Mark Chapter 7-16




Chapter 7-16                                                                                                                                                                  Chapter 1    Chapter 2-6

Chapter 7-16




Chapter 7



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




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





Chapter 9

2-10


Pope Francis    01.03.15       Angelus,  St Peter's Square        The Transfiguration of Jesus  2nd Sunday of Lent  Year B              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 fulfilment 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

2-10 cont.




Pope Francis    25.02.18  Holy Mass, Parish of San Gelasio I Papa, Ponte Mammolo, Rome    The Transfiguration of Jesus 2nd Sunday of Lent Year B      Mark 9: 2-10


Pope Francis - Jesus never forsakes us in the trials of life - Mass Ponte Mammolo - 25.02.2018

Jesus shows the Apostles how he is in Heaven: glorious, luminous, triumphant, victorious. He does this in order to prepare them to withstand the Passion, the scandal of the Cross, because they could not understand that Jesus was to die as a criminal; they could not understand it. They thought that Jesus was a liberator, but as earthly liberators are, those who win in battle, those who are always triumphant. But Jesus’ path is a different one: Jesus triumphs through humiliation, the humiliation of the Cross. But seeing that this would be a scandal for them, Jesus shows them what happens afterwards, what happens after the Cross, what awaits us, all of us: this glory and this Heaven. And this is really beautiful! It is really beautiful because Jesus — and listen carefully to this — always prepares us for trial; in one way or another, but this is the message: he always prepares us. He gives us the strength to go forward in times of trial and to overcome them with his strength. Jesus never forsakes us in the trials of life: he always prepares us, helps us, as he prepared [his disciples], with the vision of his glory. This way they will then remember this [moment] in order to bear the burden of humiliation. This is the first thing the Church teaches us: Jesus always prepares us for trials and in the trials he is with us; he never forsakes us. Never.

We can glean the second thing from the Word of God: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mk 9:7). This is the message the Father gives to the Apostles. Jesus’ message is preparing them by showing them his glory; the Father’s message is: “Listen to him”. There is no moment in life that cannot be fully lived by listening to Jesus. In beautiful moments, let us stop and listen to Jesus; in difficult moments, let us stop and listen to Jesus. This is the way. He will tell us what we have to do. Always.

And let us go forward this Lent with these two things: in trials, to remember the glory of Jesus, namely, what awaits us; that Jesus is always present with that glory to give us strength. And throughout life, to listen to Jesus, to what Jesus tells us: in the Gospel, in the liturgy, he always speaks to us; or in our heart.

In daily life perhaps we may have problems, or we may have many things to resolve. Let us ask ourselves this question: what is Jesus telling me today? And let us try to listen to Jesus’ voice, the inspiration from within. And in this way we follow the Father’s advice: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”. Our Lady will give you the second piece of advice, at Cana in Galilee, when there is the miracle of the [transformation] of water into wine. What does our Lady say? “Do whatever he tells you”. Listen to Jesus and do what he says: this is the sure path. Go forth with the memory of the glory of Jesus, with this advice: Listen to Jesus and do what he tells us to do.






Chapter 9

2-10 cont.



Pope Francis         25.02.18  Angelus, St Peter's Square        The Transfiguration of Jesus 2nd Sunday of Lent Year B               Mark 9: 2-10


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis - Transfiguration of Jesus - Angelus 25.02.2018


Today’s Gospel, according to the Second Sunday of Lent, invites us to contemplate the Transfiguration of Jesus (cf. Mk 9:2-10). This episode is related to what had happened six days earlier, when Jesus had revealed to his disciples that in Jerusalem he would “suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk 8:31). This message led to crisis for Peter and the entire group of disciples, who rejected the idea that Jesus would be scorned by the leaders of the people and then put to death. Indeed they were waiting for a powerful, strong, dominating Messiah, whereas Jesus presented himself as a humble and gentle servant of God, and servant of mankind, who would offer his life in sacrifice, passing by way of persecution, suffering and death. But how could one follow a Master and Messiah whose earthly existence was to end in that way? That is what they were thinking. And the answer came precisely from the Transfiguration. What is the Transfiguration of Jesus? It is a preliminary Paschal apparition.

Jesus took with him the three disciples Peter, James and John, “and led them up a high mountain” (9:2); and there, for a moment, he showed them his glory, the glory of the Son of God. This event of the Transfiguration thus allowed the disciples to confront Jesus’ Passion in a positive way, without being overwhelmed. They saw him as he would be after the Passion: glorious. And in this way Jesus prepared them for the trial. The Transfiguration helps the disciples, and us too, to understand that the Passion of Christ is a mystery of suffering, but it is above all a gift of love, of infinite love on Jesus’ part. The event of Jesus transfiguring himself on the mountain enables us to better understand his Resurrection. In order to understand the Mystery of the Cross, it is necessary to know ahead of time that the One who suffers and who is glorified is not only a man, but is the Son of God who, with his love faithful to the end, saved us. In this way the Father renews his messianic declaration about the Son, which he had made previously on the bank of the River Jordan after his Baptism, exhorting: “listen to him” (v. 7). The disciples are called to follow the Master with trust, with hope, notwithstanding his death; the divinity of Jesus must be made manifest precisely on the Cross, precisely in his dying “in that way”, so that here Mark the Evangelist places in the mouth of the centurion the profession of faith: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39).

Let us now turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, the human creature transfigured interiorly by Christ’s grace. Let us confidently entrust ourselves to her maternal support in order to continue with faith and generosity the journey of Lent.





Chapter 9

2-10 cont.



Pope Francis     28.02.21  Angelus, St Peter's Square      The Transfiguration of Jesus        2nd Sunday of Lent Year B         Mark 9: 2-10


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.
Pope Francis The Transfiguration of Jesus - Angelus 28.02.21


This Second Sunday of Lent invites us to contemplate the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, before three of his disciples (cf. Mk 9:2-10). Just before, Jesus had announced that in Jerusalem he would suffer a greatly, be rejected and put to death. We can imagine what must have happened in the heart of his friends, of those close friends, his disciples: the image of a strong and triumphant Messiah is put into crisis, their dreams are shattered, and they are beset by anguish at the thought that the Teacher in whom they had believed would be killed like the worst of wrongdoers. And in that very moment, with that anguish of soul, Jesus calls Peter, James and John and takes them up the mountain with him.

The Gospel says: He “led them up a high mountain” (v. 2). In the Bible, the mountain always has a special significance: it is the elevated place where heaven and earth touch each other, where Moses and the prophets had the extraordinary experience of encountering God. Climbing the mountain is drawing somewhat close to God. Jesus climbs up with the three disciples and they stop at the top of the mountain. Here, he is transfigured before them. His face radiant and his garments glistening, providing a preview of the image as the Risen One, offer to those frightened men the light, the light of hope, the light to pass through the shadows: death will not be the end of everything, because it will open to the glory of the Resurrection. Thus, Jesus announces his death; he takes them up the mountain and shows them what will happen afterwards, the Resurrection.

As the Apostle Peter exclaimed (cf. v. 5), it is good to pause with the Lord on the mountain, to live this “preview” of light in the heart of Lent. It is a call to remember, especially when we pass through a difficult trial – and so many of you know what it means to pass through a difficult trial – that the Lord is Risen and does not permit darkness to have the last word.

At times we go through moments of darkness in our personal, family or social life, and of fear that there is no way out. We feel frightened before great enigmas such as illness, innocent pain or the mystery of death. In the same journey of faith, we often stumble encountering the scandal of the cross and the demands of the Gospel, which calls us to spend our life in service and to lose it in love, rather than preserve it for ourselves and protect it. Thus, we need a different outlook, of a light that illuminates the mystery of life in depth and helps us to move beyond our paradigms and beyond the criteria of this world. We too are called to climb up the mountain, to contemplate the beauty of the Risen One who enkindles glimmers of light in every fragment of our life and helps us to interpret history beginning with his paschal victory.

Let us be careful, however: that feeling of Peter that “it is well that we are here” must not become spiritual laziness. We cannot remain on the mountain and enjoy the beauty of this encounter by ourselves. Jesus himself brings us back to the valley, amid our brothers and sisters and into daily life. We must beware of spiritual laziness: we are fine, with our prayers and liturgies, and this is enough for us. No! Going up the mountain does not mean forgetting reality; praying never means avoiding the difficulties of life; the light of faith is not meant to provide beautiful spiritual feelings. No, this is not Jesus’ message. We are called to experience the encounter with Christ so that, enlightened by his light, we might take it and make it shine everywhere. Igniting little lights in people’s hearts; being little lamps of the Gospel that bear a bit of love and hope: this is the mission of a Christian.

Let us pray to Mary Most Holy, that she may help us to welcome the light of Christ with wonder, to safeguard it and share it.






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.






Chapter 9

30-37 cont.



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
 faithhope 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




Chapter 10

1-16



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

1-16 cont.



Pope Francis         18.01.15  Holy Mass, Rizal Pak, Manila, Philippines          Santo Niño Sunday Year B      Isaiah 9: 1-6,     Ephesians 1; 3-6, 15-18,     Mark 10: 13-16


Pope Francis - Holy Mass Santo Niño Sunday - Manila 18.01.2015

“A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Is 9:5). It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness. It brings the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guides us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children”. That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.

The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph 1:3). These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.

God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4). He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”. He distracts us with the view of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: forget, at heart, that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.

The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.
Pope Francis - Mass Santo Niño Sunday - Manila, Philippines 18.01.2015

In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16). We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.

It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless






Chapter 10

1-16 cont.



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: 
solitudelove 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

1-16 cont.



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

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.







Chapter 10

17-27 cont.



Pope  Francis       13.06.18  General Audience  St Peter's Square       Mark 10: 17-21

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 humilitybut mediocritycowardice.[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

32-45


Pope Francis      28.11.20  Vatican Basilica        Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals         Mark 10: 32-45


Pope Francis New Cardinals 28.11.20
Jesus and his disciples were on the road. The road is the setting for the scene just recounted by the Evangelist Mark (10:32-45). It is always the setting, too, for the Church’s journey: the road of life and history, which is a story of salvation history insofar as it is travelled with Christ and leads to his paschal mystery. Jerusalem always lies ahead of us. The cross and the resurrection are part of our history; they are our “today” but also and always the goal of our journey.

This Gospel passage has often accompanied consistories for the creation of new Cardinals. It is not merely a “backdrop” but also a “road sign” for us who today are journeying together with Jesus. For he is our strength, who gives meaning to our lives and our ministry.

Consequently, dear brothers, we need carefully to consider the words we have just heard.

Mark emphasizes that, on the road, the disciples were “amazed” and “afraid” (v. 32). Why? Because they knew what was ahead of them in Jerusalem. They not only had a sense of it; they knew well what was ahead, because, more than once, Jesus had already spoken to them openly about it. The Lord knew what his followers were experiencing, nor was he indifferent to it. Jesus never abandons his friends; he never neglects them. Even when it seems that he is going his own way, he is always doing so for our sake. All that he does, he does for us and for our salvation. In the specific case of the Twelve, he did this to prepare them for the trials to come, so that they could be with him, now and especially later, when he would no longer be in their midst. So that that they could always be with him, on his road.

Knowing that the hearts of his disciples were troubled, Jesus “once more” called the Twelve and told them “what was to happen to him” (v. 32). We have just heard it ourselves: the third announcement of his passion, death and resurrection. This is the road taken by the Son of God. The road taken by the Servant of the Lord. Jesus identifies himself with this road, so much so that he himself is the road. “I am the way” (Jn 14:6), he says. This way, and none other.

At this point, a sudden shift takes place, which enables Jesus to reveal to James and John – but really to all the Apostles, and to us – the fate in store for them. Let us imagine the scene: after once again explaining what will happen to him in Jerusalem, Jesus looks the Twelve squarely in the eye, as if to say: “Is this clear?” Then he resumes his journey, walking ahead of the group. Two of his disciples break away from the others: James and John. They approach Jesus and tell him what they want: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (v. 37). They want to take a different road. Not Jesus’ road, but a different one. The road of those who, perhaps even without realizing it, “use” the Lord for their own advancement. Those who – as Saint Paul says – look to their own interests and not those of Christ (cf. Phil 2:21). Saint Augustine speaks of this in his magnificent sermon on shepherds (No. 46). A sermon we always benefit from rereading in the Office of Readings.

Jesus listens to James and John. He does not get upset or angry. His patience is indeed infinite, also towards us. He tells the two: “You do not know what you are asking” (v. 38). In a way, he excuses them, while at the same time reproaching them: “You do not realize that you have gone off the road”. Immediately after this, the other ten apostles will show by their indignant reaction to the sons of Zebedee how much all of them were tempted to go off the road.

Dear brothers, all of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him, yet we must always be careful to remain on the road. For our bodies can be with him, but our hearts can wander far afield and so lead us off the road. We can think of so many kinds of corruption in the priestly life. The scarlet of a Cardinal’s robes, which is the colour of blood, can, for a worldly spirit, become the colour of a secular “eminence”. In that case, you will no longer be a shepherd who is close to his people. You will simply think that you are an “eminence”. Once you feel that way, you are already off the road.

In this passage of the Gospel, we are always struck by the sharp contrast between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus is aware of this; he knows it and he accepts it. Yet the contrast is still there: Jesus is on the road, while they are off the road. Two roads that cannot meet. Only the Lord, through his cross and resurrection, can save his straying friends who risk getting lost. It is for them, as well as for all the others, that Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem. For them, and for everyone, will he let his body be broken and his blood shed. For them, and for all, will he rise from the dead, and forgive and transform them by the gift of the Spirit. He will at last put them back on his road.

Saint Mark – like Matthew and Luke – included this story in his Gospel because it contains a saving truth necessary for the Church in every age. Even though the Twelve come off badly, this text entered the canon of Scripture because it reveals the truth about Jesus and about us. For us too, in our day, it is a message of salvation. We too, Pope and Cardinals, must always see ourselves reflected in this word of truth. It is a sharpened sword; it cuts, it proves painful, but it also heals, liberates and converts us. For conversion means precisely this: that we pass from being off the road to journeying on God’s road.

May the Holy Spirit give us this grace, today and for ever.





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




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

28-34



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.






Chapter 12

38-44 cont.



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 13





Chapter 13

33-37


Pope Francis    03.12.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square      1st Sunday of Advent Year B       Isaiah 63: 16b,17,19b, 64: 2-7,      Mark 13: 33-37


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis 1st Sunday of Advent - Angelus - 03.12.17


Today we begin the journey of Advent, which will culminate in Christmas. Advent is the time we are given to welcome the Lord who comes to encounter us, and also to verify our longing for God, to look forward and prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. He will return to us in the celebration of Christmas, when we will remember his historic coming in the humility of the human condition; but he enters our heart each time we are willing to receive him; and he will come again at the end of time to “judge the living and the dead”. Therefore, we must always be vigilant and await the Lord with the hope of encountering him. Today’s liturgy introduces us precisely to this evocative theme of vigilance and waiting.

In the Gospel (cf. Mk 13:33-37) Jesus exhorts us to take heed and watch, so as to be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return. He tells us: “Take heed, watch ... for you do not know when the time will come.... Watch therefore ... lest he come suddenly and find you asleep” (vv. 33-37).

The person who takes heed is the one who, amid the worldly din, does not let himself be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, with concern first and foremost for others. With this manner we become aware of the tears and the needs of neighbours and we can also understand their human and spiritual strengths and qualities. The heedful person then also turns toward the world, seeking to counter the indifference and cruelty in it, and taking delight in its beautiful treasures which also exist and are to be safeguarded. It is a matter of having an understanding gaze so as to recognize both the misery and poverty of individuals and of society, and to recognize the richness hidden in little everyday things, precisely there where the Lord has placed us.

The watchful person is the one who accepts the invitation to keep watch, that is, not to let himself be overpowered by the listlessness of discouragement, by the lack of hope, by disappointment; and at the same time it wards off the allure of the many vanities with which the world is brimming and for which, now and then, time and personal and familial peace is sacrificed. It is the painful experience of the people of Israel, recounted by the Prophet Isaiah: God seemed to have let his people err from his ways (cf. 63:17), but this was a result of the unfaithfulness of the people themselves (cf. 64:4b). We too often find ourselves in this situation of unfaithfulness to the call of the Lord: He shows us the good path, the way of faith, the way of love, but we seek our happiness elsewhere.

Being attentive and watchful are prerequisites so as not to continue to “err from the Lord’s ways”, lost in our sins and in our unfaithfulness; being attentive and being watchful are the conditions that allow God to permeate our existence, in order to restore meaning and value to it with his presence full of goodness and tenderness. May Mary Most Holy, role model for awaiting God and icon of watchfulness, lead us to her son Jesus, rekindling our love for him.






Chapter 13

33-37 cont.




Pope Francis         29.11.20  Holy Mass with the new Cardinals, Vatican Basilica         1st Sunday of Advent Year B      Isaiah 63: 16b,17,19b, 64: 2-7,    Mark 13: 33-37


Pope Francis Holy Mass with New Cardinals 29.11.20
Today’s readings propose two key words for the Advent season: closeness and watchfulness. God’s closeness and our watchfulness. The prophet Isaiah says that God is close to us, while in the Gospel Jesus urges us to keep watch in expectation of his return.

Closeness. Isaiah begins by speaking personally to God: “You, O Lord, are our father” (63:16). “Never has anyone heard”, he continues, “[of] any God, other than you, who has done so much for those who trust in him” (cf. 64:3). We are reminded of the words of Deuteronomy: who is like the Lord our God, so close to us whenever we call upon him? (cf. 4:7). Advent is the season for remembering that closeness of God who came down to dwell in our midst. The prophet goes on to ask God to draw close to us once more: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” (Is 64:1). We prayed for this in today’s responsorial psalm: “Turn again… come to save us” (Ps 80:15.3). We often begin our prayers with the invocation: “God, come to my assistance”. The first step of faith is to tell God that we need him, that we need him to be close to us.

This is also the first message of Advent and the liturgical year: we need to recognize God’s closeness and to say to him: “Come close to us once more!” God wants to draw close to us, but he will not impose himself; it is up to us to keep saying to him: “Come!” This is our Advent prayer: “Come!” Advent reminds us that Jesus came among us and will come again at the end of time. Yet we can ask what those two comings mean, if he does not also come into our lives today? So let us invite him. Let us make our own the traditional Advent prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). The Book of Revelation ends with this prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus”. We can say that prayer at the beginning of each day and repeat it frequently, before our meetings, our studies and our work, before making decisions, in every more important or difficult moment in our lives: Come, Lord Jesus! It is a little prayer, yet one that comes from the heart. Let us say it in this Advent season. Let us repeat it: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

If we ask Jesus to come close to us, we will train ourselves to be watchful. Today Mark’s Gospel presented us with the end of Jesus’ final address to his disciples, which can be summed up in two words: “Be watchful!” The Lord repeats these words four times in five verses (cf. Mk 13:33-35.37). It is important to remain watchful, because one great mistake in life is to get absorbed in a thousand things and not to notice God. Saint Augustine said: “Timeo Iesum transeuntem” (Sermons, 88, 14, 13), “I fear that Jesus will pass by me unnoticed”. Caught up in our own daily concerns (how well we know this!), and distracted by so many vain things, we risk losing sight of what is essential. That is why today the Lord repeats: “To all, I say: be watchful!” (Mk 13:37). Be watchful, attentive.

Having to be watchful, however, means it is now night. We are not living in broad daylight, but awaiting the dawn, amid darkness and weariness. The light of day will come when we shall be with the Lord. Let us not lose heart: the light of day will come, the shadows of night will be dispelled, and the Lord, who died for us on the cross, will arise to be our judge. Being watchful in expectation of his coming means not letting ourselves be overcome by discouragement. It is to live in hope. Just as before our birth, our loved ones expectantly awaited our coming into the world, so now Love in person awaits us. If we are awaited in Heaven, why should we be caught up with earthly concerns? Why should we be anxious about money, fame, success, all of which will pass away? Why should we waste time complaining about the night, when the light of day awaits us? Why should we look for “patrons” to help advance our career? All these things pass away. Be watchful, the Lord tells us.

Staying awake is not easy; it is really quite hard. At night, it is natural to sleep. Even Jesus’s disciples did not manage to stay awake when told to stay awake “in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn” (cf. v. 35). Those were the very times they were not awake: in the evening, at the Last Supper, they betrayed Jesus; at midnight, they dozed off; at the cock’s crow, they denied him; in the morning, they let him be condemned to death. They did not keep watch. They fell asleep. But that same drowsiness can also overtake us. There is a dangerous kind of sleep: it is the slumber of mediocrity. It comes when we forget our first love and grow satisfied with indifference, concerned only for an untroubled existence. Without making an effort to love God daily and awaiting the newness he constantly brings, we become mediocre, lukewarmworldly. And this slowly eats away at our faith, for faith is the very opposite of mediocrity: it is ardent desire for God, a bold effort to change, the courage to love, constant progress. Faith is not water that extinguishes flames, it is fire that burns; it is not a tranquilizer for people under stress, it is a love story for people in love! That is why Jesus above all else detests lukewarmness (cf. Rev 3:16). God clearly disdains the lukewarm.

How can we rouse ourselves from the slumber of mediocrity? With the vigilance of prayer. When we pray, we light a candle in the darkness. Prayer rouses us from the tepidity of a purely horizontal existence and makes us lift our gaze to higher things; it makes us attuned to the Lord. Prayer allows God to be close to us; it frees us from our solitude and gives us hope. Prayer is vital for life: just as we cannot live without breathing, so we cannot be Christians without praying. How much we need Christians who keep watch for those who are slumbering, worshipers who intercede day and night, bringing before Jesus, the light of the world, the darkness of history. How much we need worshipers. We have lost something of our sense of adoration, of standing in silent adoration before the Lord. This is mediocrity, lukewarmness.

There is also another kind of interior slumber: the slumber of indifference. Those who are indifferent see everything the same, as if it were night; they are unconcerned about those all around them. When everything revolves around us and our needs, and we are indifferent to the needs of others, night descends in our hearts. Our hearts grow dark. We immediately begin to complain about everything and everyone; we start to feel victimized by everyone and end up brooding about everything. It is a vicious circle. Nowadays, that night seems to have fallen on so many people, who only demand things for themselves, and are blind to the needs of others.

How do we rouse ourselves from the slumber of indifference? With the watchfulness of charity. To awaken us from that slumber of mediocrity and lukewarmness, there is the watchfulness of prayer. To rouse us from that slumber of indifference, there is the watchfulness of charity. Charity is the beating heart of the Christian: just as one cannot live without a heartbeat, so one cannot be a Christian without charity. Some people seem to think that being compassionate, helping and serving others is for losers. Yet these are the only things that win us the victory, since they are already aiming towards the future, the day of the Lord, when all else will pass away and love alone will remain. It is by works of mercy that we draw close to the Lord. This is what we asked for in today’s opening prayer: “Grant [us]… the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming”. The resolve to run forth to meet Christ with good works. Jesus is coming, and the road to meet him is clearly marked: it passes through works of charity.

Dear brothers and sisters, praying and loving: that is what it means to be watchful. When the Church worships God and serves our neighbour, she does not live in the night. However weak and weary, she journeys towards the Lord. Let us now call out to him. Come, Lord Jesus, we need you! Draw close to us. You are the light. Rouse us from the slumber of mediocrity; awaken us from the darkness of indifference. Come, Lord Jesus, take our distracted hearts and make them watchful. Awaken within us the desire to pray and the need to love.




Chapter 14






Chapter 14

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Pope Francis  - Palm Sunday 29.03.15

At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and, consequently, that which must be the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the the story of the Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabbas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.

This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.

Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the “form of a slave” (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility also means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptying oneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7). This – the pouring out of oneself - is the greatest humiliation of all.

There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, and only by his grace, with his help, we too can overcome this temptation to vanity, to worldliness, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.

In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person, the homeless…

We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time – and there are many. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. In truth, we can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” – the martyrs of our own time (cf. Heb 12:1).

During this week, let us set about with determination along this same path of humility, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26).





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1-72 cont.



Pope Francis   04.06.15  Holy Mass, Saint John Lateran Square     Solemnity of Corpus Christi        Hebrews 9: 11-15,     Mark 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”.





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Pope Francis    25.03.18  St Peter's Square  Celebration of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - Year B 33rd World Youth Day      Mark 14: 1 to 15: 47

Pope Francis  Palm Sunday  25.03.18

Jesus enters Jerusalem. The liturgy invites us to share in the joy and celebration of the people who cry out in praise of their Lord; a joy that will fade and leaves a bitter and sorrowful taste by the end of the account of the Passion. This celebration seems to combine stories of joy and suffering, mistakes and successes, which are part of our daily lives as disciples. It somehow expresses the contradictory feelings that we too, the men and women of today, experience: the capacity for great love… but also for great hatred; the capacity for courageous self-sacrifice, but also the ability to “wash our hands” at the right moment; the capacity for loyalty, but also for great abandonment and betrayal.

We also see clearly throughout the Gospel account that the joy Jesus awakens is, for some, a source of anger and irritation.

Jesus enters the city surrounded by his people and by a cacophony of singing and shouting. We can imagine that amid the outcry we hear, all at the same time, the voice of the forgiven son, the healed leper, or the bleating of the lost sheep. Then too, the song of the publican and the unclean man; the cry of those living on the edges of the city. And the cry of those men and women who had followed Jesus because they felt his compassion for their pain and misery… That outcry is the song and the spontaneous joy of all those left behind and overlooked, who, having been touched by Jesus, can now shout: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. How could they not praise the one who had restored their dignity and hope? Theirs is the joy of so many forgiven sinners who are able to trust and hope once again. And they cry out. They rejoice. This is joy.

All this joy and praise is a source of unease, scandal and upset for those who consider themselves righteous and “faithful” to the law and its ritual precepts.[1] A joy unbearable for those hardened against pain, suffering and misery. Many of these think to themselves: “Such ill-mannered people!” A joy intolerable for those who have forgotten the many chances they themselves had been given. How hard it is for the comfortable and the self-righteous to understand the joy and the celebration of God’s mercy! How hard it is for those who trust only in themselves, and look down on others, to share in this joy.[2]

And so here is where another kind of shouting comes from, the fierce cry of those who shout out: “Crucify him!” It is not spontaneous but already armed with disparagement, slander and false witness. It is a cry that emerges in moving from the facts to an account of the facts; it comes from this “story”. It is the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others. This is a false account. The cry of those who have no problem in seeking ways to gain power and to silence dissonant voices. The cry that comes from “spinning” facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a “criminal”. It is the voice of those who want to defend their own position, especially by discrediting the defenceless. It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: “Crucify him, crucify him”.

And so the celebration of the people ends up being stifled. Hope is demolished, dreams are killed, joy is suppressed; the heart is shielded and charity grows cold. It is cry of “save yourself”, which would dull our sense of solidarity, dampen our ideals, and blur our vision... the cry that wants to erase compassion, that “suffering with” that is compassion, that is the weakness of God.

Faced with such people, the best remedy is to look at Christ’s cross and let ourselves be challenged by his final cry. He died crying out his love for each of us: young and old, saints and sinners, the people of his times and of our own. We have been saved by his cross, and no one can repress the joy of the Gospel; no one, in any situation whatsoever, is far from the Father’s merciful gaze. Looking at the cross means allowing our priorities, choices and actions to be challenged. It means questioning ourselves about our sensitivity to those experiencing difficulty. Brothers and sisters, where is our heart focused? Does Jesus Christ continue to be a source of joy and praise in our heart, or does its priorities and concerns make us ashamed to look at sinners, the least and forgotten?

And you, dear young people, the joy that Jesus awakens in you is a source of anger and even irritation to some, since a joyful young person is hard to manipulate. A joyful young person is hard to manipulate!

But today, a third kind of shouting is possible: “And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out”” (Lk 19: 39-40).

The temptation to silence young people has always existed. The Pharisees themselves rebuke Jesus and ask him to silence them.

There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anaesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. “Keep quiet, you!” There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.

On this Palm Sunday, as we celebrate World Youth Day, we do well to hear Jesus’ answer to all those Pharisees past and present, even the ones of today: “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40).

Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. It is up to you to opt for Sunday’s “Hosanna!”, so as not to fall into Friday’s “Crucify him!”... It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders – so often corrupt – keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?

Please, make that choice, before the stones themselves cry out.






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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






Chapter 15

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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 15

1-39 cont.



Pope Francis  20.10.20 Capitoline Hill, Rome   International Meeting of Prayer for Peace - "No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity"   Mark 15: 25-32 
Moment of Christian Prayer for Peace - Homily in the Church of Saint Maria in Aracoeli

Pope Francis Homily  International Meeting of Prayer for Peace 20.10.20

It is a gift to pray together. I greet all of you cordially and with gratitude, especially my brother, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and dear Bishop Heinrich, President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany. Sadly, Justin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was unable to be here because of the pandemic.

The passage from the account of the Lord's Passion that we have just heard comes shortly before Jesus’ death. It speaks of the temptation he experienced amid the agony of the cross. At the supreme moment of his sufferings and love, many of those present cruelly taunted him with the words: “Save yourself!” (Mk 15:30). This is a great temptation. It spares no one, including us Christians. The temptation to think only of saving ourselves and our own circle. To focus only on our own problems and interests, as if nothing else mattered. It is a very human instinct, but wrong. It was the final temptation of the crucified God.

Save yourself. These words were spoken first “by those who passed by” (v. 29). They were ordinary people, those who had heard Jesus teach and who witnessed his miracles. Now they are telling him, “Save yourself, come down from the cross”. They had no pity, they only wanted miracles; they wanted to see Jesus descend from the cross. Sometimes we too prefer a wonder-working god to one who is compassionate, a god powerful in the eyes of the world, who shows his might and scatters those who wish us ill. But this is not God, but our own creation. How often do we want a god in our own image, rather than to become conformed to his own image. We want a god like ourselves, rather than becoming ourselves like God. In this way, we prefer the worship of ourselves to the worship of God. Such worship is nurtured and grows through indifference toward others. Those passers-by were only interested in Jesus for the satisfaction of their own desires. Jesus, reduced to an outcast hanging on the cross, was no longer of interest to them. He was before their eyes, yet far from their hearts. Indifference kept them far from the true face of God.

Save yourself. The next people to speak those words were the chief priests and the scribes. They were the ones who had condemned Jesus, for they considered him dangerous. All of us, though, are specialists in crucifying others to save ourselves. Yet Jesus allowed himself to be crucified, in order to teach us not to shift evil to others. The chief priests accused him precisely because of what he had done for others: “He saved others and cannot save himself!"(v. 31). They knew Jesus; they remembered the healings and liberating miracles he performed, but they drew a malicious conclusion. For them, saving others, coming to their aid, is useless; Jesus, who gave himself unreservedly for others was himself lost! The mocking tone of the accusation is garbed in religious language, twice using the verb to save. But the “gospel” of save yourself is not the Gospel of salvation. It is the falsest of the apocryphal gospels, making others carry the cross. Whereas the true Gospel bids us take up the cross of others.

Save yourself. Finally, those who were crucified alongside Jesus also joined in taunting him. How easy it is to criticize, to speak against others, to point to the evil in others but not in ourselves, even to blaming the weak and the outcast! But why were they upset with Jesus? Because he did not take them down from the cross they said to him: “Save yourself and us!” (Lk 23:39). They looked to Jesus only to resolve their problems. Yet God does not come only to free us from our ever-present daily problems, but rather to liberate us from the real problem, which is the lack of love. This is the primary cause of our personal, social, international and environmental ills. Thinking only of ourselves: this is the father of all evils. Yet one of the thieves then looks at Jesus and sees in him a humble love. He entered heaven by doing one thing alone: turning his concern from himself to Jesus, from himself to the person next to him (cf. v. 42).

Dear brothers and sisters, Calvary was the site of a great “duel” between God, who came to save us, and man, who wants to save only himself; between faith in God and worship of self; between man who accuses and God who excuses. In the end, God's victory was revealed; his mercy came down upon the earth. From the cross forgiveness poured forth and fraternal love was reborn: “the Cross makes us brothers and sisters” (BENEDICT XVI, Address at the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, 21 March 2008). Jesus’ arms, outstretched on the cross, mark the turning point, for God points a finger at no one, but instead embraces all. For love alone extinguishes hatred, love alone can ultimately triumph over injustice. Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards full communion among us.

Let us look upon the crucified God and ask him to grant us the grace to be more united and more fraternal. When we are tempted to follow the way of this world, may we be reminded of Jesus's words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:35). What is counted loss in the eyes of the world is, for us, salvation. May we learn from the Lord, who saved us by emptying himself (cf. Phil 2:7) and becoming other: from being God, he became man; from spirit, he became flesh; from a king, he became a slave. He asks us to do the same, to humble ourselves, to “become other” in order to reach out to others. The closer we become to the Lord Jesus, the more we will be open and “universal”, since we will feel responsible for others. And others will become the means of our own salvation: all others, every human person, whatever his or her history and beliefs. Beginning with the poor, who are those most like Christ. The great Archbishop of Constantinople, Saint John Chrysostom, once wrote: “If there were no poor, the greater part of our salvation would be overthrown” (On the Second Letter to the Corinthians, XVII, 2). May the Lord help us to journey together on the path of fraternity, and thus to become credible witnesses of the living God.





Chapter 15

1-39 cont.



Pope Francis    28.03.21  Vatican Basilica   Celebration of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord    Year B        Philippians 2: 6-11,         Mark 15: 1-39


Pope Francis - Palm Sunday  - 28.03.2021

Every year this liturgy leaves us amazed: we pass from the joy of welcoming Jesus as he enters Jerusalem to the sorrow of watching him condemned to death and then crucified. That sense of interior amazement will remain with us throughout Holy Week. Let us reflect more deeply on it.

From the start, Jesus leaves us amazed. His people give him a solemn welcome, yet he enters Jerusalem on a lowly colt. His people expect a powerful liberator at Passover, yet he comes to bring the Passover to fulfilment by sacrificing himself. His people are hoping to triumph over the Romans by the sword, but Jesus comes to celebrate God’s triumph through the cross. What happened to those people who in a few days’ time went from shouting “Hosanna” to crying out “Crucify him”? What happened? They were following an idea of the Messiah rather than the Messiah. They admired Jesus, but they did not let themselves be amazed by him. Amazement is not the same as admiration. Admiration can be worldly, since it follows its own tastes and expectations. Amazement, on the other hand, remains open to others and to the newness they bring. Even today, there are many people who admire Jesus: he said beautiful things; he was filled with love and forgiveness; his example changed history, … and so on. They admire him, but their lives are not changed. To admire Jesus is not enough. We have to follow in his footsteps, to let ourselves be challenged by him; to pass from admiration to amazement.

What is most amazing about the Lord and his Passover? It is the fact that he achieves glory through humiliation. He triumphs by accepting suffering and death, things that we, in our quest for admiration and success, would rather avoid. Jesus – as Saint Paul tells us – “emptied himself… he humbled himself” (Phil 2:7.8). This is the amazing thing: to see the Almighty reduced to nothing. To see the Word who knows all things teach us in silence from the height of the cross. To see the king of kings enthroned on a gibbet. Seeing the God of the universe stripped of everything and crowned with thorns instead of glory. To see the One who is goodness personified, insulted and beaten. Why all this humiliation? Why, Lord, did you wish to endure all this?

Jesus did it for us, to plumb the depths of our human experience, our entire existence, all our evil. To draw near to us and not abandon us in our suffering and our death. To redeem us, to save us. Jesus was lifted high on the cross in order to descend to the abyss of our suffering. He experienced our deepest sorrows: failure, loss of everything, betrayal by a friend, even abandonment by God. By experiencing in the flesh our deepest struggles and conflicts, he redeemed and transformed them. His love draws close to our frailty; it touches the very things of which we are most ashamed. Yet now we know that we are not alone: God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word. God triumphs, but the palm of victory passes through the wood of the cross. For the palm and the cross are inseparable.

Let us ask for the grace to be amazed. A Christian life without amazement becomes drab and dreary. How can we talk about the joy of meeting Jesus, unless we are daily astonished and amazed by his love, which brings us forgiveness and the possibility of a new beginning? When faith no longer experiences amazement, it grows dull: it becomes blind to the wonders of grace; it can no longer taste the Bread of life and hear the Word; it can no longer perceive the beauty of our brothers and sisters and the gift of creation. It has no other course than to take refuge in legalisms, in clericalisms and in all these things that Jesus condemns in chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew.

During this Holy Week, let us lift our eyes to the cross, in order to receive the grace of amazement. As Saint Francis of Assisi contemplated the crucified Lord, he was amazed that his friars did not weep. What about us? Can we still be moved by God’s love? Have we lost the ability to be amazed by him? Why? Maybe our faith has grown dull from habit. Maybe we remain trapped in our regrets and allow ourselves to be crippled by our disappointments. Maybe we have lost all our trust or even feel worthless. But perhaps, behind all these “maybes”, lies the fact that we are not open to the gift of the Spirit who gives us the grace of amazement.

Let us start over from amazement. Let us gaze upon Jesus on the cross and say to him: “Lord, how much you love me! How precious I am to you!” Let us be amazed by Jesus so that we can start living again, for the grandeur of life lies not in possessions and promotions, but in realizing that we are loved. This is the grandeur of life: discovering that we are loved. And the grandeur of life lies precisely in the beauty of love. In the crucified Jesus, we see God humiliated, the Almighty dismissed and discarded. And with the grace of amazement we come to realize that in welcoming the dismissed and discarded, in drawing close to those ill-treated by life, we are loving Jesus. For that is where he is: in the least of our brothers and sisters, in the rejected and discarded, in those whom our self-righteous culture condemns.

Today’s Gospel shows us, immediately after the death of Jesus, a splendid icon of amazement. It is the scene of the centurion who, upon seeing that Jesus had died, said: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39). He was amazed by love. How did he see Jesus die? He saw him die in love, and this amazed him. Jesus suffered immensely, but he never stopped loving. This is what it is to be amazed before God, who can fill even death with love. In that gratuitous and unprecedented love, the pagan centurion found God. His words – Truly this man was the Son of God! – “seal” the Passion narrative. The Gospels tell us that many others before him had admired Jesus for his miracles and prodigious works, and had acknowledged that he was the Son of God. Yet Christ silenced them, because they risked remaining purely on the level of worldly admiration at the idea of a God to be adored and feared for his power and might. Now it can no longer be so, for at the foot of the cross there can be no mistake: God has revealed himself and reigns only with the disarmed and disarming power of love.

Brothers and sisters, today God continues to fill our minds and hearts with amazement. Let us be filled with that amazement as we gaze upon the crucified Lord. May we too say: “You are truly the Son of God. You are my God”.






Chapter 15

1-39 cont.




Pope Francis           28.03.21  Angelus, Vatican Basilica        Celebration of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord    Year B               Mark 15: 1-39


Dear brothers and sisters,
:Pope Francis  Angelus on Palm Sunday 28.03.21


We have begun Holy Week. For the second time we will live it within the context of the pandemic. Last year we were more shaken up; this year it is more trying for us. And the economic crisis has become heavy.

In this historical and social situation, what is God doing? He takes up the cross. Jesus takes up the cross, that is, he takes on the evil that this situation entails, the physical and psychological evil – and above all the spiritual evil – because the Evil One is taking advantage of the crisis to disseminate distrust, desperation, and discord.

And us? What should we do? The one who shows us is the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is also his first disciple. She followed her Son. She took upon herself her own portion of suffering, of darkness, of confusion, and she walked the way of the passion keeping the lamp of faith lit in her heart. With God’s grace, we too can make that journey. And, along the daily way of the cross, we meet the faces of so many brothers and sisters in difficulty: let us not pass by, let us allow our hearts to be moved with compassion, and let us draw near. When it happens, like the Cyrenian, we might think: “Why me?” But then we will discover the gift that, without our own merit, has touched us.

Let us pray for all the victims of violence, in particular the victims of this morning's attack in Indonesia, in front of the Cathedral of Makassar.

May the Madonna who always precedes us on the path of faith help us.











Chapter 16






Chapter 16

1-7


Pope Francis                31.03.18  Easter Vigil, Vatican Basilica            Holy Saturday                 Mark 16: 1-7

Pope Francis  Easter Vigil  31.03.2018

We began this celebration outside, plunged in the darkness of the night and the cold. We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross.

These are the hours when the disciple stands speechless in pain at the death of Jesus. What words can be spoken at such a moment? The disciple keeps silent in the awareness of his or her own reactions during those crucial hours in the Lord’s life. Before the injustice that condemned the Master, his disciples were silent. Before the calumnies and the false testimony that the Master endured, his disciples said nothing. During the trying, painful hours of the Passion, his disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master. What is more, not only did they not acknowledge him: they hid, they escaped, they kept silent (cf. Jn 18:25-27).

It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations. It is also that of today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh.

It is the silent night of those disciples who are disoriented because they are plunged in a crushing routine that robs memory, silences hope and leads to thinking that “this is the way things have always been done”. Those disciples who, overwhelmed, have nothing to say and end up considering “normal” and unexceptional the words of Caiaphas: “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” (Jn 11:50).

Amid our silence, our overpowering silence, the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40)[1] and to clear the way for the greatest message that history has ever heard: “He is not here, for he has been raised” (Mt 28:6). The stone before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel. The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy and hope, in which all of us are invited to join.

Yesterday, we joined the women in contemplating “the one who was pierced” (cf. Jn 19:36; cf. Zech 12:10). Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: “Do not be afraid… for he has been raised” (Mt 28:5-6). Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person, and that his light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now he waits for us – as he did the women – to enable us to share in his saving work. On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.

He is not here… he is risen! This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity. How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with him he makes our hope and creativity rise, so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.

To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.

The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?

He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.


[1] “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out”.





Chapter 16

1-7 cont.



Pope Francis               03.04.21 Easter Vigil, Vatican Basilica             Holy Saturday                    Mark 16: 1-7

Pope Francis Easter Vigil 03.04.21

The women thought they would find a body to anoint; instead they found an empty tomb. They went to mourn the dead; instead they heard a proclamation of life. For this reason, the Gospel tells us, the women “were seized with trembling and amazement” (Mk 16:8); they were filled with trembling, fear and amazement. Amazement. A fear mingled with joy that took their hearts by surprise when they saw the great stone before the tomb rolled away and inside a young man in a white robe. Wonder at hearing the words: “Do not be afraid! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen” (v. 6). And a message: “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him” (v. 7). May we too accept this message, the message of Easter. Let us go to Galilee, where the Risen Lord has gone ahead of us. Yet what does it mean “to go to Galilee”?

To go to Galilee means, first, to begin anew. For the disciples it meant going back to the place where the Lord first sought them out and called them to follow him. The place of their first encounter and the place of their first love. From that moment on, leaving their nets behind, they followed Jesus, listening to his preaching and witnessing the miracles he performed. Yet, though they were always with him, they did not fully understand him. Frequently they misunderstood his words and in the face of the cross they abandoned him and fled. Even so, the Risen Lord once more appears as the one who goes ahead of them to Galilee. He precedes them. He stands before them and constantly calls them to follow him. He says to them: “Let us start over from where we began. Let us begin anew. I want you to be with me again, in spite of everything”. In this Galilee, we learn to be amazed by the Lord’s infinite love, which opens new trails along the path of our defeats. This is how the Lord is: he creates new paths on the road of our defeats. This is how he is; and he invites us to Galilee to do this.

This is the first Easter message that I would offer you: it is always possible to begin anew, because there is always a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures. From the rubble of our hearts – and each one of us knows the rubble of our hearts – God can create a work of art; from the ruined remnants of our humanity, God can prepare a new history. He never ceases to go ahead of us: in the cross of suffering, desolation and death, and in the glory of a life that rises again, a history that changes, a hope that is reborn. In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope.

Going to Galilee also means setting out on new paths. It means walking away from the tomb. The women were looking for Jesus in the tomb; they went to recall what they had experienced with him, which was now gone forever. They went to indulge in their grief. There is a kind of faith that can become the memory of something once beautiful, now simply to be recalled. Many people – including us – experience such a “faith of memories”, as if Jesus were someone from the past, an old friend from their youth who is now far distant, an event that took place long ago, when they attended catechism as a child. A faith made up of habits, things from the past, lovely childhood memories, but no longer a faith that moves me, or challenges me. Going to Galilee, on the other hand, means realizing that faith, if it is to be alive, must get back on the road. It must daily renew the first steps of the journey, the amazement of the first encounter. And it must continue to trust, not thinking it already knows everything, but embracing the humility of those who let themselves be surprised by God’s ways. We are usually afraid of God’s surprises; we are always worried that God will surprise us. And today the Lord invites us to let ourselves be surprised. Let us go to Galilee, then, to discover that God cannot be filed away among our childhood memories, but is alive and filled with surprises. Risen from the dead, Jesus never ceases to amaze us.

This, then, is the second message of Easter: faith is not an album of past memories; Jesus is not outdated. He is alive here and now. He walks beside you each day, in every situation you are experiencing, in every trial you have to endure, in your deepest hopes and dreams. He opens new doors when you least expect it, he urges you not to indulge in nostalgia for the past or cynicism about the present. Even if you feel that all is lost, please, let yourself be open to amazement at the newness Jesus brings: he will surely surprise you.

Going to Galilee also means going to the peripheries. Galilee was an outpost: the people living in that diverse and disparate region were those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem. Yet that is where Jesus began his mission. There he brought his message to those struggling to live from day to day, the excluded, the vulnerable and the poor. There he brought the face and presence of God, who tirelessly seeks out those who are discouraged or lost, who goes to the very peripheries of existence, since in his eyes no one is least, no one is excluded. The Risen Lord is asking his disciples to go there even now: he asks us to go to Galilee, to the real “Galilee” of daily life, the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities. There the Lord goes ahead of us and makes himself present in the lives of those around us, those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties and hopes. In Galilee we learn that we can find the Risen One in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the enthusiasm of those who dream and the resignation of those who are discouraged, in the smiles of those who rejoice and the tears of those who suffer, and above all in the poor and those on the fringes. We will be amazed how the greatness of God is revealed in littleness, how his beauty shines forth in the poor and simple.

And this is the third message of Easter: Jesus, the Risen Lord, loves us without limits and is there at every moment of our lives. Having made himself present in the heart of our world, he invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices and draw near to those around us every day in order to rediscover the grace of everyday life. Let us recognize him here in our Galilees, in everyday life. With him, life will change. For beyond all defeats, evil and violence, beyond all suffering and death, the Risen One lives and guides history.

Dear sister, dear brother: if on this night you are experiencing an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed or a dream shattered, go, open your heart with amazement to the message of Easter: “Do not be afraid, he has risen! He awaits you in Galilee”. Your expectations will not remain unfulfilled, your tears will be dried, your fears will be replaced by hope. For the Lord always goes ahead of you, he always walks before you. And, with him, life always begins anew.




Chapter 16

9-15


Pope Francis  06.04.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta       Acts 4: 13-21,     Mark  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.





Chapter 16

9-15  cont.



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”.







Chapter 16

15-20 cont.



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.





Chapter 16

15-20 cont.



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.








Chapter 16

15-20 cont.



Pope Francis     16.05.21  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord          Mark 16: 15-20

Pope Francis - the Ascension of the Lord - 16.05.21


Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. The Gospel passage (Mk 16:15-20) – the conclusion of the Gospel of Mark – presents us the Risen One’s final encounter with the disciples before he ascends to the right hand of the Father. Usually, as we know, farewell scenes are sad. They cause a feeling of loss, of abandonment in those who remain; instead, none of this happens to the disciples. Despite their separation from the Lord, they do not appear grief-stricken, but rather, they are joyful and ready to go out into the world as missionaries.

Why are the disciples not sad? Why should we too rejoice at seeing Jesus ascending into heaven? Because the Ascension completes Jesus’ mission among us. Indeed, if it is for us that Jesus descended from heaven, it is also for us that he ascends there. After having descended into our humanity and redeeming it – God, the Son of God, descends and becomes man, takes our humanity and redeems it – he now ascends into heaven, taking our flesh with him. He is the first man who enters heaven, because Jesus is man, true man; he is God, true God; our flesh is in heaven and this gives us joy. Now at the right hand of the Father sits a human body, for the first time, the body of Jesus, and in this mystery each of us contemplates our own future destination. This is not at all an abandonment; Jesus remains forever with the disciples – with us. He remains in prayer, because he, as man, prays to the Father, and as God, man and God, shows Him his wounds, the wounds by which he has redeemed us. Jesus’ prayer is there, with our flesh: he is one of us, God man, and he prays for us.

And this has to give us confidence, or rather joy, great joy! And the second reason for joy is Jesus’ promise. He told us: “I will send you the Holy Spirit”. And there, with the Holy Spirit, that commandment is made which he gives in his farewell: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel”. And it will be the power of the Holy Spirit that leads us there into the world, to bring the Gospel. It is the Holy Spirit of that day, that Jesus promised, and then nine days later he will come in the Feast of Pentecost. It is precisely the Holy Spirit who made it possible for us to be this way today. A great joy! Jesus went to heaven: the first man before the Father.

He left with his wounds, which were the price of our salvation, and he prays for us. And then he sends us the Holy spirit; he promises us the Holy Spirit, to go to evangelize. This is the reason for the joy today; this is the reason for the joy on this day of the Ascension.

Brothers and sisters, on this Feast of the Ascension, while we contemplate Heaven, where Christ has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, let us ask Mary, Queen of Heaven, to help us be courageous witnesses to the Risen One in the world, in the concrete situations of life.


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