Mark

 Chapter 1

29-39

 

This is what Jesus’ life was like: he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons” (Mk 1:39). Jesus who preaches and Jesus who heals. The whole day was like this:
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/something-stupid/The%20Devil%20crop.jpg
preaching to the people, teaching the Law, teaching the Gospel. And the people look for Him to listen to Him and also because He heals the sick.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.... And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk 1:32, 34).

And we are before Jesus in this celebration: Jesus is the One who presides at this celebration. We are priests in the name of Jesus, but He is the President, He is the true Priest, who offers the sacrifice to the Father. We could ask ourselves whether we let Jesus preach to us. Each one of us: “Do I let Jesus preach to me, or I know know all? Do I listen to Jesus or do I prefer to listen to something else, perhaps people’s gossip, or stories...”. Listening to Jesus.

Listening to Jesus’ preaching. “How can I do this, Father? On which TV channel does Jesus speak?”. He speaks to you in the Gospel! And this is an attitude that we still do not have: to go to seek the word of Jesus in the Gospel. To always carry a Gospel with us, a small one, or to have one at our fingertips. Five minutes, 10 minutes.

When I am travelling or when I have to wait..., I take the Gospel from my pocket, or from my bag and I read something; or at home. And Jesus speaks to me, Jesus preaches to me there. It is the Word of Jesus. And we have to get accustomed to this: to hear the Word of Jesus, to listen to the Word of Jesus in the Gospel. To read a passage, think a bit about what it says, what it is saying to me. If I don’t feel it is speaking to me, I move to another.

But to have this daily contact with the Gospel, to pray with the Gospel; because this way Jesus preaches to me, He says with the Gospel what He wants to tell me. I know people who always carry it and when they have a little time they open it, and this way they always find the right word for the moment they are living in. This is the first thing I wanted to say to you: let the Lord preach to you. Listen to the Lord.

And Jesus heals: let yourselves be healed by Jesus.

We all have wounds, everyone: spiritual wounds, sins, hostility, jealousy; perhaps we don’t say hello to someone: “Ah, he did this to me, I won’t acknowledge him anymore”. But this needs to be healed!

“How do I do it?”. Pray and ask that Jesus heal it”.

It’s sad in a family when siblings don’t speak to each other for a small matter; something stupid*1,  because the devil takes a small matter, something stupid and makes a world of it. Then hostilities go on, and multiply for many years, and that family is destroyed. Parents suffer because their children don’t speak to each other, or one son’s wife doesn’t speak to the other, and thus, with jealousy, envy.... The devil sows this. The devil is the "father of hate", the "father of lies" who seeks disunity. But God wants unity. If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God. *1

And the only One who casts out demons is Jesus. The only One who heals these matters is Jesus.

For this reason I say to each one of you: let yourself be healed by Jesus. Each one knows where his wounds are. Each one of us has them; we don’t have only one: two, three, four, 20. Each one knows! May Jesus heal those wounds. But for this I must open my heart, in order that He may come. How do I open my heart? By praying. “But Lord, I can’t with those people over there. I hate them. They did this, this and this...”. “Heal this wound, Lord”. If we ask Jesus for this grace, He will do it. Let yourself be healed by Jesus. Let Jesus heal you. Let Jesus preach to you and let Him heal you. This way I can even preach to others, to teach the words of Jesus, because I let Him preach to me; and I can also help heal many wounds, the many wounds that there are. But first I have to do it: let Him preach to me and heal me.

When the bishop comes to make a visit to the parishes, we do many things. We can also make a nice proposal, a small one: the proposal to read a passage of the Gospel every day, a short passage, in order to let Jesus preach to me. And the other proposal: to pray that I let myself be healed of the wounds I have. Agreed? Shall we sign? Okay? Let’s do it, because this will be good for everyone. Thank you.

*1  Vatican Radio 02.09.15
  
 
Chapter 1
40-45
 
Pope Francis      16.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time Year A   Mark 1: 40-45

Pope Francis  Santa Marta 16.01.20

Todays Gospel tells how a leper approached Jesus, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean”. The leper’s request is a simple prayer, an act of confidence — but at the same time, a true challenge. It is plea that comes from the depths of his heart, which also reveals something about Jesus and His compassion for us. Jesus, suffers with and for us, He takes the suffering of others upon Himself, comforting them and healing them in the name the love of the Father.

The phrase, “If you will…” is a prayer that gets God’s attention. It is a challenge, but also an act of confidence: I know that He can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him.

The leper was able to make this prayer, because he saw how Jesus acted. This man had seen the compassion of Jesus. Compassion, not pity, is a refrain in the Gospel — a common theme seen in the story of the widow of Nain, and in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son:

Compassion gets involved, it comes from the heart and gets involved, and it leads you to do something. Compassion is suffering with, taking the suffering of the other person upon yourself in order to resolve it, to heal it. And this was the mission of Jesus. Jesus did not come to preach the law and then leave. Jesus came in compassion, that is, to suffer with and for us and to give us life itself. The love of Jesus is so great that compassion led Him precisely to the Cross, to give His life.

Let us repeat this little phrase often. Because Jesus has compassion, He is capable of involving Himself in our sorrows, in the problems of others. Jesus, did not come simply to give a few sermons and then return to heaven; not to wash His hands. He came to be close to us, and He remains always at our side.

This expression can be turned into a prayer that we can use every day:

“Lord, if you will, you can heal me; if you will, you can forgive me; if you will, you can help me.” Or, if you want, you can make it a little longer: “Lord, I am a sinner, have mercy on me, have compassion on me”. A simple prayer that can be said many times a day. “Lord, I, a sinner, ask you: have mercy on me”. Many times a day, inwardly, from the heart, without saying it out loud: “Lord, if you will, you can; if you will, you can. Have compassion on me”. Repeat this.


The leper, with his simple and miraculous prayer, was able to obtain healing thanks to the compassion of Jesus, who loves us despite our sinfulness.
He is not ashamed of us. “O Father, I am a sinner, how can I say this?...” This is better! For He came precisely for us sinners, and the greater a sinner you are, the closer the Lord is to you, for He has come for you, the greatest sinner; for me, the greatest sinner; for all of us. Let us make a habit of repeating this prayer, always: “Lord, if you will it, you can do it. If you will it, you can do it”, with confidence that the Lord is close to us; and with His compassion, He will take upon Himself our problems, our sins, our inner diseases, everything.
  

 Chapter 2
1-12
 
Pope Francis   17.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time Year A     Mark 2: 1-12

Pope Francis Jesus the doctor for our souls 17.01.20

Today's reading, taken from the Gospel according to Mark, presents an episode of Jesus' healing of a paralytic. Jesus is in Capernaum and the crowd gathers around him. Through an opening made in the roof of the house four men lowered a paralytic man lying on a mat. The hope is that Jesus will heal the paralytic, but He dismays everyone by saying to him, "Your sins are forgiven". Only then does He order him to get up, take his mat and go home. With His words Jesus allows us to go to the essentials. Jesus, a man of God, heals but He is not a medical man. He taught but was more than a teacher and in this episode He focuses on what is essential.

He looks at the paralytic and says, "Your sins are forgiven". Physical healing is a gift, physical health is a gift that we must guard. But the Lord teaches us that the health of the heart, the spiritual health must also be safeguarded.

Jesus also goes to the essentials with the sinful woman, of whom the Gospel speaks, when before her tears he says to her: 'Your sins are forgiven.' But those present are scandalized when Jesus goes to the essentials, they are scandalized, because there is prophecy, there is strength. Likewise, 'Go, but don't sin anymore,' Jesus says to the sick man by the pool who never gets into the water in time to be healed. To the Samaritan woman who asks him so many questions, -she was a bit of a theologian, Jesus asks about her husband. He goes to the essentials in life and the essential is your relationship with God. And we forget this so many times as if we are afraid to go right there where there is the encounter with the Lord, with God. We do so much for our physical health, we advice ourselves about doctors and medicines, and it's a good thing, but do we think about the health of the heart?

The words here of Jesus will perhaps help us: "Child, sins are forgiven." Are we used to thinking of this medicine as the forgiveness of our sins, of our mistakes? We ask ourselves, "Do I have to ask God for forgiveness for something?" "Yes, yes, yes, in general, we are all sinners", and so it is watered down and loses the strength, this force of prophecy that Jesus has when He focuses on the essentials. And today Jesus, to each of us, says: "I want to forgive you the sins."

Perhaps someone does not find sins in himself to confess because there is a lack of the consciousness of sins. Concrete sins, diseases of the soul that must be healed and the medicine to heal them is forgiveness.

It is a simple thing that Jesus teaches us when he goes to the essentials. The essential is health, of both the body and soul. We care well for the body, but also for the soul. And let's go to that Doctor who can heal us, who can forgive sins. Jesus came for this, gave His life for this.
  

 Chapter 2

18-22

 
Pope Francis   21.01.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta      Mark 2: 18-22      
 
the Christian style is that of the Beatitudes

We can learn about the Christian style by first knowing our attitudes that don’t belong to the Christian style.  The "accusatory style", the "worldly style" and the "selfish style".

The
accusatory style belongs to those who always try and live by accusing others, disqualifying others, acting as absent promoters of justice. But they don't realize that it's the style of the devil: in the Bible, the devil is called the "great accuser", who is always accusing others.

This was the same in the time of Jesus who in a few cases reproached the accusers: "Instead of looking at the speck in the eyes of others, look at the beam in yours"; or again: "Those who have not sinned can throw the first stone". Living by accusing others and looking for defects,  is not Christian, not new wineskin.

Worldliness, is an attitude of Catholics who can recite the Creed, but live on vanity, pride and attachment to money, believing themselves to be self-sufficient.

The Lord has offered you the new wine but you did not change the wineskin, you did not change yourself. This worldliness is what ruins so many who are good but they enter into this spirit of vanity, of pride, of being seen... Humility that is part of the Christian style, like that of Our Lady and St. Joseph, is lacking.

The
selfish spirit is the spirit of indifference that is common in our communities. One believes oneself to be a good Catholic but doesn’t worry about the problems of others – wars, illnesses and the suffering of our neighbours. This is the hypocrisy that Jesus reproached the doctors of the law for. What then is the Christian style?

The Christian style is that of the Beatitudes: meekness, humility, patience in suffering, love for justice, ability to endure persecution, not judging others... If a Catholic wants to learn the Christian style, so as not to fall into this accusatory style, the worldly style and the selfish style, he / she must read the Beatitudes. They are the wineskins, the path we must take. To be a good Christian one must have the ability not only to recite the Creed with the heart but also the Our Father with the heart.


Pope Francis  20.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time     1 Samuel 15: 16-23,    Mark 2: 18-22 

Pope Francis Santa Marta 20.01.20

In the first Reading, God rejected Saul as king, a prophecy that was confided to Samuel.

The sin of Saul was his lack of docility to the Word of God, imagining that his own interpretation of God's command was more correct. This is the substance of the sin against docility: the Lord had commanded him not to take anything from the people who had been conquered, but this did not happen.

When Samuel goes to scold him on behalf of God, he tried to explain: “But look, there were cattle, there were so many good, fat animals, and with these I offered a sacrifice to the Lord”. He had not put anything in his own pocket, although others had. On the contrary, with this attitude of interpreting the Word of God as it seemed right to him, he allowed the others to put something of the plunder in their own pockets. The stages of corruption: it begins with a little disobedience, a lack of docility, and it keeps going further, further, further.

After “exterminating” the Amalekites the people took from the plunder small and large beasts, the first fruits of what was vowed to extermination, to sacrifice to the Lord. But Samuel pointed out that the Lord prefers obedience to the voice of God to holocausts and sacrifices; and he clarified the hierarchy of values: It is more important to have a docile heart, and to obey, than to offer sacrifices, to fast, to do penance. The sin of lacking docility lies precisely in that preference for what I think and not what the Lord commands of me and perhaps I don’t understand. When you rebel against the will of the Lord you are not docile; it’s like a sin of fortune-telling. It’s as if, although you say you believe in God, you were to go to a fortune-teller to have your palm read ‘just in case’. Not obeying the Lord, the lack of docility, is like fortune-telling.

When you insist on doing things your own way in the face of the Lord’s will, you are an idolater, because you prefer what you think, that idol, to the will of the Lord. And for Saul, this disobedience cost him the kingdom: “Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you as king”. This should make us think a little bit about our own docility. We often prefer our own interpretation of the Gospel or the Word of the Lord. For example, when we fall into clever but unsound reasoning, into clever but unsound reasoning about moral cases… This is not the will of the Lord. The will of the Lord is clear; He makes it known with the commandments in the Bible, and makes you see it with the Holy Spirit within your heart. But when I am obstinate, and turn the Word of the Lord into an ideology, I am an idolater, I am not docile. Docility, obedience.

In todays Gospel from St Mark the disciples were criticised because they did not fast. Jesus uses an analogy: no one sews new cloth on an old cloak, because it would risk making the tear worse; and no one puts new wine in old wineskins, because the skins would burst, and both the wine and the wineskins would be lost. “Rather”, the Lord said, “new wine is poured into fresh wineskins”.
The newness of the Word of the Lord – because the Word of the Lord is always new, it always carries us onward – always wins, it is better than everything. It overcomes idolatry, it overcomes pride, and it overcomes this attitude of being too sure of ourselves, not through commitment to the Word of the Lord, but to the ideologies that I have built around the Word of the Lord. There is a very beautiful expression of Jesus that explains all this and that comes from God, taken from the Old Testament: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice”.

Being a good Christian means being docile to the Word of the Lord, listening to what the Lord says about justice, charity, forgiveness, and mercy; and not being inconsistent in life, using an ideology to be able to go forward. It’s true that the Word of the Lord sometimes gets us in trouble, but the devil does the same thing, deceptively. So to be a Christian is to be free, through trust in God.


  

  Chapter 3

7-12

 

The Gospel passage makes repeated references to a ‘multitude’: “a great multitude followed Jesus from all over”. The people in this crowd were throwing themselves at him, to touch him. It was a crowd warm with enthusiasm, which followed Jesus with warmth and came from all places: from Tyre and Sidon, from Idumea and from beyond the Jordan. A great multitude made this journey on foot to find the Lord. And in facing the insistent crowd, one might ask: “Why did this multitude come? Why this enthusiasm? What did they need?”. The Gospel itself tells us that there were sick people who sought to be healed but there were also many people who came to listen to him. Indeed, these people liked hearing Jesus, because he did not speak like their doctors, but instead, with authority. Certainly, it was a multitude of people who came spontaneously: they weren’t brought on buses, like we have seen often when protests are organized and many have to go ‘to verify’ the presence, so as not to lose their job.

These people went because they felt something. And they were so numerous that Jesus had to ask for a boat and set out from the shore so that the crowd did not crush him. But what was the real motive, the profound motivation? Jesus himself explains in the Gospel this sort of social phenomenon. He says: “No one can come to me if not drawn by the Father”. In fact, whether this multitude went to Jesus out of need or because some were curious, the true reason is seen in the fact that this crowd was drawn by the Father: it was the Father that drew the crowd to Jesus. And Christ was not indifferent, like a stagnant teacher who spoke his words and then washed his hands. No! This crowd touched Jesus’ heart. We read in the Gospel that “Jesus was moved, because he saw these people as sheep without a shepherd”.

Therefore, the Father, through the Holy Spirit, draws people to Jesus. It is useless to look for all the reasoning. Every reason can be necessary but is not enough to make one finger move. You cannot move or take a step with only apologetic reasoning. What is truly necessary and decisive, however, is “that the Father draws you to Jesus”.

It is curious, that while this passage speaks about Jesus, speaks of the crowd, of the enthusiasm and of the love with which Jesus received and healed them, there is also something extraordinary. It is written: “whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘Your are the Son of God’!”.

This, is precisely the truth; this is the reality that every one of us feels when we approach Jesus and what “the impure spirits try to impede; they wage war on us”.

Someone might object: “Father, I am very Catholic; I always go to Mass.... But I never have these temptations, thank God!”. But it isn’t so. The response is: “No! Pray, because you are on the wrong path!”, because “a
Christian life without temptations is not Christian: it is ideological, it is gnostic, but it is not Christian”. In fact it happens that when the Father draws people to Jesus, there is another who draws in the opposite way and wages war within you!. Thus Saint Paul speaks of Christian life as a struggle: a struggle every day to win, to destroy Satan’s empire, the empire of evil. This is the reason, that Jesus came, to destroy Satan! To destroy his influence on our hearts.

This final notation in the Gospel passage highlights what is essential: “both Jesus and the crowd” seem to disappear, leaving “only the Father and the impure spirits, that is the spirit of evil. The Father who draws the people to Jesus and the evil spirit who tries to destroy, always!”.

In this way we understand that “Christian life is a struggle” in which either you let yourself be drawn to Jesus, through the Father, or you can say ‘I’m tranquil, at peace’.... But in the hands of this multitude, of these impure spirits. However, if you want to go forward you must fight! Feel the heart struggling, so that Jesus may win.

Therefore, all Christians must make this examination of conscience and ask themselves: “Do I feel this struggle in my heart?”. This conflict between comfort or service to others, between having a little fun or praying and adoring the Father, between one thing and the other? Do I feel the will to do good or is there something that stops me, turns me into an ascetic? And also, do I believe that my life moves Jesus’ heart? If I don’t believe this, “I must pray a lot to believe it, so that he may grant me this grace”.
  

 Chapter 4
21-25
 
Pope Francis            30.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        Mark 4: 21-25  
Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time  - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Judging Other People 30.01.20

"The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you”. All of us come to terms with our lives, we do it in the present and above all, we will do it at the end of our existence, and this phrase of Jesus "tells us just what that moment will be like", that is, what judgment will be like. Because if the passage of the Beatitudes and the similar chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew show us "the things we have to do" - how to do them, the "style with which we will have to live" - the "measure", is what the Lord says here.

By what extent do I measure others? By what measure do I measure myself? Is it a generous measure, full of God's love? Or is it a low level measure? And by this measure I will be judged, it will not be another: that, just the one I do. What is the level at which I put my bar? At a high level? We have to think about this. And we see this not only, not so much in the good things we do or in the bad things we do but in our daily lifestyle.

Each of us has a style, "a way of measuring ourselves, things and others" and it will be the same that the Lord will use with us. So those who judge with selfishness, will be judged in the same way; those who have no mercy and, in order to climb in life, "are capable of trampling on everyone's heads", will be judged in the same way, that is, "without mercy". 

And as a Christian I wonder what is the reference stone, the touchstone to know if I am on a Christian level, a level that Jesus wants? It is the ability to be humble, it is the ability to suffer humiliation. A Christian who is not able to carry with him the humiliations of life, lacks something. He is a Christian of "make-up" or out of interest. "But why father this?" Because Jesus did it, He humbled himself, says Paul: "He humbled himself until the death on the cross." He was God but He did not cling to that: He humbled Himself. This is the model.

And as an example of a lifestyle defined as "worldly" and unable to follow the model of Jesus; bishops report complaints to me when they have difficulty transferring priests to parishes because they are considered "lower category" and not as they would like and therefore see the transfer as a punishment. This is how to recognize "my style", "my way of judging" by the behaviour I take in the face of humiliation: "A way of judging the worldly, a way of judging the sinner, an entrepreneurial way of judging, a way of judging Christian Christians." 

"By the measure by which you measure it will be measured to you," the same measure. If it is a Christian measure, which follows Jesus, in His way, I will be judged the same way, with much, much, much pity, with much compassion, with much mercy. But if my measure is worldly and I only use the Christian faith - yes, I do, I go to mass, but I live as a worldly person - I will be measured by that measure. 

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to live Christianly and above all not to be afraid of the cross, of humiliation, because this is the path he has chosen to save us and this is what guarantees that my measure is Christian: the ability to carry the cross , the ability to suffer some humiliation.
  

 Chapter 4

26-34

 

"The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord” (Ps 37[36]:39). This Psalm verse, reminds us of the truth that “salvation is a gift the Lord gives”: it can’t be bought nor obtained through study, for it is always a gift, a present. But the real question is: “How to protect this salvation? What to do so this salvation remains in us and bears fruit, as Jesus explains, like a seed or kernel of mustard?” Mark (4:26-35).

Hebrews (10:32-39), there are criteria to protect this present, this gift of salvation; in order to allow this salvation to go forth and bear its fruit in us.

The first criterion is that of
memory. In fact, we read in the text: “Brethren, recall the former days, after you received the light of Christ”. Those are “the days of the first love”, as the prophets say: it is “the day of the encounter with Jesus”. Because, when we encountered Jesus, or better yet, when “He let Himself be encountered by us, for it is He who does all” — “it brought great joy, the will to do great things”, as the same author of the Letter explains. Therefore, the first criterion to protect the gift of salvation is “not to forget those first days” marked by “certain enthusiasm”: most of all, “do not forget” that “first love”.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews then goes on, emphasizing the “joy that enabled you to bear all things”, to a point when “all seemed meagre in those former days, and one went forth with enthusiasm”. The Letter exhorts us not to abandon that courage — namely ‘this honesty’ — that parrhesìa of those former days. It is indeed that “first love” which made grow within us that courage, that ‘let’s go on!’, that enthusiasm.

The call, however, is to not abandon honesty. But, “abandon” is not even the right word, if we go to the original text we find a powerful expression: “Do not throw away, do not waste, do not reject honesty”. It is like a rejection: do not push away this honesty, this courage, the courage of the former days.

This is why memory is so important, to remember the grace received. Indeed, if we push away this enthusiasm which comes from our memory of that first love, this enthusiasm which comes from the first love then what comes is that serious danger to Christians: warmth. For
lukewarm Christians stay there, idle; and yes, they are Christians, but they have forgotten that first love, they have lost their enthusiasm. What’s more, lukewarm Christians have also lost patience, that ‘tolerating’ things in life with the spirit of Jesus’ love; that ‘tolerating’, that bearing difficulties “on one’s shoulders’. This is why, lukewarm Christians, the poor souls, are in grave danger.

In this regard, there are two images which really strike me, and of which each person should be warned: “But you are lukewarm, be careful!”. St Peter, in his Second Letter, uses the image of the dog who turns back to its own vomit. And this image is distasteful, however, it is a fitting example of “the lukewarm Christian” who returns to that “first love, as if that love never existed”.

The second image, also unpleasant is the one that Jesus recounts of the person who wants to follow Him, and does follow Him, and then He casts out the
demon. This demon, who has gone out of the man, passes through the desert with the intention of returning to that man, to that woman from which he came. And when he returns, he finds the house in order, clean and nice. Thus he gets angry, goes, looks for seven demons worse than him and returns to take possession of that house. And in this way the person isn’t wounded, because it involves ‘polite’ demons: who even knock on the door to come in, but they do come in. The same happens to a lukewarm Christian who doesn’t know who is knocking at the door and opens it, even saying come in! But, Jesus says, in the end, that soul ends up even worse than before.

These two images of the warmth of the Christian make us think. This way we must never forget our first love; rather, we should always remember that first love. This is why the answer to the question how do I go on? is: “with
hope”. That is what the Letter to the Hebrews says to every Christian: For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry.

And thus there are two parameters available to the Christian: “memory and hope”. Ultimately it means reclaiming the memory so as not to lose that most beautiful experience of the first love which nourishes our hope. So often, hope is dark. But the Christian goes forward. He believes. He goes, for he knows that hope does not disappoint, to find Jesus.

These two parameters are the very framework in which we are able to protect this salvation of the righteous which comes from the Lord, this gift of the Lord. We must protect this salvation, for the little mustard seed to grow and bear its fruit. However, many Christians, cause pain, create heartache — so many Christians!. They are the many Christians who go halfway and fail along this path toward the encounter with Jesus. Even if the journey began with the encounter with Jesus, in the middle of the road, they have lost the memory of that first love and have no hope.

Ask the Lord for the grace to protect the present, the gift of salvation. It is a gift that each Christian must protect on this journey that always reclaims the memory and hope. But, He alone can give us this grace: may He send us the Holy Spirit to walk on this path.

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

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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

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

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


  

 Chapter 4
35-41
 
Pope Francis  27.03.20 Extraordinary Moment of Prayer, Sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica "URBI ET ORBI" BLESSING            Mark 4: 35-41

 
Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi 27.03.20
  
“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this. 

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).
 
Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on Him, He saves His disciples from their discouragement. 

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our pre-packaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.
 
“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”. 

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.
Pope Francis  27.03.20 Extraordinary Moment of Prayer

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.
 
“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).
  

 Chapter 5

21-43

 

Hebrews 12:1-4; the author of the Letter to the Hebrews refers to the memory of the first days after conversion, after the encounter with Jesus, and also refers to the memory of our fathers: “how
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/contemplative-prayer/Daily%20contemplation%20crop.jpg
much they suffered when they were on the journey”. The author, looking to these fathers says: we too ‘are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’. Thus, it is the testimony of our ancestors that he recalls. And he also recalls our experience, when we were so happy in the first encounter with Jesus. This is the memory, which we spoke about as a point of reference for Christian life.

But today, the author of the letter speaks about another point of reference, namely,
hope. And he tells us that we must have the courage to go forward: let us persevere in running the race that lies before us. Then he says what is the very core of hope: ‘keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus’”. This is the point: if we don’t keep our eyes fixed on Jesus it is difficult for us to have hope. We can perhaps be optimistic, be positive, but hope?

After all, hope is learned only by looking to Jesus, contemplating Jesus; we learn through
contemplative prayer. I can ask you: how do you pray?. Someone, he said, might respond: “Father, I say the prayers I learned as a child”. Okay, this is good. Someone else might add: “I pray the rosary too, every day!” It’s good to pray the rosary every day. And finally, one might say: “I also talk with the Lord, when I have a problem, or with Our Lady or with the saints...”. And “this is good” too.

Do you pray in contemplation? The question might throw us a curve, and someone might ask: “What is this, Father? What is this prayer? Where can we buy it? How do we do it?”. It can be done only with the Gospel in hand. Basically, you pick up the Gospel, select a passage, read it once, read it twice; imagine, as if you see what is happening, and contemplate Jesus.

Mark 5:21-43 teaches us many beautiful things. How do I contemplate with today’s Gospel? I see that Jesus was in the midst of the crowd, there was a great crowd around Him. The word ‘crowd’ is used five times this passage. But doesn’t Jesus rest? I can imagine: always with the crowd! Most of Jesus’ life is spent on the street, with the crowd. Doesn’t He rest? Yes, once: the Gospel says that He slept on the boat, but the storm came and the disciples woke Him. Jesus was constantly among the people.

For this reason, we look to Jesus this way, I contemplate Jesus this way, I imagine Jesus this way. And I say to Jesus whatever comes to my mind to say to Him.

Then, in the midst of the crowd, there was that sick woman, and Jesus was aware. But how did Jesus, in the middle of so many people, realize that a woman had touched Him? And, indeed, He asked directly: “Who touched me?”. The disciples, in return, pointed out to Jesus: “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”. The question, is that Jesus not only understands the crowd, feels the crowd, but He hears the beating of each one of our hearts, of each one of us: He cares for all and for each one, always!

The same situation happens again when the ruler of the Synagogue approaches Jesus to tell Him about his gravely ill little daughter. And He leaves everything to tend to this one: Jesus in the great and in the small, always! Then, we can go on and see that He arrives at the house, He sees that tumult, those women who were called to mourn over the dead body, wailing, weeping. But Jesus says: “Don’t worry: she’s sleeping!”. And in response to these words, some even begin to scoff at Him. However, He stays quiet and with his patience he manages to bear this situation, to avoid responding to those who mock Him.

The Gospel account culminates with the little girl’s resurrection. And Jesus, rather than saying: ‘Praised be God!’, says to them: ‘Please, give her something to eat’. For Jesus always has the fine details in front of Him.

What I did with this Gospel is contemplative prayer: to pick up the Gospel, read and imagine myself in the scene, to imagine what’s happening and speak with Jesus about what comes from my heart. And with this, we allow hope to grow, because we have our eyes fixed on Jesus. pray in contemplation. And even if we have many commitments, we can always find the time, even 15 minutes at home:
Pick up the Gospel, a short passage, imagine what is happening and talk to Jesus about it. This way your eyes will be fixed on Jesus, and not so much on soap operas, for example: your ears will be fixed on the words of Jesus and not so much on the neighbours’ gossip.

Contemplative prayer helps us to hope and teaches us to live from the substance of the Gospel. And this is why we must always pray: say prayers, pray the rosary, speak with the Lord, but also carry out this contemplative prayer in order to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. From here comes hope. And also this way, our Christian life moves within that framework, between memory and hope: the memory of the entire past journey, the memory of so many graces received from the Lord; and hope, looking to the Lord, who is the only One who can give me hope. And to look to the Lord, to know the Lord, we pick up the Gospel and we pray in contemplation.

Today for example find 10 minutes, 15 minutes and no more: read the Gospel, imagine and speak with Jesus. And nothing more. And in this way, your knowledge of Jesus will be greater and your hope will grow. Don’t forget, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus. This is why we call it “contemplative prayer”.
  

 Chapter 6

7-13

 

Pope Francis       12.07.15 Holy Mass Campo Grande, Ñu Guazú, Asuncion, Paraguay       Psalm 85: 8-14,      Mark 6: 7-13

Pope Francis Welcoming others 12.07.15

“The Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase”. These are the words of the Psalm. We are invited to celebrate this mysterious communion between God and his People, between God and us. The rain is a sign of his presence, in the earth tilled by our hands. It reminds us that our communion with God always brings forth fruit, always gives life. This confidence is born of faith, from knowing that we depend on grace, which will always transform and nourish our land.

It is a confidence which is learned, which is taught. A confidence nurtured within a community, in the life of a family. A confidence which radiates from the faces of all those people who encourage us to follow Jesus, to be disciples of the One who can never deceive. A disciple knows that he or she is called to have this confidence; we feel Jesus’s invitation to be his friend, to share his lot, his very life. “No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”. The disciples are those who learn how to live trusting in the friendship offered by Jesus.

The Gospel speaks to us of this kind of discipleship. It shows us the identity card of the Christian. Our calling card, our credentials.

Jesus calls his disciples and sends them out, giving them clear and precise instructions. He challenges them to take on a whole range of attitudes and ways of acting. Sometimes these can strike us as exaggerated or even absurd. It would be easier to interpret these attitudes symbolically or “spiritually”. But Jesus is quite precise, very clear. He doesn’t tell them simply to do whatever they think they can.

Let us think about some of these attitudes: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money...” “When you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” (cf. Mk 6:8-11). All this might seem quite unrealistic.

We could concentrate on the words, “bread”, “money”, “bag”, “staff”, “sandals” and “tunic”. And this would be fine. But it strikes me that one key word can easily pass unnoticed among the challenging words I have just listed. It is a word at the heart of Christian spirituality, of our experience of discipleship: “welcome”. Jesus as the good master, the good teacher, sends them out to be welcomed, to experience hospitality. He says to them: “Where you enter a house, stay there”. He sends them out to learn one of the hallmarks of the community of believers. We might say that a Christian is someone who has learned to welcome others, who has learned to show hospitality.

Jesus does not send them out as men of influence, landlords, officials armed with rules and regulations. Instead, he makes them see that the Christian journey is simply about changing hearts. One’s own heart first all, and then helping to transform the hearts of others. It is about learning to live differently, under a different law, with different rules. It is about turning from the path of selfishness, conflict, division and superiority, and taking instead the path of life, generosity and love. It is about passing from a mentality which domineers, stifles and manipulates to a mentality which welcomes, accepts and cares.

These are two contrasting mentalities, two ways of approaching our life and our mission.

How many times do we see mission in terms of plans and programs. How many times do we see evangelization as involving any number of strategies, tactics, manoeuvres, techniques, as if we could convert people on the basis of our own arguments. Today the Lord says to us quite clearly: in the mentality of the Gospel, you do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by simply learning how to welcome them.

The Church is a mother with an open heart. She knows how to welcome and accept, especially those in need of greater care, those in greater difficulty. The Church, as desired by Jesus, is the home of hospitality. And how much good we can do, if only we try to speak this language of hospitality, this language of receiving and welcoming. How much pain can be soothed, how much despair can be allayed in a place where we feel at home! This requires open doors, especially the doors of our heart. Welcoming the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner (Mt 25:34-37), the leper and the paralytic. Welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it. And sometimes, we are to blame. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, of which our earth is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners, because each one of us is also a sinner.

So often we forget that there is an evil underlying our sins, that precedes our sins. There is a bitter root which causes damage, great damage, and silently destroys so many lives. There is an evil which, bit by bit, finds a place in our hearts and eats away at our life: it is isolation. Isolation which can have many roots, many causes. How much it destroys our life and how much harm it does us. It makes us turn our back on others, God, the community. It makes us closed in on ourselves. From here we see that the real work of the Church, our mother, should not be mainly about managing works and projects, but rather about learning to experience fraternity with others. A welcome-filled fraternity is the best witness that God is our Father, for “by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

In this way, Jesus teaches us a new way of thinking. He opens before us a horizon brimming with life, beauty, truth and fulfilment.

God never closes off horizons; he is never unconcerned about the lives and sufferings of his children. God never allows himself to be outdone in generosity. So he sends us his Son, he gives him to us, he hands him over, he shares him... so that we can learn the way of fraternity, of self-giving. In a definitive way, he opens up a new horizon; he is a new word which sheds light on so many situations of exclusion, disintegration, loneliness and isolation. He is a word which breaks the silence of loneliness.

And when we are weary or worn down by our efforts to evangelize, it is good to remember that the life which Jesus holds out to us responds to the deepest needs of people. “We were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters” (Evangelii Gaudium, 265).

On thing is sure: we cannot force anyone to receive us, to welcome us; this is itself part of our poverty and freedom. But neither can anyone force us not to be welcoming, hospitable in the lives of our people. No one can tell us not to accept and embrace the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who have lost hope and zest for life. How good it would be to think of our parishes, communities, chapels, wherever there are Christians, with open doors, true centres of encounter between ourselves and God.

The Church is a mother, like Mary. In her, we have a model. We too must provide a home, like Mary, who did not lord it over the word of God, but rather welcomed that word, bore it in her womb and gave it to others.

We too must provide a home, like the earth, which does not choke the seed, but receives it, nourishes it and makes it grow.

That is how we want to be Christians, that is how we want to live the faith on this Paraguayan soil, like Mary, accepting and welcoming God’s life in our brothers and sisters, in confidence and with the certainty that “the Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase”. May it be so.




Pope Francis   07.2.19    Holy Mass  Santa Marta    Mark 6: 7-13
Pope Francis 07.02.19 Mass at Santa Marta

The Gospel tells of how Jesus sends his disciples into the world to bring healing, just as He Himself came into the world to heal. To heal the root of sin in us, the original sin.
Healing is a bit like creating from anew. Jesus recreated us from the root and then allowed us to move forward with his teaching, with his doctrine, a doctrine that heals.

But, the first requisite is that there be conversion. Conversion is the first step of healing in the sense that it opens the heart so that the Word of God may enter.

If someone is sick and refuses to go to the doctor he will not be healed.

As Christians, we may do many good things, but if our hearts our closed, it’s only a façade.

In order to proclaim so that people may convert, one requires authority that comes from being like Jesus.

In the Gospel Jesus instructs the Apostles to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. In essence, poverty.

The apostle must be a pastor who does not seek sheep's milk, who does not seek sheep's wool.  As expressed by Saint Augustine the shepherd who seeks milk seeks money, and the shepherd who seeks wool likes to dress with vanity.

I invite Christians to follow a path of poverty,
humility, meekness. Jesus told the Apostles “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet”, but do so with meekness and humility.

If an
apostle, an envoy, one of us goes, with his nose in the air, believing himself superior to the others or because of self-interest looking for some human interest
he will never heal anyone, he will never succeed in opening anyone's heart, because his word will have no authority.

After having exhorted to conversion, the Twelve drove out many demons and they could do so because they had the authority to say “This is a demon! This is a sin.”
This authority is not the authority of someone who speaks down to people, but of someone who is interested in people. Demons flee before humility, before the power of Christ’s name with which the apostle carries out his mission, because demons cannot bear that sins be healed.

The Apostles also anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. The anointing is the caress of God, so all apostles must learn this wisdom of God’s caresses.

All Christians can bring healing, not only priests and bishops: “each of us has the power to heal his brother or sister.”

We all need to be healed, and we can all heal others if we are humble and meek: with a good word, with patience, with a glance.
  

 Chapter 6

14-29

 
Pope Francis    08.02.19      Holy Mass, Santa Marta         Mark 6: 14-29
Pope Francis 08.02.19 at Holy Mass Santa Marta

John knew he had to diminish and annihilate himself to the point of death because Jesus must grow. The forerunner of Christ denied he was the Messiah but showed Jesus to His disciples and gradually faded away until he was extinguished and beheaded in the dark and lonely cell of the prison.

Martyrdom is a service and mystery which entails the very great gift of life. He met a violent end because of human attitudes that lead to taking away the life of a Christian, of an honest person and make him a martyr.
At first, Herod believed John was a prophet, listened to him willingly and protected him to a certain extent but held him in prison. He was undecided because John reproached him for the sin of adultery.

The king heard God’s voice asking him to change his life but he could not because he was
corrupt, and it is very difficult to get out of corruption. Herod could not come out of the tangle as he tried to make diplomatic balances between his adulterous life and many injustices and the awareness of the holiness of the prophet whom he decapitated.
The Gospel says that Herodias
hated John because he spoke clearly. Hatred is “Satan’s breath”, it is very powerful, capable of doing everything excepting loving. The devil’s 'love' is hatred and Herodias had the satanic spirit of hatred that destroys.

The daughter of Herodias was a good dancer and a delight to the diners and Herod who promised the girl everything she asked, just like Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.

Behind these characters there was Satan, who sowed hatred in the woman,
vanity in the girl and corruption in the king.

The precursor of Christ, the greatest man born of a woman, as Jesus described him, ended up alone, in a dark prison cell, the victim of the whim of a vain dancer, the hatred of a diabolical woman and the corruption of a vacillating king. John is a martyr who allowed himself to diminish in order to give way to the Messiah.

John died in the cell, in anonymity, like so many of our martyrs. This is a great witness, of a great man, of a great saint.

Life has value only in giving it, in giving it in love, in truth, in giving it to others, in daily life, in the family.

If someone preserves life for himself, guards it like the king in h
is corruption or the woman with her hatred, or the daughter with her vanity, a little like an adolescent, unknowingly, life dies and withers, becoming useless.

Let us all to think about the 4 characters in the Gospel and  open our hearts so that the Lord may speak to us about this.
  

 Chapter 6

30-34

 
Pope Francis 22.07.18    Angelus, St Peter's Square       Mark 6: 30-34

Pope Francis  22.07.18  Compassion
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel passage (Mk 6:30-34) tells us that after their first mission, the Apostles returned to Jesus and told him “all that they had done and taught” (v. 30). After the experience of the mission, which was undoubtedly thrilling but also arduous, they needed to rest. And understanding this well, Jesus wished to give them some relief and said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest for a while” (v. 31). But Jesus’ intention could not be fulfilled this time because the crowd, guessing the location of the lonely place where he would take the disciples by boat, ran there and got there ahead of them.

The same can happen today. At times we are not able to complete our projects because something urgent and unexpected occurs, disrupting our plans and [this] requires flexibility and being available to the needs of others.

In these situations, we are called to imitate what Jesus did: “As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (v. 34). With this brief sentence, the Evangelist offers us a flash of singular intensity, taking a snapshot of the eyes of the divine Master and his teaching. Let us observe the three verbs in this frame: to see, to have compassion, to teach. We can call them the Shepherd’s verbs. The gaze of Jesus is not a neutral one — or worse, a cold and detached one because Jesus always looks with the eyes of the heart. And his heart is so tender and filled with compassion, that he is able to understand even the most hidden needs of people. Moreover, his compassion does not simply suggest an emotional response toward people in situations of distress. It is much more. It is God’s attitude and predisposition toward mankind and its history. Jesus appears as the fulfilment of God’s concern and care for his people.

Because Jesus was moved when he saw all those people in need of guidance and help, we would now expect him to perform some miracles. Instead, he began teaching them many things. This is the first bread that the Messiah offers to the starving and lost crowd; the bread of the Word. We all need the Word of truth to guide and illuminate our way. Without the truth which is Christ himself, it is not possible to find the right direction in life. When we distance ourselves from Jesus and his love, we become lost and life is transformed into disappointment and dissatisfaction. With Jesus by our side, we can proceed with confidence and overcome all trials, advancing in love toward God and neighbour. Jesus gave himself for others, thus becoming an example of love and service for each of us.

May Mary Most Holy help us to bear the problems, suffering and difficulties of our neighbours with an attitude of sharing and service.
  

 Chapter 6

30-37

 
Pope Francis            05.10.19  Creation of New Cardinals,  Vatican Basilica             Mark 6: 30-37
Pope Francis 05.10.19

At the heart of the Gospel we have just heard (Mk 6:30-37) is the “compassion” of Jesus (cf. v. 34). Compassion is a key word in the Gospel. It is written in Christ’s heart; it is forever written in the heart of God.

In the Gospels, we often see Jesus’
compassion for those who are suffering. The more we read, the more we contemplate, the more we come to realize that the Lord’s compassion is not an occasional, sporadic emotion, but is steadfast and indeed seems to be the attitude of his heart, in which God’s mercy is made incarnate.

Mark, for example, tells us that when Jesus first passed through Galilee preaching and casting out demons, “a leper came to him begging him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean’. Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’” (1:40-42). In this gesture and with these words, we see the mission of Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind. He is a compassionate Redeemer. He incarnates God’s will to purify men and women afflicted by the scourge of sin; he is “the outstretched hand of God”, who touches our sickly flesh and accomplishes this work by bridging the chasm of separation.

Jesus goes out in search of the outcast, those without hope. People like the man paralyzed for thirty-eight years who lay beside the pool of Bethzatha, waiting in vain for someone to bring him to the waters (cf. Jn 5:1-9).

This compassion did not appear suddenly at one moment in the history of salvation. No, it was always there in God, impressed on his paternal heart. Let us think about the account of the calling of Moses, for example, when God spoke from the burning bush and said: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry… indeed, I know their sufferings” (Ex 3:7). This is the compassion of the Father!

God’s love for his people is drenched with compassion, to the extent that, in this covenant relationship, what is divine is compassionate, while, sad to say, it appears that what is human is so often lacking in compassion. God himself says so: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? ... My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender… For I am God and no mortal, the holy one in your midst, and I will not come in wrath” (Hos 11:8-9).

Jesus’ disciples often show themselves lacking compassion, as in this case, when they are faced with the problem of having to feed the crowds. In effect, they say: “Let them worry about it themselves…” This is a common attitude among us human beings, even those of us who are religious persons or even religious “professionals”. We wash our hands of it. The position we occupy is not enough to make us compassionate, as we see in the conduct of the priest and Levite who, seeing a dying man on the side of the road, pass to the other side (cf. Lk 10:31-32). They would have thought: “It’s not up to me”. There are always excuses and justifications for looking the other way. And when a man of the Church becomes a mere functionary, the result is even more sour. There are always justifications; at times they are even codified and give rise to “institutional disregard”, as was the case with lepers: “Of course, they have to keep their distance; that is the right thing to do”. That was the way of thinking and it still is. This all too human attitude also generates structures lacking compassion.

At this point we can ask ourselves: are we conscious – we, in the first place – of having been the object of God’s compassion? In a particular way, I ask this of you, brother cardinals and those about to become cardinals: do you have a lively awareness of always having been preceded and accompanied by his mercy? This awareness was always present in the immaculate heart of the Virgin Mary, who praises God as her “Saviour”, for he “looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant” (Lk 1:48).

I find it helpful to see myself reflected in the passage of Ezekiel 16 that speaks of God’s love for Jerusalem. It concludes with the words: “I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done” (Ezek 16:62-63). Or again, in that other prophecy of Hosea: “I will bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her… There shall she respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt (2:14-15). We can ask ourselves: Do I feel God’s compassion towards me? Do I sense in me the conviction of being a son of compassion?

Do we have a lively awareness of this compassion that God feels for us? It is not something optional, or a kind of “evangelical counsel”. No, it is essential. Unless I feel that I am the object of God’s compassion, I cannot understand his love. This is not a reality that can be explained. Either I feel it or I don’t. If I don’t feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others? Perhaps, I am not able to do this. Concretely: am I compassionate towards this or that brother or sister, that bishop, that priest? … Or do I constantly tear them down by my attitude of condemnation, of indifference, of looking the other way and actually washing my hands of it?

On this lively awareness also depends, for all of us, the ability to be loyal in our own ministry. This also holds true for you, brother cardinals. The word “compassion” came to my mind right from the moment I started writing my letter to you of 1 September. The readiness of a cardinal to shed his own blood – as signified by the scarlet colour of your robes – is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn. Otherwise, one cannot be loyal. So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one’s gaze, the habit of indifference. Today, let us implore, through the intercession of the apostle Peter, the grace to have a compassionate heart, in order to be witnesses of the One who loved and still loves us and who has looked with favour upon us, who chose us, consecrated us and sent us to bring to everyone his Gospel of salvation.  
  

 Chapter 6

34-44

 

In these days the key word in the liturgy is ‘manifestation’: the Son of God manifests Himself in the Feast of the Epiphany, to the Gentiles; in Baptism, when the Holy Spirit descends upon Him; in the wedding at Cana, when he performs the miracle of changing water into wine. Indeed, these are the three signs that the liturgy brings in these days in order to speak to us about the manifestation of God: God makes Himself known. But the question is this: how can we know God? (1 Jn 4:7-10) The theme that the Apostle John takes up in the First Reading: knowledge of God. What does it mean to know God? How can one know God?

A first reply would be: one can know God through reason. But really, can I know God through reason? Somewhat, yes. Indeed, through my intellect, reasoning, looking at worldly things, one can begin to understand that there is a God and the existence of God can be understood in some of God’s personality traits. However, this is insufficient for knowing God, in so far as God is known totally in the encounter with Him, and reason alone does not suffice for the encounter, something more is needed: reason helps you to reach a certain point, then He accompanies you onward.

In his letter, John clearly states what God is: God is
love. For this reason, only on the path of love can you know God. Of course, reasonable love, accompanied by reason, but love. Perhaps one could ask at this point how can I love whom I don’t know?. The answer is clear: “Love those whom you have near”. In fact, this is the doctrine of two commandments: the most important one is to love God, for He is love. The second is to love your neighbour, but to get to the first, we have to climb the steps of the second. In a word, through love of our neighbour, we come to know God, who is love and only by loving reasonably, but by loving, we can reach this love.

John wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God”. But, you cannot love if God doesn’t give the love, doesn’t generate this love for you because he who loves knows God. On the contrary, St John writes, “he who does not love does not know God; for God is love”. This is not “soap opera love”, but rather sound, strong love, an eternal love that manifests itself — these days the word is ‘manifest’ — in his Son who has come to save us. It is, therefore, a concrete love, a love of works and not of
words. It is here, then, that it takes a lifetime to know God: a journey, a journey of love, of knowledge, of love for our neighbour, of love for those who hate us, of love for all.

Jesus himself gave us the example of love. And, indeed, in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us first and sent his Son to be the victim of expiation for our sins. This is why we are able to contemplate the love of God in the person of Jesus. And by doing what Jesus taught us about love for our neighbour, we reach — step by step — the love of God, knowledge of God who is love.

The Apostle John, in his letter, goes a little ahead when he states that in this is love and not that we loved God, but that He loved us first: God precedes us in love. In fact, when I meet God in prayer, I feel that God loved me before I began to seek Him. Yes, He is always first, He waits for us, He calls us. And when we arrive, He is there!

(Jer 1:11-12) How beautiful were God’s words to Jeremiah: ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ — ‘a rod of almond, Lord’ — ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it’. The flower of the almond tree is the first to blossom in spring, the first. This signifies that the Lord is there, watching over, and He is always the first, like the almond tree, He loves us first. And we, too, will always have this surprise: when we draw near to God through
works of charity, through prayer, in Communion, in the Word of God, we find that He is there, first, waiting for us, this is how He loves us. And just like the flower of the almond tree, He is the first. Truly, that verse from Jeremiah tells us so much.

A similar proposal can be gleaned from the episode presented in today’s Reading from the Gospel according to Mark (6:34-44), which first says that Jesus had compassion on the crowd of people, it is the love of Jesus: He saw a large crowd, like sheep without a shepherd, confused. But today as well, there are so many confused people in our cities, in our countries: so many people.

When Jesus saw these confused people He was moved: He began to teach them the doctrine, the matters of God and the people heard Him, listened to Him very closely because the Lord was good at speaking, He spoke to the heart.

Then, Mark recounts in his Gospel that, realizing that those 5,000 people hadn’t eaten, Jesus asks his disciples to see to it. Thus, Christ is first to go meet with the people. Perhaps on their part, the disciples got somewhat upset, felt annoyed, and their response was harsh: ‘shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?’. Thus, God’s love was first; the disciples hadn’t understood. But God’s love is really like this: He is always waiting for us, He always surprises us. It is the Father, our Father who loves us so much, who is always ready to forgive us, always. And not once, but 70 times seven. Always!. Indeed, like a Father full of love. Therefore, in order to know this God who is love, we must climb the steps of love for our neighbour, by works of charity, by the
acts of mercy that our Lord has taught us.

Lord, in these days in which the Church makes us ponder the manifestation of God, grant us the grace to know Him on the path of love.



The Apostle John, continues to speak to the early Christians about the two commandments that Jesus taught us: to love God and love our neighbour. In the passage from the First Letter of John proposed in the day’s Liturgy (4:7-10), we read: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God”. This word, ‘love’, is a word that is often used but, when you use it, you don’t know exactly what it means. What then, is love? Sometimes, we think of the love in soap operas: no, that doesn’t seem like love. Or love might seem like enthusiasm for a person, which then burns out.

The real question then, is: “where does true love come from?”. John writes: “he who loves is born of God”, for “God is love”. The Apostle does not say: “all love is God”. He says instead: “God is love”. John continues, saying that “God loved us so much that he ‘sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him’”. Thus, God gives his life in Jesus, in order to give us life. Love is beautiful, to love is beautiful, and in heaven there will be only love, charity. So says Paul. And if love is beautiful, one is always strengthened and grows in the gift of one’s own life: one grows by giving of oneself to others.

John 4: 10 - “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us”. This confirms that God loved us first; he gave us life out of love, he gave life and his Son out of love. Therefore, when we find God, there is always a surprise: it is first he who waits for us; it is he who finds us.

Mark (6:34-44). Those people followed him to listen to him, because he spoke like one with authority, not like the scribes. He looked at those people and went further. Precisely because he loved, the Gospel says, ‘he had compassion on them’, which is not the same as having pity. The correct word is compassion: love led him to suffer with them, to be involved in the people’s life. And, the Lord is always there, loving first: he is waiting for us, he is the surprise.

This is precisely what happens, to Andrew when he goes to Peter to tell him: ‘We have found the Messiah, come!’. Peter goes, and Jesus looks at him and says to him: ‘Are you Simon? You shall be Peter’. He was waiting for him with a mission. [Jesus] loved him first.

The same happens when Zacchaeus, who was small, climbs the tree to better see Jesus, who passes by, lifts his eyes and says: ‘Zacchaeus, come down, I want to go to supper at your house’. Zacchaeus, who wanted to meet Jesus, realizes that Jesus had been waiting for him.

Nathanael who, a bit skeptical, goes to see the one whom they say is the Messiah. Jesus says to him: “when you were under the fig tree, I saw you”. So, God always loves first. The idea is also recalled in the parable of the Prodigal Son: when the son — who had spent all of his father’s inheritance on vices — returned home, he realized that his father had been waiting for him. God is always waiting for us first. Before us, always. And when the other son didn’t want to come to the feast, because he did not understand his father’s attitude, his father went to find him. And God is this way with us: he loves us first, always.

Thus, we can see in the Gospel how God loves: when we have something in our heart and we want to ask the Lord’s forgiveness, it is he who is waiting for us, to grant forgiveness.

This Year of Mercy, is also in part so that we may know that the Lord is awaiting us, each of us. He is waiting to embrace us, nothing more, in order to say: ‘Son, daughter, I love you. I let my Son be crucified for you; this is the value of my love; this is the gift of love’.

The Lord is waiting for me, the Lord wants me to open the door of my heart, because he is there waiting to enter. It is unconditional.

Of course, someone might say: “Father, no, no, I would like to, but I have so many ugly things inside!”. It is better! Better! Because he is waiting for you, just as you are, not as they tell you that one should be. You should be as you are. This is how he loves you, he embraces you, kisses you, forgives you.

Go with haste to the Lord and say: “Lord, you know that I love you”. Or if I don’t feel like it, to say this: ‘Lord, you know that I would like to love you, but I am such a sinful man, such a sinful woman”. Do so with the certainty that he will do as the father did with the Prodigal Son who spent all his money on vices. I will not let you finish your speech, I will silence you with an embrace: the embrace of
God’s love.


Pope Francis      08.01.19  Holy Mass,  Santa Marta    1 John 4: 7-10    Mark 6: 34-44 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2019-01/pope-francis-mass-indifference-opposed-to-love.html

The Apostle John explains how God manifests His love in us. "Let us love one another, because love is of God,” John writes.

This is the mystery of love: “God loved us first. He took the first step.” God loved us even though we don’t know how to love and need God’s caresses in order to love.

This first step God takes is His Son. He sent Him to save us and to give meaning to our lives and to renew and recreate us.
Jesus fed the crowd out of
compassion.

God’s heart, Jesus’ heart, was moved when he saw these people, and he could not remain indifferent. Love is restless. Love does not tolerate indifference; love is compassionate. But love means putting your heart on the line for others; it means showing mercy.

Jesus taught them and the people many things, but they grew bored, because Jesus always said the same things.

As Jesus teaches with love and compassion, maybe they began to talk amongst themselves. They start to check their watches, saying “It’s getting late.”

Mark 6: “But Master, this is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” They basically wanted the people to work it out themselves. But we can be sure that they surely had enough bread for themselves, and they wanted to keep it. This is
indifference.

The disciples were not interested in the people. Jesus was interested, because he cared for them. They weren’t evil, just indifferent. They didn’t know what it meant to love. They didn’t know how to show compassion. They
didn’t know what indifference was. They had to sin, betray the Master, and abandon him in order to understand the core of compassion and mercy. And Jesus’ response cuts deep: ‘Give them some food yourselves.’ Take their plight upon yourselves. This is the struggle between the compassion of Jesus and indifference, which is always repeated throughout history. Many people who are good, but don’t understand the needs of others, are incapable of compassion. They are good people, maybe because the love of God has not entered into their heart or they have not let it enter.

There is a photo hung on the wall of the Office of Papal Charities. It was a picture taken by a local man who offered it to the Papal Almoner. Daniel Garofani, now a photographer for the Osservatore Romano, took the photo after distributing food with Cardinal Krajewski to homeless people. It shows well-dressed people leaving a restaurant in Rome as a homeless woman lifts her hand to beg for alms. The picture was taken just as the people looked away, so that their gaze would not meet that of the homeless woman. This is the culture of indifference. That’s what the Apostles did.

God’s love always comes first and is compassionate and merciful. It is true that the opposite of love is hate, but that many people are not aware of a conscious hate.

The more-common opposite of the love of God – of God’s compassion – is indifference. ‘I’m satisfied; I lack nothing. I have everything. I’ve assured my place in this life and the next, since I go to Mass every Sunday. I’m a good Christian. But leaving the restaurant, I look the other way.’ Let’s reflect on this: Confronted with God who takes the first step, is compassionate, and is merciful, many times our attitude is indifference. Let us pray to the Lord that He heal humanity, starting with us. May my heart be healed from the sickness of the culture of indifference.
  

  Chapter 6

45-52

 
Pope Francis       09.01.14    Holy Mass   Santa Marta          1 John 4: 11-18       Mark 6: 45-52
 
The Apostle John tells us many times that we should abide in the Lord. And he also tells us that the Lord abides in us. Essentially, St John sums up the Christian life as an abiding, as a mutual indwelling we in God and God in us. Do not abide in the spirit of the world, do not abide in superficiality, do not abide in idolatry, do not abide in vanity. No, abide in the Lord! And the Lord reciprocates this so that he remains in us. Indeed, he first remains in us even though many times we turn him away. Yet if we do, we cannot remain in him.
He who abides in love abides in God and God in him, St John writes further on. In practice, the Apostle tells us how this abiding is the same as abiding in love. And that it is beautiful to hear this said about love. Yet that the love of which John speaks is not the love of which soap operas are made! No, it is something else!.
In fact, Christian love always possesses one quality: concreteness. Christian love is concrete. Jesus himself, when he speaks of love, tells us concrete things: feed the hungry, visit the sick. They are all concrete things for indeed love is concrete.
When this concreteness is lacking we end up living a Christianity of illusions, for we do not understand the heart of Jesus message. Love that is not concrete becomes an illusory love. Mark (6:45-52), the disciples had this sort of love when they looked at Jesus and believed they were seeing a ghost and an illusory love that is not concrete does not do us good.
But when does this occur? The Gospel could not be clearer. When the disciples believed they are seeing a ghost, they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. And if your heart is hardened, you cannot love. You think that to love is to imagine things. No, love is concrete!.
There is a basic criteria for truly living in love. The criteria is to abide in the Lord and the Lord in us, and the criteria of Christian concreteness is the same, always: The Word came in the flesh. The criteria is the Incarnation of the Word, God made Man and Christianity without this foundation is not true Christianity. The key to Christian life is faith in Jesus Christ, the Word of God made Man.
Concrete love criteria. The first is that love is found more in deeds than words. Jesus himself said: it is not those who call me Lord, Lord, who talk much, who shall enter the Kingdom of heaven; but those who do the will of God. The invitation set before us, then, is to be concrete by doing the deeds of God.
There is a question we must each ask ourselves: If I abide in in Jesus, if I abide in the Lord, if I abide in love, what do I do for God not what do I think or what do I say and what do I do for others? Therefore, the first criteria is to love with deeds, not with words. The wind carries away our words: today they are here and tomorrow they are gone.
The second criteria for concreteness is that in love it is more important to give than to receive. The person who loves, gives, gives things, gives life, gives himself to God and to others. Instead, the person who does not love and who is selfish always seeks to receive. He seeks always to have things, to have the advantage. Hence the spiritual counsel to abide with an open heart, and not like the disciples whose hearts were closed and who therefore did not understand. It is a matter of abiding in God and of God abiding in us. It is a matter of abiding in love.
The sole criteria of abiding in our faith in Jesus Christ the Word of God made flesh is the very mystery that we celebrate in this season. The two practical consequences of this Christian concreteness, of this criteria, are that love is found more in deeds than words, and that in love it is more important to give than to receive.
As we gaze on the Child in these final three days of the Christmas Season, let us renew our faith in Jesus Christ, who is true God and true Man. And let us ask for the grace to be granted this concreteness of Christian love so that we might always abide in love and that he might abide in us.

  

 Chapter 6

53-56

 
Pope Francis             06.02.17   Holy Mass  Santa Marta           Genesis 1: 1-19,          Psalm 104: 1-2A, 5,6,10,12,24,35C,         Mark 6: 53-56 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/creation/06.02.17.png

In Psalm 104, “we praised the Lord”, saying: “You are very great, O Lord, my God! You are great indeed!”. This Psalm, is a song of praise: we praise the Lord for the things we heard in both readings, for creation, so great; and in the second reading, for the re-creation, the even more wondrous creation that Jesus makes. The Father labours and thus, Jesus says: ‘My Father labours and I too labour”. It is a way of saying ‘labour’, ad instar laborantis, as one who labours, as Saint Ignatius defines in the Exercises (cf. Spiritual Exercises, n. 236).

In this way, the Father labours to make this wonder of creation, and with the Son to make this wonder of re-creation; to make that passing from chaos to cosmos, from disorder to order, from sin to grace. And, this is the Father’s labour and for this reason we praised the Father, the Father who labours.

But, “why did God want to create the world?”. This is one of the difficult questions. Once, a boy put me in difficulty because he asked me this question: ‘tell me, Father, what did God do before he created the world;  was he bored?”. Surely, children know how to ask questions, and they ask the right questions that put you in difficulty.

To answer that child, the Lord helped me and I told the truth: God loved; in his fullness, he loved, among the three Persons, he loved and needed nothing more. The answer, gave rise to another question: if God “needed nothing more, why did he create the world? This is a question,not posed in a childlike manner but as the first theologians did, the great theologians, the first. Thus, why did God “create the world?”. The response to give is this: “Simply to share his fullness, to have someone whom to give and with whom to share his fullness”. In a word, “to give”.

We can ask “the same question, in regard to re-creation: “why did he send his Son for this work of re-creation?”. He did so “in order to share, to re-organize”. And in the first creation, as in the second, he makes out of chaos a cosmos, out of ugliness something beautiful, out of a mistake a truth, out of bad something good. This is precisely the labour of creation that is God, and one he does by hand. And,in Jesus we clearly see: with his body he gives life completely. Thus, “when Jesus says: ‘The Father labours always, and I too labour always ’, the doctors of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him because they did not know how to receive the things of God as a gift, but “only as justice”; and so they even came to think: the commandments are few: let’s make more!

Thus,instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid; they sought refuge in the rigidity of the commandments, which they had increased up to 500 or more: they did not know how to receive the gift. The gift, is only received with freedom, but these rigid men were afraid of God-given freedom; they were afraid of love. For this reason, they wanted to kill Jesus, because He said the Father had done this wonder as a gift: receive the gift of the Father!

You are great, Lord, I love you, because you have given me this gift, you have saved me, you created me: this, is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the cheerfulness of Christian life. It is not that closed, sad prayer of people who are never able to receive a gift because they are afraid of the freedom that a gift always brings. Thus, in the end, they know only duty, but a closed duty: slaves to duty, but not to love. But, when you become a slave to love you are free: it is a beautiful slavery, but they did not understand this.

Therefore, these are the two wonders of the Lord: the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, of re-creation; that of the beginning of the world and that, after the fall of man, of restoring the world and this is why he sent the Son: it is beautiful. Of course, we can ask ourselves how I receive these wonders, how I receive this creation God has given me as a gift. And, if I receive it as a gift, I love creation, I safeguard creation because it was a gift.

In this light, we should ask ourselves: how I receive redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, making me a son or daughter with his Son, with love, with tenderness, with freedom. We must never hide in the rigidity of closed commandments that are always, always more ‘certain’ — in quotation marks — but which give you no joy because they do not make you free. Each one of us, can ask ourselves how we can live these two wonders: the wonder of creation and the even greater wonder of re-creation. We must do so with the hope that the Lord will help us understand this great thing and help us understand what he did before creating the world: he loved. May he help us understand his love for us and may we say — as we have said today — ‘You are very great, O Lord. Thank you, thank you!’”. And let us go forth in this way.

  

 Chapter 7

24-30

 
Pope Francis          13.02.14   Holy Mass  Santa  Marta         1 Kings 11: 4-13,          Mark 7: 24-30
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/pagan-worship/13.02.14.png

Today the Church invites us to reflect on the journey from paganism and idolatry to the living God, and also on the journey from the living God to idolatry.

The Gospel tells us that, in turning to Jesus, the woman is “brave”, like any “desperate mother” who would do anything “for the health of their child”. “She had been told that there was a good man, a prophet, and so she went to look for Jesus, even though she “did not believe in the God of Israel”. For the sake of her daughter “she was not ashamed of how she might look before the Apostles”, who might say amongst themselves “what is this pagan doing here?”. She approached Jesus to beg him to help her daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. But Jesus responds to her request saying “I came first for the sheep of the house of Israel”. He “speaks with harsh words”, saying: “Let the children help themselves first, because it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs”.

The woman — who certainly had never attended university — did not respond to Jesus with intelligence, but instead with a mother's gut, with love. She said: “Even the dogs under the table will eat the children’s crumbs”, as if to say: “Give these crumbs to me!”. Moved by her
faith, “the Lord worked a miracle”. She returned home, found her daughter lying on her bed, and the demon was gone.

Essentially, it is the story of a mother who risked making a fool of herself, but still insisted out of love for her daughter. She left “paganism and idolatry, and found health for her daughter” and, for herself she “found the living God”. Hers is “the way of a person of good will, who
seeks God and finds him”. For her faith, “the Lord blesses her”. This is also the story of so many people who still “make this journey”. “The Lord waits for” these people, who are moved by the Holy Spirit. “There are people who make this journey every day in the Church of God, silently seeking the Lord”, because they “let themselves be carried forward by the Holy Spirit”.

However, there is also “the opposite path”, which is represented by the figure of Solomon, “the wisest man on earth, who had received many great blessings; he had inherited a united country, the union that his father David had made”. King Solomon had “universal fame”, he had “complete power”. He was also “a believer in God”. So why did he
lose his faith? The answer lies in the biblical passage: “His women made him divert his heart to follow other gods, and his heart did not remain with the Lord, his God, as the heart of David his father did”. 

Solomon liked women. He had many concubines and would travel with them here and there: each with her own god, her own idol. “These women slowly weakened Solomon’s heart”. He, therefore, “lost the integrity” of the faith. When one woman would ask him for a small temple for “her god”, he would build it on a mountain. And when another woman would ask him for incense to burn for an idol, he would buy it. In doing so “his heart was weakened and he lost his faith”.

"The wisest man in the world” lost his faith this way. Solomon allowed himself to become corrupt because of an indiscreet love, without discretion, because of his passions. Yet, you might say: “But Father, Solomon did not lose his faith, he still believed in God, he could recite the Bible” from memory. Having faith does not mean being able to recite the Creed: you can still recite the Creed after having lost your faith!.

Solomon, was a sinner in the beginning like his father David. But then he continued living as a sinner and became corrupt: his heart was corrupted by idolatry. His father David was a sinner, but the Lord had forgiven all of his sins because he was humble and asked for forgiveness. Instead, Solomon’s “vanity and passions led” him to “corruption”. For, the Pope explained, “the heart is precisely the place where you can lose your faith”.

The king, therefore, takes the opposite path than that of the Syro-Phoenician woman: "she leaves the idolatry of paganism and comes to find the living God”, while Solomon instead “left the living God and finds idolatry": what a poor man! She was a sinner, sure, just as we all are. But he was corrupt.

I hope that “no evil seed will grow” in the human heart. It was the seed of evil passions, growing in Solomon’s heart that led him to idolatry. To prevent this seed from developing: “Receive with meekness the Word that has been planted in you and it can lead you to salvation”. With this knowledge, we follow the path of the Canaanite woman, the pagan woman, accepting the Word of God, which was planted in us and will lead us to salvation. The Word of God is powerful, and it will safeguard us on the path and prevent us from the destruction of corruption and all that leads to idolatry.
  

 Chapter 8
14 - 21
 
Pope Francis   18.02.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae         Mark 8: 14-21
Tuesday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time   - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Hard Hearts and Compassion 18.02.20

There is a lack of bread for the disciples who boarded the boat with Jesus and in them there is concern about the management of something material: "They discussed among themselves - says the Gospel of Mark today ( Mark 8:14-21) - because they had no bread." Jesus, aware of this, warned them: "Why do you argue that you have no bread? Don't you still understand and don't understand? Do you have a hardened heart? You have eyes and you don't see, you have ears and you don't hear? And don't you remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets you took away?"

Compassion is what the Lord wants in us: "Mercy I want, not sacrifice." A heart without compassion is an idolatrous heart. It is a self-sufficient heart which goes on sustained by its own selfishness, becoming strong only with ideologies.

Let us think about the four ideological groups of Jesus’ time – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots. Four groups that had hardened their hearts to carry out a project that was not God's; there was no place for God's plan, there was no place for compassion. 

However, against this hardheartedness there is a medicine, and it is memory. This is why in today’s Gospel and in many other Scripture passages, there echoes the need for the salvific power of memory, a grace to be asked for because it keeps the heart open and faithful.

When the heart becomes hardened, when the heart hardens, it forgets... One forgets the grace of salvation, one forgets gratuitousness. The hard heart leads to quarrels, it leads to wars, it leads to selfishness, it leads to the destruction of the brother, because there is no compassion. And the greatest message of salvation is that God has had compassion for us. That refrain of the gospel, when Jesus sees a person, a painful situation: He had compassion. Jesus is the compassion of the Father; Jesus is the slap to every hardness of heart.

Let us ask for the grace to have a heart that is not ideological and therefore hardened, but open and compassionate in the face of what is happening in the world because by this we will be judged on the day of judgment, not by our ideas or our ideologies. "I was hungry, you fed me; I've been in prison, you've come to see me; I was afflicted and you consoled me" is written in the Gospel and this is compassion, this is the non-hardness of heart. And humility, the memory of our roots and our salvation, will help us to preserve it.

Every one of us has something that has hardened within our hearts. Let us remember and let the Lord give us a righteous and sincere heart where the Lord lives.
The Lord cannot enter hard hearts; the Lord cannot enter ideological hearts. The Lord enters only the hearts that are like his heart: compassionate hearts, hearts that have compassion, open hearts. Let the Lord give us this grace.

  

 Chapter 9

2-10

 
Pope Francis    01.03.15       Angelus,  St Peter's Square       Mark 9: 2-10

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

Last Sunday the Liturgy presented Jesus tempted by Satan in the desert, but victorious over temptation. In the light of this Gospel, we are again made aware of our condition as sinners, but also of the victory over evil for those who undertake the journey of conversion and, like Jesus, want to do the Father’s will. In this second Sunday of Lent, the Church points out to us the end of this journey of conversion, namely participation in the glory of Christ, which shines on the face of the obedient Servant, who died and rose for us.

The Gospel page recounts the event of
the Transfiguration, which takes place at the height of Jesus’ public ministry. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the “Servant of God” and his redemptive sacrifice are to be fulfilled. The crowds did not understand this: presented with a Messiah who contrasted with their earthly expectations, they abandoned Him. They thought the Messiah would be the liberator from Roman domination, the emancipator of the homeland, and they do not like Jesus’ perspective and so they leave Him. Neither do the Apostles understand the words with which Jesus proclaims the outcome of his mission in the glorious passion, they do not understand! Jesus thus chooses to give to Peter, James and John a foretaste of his glory, which He will have after the Resurrection, in order to confirm them in faith and encourage them to follow Him on the trying path, on the Way of the Cross. Thus, on a high mountain, immersed in prayer, He is transfigured before them: his face and his entire person irradiate a blinding light. The three disciples are frightened, as a cloud envelops them and the Father’s voice sounds from above, as at the Baptism on the Jordan: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mk 9:7). Jesus is the Son-made-Servant, sent into the world to save us all through the Cross, fulfilling the plan of salvation. His full adherence to God’s will renders his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is love.

Jesus thus reveals Himself as the perfect icon of the Father, the radiance of his glory. He is the fulfillment of revelation; that is why beside Him appear transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear; they represent the Law and the Prophets, so as to signify that everything finishes and begins in Jesus, in his passion and in his glory.

Their instructions for the disciples and for us is this: “Listen to Him!”. Listen to Jesus. He is the Saviour: follow Him. To listen to Christ, in fact, entails taking up the logic of his Pascal Mystery, setting out on the journey with Him to make of oneself a gift of love to others, in docile obedience to the will of God, with an attitude of detachment from worldly things and of interior freedom. One must, in other words, be willing to “lose one’s very life” (cf. Mk 8:35), by giving it up so that all men might be saved: thus, we will meet in eternal happiness. The path to Jesus always leads us to happiness, don’t forget it! Jesus’ way always leads us to happiness. There will always be a cross, trials in the middle, but at the end we are always led to happiness. Jesus does not deceive us, He promised us happiness and will give it to us if we follow His ways.

With Peter, James and John we too climb the Mount of the Transfiguration today and stop in contemplation of the face of Jesus to retrieve the message and translate it into our lives; for we too can be transfigured by Love. In reality, love is capable of transfiguring everything. Love transfigures all! Do you believe this?

May the Virgin Mary, whom we now invoke with the prayer of the Angelus, sustain us on this journey.
  

 Chapter 9

14 - 19

 

“Why could we not cast it out? This kind of demon, Jesus says, cannot be driven out by anything but prayer”.

The father of the child “said: Lord I believe, help my unbelief”. His was “a strong prayer; and that prayer, humble and strong, moves Jesus to work the miracle. A prayer that calls for an extraordinary action must be a prayer that involves all of us, as though our very life depends on it. In prayer, you have to put yourself to the test”.

“Miracles happen. But they need prayer! A courageous prayer, that struggles for that miracle. Not like those prayers of courtesy: Ah, I will pray for you! Followed by one Our Father, a Hail Mary and then I forget. No! It takes a brave prayer like that of Abraham who was struggling with the Lord to save the city, like that of Moses who prayed, his hands held high when he grew weary...”.

Prayer works miracles, but we must believe it. I think that we can say a beautiful prayer, not a polite prayer, but a prayer from the heart, and tell him today throughout the whole day: Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.
  

 Chapter 9

30-37

 

The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him but after three days he will rise. Jesus, was speaking to his disciples of this reality, of what he had to do, of his service, of the passion. Nevertheless, they did not understand his words; they were in another world, they were debating among themselves - and the Lord knew it. It was such that when they arrived in Capernaum, “he asked them: what were you discussing on the way?” They, however, “were silent” out of shame. For on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.

“You think that the fight for
power in the Church is something of these days, eh? It started there, right beside Jesus”. Yet in the Church it should not be so, (Mt 20:25-26), Jesus explains the true meaning of power. "But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant."

When someone is given a higher position - in the world's eyes - we say, 'ah, that person has been promoted to.... Yes, that's a lovely phrase and we in the Church should use it, yes: this person was promoted to the cross; that person was promoted to humiliation. That is true promotion. It is what makes us more similar to Jesus.



Pope Francis   25.02.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae        James 4:1-10,     Mark 9:30-37
Tuesday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time   - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Love of the World 25.02.20

In today's Gospel (Mark 9:30-37) Jesus tells the twelve disciples “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all". If we make compromises while trying to live out the Gospel we will end up imbibing the spirit of the world, which leads to dominating others and is the enemy of God. On the contrary, Jesus calls us to the path of service.

Jesus knew that along the way the disciples, because of ambition, had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest. This quarrel by saying "I must go on, I must go up", is the spirit of the world. But today's First Reading of the Liturgy (James 4:1-10) also follows this aspect, when the Apostle James remembers that love for the world is the enemy of God.

This anxiety of worldliness, this concern to be more important than others, saying, “No! I deserve this, that person doesn’t deserve it”: this is worldliness, this is the spirit of the world, and those who breathe in this spirit, breathe in the enmity of God. Jesus, in another passage, says to the disciples, “Either you are with me or you are against me”. There are no compromises in the Gospel. And when someone wants to live the Gospel while making compromises, they ultimately find themselves with the worldly spirit, which always tries to make compromises in order to climb higher, to dominate, to be greater.

So many wars and so many quarrels come precisely from worldly desires, from passions. It’s true that there are many wars in the world today. But “What about the wars among ourselves, like the one among the Apostles about who is the most important?” "Look at the career I've had: I can't go back now!" This is the spirit of the world, and this is not Christian. “No! It’s my turn! I have to earn more to get more money and more power”. This is the spirit of the world. And then, there's the wickedness of chatter: gossip. Where does it come from? From envy. The great envious one is the devil, we know that, it says so in the Bible. From envy. Through the devil’s envy evil enters into the world. Envy is a worm that drives you to destroy, to bad-mouth others, to annihilate others.

In the discussion among the disciples, there were all these passions and so Jesus rebuked the them, and called them to become servants to all, and to take the last place.
Who is the most important in the Church? The Pope, the bishops, the monsignors, the cardinals, the pastors of the most beautiful parishes, the presidents of lay associations? No! The greatest in the Church are those who make themselves servants of all, those who serve everyone, not those who have titles. And to help us understand this, He took a child and placed him among them; and embracing him with tenderness – because Jesus spoke with tenderness, He had so much – He said to them: “Whoever receives a child, receives me”. That is, whoever welcomes the most humble, the one who serves the most. This is the way. There is only one road against the spirit of the world: humility. Serving others, choosing the last place, not climbing the ladder.

Therefore, we must not negotiate with the spirit of the world, we must not say: "I am entitled to this place, because, look at the career I have made". Worldliness, in fact, is God's enemy. On the contrary we need to listen to these very wise words of encouragement that Jesus speaks in the Gospel: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all”.



  

  Chapter 9

38 - 40

 
Pope Francis       22.05.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta     Mark 9: 38-40
  
Jesus reprimands them. ‘Do not prevent him, let him do
good’. The disciples, without thinking, were fixed on an idea: we alone can do good, because we alone possess the truth. And none of those who do not possess the truth can do good.

However this an erroneous attitude and Jesus corrected them. Is it licit “for us to ask ourselves who can do good and why? What do Jesus’ words ‘do not prevent him’ mean? What lies behind them?”. In this case “the disciples were somewhat intolerant”, but “Jesus broadened their horizons and we may imagine that he said: ‘if this person can do good, we can all do good. So can anyone who is not one of us’”.

“The Lord created us in his image”, and if “he does good, let all of us keep this commandment in our heart: do good and do not do evil. Everyone”.

The idea that we cannot all do good is a form of closedness, a barrier that leads us to war, and “to
killing in God’s name”. We cannot kill in God’s name. Indeed, even “saying that one can kill in God’s name is blasphemy”. The Lord redeemed everyone with Christ’s blood, “everyone, not only Catholics. Everyone”. And atheists? “They too. It is this blood that makes us children of God”.
  

 Chapter 9

41 - 50

 

Salt is something good... which the Lord created; but if the salt has lost its flavour, how shall its saltiness be restored?

This refers to the salt of
faith, hope and charity. The Lord gives us this salt. What can we do to prevent salt from losing its power? The savour of Christian salt comes from the certainty of the faith, hope and charity that springs from the awareness “that Jesus rose for us” and saved us. But this certainty was not given to us so that we might simply keep it. If that were so, the salt would end up being kept in a bottle: “it doesn't do anything, it doesn't serve any purpose”. On the contrary, the purpose of salt is to give things flavour.

But salt also has another trait: when “it is used well, one does not taste the flavour of salt”. Thus salt does not change the flavour of things; rather “the taste of every dish is noticed”. It is improved and it becomes more savoury. “And this is Christian originality: when we proclaim the faith with this salt, all those who receive it do so with their distinctive features, like different foods”.

Nevertheless, Christian originality is not uniform... it takes everyone for who he is.

In the service of people: give it, give it, give it!... Salt is not preserved only by giving it in preaching. It needs transcendence, prayer and adoration.
  

  Chapter 10

1-12

 
Pope Francis       25.05.18   Holy Mass   Santa Marta        Mark 10: 1-12      James 5: 9-12
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/marriage/25.05.18.jpg

The question posed by the Pharisees concerned marriage; they wanted to know if it was lawful for a husband to divorce his wife. But, Jesus goes beyond the simple question of lawfulness, going back to the “the beginning.” Jesus speaks about marriage as it is in itself, perhaps the greatest thing created by God in those seven days of Creation.

“From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus words in the Gospel are very strong. He speaks of “one flesh” which cannot be divided. Jesus lays aside the problem of separation, and goes to the beauty of the couple, who ought to be one.
We must not focus, like these doctors do, on [the answer] "Yes, you can" divide a marriage, or "No, you can’t." At times there is misfortune, when it doesn't work, and it is better to separate in order to avoid a world war. But this is a misfortune. Let us go and look at the positive.

I met a couple who were celebrating 60 years of marriage and asked them, “Are you happy?” They looked at one another, and with tears in their eyes, answered, “We are in love!”

It’s true that there are difficulties, there are problems with children or with the couple themselves, arguments and fights… but the important thing is that the flesh remains one, and you can overcome, you can overcome, you can overcome. And this is not only a sacrament for them, but also for the Church, a sacrament, as it were, that attracts attention: “See, love is possible!” And love is capable of allowing you to live your whole life “in love”: in joy and in sorrow, with the problems of children, and their own problems… but always going forward. In sickness and in health, but always going forward. This is beautiful.
Man and woman are created in God’s image and likeness; and for this reason, marriage likewise becomes an image of God. This makes marriage very beautiful. Matrimony is a silent homily for everyone else, a daily homily.

It’s sad when this is not news: the newspapers, the TV news shows, don’t consider this news. But this couple, together for so many years… it’s not news. Scandal, divorce, separation – these are considered newsworthy. Although at times its necessary to separate, as I said, to avoid a greater evil. The image of God isn’t news. But this is the beauty of marriage. They [the couple] are the image and likeness of God. And this is our news, the Christian news. Patience is the most important virtue
 
Marriage and family life is not easy. James 5: 9-12 speaks about
patience. Patience, is perhaps the most important virtue for the couple – both for the man and for the woman. Pray that the Lord might give to the Church and to society a more profound and more beautiful understanding of marriage, so that we all might be able to appreciate and reflect upon [the fact] that the image and likeness of God is present in marriage.
  

 Chapter 10

2-16

 
Pope Francis    04.10.15   Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica   27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B      Genesis 2: 18-24,    1 John 4: 12,                   Mark 10: 2-16

Pope Francis   04.10.15

“If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration.

The readings centre on three themes:
solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden. He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them. Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20). He was lonely.

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture.

Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom… The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of
love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as the Psalm proclaimed today says (cf. Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self. It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question – probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact – Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense.

For God,
marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.

Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.

To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously.

The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (Benedict XVI,
Caritas in Veritate, 3).

And the Church is called to carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II,
Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide his Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
  
 
 Chapter 10

13-16

 

Jesus' reprimanded his disciples who wanted to prevent people from bringing children to him. The disciples were not acting out of unkindness, they only wanted to help Jesus. They had done the same thing in Jericho when they tried to silence the blind man. It was as if they had said ‘protocol does not permit it”, he is the second Person of the Trinity.... This reminds me of many Christians.

An engaged couple who went to a parish office and instead of receiving support and congratulations were fobbed off with a list of the prices for the wedding and asked to show their documents. So they found the
door closed. Those who could have opened the door, thanking God for this new marriage, failed to do. On the contrary, they shut it. So often “we control faith rather than facilitating it”, and this is something “which began in Jesus’ time with the Apostles”. We are tempted to “take over the Lord”.

A girl-mother goes to the parish to ask for Baptism for her child and hears “a Christian” say: “no, you can't have it, you’re not married”. “Look at this girl who had had the courage to carry her pregnancy to term” and not to have an abortion. “What does she find? A closed door”, as do so many. “This is not good pastoral zeal, it distances people from the Lord and does not open doors. So when we take this path... we are not doing good to people, the People of God”. Jesus “instituted seven sacraments, and with this approach we institute the eighth, the sacrament of the
pastoral customs office”.

Jesus wants everyone to be close to him. “Let us think of all Christians of good will who err and shut the door instead of opening it”. Let us ask the Lord to grant that “all who approach the Church find doors open to encounter Jesus' love.
  

 Chapter 10

17-27

 

He was a good man who went to find Jesus and threw himself on his knees before him, a man who had piety in his heart, a religious man and a just man, who goes to Jesus because he feels something inside. He feels the urge to go beyond, to follow Jesus more closely. It was precisely the Holy Spirit that drove him. But when Jesus tells the man that “whoever loves him” must sell all his possessions before following him, “this good and just man, this man inspired by the Holy Spirit to grow closer to Jesus, became discouraged at these words and went away sorrowful. And Jesus turned and said to his disciples: how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”.

Each and every one of us, needs to examine our conscience and find out what
riches keep us from approaching Jesus on the road of life. They are the riches that come from our culture. The first is “well-being” or comfort or luxury. “The culture of well-being that gives us little courage, makes us lazy and selfish”. We think comfort is enough. “No, no, no more than one child, no! Because then we can't go on vacation, we can't go here, we can't buy a house; no! It is all fine and good to follow Jesus but only to a certain point...”

We are in love, with temporal things, while what Jesus offers is infinite. We like the temporary “because we are afraid of God's time”, the end of time.

Wellness and impermanence are precisely the two riches of contemporary society that “prevent us from going forward”. On the other hand, many men and women who have left their homelands as missionaries for their whole lives, and many men and women have left their homes to get married and for their whole lives are working towards the infinite. This, to follow Jesus closely, is the definitive.

Ask the Lord to give us the courage to move forward, stripping ourselves of this culture of well-being, through hope.



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/young-people/13.06.18.jpg

Today is the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. Who among you is named Anthony? A round of applause for all the ‘Anthony's’.

Today, we shall begin a new series of catechesis on the theme of the Commandments. The Commandments of the Law of God. To introduce it, let us draw from the passage just heard: the encounter between Jesus and a man — he is a young man — who, on his knees, asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life (cf. Mk 10:17-21). And in that question is the challenge of every life, ours too: the desire for a full, infinite life. What must we do to achieve it? What path must we take? To truly live, to live a noble life.... How many young people try to ‘live’ and destroy themselves by following things that are fleeting.

Some think that it would be better to extinguish this impulse — the impulse to live — because it is dangerous. I would like to say, especially to young people: our worst enemy is not practical problems, no matter how serious and dramatic: life’s greatest danger is a poor spirit of adaptation which is neither meekness nor humility, but mediocrity, cowardice.[1] Is a mediocre young person a youth with a future or not? No! He or she remains there, will not grow, will not have success. Mediocrity or cowardice. Those young people who are afraid of everything: ‘No, this is how I am...’. These young people will not move forward. Meekness, strength, and not cowardice, not mediocrity.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati — he was a young man — used to say that one must live, not just get by. [2] The mediocre just get by, living by their life force. One must ask the heavenly Father, for today’s young people, for the gift of a healthy restlessness. But, at home, in your homes, in every family, when a young person is seen sitting idle all day, at times mom and dad wonder: “is he sick; is something wrong?”, and they take him to the doctor. The life of young people is about moving forward, being restless, healthy restlessness, the capacity not to be content with a life without beauty, without colour. If young people are not hungry for an authentic life, I wonder, where will humanity end up? Where will humanity go with young people who are idle and not restless?

The question of that man in the Gospel passage that we have heard is inside of each of us: how can we find life, life in abundance, happiness? Jesus answers: “You know the commandments” (v. 19), and cites part of the Ten Commandments. It is a pedagogical process, by which Jesus wishes to lead to an exact place; in fact it is already clear, from that man’s question, that he does not have a full life; he seeks more and is restless. Thus, what does he need in order to understand? He says: “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth” (v. 20).

How do we pass from youth to maturity? When we begin to accept our own limitations. We become adults when we ‘relativize’ and become aware of ‘what is lacking’ (cf. v. 21). This man is forced to acknowledge that everything he is able to “do” does not rise above a “ceiling”; it does not exceed a margin.

How great it is to be men and women! How precious our existence is! Yet, there is a truth that, in the history of the last centuries, mankind has often rejected, with tragic consequences: the truth of our limitations.

In the Gospel Jesus says something that can help us: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Mt 5:17). The Lord Jesus gives us the fulfilment; he came for this. That man had to come to the brink, where he had to take a decisive leap, where the possibility was presented to stop living for himself, for his own deeds, for his own goods and — precisely because he lacked a full life — to leave everything to follow the Lord.[3] Clearly, in Jesus’ final — immense, wonderful — invitation, there is no proposal of poverty, but of wealth, of the true richness: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mk 10:21).

Being able to choose between an original and a copy, who would choose the copy? Here is the challenge: finding life’s original, not the copy. Jesus does not offer surrogates, but true life, true love, true richness! How will young people be able to follow us in faith if they do not see us choose the original, if they see us adjusting to half measures? It is awful to find half-measure Christians, — allow me the word — ‘dwarf’ Christians; they grow to a certain height and no more; Christians with a miniaturized, closed heart. It is awful to find this. We need the example of someone who invites me to a ‘beyond’, a ‘plus’, to grow a little. Saint Ignatius called it the ‘magis’, “the fire, the fervour of action that rouses us from slumber”.[4]

The path of what is lacking passes through what there is. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law nor the Prophets, but to fulfil. We must start from reality in order to take the leap into ‘what we lack’. We must scrutinize the ordinary in order to open ourselves to the extraordinary.

In these catechesis we will take the two tablets of Moses as Christians, taking Jesus’ hand, in order to pass from the illusions of youth to the treasure that is in heaven, walking behind Him. We will discover, in each of these laws, ancient and wise, the door opened by the Father who is in heaven so that the Lord Jesus, who has crossed the threshold, may lead us to true life. His life. The life of the children of God.

  

 Chapter 10

28-31

 

After hearing the Lord's words, Peter asked him: “all right, but us? We have left everything for you. What will be our recompense? What will our reward be?”. Jesus' answer perhaps “is a little ironic: but of course, you too and all who have left house, brothers, sisters, mother, children and lands will receive a hundredfold”. He warns that they will have to face “persecution”, described as the wages, or rather “the disciples’ payment”.

Jesus assures all those who follow him a place among “the family of Christians” and recalls that “we are all brothers and sisters”, but warns that “there will be persecutions,
difficulties”. "Whoever follows me, must take the same route that I took”. It is a way, which leads to humbling oneself and which “ends on the Cross. There will always be difficulties and persecutions that come from the world, for he took this path first. When a Christian does not have difficulties in life and all goes well, something is not right”. One might think that he succumbed to the temptation to follow the spirit of the world instead of Jesus. Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus on the path which he has shown to us and taught us. This is beautiful: He never leaves us alone, never. He is always with us.
  
 
Chapter 10

46-52
 
Pope Francis     06.05.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis: 1. The Mystery of Prayer      Mark 10: 46-52

Pope Francis  Prayer 06.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a new series of catechesis on the theme of prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that comes out of the heart of those who believe and trust in God. 

Let's think of the story of Bartimaeus, a character from the Gospel ( Mark 10: 46-52 ) and, I confess, for me the most friendly of all. He was blind, sitting begging on the side of the road on the outskirts of his city, Jericho. He is not an anonymous character, he has a face, a name: Bartimaeus, which means, "son of Timaeus". One day he hears that Jesus would pass by. In fact, Jericho was a crossroads for people, continually passed through by pilgrims and merchants. So Bartimaeus was on the look out: he would do everything possible to meet Jesus. Many people did the same: we remember Zacchaeus, who climbed the tree. Many wanted to see Jesus, even him.

So this man enters the Gospels like a voice screaming out loud. He does not see; he does not know whether Jesus is near or far, but he feels it, he understands it from the crowd, which at some point increased and drew nearer. But he's completely alone, and no one cares. And what does Bartimaeus do? Cries out. And he calls out, and he keeps screaming. Using the only weapon in his possession: his voice. He begins to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" (10: 47). And so he goes on, crying out.
His repeated outcry is annoying, and does not seem polite, and many reproach him, telling him to be silent: "But be polite, don't do that!". But Bartimaeus is not silent, indeed, he cries even louder: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" (10: 47). That so beautiful. The stubbornness of those who seek grace and knock, knock at the door of God's heart. He cries out, he knocks. That expression: "Son of David", is very important; it means "the Messiah". It is a profession of faith that comes out of the mouth of that man despised by everyone.
 
And Jesus hears his cry. Bartimaeus' prayer touches his heart, the heart of God, and the doors of salvation open for him. Jesus has him called. He sprang to his feet and those who used to tell him to remain silent, now lead him to the Master. Jesus speaks to him, asks him to express what he desires– this is important – and then the cry becomes a request: "May I see again, Lord!" (10: 51). 

Jesus tells him, "Go, your faith has saved you"(10: 52). He recognizes in this poor, helpless, despised man, the power of his faith in its entirety, which attracts God's mercy and power. 

Faith is having two hands raised, a voice crying out to implore the gift of salvation. The Catechism states that "humility is the foundation of prayer"(Catechism of the Catholic Church,2559). Prayer comes from the earth, from the humus – from which comes "humble", "humility". It comes from our precarious state, from our constant thirst for God (cf. ibid.,2560-2561).

Faith, we have seen in Bartimaeus , is a cry; disbelief stifles that cry. That was the attitude of the people, who were trying to keep him quiet: they were not people of faith, he was. Smothering that cry is a kind of "omertà" (code of silence). Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason; to disbelieve is to just suffer a situation that we have adapted to. Faith is the hope of being saved; disbelief is to get used to the evil that oppresses us and to continue like that.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us begin this series of catechesis with the cry of Bartimaeus, so that perhaps in a figure like his everything is already written. Bartimaeus is a persevering man. Around him there were people who explained that crying out was useless, that it would be an unanswered voice, that it was noisy and just disturbed, that would he please stop crying out: but he did not remain silent. And in the end he obtained what he desired. 

Stronger than any argument to the contrary, in the heart of man there is a voice that prays. We all have this voice inside. A voice that comes out spontaneously, without anyone commanding it, a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, especially when we are in darkness: "Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!" This is a beautiful prayer. 

But perhaps, these words, are they not inscribed on all of creation? Everything prays and pleads for the mystery of mercy to find its ultimate fulfilment. It is not only Christians who pray: they share the cry of prayer with all men and women. But the horizon can still be broadened: Paul says that all of creation "groans and suffers the pains of childbirth" (Rm 8:22). Artists often become interpreters of this silent cry of creation, which presses into every creature and emerges above all in the heart of man, because man is a "beggar before God" (cf. CCC,2559). It's a beautiful definition of man: "beggars before God." Thank you.
  

 Chapter 12

1-12

 

Three types of Christians in the Church come to mind: the sinners, the corrupt, the saints. We don’t need to say too much about sinners because that is what we all are. We recognize this from within and we know what a sinner is; and, if one of us does not understand himself to be a sinner, he should visit a spiritual doctor: something is not right”. God “called us with love, he protects us. Yet then he gives us freedom, he gives us all this love ‘on lease’. It’s as if he were to say to us: protect and keep my love just as I safeguard you. This is the dialogue between God and us: to safeguard love. Everything begins with this love”.

Then, however, the tenant farmers to whom the vineyard had been entrusted “thought highly of themselves, they felt independent of God. In this way “they took possession of the land and forfeited their relationship with the Master of the vineyard: We ourselves are the masters! And when someone came to collect the part of the harvest that belonged to the master, they beat him, they treated him shamefully, they killed him”. This means loosing the relationship with God, no longer feeling the need “for that master”. That is what makes the “
corrupt, those who were sinners like us but have gone a step further”: they are “solidified in sin and they don’t feel the need for God”. Or at least they trick themselves into not perceiving it, because “in our genetic makeup there is this relationship with God, and since they cannot deny it, they create a unique God: themselves”. These are the corrupt, and “this is also a danger for us: that we become corrupted”.

The Apostle John calls the corrupt the antichrist who are among us but not of us. The word of God speaks of the saints as of a light: they are before God’s throne in adoration. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to know that we are sinners — truly sinners. The grace not to become corrupt... the grace to follow the way of sanctity.

 Chapter 12

13-17

 

Several Pharisees and Herodians attempt to ensnare Jesus. Only some of them, because “they were not all bad”. They pretended they knew the truth but their intention was something else, they wanted to catch him out. They went to him and said: “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man... for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God”. However they did not believe in what they were saying. It was flattery. This “is exactly how the flatterer speaks; he uses lovely soft words, excessively sugary words”.

We talked about
corrupt people. Today let us discover the language of the corrupt. What is their language? This: the tongue of hypocrisy. It is not we who say this, it is not I, but Jesus, who was aware of their hypocrisy”. Hypocrisy, he stressed further, is “the language of the corrupt. They do not like the truth. They only like themselves and so they try to deceive and to involve others in their falsehood, in their lying. They have a false heart, they are unable to tell the truth. The very language Satan spoke after the fast in the wilderness: you are hungry, you can turn this stone into bread. Why do you work so hard? Throw yourself down from the temple. This language which seems persuasive, leads to error and to lies”. And with Pilate these Pharisees were to speak the same language: “we have only one king who is Caesar”. This language is an attempt of “diabolical persuasion”. In fact those who were then “praising” Christ “ended by betraying him and sending him to the Cross. Jesus, looking them in the face, said as much, calling them “hypocrites”. Thus hypocrisy is certainly not the “language of truth. For truth, is never alone: it is always accompanied by love. There is no truth without love. Love is the first truth. And if there is no love there is no truth.

Let us ask the Lord today that our way of speaking may be that of the simple, the language of children, the language of God’s children and consequently the language of the truth in love.

 Chapter 12

18-27


Pope Francis     05.6.13   Holy Mass Santa Marta      Tobit 3:1-11,16-17,    Mark 12:18-27 

Tobit and Sarah; they do not curse but they complain.
Lamenting to God is not a sin. A priest that I know once said to a woman who complained to God about her misfortunes: ‘Madam, that is a kind of prayer, go ahead. The Lord feels and hears our lamentations’.
Job and of Jeremiah also lamented by cursing, not the Lord but the situation. Moreover, expressing sorrow “is human”, also because there are many people who are in these situations of existential
suffering. Referring to a photo of a malnourished child on the cover of the Italian daily edition of L’Osservatore Romano. How many are there like this? Are we thinking about Syria, refugees and the others?. Are we thinking about hospitals, those suffering terminal illness?

In Mark’s Gospel (12:18-27). The Sadducees turned to Jesus and presented the woman like in a laboratory, very ascetic, a moral case. Instead when we speak about these people who are in these extreme situations, we must do so with our hearts close to them. We must think about these people, whose suffering is so great, with our heart and with our flesh.

In the Church there are many people in this situation and according to Jesus we must pray for them. These suffering people, must enter my heart, they must be an anxiety for me. My suffering brother, my suffering sister. This is the mystery of the communion of saints. Praying: Lord look at he who cries and suffers. Let us pray, if I may say, with our flesh, not with ideas, pray with your heart.
    

 Chapter 12

28b-34

 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
the commandment of love: love of God and love of neighbour


At the heart of this Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 12:28b-34), there is the commandment of love: love of God and love of neighbour. A scribe asks Jesus: “Which commandment is the first of all?” (v. 28). He responds by quoting the profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day, and begins with the words “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut 6:4). In this manner Israel safeguards its faith in the fundamental reality of its whole creed: only one Lord exists and that Lord is ‘ours’ in the sense that he is bound to us by an indissoluble pact; he loved us, loves us, and will love us for ever. It is from this source, this love of God, that the twofold commandment comes to us: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.... You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mk 12:30-31).

In choosing these two Words addressed by God to his people and by putting them together, Jesus taught once and for all that love for God and love for neighbour are inseparable; moreover, they sustain one another. Even if set in a sequence, they are two sides of a single coin: experienced together they are a believer’s strength! To love God is to live of him and for him, for what he is and for what he does. Our God is unmitigated giving; he is unlimited forgiveness; he is a relationship that promotes and fosters. Therefore, to love God means to invest our energies each day to be his assistants in the unmitigated service of our neighbour, in trying to forgive without limitations, and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.

Mark the Evangelist does not bother to specify who the
neighbour is, because a neighbour is a person whom I meet on the journey, in my days. It is not a matter of pre-selecting my neighbour: this is not Christian. I think my neighbour is the one I have chosen ahead of time: no, this is not Christian, it is pagan; but it is about having eyes to see and a heart to want what is good for him or her. If we practice seeing with Jesus’ gaze, we will always be listening and be close to those in need. Of course our neighbour’s needs require effective responses, but even beforehand they require sharing. With one look we can say that the hungry need not just a bowl of soup, but also a smile, to be listened to and also a prayer, perhaps said together. Today’s Gospel passage invites us all to be projected not only toward the needs of our poorest brothers and sisters, but above all to be attentive to their need for fraternal closeness, for a meaning to life, and for tenderness. This challenges our Christian communities: it means avoiding the risk of being communities that have many initiatives but few relationships; the risk of being community ‘service stations’ but with little company, in the full and Christian sense of this term.

God, who is love, created us to love and so that we can love others while remaining united with him. It would be misleading to claim to love our neighbour without loving God; and it would also be deceptive to claim to love God without loving our neighbour. The two dimensions of love, for God and for neighbour, in their unity characterize the disciple of Christ. May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome and bear witness in everyday life to this luminous lesson.

 Chapter 12

38-44


Pope Francis   08.11.15  Angelus, St Peter's Square      32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B    Mark 12: 38-44
Pope Francis  08.11.15  Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning... on this beautiful, sunny day!

This Sunday’s Gospel passage is composed of two parts: one that describes how not to be followers of Christ; the other offers an example of a Christian.

Let’s start with the first: what not to do. In the first part, Jesus accuses the scribes, the teachers of the law, of having three defects in their lifestyle: pride, greed and hypocrisy. They like “to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts” (Mk 12:38-39). But beneath such solemn appearances they are hiding falsehood and injustice.

While flaunting themselves in public, they use their authority — as Jesus says — to devour “the houses of widows” (cf. v. 40); those who, along with orphans and foreigners, were considered to be the people most vulnerable and least protected. Lastly, Jesus says that the scribes, “for a pretence make long prayers” (v. 40). Even today we risk taking on these attitudes. For example, when prayer is separate from justice so that God cannot be worshiped, and causing harm to the poor. Or when one claims to love God, but instead offers him only grandiosity for one’s own advantage.

The second part of the Gospel follows this line of thinking. The scene is set in the temple of Jerusalem, precisely in the place where people are tossing coins as offerings. There are many rich people putting in large sums, and there is a poor woman, a widow, who contributes only two bits, two small coins. Jesus observes the woman carefully and calls the disciples’ attention to the sharp contrast of the scene.

The wealthy contributed with great ostentation what for them was superfluous, while the widow, Jesus says, “put in everything she had, her whole living” (v. 44). For this reason, Jesus says, she gave the most of all. Because of her extreme poverty, she could have offered a single coin to the temple and kept the other for herself. But she did not want to give just half to God; she divested herself of everything. In her poverty she understood that in having God, she had everything; she felt completely loved by him and in turn loved him completely. What a beautiful example this little old woman offers us!

Today Jesus also tells us that the benchmark is not quantity but fullness. There is a difference between quantity and fullness. You can have
a lot of money and still be empty. There is no fullness in your heart. This week, think about the difference there is between quantity and fullness. It is not a matter of the wallet, but of the heart. There is a difference between the wallet and the heart.... There are diseases of the heart, which reduce the heart to the wallet.... This is not good! To love God “with all your heart” means to trust in him, in his providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return.

Allow me to tell you a story, which happened in my previous diocese. A mother and her three children were at the table, the father was at work. They were eating Milan-style cutlets.... There was a knock at the door and one of the children — they were young, 5, 6 and the oldest was 7 — comes and says: “Mom, there is a beggar asking for something to eat”. And the mom, a good Christian, asks them: “What shall we do?” — “
Let’s give him something, mom…” – “Ok”. She takes her fork and knife and cuts the cutlets in half. “Ah no, mom, no! Not like this! Take something from the fridge” — “No! Let’s make three sandwiches with this!”. The children learned that true charity is given, not with what is left over, but with what we need. That afternoon I am sure that the children were a bit hungry.... But this is how it’s done!

Faced with the needs of our neighbours, we are called — like these children and the halved cutlets — to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the time that is necessary, not only what is extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or for our own group.

Let us ask the Lord to admit us to the school of this poor widow, whom Jesus places in the cathedra and presents as a teacher of the living Gospel even to the astonishment of the disciples. Through the intercession of Mary, the poor woman who gave her entire life to God for us, let us ask for a heart that is poor, but rich in glad and freely given
generosity.


Pope Francis     11.11.18      Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Mark 12: 38-44
we must do things as an expression of gratuity


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel episode (cf. Mk 12:38-44) concludes the series of Jesus’ teachings given in the Temple of Jerusalem and highlights two contrasting figures: the scribe and the widow. But why are they counterposed? The scribe represents
important, wealthy, influential people; the other person — the widow — represents the least, the poor, the weak.


In reality, Jesus’ resolute judgment of the scribes is not about the whole profession, but refers to those of them who flaunt their own social position, embellish themselves with the title of ‘rabbi’, that is, teacher, who love to be revered and take the best seats (cf. vv. 38-39).

What is worse is that their ostentation is, above all, of a religious nature, because they pray — Jesus says — and “for a pretense make long prayers” (v. 40), and use God in order to gain respect for themselves as the defenders of his law. This attitude of superiority and vanity causes them to have contempt for those who count for little or who find themselves in an unfavourable economic position, such as widows.

Jesus exposes this perverse mechanism: he denounces the oppression of the weak carried out misleadingly on the basis of religious motivations, declaring clearly that God is on the side of the least.

And to really impress this lesson on the minds of the disciples he offers them a living example: a poor widow, whose social position was irrelevant because she had no husband who could defend her rights, and therefore she became easy prey to unscrupulous creditors, because these creditors hounded the weak so they would pay them. This woman, who goes to the temple treasury to put in just two coins — all that she had left — and makes her offering by seeking to pass by unobserved, almost as if ashamed. But, in this very humility, she performs an act laden with great religious and spiritual significance. That gesture full of sacrifice does not escape the gaze of Jesus, who instead sees shining in it the total self-giving to which he wishes to educate his disciples.

The lesson that Jesus offers us today helps us to recover what is essential in our life and fosters a practical and daily relationship with God.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord’s scales are different from ours. He weighs people and their actions differently: God does not measure quantity but quality; he examines the heart; he looks at the purity of intentions.

This means that our “giving” to God in prayer and to others in charity should always steer clear of ritualism and formalism, as well as of the logic of calculation, and must be an expression of gratuity, as Jesus did with us: he saved us freely. And we must do things as an expression of gratuity.

This is why Jesus points to that poor and generous widow as a model of Christian life to be imitated. We do not know her name; however, we know her heart — we will find her in Heaven and go to greet her, certainly; and that is what counts before God.

When we are tempted by the desire to stand out and give an accounting of our altruistic gestures, when we are too interested in the gaze of others and — might I say — when we act like ‘peacocks’, let us think of this woman. It will do us good: it will help us to divest ourselves of the superfluous in order to go to what truly counts, and to remain humble.

May the Virgin Mary, a poor woman who gave herself totally to God, sustain us in the aim of giving to the Lord and to brothers and sisters not something of ours but ourselves, in a humble and generous offering.


Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Barcelona, Fr Theodoro Illera del Olmo and 15 companion martyrs were beatified. They included 13 consecrated and three lay people. Nine religious and lay people belonged to the Congregation of Saint Peter in Chains; three women religious were Capuchins of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd and one was a Franciscan of the Sacred Heart. These new Blesseds were all killed for their faith, in different places and on different dates, during the war and religious persecution of the last century in Spain. Let us praise the Lord for these courageous witnesses of his and give a round of applause for them!

Today is the centenary of the end of World War I , which my Predecessor
Benedict XV defined as ‘useless slaughter’. For this reason today, at 1:30 pm Italian time, bells will ring throughout the world, those of Saint Peter’s Basilica too.

The historical page of the first global conflict is for all a severe warning to reject the culture of war and to seek every legitimate means to put an end to the wars that still draw blood in many regions of the world. It seems that we do not learn. As we pray for all the victims of that enormous tragedy, let us say forcefully: let us invest in peace, not in war! And, let us take as an emblematic sign that of the great Saint Martin of Tours, whom we commemorate today: he rent his cloak in half in order to share it with a poor man. May this gesture of human solidarity indicate to all the way to build peace.
  
 
Chapter 14

12-16, 22-26
 

Pope Francis Corpus Christi  04.06.15

We heard: how at the Last Supper Jesus gives his Body and his Blood through the bread and wine, to leave us the memorial of his sacrifice of infinite love. And with this “Viaticum” filled with grace, the disciples had everything necessary for their journey through history, to extend to all the Kingdom of God. The gift that Jesus made of himself, by his voluntary immolation on the Cross, will be light and strength for them. And this Bread of Life has come down to us! The Church’s amazement at this reality is unending. An astonishment which always feeds contemplation, adoration, and memory. This is shown to us by a really beautiful text from today’s Liturgy, the Responsory to the Second Reading from the Office of Readings, which reads: “See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from his side. Take his body, then, and eat it; take his blood and drink it, and you will become his members. The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him: eat it, or you will have no part in him. The blood is the price he paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness”.

There is a danger, there is a threat: to have no part in him, to despair. What does it mean today, this “to have no part in him” and “to despair”?

We have no part in him when we are not docile to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live in fraternity among ourselves, when we compete for first place — climbers — when we do not find the courage to witness to charity, when we are incapable of offering hope. This is when we have no part in him. The Eucharist enables us to abide in him, for it is the bond which unites us to him, it is the fulfilment of the Covenant, the living sign of the love of Christ who humbled and lowered himself in order that we remain united. Participating in the Eucharist and being nourished of him, we are included in a journey which admits no division. Christ present in our midst, in the sign of the bread and wine, demands that the power of love overcome every laceration, and at the same time that it also become communion with the poorest, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who have difficulty in bearing the weight of daily life, and are in danger of losing their faith. 

And then the other phrase: what does it mean for us today to “despair”, or to water down our Christian dignity? It means allowing ourselves to be undermined by the idolatries of our time: appearances, consumerism, egocentrism; but also competitiveness, arrogance as a winning attitude, never admitting to mistakes or to being in need. All this leads us to despair, making us mediocre Christians, lukewarm, bland, pagans.

Jesus poured out his Blood as the price and the laver, so that we might be purified of all sin: not to lose hope, let us look to Him, drink at his font, to be shielded from the risk of corruption. Then we will feel the grace of transformation: we will always be poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ will free us from our sins and restore our dignity. It will free us from corruption. Not by our merit, with sincere humility, we will be able to bring our brothers the love of our Lord and Saviour. We will be his eyes which go in search of Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene; we will be his hand which soothes those who are sick in body and spirit; we will be his heart which loves those in need of reconciliation, mercy and understanding.

Thus the Eucharist fulfils the Covenant which sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in worthy communion with God. Thus we learn that the Eucharist is not a prize for the good, but is strength for the weak, for sinners. It is forgiveness, it is the Viaticum that helps us to move forward, to walk.
Today, the Feast of Corpus Christi, we have the joy not only to celebrate this mystery, but also to praise it and sing it through the streets of our City. May the procession we will make at the end of Mass express our gratitude for the whole journey that God has made us travel through the desert of our poverty, to deliver us from servitude, nourishing us with his Love through the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. 

Soon, while we walk along the street, we will feel we are in communion with so many of our brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel united with them: let us sing with them, praise with them, adore with them. And let us venerate in our heart those brothers and sisters of whom the supreme sacrifice was demanded for faithfulness to Christ: may their blood united with the Lord’s be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the entire world.

And let us not forget: “The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him: eat it, or you will have no part in him. The blood is the price he paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness”.






The Gospel we just heard speaks of the Last Supper, but surprisingly, pays more attention to the preparations than to the dinner itself. We keep hearing the word “prepare”. For example, the disciples ask: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” (Mk 14:12). Jesus sends them off with clear instructions to make the necessary preparations and they find “a large room… furnished and ready” (v. 15). The disciples went off to prepare, but the Lord had already made his own preparations.
Something similar occurs after the resurrection, when Jesus appears to the disciples for the third time. While they are fishing, he waits for them on the shore, where he has already prepared bread and fish for them. Even so, he tells the disciples to bring some of the fish that they have just caught, which he had shown them how to catch (cf. Jn 21:6.9-10). Jesus has already made preparations and he asks his disciples to cooperate. Once again, just before the Passover meal, Jesus tells the disciples: “I go to prepare a place for you… so that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn 14:2.3). Jesus is the one who prepares, yet before his own Passover he also asks us urgently, with exhortations and parables, to be prepared, to remain ever ready (cf. Mt 24:44; Lk 12:40).
 
Jesus, then, prepares for us and asks us to be prepared. What does Jesus prepare for us? He prepares a place and a meal. A place much more worthy than the “large furnished room” of the Gospel. It is our spacious and vast home here below, the Church, where there is, and must be, room for everyone. But he has also reserved a place for us on high, in heaven, so that we can be with him and with one another for ever. In addition to a place, he prepares a meal, the Bread in which he gives himself: “Take; this is my body” (Mk 14:22). These two gifts, a place and a meal, are what we need to live. They are our ultimate “room and board”. Both are bestowed upon us in the Eucharist. A place and a meal. 

Jesus prepares a place for us here below, because the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church. It gives her birth and rebirth; it gathers her together and gives her strength. But the Eucharist also prepares for us a place on high, in eternity, for it is the Bread of heaven. It comes down from heaven – it is the only matter on earth that savours of eternity. It is the bread of things to come; even now, it grants us a foretaste of a future infinitely greater than all we can hope for or imagine. It is the bread that sates our greatest expectations and feeds our finest dreams. It is, in a word, the pledge of eternal life – not simply a promise but a pledge, a concrete anticipation of what awaits us there. The Eucharist is our “reservation” for the heavenly banquet; it is Jesus himself, as food for our journey towards eternal life and happiness. 

In the consecrated host, together with a place, Jesus prepares for us a meal, food for our nourishment. In life, we constantly need to be fed: nourished not only with food, but also with plans and affection, hopes and desires. We hunger to be loved. But the most pleasing compliments, the finest gifts and the most advanced technologies are not enough; they never completely satisfy us. The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love. There we encounter Jesus really; we share his life and we feel his love. There you can realize that his death and resurrection are for you. And when you worship Jesus in the Eucharist, you receive from him the Holy Spirit and you find peace and joy. Dear brothers and sisters, let us choose this food of life! Let us make Mass our priority! Let us rediscover Eucharistic adoration in our communities! Let us implore the grace to hunger for God, with an insatiable desire to receive what he has prepared for us. 

As he did with his disciples, so too today Jesus asks us, today, to prepare. Like the disciples, let us ask him: “Lord, where do you want us to go to prepare?” Where: Jesus does not prefer exclusive, selective places. He looks for places untouched by love, untouched by hope. Those uncomfortable places are where he wants to go and he asks us to prepare his way. How many persons lack dignified housing or food to eat! All of us know people who are lonely, troubled and in need: they are abandoned tabernacles. We, who receive from Jesus our own room and board, are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus became bread broken for our sake; in turn, he asks us to give ourselves to others, to live no longer for ourselves but for one another. In this way, we live “eucharistically”, pouring out upon the world the love we draw from the Lord’s flesh. The Eucharist is translated into life when we pass beyond ourselves to those all around us.

The Gospel tells us that the disciples prepared for the meal after they “set out and went to the city” (v. 16). The Lord calls us also today to prepare for his coming not by keeping our distance but by entering our cities. That includes this city, whose very name – Ostia – means entrance, doorway. Lord, how many doors do you want us to open for you here? How many gates do you call us to unbar, how many walls must we tear down? Jesus wants the walls of indifference and silent collusion to be breached, iron bars of oppression and arrogance torn asunder, and paths cleared for justice, civility and legality. The vast beachfront of this city speaks to us of how beautiful it is to open our hearts and to set out in new directions in life. But this requires loosening the knots that keep us bound to the moorings of fear and depression. The Eucharist invites to let ourselves be carried along by the wave of Jesus, to not remain grounded on the beach in the hope that something may come along, but to cast into the deep, free, courageous and united.
The Gospel ends by telling us that the disciples, “after singing a hymn, went out” (v. 26). At the end of Mass, we too will go out; we will go forth with Jesus, who will pass through the streets of this city. Jesus wants to dwell among you. He wants to be part of your lives, to enter your houses and to offer his liberating mercy, his blessing and his consolation. You have experienced painful situations; the Lord wants to be close to you. Let us open our doors to him and say:



Come, Lord, and visit us.
We welcome you into our hearts,
our families and our city.
We thank you because you have prepared for us
the food of life and a place in your Kingdom.
Make us active in preparing your way,
joyous in bringing you, who are life, to others,
and thus to bring fraternity, justice and peace
to our streets. 
Amen.




  

 Chapter 15

39
 
Pope Francis  08.05.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace Wednesday of Holy Week                Mark 15: 39

Pope Francis The true Face of God 08.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In these weeks of apprehension about the pandemic that is causing the world to suffer so much, among the many questions we ask ourselves, there may also be one about God: what does he do before our pain? Where is he when everything is going wrong? Why doesn't he solve the problems immediately? These are questions we ask about God.

The account of the Passion of Jesus, which accompanies us in these holy days, helps us. There, too, there are many questions. The people, having welcomed Jesus triumphantly to Jerusalem, wondered whether he would finally free the people from their enemies (cf. Luke 24:21). They expected a powerful, triumphant Messiah with a sword. Instead one arrives who is meek and humble heart, and who calls for conversion and mercy. And it was the crowd, who had previously praised him, who shouted: "Let him be crucified!" (Mt 27:23). Those who followed him, confused and frightened, abandoned him. They thought: if this is the fate of Jesus, he is not the Messiah, because God is strong, God is invincible. 

But, if we go on reading the account of the Passion, we find a surprising fact. When Jesus died, the Roman centurion who was not a believer, was not Jewish but was a pagan, who had seen him suffer on the cross and had heard him forgive everyone, who had touched his love without measure, confesses: "Truly this man was the Son of God"(Mark 15:39). He says exactly the opposite of what the others said. He says that there is God, he is truly God.
 
Let us ask ourselves today: what is the true face of God? Usually we project onto him who we are, to the highest power: our success, our sense of justice, and also our indignation. But the Gospel tells us that God is not like that. He is different and we cannot know him by our own efforts. That's why he came close, came to meet us and at Easter he completely revealed himself. And where did he reveal himself completely? On the cross. There we learn the features of God's face. Let us not forget, brothers and sisters, that the cross is the chair of God. It will do us good to look at the Crucifix in silence and see who our Lord is: he is the one who does not point a finger at someone, not even against those who are crucifying him, but opens his arms to all; who does not crush us with his glory, but lets himself be stripped for us; who does not love us in words, but gives us his life in silence; who does not force us, but frees us; who does not treat us as strangers, but takes our evil upon himself, takes our sins upon himself. And this, in order to free us from prejudices about God, we look at the Crucifix. And then we open the Gospel. In these days, all quarantined and at home, closed in, let us take these two things in our hands: the Crucifix, let's look at it; and open the Gospel. This will be for us – let's say – like a great domestic liturgy, because these days we cannot go to church. The Crucifix and the Gospel!

In the Gospel we read that when people go to Jesus to make him king, for example after the multiplication of loaves, He leaves (cf. John 6:15). And when the unclean spirits want to reveal his divine majesty, he silences them (cf. Mark 1:24-25). Why? Because Jesus does not want to be misunderstood, he does not want people to confuse the true God, who is humble love, with a false god, a worldly god who puts on a show and imposes himself by force. He's not an idol. He is God who has made himself a man, like each of us, and expresses himself as a man but with the strength of his divinity. Instead, when is the identity of Jesus solemnly proclaimed in the Gospel? When the centurion says, "Truly this man was the Son of God." It is said there, as soon as he gave his life on the cross, because we can no longer be mistaken: we see that God is omnipotent in love, and not in any other way. It's his nature, because he's like that. He is Love.

You might object, "What can I do with a God so weak, that he dies? I would prefer a strong God, a powerful God!" But you know, the power of this world passes while love remains. Only love protects the life we have, because it embraces our weaknesses and transforms them. It is the love of God who at Easter healed our sin with his forgiveness, who made death a passage of life, who changed our fear into trust, our anguish into hope. Easter tells us that God can turn everything into good. That with him we can really trust that all will be well. And this is not an illusion, because the death and resurrection of Jesus is not an illusion: it is a truth! That's why we're told on Easter morning, "Don't be afraid!" (cf. Mt 28:5). And the distressing questions about evil do not suddenly fade away, but find in the Risen One a solid foundation that allows us not to go down with the ship.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus changed history by making himself close to us and he made it, however still marked by evil, a story of salvation. By offering his life on the cross, Jesus also conquered death. From the open heart of the Crucified One, God's love reaches each of us. We can change our stories by drawing near to him, welcoming the salvation he offers us. Brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts to him in prayer this week, these days: with the Crucifix and with the Gospel. Don't forget: The Crucifix and Gospel. The domestic liturgy, this is what it will be. Let us open our hearts in prayer, let his gaze be on us and understand that we are not alone, but loved, because the Lord does not abandon us and never forgets us. And with these thoughts, I wish you a Holy Week and a Holy Easter.
  
 
Chapter 16

9-15

 

When I read this Gospel it occurs to me that St Mark may not have liked Mary Magdalen much, since he recalled that the Lord had driven seven demons out of her, didn’t he? It was a question of liking....

Faith: “a grace”, and “a gift of the Lord” which should not be glossed over — and is thus extended “to the peoples who believe in you”, as the Collect of Mass says, for “we are not attached to a fantasy”, but “to a reality we have seen and heard”. Acts of the Apostles (4:13-21). In response to the order given by the head priests and Pharisees not to speak of Jesus, Peter and John, “stood firm in this faith” saying, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”.

Their testimony, reminds me of our faith. And what is our faith like? Is it strong? Or is it at times a little like rosewater, a somewhat watered down faith? When problems arise are we brave like Peter or inclined to be lukewarm?.

Peter, teaches us that “faith is not negotiable. Among the People of God this temptation has always existed: to downsize faith, and not even by “much”. However “faith”, is like this, as we say in the Creed so we must get the better of “the temptation to behave more or less ‘like everyone else’, not to be too, too rigid”, because it is “from this that a path which ends in apostasy unfolds”. Indeed, “when we begin to cut faith down, to negotiate faith and more or less to sell it to the one who makes the best offer, we are setting out on the road of apostasy, of no fidelity to the Lord”.

Yet the very “example of Peter and John helps us, gives us strength”; as does the example of the martyrs in the Church’s history. It is they “who say, like Peter and John, ‘we cannot but speak’. And this gives strength to us, whose faith is at times rather weak. It gives us the strength to carry on living with this faith we have received, this faith which is the gift that the Lord gives to all peoples”.

Lord, thank you so much for my faith. Preserve my faith, increase it. May my faith be strong and courageous. And help me in the moments when, like Peter and John, I must make it public.



Pope Francis   18.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Easter Saturday     Acts 4: 13-21,     Mark 16: 9-15

Pope Francis talks about courage as a Christian 18.04.20

Yesterday I received a letter from a sister, who works as a sign language translator for the deaf, and she told me about the difficult work of health workers, nurses, and doctors with disabled patients who have caught Covid-19. We pray for them who are always at the service of these people with various disabilities, who don't have the same abilities that we have.

The leaders, the elders, the scribes, seeing these men and the frankness with which they spoke, and knowing that they were people without education, perhaps they could not write, were amazed. They did not understand: "But it is something that we cannot understand, how are these people so courageous, have this boldness" (cf. Acts 4:13). This word is a very important word that becomes the style of Christian preachers, especially in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: frankness, boldness, courage. It means all of that. It comes from the Greek root that says all of this, and we too use this word so many times, just the Greek word, to indicate this: parrhesìa, frankness, courage. And they saw this frankness, this courage in them and they did not understand.

Boldness. The courage and frankness with which the first apostles preached ... For example, the Acts of the Apostles is full of it: it says that Paul and Barnabas tried to explain to the Hebrews frankly the mystery of Jesus and preached the Gospel boldly (cf. Acts 13:46).

But there is a verse that I like so much in the Letter to the Hebrews, when the author of the Letter to the Hebrews realizes that there is something in the community that is beginning to decrease, that's beginning to be lost, that there was a certain warmth, that these Christians are becoming lukewarm. And he says this – I do not remember the quote well ... He says this: "Remember the first days, you endured a great and difficult battle: do not throw away your confidence now" (cf. Heb 10:32-35). "Take it back," resume your boldness, have Christian courage to move forward. You cannot be a Christian without this boldness: if you do not have it, you are not a good Christian. If you don't have courage, if you slip and slide on ideologies or case explanations to explain your position, you lack that confidence, you lack that Christian style, the freedom to speak, to say everything. Courage.

And then, we see that the leaders, the elderly and the scribes are victims, they are victims of this frankness, because it puts them in the corner: they do not know what to do. Realizing "that they were simple and uneducated people, they were astonished and recognized them as those who had been with Jesus. Seeing the man who had been healed standing next to them, they did not know what to say in reply" (Acts 4:13-14). Instead of accepting the truth as seen, they had such a closed heart that they sought the path of diplomacy, the way to compromise: "Let's scare them a little, let's tell them they will be punished and let's see if they are so silent" (cf. Acts 4:16-17). Really, they're cornered by the boldness: they didn't know how to get out of it. But they didn't think to say, "But could this be true?" Because their hearts were already closed, they were hard: their hearts were corrupt. This is one of the tragedies: the strength of the Holy Spirit that manifests itself in this boldness of preaching, cannot enter corrupt hearts. For this reason, let us be careful: sinners yes, but never the corrupt. And never arrive at this corruption that has so many ways of manifesting itself ...

But, they were in the corner and didn't know what to say. And in the end, they found a compromise: "Let us threaten them a little, scare them a little", and invite them and call them back and order them, invite them not to speak at any time nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "Let us make peace: you go in peace, but do not speak in the name of Jesus, do not teach" (cf. Acts 4:18). Peter we know : he was not born courageous. He was a coward, he renounced Jesus. But what happened now? They answer: "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges; we cannot remain silent about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20). But this courage, where does it come from, from this coward who has renounced the Lord? What happened in this man's heart? The gift of the Holy Spirit: boldness, courage, parrhesia is a gift, a grace given by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Just after receiving the Holy Spirit they went to preach: a little courageous, a new thing for them. It's consistency, the sign of a Christian, of the true Christian: he is courageous, he tells the whole truth because he is consistent.

And the Lord announces this consistency in sending them out; in the synthesis that Mark makes in the Gospel: a synthesis of the resurrection "He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen him risen" (Mark 16:14) . But with the strength of the Holy Spirit - it is Jesus' greeting: "Receive the Holy Spirit" - and he said to them: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), go with courage, go with boldness, do not be afraid. Do not, as I repeat the verse of the Letter to the Jews, "do not throw away your confidence, do not throw away this gift of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Heb 10:35). The mission comes from here, from this gift that makes us courageous, bold in the proclamation of the word.

May the Lord always help us to be like this: courageous. That's not reckless: no, no. Courageous. Christian courage is always prudent, but it is courageous.


  
  
Chapter 16

15 - 20

 

Before ascending into heaven Jesus sent the Apostles out to evangelize, to preach the kingdom. He sent them to the ends of the earth. ‘Go into all the world’”, he urged them. Jesus did not tell the Apostles to go to Jerusalem or Galilee but sent them out into the entire world. This explains the missionary outreach of the Church which continues to preach to the whole world. But she does not go by herself. She goes with Jesus.

The Christian preaches the Gospel with his witness rather than with his words. Pray to the Lord that they “become missionaries in the Church with this spirit: great magnanimity and also great
humility”.





Pope Francis  13.05.18  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square     Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord      Acts 1: 1-11,      Mark 16: 15-20

Pope Francis - Ascension - 13.05.18

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, in Italy and in many other countries, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is being celebrated. This Solemnity embraces two elements. On the one hand it directs our gaze toward heaven, where the glorified Jesus is seated at the right hand of God (cf. Mk 16:19). On the other, it reminds us of the mission of the Church: why? Because Jesus, Risen and Ascended into heaven, sends his disciples to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Therefore, the Ascension exhorts us to lift our gaze toward heaven, in order to return it immediately to the earth, to implement the tasks that the Risen Lord entrusts to us.

It is what we are invited to do in the day’s Gospel passage, in which the event of the Ascension occurs immediately after the mission that Jesus entrusts to the disciples. It is a boundless mission — that is, literally without boundaries — which surpasses human strength. Jesus says, in fact: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). The task which Jesus entrusts to a small group of common men lacking great intellectual capacity seems truly too bold! Yet this small company, insignificant compared to the great powers of the world, is sent to bring the message of Jesus’ love and mercy to every corner of the earth.

But this plan of God can be accomplished only with the strength that God himself grants to the Apostles. In this sense, Jesus assures them that their mission will be supported by the Holy Spirit. And he says this: “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is how this mission was able to be accomplished, and the Apostles began this work which was then continued by their successors. The mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles has continued through the centuries, and continues still today: it requires the cooperation of all of us. Each one, in fact, by the power of the Baptism that he or she received, is qualified in turn to proclaim the Gospel. Baptism is precisely what qualifies us and also spurs us to be missionaries, to proclaim the Gospel.

The Lord’s Ascension into heaven, while inaugurating a new form of Jesus’ presence among us, calls us to keep eyes and hearts open to encounter him, to serve him and bear witness to him to others. It is a matter of being men and women of the Ascension, that is, those who seek Christ along the paths of our time, bringing his word of salvation to the ends of the earth. On this journey we encounter Christ himself in our brothers and sisters, especially in the poorest, in those who suffer in their very flesh the harsh and humiliating experience of old and new forms of poverty. As at the beginning the Risen Christ sent his Apostles with the power of the Holy Spirit, so too does he send all of us today, with the same power, so as to establish concrete and visible signs of hope. Because Jesus gives us hope. He went to heaven and opened the gates of heaven and the hope that we will reach it.

May the Virgin Mary who, as Mother of the dead and Risen Lord, enlivened the faith of the first community of disciples, help us too to “lift up our hearts”, as the Liturgy exhorts us to do. And at the same time may she help us to keep our “feet on the ground”, and to bravely sow the Gospel in the practical situations of life and of history.





Pope Francis  25.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Feast of St Mark    1 Peter 5: 5-14,    Mark 16: 15-20

Pope Francis Proclaim the Gospel as a witness in service 25.04.20

Let us pray together today for the people who perform funeral services. It's so painful, so sad what they do, and they feel the pain of this pandemic so closely. Let us pray for them.

Today the Church celebrates St. Mark, one of the four evangelists, he was very close to the Apostle Peter. The Gospel of Mark was the first to be written. It's simple, a simple style, very close. If you have some time today, take it in your hand and read it. It is not long, but it is pleasing to read the simplicity with which Mark recounts the life of the Lord.

And in the Gospel - which is the end of the Gospel of Mark, that we have just read - there is the sending forth by the Lord. The Lord has revealed himself as saviour, as the only Son of God; he has been revealed to all of Israel and the people, especially in more detail to the apostles, to the disciples. This is the Lord's taking leave: the Lord leaves, departs, and "was taken up into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God." But before he left, when he appeared to the Eleven, he said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." This is the missionary nature of faith. 

Faith is either missionary or it is not faith. Faith is not just for me, for me to grow up with faith: this is a gnostic heresy. Faith always leads you out of yourself. Go out. The transmission of faith; faith must be transmitted, it must be offered, especially through witness: "Go, let people see how you live."

Someone told me, a European priest, of a European city: "There is so much disbelief, so much agnosticism in our cities, because Christians have no faith. If they did, they would definitely give it to people." Missionaryness is lacking. Because their roots lack conviction: "Yes, I am a Christian, I am Catholic, but ...". As if it's a social attitude. In the identity card, you call yourself that, like this, and "I'm a Christian." It's a fact on the identity card. This is not faith. This is a cultural thing. Faith necessarily takes you out, leads you to give it, because essentially faith must be transmitted . It's not quiet. "Oh, do you mean, father, that we all have to be missionaries and go to distant countries?" No, this is a part of the missionary dimension. This means that if you have faith you necessarily need to go out of yourself, you need to go out of yourself, and show faith socially. Social faith is for everyone: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." And that's not to proselytize, as if I were recruiting for a football team or a charity. No, faith is "not proselytizing." It is to show the revelation, so that the Holy Spirit can act in people with witness, and as a witness through service. Service is a way of life: if I say that I am a Christian and I live like a pagan, it does not work! That doesn't convince anyone. If I say that I am a Christian and I live as a Christian, that attracts. That's witness.

Once, in Poland, a university student asked me: "But in the university I have many fellow students who are atheists. What do I have to tell them to convince them?" – "Nothing, nothing! The last thing you have to do is say something. Start to live and they will see your witness, and they will ask you, 'But why do you live like this?'" Faith must be transmitted, but not by convincing, but by offering a treasure. "It's there, you see it?" And this is also the humility that St. Peter spoke of in the First Reading: "Clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." How many times in the Church, in history, have movements, groups of men or women who wanted to convince others to faith, to convert and were real "proselytes." And how did they end up? In corruption.

This passage of the Gospel is so tender. But where's the certainty? How can I be sure that by going out of myself I will be fruitful in the transmission of faith? "Proclaim the gospel to every creature," you will do wonders. And the Lord will be with us until the end of the world. He accompanies us. In the transmission of faith, the Lord is always with us. In the transmission of ideology there will be teachers, but when I have an attitude of faith that must be transmitted, there is the Lord there who accompanies me. I am never alone in the transmission of faith . It is the Lord with me who transmits the faith. He promised it: "I will be with you every day until the end of the world."

Let us pray to the Lord to help us live our faith like this: faith with open doors, a transparent faith, not "proselytizing", but one that shows: "Look I am like this." And with this healthy curiosity, you help people get this message that will save them.