Miracles


Pope Francis      31.01.16   Angelus, St Peter's Square    Luke 4: 21-31

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel account once again, like last Sunday, brings us to the synagogue of Nazareth, the village in Galilee where Jesus was brought up in a family and was known by everyone. He, who left not long before to begin his public life, now returns and for the first time presents himself to the community, gathered in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He reads the passage of the Prophet Isaiah, who speaks of the future Messiah, and he declares at the end: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). Jesus’ compatriots, who were at first astonished and admired him, now begin to look sideways, to murmur among themselves and ask: why does he, who claims to be the Lord’s Consecrated, not repeat here in his homeland the wonders they say he worked in Capernaum and in nearby villages? Thus Jesus affirms: “no
prophet is acceptable in his own country”, and he refers to the great prophets of the past, Elijah and Elisha, who had worked miracles in favour of the pagans in order to denounce the incredulity of their people. At this point those present are offended, rise up, indignant, and cast Jesus out and want to throw him down from the precipice. But he, with the strength of his peace, “passed through the midst of them and went away” (cf. v. 30). His time has not yet come.

This passage of Luke the Evangelist is not simply the account of an argument between compatriots, as sometimes happens even in our neighbourhoods, arising from envy and jealousy, but it highlights a temptation to which a religious man is always exposed — all of us are exposed — and from which it is important to keep his distance. What is this temptation? It is the temptation to consider religion as a human investment and, consequently, “negotiate” with God, seeking one’s own interest. Instead, true religion entails accepting the revelation of a God who is Father and who cares for each of his creatures, even the smallest and most insignificant in the eyes of man. Jesus’ prophetic ministry consists precisely in this: in declaring that no human condition can constitute a reason for exclusion — no human condition can constitute a reason for exclusion! — from the Father’s heart, and that the only
privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges, of not having godparents, of being abandoned in his hands.

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). The ‘today’, proclaimed by Christ that day, applies to every age; it echoes for us too in this Square, reminding us of the relevance and necessity of the salvation Jesus brought to humanity. God comes to meet the men and women of all times and places, in their real life situations. He also comes to meet us. It is always he who takes the first step: he comes to visit us with his mercy, to lift us up from the dust of our sins; he comes to extend a hand to us in order to enable us to return from the abyss into which our
pride made us fall, and he invites us to receive the comforting truth of the Gospel and to walk on the paths of good. He always comes to find us, to look for us.

Let us return to the synagogue. Surely that day, in the synagogue of Nazareth, Mary, his Mother
, was also there. We can imagine her heart beating, a small foreboding of what she will suffer under the Cross, seeing Jesus, there in the synagogue, first admired, then challenged, then insulted, threatened with death. In her heart, filled with faith, she kept every thing. May she help us to convert from a god of miracles to the miracle of God, who is Jesus Christ.




Pope Francis      04.02.18  Angelus, St Peter's Square         5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B         Mark 1: 29-39


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Mission

This Sunday’s Gospel reading continues the narrative of Jesus’ day in Capernaum, on a Saturday, the Jewish weekly holy day (cf. Mk 1:29-39). This time the Evangelist Mark highlights the relationship between Jesus’ thaumaturgical work and the awakening of faith in the people he meets. Indeed, with the healing signs that he performs on all types of sick people, the Lord wants to arouse faith as a response.

Jesus’ day in Capernaum begins with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and ends with the scene of a crowd of townspeople who gathered outside the house where he was staying, to bring all the sick people to him. Marked by physical suffering and by spiritual wretchedness, the crowd comprises, so to speak, “the living environment” in which Jesus’ mission, made up of healing and comforting words and actions, takes place. Jesus did not come to bring salvation in a laboratory; he does not preach from a laboratory, detached from people. He is in the midst of the crowd! In the midst of the people! Just think that most of Jesus’ public ministry took place on the streets, among the people; to preach the Gospel, to heal physical and spiritual wounds. This crowd of which the Gospel often speaks is a humanity marked by suffering. It is a humanity marked by suffering, toil and problems. It is to this poor humanity that Jesus’ powerful, liberating and renewing action is directed. That Saturday ends in this way, in the midst of the crowd until late in the evening. And what does Jesus do after that?

Before dawn the next day, he goes out of the town’s gates unseen and withdraws to a secluded place to pray. Jesus prays. In this way, he removes even himself and his mission from a “triumphalist” view which misunderstands the meaning of miracles and of his charismatic power. Miracles, in fact, are “signs” which encourage faith as a response; signs which are always accompanied by words that enlighten; and, taken together, the signs and words arouse faith and conversion through the divine power of Christ’s grace.

The conclusion of today’s passage (vv. 35-39) indicates that Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God finds its most rightful place on the streets. To the disciples who look for him in order to bring him back to the town — the disciples went to find him where he was praying and they wanted to bring him back to the town — what does Jesus answer? “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also” (v. 38). This was the journey of the Son of God and this will be the journey of his disciples. And it must be the journey of each Christian. The street, as the place for the Good News of the Gospel, places the mission of the Church under the sign of “going forth”, of journeying, under the sign of “movement”, and never of idleness.

May the Virgin Mary help us to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit which propels the Church to increasingly “pitch her tent” among the people, in order to bring to everyone the healing word of Jesus, the physician of souls and bodies.