Matthew



16 to 24 

Pope Francis      19.03.13  Mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate      Matthew 1:16-24

In the Gospel we heard that "Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife" (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: "Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ's upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model" (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God's presence and receptive to God's plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a "protector" because he is able to hear God's voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God's call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a "protector", however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God's gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are "Herods" who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be "protectors" of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be "protectors", we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus' three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, "hoping against hope, believed"( Romans 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen. 


  

Chapter 1

18-25 


Pope Francis         18.12.18    Holy Mass Santa Marta     Matthew 1: 18-25
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/st-joseph/18.12.18.jpg

The day’s Gospel reading (Mt 1:18-25) presents Joseph as a righteous man, who observed the Law, worked hard, was humble, and loved Mary. When first faced with something he did not understand, he preferred to step back but God revealed to him his mission. So St. Joseph took up his new role wholeheartedly, and helped raise the Son of God, in silence, without judging, without speaking poorly of others, and without gossiping.

He helped him grow and develop. So he looked for a place for the child to be born. He looked after him, helped him grow, and taught him to work: many things… in silence. He never took possession of the child for himself. He silently let him grow. He let him grow: This idea could help us immensely, we who by nature always want to stick our noses in everything, especially in the lives of others… And we start gossiping, talking… But he let him grow, silently watching over him and helping him.

Many parents have the wise attitude of caring for their children without being overbearing. They have the capacity to wait, without immediately yelling if the child makes a mistake. It’s important to know how to wait, before saying something to help them grow.

God has the same patient attitude with His children, since He waits in silence.

St. Joseph’s was a practical man but kept his heart open like “a man of dreams” and not like a dreamer.

Dreams are a privileged place to seek after truth, because there we cannot defend ourselves against the truth. They come, and God speaks through dreams. Not always, because often it is our subconscious that comes forth, but many times God choses to speak through dreams. He often did so in the Bible. In dreams. But Joseph was a man of dreams, but not a dreamer, okay? He wasn’t abstract. A dreamer is something different. It’s someone who believes… goes off… has his head in the clouds, and doesn’t have his feet on the ground. Joseph had his feet on the ground. But he was open-minded.

Don’t lose the ability to dream the future. Each of us needs to dream about our family, our children, and our parents: to imagine how I would like their lives to go. Priests, too, need to dream about what we want for the faithful. Dream as the young dream, who are ‘unabashed’ in their dreams and find their path there. Do not lose the ability to dream, because to dream is to open the door to the future. Be fruitful in the future.
 
  

Chapter 2

1-12 


Pope Francis      06.01.19     Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord  Angelus, St Peter's Square        Isaiah 60: 1-6,      Matthew 2: 1-12

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-francis-angelus-epiphany-jesus.html

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, the Solemnity of the
Epiphany of the Lord, is the celebration of the manifestation of Jesus, symbolized by light. In the prophetic texts this light is a promise: light is promised. Isaiah, in fact, addresses Jerusalem with these words: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1). The prophet’s invitation — to arise because the light has come — seems surprising, because it occurs in the aftermath of the harsh exile and of the numerous oppressions that the people have experienced.

Today this invitation also resonates for us, who have celebrated the Birth of Jesus, and it encourages us to allow ourselves to be reached by the light of Bethlehem. We too are invited not to stop at the outward signs of the event, but to set out from it once again and to undertake anew the experience of our journey as men and women, and as believers.

The light that the Prophet Isaiah had foretold, is present and encountered in the Gospel. And Jesus, born in Bethlehem, the City of David, has come to bring salvation to those near and far: to everyone. Matthew the Evangelist reveals various ways by which one can encounter Christ and react to his presence. For example, Herod and the scribes of Jerusalem have a hard heart, which obstinately refuses the visit of that Child. This is one possibility: to be closed to the light. They represent those who, even in our day, fear Jesus’ coming and close their heart to brothers and sisters who need help. Herod is afraid of losing power and does not consider the true good of the people, but rather his own personal advantage. The scribes and the chief priests of the people are afraid because they do not know how to look beyond their own certainties; they are thus unable to understand the newness that is in Jesus.

Instead, the experience of the Magi is quite different (cf. Mt 2:1-12). Having come from the East, they represent all the faraway peoples of the traditional Hebrew faith. Yet they allow themselves to be guided by the star and face a long and perilous journey just to arrive at the destination and to know the truth of the Messiah. The Magi were open to ‘novelty’, and history’s greatest and most surprising novelty is revealed to them: God-made-man. The Magi prostrate themselves before Jesus and offer him symbolic gifts: gold, incense and myrrh, because seeking the Lord entails not only perseverance on the journey but also generosity of heart. And lastly, they returned “to their own country” (v. 12); and the Gospel states that they returned “by another road”. Brothers and sisters, each time that a man or woman encounters Jesus, he or she changes paths, returns to life in a different way, returns renewed, “by another road”. They returned “to their own country”, bearing within them the mystery of that humble and poor King; we can imagine that they told everyone about the experience they had had: the salvation offered by God in Christ is for all mankind, near and far. It is not possible to “take possession” of that Child: he is a gift for all.

Let us also have a bit of silence in our heart and allow ourselves to be illuminated by the light of Jesus that comes from Bethlehem. Let us not allow our fears to close our hearts, but let us have the courage to open ourselves to this light that is meek and delicate. Then, like the Magi, we will feel “great joy” (v. 10) that we will be unable to keep to ourselves. May the Virgin Mary — star who guides us to Jesus and Mother who shows Jesus to the Magi and to all those who approach her — support us on this journey
 
  

Chapter 4

17 


Pope Francis       02.03.17    Holy Mass  Santa Marta        Deuteronomy 30: 15-20,      Matthew 4: 17,      Luke 9: 22-25

The “compass of a Christian is to follow Christ Crucified”: not a false, “disembodied and abstract” God, but the God who became flesh and brings unto himself “the wounds of our brothers”.

The word, the exhortation of the Church from the very beginning of Lent is ‘repent’, Matthew (4:17): “repent, says the Lord”.

So today the Liturgy of the Word makes us reflect on three realities that lie before us as conditions for this conversion: the reality of man — the reality of life; the reality of God; and the reality of the journey. These are realities of the human experience, all three, but which the Church, and we too, have before us for this conversion.

The first reality, therefore, is “the reality of man: you are faced with a choice”, Deuteronomy (30:15-20) : “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil”. We men are faced with this reality: either it is
good, or it is evil.... But if your heart turns away and if you do not listen and allow yourself to be drawn in to worshipping other gods”, you will walk the path of evil. And this, we perceive in our lives: we can always choose either good or evil; this is the reality of human freedom. God made us free; the choice is ours. But the Lord does not leave us on our own; he teaches us, admonishes us: ‘be careful, there is good and evil’. Worshipping God, fulfilling the commandments is the way of goodness; going the other way, the way of idols, false gods — so many false gods — they make a mess of life. And this is a reality: the reality of man is that we are all faced with good and evil.

Then, there is another reality, the second powerful reality: the reality of God. Yes, God is there, but how is God there? God made himself Christ: this is the reality and it was difficult for the disciples to understand this. Luke (9:22-25): Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised’. Thus God took up all of human reality, minus the sin: there is no God without Christ. A God ‘disembodied’, without Christ, is not a real God”. In fact, the reality of God is God-made-Christ for us, for our salvation, and when we distance ourselves from this, from this reality, and we distance ourselves from the Cross of Christ, from the truth of the Lord’s wounds, we also distance ourselves from God’s love, from his mercy, from salvation and we follow a distant ideological path of God: it is not God who came to us and who came close to save us and who died for us.

This, is the reality of God. God revealed in Christ: there is no God without Christ. I can think of a dialogue by a French writer of the last century, a conversation between an agnostic and a believer. The well-meaning agnostic asked the believer: ‘But how can I ... for me, the question is: how is it that Christ is God? I cannot understand this, how is it that Christ is God?’. And the believer said: ‘For me this is not a problem, the problem would be if God had not made himself Christ’.

Therefore, this is the reality of God: God-made-Christ; God-made-flesh; and this is the foundation of the works of mercy, because the wounds of our brothers are the wounds of Christ; they are the wounds of God, because God made himself Christ. We cannot experience Lent without this second reality: we must convert ourselves not to an abstract God, but to a concrete God who became Christ.

Here, then, is the reality of man: we are faced with good and evil — the reality of God — God-made-Christ — and the third human reality, the reality of the journey. The question to ask then is, “‘how do we go, which road do we take?’”.  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. Because,  the reality of the journey is that of Christ: following Christ, doing the will of the Father, as he did, by taking up the daily crosses and denying ourself in order to follow Christ. This means “not doing what I want, but what Jesus wants: following Jesus”. And Jesus says “that on this path we lose our life so as to regain it afterwards; it is a continuous loss of life, the loss of ‘doing what I want’, the loss of material comforts, of always being on the path of Jesus, who was in service to others, to the adoration of God: that is the just path.

These, are the three realities: the human reality — of man, of life, of man faced with good and evil; the reality of God — God who made himself Christ, and we cannot worship a God who is not Christ, because this is the reality. There is also the reality of the journey — the only sure way is to follow Christ Crucified, the scandal of the Cross. And these three human realities are a Christian’s compass, with these three road signs, which are realities, we will not take the wrong path. 

‘Repent,’ says the Lord; that is, take seriously these realities of the human experience: the reality of life, the reality of God and the reality of the journey. 
  

Chapter 5

1-12 

 


Why are there people who have their heart closed to salvation?

Fear is the answer to the question because salvation scares us. We need salvation, but at the same time we are afraid of it. When the Lord comes to save us, we must give everything, and at that point he commands; and we fear this. Men want to be in control, they want to be their own masters. And so, salvation does not come, the consolation of the Spirit does not reach us.

Furthermore, the
Beatitudes are “the law of those who have been saved” and have opened their heart to salvation. “It was the People of God that followed John the Baptist first and then the Lord”, precisely because they were in need of salvation. But there were also those who “went to test this new doctrine and then to quarrel with Jesus”. Unfortunately they had closed hearts.

Ask the Lord for “the grace to follow him”, but not with the liberty of the Pharisees and Sadducees who became hypocrites because they wanted “to follow him only with human freedom”. Hypocrisy is exactly that: “Not allowing the Spirit to change our hearts with his salvation. The freedom that the Spirit gives us is also a sort of slavery, a slavery to the Lord that sets us free. It is another kind of liberty”.

Man often runs the risk of trying to “bargain”, to take what is convenient for us, “a little of this, a little of that”. It’s like “making a fruit salad: a little of the Spirit and a little of the spirit of the world”. However with God there is no halfway house: the person chooses either “one thing or the other”. The Lord is clear: no one can serve two masters. One either serves the Lord or the spirit of the world. It is impossible to mix everything together.



Pope Francis    01.11.14  Cemetery of Verano      Solemnity of All Saints       Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14    1 John 3: 1-3      Matthew 5: 1-12A 

Pope Francis  01.11.14  All Saints


When in the First Reading we heard this voice of the Angel crying a loud to the four Angels who were given power to damage the earth and the sea, “Do not harm earth or sea or the trees” (Rev 7:3), this brought to mind a phrase that is not here but in everyone’s heart: “men are far more capable of doing this better than you”. We are capable of destroying the earth far better than the Angels. And this is exactly what we are doing, this is what we do: destroy creation, destroy lives, destroy cultures, destroy values, destroy hope. How greatly we need the Lord’s strength to seal us with his love and his power to stop this mad race of destruction! Destroying what He has given us, the most beautiful things that He has done for us, so that we may carry them forward, nurture them to bear fruit. When I looked at the pictures in the sacristy from 71 years ago [of the bombing of the Verano on 19 July 1943], I thought, “This was so grave, so painful. That is nothing in comparison to what is happening today”. Man takes control of everything, he believes he is God, he believes he is king. And wars, the wars that continue, they do not exactly help to sow the seed of life but to destroy. It is an industry of destruction. It is also a system, also of life, that when things cannot be fixed they are discarded: we discard children, we discard the old, we discard unemployed youth. This devastation has created the culture of waste. We discard people.... This is the first image that came to my mind as I listened to this Reading.

The second image, from the same Reading: “A great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues (7:9) The nations, the tribes.... Now it’s starting to get cold:
those poor people, who have to flee for their lives, from their homes, from their people, from their villages, in the desert ... and they live in tents, they feel the cold, without medicine, hungry ... because the “man-god” has taken control of Creation, of all that good that God has done for us. But who pays for this feast? They do! The young, the poor, those people who are discarded. And this is not ancient history: it is happening today. “But Father, it is far away ...”. It is here too, everywhere. It is happening today. I will continue: it seems that these people, these children who are hungry, sick, do not seem to count, it’s as if they were of a different species, as if they were not even human. And this multitude is before God and asks, “Salvation, please! Peace, please! Bread, please! Work, please! Children and grandparents, please! Young people with the dignity of being able to work, please!”. Among these are also those who are persecuted for their faith; there “then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘who are these, clothed in white, and when have they come?’ ... ‘These are they who have come out of great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (7:13-14). And today, without exaggeration, today on the Feast of All Saints I would like us to think of all these, the unknown saints. Sinners like us, worse off than us, destroyed. Of this multitude of people who are in great distress: most of the world is in tribulation. Most of the world is in tribulation. And the Lord sanctifies this people, sinners like us, but He sanctifies these people in tribulation.

Finally, there is a third image: God. First was the devastation; second was the victims; the third is God. In the Second Reading we heard: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what shall be” (1 Jn 3:2), that is,
hope. And this is the Lord’s blessing that we still have: hope. Hope that He will have mercy on His people, pity on those who are in great tribulation and compassion for the destroyers so that they will convert. And so, the holiness of the Church goes on: with these people, with us, that we will see God as He is. What should our attitude be if we want to be part of this multitude journeying to the Father, in this world of devastation, in this world of war, in this world of tribulation? Our attitude, as we heard in the Gospel, is the attitude of the Beatitudes. That path alone will lead us to the encounter with God. That path alone will save us from destruction, from destroying the earth, Creation, morality, history, family, everything. That path alone. But it too will bring us through bad things! It will bring us problems, persecution. But that path alone will take us forward. And so, these people who are suffering so much today because of the selfishness of destroyers, of our brothers destroyers, these people struggle onwards with the Beatitudes, with the hope of finding God, of coming face-to-face with the Lord in the hope of becoming saints, at the moment of our final encounter with Him.

May the Lord help us and give us the grace of this hope, but also the grace of courage to emerge from all this destruction, devastation, the relativism of life, the exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us: the exclusion of peace. May he deliver us from this, and give us the grace to walk in the hope of finding ourselves one day face-to-face with Him. And this hope, brothers and sisters, does not disappoint!



Pope Francis   01.11.15    Verano Cemetery, Rome         Solemnity of All Saints,            Matthew 5: 1-12A   

Pope Francis  01.11.15 All Saints

In the Gospel we listened to Jesus who was teaching his disciples and the crowd that had gathered on the mountain near the lake of Galilee (cf. Mt 5:1-12). The Word of the risen and living Lord also shows us, today, the way to reach the true beatitude, the way that leads to Heaven. It is difficult to understand the path because it goes against the current, but the Lord tells us that those who go on this path are happy, sooner or later they become happy.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. We might ask ourselves how a person poor of heart can be happy, one whose only treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven. The reason is exactly this: that having the heart stripped and free of so many worldly things, this person is “awaited” in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. How can those who weep be happy? Yet, those who in life have never felt sadness, angst, sorrow, will never know the power of comfort. Instead, happy are those with the capacity to be moved, the capacity to feel in their heart the sorrow that exists in their life and in the lives of others. They will be happy! Because the tender hand of God the Father will comfort them and will caress them.

“Blessed are the meek”. How often are we, on the contrary, impatient, irritable, always ready to complain! We have many demands regarding others, but when our turn comes, we react by raising our voice, as if we were masters of the world, when in reality we are all children of God. Let us think instead of those mothers and fathers who are so patient with their children who “drive them mad”. This is the way of the Lord: the way of meekness and of patience. Jesus traveled this path: as a child he endured persecution and exile; and then, as an adult, slander, snares, false accusations in court; and he endured it all with meekness. Out of love for us he endured even the cross.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”. Yes, those who have a strong sense of justice, and not only toward others, but first of all toward themselves, they will be satisfied, because they are ready to receive the greatest justice, that which only God can give.

Then, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”. Happy are those who know how to forgive, who have mercy on others, who do not judge every thing and every one, but try to put themselves in the place of others. Forgiveness is the thing we all need, without exception. This is why at the beginning of the Mass we recognize ourselves for what we are, namely, sinners. It isn’t an expression or a formality: it is an act of truth. “Lord, here I am, have mercy on me”. If we are able to give others the forgiveness we ask for ourselves, we are blessed. As we say in the “Our Father”: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”. Let us look at the faces of those who go around sowing discord: are they happy? Those who are always seeking occasions to mislead, to take advantage of others, are they happy? No, they cannot be happy. Instead, those who patiently try to sow peace each day, are who artisans of peace, of reconciliation, yes, they are blessed, because they are true children of our Heavenly Father, who sows always and only peace, to the point that he sent his Son into the world as the seed of peace for humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is the way of holiness, and it is the very way of happiness. It is the way that Jesus travelled. Indeed, He himself is the Way: those who walk with Him and proceed through Him enter into life, into eternal life. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be simple and humble people, the grace to be able to weep, the grace to be meek, the grace to work for justice and peace, and above all the grace to let ourselves be forgiven by God so as to become instruments of his mercy.

This is what the
Saints did, those who have preceded us to our heavenly home. They accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage, they encourage us to go forward. May their intercession help us to walk on Jesus’ path, and to obtain eternal happiness for our deceased brothers and sisters, for whom we offer this Mass.




Pope Francis  01.11.16 Malmo Sweden

Today, with the entire Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. In doing so, we remember not only those who have been proclaimed saints through the ages, but also our many brothers and sisters who, in a quiet and unassuming way, lived their Christian life in the fullness of faith and love. Surely among them are many of our relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Ours, then, is a celebration of holiness. A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism. A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters. A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others. We think of the lives of all those mothers and fathers who sacrifice for their families and are prepared to forego – though it is not always easy – so many things, so many personal plans and projects.

Yet if there is one thing typical of the
saints, it is that they are genuinely happy. They found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God. That is why we call the saints blessed. The Beatitudes are their path, their goal towards the homeland. The Beatitudes are the way of life that the Lord teaches us, so that we can follow in his footsteps. In the Gospel of today’s Mass, we heard how Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes before a great crowd on the hill by the Sea of Galilee.

The Beatitudes are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian. Here I would like to mention only one: “Blessed are the meek”. Jesus says of himself: “Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love. Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another. It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity. So it was with sons and daughters of this land, including Saint Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, recently canonized, and Saint Bridget, Birgitta of Vadstena, co-patron of Europe. They prayed and worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship between Christians. One very eloquent sign of this is that here in your country, marked as it is by the coexistence of quite different peoples, we are jointly commemorating the fifth centenary of the Reformation. The saints bring about change through meekness of heart. With that meekness, we come to understand the grandeur of God and worship him with sincere hearts. For meekness is the attitude of those who have nothing to lose, because their only wealth is God.

The Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card. They identify us as followers of Jesus. We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy. Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart. Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others. Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians. All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.

Dear brothers and sisters, the call to holiness is directed to everyone and must be received from the Lord in a spirit of faith. The saints spur us on by their lives and their intercession before God, and we ourselves need one another if we are to become saints. Helping one another to become saints! Together let us implore the grace to accept this call with joy and to join in bringing it to fulfilment. To our heavenly Mother, Queen of All Saints, we entrust our intentions and the dialogue aimed at the full communion of all Christians, so that we may be blessed in our efforts and may attain holiness in unity.





Pope Francis    01.11.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square       Solemnity of All Saints        Matthew 5: 1-12A

Pope Francis 01.11.17 Happiness

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning and happy Feast Day!

The
Solemnity of All Saints is “our” celebration: not because we are good, but because the sanctity of God has touched our life. The Saints are not perfect models, but people through whom God has passed. We can compare them to the Church windows which allow light to enter in different shades of colour. The saints are our brothers and sisters who have welcomed the light of God in their heart and have passed it on to the world, each according to his or her own “hue”. But they were all transparent; they fought to remove the stains and the darkness of sin, so as to enable the gentle light of God to pass through. This is life’s purpose: to enable God’s light to pass through; it is the purpose of our life too.

Indeed, today in the Gospel, Jesus addresses his followers, all of us, telling us we are “Blessed” (Mt 5:3). It is the word with which he begins his sermon, which is the “Gospel”, Good News, because it is
the path of happiness. Those who are with Jesus are blessed; they are happy. Happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone, no. True happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? True happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone; true happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? We must go forth, believing in this. So, the ingredients for a happy life are called Beatitudes: blessed are the simple, the humble who make room for God, who are able to weep for others and for their own mistakes, who remain meek, fight for justice, are merciful to all, safeguard purity of heart, always work for peace and abide in joy, do not hate and, even when suffering, respond to evil with good.

These are the Beatitudes. They do not require conspicuous gestures; they are not for supermen, but for those who live the trials and toils of every day, for us. This is how the saints are: like everyone, they breathe air polluted by the evil there is in the world, but on the journey they never lose sight of Jesus’ roadmap, that indicated in the Beatitudes, which is like the map of Christian life.


Today is the celebration of those who have reached the destination indicated by this map: not only the saints on the calendar, but many brothers and sisters “next door”, whom we may have met and known. Today is a family celebration, of many simple, hidden people who in reality help God to move the world forward. And there are so many of them today! There are so many of them! Thanks to these unknown brothers and sisters who help God to move the world forward, who live among us; let us salute them all with a nice round of applause!

First of all — the first Beatitude says — they are “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). What does this mean? That they do not live for success, power and money; they know that those who set aside treasure for themselves are not rich toward God (cf. Lk 12:21). Rather, they believe that the Lord is life’s treasure, and love for neighbour the only true source of gain. At times we are dissatisfied due to something we lack, or worried if we are not considered as we would like; let us remember that our Beatitude is not here but in the Lord and in love: only with him, only by loving do we live as blessed.

Lastly I would like to quote another beatitude, which is not found in the Gospel but at the end of the Bible, and it speaks of the end of life: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13). Tomorrow we will be called to accompany with prayer our deceased, so they may be forever joyful in the Lord. Let us remember our loved ones with gratitude and let us pray for them. May the Mother of God, Queen of the Saints and Gate of Heaven, intercede for our journey of holiness and for our loved ones who have gone before us and who have already departed for the heavenly Homeland.


Pope Francis     01.11.18    Solemnity of All Saints, St Peter's Square          Revelations 7: 2-4, 9-14,       Matthew 5: 1-12A


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and happy Feast Day!
Pope Francis | Beatitudes, the path to holiness in daily life


Today’s first reading, from the Book of Revelation, speaks to us about heaven and sets before us “a great multitude”, innumerable, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9). They are the saints. What do they do up there in heaven? They sing together, they joyfully praise God. It would be beautiful to hear their song.... But we can imagine it: do you know when? During Mass, when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts...”. It is a hymn, the Bible says, which comes from heaven, which is sung there (cf. Is 6:3; Rev 4:8), a hymn of praise. Thus, by singing the Sanctus, not only do we think of the saints, but we do as they do: at that moment, in the Mass, we are united with them more than ever.

And we are united with all the saints: not only the most well known, from the calendar, but also those “next door”, our family members and acquaintances who are now part of that great multitude. Therefore, today is a family celebration. The saints are close to us, indeed they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, love us, know what is truly good for us, help us and await us. They are happy and want us to be happy with them in paradise.

Thus they invite us on the path of happiness, indicated by today’s beautiful and well-known Gospel passage: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.... Blessed are the meek.... Blessed are the pure in heart...” (cf. Mt 5:3-8). But how? The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the overbearing. The Gospel says blessed are the pure, while the world says blessed are the cunning and the pleasure-seekers. This way of
the Beatitudes, of holiness, seems to always lead to defeat. Yet — the first reading also reminds us — the Saints hold “palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9), which is a symbol of victory. They have prevailed, not the world. And they exhort us to choose their side, that of God who is Holy.

Let us ask ourselves which side we are on: that of heaven or that of earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some immediate gratification? Let us ask ourselves: do we truly want holiness? Or are we content with being Christians without infamy and without praise, who believe in God and esteem their neighbour, but without overemphasizing. “The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created” (Apostolic Exhortation
Gaudete et Exsultate, 1). Thus, either holiness or nothing! It is good for us to let ourselves be spurred by the saints, who did not use half-measures here, and are ‘cheering us on’ from there, so that we may choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity, so that we may be impassioned by heaven rather than earth.

Today our brothers and sisters do not ask us to listen to another fine Gospel passage, but to put it into practice, to set out on the way of the Beatitudes. It is not a matter of doing extraordinary things, but of following, each day, this way that leads us to heaven, leads us to family, leads us home. Thus today we glimpse our future and we celebrate what we were born for: we were born so as to die no more; we were born to enjoy God’s happiness! The Lord encourages us and says to those setting out on the path of the Beatitudes: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:12). May the Holy Mother of God, Queen of Saints, help us to decisively follow the road to holiness; may she, who is the Gate of Heaven, introduce our departed loved ones into the heavenly family.


Pope Francis    05.02.19     Holy Mass   Zayed Sports City (Abu Dhabi)        Mathew 5: 1-12
Pope Francis 05.02.19 Zayed Sports City (Abu Dhabi)

Blessed: this is the word with which Jesus begins his preaching in Matthew’s Gospel. And it is the refrain he repeats today, as if to fix in our hearts, more than anything, an essential message: if you are with Jesus, if you love to listen to his word as the disciples of that time did, if you try to live out this word every day, then you are blessed. Not you will be blessed, but you are blessed; this is the first truth we know about the Christian life. It is not simply a list of external prescriptions to fulfil or a set of teachings to know. The Christian life, first and foremost, is not this; rather, it is the knowledge that, in Jesus, we are the Father’s beloved children. The Christian life means living out the joy of this blessedness, wanting to live life as a love story, the story of God’s faithful love, he who never abandons us and wishes to be in communion with us always. This is the reason for our joy, a joy that no one in the world and no circumstance in our lives can take from us. It is a joy that gives peace also in the midst of pain, a joy that already makes us participate in that eternal happiness which awaits us. Dear brothers and sisters, in the joy of meeting you, this is the word I have come to say to you: blessed!

Even as Jesus calls his own disciples blessed, we are yet struck by the reasons for the individual Beatitudes. We see in them an overturning of that popular thinking, according to which it is the rich and the powerful who are blessed, those who are successful and acclaimed by the crowds. For Jesus, on the other hand, blessed are the poor, the meek, those who remain just even at the cost of appearing in a bad light, those who are persecuted. Who is correct here: Jesus or the world? To understand this, let us look at how Jesus lived: poor in respect to things, but wealthy in love; he healed so many lives, but did not spare his own. He came to serve and not to be served; he taught us that greatness is not found in having but rather in giving. Just and meek, he did not offer resistance, but allowed himself to be condemned unjustly. In this way Jesus brought God’s love into the world. Only in this way did he defeat death, sin, fear and even worldliness: only by the power of divine love. Let us together ask here today for the grace of rediscovering the attraction of following Jesus, of imitating him, of not seeking anyone else but him and his humble love. For here is the meaning of our life: in communion with him and in our love for others. Do you believe in this?

I have also come to say thank you for the way in which you live the Gospel we heard. People say that the difference between the written Gospel and the lived Gospel is the same difference between written music and performed music. You who are here know the Gospel’s tune and you follow its rhythm with enthusiasm. You are a choir composed of numerous nations, languages and rites; a diversity that the Holy Spirit loves and wants to harmonize ever more, in order to make a symphony. This joyful polyphony of faith is a witness that you give everyone and that builds up the Church. It struck me what Bishop Hinder once said: that he not only feels himself to be your shepherd, but that you, by your example, are often shepherds to him. Thank you for that!

To live the life of the blessed and following the way of Jesus does not, however, mean always being cheerful. Someone who is afflicted, who suffers injustice, who does everything he can to be a peacemaker, knows what it means to suffer. It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future. But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people. A story from the life of Saint Anthony the Abbot, the great founder of monasticism in the desert, may be helpful to us. He left everything for the Lord and found himself in the desert. There, for a time, he was immersed in a bitter spiritual struggle that gave him no peace; he was assaulted by doubts and darkness, and even by temptation to give in to nostalgia and regrets about his earlier life. But then, after all this torment the Lord consoled him, and Saint Anthony asked him: “Where were you? Why did you not appear before to free me from my suffering? Where were you?” But then he clearly heard Jesus’ answer: “I was here, Anthony” (Saint Athanasius, Vita Antonii, 10). The Lord is close. It can happen that, when faced with fresh sorrow or a difficult period, we think we are alone, even after all the time we have spent with the Lord. But in those moments, where he might not intervene immediately, he walks at our side. And if we continue to go forward, he will open up a new way for us; for the Lord specializes in doing new things; he can even open paths in the desert (cf. Is 43:19).

Dear brothers and sisters, I want to tell you that living out the Beatitudes does not require dramatic gestures. Look at Jesus: he left nothing written, built nothing imposing. And when he told us how to live, he did not ask us to build great works or draw attention to ourselves with extraordinary gestures. He asked us to produce just one work of art, possible for everyone: our own life. The Beatitudes are thus a roadmap for our life: they do not require superhuman actions, but rather the imitation of Jesus in our everyday life. They invite us to keep our hearts pure, to practice meekness and justice despite everything, to be merciful to all, to live affliction in union with God. This is the holiness of daily life, one that has no need of miracles or of extraordinary signs. The Beatitudes are not for supermen, but for those who face up to the challenges and trials of each day. Those who live out the Beatitudes according to Jesus are able to cleanse the world. They are like a tree that even in the wasteland absorbs polluted air each day and gives back oxygen. It is my hope that you will be like this, rooted in Christ, in Jesus and ready to do good to those around you. May your communities be oases of peace.

Finally, I would like to consider for a moment two of the Beatitudes. First: “Blessed are the meek” (Mt 5:5). Those who attack or overpower others are not blessed, but rather those that uphold Jesus’ way of acting, he who saved us, and who was meek even towards his accusers. I like to quote Saint Francis, when he gave his brothers instructions about approaching the Saracens and non-Christians. He wrote: “Let them not get into arguments or disagreements, but be subject to every human creature out of love for God, and let them profess that they are Christians” (Regula Non Bullata, XVI). Neither arguments nor disagreements - and this also applies to priests - neither arguments nor disagreements: at that time, as many people were setting out, heavily armed, Saint Francis pointed out that Christians set out armed only with their humble faith and concrete love. Meekness is important: if we live in the world according to the ways of God, we will become channels of his presence; otherwise, we will not bear fruit.

Second: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9). The Christian promotes peace, starting with the community where he or she lives. In the Book of Revelation, among the communities that Jesus himself addresses, there is one, namely Philadelphia, that I think bears a likeness to you. It is a Church which, unlike almost all the others, the Lord does not reproach for anything. Indeed, that Church kept Jesus’ word without renouncing his name and persevered, went forward, even in the midst of difficulties. There is also a significant detail: the name Philadelphia means brotherly love. Fraternal love. Thus a Church which perseveres in Jesus’ word and fraternal love is pleasing to the Lord and bears fruit. I ask for you the grace to preserve peace, unity, to take care of each other, with that beautiful fraternity in which there are no first or second class Christians.

May Jesus, who calls you blessed, give you the grace to go forward without becoming discouraged, abounding in love “to one another and to all” (1 Thess 3:12).


Pope Francis     02.11.19  Catacombs of Priscilla, Via Salaria         Wisdom 3: 1-9,     Revelation 21: 1-7,     Matthew 5: 1-12 
All Souls - Commemoration of all the faithful departed

Pope Francis  02.11.19  All Souls

The celebration of the feast of All Souls in the catacombs – for me it is the first time in my life that I entered a catacomb, it is a surprise – they tells us many things. We can think of the lives of these people who had to hide, who had this culture of burying the dead and celebrating the Eucharist in here... It is a bad moment in history, but one that has not been overcome: even today there are. There are many. So many catacombs in other countries, where they even have to pretend to have a party or a birthday to celebrate the Eucharist, because in that place it is forbidden to do so. Even today there are persecuted Christians, more than in the first centuries, more. This – the catacombs, the persecution, the Christians – and these Readings, make me think of three words: identity, place and hope.

The identity of these people who gathered here to celebrate the Eucharist and to praise the Lord, is the same as our brothers and sisters today in so many, many countries where being a Christian is a crime, it is forbidden, they have no right. It's the same. Their identity is what we heard: it's the Beatitudes. The identity of a
Christian is this: the Beatitudes. There's no other. If you do this, if you live like this, you're a Christian. "No, but look, I belong to that association, to that other..., I am of this movement...". Yes, yes, all beautiful things; but these are fantasy before this reality. Your ID card is this "it indicates the Gospel", and if you don't have this, you don't need movements or other affiliations. Either you live like this, or you're not a Christian. Simply. The Lord said so. "Yes, but it's not easy, I don't know how to live like this...". There is another passage of the gospel that helps us better understand this, and that passage of the Gospel will also be the "great protocol" according to which we will be judged. It's Matthew 25. With these two passages of the Gospel, the Beatitudes and the great protocol, we will show, living this, our identity as Christians. Without this there is no identity. There is the pretence of being Christian, but we don't have an identity.

This is the identity of the Christian. The second word: the place. Those people who came here to hide, to be safe, even to bury the dead; and people who celebrate the Eucharist today secretly, in those countries where it is forbidden... I think of that nun in Albania who was in a re-education camp, at the time of the communists, and it was forbidden for priests to give the sacraments, and this nun, there, she baptized in secret. The people, the Christians knew that this nun would baptized and the mothers went to her with their babies; but she didn't even have a glass, something to put water in... So she did it with her shoes: she took the water from the river and baptized with her shoes. The place of the Christian is a bit everywhere, we have no privileged place in life. Some want to have it, they are "qualified" Christians. But they run the risk of remaining with the "qualified" and the "Christian" part falls away. Christians, what is their place? "The souls of the just are in God's hands"(Wis 3:1): the Christian's place is in God's hands, where he wants. The hands of God, which are wounded, which are the hands of his Son who wanted to bear the wounds to show them to his Father and intercede for us. The Christian's place is in the intercession of Jesus before the Father. In God's hands. And there we are safe, let happen what happens, even the cross. Our identity indicates the gospel says that we will be blessed if they persecute us, if they say anything against us; but if we are in God's hands wounded by love, we are safe. This is our place. And today we can ask ourselves: but me, where do I feel most secure? In the hands of God or with other things, with other certainties that we trust ourselves to but that will eventually fall, that are not substantial?

These Christians, with this identity card, who lived and live in god's hands, are men and women of hope. And this is the third word that comes to me today: hope. We heard it in the second Reading: that final vision where everything was re-made, where everything was re-created, that homeland where we all will go. And to get in there you don't need strange things, you don't need a little sophisticated attitudes: you only need to show your ID card: "It's fine, go ahead". Our hope is in Heaven, our hope is anchored there and we, with the rope in hand, we support ourselves looking at that other shore that river that we have to cross.

Identity: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. Place: the safest place, in God's hands, wounded by love. Hope, future: the anchor, there, on the other shore, but I well cling to the rope. This is important, always clinging to the rope! So often we can only look at the rope, not even the anchor, not even the other shore; but as long as you are clinging to the rope you will get their securely.


  

Chapter 5

13-16 

 

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Christian witness is meant to edify others and not to serve as path to self-promotion.

Christians are called to provide simple, habitual witness to Jesus; “everyday holiness.”

Christian witness, can mean giving one’s life in martyrdom, after Jesus’ example. But another path is to point to Christ in our everyday actions, when we wake, work, and go to bed.

It seems like such a small thing but miracles are done through small things.

Christian witness must be grounded in
humility, which means being simple salt and light for others.

Salt for others; light for others: Because salt does not give flavour to itself but serves others. Light does not illuminate itself but serves others… Supermarkets sell salt in small quantities, not by the ton. And salt does not promote itself because it doesn’t serve itself. It exists to serve others, by conserving things and giving flavour. This is simple witness.

Daily Christian witness means being light for others, “to help them in their darkest hour.”

The Lord says: ‘You are salt; you are light.’… But do so in order that others see and glorify God. You will not even receive any merit. When we eat, we don’t compliment the salt. No, we say the pasta or meat is good… When we go to sleep at night, we don’t say the light is good. We ignore the light, but we live illuminated by light. This impels Christians to be anonymous witnesses.

Do not act like the Pharisee who thanks the Lord for his holiness. We are not the authors of our own merits.

Everyday holiness means being salt and light for others.
 

 
  

Chapter 5

17-19 

 


Jesus explained to those who accused him of wishing to change the Mosaic Laws. He reassured them, saying “I have come not to abolish but to fulfil”. For the law, “is a fruit of the Covenant. It is impossible to understand the law without the Covenant. The law is more or less the way to enter the Covenant”, which began with a promise on that afternoon in the earthly paradise, then continued with Noah’s Ark, with Moses in the desert and then continued as the law of Israel in order to do God’s will”.

This law “is sacred”, because it brought the people to God. Therefore “it cannot be touched”. Some said that Jesus “was changing this law”. Instead he was seeking to explain clearly that there was a path that would lead “to the growth”, to “the full maturity of the law”.

The law that sets us free is the law of the Spirit.

However, it is a freedom which in a certain sense is frightening. Because, it can be confused with some other forms of human freedom. Then “the law of the Spirit leads us to the road of continuous discernment in order to do God’s will”. This too is somewhat frightening to us”. However, when we are assailed by this fear we risk of succumbing to two temptations. The first is “to turn back because we are uncertain. But this interrupts the journey”. It is “the temptation of the fear of freedom, of fear of the
Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit frightens us”.

In the1930s a diligent superior of a religious congregation was spending many years collecting all the rules of his congregation: what the religious were permitted to do and what they were not permitted to do. Then, once he had finished his task, he went to an important Benedictine Abbot who was in Rome, to show him his work. The Abbot looked at it and said: Father, with this you have killed the charism of your congregation! He had killed freedom. For the charism gives fruits of freedom and he had blocked the charism. This is not life. That congregation was unable to go on living. What happened? Twenty-five years after that masterpiece, no one looked at it and it ended on a library shelf.

The second temptation is “adolescent progressivism”. But it is not real progress: it is a culture that moves ahead from which we are unable to detach ourselves and from which we take the laws and values we like best, just as teenagers do. In the end we run the risk of slipping, “just as a car skids on an icy road and ends up in the ditch”.

For the Church in our day this is a recurrent temptation. We cannot turn back, and skid off the road. The road on which to continue is this: “The law is full, always in continuity, without being cut: just as the seed culminates in the flower, in the fruit. The road is that of freedom in the Holy Spirit who sets us free in a continuous discernment of God’s will, to make progress on this road without turning back”, and without skidding.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us life, to lead us onwards, to bring the law to full maturity, that law which sets us free.
  
  

Chapter 5

20-26 

 


St John said that anyone who expresses resentment or hatred for his brother or sister is in fact a murderer at heart. There is a need to enter into the logic of perfecting or reviewing our conduct. Of course, this calls to mind the subject of discrediting our brother or sister, starting with our inner passions. In practice this is motivation for insult. Furthermore, recourse to marvellously imaginative insults is widespread in the Latin tradition, for we invent one insult after another.

As long as the epithet is friendly let it go. However the problem arises when there is another epithet that veers towards the offensive. We then go and qualify it with a series of definitions that are not exactly evangelical. Verbal abuse, is a way of taking people down a peg. 

There is no need to go to a psychiatrist to know that when people do someone else down it is because they themselves are unable to develop and need to feel that the other is less important in order for them to feel that they count. What Jesus simply said was quite the opposite the: “do not speak badly of others, do not
belittle them, do not discredit them; basically we are all walking on the same path”.

With regard to insulting, Jesus is even more radical and goes much further. For he says that when you begin to feel something negative in your heart against one of your brethren and express it with an insult, a
curse or an outburst of anger, something is wrong. You must convert, you must change.

The Apostle James who says that “ships are guided by a rudder and people are guided by their tongue”. So if someone “is unable to control his tongue, he or she is lost”. This is man’s weakness. 

Cain’s natural aggression towards his brother has been repeated in the course of history. It is not that we are wicked; we are weak and sinful. This explains why it is far easier to solve a situation with an insult, with
slander, with mud-slinging, rather than with kind words, as Jesus says. 

Ask the Lord for the grace for all to be a little more careful with their tongue regarding what we say of others. This is without a doubt a small penance, but it yields good fruits. It is true that it demands sacrifice and effort, since it is far easier to enjoy the fruit of a racy comment against another. In the long run this hunger is rewarding and does us good. Hence our need to ask the Lord for the grace to conform our life to this new law, which is the law of
docility, the law of love, the law of peace. We must start by pruning our language a little, by cutting back a bit our comments about others or the explosions that lead us to insulting them and flaring up in anger.


Pope Francis        14.06.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta       Matthew 5: 20-26
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Jesus uses human wisdom in reasoning with the disciples. In order to drive home his teaching regarding loving relationships, the Lord uses an every-day example…the problem of insults.

The list of insults Jesus cites are ancient. Jesus tells us that insults open up a path that ends in murder. We disqualify others through insults. They rob people of their respectability. By insulting people we silence them, we take away their voice.

Insults are so dangerous because they lead to
envy, which is how the devil entered the world according to the Book of Wisdom. When another person does something I don’t like … or when someone threatens me, envy pushes me to insult them.

Have I insulted anyone today? When do I use insults? When do I close my heart to another with an insult? Can I see the bitter root of envy there that pushes me to desire the destruction of another in order to avoid competition, rivalry, that type of thing. It’s not easy. But let’s think how beautiful it would be if we never insulted others. May the Lord grant us this grace.

Jesus wants us to stop this dynamic. When you go to Mass and you are aware that one of your brothers has something against you, go and reconcile yourself… Jesus is that radical. Reconciliation is not the same as good manners. No, it’s a radical attitude, one that tries to respect the dignity of others as well as my own. From insult to reconciliation, from envy to friendship—this is the example that Jesus gives us today.
 
 
  
 Chapter 5

27-32

Pope Francis      15.06.18 Holy Mass Santa Marta      Mathew 5: 27-32

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Christ said that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery. Many females are used and cast aside. Young women who are forced to sell their own dignity in order to earn a living.

Women are what men on their own lack to be the image and likeness of God.  Jesus’ words about women were radical and ground-breaking and changed history.  This was because up until then, a woman was considered a second class citizen, she was enslaved and did not even enjoy complete freedom.

Jesus' doctrine about women changes history. Before Jesus the view about women was one thing but after Jesus they are another. Jesus dignifies women and puts them on the same level as men because he takes that first word of the Creator, both are "the image and likeness of God", both of them; not first the man and then a little lower down the woman, no, both are. And a man without a woman beside him - whether as a mother, as a sister, as a bride, as a working companion, as a friend - that man by himself is not the image of God.

We see women treated as objects of desire in the media and those same images of women are often used to sell a product and we see her humiliated or wearing no clothes.  This exploitation of women is not happening in far off places but right here all around us, where we live and in the workplace. Women are the victims of that use and throw away mentality and don't even seem to be treated as a person.

This is a sin against God the Creator, rejecting women because without her we men cannot be the image and likeness of God. There is an anger and resentment against women, a nasty anger. Even without saying it... But how many times do young women have to sell themselves as disposable objects in order to get a job? How many times? "Yes, Father, I heard in that country...". Here in Rome. There’s no need to go far away.

What would you see if you took a walk at night around certain areas of the city where so many women including migrant women are being exploited like in a market.  When men approach these women on the streets they are not saying “Hello” to them but asking how much they cost and they salve their consciences by referring to them as prostitutes.

All this happens here in Rome, it happens in every city, anonymous women, women - we can describe as "faceless" because shame covers their faces, women who do not know how to laugh and many of them do not know the joy of breastfeeding their baby and the experience of being a mother.  But, even in our everyday life, without going to those places, there is this ugly way of thinking, of rejecting women or seeing her as a "second class" person.  We need to reflect more deeply about this.  And by doing this or saying this, by entering into this way of thinking, we despise the image of God, who made man and woman together with his image and likeness. This Gospel reading helps us to think about the marketing of women, a trade, yes, trafficking, that exploitation which is visible but also that trade which we can’t see but is taking place out of sight. A woman is trampled underfoot precisely because she is a woman.

During his ministry Jesus encountered so many women who were despised, marginalized and cast aside and with great tenderness he restored their dignity. Jesus had a mother and many female friends who followed him to help him in his ministry and to provide support. 
  

Chapter 5

38-42



This is something that goes against the world's logic. Such a logic responds to an offence with an equal and adverse reaction, because we must defend ourselves, we must fight, we have to defend our ground. And if someone strikes us once, we will strike them twice and so defend ourselves. That is the thinking, it's normal, right?

Yet, Jesus goes beyond this and says that after we have been struck, one ought to pause for a while together with the other person, to dedicate some time to the person. And if he asks for something, we ought to give him even more. This is Jesus' law: the justice that delivers is another justice, totally different from 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'.

Paul gives us an expression that may help us to understand the meaning of the blow to the cheek and other such things. In fact, he ends with these words: 'as [people] having nothing, and yet possessing everything'.  

Chapter 5

43-48

Pope Francis     18.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta      Matthew 5:43-48,      2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Even we, all of us, have
enemies — all of us. Some are weak enemies, some strong. So often we too become the enemies of others; we do not love them. Jesus tells us that we must love our enemies.

This is no easy matter, and in general, we think that Jesus is asking too much of us. We think: ‘Let's leave this to the cloistered sisters who are holy, a few holy souls!’. But this is not the right attitude. Jesus says that you must do this, otherwise you are like the Publicans, like the pagans, and you are not Christians. In fact, how can we love those who decide to bomb and kill so many people? How can we love who for love of money do not allow medicines to get to those who are in need, to the elderly and let them die?. And once again: How can we love people who seek only their interests and power and do so much evil?.

This is the mystery of
salvation: with forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer. But this poverty is a seed bearing fruit for others, as Jesus' poverty became grace for us all, salvation. 


Pope Francis 19.06.18 Holy Mass Santa Marta Matthew 5: 43-48

The mystery of Christian life is loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors. Forgiveness, prayer, and love for those who seek to destroy us is the path Jesus has laid out for us. The challenge of Christian life is asking the Lord for the grace to bless our enemies and to love them..

To pray for those who want to destroy me, my enemies, so that God may bless them: This is truly difficult to understand. We can recall events of the last century, like the poor Russian Christians who, simply for being Christians, were sent to Siberia to die of cold. And they should pray for the executing government that sent them there? How can that be? Yet many did so: they prayed. We think of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Should they pray for the dictator who sought a ‘pure race’ and killed without scruple, even to pray that God should bless him? And yet many did so.”

Jesus’ “difficult logic” is contained in his prayer for those who put him to death on the Cross. Jesus asks God to forgive them.

There is an infinite distance between us – we who frequently refuse to forgive even small things – and what the Lord asks of us, which he has exemplified for us: To forgive those who seek to destroy us. It is often very difficult within families, for example, when spouses need to forgive one another after an argument, or when one needs to forgive their mother-in-law. It’s not easy… Rather, [we are invited] to forgive those who are killing us, who want us out of the way… Not only forgive, but even pray that God may watch over them! Even more, to love them. Only Jesus’ word can explain this.

 It is a grace “to understand this Christian mystery and be perfect like the Father, who gives good things to the good and the bad. It would do us well, today, to think of our enemy – I think all of us have one – someone who has hurt us or wants to hurt us. The Mafia’s prayer is: ‘You’ll pay me back.’ The Christian prayer is: ‘Lord, give them your blessing, and teach me to love them.’ Let us think of one enemy, and pray for them. May the Lord to give us the grace to love them.

  

Chapter 6

1-6, 16-18 



The Lord talks of hypocrisy on many occasions and condemns hypocrites. The Pharisees, wishing to put Jesus to the text, asked him if it were licit to pay taxes to Caesar. The Sadducees put to him the case of the woman widowed seven times. When Christ addressed the scribes: “hypocrites, you who do not enter the kingdom of heaven and do not let others enter it; hypocrites, you who make your phylacteries large and your fringes long”. These are the hypocrites who take the road of precepts that passes through “so many precepts that God’s word does not seem fertile”. They choose “the road of vanity”, with their phylacteries and fringes. “They grow vain and end by making themselves ridiculous”.

“The former are the hypocrites of casuistry, intellectuals of casuistry”, but they do not have the intelligence to find or explain God. They are stuck in casuistry. The latter are the hypocrites of precepts who “lead the People of God down a dead end road. They are ethicists without goodness. They do not know what goodness is.... this, that and the other must all be done. They pile on precepts”, but “without goodness”. They adorn themselves with drapery, with so many things... yet they have no sense of beauty. They can only manage a museum display type of beauty”.

The Lord mentions another class of hypocrites, those concerned with the sacred. This form of hypocrisy, is the most serious one, for it touches on sin against the Holy Spirit. The Lord, speaks of fasting, prayer and alms-giving, the three pillars of Christian piety. There are hypocrites in this area who strut about, making a show of doing all these things. “They no nothing of beauty, they know nothing of love, they no nothing of truth; they are petty, they are cowardly”.

We are all, without exception, tempted by hypocrisy, but Paul offers us help to resist it (2 Cor 9:6-11). The Apostle “talks to us of
broadmindedness, of joy”; for “we all also have grace, the grace that comes from Jesus Christ, the grace of joy, the grace of magnanimity”.

Let us ask the Lord to save us from every form of hypocrisy and give us the grace of
love, broadmindedness, magnanimity and joy.


Pope Francis    10.02.16   Holy Mass, Ash Wednesday  Vatican Basilica        2 Corinthians 5: 20 - 6: 2,  Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

Pope Francis 10.02.16 Ash Wednesday


The Word of God, at the start of the Lenten journey, addresses two invitations to the Church and to each of us.

The first is that of St Paul: “be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). It is not simply good fatherly advice, neither is it just a suggestion; it is a bona fide supplication on Christ’s behalf: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God” (ibid.). Why does he make such a solemn and earnest appeal? Because Christ knows how fragile and sinful we are, he knows the weakness of our heart. He immediately sees it wounded by the evil we have committed. He knows how much we need forgiveness, he knows that it is important for us to feel loved in order to do good. We cannot do it alone: this is why the Apostle does not tell us to do something but to allow ourselves to be reconciled with God, to let him forgive us, with trust, because “God is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). He conquers sin and lifts us out of misery, if we let him. It is up to us to acknowledge that we need mercy. This is the first step on the Christian path; it entails entering through the open door which is Christ, where he, the Saviour, awaits us and offers us a new and joyful life.

There may be a few obstacles, which close the door of the heart. There is the temptation to lock the doors, or to live with our sin, minimizing it, always justifying it, thinking we are no worse than others; this, however, is how the locks of the soul are closed and we remain shut inside, prisoners of evil. Another obstacle is the shame of opening the secret door of the heart. Shame, in reality, is a good symptom, because it shows that we want to break away from evil; however, it must never be transformed into apprehension or fear. There is a third pitfall, that of distancing ourselves from the door: it happens when we hide in our misery, when we ruminate constantly, connecting it to negative things, until sinking into the darkest repositories of the soul. Then we even become kindred with the sorrow that we do not want, we become discouraged and we are weaker in the face of temptations. This happens because we bide alone with ourselves, closing ourselves off and avoiding the light; while the Lord’s grace alone frees us. Therefore let us be reconciled, let us listen to Jesus who says to those who are weary and oppressed: “Come to me” (Mt 11:28). Not to dwell within themselves, but to go to him! Comfort and peace are there.

At this celebration the Missionaries of Mercy are present, to receive the mandate to be signs and instruments of God’s forgiveness. Dear brothers, may you help to open the doors of hearts, to overcome shame, not to avoid the light. May your hands bless and lift up brothers and sisters with paternity; through you may the gaze and the hands of God rest on his children and heal them of their wounds!

There is a second invitation of God, who says, through the prophet Joel: “return to me with all your heart” (2:12). If we need to return it is because we have distanced ourselves. It is the mystery of sin: we have distanced ourselves from God, from others, from ourselves. It is not difficult to realize this: we all see how we struggle to truly trust in God, to entrust ourselves to him as Father, without fear; as it is challenging to love others, rather than thinking badly of them; how it costs us to do our true good, while we are attracted and seduced by so many material realities, which disappear and in the end leave us impoverished. Alongside this history of sin, Jesus inaugurated a history of salvation. The Gospel which opens Lent calls us to be protagonists, embracing three remedies, three medicines which heal us from sin (cf. Mt 6:1-6, 16-18).

In the first place is
prayer, an expression of openness and trust in the Lord: it is the personal encounter with him, which shortens the distances created by sin. Praying means saying: “I am not self-sufficient, I need You, You are my life and my salvation”. In the second place is charity, in order to overcome our lack of involvement with regard to others. True love, in fact, is not an outward act, it is not giving something in a paternalistic way in order to assuage the conscience, but to accept those who are in need of our time, our friendship, our help. It means living to serve, overcoming the temptation to satisfy ourselves. In the third place is fasting, penance, in order to free ourselves from dependencies regarding what is passing, and to train ourselves to be more sensitive and merciful. It is an invitation to simplicity and to sharing: to take something from our table and from our assets in order to once again find the true benefit of freedom.

“Return to me” — says the Lord — “return with all your heart”: not only with a few outward deeds, but from the depths of our selves. Indeed, Jesus calls us to live prayer, charity and penance with consistency and authenticity, overcoming hypocrisy. May Lent be a beneficial time to “prune” falseness, worldliness, indifference: so as not to think that everything is fine if I am fine; so as to understand that what counts is not approval, the search for success or consensus, but the cleansing of the heart and of life; so as to find again our Christian identity
, namely, the love that serves, not the selfishness that serves us. Let us embark on the journey together, as Church, by receiving Ashes — we too will become ashes — and keeping our gaze fixed on the Crucifix. He, loving us, invites us to be reconciled with God and to return to him, in order to find ourselves again.



Pope Francis 06.03.19 Ash Wednesday



“Blow the trumpet […] sanctify a fast” (Joel 2:15), says the prophet in the first reading. Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast. It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless. It is a summons to stop – a “halt!” –, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us. It is a wake-up call for the soul.

This wake-up call is accompanied by the message that the Lord proclaims through the lips of the prophet, a short and heartfelt message: “Return to me” (v 12). To return. If we have to return, it means that we have wandered off. Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life. Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal. If what interests us as we travel, however, is looking at the scenery or stopping to eat, we will not get far. We should ask ourselves: On the journey of life, do I seek the way forward? Or am I satisfied with living in the moment and thinking only of feeling good, solving some problems and having fun? What is the path? Is it the search for health, which many today say comes first but which eventually passes? Could it be possessions and wellbeing? But we are not in the world for this. Return to me, says the Lord. To me. The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.

Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction: the head marked by ash. It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind. Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go. The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain. No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind. Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes. The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception. It is like a blaze: once ended, only ash remains. Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?

On this Lenten journey, back to what is essential, the Gospel proposes three steps which the Lord invites us to undertake without hypocrisy and pretence:
almsgiving, prayer, fasting. What are they for? Almsgiving, prayer and fasting bring us back to the three realities that do not fade away. Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves. God, my neighbour, my life: these are the realities that do not fade away and in which we must invest. Lent, therefore, invites us to focus, first of all on the Almighty, in prayer, which frees us from that horizontal and mundane life where we find time for self but forget God. It then invites us to focus on others, with the charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me. Finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart. Prayer, charity, fasting: three investments for a treasure that endures.

Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). Our heart always points in some direction: it is like a compass seeking its bearings. We can also compare it to a magnet: it needs to attach itself to something. But if it only attaches itself to
earthly things, sooner or later it becomes a slave to them: things to be used become things we serve. Outward appearance, money, a career or hobby: if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift. Whereas if our heart is attached to what does not pass away, we rediscover ourselves and are set free. Lent is the time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity. It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us. It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides.

Where can we fix our gaze, then, throughout this Lenten journey? It is simple: upon the Crucified one. Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven. The poverty of the wood, the silence of the Lord, his loving self-emptying show us the necessity of a simpler life, free from anxiety about things. From the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation. We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down. We need to free ourselves from the clutches of
consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor. Jesus on the wood of the cross burns with love, and calls us to a life that is passionate for him, which is not lost amid the ashes of the world; to a life that burns with charity and is not extinguished in mediocrity. Is it difficult to live as he asks? Yes, it is difficult, but it leads us to our goal. Lent shows us this. It begins with the ashes, but eventually leads us to the fire of Easter night; to the discovery that, in the tomb, the body of Jesus does not turn to ashes, but rises gloriously. This is true also for us, who are dust. If we, with our weaknesses, return to the Lord, if we take the path of love, then we will embrace the life that never ends. And surely we will be full of joy.

Chapter 6

7-15 

Pope Francis   20.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       Matthew 6: 7-15

In order to
pray, there is no need to make noise or believe that that it is better to use more words. There is no need to trust in noise, the noise of worldliness which Jesus pointed out, “to sound the trumpet” or “making oneself seen while fasting”. To pray there is no need to heap up empty phrases: Jesus called this a characteristic of pagans.

Praying is not something magic; one doesn't practice magic with prayer. I never turned to sorcerers who promise magic; in meetings of this sort: many words are used to obtain 'healing one time and at another time something else' with the help of magic. However, this is pagan.

So how should we pray? Jesus has taught us: he says that the Father who is in heaven 'knows what you need before you ask him. Therefore, let our first word be 'Father’. This is the key to prayer. Without speaking, without feeling this word, praying is not possible. To whom do I pray? The almighty God? He is too far away. I don't feel him; neither did Jesus feel him. To whom do I pray? The God of the cosmos? This is quite frequent nowadays, isn’t it? Praying to the cosmic God. This polytheistic model comes with a superficial culture.

Rather, we must pray to the Father, who begot us. But this is not all: we must pray “our” Father, that is, not the Father of a generic and too anonymous “all”, but the One “who begot you, who gave you life, who gave life to you and me”.
 


  

Chapter 6

19-23 

 

Pope Francis  21.06.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta     Mathew 6: 19-23

The most important thing to do, is to ask yourself: “What is my treasure?”. It certainly cannot be riches, as the Lord has said: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, because in the end you will lose them”. What is the treasure that we can take with us to the end of life? You can take that which you have given, and only that.

“Where your treasure is, there will
your heart be also”. The Lord has made us look for it, to find it, and to grow. But if our treasure is not close to the Lord, if it is not of the Lord, then our heart is restless. We think: what am I? A weary heart that wants to settle with only three or four things, with a nice bank account? Or do I have a restless heart, which increasingly seeks the things of the Lord?.

“The eye is the lamp of the body”. The eye holds the intention of the heart, if your gaze is simple, if it comes from a loving heart, a heart that seeks the Lord, a humble heart, then your whole body will be bright. But if your eye is wicked, your whole body will be shadowlike.

Pray that the Lord change our hearts, that the Lord make human those pieces of heart that are stone, and instill in them a healthy restlessness to move ahead, searching for him and letting him search for us. Because, only the Lord can save us “from the treasures that hinder our encounter with him in the service of others”

 Chapter 6

24-34


Pope Francis     22.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta     Matthew 6:24-34,    Matthew 13: 22

No one can serve two masters.... You cannot serve God and mammon (Mt 6:24-34) 

The parable of the sower (Mt 13) helps us to understand this. The seed that fell upon thorny ground was choked. But who choked it? Jesus says ‘
riches and worldly concerns’. We see that Jesus had clear ideas on this. Riches and worldly concerns therefore choke the word of God, they prevent it from growing and the word dies choked because it is not tended.

What do these riches and concerns do to us? They merely cut us out of
time. Our whole life rests on three pillars: one in the past, one in the present and another in the future. This is clear in the Bible; the pillar of the past is the choice.... The Lord chose us. Each one of us can say: ‘the Lord chose me, he loved me, he said come, and in Baptism he chose me to follow a path, the Christian path’. The future is the promise Jesus made to humankind. He chose me to walk towards a promise, he made a promise to us. Lastly, the present is our response to this God who is so good, who chose me, who makes me a promise and suggests a covenant to me; and I make a covenant with him.

Choice, promise. covenant; these are therefore the three pillars of the entire history of salvation. However it can sometimes happen that when our heart enters this, which Jesus explains to us, it cuts out time. It cuts out the past, it cuts out the future and is confused in the present.

This happens because those who cling to riches are not concerned with either the past or the future. they have everything. Wealth is an
idol. It has no need of a past, a promise, an election or a future, it needs nothing. What we worry about is what can happen.

Those attached to wealth therefore cut off their relationship with the future..... However this does not lead them to a promise so they remain confused and lonely. Let us not cut out the past. We have a Father who has set us on our way. And the future is joyful too, for we are journeying toward a promise and no concerns surface. The Lord is faithful, he does not disappoint. And so, let us go onwards. Let us remember well: the seed that falls among thorns is choked... by riches and worldly concerns: two elements that make us forget the past and the future; so we have a Father but we live as though we did not have one and our future is uncertain.

Ask the Lord for the grace not to err by giving importance to the concerns and idolatry of riches, but always to remember that we have a Father who chose us and promised us something good; we must therefore walk toward that promise, taking the present as it comes.
 


 

Chapter 7

21-19 

 


The Lord speaks to us of our foundation, the foundation of our Christian life”; and he tells us that this foundation is the rock”. We must therefore “build the house”, namely, our life, on the rock that is Christ. When St Paul speaks of the rock in the desert, he is referring to Christ. He is the only rock “that can give us security”, so that “we are all invited to build our life upon this rock of Christ. Not on any other”.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus also mentions to all who believe they can build their life on words alone: “Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus straight away suggests building our house upon the rock”. There are two classes of Christians in the history of the Church: the first, of whom to beware, are the “
Christians of words”, that is, those who limit themselves to repeating: 'Lord, Lord, Lord'. The second, the genuine Christians are “Christians of action and of truth”. There is always a temptation to live our Christianity away from the rock that is Christ; the only One who gives us the freedom to say “Father” to God; the only one who supports us in difficult moments”. Jesus himself says so with vivid examples: “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew”, but where “the rock is, there is safety”. On the contrary, when there are only “words, words fly, they are of no use”. One ends in fact facing the “temptation of these 'Christians of words': a Christianity without Jesus, a Christianity without Christ. And unfortunately “this happened and is still happening in the church today”.

This temptation, present in the Church's history in many different ways, has given life to various categories of “Christians without Christ”. The “light Christian”, who, “instead of loving the rock, loves beautiful words, beautiful words” and turns towards a “god of spray”, a “personal god”, with attitudes of superficiality and flimsiness”. This temptation still exists today: “superficial Christians who indeed believe in God”, but not in Jesus Christ, “the One who gives you a foundation”. Those who give into the temptation of a fluid Christianity are “the modern Gnostics”..

Those who believe that Christian life” must be taken so seriously” that they end by “confusing solidity and firmness with rigidity”. These “
rigid Christians”, “think that to be a Christian it is necessary to wear mourning”, and always “ take everything seriously”, paying attention to formalities, just as the scribes and Pharisees did. These are Christians for whom “everything is serious. They are today's Pelagians who believe in the firmness of faith and are convinced that “salvation is the way I do things”. “I must do them seriously” without any joy. They are very numerous. They are not Christians. They disguise themselves as Christians”.

In short, these two categories of believers – Gnostics and Pelagians – “do not know Jesus, they do not know who the Lord is, they do not know what the rock is, they have none of the freedom of Christians” Consequently, “they have no joy”.... And in addition to having no joy, they “have no freedom” either. “In their life there is no room for the Holy Spirit”.

Build our Christian life on the rock that gives us freedom” and “enables us to continue on Christ's path, following what he proposes”. Thus a grace to ask of the Lord is the ability “to go ahead in life as Christians, standing firm on the rock that is Jesus Christ and with the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us.” A grace to ask “in a special way of Our Lady. She knows what it means to be founded on the rock.
  

 Chapter 7

21, 24-27


https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/christians-of-words/06.12.18.jpg

Speaking and acting; sand and rock; high and low.

Speaking is a way of believing, but very superficial, a halfway journey: I say that I am a Christian but I don’t act like a Christian. To put it simply, it’s a little bit like dressing up as a Christian: only saying the words is a kind of deception, speaking without doing. Jesus’ proposal is concrete, always concrete. When someone drew near and asked for advice, [He always suggested] concrete things. The works of mercy are concrete.

Sand is “not solid,” it is a consequence of speaking” but not acting; of dressing up like a Christian. But it is a life constructed without foundations. The rock, on the other hand, is the Lord. He is the strength. But many times, those who trust in the Lord are not seen, do not have success, they are hidden… but they are steady. He doesn’t place his hope in speaking, in vanity, in pride, in the ephemeral powers of life, [but] in the Lord, the rock. The concreteness of the Christian life makes us go forward and build on the rock that is God, that is Jesus; on the solid ground of the divinity. Not on appearances or vanities, pride, recommendations… No. [On] the truth.

The Lord, “humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor. This passage from the Prophet Isaiah has the air of the Magnificat, the song of our Lady: The Lord raises the humble, those who are in the concreteness of every day, and beats down the proud, those who build their lives on vanity, pride… these things do not last.

In this period of Advent, it would be helpful to ask ourselves certain crucial questions: “Am I a
Christian of words, or of deeds?” “Am I building my life on the rock of God, or on the sand of worldliness, of vanity?” “Am I humble, always trying to go along the lowly path, without pride, so as to serve the Lord?” 
 
  

Chapter 8

1-4 

 

Pope Francis         28.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta           Genesis 17: 1, 9-10, 15-22           Matthew 8: 1-4

When the Lord intervenes he does not always do so in the same way. There is no ‘set protocol’ for God’s action in our life... it does not exist. He intervenes in one way, later in another but he always intervenes.

The Lord always chooses his way to enter into our lives. Often he does so slowly, so slowly that we are in danger of losing our
patience a little. But Lord, when? And we pray.... Or when we think of what the Lord has promised us, that it such a huge thing, we do not believe it, we are somewhat skeptical, like Abraham. A bit of skepticism: What? Me? I am almost a hundred years old, how will I and my wife at 90 have a son?

Sarah is equally skeptical. Do we become impatient or skeptical? How often, when the Lord does not intervene... does not do what we want him to do.

But he does not, he cannot for skeptics. The Lord takes his time. But even he, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. He waits for us! And he waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives — that's for sure! — But often we do not see. This demands our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, he also has a lot of patience with us.

Sometimes in life things become so dark, there is so much darkness, that we want — if we are in trouble — to come down from the cross. This is the precise moment: the night is at its darkest, when dawn is about to break. And when we come down from the Cross, we always do so just five minutes before our liberation comes, at the very moment when our impatience is greatest.

Jesus on the Cross, heard them challenging him: ‘Come down, come down! Come’. Patience until the end, because he has patience with us. He always enters, he is involved with us, but he does so in his own way and when he thinks it’s best. He tells us exactly what he told Abraham: Walk in my presence and be blameless, be above reproach, this is exactly the right word. Walk in my presence and try to be above reproach. This is the journey with the Lord and he intervenes, but we have to wait, wait for the moment, walking always in his presence and trying to be beyond reproach. We ask this grace from the Lord, to walk always in his presence, trying to be blameless.
 

 
  

Chapter 8

5-11 



Pope Francis             03.12.18 Holy Mass Santa Marta     Matthew 8: 5-11
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-12/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-advent-purifying-faith.html

Advent, which began on Sunday, is a good time for purifying the spirit, for making the faith grow with this purification. Even today, it can happen that faith can become a habit for us; we can get used to it, forgetting its “liveliness.” When the faith becomes a habit, we lose that strength of the faith, that newness of the faith that is always renewed.

The first dimension of Advent is the past, “the purification of memory”: We have to remember that
Christmas is not about the birth of a Christmas tree, but about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Lord is born, the Redeemer who has come to save us. Yes, it is a celebration…but we always face the danger, we will always have within us the temptation to make Christmas mundane, worldly… When the celebration stops being about contemplation—a beautiful family celebration with Jesus at the centre—it begins to be a worldly celebration: all about shopping, presents, this and that… and the Lord remains there, forgotten. Even in our own life: yes, He is born, at Bethlehem, but then what?… Advent is a time for purifying the memory of this time past, of that dimension.

Advent also serves to purify hope, preparing us for the definitive encounter with the Lord.

Because the Lord who came then will return! He will return! He will return to ask us: “How did your life go?” It will be a personal encounter. We have a personal encounter with the Lord, today, in the Eucharist; we cannot have such a personal with the Christmas of 2000 years ago: we have the memorial of that. But when He will return, we will have that personal encounter. It is purifying hope.

I invite everyone to cultivate the daily dimension of the faith, despite so many cares and worries, taking custody of our own interior home. Our God, in fact, is the God of surprises, and Christians must constantly discern what the heavenly Father is saying to us today.

The third dimension is more daily: purifying our watchfulness. Vigilance and prayer are two words for Advent: Because historically the Lord came in Bethlehem; and He will come, at the end of the world and also at the end of our individual lives. But every day, every moment, He comes into our hearts, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
 
  

Chapter 9

1-8 

 

Pope Francis      04.07.13  Holy Mass   Santa Marta       Matthew  9: 1-8 

If an “identity card” for Christians existed freedom would certainly feature among their characteristic traits. The freedom of God's children is the fruit of reconciliation with the Father, brought about by Jesus who took upon himself the sins of all humanity and redeemed the world with his death on the Cross. No one can take this identity from us.

Matthew (9:1-8) the crippled man when as he was being carried on his bed he heard Jesus saying to him “take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”.

Those who were close to Jesus and heard his words “said 'this man is blaspheming'; only God can forgive sins”. And Jesus, to make them understand, asked them “Which is easier, to forgive sins or to heal? And he healed. Jesus, St Peter said, went about doing good, curing all, he healed, healing all”.

But when Jesus, healed a sick man he was not only a healer. When he taught people – let us think of the Beatitudes – he was not only a catechist, a preacher of morals. When he remonstrated against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, he was not a revolutionary who wanted to drive out the Romans. No, these things that Jesus did, healing, teaching and speaking out against hypocrisy, were only a sign of something greater that Jesus was doing: he was forgiving sins.

Reconciling the world in Christ in the name of the Father: “this is Jesus' mission. Everything else – healing, teaching, reprimands – are only signs of that deeper miracle which is the re-creation of the world. Thus reconciliation is the re-creation of the world; and the most profound mission of Jesus is the redemption of all of us sinners. And Jesus did not do this with words, with actions or by walking on the road, no! He did it with his flesh. It is truly he, God, who becomes one of us, a man, to heal us from within.

“This is beautiful, this is the new creation”; “Jesus comes down in glory and lowers himself even unto death and death on a cross. This is his glory and our salvation.

“This is the great miracle of Jesus”, he has set us, slaves of sin, free, he has healed us. It will do us good to think of this, and to think that it is so beautiful to be children. This freedom of children is so beautiful, for the Son is at home. Jesus has opened the doors of his house to us, we are now at home. We now understand Jesus' words: 'take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven'. This is the root of our courage: I am free, I am a child, the Father loves me and I love the Father. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand his action properly.

God “has reconciled the world with himself in Christ”, entrusting to us the word of reconciliation, and the grace to carry this word ahead, this word of reconciliation, with fortitude, with the freedom of children. We are saved in Jesus Christ, and no one can deprive us of this grace.
 
  

Chapter 9

9-13 

 


The message that Jesus wants to give is one that people have always had trouble understanding: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. Our God is indeed a God of mercy. You can see it well in the story of Matthew.

Jesus looks at Matthew and awakens something new within him, something that he did not know. The gaze of Jesus makes him feel an interior wonder, and makes him hear “the call of Jesus: follow me”. It only took a moment to understand that that look had changed his life forever. And it is in this moment that Matthew says yes, leaves everything and goes with the Lord.

The first moment of the encounter, which consists of a deep spiritual experience, is followed by a second experience: that of
celebration. The Gospel continues with Jesus sitting at table with publicans and sinners; those who “were rejected by society”. But this is the contradiction of the celebration of God: the Lord feasts with sinners. Luke’s Gospel (15) clearly says that there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance. This is why celebration is very important, because the encounter with Jesus and the mercy of God should be celebrated.

But life is not one big party. There is a time for celebration, but then there must be “daily work, fuelled by the memory of that first encounter”. It is the memory of mercy and of that celebration that gives Matthew, and everyone who has chosen to follow Christ, the strength to go forward. This must be remembered forever.
 


Pope Francis        21.09.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta          Mathew 9: 9-13
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/help-me/21.09.18.jpg

One may think that Jesus lacked the good sense to choose the right people as his followers, In the life of the Church, so many Christians, so many saints have been chosen by Jesus from the ‘lowest ranks’.

Thus, Christians should always be aware of where they come from and they should never forget their sins; they must cherish the memory of the Lord “who had mercy of their sins and chose them to be a Christian, an apostle”.

The tax collector Matthew ’s did not dress in luxury, he did not begin to tell others “I am the prince of the apostles, I issue orders… No! He lived the rest of his life for the Gospel”.

When an apostle forgets his origins and starts off on a career path, he distances himself from the Lord and become an ‘official’. An official who perhaps does a good job, but he is not an apostle. He is incapable of ‘transmitting’ Jesus; he is someone who organizes pastoral projects and plans and many other things; he is what he called an “affarista” - a “wheeler-dealer” - of the Kingdom of God because he has forgotten from where he was chosen.

That’s why, it is important to preserve the memory of our origins: this memory must accompany the life of the apostle and of every Christian.

Instead of looking at ourselves,  we tend to look at others, at their sins, and to talk about them. This, is a harmful habit. It’s better to accuse oneself, and keep in mind from where the Lord chose us from.

When the Lord chooses it is for something great. To be a Christian is a great thing, a beautiful thing.

It is us, who distance ourselves: “we lack generosity and we negotiate with the Lord, but He awaits us”.

When Matthew was called by Jesus he renounced all to follow Him, he invited his friends to sit with Jesus to celebrate the Master. At that table, sat “the very worst of society. And Jesus with them".

The doctors of the Law, were scandalized. They called the disciples and said: "Why does your teacher eat with these people? Eating with some who is unclean contaminates you”. But, Jesus heard this and said “Go and learn the words: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’.

God's mercy seeks everyone, forgives everyone. The only thing he asks of you is to say: ‘Yes, help me’. That’s all”

To those who were scandalized, Jesus said that “those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do”.

The Lord's mercy is a mystery; God’s heart is the greatest and most beautiful mystery. If you want to make your way to God’s heart, take the road of mercy, and allow yourself be treated with mercy.
 
  

Chapter 9

14-17 

 

Pope Francis               06.07.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta           Matthew 9: 14-17

The innovative spirit motivated Jesus. For example Jesus said: ‘the law permits us to hate our enemy, you hate your enemy; but I say to you, pray for your enemy, do not hate’; and he applied this precept to things he did not find so just. For example, as the Gospel passage says, there is the question of fasting. Jesus advised fasting, but with a certain freedom. In fact disciples of John ask: “why do we fast and your disciples do not?”. The fact is that with Jesus the doctrine of the law is enriched, it is renewed. Jesus makes all things new, he renews things, as he himself said, as if it were his vocation to renew all things. This is the kingdom of God which Jesus preached. It is renewal, true renewal. And this renewal begins first of all in our heart.

Christian life is not a collage of things. It is a harmonious totality, the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot be Christian in bits and pieces, part-time Christians. We must be wholly Christian and full time.

The newness of the Gospel is a newness in the law itself which is inherent in the history of salvation. It is a newness that goes beyond us and renews structures. That is why Jesus said new wine needs new skins. The Church has always gone in this direction, letting the Holy Spirit renew structures. And she teaches people to not be afraid of the newness of the Gospel, of the newness the Holy Spirit works within us.

Moreover, the Church is free. She is sustained by the Holy Spirit and Jesus teaches us the freedom we need always to find the newness of the Gospel in our life and in structures. The freedom to choose new skins for this newness. The Christian is a free man or woman, with that freedom of Jesus Christ, and not a slave of habit or of structures; moreover, it has always been the Holy Spirit who carries this newness ahead.

Ask for the grace not to be afraid of the newness of the Gospel or of the renewal that the Holy Spirit carries out; and not to be afraid to let go of the short-lived structures that imprison us. 
 

 
  

Chapter 9

18-26 


Pope Francis    08.07.19  Holy Mass for Migrants,  St Peter's Basilica, Rome     Monday of 14th Week of Ordinary Time   Year C    Genesis 28: 10-22A,   Matthew 9: 18-26

Pope Francis  08.07.19  Holy Mass for Migrants
Today the word of God speaks to us of salvation and liberation.

Salvation. During his journey from Beersheba to Haran, Jacob decides to stop and rest in a solitary place. In a dream, he sees a ladder: its base rests on the earth and its top reaches to heaven (cf. Gen 28:10-22). The ladder, on which angels of God are ascending and descending, represents the connection between the divine and the human, fulfilled historically in Christ’s incarnation (cf. Jn 1:51), which was the Father’s loving gift of revelation and salvation. The ladder is an allegory of the divine action that precedes all human activity. It is the antithesis of the Tower of Babel, built by men with their own strength, who wanted to reach heaven to become gods. In this case, however, it is God who comes down; it is the Lord who reveals himself; it is God who saves. And Emmanuel, God-with-us, fulfils the promise of mutual belonging between the Lord and humanity, in the sign of an incarnate and merciful love that gives life in abundance.

Faced with this revelation, Jacob makes an act of trust in the Lord, which becomes a work of recognition and adoration that marks a key moment in the history of salvation. He asks the Lord to protect him on the difficult journey he must make, and says: “The Lord shall be my God” (Gen 28:21).

Echoing the words of the patriarch, we repeated in the psalm: “O my God, I trust in you”. He is our refuge and our strength, our shield and our armour, our anchor in times of trial. The Lord is a refuge for the faithful who call on him in times of tribulation. For it is indeed at such moments that our prayer is made purer, when we realize that the security the world offers has little worth, and only God remains. God alone opens up heaven for those who live on earth. Only God saves.

This total and absolute trust is shared by the head of the synagogue and the sick woman in the Gospel (cf. Mt 9:18-26). These are scenes of liberation. Both draw close to Jesus in order to obtain from him what no one else can give them: liberation from sickness and from death. On the one hand, there is the daughter of one of the city authorities; on the other, a woman afflicted by a sickness that has made her an outcast, marginalized, someone impure. But Jesus makes no distinctions: liberation is generously given to each of them. Their longing places both the woman and the girl among the “least” who are to be loved and raised up.

Jesus reveals to his disciples the need for a preferential option for the least, those who must be given the front row in the exercise of charity. There are many forms of poverty today; as
Saint John Paul II wrote: “The ‘poor’, in varied states of affliction, are the oppressed, those on the margin of society, the elderly, the sick, the young, any and all who are considered and treated as ‘the least’” (Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, 82).

On this sixth anniversary of the visit to Lampedusa, my thoughts go out to those “least ones” who daily cry out to the Lord, asking to be freed from the evils that afflict them. These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary. These are only some of the least ones who Jesus asks us to love and raise up. Unfortunately the existential peripheries of our cities are densely populated with persons who have been thrown away, marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against, abused, exploited, abandoned, poor and suffering. In the spirit of the Beatitudes we are called to comfort them in their affliction and offer them mercy; to sate their hunger and thirst for justice; to let them experience God’s caring fatherliness; to show them the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are persons; these are not mere social or migrant issues! “This is not just about migrants”, in the twofold sense that migrants are first of all human persons, and that they are the symbol of all those rejected by today’s globalized society.

We spontaneously return to the image of Jacob’s ladder. In Christ Jesus, the connection between earth and heaven is guaranteed and is accessible to all. Yet climbing the steps of this ladder requires commitment, effort and grace.
The weakest and most vulnerable must to be helped. I like to think that we could be those angels ascending and descending, taking under our wings the little ones, the lame, the sick, those excluded: the least ones, who would otherwise stay behind and would experience only grinding poverty on earth, without glimpsing in this life anything of heaven’s brightness.

This is, brothers and sisters, a tremendous responsibility, from which no one is exempt if we wish to fulfil the mission of salvation and liberation in which the Lord himself has called us to cooperate. I know that many of you, who arrived just a few months ago, are already assisting brothers and sisters who have come even more recently. I want to thank you for this most beautiful example of humanity, gratitude and solidarity.

 

  

Chapter 10

7-13 


Gospel preaching is born from gratuitousness, from wonder at salvation which comes; and what I have received freely I must give freely.

This is evident when Jesus sends out his Apostles with instructions for their mission. “His orders are very simple, do not provide yourselves with gold, or silver, or copper in your belts...”. It was a mission of salvation that consisted in healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers and chasing out demons. It was to bring people close to the kingdom of God, to give them the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand, indeed is already here.

The key sentence in Christ’s instructions to his disciples is: “you received without pay, give without pay”. These words contain the full gratuitousness of salvation, because: “we cannot preach or proclaim the kingdom of God, without this inner certainty that it is all freely given, it is all grace”. And if we act without leaving room for grace, “the Gospel has no effectiveness”.

Moreover various episodes in the life of the first Apostles testify that Gospel preaching is born from what is given freely. St Peter, had no bank account and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to fish in the sea to find in the fish the money to pay them.

When an apostle does not give freely he also loses the ability to praise the Lord, for “praising the Lord is essentially gratuitous. It is prayer freely prayed... We do not only ask, we praise”; but when disciples “want to make a rich Church, a Church without freely given praise, she “ages, she becomes an NGO, she is lifeless.
 


https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-06/pope-homily-santa-marta-barnabas-evangelization.html

Evangelization has three fundamental dimensions: proclamation, service and gratuitousness.

The readings for the Memorial of St Barnabas (Acts 11:21-26; 12: 1-3 and Matthew 10:7-13) demonstrate that the
Holy Spirit is the “protagonist” of the Gospel proclamation. That proclamation is unlike other types of communication. Due to the action of the Holy Spirit, it has the power to change hearts. There have been pastoral plans that seem to be perfect. They were incapable of changing hearts because they were ends in themselves. They were not instruments of evangelization.

It is not with an entrepreneurial attitude that Jesus sends us…. No, it is with the Holy Spirit. This is courage. The true courage behind evangelization is not human stubbornness. No, it is the Spirit who gives us courage and who carries you forward.

Service is the second dimension of evangelization. In fact, pursuing a career or success in the Church is a sure sign that someone doesn’t know what evangelization is…for the one who commands must be the one who serves.

We can say good things but without service it is not proclamation. It may seem to be, but it is not, because the Spirit not only carries you forward to proclaim the truths of the Lord and the life of the Lord, but He also brings you to the service of the brothers and sisters, even in small things. It’s awful when you find evangelizers who make others serve them and who live to be served. They are like the princes of evangelization – how awful.

Gratuitousness is the third aspect of evangelization because no one can be redeemed by his or her own merit. The Lord reminds us, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Matthew 10:8).

All of us have been saved gratuitously by Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must give gratuitously. Those who carry out the pastoral work of evangelization must learn this. Their life must be gratuitous, given in service, proclamation, borne by the Spirit. Their personal poverty forces them to open themselves up to the Spirit.


Pope Francis          11.06.19 Holy Mass Santa Marta       Matthew 10: 7-13


Give freely that which you have received freely.

We are called to serve and love our brothers and sisters in the same way that God has done with us.

Christians cannot remain stationary, since our way of life impels us to hit the road, always.

Jesus has already given us our
mission: "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons."

Christian life is for service. It saddens us to find Christians who at the beginning of their conversion, or awareness of being Christian, serve and are open to serve the people of God, but who later end up making use of the people of God. This causes much harm to God’s people. Our vocation is to ‘serve’, not to ‘make use of’.
 
Christian life, is lived gratuitously. "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give," was how Jesus described the core of salvation.

Salvation cannot be bought, because God saves us free of charge and requires no payment.

As God has done with us, so we are to do with others. And this gratuity of God is one of the most beautiful things.

Realize that the Lord is full of gifts for us. He asks just one thing: that our hearts be open. When we say ‘Our Father’ and we pray, we open our heart, allowing this gratuitousness to enter. Often when we need some spiritual grace, we say: ‘Well, now I will fast, do penance, pray a novena…’ Fine, but be careful: this is not done to ‘pay’ or ‘buy’ grace. We do it to open our hearts so that grace might enter. Grace is freely given.

All God’s gifts, are given without cost. And sometimes the heart folds in on itself and remains closed, and it is no longer able to receive such freely given love.

We should not bargain with God.

Let us Christians, and especially pastors and bishops, give freely and not try to sell God’s graces.

It pains the heart when we see pastors that make money off of God’s grace: ‘I can help you, but it will cost this much…’

In our spiritual life we always run the risk of slipping up on the question of payment, even when speaking with the Lord, as if we needed to bribe the Lord. No! That is not the correct path… I make a promise, in order to expand my heart to receive what is already there, waiting for us free of charge. This relationship of gratuitousness with God is what will help us to have the same rapport with others, whether it be in Christian witness, Christian service, or the pastoral work of those who guide the people of God. We do so along the way. Christian life means walking. Preach and serve, but do not make use of others. Serve and give freely that which you have received freely. 

May our life of holiness be permeated by this openness of heart, so that the gratuitousness of God – the graces that He wishes to give us without cost – may enter our hearts.


  

Chapter 10

37-42 

Pope Francis  02.07.17   Angelus, St Peter's Square    Matthew 10: 37-42 

 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s liturgy presents to us the last lines of the
missionary discourse in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. 10:37-42), by which Jesus instructs the 12 Apostles at the moment in which, for the first time, he sends them on mission to the villages of Galilee and Judea. In this final part, Jesus underscores two essential aspects for the life of a missionary disciple: the first, that his bond with Jesus is stronger than any other bond; the second, that the missionary brings not himself, but Jesus, and through Him the love of the heavenly Father. These two aspects are connected, because the more Jesus is at the centre of the heart and of the life of a disciple, the more this disciple is “transparent” to His presence. The two go hand in hand.

“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me...” (v. 37), Jesus says. A father’s affection, a mother’s tenderness, the gentle friendship among brothers and sisters, all this, even while being very good and valid, cannot be placed before Christ. Not because he wants us to be heartless and ungrateful, but rather, on the contrary, because the condition of a disciple demands a priority relationship with the teacher. Any disciple, whether a layman or laywoman, a priest or a bishop: an all-absorbing relationship. Perhaps the first question that we must ask a Christian is: “Do you meet with Jesus? Do you pray to Jesus?”. The relationship. One could almost paraphrase the Book of Genesis: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to Jesus and the two shall become one (cf. Gen 2:24).

Those who allow themselves to be drawn into this bond of love and of life with the Lord Jesus become his representatives, his “ambassadors”, above all in the way of being, of living. To the point that Jesus himself, in sending his disciples on mission, says to them: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Mt 10:40). It is important that the people be able to perceive that for that disciple Jesus is truly “the Lord”; He is truly the centre of his or her life, the everything of life.

It does not matter then if, as for every human being, he or she has limitations and even makes mistakes — as long as he or she has the humility to recognize them; the important thing is that they not have a duplicitous heart — and this is dangerous. I am a Christian; I am a disciple of Jesus; I am a priest; I am a bishop, but I have a duplicitous heart. No, this is not okay. One must not have a duplicitous heart, but a simple, cohesive heart; [one must] not keep one foot in two shoes, but be honest with oneself and with others. Duplicity is not Christian. This is why Jesus prays to the Father so that the disciples may not fall prey to the worldly spirit. You are either with Jesus, with the spirit of Jesus, or you are with the spirit of the world.

Here our experience as priests teaches us something very beautiful, something very important: it is precisely this welcoming of the holy, faithful People of God; it is precisely that “cup of cold water” (v. 42) that the Lord speaks of today in the Gospel, given with affectionate faith, which helps you to be a good
priest! There is a reciprocity in mission too: if you leave everything for Jesus, the people recognize the Lord in you; but at the same time it helps you to convert each day to him, so as to renew and purify yourself from compromises and to overcome temptations. The closer a priest is to the People of God, the closer will he feel to Jesus, and the closer a priest is to Jesus, the closer will he feel to the People of God.

The Virgin Mary felt in the first person what it means to love Jesus by separating herself from him, giv
ing new meaning to family ties, beginning with faith in him. With her maternal intercession, may she help us to be free and happy missionaries of the Gospel.
 

  

Chapter 11

25-30 


Pope Francis  06.07.14   Angelus, St Peter's Square   Matthew 11: 25-30

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). When Jesus says this, he has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: very many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are
marginalized.... These people always followed him to hear his word — a word that gave hope! Jesus’ words always give hope! — and even just to touch a hem of his garment. Jesus himself sought out these tired, worn out crowds like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9:35-36), and he sought them out to proclaim to them the Kingdom of God and to heal many of them in body and spirit. Now he calls them all to himself: “Come to me”, and he promises them relief and rest.

This invitation of Jesus reaches to our day, and extends to the many brothers and sisters
oppressed by life’s precarious conditions, by existential and difficult situations and at times lacking valid points of reference. In the poorest countries, but also on the outskirts of the richest countries, there are so many weary people, worn out under the unbearable weight of neglect and indifference. Indifference: human indifference causes the needy so much pain! And worse, the indifference of Christians! On the fringes of society so many men and women are tried by indigence, but also by dissatisfaction with life and by frustration. So many are forced to emigrate from their homeland, risking their lives. Many more, every day, carry the weight of an economic system that exploits human beings, imposing on them an unbearable “yoke”, which the few privileged do not want to bear. To each of these children of the Father in heaven, Jesus repeats: “Come to me, all of you”. But he also says it to those who have everything, but whose heart is empty and without God. Even to them, Jesus addresses this invitation: “Come to me”. Jesus’ invitation is for everyone. But especially for those who suffer the most.

Jesus promises to give rest to everyone, but he also gives us an invitation, which is like a commandment: “Take my yoke upon
you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). The “yoke” of the Lord consists in taking on the burden of others with fraternal love. Once Christ’s comfort and rest is received, we are called in turn to become rest and comfort for our brothers and sisters, with a docile and humble attitude, in imitation of the Teacher. Docility and humility of heart help us not only to take on the burden of others, but also to keep our personal views, our judgments, our criticism or our indifference from weighing on them.

Let us invoke Mary Most Holy, who welcomes under her mantle all the tired and worn out people, so that through an enlightened faith, witnessed in life, we can offer relief for so many in need of help, of tenderness, of hope.
 
  

Chapter 13

22 

 

Pope Francis     22.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta     Matthew 6:24-34,    Matthew 13: 22

No one can serve two masters.... You cannot serve God and mammon (Mt 6:24-34) 

The parable of the sower (Mt 13) helps us to understand this. The seed that fell upon thorny ground was choked. But who choked it? Jesus says ‘
riches and worldly concerns’. We see that Jesus had clear ideas on this. Riches and worldly concerns therefore choke the word of God, they prevent it from growing and the word dies choked because it is not tended.

What do these riches and concerns do to us? They merely cut us out of
time. Our whole life rests on three pillars: one in the past, one in the present and another in the future. This is clear in the Bible; the pillar of the past is the choice.... The Lord chose us. Each one of us can say: ‘the Lord chose me, he loved me, he said come, and in Baptism he chose me to follow a path, the Christian path’. The future is the promise Jesus made to humankind. He chose me to walk towards a promise, he made a promise to us. Lastly, the present is our response to this God who is so good, who chose me, who makes me a promise and suggests a covenant to me; and I make a covenant with him.

Choice, promise. covenant; these are therefore the three pillars of the entire history of salvation. However it can sometimes happen that when our heart enters this, which Jesus explains to us, it cuts out time. It cuts out the past, it cuts out the future and is confused in the present.

This happens because those who cling to riches are not concerned with either the past or the future. they have everything. Wealth is an
idol. It has no need of a past, a promise, an election or a future, it needs nothing. What we worry about is what can happen.

Those attached to wealth therefore cut off their relationship with the future..... However this does not lead them to a promise so they remain confused and lonely. Let us not cut out the past. We have a Father who has set us on our way. And the future is joyful too, for we are journeying toward a promise and no concerns surface. The Lord is faithful, he does not disappoint. And so, let us go onwards. Let us remember well: the seed that falls among thorns is choked... by riches and worldly concerns: two elements that make us forget the past and the future; so we have a Father but we live as though we did not have one and our future is uncertain.

Ask the Lord for the grace not to err by giving importance to the concerns and idolatry of riches, but always to remember that we have a Father who chose us and promised us something good; we must therefore walk toward that promise, taking the present as it comes.
 

 
  

Chapter 13

54-58 

 


Today, we bless St Joseph as a worker, but recalling St Joseph the Worker reminds us of God the Worker and Jesus the Worker. And the theme of work is very, very, very evangelical.

Even Jesus, worked a lot on earth, in St Joseph's workshop. He worked until the Cross. He did what the Father had commanded him to do. This makes me think of the many people today who work and have this dignity...Thanks be to God. We know that dignity does not give us power, money or culture. No! It is work that gives us dignity, even if society does not allow for all to work.

Social, political and economic systems that in various places around the world are based on exploitation. Thus, they choose to “not pay the just” and to strive to make maximum profit at any cost, taking advantage of other's work without worrying the least bit about about their dignity”. This “goes against God!”. There are dramatic situations which keep happening in the world, which we have also “read many times in L'Osservatore Romano ”. Sunday, 28 April, article about the garment factory collapse in Dhaka which killed hundreds of workers who were being exploited and who worked without the proper safety preoccupations. It is a title, which struck me the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh: 'How to die for 38 euros a month'”.
'Slave labour' exploits “the most beautiful gift which God gave man: the ability to create, work and to discover one's own dignity. How many of our brothers and sisters in the world are in this situation at the hands of these economic, social and political attitudes. 
  

Chapter 14

22-36


Pope Francis    18.11.18   World Day of the Poor   Holy Mass  Vatican Basilica       Matthew 14: 22-36

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/en/2018/11/18/giornata-poveri.html

Let us look at three things Jesus does in today’s Gospel.

First: while it is still day, he “leaves”. He leaves the crowds at the height of his success, acclaimed for his multiplication of the loaves. Though the disciples wanted to bask in the glory, he tells them to go ahead and then dismisses the crowd (cf. Mt 14:22-23). Sought by the people, he goes off by himself; as the excitement was winding down, he goes up the mountain to pray. Then, in the dead of night, he comes down and goes to the disciples, walking on the wind-swept waters. In all of this, Jesus goes against the current: first, he leaves behind success, and then tranquillity. He teaches us the courage to leave: to leave behind the success that swells the heart and the tranquillity that deadens the soul.

To go where? To God by praying, and to those in need by loving. These are the true treasures in life: God and our neighbour. And this is the road Jesus tells us to take: to go up to God and to come down to our brothers and sisters. He tears us away from grazing undisturbed in the comfortable meadows of
life, from living a life of ease amid little daily pleasures. His disciples are not meant for the carefree calm of a normal life. Like Jesus, they make their way travelling light, ready to leave momentary glories behind, careful not to cling to fleeting goods. Christians know that their homeland is elsewhere, that they are even now – as Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading – “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (cf. Eph 2:19). They are used to being wayfarers. We do not live to accumulate; our glory lies in leaving behind the things that pass away in order to hold on to those that last. Let us ask God to make us like the Church described in the first reading: always on the move, good at leaving and faithful in serving (cf. Acts 28:11-14). Rouse us, Lord, from our idle calm, from the quiet lull of our safe harbours. Set us free from the moorings of self-absorption that weigh life down; free us from constantly seeking success. Teach us, Lord, to know how to “leave” in order to set out on the road you have shown us: to God and to our neighbour.

The second thing: in the heart of the night, Jesus reassures. He goes to his disciples, in the dark, walking “on the sea” (v. 25). The “sea” in this case was really a lake, but the idea of the “sea”, with its murky depths, evokes the forces of evil. Jesus, in effect, goes to meet his disciples by trampling on the malign foes of humanity. And this is the meaning of the sign: rather than a triumphant display of power, it is a revelation of the reassuring certainty that Jesus, and Jesus alone, triumphs over our greatest enemies: the devil, sin, death, fear, worldliness. Today, and to us, he says: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid” (v. 27).

The boat of our life is often
storm-tossed and buffeted by winds. Even when the waters are calm, they quickly grow agitated. When we are caught up in those storms, they seem to be our only problem. But the issue is not the momentary storm, but how we are navigating through life. The secret of navigating well is to invite Jesus on board. The rudder of life must be surrendered to him, so that he can steer the route. He alone gives life in death and hope in suffering; he alone heals our heart by his forgiveness and frees us from fear by instilling confidence. Today, let us invite Jesus into the boat of our life. Like the disciples, we will realize that once he is on board, the winds die down (cf. v. 32) and there can be no shipwreck. With him on board, there will never be a shipwreck! Only with Jesus do we then become capable of offering reassurance. How greatly we need people who can comfort others not with empty words, but with words of life, with deeds of life. In the name of Jesus, we are able to offer true comfort. It is not empty words of encouragement, but the presence of Jesus that grants strength. Reassure us, Lord: comforted by you, we will be able to bring true comfort to others.

The third thing Jesus does: in the midst of the storm, he stretches out his hand (cf. v. 31). He takes hold of Peter who, in his fear and doubt, was sinking, and cried out: “Lord, save me!” (v. 30). We can put ourselves in Peter’s place: we are people of little faith, pleading for salvation. We are wanting in true life and we need the outstretched hand of the Lord to draw us out from evil. This is the beginning of faith: to cast off the pride that makes us feel self-sufficient, and to realize that we are in need of salvation. Faith grows in this climate, to which we adapt ourselves by taking our place beside those who do not set themselves on a pedestal but are needy and cry out for help. This is why it is important for all of us to
live our faith in contact with those in need. This is not a sociological option, the fashion of a single pontificate; it is a theological requirement. It entails acknowledging that we are beggars pleading for salvation, brothers and sisters of all, but especially of the poor whom the Lord loves. In this way, we embrace the spirit of the Gospel. “The spirit of poverty and of love – says the Council – is in fact the glory and witness of the Church of Christ” (Gaudium et Spes, 88).

Jesus heard the cry of Peter. Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life. The cry of
the poor: it is the stifled cry of the unborn, of starving children, of young people more used to the explosion of bombs than happy shouts of the playground. It is the cry of the elderly, cast off and abandoned to themselves. It is the cry of all those who face the storms of life without the presence of a friend. It is the cry of all those forced to flee their homes and native land for an uncertain future. It is the cry of entire peoples, deprived even of the great natural resources at their disposal. It is the cry of every Lazarus who weeps while the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty. The cry of the poor daily grows louder but is heard less and less. Every day that cry gets louder, but every day heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich.

In the face of contempt for human dignity, we often remain with arms folded or stretched out as a sign of our frustration before the grim power of evil. Yet we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness. No. As believers, we must stretch out our hands, as Jesus does with us. The cry of the poor finds a hearing with God. Yet I ask, does it with us? Do we have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands outstretched to offer help? Or do we keep repeating: “Come back tomorrow”? “Christ himself appeals to the charity of his disciples in the person of the poor” (
Gaudium et Spes, loc. cit.). He asks us to recognize him in all those who are hungry and thirsty, in the stranger and those stripped of dignity, in the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:35-36).

The Lord stretches out his hand, freely and not out of duty. And so it must be with us. We are not called to do good only to those who like us. That is normal, but Jesus demands that we do something more (cf. Mt 5:46): to give to those who have nothing to give back, to love gratuitously (cf. Lk 6:32-36). Let us look around in our own day. For all that we do, do we ever do anything completely for free, something for a person who cannot repay us? That will be our outstretched hand, our true treasure in heaven.

Stretch out your hand to us, Lord, and take hold of us. Help us to love as you love. Teach us to leave behind all that is passing, to be a source of reassurance to those around us, and to give freely to all those in need. Amen.



Pope Francis    15.02.19   Holy Mass Fraterna Domus Centre, Sacrofano         Meeting about reception structures for Migrants and Refugees " Free from Fear"  

Pope Francis 15.02.19 Fraterna Domus of Sacrofano

The Israelites at the Red Sea, in the Book of Exodus, illustrate how we are called to look beyond the adversities of the moment, to overcome fear and to place full trust in the saving and mysterious action of the Lord.

In the Gospel of St Matthew the disciples cried out in fear at the sight of Jesus walking on the waters, and His response to them: "Courage, it is I, do not be afraid”. "Free from fear" is the theme chosen for this meeting, it is through these biblical episodes that the Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears.

Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time we too are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom. We are tempted to shut ourselves off within ourselves in our fragile human security…in our reassuring routine.

This retreat into oneself, is a sign of defeat, one that increases our fear of others, foreigners, outcasts and strangers. This is particularly evident today with the arrival of migrants and refugees who knock on our door in search of protection, security and a better future.

Fear is legitimate but it can lead us to give up encountering others and to raise barriers to defend ourselves. Instead, we are called to overcome our fear, knowing the Lord does not abandon His people. The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ…even if our eyes have difficulty recognizing Him. He is the one with ragged clothes, dirty feet, agonized faces, sore bodies, unable to speak our language.

We should begin to thank those who give us the opportunity of this meeting, that is, the ‘others’ who knock at our door, and offer us the possibility of overcoming our fears, meeting, welcoming and assisting Jesus.

And those who have had the strength to let themselves be freed from fear need to help others do the same, so they too can prepare themselves for their own encounter with Christ.


 



13 to 19 


Click on above link for the full text of the homily of Pope Francis.

.. in the third reading, in the Gospel ( Mathew 16:13 - 19), the movement involved in professing the faith.

Thirdly, professing. We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.

Journeying, building, professing. But things are not so straightforward, because in journeying, building, professing, there can sometimes be jolts, movements that are not properly part of the journey: movements that pull us back.

This Gospel continues with a situation of a particular kind. The same Peter who professed Jesus Christ, now says to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. That has nothing to do with it. I will follow you on other terms, but without the Cross. When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.

My prayer for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, will grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ crucified. Amen .


Pope Francis   29.06.13  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica    Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul   Year C     Matthew 16: 13-19,       2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18 

Your Eminences,
Your Eminence, Metropolitan Ioannis,
My Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters

We are celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, principal patrons of the Church of Rome: a celebration made all the more joyful by the presence of bishops from throughout the world. A great wealth, which makes us in some sense relive the event of Pentecost. Today, as then, the faith of the Church speaks in every tongue and desire to unite all peoples in one family.

I offer a heartfelt and grateful greeting to the Delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis. I thank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I for this renewed gesture of fraternity. I greet the distinguished ambassadors and civil authorities. And in a special way I thank the Choir of the Thomaskirche of Leipzig – Bach’s own church – which is contributing to today’s liturgical celebration and represents an additional ecumenical presence.

I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word “confirm”. What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm?

1. First, to confirm in faith. The Gospel speaks of the confession of Peter: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), a confession which does not come from him but from our Father in heaven. Because of this confession, Jesus replies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (v. 18). The role, the ecclesial service of Peter, is founded upon his confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of the living God, made possible by a grace granted from on high. In the second part of today’s Gospel we see the peril of thinking in worldly terms. When Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, of the path of God which does not correspond to the human path of power, flesh and blood re-emerge in Peter: “He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him ... This must never happen to you” (16:22). Jesus’ response is harsh: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (v. 23). Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks. Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the Church!

2. To confirm in love. In the second reading we heard the moving words of Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). But what is this fight? It is not one of those fights fought with human weapons which sadly continue to cause bloodshed throughout the world; rather, it is the fight of martyrdom. Saint Paul has but one weapon: the message of Christ and the gift of his entire life for Christ and for others. It is precisely this readiness to lay himself open, personally, to be consumed for the sake of the Gospel, to make himself all things to all people, unstintingly, that gives him credibility and builds up the Church. The Bishop of Rome is called himself to live and to confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers. And not only the Bishop of Rome: each of you, new archbishops and bishops, have the same task: to let yourselves be consumed by the Gospel, to become all things to everyone. It is your task to hold nothing back, to go outside of yourselves in the service of the faithful and holy people of God.

3. To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (
Lumen Gentium, 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., 19). To confirm in unity: the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the primate. Let us go forward on the path of synodality, and grow in harmony with the service of the primacy. And the Council continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: there is no other Catholic way to be united. This is the Catholic spirit, the Christian spirit: to be united in our differences. This is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, with the Synod of Bishops, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.

To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity. These, dear brother bishops, are the tasks which the holy apostles Peter and Paul entrust to each of us, so that they can be lived by every Christian. May the holy Mother of God guide us and accompany us always with her intercession. Queen of Apostles, pray for us! Amen.



Pope Francis  29.06.16 Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica  Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul  Apostles   Year C    Acts 12: 1-11,   Matthew 16: 13-19,   2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18  

Pope Francis 29.06.16 Saints Peter and Paul

The word of God in today’s liturgy presents a clear central contrast between closing and opening. Together with this image we can consider the symbol of the keys that Jesus promises to Simon Peter so that he can open the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, and not close it before people, like some of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus reproached (cf. Mt 23:13).

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-11) shows us three examples of “closing”: Peter is cast into prison; the community gathers behind closed doors in prayer
; and – in the continuation of our reading – Peter knocks at the closed door of the house of Mary, the mother of John called Mark, after being set free.

In these three examples of “closing”, prayer appears as the main way out. It is a way out for the community, which risks closing in on itself out of persecution and fear. It is a way out for Peter who, at the very beginning of the mission given him by the Lord, is cast into prison by Herod and risks execution. And while Peter was in prison, “the church prayed fervently to God for him” (Acts 12:5). The Lord responds to that prayer and sends his angel to liberate Peter, “rescuing him from the hand of Herod” (cf. v. 11). Prayer, as humble entrustment to God and his holy will, is always the way out of our becoming “closed”, as individuals and as a community. It is always the eminent way out of our becoming “closed”.

Paul too, writing to Timothy, speaks of his experience of liberation, of finding a way out of his own impending execution. He tells us that the Lord stood by him and gave him strength to carry out the work of evangelizing the nations (cf. 2 Tim 4:17). But Paul speaks too of a much greater “opening”, towards an infinitely more vast horizon. It is the horizon of eternal life, which awaits him at the end of his earthly “race”. We can see the whole life of the Apostle in terms of “going out” in service to the Gospel. Paul’s life was utterly projected forward, in bringing Christ to those who did not know him, and then in rushing, as it were, into Christ’s arms, to be “saved for his heavenly kingdom” (v. 18).

Let us return to Peter. The Gospel account (Mt 16:13-19) of his confession of faith and the mission entrusted to him by Jesus shows us that the life of Simon, the fishermen of Galilee – like the life of each of us – opens, opens up fully, when it receives from God the Father the grace of faith. Simon sets out on the journey – a long and difficult journey – that will lead him to go out of himself, leaving all his human supports behind, especially his pride tinged with courage and generous selflessness. In this, his process of liberation, the prayer of Jesus is decisive: “I have prayed for you [Simon], that your own faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32). Likewise decisive is the compassionate gaze of the Lord after Peter had denied him three times: a gaze that pierces the heart and brings tears of repentance (cf. Lk 22:61-62). At that moment, Simon Peter was set free from the prison of his selfish pride and of his fear, and overcame the temptation of closing his heart to Jesus’s call to follow him along the way of the cross.

I mentioned that, in the continuation of the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, there is a detail worthy of consideration (cf. 12:12-17). When Peter finds himself miraculously freed from Herod’s prison, he goes to the home of the mother of John called Mark. He knocks on the closed door and a servant by the name of Rhoda comes. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in disbelief and joy, instead of opening the door, she runs to tell her mistress. The account, which can seem comical, and which could give rise to the “Rhoda complex”, makes us perceive the climate of fear that led the Christian community to stay behind closed doors, but also closed to God’s surprises. Peter knocks at the door. Behold! There is joy, there is fear… “Do we open, do we not?...”. He is in danger, since the guards can come and take him. But fear paralyzes us, it always paralyzes us; it makes us close in on ourselves, closed to God’s surprises. This detail speaks to us of a constant temptation for the Church, that of closing in on herself in the face of danger. But we also see the small openings through which God can work. Saint Luke tells us that in that house “many had gathered and were praying” (v. 12). Prayer enable grace to open a way out from closure to openness, from fear to courage, from sadness to joy. And we can add: from division to unity. Yes, we say this today with confidence, together with our brothers from the Delegation sent by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to take part in the celebration of the Holy Patrons of Rome. Today is also a celebration of communion for the whole Church, as seen by the presence of the metropolitan archbishops who have come for the blessing of the pallia, which they will receive from my representatives in their respective sees.

May Saints Peter and Paul intercede for us, so that we can joyfully advance on this journey, experience the liberating action of God, and bear witness to it before the world.



Pope Francis         29.06.19 Holy Mass, St Peter's Basilica, Rome         Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul Apostles     2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18,   Matthew 16: 13-19

Pope Francis 29.06.19 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

The Apostles Peter and Paul stand before us as witnesses. They never tired of preaching and journeying as missionaries from the land of Jesus to Rome itself. Here they gave their ultimate witness, offering their lives as martyrs. If we go to the heart of that testimony, we can see them as witnesses to life, witnesses to forgiveness and witnesses to Jesus.

Witnesses to life. Their lives, though, were not neat and linear. Both were deeply religious: Peter was one of the very first disciples (cf. Jn 1:41), and Paul was “zealous for the traditions of [his] ancestors” (Gal 1:14). Yet they also made great mistakes: Peter denied the Lord, while Paul persecuted the Church of God. Both were cut to the core by questions asked by Jesus: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (Jn 21:15); “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). Peter was grieved by Jesus’ questions, while Paul was blinded by his words. Jesus called them by name and changed their lives. After all that happened, he put his trust in them, in one who denied him and one who persecuted his followers, in two repentant sinners. We may wonder why the Lord chosen not to give us two witnesses of utter integrity, with clean records and impeccable lives? Why Peter, when there was John? Why Paul, and not Barnabas?

There is a great teaching here: the starting point of the Christian life is not our worthiness; in fact, the Lord was able to accomplish little with those who thought they were good and decent. Whenever we consider ourselves smarter or better than others, that is the beginning of the end. The Lord does not work miracles with those who consider themselves righteous, but with those who know themselves needy. He is not attracted by our goodness; that is not why he loves us. He loves us just as we are; he is looking for people who are not self-sufficient, but ready to open their hearts to him. People who, like Peter and Paul, are transparent before God. Peter immediately told Jesus: “I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8). Paul wrote that he was “least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle” (1 Cor 15:9). Throughout life, they preserved this humility, to the very end. Peter died crucified upside down, since he did not consider himself worthy to imitate his Lord. Paul was always fond of his name, which means “little”, and left behind his birth name, Saul, the name of the first king of his people. Both understood that holiness does not consist in exalting but rather in humbling oneself. Holiness is not a contest, but a question of entrusting our own poverty each day to the Lord, who does great things for those who are lowly. What was the secret that made them persevere amid weakness? It was the Lord’s forgiveness.

Let us think about them too as witnesses to forgiveness. In their failings, they encountered the powerful mercy of the Lord, who gave them rebirth. In his forgiveness, they encountered irrepressible peace and joy. Thinking back to their failures, they might have experienced feelings of guilt. How many times might Peter have thought back to his denial! How many scruples might Paul have felt at having hurt so many innocent people! Humanly, they had failed. Yet they encountered a love greater than their failures, a forgiveness strong enough to heal even their feelings of guilt. Only when we experience God’s forgiveness do we truly experience rebirth. From there we start over, from forgiveness; there we rediscover who we really are: in the confession of our sins.

Witnesses to life and witnesses to forgiveness, Peter and Paul are ultimately witnesses to Jesus. In today’s Gospel, the Lord asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The answers evoke figures of the past: “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. Remarkable people, but all of them dead. Peter instead replies: “You are the Christ” (Mt 16:13-14.16). The Christ, that is, the Messiah. A word that points not to the past, but to the future: the Messiah is the one who is awaited, he is newness, the one who brings God’s anointing to the world. Jesus is not the past, but the present and the future. He is not a distant personage to be remembered, but the one to whom Peter can speak intimately: You are the Christ. For those who are his witnesses, Jesus is more than a historical personage; he is a living person: he is newness, not things we have already seen, the newness of the future and not a memory from the past. The witness, then, is not someone who knows the story of Jesus, but someone who has experienced a love story with Jesus. The witness, in the end, proclaims only this: that Jesus is alive and that he is the secret of life. Indeed, Peter, after saying: “You are the Christ”, then goes on to say: “the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Witness arises from an encounter with the living Jesus. At the centre of Paul’s life too, we find that same word that rises up from Peter’s heart: Christ. Paul repeats this name constantly, almost four hundred times in his letters! For him, Christ is not only a model, an example, a point of reference: he is life itself. Paul writes: “For me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). Jesus is Paul’s present and his future, so much so that he considers the past as refuse in comparison to the surpassing knowledge of Christ (cf. Phil 3:7-8).

Brothers and sisters, in the presence of these witnesses, let us ask: “Do I renew daily my own encounter with Jesus?” We may be curious about Jesus, or interested in Church matters or religious news. We may open computer sites and the papers, and talk about holy things. But this is to remain at the level of what are people saying? Jesus does not care about polls, past history or statistics. He is not looking for religion editors, much less “front page” or “statistical” Christians. He is looking for witnesses who say to him each day: “Lord, you are my life”.

Having met Jesus and experienced his forgiveness, the Apostles bore witness to him by living a new life: they no longer held back, but gave themselves over completely. They were no longer content with half-measures, but embraced the only measure possible for those who follow Jesus: that of boundless love. They were “poured out as a libation” (cf. 2 Tim 4:6). Let us ask for the grace not to be lukewarm Christians living by half measures, allowing our love to grow cold. Let us rediscover who we truly are through a daily relationship with Jesus and through the power of his forgiveness. Just as he asked Peter, Jesus is now asking us: “Who do you say that I am?”, “Do you love me?” Let us allow these words to penetrate our hearts and inspire us not to remain content with a minimum, but to aim for the heights, so that we too can become living witnesses to Jesus.

Today we bless the pallia for the Metropolitan Archbishops named in the past year. The pallium recalls the sheep that the shepherd is called to bear on his shoulders. It is a sign that the shepherds do not live for themselves but for the sheep. It is a sign that, in order to possess life, we have to lose it, give it away. Today our joy is shared, in accordance with a fine tradition, by a Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose members I greet with affection. Your presence, dear brothers, reminds us that we can spare no effort also in the journey towards full unity among believers, in communion at every level. For together, reconciled to God and having forgiven one another, we are called to bear witness to Jesus by our lives.



  

Chapter 17

1-9 



Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning!

This Sunday, the liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Today’s Gospel passage recounts that the Apostles Peter, James and John were witnesses to this extraordinary event. Jesus took them with him “and led them up a high mountain apart” (Mt 17:1) and, while he prayed, his face changed in appearance, “shone like the sun”, and “his garments became white as light”. Then Moses and Elijah appeared, and began a dialogue with Him. At this point, Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (v. 4). He had not yet finished speaking when a bright cloud enveloped them.

The event of the Lord’s Transfiguration offers us a message of hope — thus shall we be, with Him —: it invites us to encounter Jesus, to be at the service of our brothers and sisters.

The disciples’ ascent up Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of disengaging from worldly matters, in order to make a journey toward heaven and to contemplate Jesus. It is a matter of being attentive to the careful and prayerful listening of Christ, the beloved Son of the Father, seeking intimate moments of prayer that allow for the docile and joyful welcoming of the Word of God. In this spiritual ascent, in this disengagement from worldly matters, we are called to rediscover the peaceful and regenerative silence of meditating on the Gospel, on the reading of the Bible, which leads to a destination rich in beauty, splendour and joy. When we meditate in this way, with the Bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this interior beauty, this joy that the Word of God engenders in us. In this perspective, the summer season is a providential time to cultivate our task of seeking and encountering the Lord. In this period, students are free of scholastic commitments and many families take their holidays; it is important that in the period of rest and disengagement from daily activities, we can reinforce our strengths of body and soul, by deepening our spiritual journey.

At the end of the stunning experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down the mountain (cf. v. 9) with eyes and hearts transfigured by their encounter with the Lord. It is the journey that we too can make. The ever more vibrant rediscovery of Jesus is not the aim in itself, but spurs us to “come down the mountain”, energized by the power of the divine Spirit, so as to decide on new paths of conversion and to constantly witness to charity, as the law of daily life. Transformed by Christ’s presence and by the ardour of his Word, we will be a concrete sign of the invigorating love of God for all our brothers and sisters, especially for those who are suffering, for those who are lonely and neglected, for the sick and for the multitude of men and women who, in different parts of the world, are humiliated by injustice, abuse and violence.

In the Transfiguration, the voice of the heavenly Father is heard saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” (v. 5). Let us look to Mary, the Virgin of listening, ever ready to welcome and keep in her heart every word of the Divine Son (cf. Lk 2:51).

May our Mother and the Mother of God help us to be in harmony with the Word of God, so that Christ may become light and lodestar throughout our life. Let us entrust to her the holidays of all, so that they may be peaceful and fruitful, but above all the summer of those who cannot go on holiday due to impediments of age, to reasons of health or of work, to economic restrictions or other problems, so that it may be a time of eased tension, gladdened by the presence of friends and of happy moments.
 
  

Chapter 18

1-5, 10 



https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/guardian-angels/02.10.18.jpg

Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. They are the “special helpers” that the Lord promises to His people and to us who travel along the path of life. Life is a journey, along which we must be helped by “companions,” by “protectors,” by “compasses” that guard us against dangers, and from the snares we might encounter along the way.

There is the danger of not going on the journey. And how many people settle down, and don’t set out on the journey, and their whole life is stalled, without moving, without doing anything… It is a danger. Like that man in the Gospel who was afraid to invest the talent. He buried it, and [said] “I am at peace, I am calm. I can’t make a mistake. So I won’t take a risk.” And so many people don’t know how to make the journey, or are afraid of taking risks, and they are stalled. But we know that the rule is that those who are stalled in life end up corrupted. Like water: when the water is stopped up in a place, the mosquitos come, they lay their eggs, and everything is corrupted. Everything. The angels help us, they push us to continue on the journey.

But there are two other dangers we face in our lives. There is the “danger of going astray,” which can be corrected easily only at the beginning; and the danger of leaving the road to lose ourselves in a maze, going “from one part to another,” like a “labyrinth” that traps us, so that we can never escape. The angel, is there “to help us not to mistake the road, and to continue to journey along it” – but our prayer, our request for help, is needed.

And the Lord says, “Have respect for their presence.” The angel is authoritative; he has authority to guide us. Listen to him. “Hearken to his voice, and do not rebel against him.” Listen to the inspirations, which are always from the Holy Spirit – but the angel inspires them. But I want to ask you a question: Do you speak with your angel? Do you know the name of your angel? Do you listen to your angel? Do you allow yourself to be led by hand along the path, or do you need to be pushed to move?

But the presence and the role of the angels in our life is even more important, because they not only help us to journey well, but also show us our destination. In the day’s Gospel, taken from St Matthew, the Lord says “Do not despise one of these little ones,” because “their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” In the mystery of the guardianship of the angels there is also the idea of “the contemplation of God the Father,” which we can only understand if we are given that grace from the Lord.

Our angel is not only with us; he also sees God the Father. He is in relationship with Him. He is the daily bridge, from the moment we arise to the moment we go to bed. He accompanies us and is a link between us and God the Father. The angel is the daily gateway to transcendence, to the encounter with the Father: that is, the angel helps me to go forward because he looks upon the Father, and he knows the way. Let us not forget these companions along the journey.

Chapter 18

12-14 


Pope Francis          11.12.18 Holy Mass  Santa Marta    Isaiah 40:1-11,      Matthew 18: 12-14 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/consolation/11.12.18.jpg

The first reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (40,1-11), is an invitation to consolation: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God,” because “her guilt is expiated.” This, refers to the “consolation of salvation,” to the good news that “we are saved.” The Risen Christ, in those forty days after His Resurrection, did just that with His disciples: He consoled them. But, we tend to resist consolation, as if we were safer in the turbulent waters of our problems. We bet on desolation, on problems, on defeat; the Lord works very hard to console us, but encounters resistance. This can be seen even with the disciples on the morning of Easter, who needed to be reassured, because they were afraid of another defeat.

We are attached to this spiritual pessimism. Children who approach me during my public audiences sometimes see me and scream, they begin to cry, because seeing someone in white, they think of the doctor and the nurse, who give them a shot for their vaccines; and [the children] think, ‘No, no, not another one!’ And we are a little like that, but the Lord says, “Comfort, comfort my people.”

And how does the Lord give comfort? With
tenderness. It is a language that the prophets of doom do not recognise: tenderness. It is a word that is cancelled by all the vices that drive us away from the Lord: clerical vices, the vices of some Christians who don’t want to move, of the lukewarm… Tenderness scares them. “See, the Lord has His reward with Him, His recompense goes before Him” – this is how the passage from Isaiah concludes. “Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” This is the way the Lord comforts: with tenderness. Tenderness consoles. When a child cries, a mom will caress them and calm them with tenderness: a word that the world today has practically removed from the dictionary.

The Lord invites us to allow ourselves to be consoled by Him; and this is also helpful in our preparation for Christmas. And today, in the opening prayer from the Mass, we asked for the grace of a sincere joyfulness, of this simple but sincere joy.

And indeed, I would say that the habitual state of the Christian should be consolation. Even in bad moments: The martyrs entered the Colosseum singing; [and] the martyrs of today – I think of the good Coptic workers on the beach in Libya, whose throats were cut – died saying “Jesus, Jesus!” There is a consolation within: a joy even in the moment of martyrdom. The habitual state of the Christian should be consolation, which is not the same as optimism, no. Optimism is something else. But consolation, that positive base… We’re talking about radiant, positive people: the positivity, the radiance of the Christian is the consolation.

When we suffer, we might not feel that consolation; but a Christian will not lose interior peace because it is a gift from the Lord, who offers it to all, even in the darkest moments. And so, in these weeks leading up to Christmas, we should ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid to allow ourselves to be consoled by Him. Referring back to the Gospel of the day (Mt 18,12-14), he said we should pray:

“That I too might prepare myself for Christmas at least with peace: peace of heart, the peace of Your presence, the peace given by Your caresses.” But [you might say] “I am a great sinner.” – Ok, but what does today’s Gospel tell us? That the Lord consoles like the shepherd who, if he loses one of his sheep, goes in search of it; like that man who has a hundred sheep, and one of them is lost: he goes in search of it. The Lord does just that with each one of us. [But] I don’t want peace, I resist peace, I resist consolation… But He is at the door. He knocks so that we might open our heart in order to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to allow ourselves to be set at peace. And He does it with gentleness. He knocks with caresses.
 

  
  

Chapter 20

25-26 

 


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 21

33-43 


Pope Francis   08.10.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square    27th Sunday Year A       Matthew 21: 33-43

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s liturgy offers us the parable of the tenants to whom a landowner lends the vineyard which he has planted, and then goes away (cf. Mt 21:33-43). This is how the loyalty of these tenants is tested: the vineyard is entrusted to them, they are to tend it, make it bear fruit and deliver its harvest to the owner. When the time comes to harvest the grapes, the landlord sends his servants to pick the fruit. However, the vineyard tenants assume a possessive attitude. They do not consider themselves to be simple supervisors, but rather landowners, and they refuse to hand over the harvest. They mistreat the servants, to the point of killing them. The landowner is patient with them. He sends more servants, larger in number than the previous ones, but the result is the same. In the end, he patiently decides to send his own son. But those tenants, prisoners to their own possessive behaviour, also kill the son, reasoning that, in this way, they would have the inheritance.

This narrative allegorically illustrates the reproaches of the prophets in the story of Israel. It is a history that belongs to us. It is about the Covenant which God wished to establish with mankind and in which he also called us to participate. Like any other love story, this story of the Covenant has its positive moments too, but it is also marked by betrayal and rejection. In order to make us understand how God the Father responds to the rejection of his love and his proposal of an alliance, the Gospel passage puts a question on the lips of the owner of the vineyard: “When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (v. 40). This question emphasizes that God’s disappointment at the wicked behaviour of mankind is not the last word! This is the great novelty of Christianity: a God who, even though disappointed by our mistakes and our sins, does not fail to keep his Word, does not give up and, most of all, does not seek vengeance!

My brothers and sisters, God does not avenge himself. God loves, he does not avenge himself. He waits for us to forgive us, to embrace us. Through the “rejected stones” — and Christ is the first stone that the builders rejected — through situations of weakness and sin, God continues to circulate “the new wine” of his vineyard, namely
mercy. This is the new wine of the Lord’s vineyard: mercy. There is only one obstacle to the tenacious and tender will of God: our arrogance and our conceit which, at times also becomes violence! Faced with these attitudes where no fruit is produced, the Word of God retains all its power to reprimand and reproach: “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (v. 43).

The urgency of replying with good fruits to the call of the Lord, who asks us to become his vineyard, helps us understand what is new and original about the Christian faith. It is not so much the sum of precepts and moral norms but rather, it is first and foremost a proposal of love which God makes through Jesus and continues to make with mankind. It is an invitation to enter into this love story, by becoming a lively and open vine, rich in fruits and hope for everyone. A closed vineyard can become wild and produce wild grapes. We are called to leave this vineyard to put ourselves at the service of our brothers and sisters who are not with us, in order to shake each other and encourage each other, to remind ourselves that we must be the Lord’s vineyard in every environment, even the more distant and challenging ones.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the intercession of the Most Holy Mary, so that she may help us to be everywhere, in particular in the peripheries of society, the vineyard that the Lord planted for the good of all and to bring the new wine of the Lord’s mercy.
 
  

Chapter 22

1-10 



We have heard Isaiah’s prophecy: “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces…” (Is 25:8). These words, full of hope in God, point us to the goal, they show the future towards which we are journeying. Along this path the Saints go before us and guide us. These words also describe the vocation of men and women missionaries.

Missionaries are those who, in docility to the Holy Spirit, have the courage to live the Gospel. Even this Gospel which we have just heard: “Go, therefore, into the byways…”, the king tells his servants (Mt 22:9). The servants then go out and assemble all those they find, “both good and bad”, and bring them to the King’s wedding feast (cf. v. 10).

Missionaries have received this call: they have gone out to call everyone, in the highways and byways of the world. In this way they have done immense good for the Church, for once the Church stops moving, once she becomes closed in on herself, she falls ill, she can be corrupted, whether by sins or by that false knowledge cut off from God which is worldly secularism.

Missionaries have turned their gaze to Christ crucified; they have received his grace and they have not kept it for themselves. Like Saint Paul, they have become all things to all people; they have been able to live in poverty and abundance, in plenty and hunger; they have been able to do all things in him who strengthens them (cf. Phil 4:12-13). With this God-given strength, they have the courage to “go forth” into the highways of the world with confidence in the Lord who has called them. Such is the life of every missionary man and woman… ending up far from home, far from their homeland; very often, they are killed, assassinated! This is what has happened even now to many of our brothers and sisters.

The Church’s mission of evangelization is essentially a proclamation of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Missionaries have served the Church’s mission by breaking the bread of God’s word for the poor and those far off, and by bringing to all the gift of the unfathomable love welling up from the heart of the Saviour.

Such was the case with Saint François de Laval and Saint Marie de l’Incarnation. Dear pilgrims from Canada, today I would like to leave you with two words of advice drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews. Keeping missionaries in mind, they will be of great benefit for your communities.

The first is this: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (13:7). The memory of the missionaries sustains us at a time when we are experiencing a scarcity of labourers in the service of the Gospel. Their example attracts us, they inspire us to imitate their faith. They are fruitful witnesses who bring forth life!

The second is this: “Recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings… Do not therefore abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance…” (10:32,35-36). Honouring those who endured suffering to bring us the Gospel means being ready ourselves to fight the good fight of faith with humility, meekness, and mercy, in our daily lives. And this bears fruit.

We must always remember those who have gone before us, those who founded the fruitful Church in Quebéc! The missionaries from Quebec who went everywhere were fruitful. The world was full of Canadian missionaries like François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation. So a word of advice: remembering them prevents us from renouncing candour and courage. Perhaps – indeed, even without perhaps – the devil is jealous and will not tolerate that a land could be such fertile ground for missionaries. Let us pray to the Lord, that Quebéc may once again bear much fruit, that it may give the world many missionaries. May the two missionaries, who we celebrate today, and who – in a manner of speaking – founded the Church in Québec, help us by their intercession. May the seed that they sowed grow and bear fruit in new courageous men and women, who are far-sighted, with hearts open to the Lord’s call. Today, each one must ask this for your homeland. The saints will intercede for us from heaven. May Quebéc once again be a source of brave and holy missionaries.

This, then, is the joy and the challenge of this pilgrimage of yours: to commemorate the witnesses, the missionaries of the faith in your country. Their memory sustains us always in our journey towards the future, towards the goal, when “the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces…”.

“Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Is 25:9).
 

  

Chapter 25

1-13

14-30

31-46 

 



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!

In the Creed we profess that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. Human history begins with the creation of man and woman in God’s likeness and ends with the Last Judgement of Christ. These two poles of history are often forgotten; and, at times, especially faith in Christ’s return and in
the Last Judgement, are not so clear and firm in Christian hearts. In his public life Jesus frequently reflected on the reality of his Final Coming. Today I would like to reflect on three Gospel texts that help us to penetrate this mystery: those of the ten virgins, of the talents and of the Last Judgement. All three are part of Jesus’ discourse on the end of time which can be found in the Gospel of St Matthew.

Let us remember first of all that in the Ascension the Son of God brought to the Father our humanity, which he had taken on, and that he wants to draw all to himself, to call the whole world to be welcomed in God’s embrace so that at the end of history the whole of reality may be consigned to the Father. Yet there is this “immediate time” between the First and the Final Coming of Christ, and that is the very time in which we are living. The parable of the ten virgins fits into this context of “immediate” time (cf. Mt 25:1-13). They are ten maidens who are awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, but he is late and they fall asleep. At the sudden announcement that the Bridegroom is arriving they prepare to welcome him, but while five of them, who are wise, have oil to burn in their lamps, the others, who are foolish, are left with lamps that have gone out because they have no oil for them. While they go to get some oil the Bridegroom arrives and the foolish virgins find that the door to the hall of the marriage feast is shut.

They knock on it again and again, but it is now too late, the Bridegroom answers: I do not know you. The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time he gives to us, to all of us, before his Final Coming with mercy and patience; it is a time of watchfulness; a time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, a time in which to keep our heart open to goodness, beauty and truth. It is a time to live in accordance with God, because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ’s return. What he asks of us is to be ready for the encounter — ready for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of his presence, keeping our faith alive with prayer, with the sacraments, and taking care not to fall asleep so as to not forget about God. The life of slumbering Christians is a sad life, it is not a happy life. Christians must be happy, with the joy of Jesus. Let us not fall asleep!

The second parable, the parable of the talents, makes us think about the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return, when he will ask us what use we made of them (cf. Mt 25:14-30). We are well acquainted with the parable: before his departure the master gives a few talents to each of his servants to ensure that they will be put to good use during his absence. He gives five to the first servant, two to the second one and one to the third. In the period of their master’s absence, the first two servants increase their talents — these are ancient coins — whereas the third servant prefers to bury his and to return it to his master as it was.

On his return, the master judges what they have done: he praises the first two while he throws the third one out into the outer darkness because, through fear, he had hidden his talent, withdrawing into himself. A Christian who withdraws into himself, who hides everything that the Lord has given him, is a Christian who... he is not a Christian! He is a Christian who does not thank God for everything God has given him!

This tells us that the expectation of the Lord’s return is the time of action — we are in the time of action — the time in which we should bring God’s gifts to fruition, not for ourselves but for him, for the Church, for others. The time to seek to increase goodness in the world always; and in particular, in this period of crisis, today, it is important not to turn in on ourselves, burying our own talent, our spiritual, intellectual, and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but, rather to open ourselves, to be supportive, to be attentive to others.

In the square I have seen that there are many young people here: it is true, isn’t it? Are there many young people? Where are they? I ask you who are just setting out on your journey through life: have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how you can put them at the service of others? Do not bury your talents! Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart, the ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. Life is not given to us to be jealously guarded for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it in turn. Dear young people, have a deep spirit! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!

Lastly, a word about the passage on the Last Judgement in which the Lord’s Second Coming is described, when he will judge all human beings, the living and the dead (cf. Mt 25: 31-46). The image used by the Evangelist is that of the shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. On his right he places those who have acted in accordance with God’s will, who went to the aid of their hungry, thirsty, foreign, naked, sick or imprisoned neighbour — I said “foreign”: I am thinking of the multitude of foreigners who are here in the Diocese of Rome: what do we do for them? While on his left are those who did not help their neighbour. This tells us that God will judge us on our love, on how we have loved our brethren, especially the weakest and the neediest. Of course we must always have clearly in mind that we are justified, we are saved through grace, through an act of freely-given love by God who always goes before us; on our own we can do nothing. Faith is first of all a gift we have received. But in order to bear fruit, God’s grace always demands our openness to him, our free and tangible response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of a God who saves. We are asked to trust in him, to correspond to the gift of his love with a good life, made up of actions motivated by faith and love.

Dear brothers and sisters, may looking at the Last Judgement never frighten us: rather, may it impel us to live the present better. God offers us this time with mercy and patience so that we may learn every day to recognize him in the poor and in the lowly. Let us strive for goodness and be watchful in prayer and in love. May the Lord, at the end of our life and at the end of history, be able to recognize us as good and faithful servants. Many thanks!






Pope Francis The secret to live is to live to serve


In the parable of today’s Gospel, we heard that the bridesmaids, all ten of them, “went forth to meet the bridegroom” (Mt 25:1). For all of us, life is a constant call to go forth: from our mother’s womb, from the house where we are born, from infancy to youth, from youth to adulthood, all the way to our going forth from this world. For ministers of the Gospel too, life is in constant movement, as we go forth from our family home to wherever the Church sends us, from one variety of service to another. We are always on the move, until we make our final journey.

The Gospel shows us the meaning of this constant wayfaring that is life: it is a going forth to meet the Bridegroom. This is what life is meant to be lived for: the call that resounds in the night, according to the Gospel, and which we will hear at the hour of our death: “Here is the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (v. 6). The encounter with Jesus, the Bridegroom who “loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), gives meaning and direction to our lives. That and nothing more. It is the finale that illuminates everything that preceded it. Just as the seeding is judged by the harvest, so the journey of life is shaped by its ultimate goal.

If our life is a journey to meet the Bridegroom, it is also the time we have been granted to grow in love. Every day of our lives is a preparation for the wedding banquet, a great period of betrothal. Let us ask ourselves: do I live like someone preparing to meet the Bridegroom? In the ministry, amid all our meetings, activities and paperwork, we must never lose sight of the one thread that holds the entire fabric together: our expectation of the Bridegroom. The centre of it all can only be a heart in love with the Lord. Only in this way will the visible body of our ministry be sustained by an invisible soul. Here we begin to realize what the Apostle tells us in the second reading: “We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). Let us not keep our gaze fixed on earthly affairs, but look beyond them. It is true when they say that the really important things are invisible to our eyes. The really important thing in life is hearing the voice of the Bridegroom. That voice asks us daily to catch sight of the Lord who comes, and to make our every activity a means of preparation for his wedding banquet.

We are reminded of this by what the Gospel tells is the one essential thing for the bridesmaids awaiting the wedding banquet. It is not their gowns, or their lamps, but rather the oil kept in small jars.

Here we see a first feature of oil: it is not impressive. It remains hidden; it does not appear, yet without it there is no light. What does this suggest to us? That in the Lord’s eyes what matters is not appearances but the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7). Everything that the world runs after and then parades – honours, power, appearances, glory – passes away and leaves nothing behind. Detachment from worldly appearances is essential to our preparation for heaven. We need to say no to the “cosmetic culture” that tells us to worry about how we look. Instead of our outward appearance that passes away, we should purify and keep custody of our heart, our inner self, which is precious in the eyes of God.

Along with this first feature – not to be flashy but essential – there is another aspect of oil: it exists in order to be consumed. Only when it is burned does it spread light. Our lives are like that: they radiate light only if they are consumed, if they spend themselves in service. The secret to live is to live to serve. Service is the ticket to be presented at the door of the eternal wedding banquet. Whatever will remain of life, at the doorstep of eternity, is not what we gained but what we gave away (cf. Mt 6:19-21; 1 Cor 13:8). The meaning of life is found in our response to God’s offer of love. And that response is made up of true love, self-giving and service. Serving others involved a cost, since it involves spending ourselves, letting ourselves be consumed. In our ministry, those who do not live to serve do not de-serve to live. Those who hold on too tightly to their lives will lose them.

A third feature of oil is clearly present in the Gospel: it must be prepared. Oil has to be stored up ahead of time and carried with one (cf. vv. 4, 7). Love is certainly spontaneous, but it is not impromptu. It was precisely by their lack of preparation that the bridesmaids excluded from the wedding banquet showed their foolishness. Now is the time for preparation: here and now, day by day, love has to be stored up and fostered. Let us ask for grace to renew daily our first love with the Lord (cf. Rev 2:4), lest its flame die out. It is a great temptation to sink into a life without love, which ends up being like an empty vase, a snuffed lamp. If we do not invest in love, life will stifle it. Those called to God’s wedding feast cannot be content with a sedentary, flat and humdrum life that plods on without enthusiasm, seeking petty satisfactions and pursuing fleeting rewards. A dreary and predictable life, content to carry out its duties without giving of itself, is unworthy of the Bridegroom.

As we pray for the Cardinals and Bishops who have passed away in this last year, let us beg the intercession of all those who lived unassuming lives, content to prepare daily to meet the Lord. Following the example of these witnesses, who praise God are all around us in great numbers, let us not be content with a quick glance at this day and nothing else. Instead, let us desire to look farther ahead, to the wedding banquet that awaits us. A life burning with desire for God and trained by love will be prepared to enter the chamber of the Bridegroom, and this, forever.



Pope Francis    19.11.17  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica, Rome  World Day of the Poor    33rd Sunday  - Year A     Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31,  Matthew 25: 14-30

Pope Francis  19.11.17 World Day of the Poor

We have the joy of breaking the bread of God’s word, and shortly, we will have the joy of breaking and receiving the Bread of the Eucharist, food for life’s journey. All of us, none excluded, need this, for all of us are beggars when it comes to what is essential: God’s love, which gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts.

The Gospel parable speaks of gifts. It tells us that we have received
talents from God, “according to ability of each” (Mt 25:15). Before all else, let us realize this: we do have talents; in God’s eyes, we are “talented”. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others. We are chosen and blessed by God, who wants to fill us with his gifts, more than any father or mother does with their own children. And God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission.

Indeed, as the loving and demanding Father that he is, he gives us responsibility. In the parable, we see that each servant is given talents to use wisely. But whereas the first two servants do what they are charged, the third does not make his talents bear fruit; he gives back only what he had received. “I was afraid – he says – and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (v. 25). As a result, he is harshly rebuked as “wicked and lazy” (v. 26). What made the Master displeased with him? To use a word that may sound a little old-fashioned but is still timely, I would say it was his
omission. His evil was that of failing to do good. All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground. But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans (cf. v. 14). It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments, like hired hands in the house of the Father (cf. Lk 15:17).

The unworthy servant, despite receiving a talent from the Master who loves to share and multiply his gifts, guarded it jealously; he was content to keep it safe. But someone concerned only to preserve and maintain the treasures of the past is not being faithful to God. Instead, the parable tells us, the one who adds new talents is truly “faithful” (vv. 21 and 23), because he sees things as God does; he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right “omission”.

Omission is also the great sin where
the poor are concerned. Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, “That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem”. It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.

How, in practice can we please God? When we want to please someone dear to us, for example
by giving a gift, we need first to know that person’s tastes, lest the gift prove more pleasing to the giver than to the recipient. When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel. Immediately following the passage that we heard today, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you that, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These least of our brethren, whom he loves dearly, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside. On their faces we can imagine seeing Jesus’ own face; on their lips, even if pursed in pain, we can hear his words: “This is my body” (Mt 26:26).

In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell. God greatly appreciates the attitude described in today’s first reading that of the “good wife”, who “opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:10.20). Here we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord.

There, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). For this reason, in them, in their weakness, a “saving power” is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our “passport to paradise”. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.

And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and
our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life? This is the choice before us: to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven. Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give, for “those who store up treasures for themselves, do not grow rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:21).

So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage
to love, not in words but in deeds.




Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

Today I would like to begin the last series of catechesis on our profession of faith, by discussing the statement “I believe in eternal life”. In particular, I will reflect on
the Last Judgement. We need not be afraid: let us listen to what the Word of God tells us. Concerning this, we read in the Gospel of Matthew: when Christ “comes in his glory, and all the angels with him.... Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.... And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt 25:31-33, 46). Whenever we think of Christ’s return and of his final judgement, which will manifest to its ultimate consequences the good that each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life, we seem to find ourselves before a mystery which towers above us, which we fail even to imagine. A mystery which almost instinctively arouses a sense of fear in us, and perhaps even one of trepidation. If, however, we reflect well on this reality, it cannot but expand the heart of a Christian and come to constitute a cause of consolation and of trust.

In this regard, the testimony of the first Christian communities resounds ever so evocatively. In fact, they usually accompanied the celebrations and prayers with the acclamation Maranatha, an expression composed of two Aramaic words which, according to how they are pronounced, may be understood as a supplication: “Come, Lord!”, or as a certainty nourished by faith: “Yes, the Lord is coming, the Lord is near”. The whole of Christian revelation culminates in this exclamation, at the conclusion of the marvellous contemplation which is offered to us by John in Revelation (cf. 22:20). In that case, it is the Church as bride who, on behalf of all humanity and as its first fruits, addresses herself to Christ her Bridegroom, looking forward to be enfolded in his embrace: Jesus’ embrace, which is the fullness of life and the fullness of love. This is how Jesus embraces us. If we think of judgement in this perspective, all fear and hesitation fade and make room for expectation and deep joy: it will be the very moment when we will be judged finally ready to be clothed in Christ’s glory, as with a nuptial garment, to be led into the banquet, the image of full and definitive communion with God.

A second reason for confidence is offered to us by the observation that, at the moment of judgement, we will not be left alone. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself foretells how, at the end of time, those who have followed him will take their place in glory, and judge with him (cf. Mt 19:28). The Apostle Paul then, writing to the community of Corinth, states: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?... How much more, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor 6:2-3). How beautiful it is to know that at that juncture, in addition to Christ, our Paraclete, our Advocate with the Father (cf. 1 Jn 2:1), we will be able to count on the intercession and goodness of so many of our elder brothers and sisters who have gone before us on the journey of faith, who have offered their lives for us and who continue to love us ineffably! The saints already live in the sight of God, in the splendour of his glory praying for us who still live on earth. What consolation this certainty arouses in our hearts! The Church is truly a mother and, as a mother, she seeks her children’s good, especially of those who are furthest away and are afflicted, until she finds its fullness in the glorious body of Christ with all its members.

A further suggestion is offered to us by the Gospel of John, where it explicitly states that “God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:17-18). This means, then, that this final judgement is already in progress, it begins now over the course of our lives. Thus judgement is pronounced at every moment of life, as it sums up our faith in the salvation which is present and active in Christ, or of our unbelief, whereby we close in upon ourselves. But if we close ourselves to the love of Jesus, we condemn ourselves. Salvation is to open oneself to Jesus, it is he who saves us. If we are sinners — and we all are — we ask him for forgiveness and if we go to him with the desire to be good, the Lord forgives us. But for this we must open ourselves to Jesus’ love, which is stronger than all else. Jesus’ love is great, Jesus’ love is merciful, Jesus’ love forgives; but you have to open yourself and to open oneself means to repent, to accuse oneself of the things that are not good and which we have done. The Lord Jesus gave himself and he continues to give himself to us, in order to fill us with all of the mercy and grace of the Father. We then, in a certain sense, can become judges of ourselves, by condemning ourselves to exclusion from communion with God and with the brethren. We must not grow weary, then, of keeping watch over our thoughts and our attitudes, in order that we may be given even now a foretaste of the warmth and splendour of God’s Face — and this will be beautiful — which in eternal life we shall contemplate in all its fullness. Forward, thinking of this judgement which begins now, which has already begun. Forward, doing so in such a way that our hearts open to Jesus and to his salvation; forward without fear, for Jesus’ love is greater and if we ask forgiveness for our sins he will forgive us. This is what Jesus is like. Forward then with this certainly, which will bring us to the glory of heaven!
 


https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/asylum-seekers/14.01.18.jpg

This year I wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass that invites and welcomes you especially who are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Some of you have recently arrived in Italy, others are long-time residents and work here, and still others make up the so-called “second-generation”.

For everyone in this assembly, the Word of God has resonated and today invites us to deepen the special call that the Lord addresses to each one of us. As he did with Samuel (cf 1 Sm 3:3b-10,19), he calls us by name - each one of us - and asks us to honour the fact that each of us has been created a unique and unrepeatable being, each different from the others and each with a singular role in the history of the world. In the Gospel (cf Jn 1:35-42), the two disciples of John ask Jesus, “Where do you live?” (v. 38), implying that the reply to this question would determine their judgment upon the master from Nazareth. The response of Jesus is clear: “Come and see!” (v. 39), and opens up to a personal encounter which requires sufficient time to welcome, to know and to acknowledge the other.

In the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees I have written, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Mt 25:35,43).” And for the stranger, the migrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker and the displaced person, every door in a new land is also an opportunity to encounter Jesus. His invitation “Come and see!” is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals. It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her. It is an invitation which offers the opportunity to draw near to the other and see where and how he or she lives. In today’s world, for new arrivals to welcome, to know and to acknowledge means to know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in. It even includes understanding their fears and apprehensions for the future. And for local communities to welcome, to know and to acknowledge newcomers means to open themselves without prejudices to their rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.

True encounter with the other does not end with welcome, but involves us all in the three further actions which I spelled out in the Message for this Day: to protect, to promote and to integrate. In the true encounter with the neighbour, are we capable of recognizing Jesus Christ who is asking to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated? As the Gospel parable of the final judgment teaches us: the Lord was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger and in prison -- by some he was helped and by others not (cf Mt 25:31-46). This true encounter with Christ is source of salvation, a salvation which should be announced and brought to all, as the apostle Andrew shows us. After revealing to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41), Andrew brings him to Jesus so that Simon can have the same experience of encounter.

It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long laboured to build up. And the newly arrived also have fears: they are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure. These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.

From this encounter with Jesus present in the poor, the rejected, the refugee, the asylum seeker, flows our prayer of today. It is a reciprocal prayer: migrants and refugees pray for local communities, and local communities pray for the newly arrived and for migrants who have been here longer. To the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them. In this way, responding to the supreme commandment of charity and love of neighbour, may we all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.



Pope Francis      01.10.19 Papal Chapel, Vatican Basilica    Vespers for the Beginning of the Missionary Month     Matthew 25: 14-30

Pope Francis  01.10.19 Mission


In the parable we have heard, the Lord appears as a man who, before leaving on a journey, calls his servants and entrusts his property to them (cf. Mt 25:14). God has entrusted us with his greatest treasures: our own lives and the lives of others. He has entrusted any number of different gifts to each of us. These gifts, these talents, are not something to be stored in a safe; they are a true vocation: the Lord calls us to make our talents bear fruit, with boldness and creativity. God will ask us if we stepped forward and took risks, even losing face. This extraordinary Missionary Month should jolt us and motivate us to be active in doing good. Not notaries of faith and guardians of grace, but missionaries.

We become missionaries by living as witnesses: bearing witness by our lives that we have come to know Jesus. It is our lives that speak. Witness is the key word: a word with the same root as the word “martyr”. The martyrs are the primary witnesses of faith: not by their words but by their lives. They know that faith is not propaganda or proselytism: it is a respectful gift of one’s life. They live by spreading peace and joy, by loving everyone, even their enemies, out of love for Jesus. Can we, who have discovered that we are children of the heavenly Father, keep silent about the joy of being loved, the certainty of being ever precious in God’s eyes? That is a message that so many people are waiting to hear. And it is our responsibility. Let us ask ourselves this month: how good a witness am I?

At the end of the parable, the Lord describes the enterprising servant as “good and trustworthy”, and the fearful servant as “wicked and lazy” (cf. vv. 21.23.26). Why is God so harsh with the servant who was afraid? What evil did he do? His evil was not having done good; he sinned by omission. Saint Albert Hurtado once said: “It is good not to do evil, but it is evil not to do good”. This is the sin of omission. This could be the sin of an entire life, for we have been given life not to bury it, but to make something of it; not to keep it for ourselves, but to give it away. Whoever stands with Jesus knows that we keep what we give away; we possess what we give to others. The secret for possessing life is to give it away. To live by omission is to deny our vocation: omission is the opposite of mission.

We sin by omission, that is, against mission, whenever, rather than spreading joy, we think of ourselves as victims, or think that no one loves us or understands us. We sin against mission when we yield to resignation: “I can’t do this: I’m not up to it”. How can that be? God has given you talents, yet you think yourself so poor that you cannot enrich a single person? We sin against mission when we complain and keep saying that everything is going from bad to worse, in the world and in the Church. We sin against mission when we become slaves to the fears that immobilize us, when we let ourselves be paralyzed by thinking that “things will never change”. We sin against mission when we live life as a burden and not as a gift, when we put ourselves and our concerns at the centre, and not our brothers and sisters who are waiting to be loved.

“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). He loves the Church on the go. But let us be attentive: if it is not on the go, it is not Church. The Church is meant for the road, meant to be on the move. A Church on the go, a missionary Church is a Church that does not waste time lamenting things that go wrong, the loss of faithful, the values of the time now in the past. A Church that does not seek safe oases to dwell in peace, but longs to be salt of the earth and a leaven in the world. For such a Church knows that this is her strength, that of Jesus himself: not social or institutional relevance, but humble and gratuitous love.

Today we begin the Missionary Month of October in the company of three “servants” who bore much fruit. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus shows us the way: she made prayer the fuel for missionary activity in the world. This is also the Month of the Rosary: how much are we praying for the spread of the Gospel and our conversion from omission to mission? Then there is Saint Francis Xavier, one of the great missionaries of the Church. He too gives us a jolt: can we emerge from our shell and renounce our comforts for the sake of the Gospel? Finally is the Venerable Pauline Jaricot, a labourer who supported the missions by her daily work: with the offerings that she made from her wages, she helped lay the foundations of the Pontifical Missionary Societies. Do we make a daily gift in order to overcome the separation between the Gospel and life? Please, let us not live a “sacristy” faith.

We are accompanied by a religious woman, a priest and a lay woman. They remind us that no one is excluded from the Church’s mission. Yes, in this month the Lord is also calling you, because you, fathers and mothers of families; you, young people who dream great things; you, who work in a factory, a store, a bank or a restaurant; you who are unemployed; you are in a hospital bed… The Lord is asking you to be a gift wherever you are, and just as you are, with everyone around you. He is asking you not simply to go through life, but to give life; not to complain about life, but to share in the tears of all who suffer. Courage! The Lord expects great things from you. He is also expecting some of you to have the courage to set out and to go wherever dignity and hope are most lacking, where all too many people still live without the joy of the Gospel. “But must I go alone?” No, that is wrong. If we think about doing missionary work like business organizations, with a business plan, that is wrong. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of our mission. Go with the Holy Spirit. The Lord will not leave you alone in bearing witness; you will discover that the Holy Spirit has gone before you and prepared the way for you. Courage, brothers and sisters! Courage, Mother Church! Rediscover your fruitfulness in the joy of mission!

 

  

14 -25 
 

Pope Francis 27.03.13  Matthew 26: 14-25


Never speak poorly of other people.Jesus was like a commodity; he was sold. He was sold at that moment, and also very frequently sold in the market of history, in the market of life, in the market of our lives. When we opt for thirty pieces of silver, we set Jesus aside.

When we visit an acquaintance and the conversation turns into gossip, into back-stabbing and the person at the centre of our babbling “becomes a commodity. I do not know why, but there is some arcane pleasure in scandalmongering. We begin with kind words, “but then comes the gossip. And we begin to tear the other person to pieces”. And it is then that we must remember that every time we behave like this, “we are doing what Judas did”; when he went to the chief priests to sell Jesus, his heart was closed, he had no understanding, no love and no friendship.  “We think of and ask for forgiveness”, because what we do to the other, to our friend, “we do to Jesus. Because Jesus is in this friend”. And if we realize that our gossiping can hurt someone, “let us pray the Lord, let us speak to the Lord about this, for the good of the other: Lord, help him”. So it must not be me, who does justice with my own tongue. Let us ask the Lord for this grace 

 

  

Chapter 28

8-15 


Pope Francis   06.04.15       Regina Caeli,  St Peter's Square      Matthew 28: 8-15

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and Happy Easter,

On this Easter Monday the Gospel (cf. Mt 28:8-15) presents to us the narrative of the women who, on arriving at Jesus’ tomb, find it empty and see an Angel who announces to them that He is risen. And as they run to tell this news to the disciples, they encounter Jesus himself who says to them: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (v. 10). Galilee is the “periphery” where Jesus began his preaching; and from there He will share the Gospel of
the Resurrection, for it to be proclaimed to all, and that everyone might encounter Him, the Risen One, present and working in history. Today too He is with us, here in the Square.

This, therefore, is the proclamation that the Church repeats from the first day: “Christ is risen!”. And, in Him, through Baptism, we too are risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. Behold the Good News that we are called to take to others and to every place, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and the hope that He brought us is the most beautiful gift that the Christian can and must give to his brothers. To all and to each, therefore, let us not tire of saying: Christ is risen! Let us repeat it all together, today here in the Square: Christ is risen! Let us repeat it with words, but above all with the witness of our lives. The happy news of the Resurrection should shine on our faces, in our feelings and attitudes, in the way we treat others.

We proclaim the Resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our life and we can share that with others: when we know how to smile with those who smile and weep with those who weep; when we walk beside those who are sad and in danger of losing hope; when we recount our experience of faith with those who are searching for meaning and for happiness. With our attitude, with our witness, with our life, we say: Jesus is risen! Let us say it with all our soul.

We are in days of the Easter Octave, during which the joyful atmosphere of the Resurrection accompanies us. It’s curious how the Liturgy considers the entire Octave as one single day, in order to help us centre into the Mystery, so that his grace may impress itself on our hearts and our lives. Easter is the event that brought radical news for every human being, for history and for the world: the triumph of life over death; it is the feast of reawakening and of rebirth. Let us allow our lives to be conquered and transformed by the Resurrection!

Let us ask the Virgin Mother, the silent witness of the death and Resurrection of her Son, to foster the growth of Paschal joy in us. Let us do it now with the recitation of the Regina Caeli, which in the Easter Season substitutes the prayer of the Angelus. In this prayer, expressed by the Alleluia, we turn to Mary inviting her to rejoice, because the One whom she carried in her womb is Risen as He promised, and we entrust ourselves to her intercession. In fact, our joy is a reflection of Mary’s joy, for it is she who guarded and guards with faith the events of Jesus. Let us therefore recite this prayer with the emotion of children who are happy because their mother is happy.


Pope Francis Regina Coeli 22.04.19


Today and throughout this week, the Easter joy of the Resurrection of Jesus, the wonderful event we commemorated yesterday, will continue.

During the Easter Vigil, the words spoken by the Angels at the empty tomb of Christ resounded. To the women who had gone to the tomb at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, they said: "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen". The Resurrection of Christ is the most shocking event in human history, attesting to the victory of God's Love over sin and death and giving our hope of life a rock-sold foundation. What was humanly unthinkable happened: "Jesus of Nazareth…God raised Him up, freeing Him from the pains of death".

On this Easter Monday (in Italian "Monday of the Angel"), the liturgy, with the Gospel of Matthew, takes us back to the empty tomb of Jesus. The women, full of awe and joy, are leaving in a hurry to go and bring the news to the disciples; and at that moment Jesus presents Himself before them. They "came up to Him and, falling down before Him, clasped His feet". Jesus drives fear out of their hearts and encourages them even more to announce to their brothers and sisters what has happened. All the Gospels emphasize the role of women, Mary of Magdala and the others, as the first witnesses of the resurrection. The men were frightened, they were closed in the Upper Room. Peter and John, advised by Mary Magdalene, only went out briefly and saw that the tomb was open and empty. But it was the women who were the first to meet the Risen One and to bring the message that He was alive.

Today, dear brothers and sisters, the words of Jesus addressed to the women resound for us too: "Do not be afraid; go and
proclaim...". After the liturgies of the Easter Triduum, which allowed us to relive the mystery of our Lord's death and resurrection, now with the eyes of faith, we contemplate Him risen and alive. We too are called to meet Him personally and to become His heralds and witnesses.

With the ancient Easter Sequence, we repeat during these days: "Christ, my hope, is risen!”. In Him we too have risen, passing from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. Let us therefore allow ourselves to be touched by the consoling message of Easter and be enveloped by its glorious light, which dispels the darkness of fear and sadness. The risen Jesus walks beside us. He manifests Himself to those who call on Him and who love Him. First of all in prayer, but also in simple joys lived with faith and gratitude. We can also feel His presence when we share moments of cordiality, welcome, and friendship, or when we contemplate nature. May this feast day, on which it is traditional to enjoy some leisure and free time, help us to experience the presence of Jesus.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us draw with full hands the gifts of peace and serenity of the Risen One, and to share them with our brothers and sisters, especially with those who most need comfort and hope.


  

Chapter 28

16-20 


Pope Francis   28.05.17    Regina Caeli,  St Peter's Square     Matthew 28: 16-20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate Jesus’
Ascension into heaven, which took place 40 days after Easter. The Gospel passage (cf. Mt 28:16-20), which concludes the Gospel of Matthew, presents the moment of the Risen One’s final farewell to his disciples. The scene is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus had called them to follow him and to form the first nucleus of his new community. Now those disciples have traversed the “fire” of the Passion and of the Resurrection; at the visit of the Risen Lord they prostrate themselves before him, although some remain doubtful. Jesus gives this frightened community the immense task of evangelizing the world; and he reinforces this responsibility with the command to teach and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (v. 19).

Jesus’ Ascension into heaven thus constitutes the end of the mission that the Son received from the Father and the beginning of the continuation of this mission on the part of the Church. From this moment, from the moment of the Ascension, in fact, Christ’s presence in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in him and proclaim him. This mission will last until the end of history and every day will have the assistance of the Risen Lord, who assures: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (v. 20).

His presence brings strength during persecution, comfort in tribulations, support in the difficult situations that the mission and the proclamation of the Gospel will encounter. The Ascension reminds us of Jesus’ assistance and of his Spirit that gives confidence, gives certainty to our Christian witness in the world. He reveals to us the reason for the Church’s existence: the Church exists to
proclaim the Gospel, for this alone! So too, the joy of the Church is proclaiming the Gospel. The Church is all of us baptized people. Today we are called to better understand that God has given us the great dignity and responsibility of proclaiming him to the world, of making him accessible to all mankind. This is our dignity; this is the greatest honour of each one of us, of all the baptized!

On this Feast of the Ascension, as we turn our gaze toward heaven, where Christ has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, we strengthen our steps on earth so as to continue our journey — our mission of witnessing to and living the Gospel in every environment — with enthusiasm and courage. However, we are well aware that this does not depend first and foremost on our strengths, on our organizational abilities or human resources. Only with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit can we effectively fulfil our mission of leading others to know and increasingly experience Jesus’ tenderness.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly benefits that the Lord promises us, and to become ever more credible witnesses to his Resurrection, to the true Life.



Pope Francis   20.10.16  Holy Mass for World Missions Day, Vatican Basilica  (29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C) Isaiah 2: 1-5,      1 Timothy 2: 1-8,      Matthew 28: 16-20
Pope Francis  20.10.19 World Misssions Day

I would like to reflect on three words taken from the readings we have just heard: a noun, a verb and an adjective. The noun is the mountain: Isaiah speaks of it when he prophesies about a mountain of the Lord, raised above the hills, to which all the nations will flow (cf. Is 2:2). We see the image of the mountain again in the Gospel when Jesus, after his resurrection, tells his disciples to meet him on the mount of Galilee; the Galilee inhabited by many different peoples: “Galilee of the Gentiles” (cf. Mt 4:15). It seems, then, that the mountain is God’s favourite place for encountering humanity. It is his meeting place with us, as we see in the Bible, beginning with Mount Sinai and Mount Carmel, all the way to Jesus, who proclaimed the Beatitudes on the mountain, was transfigured on Mount Tabor, gave his life on Mount Calvary and ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. The mountain, the place of great encounters between God and humanity, is also the place where Jesus spent several hours in prayer (cf. Mk 6:46) to unite heaven and earth, and to unite us, his brothers and sisters, with the Father.

What does the mountain say to us? We are called to draw near to God and to others. To God, the Most High, in silence and prayer, avoiding the rumours and gossip that diminish us. And to others, who, from the mountain, can be seen in a different perspective: that of God who calls all peoples. From on high, others are seen as a community whose harmonious beauty is discovered only in viewing them as a whole. The mountain reminds us that our brothers and sisters should not be selected but embraced, not only with our gaze but also with our entire life. The mountain unites God and our brothers and sisters in a single embrace, that of prayer. The mountain draws us up and away from the many transient things, and summons us to rediscover what is essential, what is lasting: God and our brothers and sisters. Mission begins on the mountain: there, we discover what really counts. In the midst of this missionary month, let us ask ourselves: what really counts in my life? To what peaks do I want to ascend?

A verb accompanies the noun “mountain”: the verb to go up. Isaiah exhorts us: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord” (2:3). We were not born to remain on the ground, to be satisfied with ordinary things, we were born to reach the heights and there to meet God and our brothers and sisters. However, this means that we have to go up: to leave behind a horizontal life and to resist the force of gravity caused by our self-centredness, to make an exodus from our own ego. Going up requires great effort, but it is the only way to get a better view of everything. As mountain-climbers know, only when you arrive at the top can you get the most beautiful view; only then do you realize that you would not have that view were it not for that uphill path.

And as in the mountains we cannot climb well if we are weighed down by our packs, so in life we must rid ourselves of things that are useless. This is also the secret of mission: to go, you have to leave something behind, to proclaim, you must first renounce. A credible proclamation is not made with beautiful words, but by an exemplary life: a life of service that is capable of rejecting all those material things that shrink the heart and make people indifferent and inward-looking; a life that renounces the useless things that entangle the heart in order to find time for God and others. We can ask ourselves: how am I doing in my efforts to go up? Am I able to reject the heavy and useless baggage of worldliness in order to climb the mountain of the Lord? Is mine a journey upwards or one of worldliness?

If the mountain reminds us of what matters – God and our brothers and sisters – and the verb to go up tells us how to get there, a third word is even more important for today’s celebration. It is the adjective all, which constantly reappears in the readings we have heard: “all peoples”, says Isaiah (2:2); “all peoples”, we repeated in the Psalm; God desires “all to be saved”, writes Paul (1 Tim 2:4); “Go and make disciples of all nations”, says Jesus in the Gospel (Mt 28:19). The Lord is deliberate in repeating the word all. He knows that we are always using the words “my” and “our”: my things, our people, our community... But he constantly uses the word all. All, because no one is excluded from his heart, from his salvation; all, so that our heart can go beyond human boundaries and particularism based on a self-centredness that displeases God. All, because everyone is a precious treasure, and the meaning of life is found only in giving this treasure to others. Here is our mission: to go up the mountain to pray for everyone and to come down from the mountain to be a gift to all.

Going up and coming down: the Christian, therefore, is always on the move, outward-bound. Go is in fact the imperative of Jesus in the Gospel. We meet many people every day, but – we can ask – do we really encounter the people we meet? Do we accept the invitation of Jesus or simply go about our own business? Everyone expects things from others, but the Christian goes to others. Bearing witness to Jesus is never about getting accolades from others, but about loving those who do not even know the Lord. Those who bear witness to Jesus go out to all, not just to their own acquaintances or their little group. Jesus is also saying to you: “Go, don’t miss a chance to bear me witness!” My brother, my sister, the Lord expects from you a testimony that no one can give in your place. “May you come to realize what that word is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life…. lest you fail in your precious mission.” (
Gaudete et Exsultate, 24).

What instructions does the Lord give us for going forth to others? Only one, and very simple: make disciples. But, be careful: his disciples, not our own. The Church proclaims the Gospel well only if she lives the life of a disciple. And a disciple follows the Master daily and shares the joy of discipleship with others. Not by conquering, mandating, proselytizing, but by witnessing, humbling oneself alongside other disciples and offering with love the love that we ourselves received. This is our mission: to give pure and fresh air to those immersed in the pollution of our world; to bring to earth that peace which fills us with joy whenever we meet Jesus on the mountain in prayer; to show by our lives, and perhaps even by our words, that God loves everyone and never tires of anyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, each of us has and is “a mission on this earth” (
Evangelii Gaudium, 273). We are here to witness, bless, console, raise up, and radiate the beauty of Jesus. Have courage! Jesus expects so much from you! We can say that the Lord is “concerned” about those who do not yet know that they are beloved children of the Father, brothers and sisters for whom he gave his life and sent the Holy Spirit. Do you want to quell Jesus’ concern? Go and show love to everyone, because your life is a precious mission: it is not a burden to be borne, but a gift to offer. Have courage, and let us fearlessly go forth to all!


  

19 
 
Pope Francis 24.03.13          Celebration of Palm Sunday the Passion of our Lord   Matthew 28:19

...
Today in this Square, there are many young people: for twenty-eight years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace. Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good! Three points, then: joy, Cross, young people.

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

 

Chapter 28

20 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/evangelization/28.07.13.jpg


Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? What is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “go, if you would like to, if you have the time”, but he said: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination, from the desire for power, but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and did not give us just a part of himself, but he gave us the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as people who are free , as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path for all of you to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, as we have just heard in the reading, when he was called by God to be a prophet. “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus never leaves anyone alone! He always accompanies us .

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! Certainly he has rejuvenated all of you. The young make everyone feel young. But this experience is only a stage on the journey. Please, continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And here I wish to thank from the heart the youth ministry teams from the movements and new communities that are accompanying the young people in their experience of being Church, in such a creative and bold way. Go forth and don’t be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. The life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives more joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Dear young friends, Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen