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10 2020




Pope Francis Angelus 25.10.20

The love of God and neighbour

Pope Francis Angelus 2020.10.25 The love of God and neighbour
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 22:34-40), a doctor of the Law asks Jesus “which is the great commandment”, that is, the main commandment of all divine Law. Jesus simply answers: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”. And he immediately adds: “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

Jesus’ response takes up and joins two fundamental precepts, which God gave his people through Moses. And so he overcomes the trap that has been laid for him in order “to test him”. His questioner, in fact, tries to draw him into the dispute between the experts of the Law regarding the hierarchy of prescriptions. But Jesus establishes two essential principles for believers of all times two essential foundations of our lives. The first is that moral and religious life cannot be reduced to an anxious and forced obedience. There are people who seek to fulfil the commandments in an anxious or forced way, and Jesus helps us understand that moral and religious life cannot be reduced to anxious or forced obedience, but must have love as its principle. The second foundation is that love must strive together and inseparably toward God and toward neighbour. This is one of the main innovations of Jesus' teaching and it helps us understand that what is not expressed in love of neighbour is not true love of God; and, likewise, what is not drawn from one’s relationship with God is not true love of neighbour.

Jesus concludes his response with these words: “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments”. This means that all the precepts the Lord has given to his people must be related to the love of God and neighbour.

In fact, all the commandments serve to implement, to express that twofold indivisible love. Love for God is expressed above all in prayer, particularly in adoration. We neglect the adoration of God a great deal. We recite the prayer of thanksgiving, we plea to ask for something..., but we neglect worship. Worshipping God is precisely the heart of prayer. And love for neighbour, which is also called fraternal charity, consists of closeness, listening, sharing, caring for others. And so often we neglect to listen to others because it is boring or because it takes up our time, or we neglect to accompany them, to support them in their suffering, in their trials.... But we always find the time to gossip, always! We do not have time to console the afflicted, but so much time to gossip. Be careful!

The Apostle John writes: “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen ”. This is how we see the unity of these two commandments.

In today’s Gospel passage, once again, Jesus helps us go to the living and gushing source of Love. And this source is God himself, to be totally loved in a communion that nothing and no one can break. A communion that is a gift to be requested each day, but also a personal commitment not to let our lives become enslaved by the idols of the world. And the proof of our journey of conversion and holiness always consists in love of our neighbour. This is the test: if I say “I love God” and do not love my neighbour, it does not work. The verification that I love God is that I love my neighbour. As long as there is a brother or sister to whom we close our hearts, we will still be far from being disciples as Jesus asks us. But his divine mercy does not allow us to be discouraged, but rather calls us to begin anew each day to live the Gospel consistently.

May the intercession of Mary Most Holy open our hearts to welcome the “great commandment”, the twofold commandment of love, which sums up the whole law of God and on which our salvation depends.





Pope Francis General Audience 21.10.20

The Prayer of the Psalms

Pope Francis General Audience 2020.10.21 The Prayer of the Psalms
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today we will complete the catechesis on the prayer of the Psalms. Above all, we see how there often appears a negative figure in the Psalms, called the “wicked” person, that is, he or she who lives as if God does not exist. This is the person without any reference to the transcendent, whose arrogance has no limits, who fears no judgment regarding what he or she thinks or does.

For this reason, the Psalter presents prayer as the fundamental reality of life. The reference to the absolute and to the transcendent – which the spiritual masters call the “holy fear of God” – and which makes us completely human; it is the boundary that saves us from ourselves, preventing us from venturing into life in a predatory and voracious manner. Prayer is the salvation of the human being.

There certainly also exists a false prayer, a prayer said only for the admiration of others. The person or those persons who go to Mass only to show that they are Catholics or to show off the latest fashion that they acquired, or to make a good impression in society. They are recite a false prayer. Jesus strongly admonished against such prayer. But when the true spirit of prayer is sincerely received and enters the heart, it then allows us to contemplate reality with God’s very eyes.

When one prays, everything acquires “depth”. This is interesting in prayer, perhaps something subtle begins but in prayer that thing acquires depth, it becomes weighty, as if God takes it in hand and transforms it. The worst service someone can give God, and others as well, is to pray tiredly, by rote. To pray like parrots. No, let us pray with our heart. Prayer is the centre of life. If there is prayer, even a brother, a sister, even an enemy becomes important. An old saying from the first Christian monks reads: “Blessed is the monk who, after God, regards every human being as God”. Those who worship God, love His children. Those who respect God, respect human beings.

And so, prayer is not a sedative to alleviate life’s anxieties; or, in any case, this type of prayer is certainly not Christian. Rather, prayer makes each of us responsible. We see this clearly in the “Our Father” that Jesus taught His disciples.

To learn how to pray this way, the Psalter is a tremendous school. We saw how the Psalms do not always use refined and gentle language, and how they often bring out the scars of existence. And yet, all these prayers were first used in the Temple of Jerusalem and then in the synagogues; even the most intimate and personal ones.

Even the Psalms in the first person singular, which confide the most intimate thoughts and problems of an individual, are a collective heritage, to the point of being prayed by everyone and for everyone. Prayer can begin in the darkness of a church’s nave, but come to an end on the city streets.

The world is always present in the prayer found in the Psalter. The Psalms, for example, voice the divine promise of salvation for the weakest:.. Or again, they warn about the danger of worldly riches because... 

In short, where there is God, the human person must be there as well. Sacred Scripture is categorical: “We love, because he first loved us”(1Jn 4:19). “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God who he does not see (1Jn 4:20). God does not support the “atheism” of those who repudiate the divine image that is imprinted in every human being. That everyday atheism: I believe in God but I keep my distance from others and I allow myself to hate others. This is practical atheism. Not to recognize the human person as the image of God is a sacrilege, an abomination, the worst offense that can be directed toward the temple and the altar.

Dear brothers and sisters, the prayers of the Psalms help us not to fall into the temptation of the “wicked”, that is, of living, and perhaps also of praying, as if God does not exist, and as if the poor do not exist.





Pope Francis  International Meeting of Prayer for Peace 20.10.20 
"No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity"

Pope Francis International Meeting of Prayer for Peace - 2020.10.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above 

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

But the “gospel” of save yourself is not the Gospel of salvation. It is the falsest of the apocryphal gospels, making others carry the cross. Whereas the true Gospel bids us take up the cross of others.

God does not come only to free us from our ever-present daily problems, but rather to liberate us from the real problem, which is the lack of love. This is the primary cause of our personal, social, international and environmental ills. Thinking only of ourselves: this is the father of all evils. Yet one of the thieves then looks at Jesus and sees in him a humble love. He entered heaven by doing one thing alone: turning his concern from himself to Jesus, from himself to the person next to him.

For love alone extinguishes hatred, love alone can ultimately triumph over injustice. Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards full communion among us.

Let us look upon the crucified God and ask him to grant us the grace to be more united and more fraternal. When we are tempted to follow the way of this world, may we be reminded of Jesus's words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it.

The closer we become to the Lord Jesus, the more we will be open and “universal”, since we will feel responsible for others. And others will become the means of our own salvation: all others, every human person, whatever his or her history and beliefs. Beginning with the poor, who are those most like Christ. The great Archbishop of Constantinople, Saint John Chrysostom, once wrote: “If there were no poor, the greater part of our salvation would be overthrown”. May the Lord help us to journey together on the path of fraternity, and thus to become credible witnesses of the living God.

Address
The commandment of peace is inscribed in the depths of the religious traditions. Believers have understood that religious differences do not justify indifference or enmity. Rather, on the basis of our religious faith we are enabled to become peacemakers, rather than standing passively before the evil of war and hatred. Religions stand at the service of peace and fraternity. For this reason, our present gathering also represents an incentive to religious leaders and to all believers to pray fervently for peace, never resigned to war, but working with the gentle strength of faith to end conflicts.

We need peace! More peace! “We cannot remain indifferent. Today the world has a profound thirst for peace. In many countries, people are suffering due to wars which, though often forgotten, are always the cause of suffering and poverty”. The world, political life and public opinion all run the risk of growing inured to the evil of war, as if it were simply a part of human history. “Let us not remain mired in theoretical discussions, but touch the wounded flesh of the victims… Let us think of the refugees and displaced, those who suffered the effects of atomic radiation and chemical attacks, the mothers who lost their children, and the boys and girls maimed or deprived of their childhood”. Today the sufferings of war are aggravated by the suffering caused by the coronavirus and the impossibility, in many countries, of access to necessary care.

To put an end to war is a solemn duty before God incumbent on all those holding political responsibilities. Peace is the priority of all politics. God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts. He will call them to account for all the days, months and years of war that have passed and been endured by the world’s peoples!

The words Jesus spoke to Peter are incisive and full of wisdom: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26:52). “Enough!” says Jesus (Lk 22:38). That is his unambiguous response to any form of violence.

Fraternity, born of the realization that we are a single human family, must penetrate the life of peoples, communities, government leaders and international assemblies. This will help everyone to understand that we can only be saved together through encounter and negotiation, setting aside our conflicts and pursuing reconciliation, moderating the language of politics and propaganda, and developing true paths of peace.

We have gathered this evening, as persons of different religious traditions, in order to send a message of peace. To show clearly that the religions do not want war and, indeed, disown those who would enshrine violence. That they ask everyone to pray for reconciliation and to strive to enable fraternity to pave new paths of hope. For indeed, with God's help, it will be possible to build a world of peace, and thus, brothers and sisters, to be saved together. Thank you.

Appeal for Peace
We now solemnly commit ourselves to make our own and to propose to the leaders of nations and the citizens of the world this Appeal for Peace.

On this Capitoline Hill, in the wake of the greatest conflict in history, the nations that had been at war made a pact based on a dream of unity that later came true: the dream of a united Europe. Today, in these uncertain times, as we feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that threatens peace by aggravating inequalities and fear, we firmly state that no one can be saved alone: no people, no single individual!

Wars and peace, pandemics and health care, hunger and access to food, global warming and sustainable development, the displacement of populations, the elimination of nuclear threats and the reduction of inequalities: these are not matters that concern individual nations alone. We understand this better nowadays, in a world that is amply connected, yet often lacks a sense of fraternity. All of us are brothers and sisters! Let us pray to the Most High that, after this time of trial, there may no longer be “others”, but rather, a great “we”, rich in diversity. The time has come to boldly dream anew that peace is possible, that it is necessary, that a world without war is not utopian. This is why we want to say once more: “No more war”!

We would remind everyone that war always leaves the world worse than it was. War is a failure of politics and of humanity.

We appeal to government leaders to reject the language of division, often based on fear and mistrust, and to avoid embarking on paths of no return. 

To leaders of nations we say: let us work together to create a new architecture of peace. Let us join forces to promote life, health, education and peace.

All of us need to forgive and to be forgiven. The injustices of the world and of history are not healed by hatred and revenge, but by dialogue and forgiveness.

May God inspire in us a commitment to these ideals and to the journey that we are making together. May he touch every heart and make us heralds of peace.




Pope Francis Angelus 18.10.20

The Mission of the Church and Christians

Pope Francis Angelus 2020.10.18 The Mission of the Church and Christians
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (see Mt 22:15-21) shows us Jesus struggling with the hypocrisy of His adversaries. They pay Him many compliments – at the beginning, many compliments – but then ask an insidious question to put Him in trouble and discredit Him before the people. They ask him: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”, that is, to pay their taxes to the emperor. At that time, in Palestine, the domination of the Roman Empire was poorly tolerated – and it is understandable, they were invaders – also for religious reasons. For the people, the worship of the emperor, underscored also by his image on coins, was an insult to the God of Israel. Jesus’ interlocutors are convinced that there is no alternative to their questioning: either a “yes" or a “no”. They were waiting, precisely because they were sure to back Jesus into a corner with this question, and to make Him fall in the trap. But He knows their wickedness and avoids the pitfall. He asks them to show Him the coin, the coin of the taxes, takes it in His hands and asks whose is the imprinted image. They answer that it is Caesar’s, that is, the Emperor's. Then Jesus replies: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

With this reply, Jesus places Himself above the controversy. Jesus, always above. On the one hand, He acknowledges that the tribute to Caesar must be paid - for all of us too, taxes must be paid - because the image on the coin is his; but above all He recalls that each person carries within him another image - we carry it in the heart, in the soul - that of God, and therefore it is to Him, and to Him alone, that each person owes his own existence, her own life.

In this sentence of Jesus we find not only the criterion for the distinction between the political sphere and the religious sphere; but clear guidelines emerge for the mission of all believers of all times, even for us today. To pay taxes is a duty of citizens, as is complying with the just laws of the state. At the same time, it is necessary to affirm God’s primacy in human life and in history, respecting God’s right over all that belongs to Him.

Hence the mission of the Church and Christians: to speak of God and bear witness to Him to the men and women of our time. Every one of us, by Baptism, is called to be a living presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit. It is a question of committing oneself with humility, and at the same time with courage, making one's own contribution to building the civilisation of love, where justice and fraternity reign.

May Mary Most Holy help us all to flee from all hypocrisy and to be honest and constructive citizens. And may she sustain us disciples of Christ in the mission to bear witness that God is the centre and the meaning of life.






Pope Francis Global Compact on Education Meeting Message 15.10.20

Pope Francis Global Compact on Education Meeting Message 15.10.20
For the full message click on the picture link above

The goal of this educational investment, grounded in a network of humane and open relationships, is to ensure that everyone has access to a quality education consonant with the dignity of the human person and our common vocation to fraternity.





Pope Francis General Audience 14.10.20

The Prayer of the Psalms

Pope Francis The Prayer of the Psalms 14.10.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above 

As we read the Bible, we continually come across prayers of various types. But we also find a book made up solely of prayers, a book that has become the native land, gymnasium and home of countless men and women of prayer. It is the Book of Psalms. There are 150 Psalms to pray.

It forms part of the books of wisdom, because it communicates “knowing how to pray” through the experience of dialogue with God. In the Psalms we find all human sentiments: the joys, the sorrows, the doubts, the hopes, the bitterness that colour our lives. The Catechism affirms that every Psalm “possesses such direct simplicity that it can be prayed in truth by men of all times and conditions”. As we read and reread the Psalms, we learn the language of prayer. God the Father, indeed, with His Spirit, inspired them in the heart of King David and others who prayed, in order to teach every man and woman how to praise Him, how to thank Him and to supplicate; how to invoke Him in joy and in suffering, and how to recount the wonders of His works and of His Law. In short, the Psalms are the word of God that we human beings use to speak with Him.

In this book we do not encounter ethereal people, abstract people, those who confuse prayer with an aesthetic or alienating experience. The Psalms are not texts created on paper; they are invocations, often dramatic, that spring from lived existence. To pray them it is enough for us to be what we are. We must not forget that to pray well we must pray as we are, without embellishment. One must not embellish the soul to pray. “Lord, I am like this”, and go in front of the Lord as we are, with the good things and also with the bad things that no-one knows about, but that we inwardly know. In the Psalms we hear the voices of men and women of prayer in flesh and blood, whose life, like that of us all, is fraught with problems, hardships and uncertainties. The Psalmist does not radically contest this suffering: he knows that it is part of living. In the Psalms, however, suffering is transformed into a question. From suffering to questioning.

And among the many questions, there is one that remains suspended, like an incessant cry that runs throughout the entire book from beginning to end. A question that we repeat many times: “Until when, Lord? Until when?” Every suffering calls for liberation, every tear calls for consolation, every wound awaits healing, every slander a sentence of absolution. “Until when, Lord, must I suffer this? Listen to me, Lord!” How many times we have prayed like this, with “Until when?”, enough now, Lord!

By constantly asking such questions, the Psalms teach us not to get used to pain, and remind us that life is not saved unless it is healed. The existence of each human being is but a breath, his or her story is fleeting, but the prayerful know that they are precious in the eyes of God, and so it makes sense to cry out. And this is important. When we pray, we do so because we know we are precious in God’s eyes. It is the grace of the Holy Spirit that, from within, inspires in us this awareness: of being precious in the eyes of God. And this is why we are moved to pray.

The prayer of the Psalms is the testimony of this cry: a multiple cry, because in life pain takes a thousand forms, and takes the name of sickness, hatred, war, persecution, distrust... Until the supreme “scandal”, that of death. Death appears in the Psalter as man’s most unreasonable enemy: what crime deserves such cruel punishment, which involves annihilation and the end? The prayer of the Psalms asks God to intervene where all human efforts are in vain. That is why prayer, in and of itself, is the way of salvation and the beginning of salvation.

Everyone suffers in this world: whether they believe in God or reject Him. But in the Psalter, pain becomes a relationship, rapport: a cry for help waiting to intercept a listening ear. It cannot remain meaningless, without purpose. Even the pains we suffer cannot be merely specific cases of a universal law: they are always “my” tears,. Think about this: tears are not universal, they are “my” tears. Everyone has their own. “My” tears and “my” pain drive me to go ahead in prayer. They are “my” tears, that no one has ever shed before me. Yes, they have wept, many. But “my” tears are mine, “My” pain is my own, “my” suffering is my own.

Before entering the Hall, I met the parents of that priest of the diocese of Como who was killed: he was killed precisely in his service to others. The tears of those parents are their own tears, and each one of them knows how much he or she has suffered in seeing this son who gave his life in service to the poor. When we want to console somebody, we cannot find the words. Why? Because we cannot arrive at his or her pain, because her sorrows are her own, his tears are his own. The same is true of us: the tears, the sorrow, the tears are mine, and with these tears, with this sorrow I turn to the Lord.

All human pains for God are sacred. So prays the prayer of Psalm 56: “Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put thou my tears in thy bottle! Are they not in thy book?”. Before God we are not strangers, or numbers. We are faces and hearts, known one by one, by name.

In the Psalms, the believer finds an answer. He knows that even if all human doors were barred, God’s door is open. Even if the whole world had issued a verdict of condemnation, there is salvation in God.

“The Lord listens”: sometimes in prayer it is enough to know this. Problems are not always solved. Those who pray are not deluded: they know that many questions of life down here remain unresolved, with no way out; suffering will accompany us and, after one battle, others will await us. But if we are listened to, everything becomes more bearable.

The worst thing that can happen is to suffer in abandonment, without being remembered. From this prayer saves us. Because it can happen, and even often, that we do not understand God’s plans. But our cries do not stagnate down here: they rise up to Him, He who has the heart of a Father, and who cries Himself for every son and daughter who suffers and dies. I will tell you something: it is good for me, in difficult moments, to think of Jesus weeping; when He wept looking at Jerusalem, when He wept before Lazarus’ tomb. God has wept for me, God weeps, He weeps for our sorrows. Because God wanted to make Himself man - a spiritual writer used to say - in order to be able to weep. To think that Jesus weeps with me in sorrow is a consolation: it helps us keep going. If we maintain our relationship with Him, life does not spare us suffering, but we open up to a great horizon of goodness and set out towards its fulfilment. Take courage, persevere in prayer. Jesus is always by our side.





Pope Francis Angelus 11.10.20

The Gospel is not reserved to a select few

Pope Francis The Gospel is not reserved to a select few 11.10.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

With the narrative of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, in today's Gospel passage (Mt 22:1-14), Jesus outlines the plan that God envisaged for humanity. The king who “who gave a marriage feast for his son” is the image of the Father who prepared for the entire human family a wonderful celebration of love and communion around his only begotten Son. Two times the king sends his servants to call the invited guests, but they refuse; they do not want to go to the feast because they have other things to think about: fields and business. So often we too put our interests and material things ahead of the Lord who calls us – and he calls us to a feast. But the king in the parable does not want the hall to remain empty, because he wants to offer the treasures of his kingdom. So he tells his servants: “Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find”. This is how God reacts: when he is rejected, rather than giving up, he starts over and asks that all those found at the thoroughfares be called, excluding no one. No one is excluded from the house of God.

The original term that Matthew the Evangelist uses refers to the limits of the roads, or those points at which the city streets end and the paths begin that lead to the area of the countryside, outside the residential area, where life is precarious. It is to this humanity of the thoroughfares that the king in the parable sends his servants, in the certainty of finding people willing to sit at the table. Thus the banquet hall is filled with the “excluded”, those who are “outside” those who never seemed worthy to partake in a feast, in a wedding banquet. In fact, the master, the king, tells the messengers: “Call everyone, both good and bad. Everyone!”. God even calls those who are bad. “No, I am bad; I have done many [bad things]...”. He calls you: “Come, come, come!”. And Jesus went to lunch with the tax collectors, who were public sinners; they were the bad guys. God is not afraid of our spirits wounded by many cruelties, because he loves us; he invites us. And the Church is called to reach the daily thoroughfares, that is, the geographic and existential peripheries of humanity, those places at the margins, those situations in which those who have set up camp are found where and hopeless remnants of humanity live. It is a matter of not settling for comforts and the customary ways of evangelization and witnessing to charity, but of opening the doors of our hearts and our communities to everyone, because the Gospel is not reserved to a select few. Even those on the margins, even those who are rejected and scorned by society, are considered by God to be worthy of his love. He prepares his banquet for everyone: the just and sinners, good and bad, intelligent and uneducated.

Yesterday evening, I was able to make a phone call to an elderly Italian priest, a missionary in Brazil since youth, but always working with the excluded, with the poor. And he lives his old age in peace: he burned his life up with the poor. This is our Mother Church; this is God's messenger who goes to the crossroads.

However, the Lord places one condition: to wear a wedding garment. When the hall is full, the king arrives and greets the latest guests, but he sees one of them without a wedding garment, that kind of little cape that each guest would receive as a gift at the entrance. The people went as they were dressed, as they were able to be dressed; they were not wearing gala attire. But at the entrance they were give a type of capelet, a gift. That man, having rejected the free gift, excluded himself: the king could do nothing but throw him out. This man accepted the invitation but then decided that it meant nothing to him: he was a self-sufficient person; he had no desire to change or to allow the Lord to change him. The wedding garment – this capelet - symbolizes the mercy that God freely gives us, namely, grace. Without grace we cannot take a step forward in Christian life. Everything is grace. It is not enough to accept the invitation to follow the Lord; one must be open to a journey of conversion, which changes the heart. The garment of mercy, which God offers us unceasingly, is the free gift of his love; it is precisely grace. And it demands to be welcomed with astonishment and joy: “Thank you, Lord, for having given me this gift”.

May Mary Most Holy help us to imitate the servants in the Gospel parable by emerging from our frameworks and from our narrow views, proclaiming to everyone that the Lord invites us to his banquet, in order to offer us his saving grace, to give us his gift.




Pope Francis General Audience 07.10.20

Elijah's prayer

Pope Francis Elijah's prayer 07.10.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Let us resume today our catechesis on prayer, which we have interrupted for the catechesis on the care of creation, and let us meet one of the most compelling characters in the whole of Sacred Scripture: the prophet Elijah. He goes beyond the confines of his time, and we can also see his presence in some episodes of the Gospel. He appeared at Jesus' side, together with Moses, at the moment of the Transfiguration. Jesus Himself refers to him to give credit to the testimony of John the Baptist.

In the Bible, Elijah appears suddenly, in a mysterious way, coming from a small village that is completely marginal; and in the end he leaves the scene, under the eyes of the disciple Elisha, on a chariot of fire that takes him to heaven. He is therefore a man without a precise origin, and above all without an end, taken up into heaven: for this reason his return was expected before the coming of the Messiah, as a precursor. In this way the return of Elijah was awaited.

Scripture presents Elijah as a man of crystalline faith: his very name, which may mean “Yahweh is God”, encloses the secret of his mission. He will be like this for the rest of his life: a man of integrity, incapable of petty compromises. His symbol is fire, the image of God's purifying power. He will be the first to be put to the test, and he will remain faithful. He is the example of all people of faith who know temptation and suffering, but do not fail to live up to the ideal for which they were born.
Prayer is the lifeblood that constantly nourishes his existence. For this reason, he is one of those most dear to the monastic tradition, so much so that some have elected him as the spiritual father of the life consecrated to God. Elijah is the man of God, who stands as a defender of the primacy of the Most High. And yet, he too is forced to come to terms with his own frailties. It is difficult to say which experiences were most useful to him: the defeat of the false prophets on Mount Carmel, or his bewilderment in which he finds that he is “no better than his ancestors”. In the soul of those who pray, the sense of their own weakness is more precious than moments of exaltation, when it seems that life is a series of victories and successes. This always happens in prayer: moments of prayer that we feel lift us up, even of enthusiasm, and moments of prayer of pain, aridity, trial. This is what prayer is: letting ourselves be carried by God, and also letting ourselves be struck by unpleasant situations and even temptations. This is a reality found in many other biblical vocations, even in the New Testament; think, for example, of St Peter and St Paul. Their lives were like this too: moments of exultation and moments of low spirits, of suffering.

Elijah is the man of contemplative life and, at the same time, of active life, preoccupied with the events of his time, capable of clashing with the king and queen after they had Nabot killed to take possession of his vineyard. How much we are in need of believers, of zealous Christians, who act before people who have managerial responsibility with the courage of Elijah, to say, “This must not be done! This is murder!”. We need Elijah’s spirit. He shows us that there should be no dichotomy in the life of those who pray: one stands before the Lord and goes towards the brothers to whom He sends us. Prayer is not about locking oneself up with the Lord to make one’s soul appear beautiful: no, this is not prayer, this is false prayer. Prayer is a confrontation with God, and letting oneself be sent to serve one’s brothers and sisters. The proof of prayer is the real love of one’s neighbour. And vice versa: believers act in the world after having first kept silent and prayed; otherwise, their action is impulsive, it is devoid of discernment, it is rushing without a destination. When believers behave in this way, they do so many injustices because they did not go to pray to the Lord first, to discern what they must do.

The pages of the Bible suggest that Elijah's faith also made progress: he too grew in prayer, he refined it little by little. The face of God came into focus for him as he walked. He reached his peak in that extraordinary experience, when God manifested Himself to Elijah on the mount. He manifests himself not in the storm, not in the earthquake or the devouring fire, but in “a light murmuring sound”. Or better, a translation that reflects that experience well: in a thread of resounding silence. This is how God manifests Himself to Elijah. It is with this humble sign that God communicates with Elijah, who at that moment is a fugitive prophet who has lost peace. God comes forward to meet a tired man, a man who thought he had failed on all fronts, and with that gentle breeze, with that thread of resounding silence, He brings calm and peace back into the heart.

This is the story of Elijah, but it seems written for all of us. In some evenings we can feel useless and lonely. It is then that prayer will come and knock on the door of our hearts. We can all gather a corner of Elijah's cloak, just as his disciple Elisha collected half his cloak. And even if we have done something wrong, or if we feel threatened and frightened, when we return before God with prayer, serenity and peace will return as if by miracle. This is what the example of Elijah shows us.





Pope Francis Fratelli Tutti 04.10.20

Fraternity / Fratelli Tutti

Yesterday I was in Assisi to sign the new Encyclical Fratelli Tutti on fraternity and social friendship. I offered it to God on the tomb of Saint Francis, who inspired me, as in the previous Laudato Si’. The signs of the times clearly show that human fraternity and care of creation form the sole way towards integral development and peace, already indicated by the Popes Saints John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II. Today, to you in the square - and also those outside the square - I have the joy of giving the new Encyclical, in a special edition of the Osservatore Romano. And with this edition, the daily printed edition of the Osservatore Romano resumes. May Saint Francis accompany the Church’s path of fraternity, among believers of every religion, and among all peoples.



Pope Francis Angelus 04.10.20

Parable of the Murderous Winemakers

Pope Francis Parable of the Murderous Winemakers 04.10.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In today’s Gospel passage (Mt 21:33-43) Jesus, foreseeing His passion and death, tells the parable of the murderous winemakers, to admonish the chief priests and elders of the people who are about to take the wrong path. Indeed, they have bad intentions towards Him and are seeking a way of eliminating Him.

The allegorical story describes a landowner who, after having taken great care of his vineyard, had to depart and leave it in the hands of farmers. Then, at harvest time, he sends some servants to collect the fruit; but the tenants welcome the servants with a beating and some even kill them. The owner sends other servants, more numerous, but they receive the same treatment. The peak is reached when the landowner decides to send his son: the winegrowers have no respect for him, on the contrary, they think that by eliminating him they can take over the vineyard, and so they kill him too.

The image of the vineyard is clear: it represents the people that the Lord has chosen and formed with such care; the servants sent by the landowner are the prophets, sent by God, while the son represents Jesus. And just as the prophets were rejected, so too Christ was rejected and killed.

At the end of the story, Jesus asks the leaders of the people: "When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" And, caught up in the logic of the narrative, they deliver their own sentence: the owner, they say, will severely punish those wicked people and entrust the vineyard “to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time”.

With this very harsh parable, Jesus confronts his interlocutors with their responsibility, and He does so with extreme clarity. But let us not think that this admonition applies only to those who rejected Jesus at that time. It applies to all times, including our own. Even today God awaits the fruits of His vineyard from those He has sent to work in it. All of us.

In any age, those who have authority, any authority, also in the Church, in God’s people, may be tempted to work in their own interests instead of those of God. And Jesus says that true authority is when you carry out service; it is in serving, not exploiting others. The vineyard is the Lord’s, not ours. Authority is a service, and as such should be exercised, for the good of all and for the dissemination of the Gospel. It is awful to see when people who have authority in the Church seek their own interests.

Saint Paul, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, tells us how to be good workers in the Lord’s vineyard: that which is true, noble, just, pure, loved and honoured; that which is virtuous and praiseworthy, let all this be the daily object of our commitment (Phil 4:8). I repeat: that which is true, noble, just, pure, loved and honoured; that which is virtuous and praiseworthy, let all this be the daily object of our commitment. It is the attitude of authority and also of each one of us, because every one of us, even in a small, tiny way, has a certain authority. In this way we shall become a Church ever richer in the fruits of holiness, we shall give glory to the Father who loves us with infinite tenderness, to the Son who continues to give us salvation, and to the Spirit who opens our hearts and impels us towards the fullness of goodness.

Let us now turn to Mary Most Holy, spiritually united with the faithful gathered in the Shrine of Pompeii for the Supplication, and in October let us renew our commitment to pray the Holy Rosary.