences in his own flesh indifference, since no one wishes to take responsibility for his fate. And I think of the many people, so many outcasts, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees, all of those for whose fate no one wishes to take responsibility. The crowd, who just a little earlier had acclaimed him, now changes their praise into a cry of accusation, even to the point of preferring that a murderer be released in his place. And so the hour of death on the cross arrives, that most painful form of shame reserved for traitors, slaves and the worst kind of criminals. But isolation, defamation and pain are not yet the full extent of his deprivation. To be totally in solidarity with us, he also experiences on the Cross the mysterious abandonment of the Father. In his abandonment, however, he prays and entrusts himself: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Hanging from the wood of the cross, beside derision he now confronts the last temptation: to come down from the Cross, to conquer evil by might and to show the face of a powerful and invincible God. Jesus, however, even here at the height of his annihilation, reveals the true face of God, which is mercy. He forgives those who are crucifying him, he opens the gates of paradise to the repentant thief and he touches the heart of the centurion. If the mystery of evil is unfathomable, then the reality of Love poured out through him is infinite, reaching even to the tomb and to hell. He takes upon himself all our pain that he may redeem it, bringing light to darkness, life to death, love to hatred.

God’s way of acting may seem so far removed from our own, that he was annihilated for our sake, while it seems difficult for us to even forget ourselves a little. He comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves. Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the Crucifix; it is the “royal seat of God”. I invite you during this week to gaze often upon this “royal seat of God”, to learn about the humble love which saves and gives life, so that we may give up all selfishness, and the seeking of power and fame. By humbling himself, Jesus invites us to walk on his path. Let us turn our faces to him, let us ask for the grace to understand at least something of the mystery of his obliteration for our sake; and then, in silence, let us contemplate the mystery of this Week.


Pope Francis  14.04.19  Holy Mass, Palm Sunday,  St Peter's Square     Luke 22: 14 - 23: 56
Pope Francis 14.04.19 Palm Sunday

Jesus in his entry into Jerusalem shows us the way with his humility in the face of triumphalism.

With this entrance into Holy Week Jesus shows us how to face moments of difficulty and the most insidious of temptations by preserving in our hearts a peace that is neither detachment nor superhuman impassivity, but confident abandonment to the Father and to his saving will, which bestows life and mercy.

He shows us this kind of abandonment by spurning, at every point in his earthly ministry, the temptation to do things his way and not in complete obedience to the Father.

Today, too, by his entrance into Jerusalem, he shows us the way. For in that event, the evil one, the prince of this world, had a card up his sleeve: the card of triumphalism. Yet, the Lord responded by holding fast to his own way, the way of humility.

Triumphalism tries to make it to the goal by shortcuts and false compromises… It lives off gestures and words that are not forged in the crucible of the cross; Jesus destroyed triumphalism by
his Passion. One subtle form of triumphalism is spiritual worldliness, which represents the greatest danger, the most treacherous temptation threatening the Church; as French Cardinal and Theologian Henri De Lubac said.

Jesus knows that true triumph involves making room for God and that the only way to do that is by stripping oneself, by self-emptying. There is no negotiating with the cross: one either embraces it or rejects it. By his self-abasement, Jesus wanted to open up to us the path of faith and to precede us on that path.

Dear young people do not to be ashamed to show you enthusiasm for Jesus, to shout out that he is alive and that he is in your lives.

Jesus also overcomes the temptation to answer back, to act like a superstar. In moments of darkness and great tribulation, we need to keep silent, to find the courage not to speak, as long as our silence is meek and not full of anger. At the hour that God comes forth to fight, we have to let him take over. Our place of safety will be beneath the mantle of the holy Mother of God.

  
 
Chapter 23
35-43
 

Pope Francis     24.11.13    Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,  King of the Universe          Colossians 1:12-20          2 Samuel 5:1-3          Luke 23:42-43 

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/jesus/24.11.13.jpg
now turn with affection and gratitude for this gift which he has given us. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long.

 I offer a cordial and fraternal greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price.

With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord.

The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ is at the centre, Christ is the centre. Christ is the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of his people and Christ is the centre of history.

1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning: Jesus Christ, the Lord. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20). He is the Lord of creation, he is the Lord of reconciliation.

This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. And so our thoughts will be Christian thoughts, thoughts of Christ. Our works will be Christian works, works of Christ; and our words will be Christian words, words of Christ. But when this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves.

2. Besides being the centre of creation and the centre of reconciliation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. Today, he is here in our midst. He is here right now in his word, and he will be here on the altar, alive and present amid us, his people. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.

Christ, the descendant of King David, is really the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one, one people, united with him and sharing a single journey, a single destiny. Only in him, in him as the centre, do we receive our identity as a people.

3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of humanity and also the centre of the history of every individual. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.

Whereas all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clings to the crucified Jesus and begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43), in his kingdom. Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Today we can all think of our own history, our own journey. Each of us has his or her own history: we think of our mistakes, our sins, our good times and our bleak times. We would do well, each one of us, on this day, to think about our own personal history, to look at Jesus and to keep telling him, sincerely and quietly: “Remember me, Lord, now that you are in your kingdom! Jesus, remember me, because I want to be good, but I just don’t have the strength: I am a sinner, I am a sinner. But remember me, Jesus! You can remember me because you are at the centre, you are truly in your kingdom!” How beautiful this is! Let us all do this today, each one of us in his or her own heart, again and again. “Remember me, Lord, you who are at the centre, you who are in your kingdom”.

Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more, he is so generous, he always gives more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his kingdom!

Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Let us go forward together on this road!

Amen!


Pope Francis   20.11.16  St Peter's Square    Solemnity of our Lord Jesus, Christ King of the Universe         Luke 23: 35-43,      Colossians 1: 12-20

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the crown of the liturgical year and this Holy Year of Mercy. The Gospel in fact presents the kingship of Jesus as the culmination of his saving work, and it does so in a surprising way. “The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King” (Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: he is on the cross, where he seems more to be conquered than conqueror. His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus’ reign is truly not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36); but for this reason, Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we find redemption and forgiveness (cf. Col 1:13-14). For the grandeur of his kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things. Christ lowered himself to us out of this love, he lived our human misery, he suffered the lowest point of our human condition: injustice, betrayal, abandonment; he experienced death, the tomb, hell. And so our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being. He did not condemn us, nor did he conquer us, and he never disregarded our freedom, but he paved the way with a humble love that forgives all things, hopes all things, sustains all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:7). This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, his very life, and which has no end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8). We joyfully share the splendour of having Jesus as our King: his rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust.

It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King. The people presented to us in today’s Gospel, however, help us. In addition to Jesus, three figures appear: the people who are looking on, those near the cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus.

First, the people: the Gospel says that “the people stood by, watching” (Lk 23:35): no one says a word, no one draws any closer. The people keep their distance, just to see what is happening. They are the same people who were pressing in on Jesus when they needed something, and who now keep their distance. Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us. We prefer to remain at the window, to stand apart, rather than draw near and be with him. A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?”

There is a second group, which includes various individuals: the leaders of the people, the soldiers and a criminal. They all mock Jesus. They provoke him in the same way: “Save yourself!” (Lk 23:35,37,39). This temptation is worse than that of the people. They tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies! If he is God, let him show his power and superiority! This temptation is a direct attack on love: “save yourself” (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself. Claim triumph for yourself with your power, with your glory, with your victory. It is the most terrible temptation, the first and the last of the Gospel. When confronted with this attack on his very way of being, Jesus does not speak, he does not react. He does not defend himself, he does not try to convince them, he does not mount a defence of his kingship. He continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit.

In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him. How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world. How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross. The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works. This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential. This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission. Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.

In the Gospel another person appears, closer to Jesus, the thief who begs him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in his kingdom. He was not closed in on himself, but rather – with his errors, his sins and his troubles – he turned to Jesus. He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.

Let us also ask for the gift of this open and living memory. Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope. As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instil hope and provide opportunities to others. Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.

So many pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Doors, and far away from the clamour of the daily news they have tasted the great goodness of the Lord. We give thanks for this, as we recall how we have received mercy in order to be merciful, in order that we too may become instruments of mercy. Let us go forward on this road together. May our Blessed Lady accompany us, she who was also close to the Cross, she who gave birth to us there as the tender Mother of the Church, who desires to gather all under her mantle. Beneath the Cross, she saw the good thief receive pardon, and she took Jesus’ disciple as her son. She is Mother of Mercy, to whom we entrust ourselves: every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to his merciful eyes, will find an answer.



Pope Francis Nagasaki Japan Christ the King 24.11.19

“Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power” (Lk 23:42).

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we join our voices to that of the criminal crucified beside Jesus, who acknowledged and acclaimed him a king. Amid cries of ridicule and humiliation, at the least triumphal and glorious moment possible, that thief was able to speak up and make his profession of faith. His were the last words Jesus heard, and Jesus’ own words in reply were the last he spoke before abandoning himself to the Father: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).

The chequered history of the thief seems, in an instant, to take on new meaning: he was meant to be there to accompany the Lord’s suffering. And that moment does nothing more than confirm the entire meaning of Jesus’ life: always and everywhere to offer salvation. The attitude of the good thief makes the horror and injustice of Calvary – where helplessness and incomprehension are met with jeers and mockery from those indifferent to the death of an innocent man – become a message of hope for all humanity. “Save yourself!” The shouts of scornful derision addressed to the innocent victim of suffering will not be the last word; rather, they will awaken a response from those who let their hearts be touched, who choose compassion as the authentic way to shape history.

Today, in this place, we want to renew our faith and our commitment. We know too well the history of our failures, sins and limitations, even as the good thief did, but we do not want them to be what determines or defines our present and future. We know how readily all of us can take the easy route of shouting out: “Save yourself!” and choose not to think about our responsibility to alleviate the suffering of innocent people all around us. This land has experienced, as few countries have, the destructive power of which we humans are capable. Like the good thief, we want to speak up and profess our faith, to defend and assist the Lord, the innocent man of sorrows. We want to accompany him in his ordeal, to stand by him in his isolation and abandonment, and to hear once more that salvation is the word the Father desires to speak to all: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.

Saint Paul Miki and his companions gave their lives in courageous witness to that salvation and certainty, along with the hundreds of martyrs whose witness is a distinguished element of your spiritual heritage. We want to follow in their path, to walk in their footsteps and to profess courageously that the love poured out in sacrifice for us by Christ crucified is capable of overcoming all manner of hatred, selfishness, mockery and evasion. It is capable of defeating all those forms of facile pessimism or comfortable indolence that paralyze good actions and decisions. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, they are sadly mistaken who believe that, because we have here no lasting city and keep our gaze fixed on the future, we can ignore our responsibility for the world in which we live. They fail to see that the very faith we profess obliges us to live and work in a way that points to the noble vocation to which we have been called (cf.
Gaudium et Spes, 43).

Our faith is in the God of the living. Christ is alive and at work in our midst, leading all of us to the fullness of life. He is alive and wants us to be alive; he is our hope (cf.
Christus Vivit, 1). Each day we pray: Lord, may your kingdom come. With these words, we want our own lives and actions to become a hymn of praise. If, as missionary disciples, our mission is to be witnesses and heralds of things to come, we cannot become resigned in the face of evil in any of its forms. Rather, we are called to be a leaven of Christ’s Kingdom wherever we find ourselves: in the family, at work or in society at large. We are to be a little opening through which the Spirit continues to breathe hope among peoples. The kingdom of heaven is our common goal, a goal that cannot be only about tomorrow. We have to implore it and begin to experience it today, amid the indifference that so often surrounds and silences the sick and disabled, the elderly and the abandoned, refugees and immigrant workers. All of them are a living sacrament of Christ our King (cf. Mt25:31-46). For “if we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he himself wished to be identified” (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49).

On that day at Calvary, many voices remained silent; others jeered. Only the thief’s voice rose to the defence of the innocent victim of suffering. His was a brave profession of faith. Each of us has the same possibility: we can choose to remain silent, to jeer or to prophesy.

Dear brothers and sisters, Nagasaki bears in its soul a wound difficult to heal, a scar born of the incomprehensible suffering endured by so many innocent victims of wars past and those of the present, when a third World War is being waged piecemeal. Let us lift our voices here and pray together for all those who even now are suffering in their flesh from this sin that cries out to heaven. May more and more persons be like the good thief and choose not to remain silent and jeer, but bear prophetic witness instead to a kingdom of truth and justice, of holiness and grace, of love and peace (cf. Roman Missal, Preface of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe).
  
 

1 to 12
 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/newness/30.03.13.jpg

1. In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises. Dear brothers and sisters, we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us! The Lord is like that.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.

2. But let us return to the Gospel, to the women, and take one step further. They find the tomb empty, the body of Jesus is not there, something new has happened, but all this still doesn’t tell them anything certain: it raises questions; it leaves them confused, without offering an answer. And suddenly there are two men in dazzling clothes who say: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). What was a simple act, done surely out of love – going to the tomb – has now turned into an event, a truly life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of mankind. Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you dear sister, for you dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

3. There is one last little element that I would like to emphasize in the Gospel for this Easter Vigil. The women encounter the newness of God. Jesus has risen, he is alive! But faced with empty tomb and the two men in brilliant clothes, their first reaction is one of fear: “they were terrified and bowed their faced to the ground”, Saint Luke tells us – they didn’t even have courage to look. But when they hear the message of the Resurrection, they accept it in faith. And the two men in dazzling clothes tell them something of crucial importance: remember. “Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee… And they remembered his words” (Lk 24:6,8). This is the invitation to remember their encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has done in our lives.

On this radiant night, let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who treasured all these events in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51) and ask the Lord to give us a share in his Resurrection. May he open us to the newness that transforms, to the beautiful surprises of God. May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world. May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst. And may he teach us each day, dear brothers and sisters, not to look among the dead for the Living One. Amen.


Pope Francis     26.03.16  Vatican Basilica   Holy Saturday  Easter Vigil    Luke 24: 1-12

Pope Francis 26.03.16 Holy Saturday

“Peter ran to the tomb” (Lk 24:12). What thoughts crossed Peter’s mind and stirred his heart as he ran to the tomb? The Gospel tells us that the eleven, including Peter, had not believed the testimony of the women, their Easter proclamation. Quite the contrary, “these words seemed to them an idle tale” (v. 11). Thus there was doubt in Peter’s heart, together with many other worries: sadness at the death of the beloved Master and disillusionment for having denied him three times during his Passion.

There is, however, something which signals a change in him: after listening to the women and refusing to believe them, “Peter rose” (v. 12). He did not remain sedentary, in thought; he did not stay at home as the others did. He did not succumb to the sombre atmosphere of those days, nor was he overwhelmed by his doubts. He was not consumed by remorse, fear or the continuous gossip that leads nowhere. He was looking for Jesus, not himself. He preferred the path of encounter and trust. And so, he got up, just as he was, and ran towards the tomb from where he would return “amazed” (v. 12). This marked the beginning of Peter’s resurrection, the resurrection of his heart. Without giving in to sadness or darkness, he made room for hope: he allowed the light of God to enter into his heart, without smothering it.

The women too, who had gone out early in the morning to perform a work of mercy, taking the perfumed ointments to the tomb, had the same experience. They were “frightened and bowed their faces”, and yet they were deeply affected by the words of the angel: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (v. 5).

We, like Peter and the women, cannot discover life by being sad, bereft of hope. Let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord – each of us knows what they are – so that he may enter and grant us life. Let us give him the stones of our rancour and the boulders of our past, those heavy burdens of our weaknesses and falls. Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish. This is the first stone to be moved aside this night: the lack of hope which imprisons us within ourselves. May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our
problems were the centre of our lives.

We see and will continue to see problems both within and without. They will always be there. But tonight it is important to shed the light of the
Risen Lord upon our problems, and in a certain sense, to “evangelize” them. To evangelize our problems. Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control us; we must cry out to them: the Lord “is not here, but has risen!” (v. 6). He is our greatest joy; he is always at our side and will never let us down.

This is the foundation of our
hope, which is not mere optimism, nor a psychological attitude or desire to be courageous. Christian hope is a gift that God gives us if we come out of ourselves and open our hearts to him. This hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5). The Paraclete does not make everything look appealing. He does not remove evil with a magic wand. But he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, conquered death and conquered fear. Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth: nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love (cf. Rom 8:39).

The Lord is alive and wants to be sought among the living. After having found him, each person is sent out by him to announce the Easter message, to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life. There is so necessary today. However, we must not proclaim ourselves. Rather, as joyful servants of hope, we must announce the Risen One by our lives and by our love; otherwise we will be only an international organization full of followers and good rules, yet incapable of offering the hope for which the world longs.

How can we strengthen our hope? The liturgy of this night offers some guidance. It teaches us to remember the works of God. The readings describe God’s faithfulness, the history of his love towards us. The living word of God is able to involve us in this history of love, nourishing our hope and renewing our joy. The Gospel also reminds us of this: in order to kindle hope in the hearts of the women, the angel tells them: “
Remember what [Jesus] told you” (v. 6). Remember the words of Jesus, remember all that he has done in our lives. Let us not forget his words and his works, otherwise we will lose hope and become “hopeless” Christians. Let us instead remember the Lord, his goodness and his life-giving words which have touched us. Let us remember them and make them ours, to be sentinels of the morning who know how to help others see the signs of the Risen Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen! And we have the possibility of opening our hearts and receiving his gift of hope. Let us open our hearts to hope and go forth. May the memory of his works and his words be the bright star which directs our steps in the ways of faith towards that Easter that will have no end.


Pope Francis     Easter Vigil20.04.19 St Peter's Basilica      Luke 24: 1-12
Pope Francis 20.04.19 Easter Vigil
      
The women bring spices to the tomb, but they fear that their journey is in vain, since a large stone bars the entrance to the sepulchre. The journey of those women is also our own journey; it resembles the journey of salvation that we have made this evening. At times, it seems that everything comes up against a stone: the beauty of creation against the tragedy of sin; liberation from slavery against infidelity to the covenant; the promises of the prophets against the listless indifference of the people. So too, in the history of the Church and in our own personal history. It seems that the steps we take never take us to the goal. We can be tempted to think that dashed hope is the bleak law of life.

Today however we see that our journey is not in vain; it does not come up against a tombstone. A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones? Why do you give into resignation and failure? Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness. Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the “living stone” (cf. 1 Pet 2:4),
the risen Jesus. We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, to overturn our every disappointment. Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?


Often what blocks hope is the stone of
discouragement. Once we start thinking that everything is going badly and that things can’t get worse, we lose heart and come to believe that death is stronger than life. We become cynical, negative and despondent. Stone upon stone, we build within ourselves a monument to our own dissatisfaction: the sepulchre of hope. Life becomes a succession of complaints and we grow sick in spirit. A kind of tomb psychology takes over: everything ends there, with no hope of emerging alive. But at that moment, we hear once more the insistent question of Easter: Why do you seek the living among the dead? The Lord is not to be found in resignation. He is risen; he is not there. Don’t seek him where you will never find him: he is not the God of the dead but of the living (cf. Mk 22:32). Do not bury hope!

There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of
sin. Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death. Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why not make up your mind to abandon that sin which, like a stone before the entrance to your heart, keeps God’s light from entering in? Why not prefer Jesus, the true light (cf. Jn1:9), to the glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure? Why not tell the empty things of this world that you no longer live for them, but for the Lord of life?

Let us return to the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. They halted in amazement before the stone that was taken away. Seeing the angels, they stood there, the Gospel tells us, “frightened, and bowed their faces to the ground” (Lk 24:5). They did not have the courage to look up. How often do we do the same thing? We prefer to remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears. It is odd, but why do we do this? Not infrequently because, glum and closed up within ourselves, we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord. Yet only he can raise us up. A poet once wrote: “We never know how high we are. Till we are called to rise” (E. Dickinson). The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death: Why do you seek the living among the dead?

God asks us to view life as he views it, for in each of us he never ceases to see an irrepressible kernel of beauty. In sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand. In Easter he shows you how much he loves that life: even to the point of living it completely, experiencing anguish, abandonment, death and hell, in order to emerge triumphant to tell you: “You are not
alone; put your trust in me!”.

Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing (cf. Ps 30:11). With him, we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover– from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence. Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: his love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?  

Why do you seek the living among the dead? The women hear the words of the angels, who go on to say: “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee” (Lk 24:6). Those woman had lost hope, because they could not recall the words of Jesus, his call that took place in Galilee. Having lost the living memory of Jesus, they kept looking at the tomb. Faith always needs to go back to Galilee, to reawaken its first love for Jesus and his call: to remember him, to turn back to him with all our mind and all our heart. To return to a lively love of the Lord is essential. Otherwise, ours is a “museum” faith, not an Easter faith. Jesus is not a personage from the past; he is a person living today. We do not know him from history books; we encounter him in life. Today, let us remember how Jesus first called us, how he overcame our darkness, our resistance, our sins, and how he touched our hearts with his word.

The women, remembering Jesus, left the tomb. Easter teaches us that believers do not linger at graveyards, for they are called to go forth to meet the Living One. Let us ask ourselves : In my life, where am I going? Sometimes we go only in the direction of
our problems, of which there are plenty, and go to the Lord only for help. But then, it is our own needs, not Jesus, to guide our steps. We keep seeking the Living One among the dead. Or again, how many times, once we have encountered the Lord, do we return to the dead, digging up regrets, reproaches, hurts and dissatisfactions, without letting the Risen One change us?

Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the centre of our lives. Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems; the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear. Let us seek him in all things and above all things. With him, we will rise again.

  

  Chapter 24

13 - 15

 


Complaining damages the heart, not only our complaints of others, but also their complaints of us, when everything seems to have turned sour.

The disciples’ dismay at the death of the Teacher was so overwhelming. They thought it best to leave the city. Yet, the poor things were still talking about it, weren’t they? And they were complaining. It could be said that this was more or less the day of complaint. But their words did no more than cause them to withdraw into themselves. In their hearts they were thinking: “we had such great hopes, but everything has failed”. And in this situation, they were stewing their life in the juice of their complaints and were going on and on like that.

I think so often when , when we encounter the Cross, we too incur this risk of withdrawing into complaint. Yet at that very moment the Lord is “close to us, though we do not recognize him. He walks beside us, though we do not recognize him. He speaks to us as well, although we do not hear him”. For us, the complaint is “something certain. It is my truth: failure. Hope is gone”. And with these thoughts the disciples continued on their way. “What did Jesus do? He was patient. First he listened and then slowly began to explain to them. In the end, he let them see him”. Jesus “does the same with us. Even in the darkest moments he is always beside us, he walks beside us. And in the end he reveals to us his presence”.

Complaining “is bad”, because “it does away with
hope”. Resist entering “this game of living on complaint”. The Lord’s presence was made visible “when he broke the bread”. Then, the disciples could see “the wounds”, and then “he disappeared”. We must have hope and trust in God who “always moves with us along our path”, even at the darkest hour. “We may be sure”, we may be sure that the Lord never abandons us.... Let us not seek refuge in complaint. It harms our heart.
  

  Chapter 24

13-35

 
Pope Francis      04.05.14     Angelus, St Peter's Square        Luke 24: 13-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel from this Sunday, which is the Third Sunday of Easter, is that of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). They were two of Jesus’ disciples who, after his death and the Sabbath was past, leave Jerusalem and return,
sad and dejected, to their village which was named Emmaus. Along the way the Risen Jesus draws near to them, but they do not recognize him. Seeing them so sad, he first helps them to understand that the Passion and death of the Messiah were foreseen in the plan of God and announced in the Sacred Scriptures: and thus he rekindled a fire of hope in their hearts.

At that point, the two disciples experienced an extraordinary attraction to the mysterious man, and they invited him to stay with them that evening. Jesus accepted and went into the house with them. When, at table, he blessed the bread and broke it, they recognized him, but he vanished out of their sight, leaving them full of wonder. After being enlightened by the Word, they had recognized the Risen Jesus in the breaking of the bread, a new sign of his presence. And immediately they felt the need to go back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples about their experience, that they had met the living Jesus and recognized him in the act of the breaking of the bread.

The road to Emmaus thus becomes a symbol of our journey of faith: the Scriptures and the Eucharist are the indispensable elements for encountering the Lord. We too often go to Sunday Mass with our worries, difficulties and disappointments.... Life sometimes wounds us and we go away feeling sad, towards our “Emmaus”, turning our backs on God’s plan. We distance ourselves from God. But the Liturgy of the Word welcomes us: Jesus explains the Scriptures to us and rekindles in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope, and in Communion he gives us strength. The Word of God, the Eucharist. Read a passage of the Gospel every day. Remember it well: read a passage from the Gospel every day, and on Sundays go to Communion, to receive Jesus. This is what happened to the disciples of Emmaus: they received the Word; they shared the breaking of bread and from feeling sad and defeated they became joyful. Dear brothers and sisters, the Word of God and the Eucharist fill us with joy always. Remember it well! When you are sad, take up the Word of God. When you are down, take up the Word of God and go to Sunday Mass and receive Communion, to participate in the mystery of Jesus. The Word of God, the Eucharist: they fill us with joy.

Through the intercession of Most Holy Mary, let us pray that every Christian, in reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, especially at Sunday Mass, may rediscover the grace of the transforming encounter with the Lord, with the Risen Lord, who is with us always. There is always a Word of God that gives us guidance after we slip; and through our weariness and disappointments there is always a Bread that is broken that keeps us going on the journey.