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07 2021

Pope Francis Angelus 25.07.21  

The multiplication of the loaves

  Pope Francis Angelus 25.07.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The Gospel of this Sunday’s liturgy recounts the famous episode of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, with which Jesus feeds about five thousand people who came to hear him (cf. Jn 6:1-15). It is interesting to see how this miracle takes place: Jesus does not create the loaves and fishes from nothing, no, but rather He works with what the disciples bring him. One of them says: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” (v. 9). It is little, it is nothing, but it is enough for Jesus.

Let us now try to put ourselves in the place of that boy. The disciples ask him to share everything he has to eat. It seems to be an unreasonable proposal, or rather, unjust. Why deprive a person, indeed a child, of what he has brought from home and has the right to keep for himself? Why take away from one person what is not enough to feed everyone anyway? In human terms, it is illogical. But not for God. On the contrary, thanks to that small freely-given and therefore heroic gift, Jesus is able to feed everyone. This is a great lesson for us. It tells us that the Lord can do a lot with the little that we put at His disposal. It would be good to ask ourselves every day: “What do I bring to Jesus today?”. He can do a lot with one of our prayers, with a gesture of charity for others, even with one of our sufferings handed over to His mercy. Our small things to Jesus, and He works miracles. This is how God loves to act: He does great things, starting from those small things, those freely-given ones.

All the great protagonists of the Bible - from Abraham, to Mary, to the boy today - show this logic of smallness and giving. The logic of smallness and giving. The logic of giving is so different from ours. We try to accumulate and increase what we have, but Jesus asks us to give, to diminish. We like to add, we like addition; Jesus likes subtraction, taking something away to give it to others. We want to multiply for ourselves; Jesus appreciates it when we share with others, when we share. It is interesting that in the accounts of the multiplication of the loaves in the Gospels, the verb “multiply” never appears: no. On the contrary, the verbs used have the opposite meaning: “to break”, “to give”, “to distribute” (cf. v. 11; Mt 14:19; Mk 6:41; Lk 9:16). But the verb “to multiply” is not used. The true miracle, says Jesus, is not the multiplication that produces vanity and power, but the sharing that increases love and allows God to perform wonders. Let us try to share more: let us try the way Jesus teaches us.

Even today, the multiplication of goods cannot solve problems without fair sharing. The tragedy of hunger comes to mind, which affects the little ones in particular. It has been calculated officially that every day in the world around seven thousand children under the age of five die due to malnutrition, because they do not have what they need to live. Faced with scandals such as these, Jesus also addresses an invitation to us, an invitation similar to the one probably received by the boy in the Gospel, who has no name and in whom we can all see ourselves: “Be brave, give what little you have, your talents, your possessions, make them available to Jesus and to your brothers and sisters. Do not be afraid, nothing will be lost, because if you share, God will multiply. Banish the false modesty of feeling inadequate, trust yourself. Believe in love, believe in the power of service, believe in the strength of gratuitousness”.

May the Virgin Mary, who answered “yes” to God's unprecedented proposal, help us to open our hearts to the Lord's invitations and to the needs of others.

Holy Mass for the 1st World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly 25.07.21

World day for Grandparents and the Elderly Holy Mass 25.07.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

As he sat down to teach, Jesus “looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him. He said to Philip: ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’” (Jn 6:5). Jesus did not just teach the crowd; he was also alert to the hunger present in their lives. In response, he fed them with five barley loaves and two fish provided by a young man nearby. Afterwards, since there was bread left over, he told his disciples to gather up the fragments, “so that nothing may be lost” (v. 12).

On this Day devoted to grandparents and the elderly, let us reflect on those three moments: Jesus sees the crowd’s hunger; Jesus shares the bread; Jesus asks that the leftovers be collected. Three moments that can be summed up in three verbs: to see, to share, to preserve.

The first one: to see. At the start of his account, the evangelist John points out that Jesus looked up and saw the crowds, who were hungry after having travelled so far to see him. That is how the miracle begins: with the gaze of Jesus, who is neither indifferent nor too busy to sense the hunger felt by a weary humanity. Jesus cares about us; he is concerned for us; he wants to satisfy our hunger for life, love and happiness. In his eyes, we see God’s own way of seeing things. His gaze is caring; he is sensitive to us and to the hopes we hold in our hearts. It recognizes our weariness and the hope that keeps us going. It understands the needs of each person. For in God’s eyes, there are no anonymous crowds, only individuals with their own hunger and thirst. Jesus’ gaze is contemplative. He looks into our lives; he sees and understands.

Our grandparents and the elderly have looked at our lives with that same gaze. That is how they cared for us, ever since we were children. Despite lives of hard work and sacrifice, they were never too busy for us, or indifferent to us. They looked at us with care and tender love. When we were growing up and felt misunderstood or fearful about life’s challenges, they kept an eye on us; they knew what we were feeling, our hidden tears and secret dreams. They held us in their arms and sat us on their knees. That love helped us grow into adulthood.

And what about us? How do we see our grandparents and elderly persons? When was the last time we visited or telephoned an elderly person in order to show our closeness and to benefit from what they have to tell us? I worry when I see a society full of people in constant motion, too caught up in their own affairs to have time for a glance, a greeting or a hug. I worry about a society where individuals are simply part of a nameless crowd, where we can no longer look up and recognize one another. Our grandparents, who nourished our own lives, now hunger for our attention and our love; they long for our closeness. Let us lift up our eyes and see them, even as Jesus sees us.

The second verb: to share. Seeing the people’s hunger, Jesus wants to feed them. Yet this only happens thanks to a young man who offers his five loaves of bread and two fish. How touching it is, that at the heart of this miracle, by which some five thousand adults were fed, we find a young person willing to share what he had.

Today, we need a new covenant between young and old. We need to share the treasure of life, to dream together, to overcome conflicts between generations and to prepare a future for everyone. Without such a covenantal sharing of life, dreams and future, we risk dying of hunger, as broken relationships, loneliness, selfishness and the forces of disintegration gradually increase. In our societies, we have frequently surrendered to the notion of “every man for himself”. But this is deadly! The Gospel bids us share what we are and what we possess, for only in this way will we find fulfilment. I have often mentioned the words of the prophet Joel about young and old coming together (cf. Joel 3:1). Young people, as prophets of the future, who treasure their own history. The elderly, who continue to dream and share their experience with the young, without standing in their way. Young and old, the treasure of tradition and the freshness of the Spirit. Young and old together. In society and in the Church, together.

The third verb: to preserve. After the crowds had eaten, the Gospel relates that much bread was left over. So Jesus tells the disciples: “Gather up the fragments, that nothing may be lost”. This reveals the heart of God: not only does he give us more than we need, he is also concerned that nothing be lost, not even a fragment. A morsel of bread may seem a little thing, but in God’s eyes, nothing is to meant to be thrown away. Even more so, no person is ever to be discarded. We need to make this prophetic summons heard among ourselves and in our world: gather, preserve with care, protect. Grandparents and the elderly are not leftovers from life, scraps to be discarded. They are precious pieces of bread left on the table of life that can still nourish us with a fragrance that we have lost, “the fragrance of mercy and of memory”.

Let us not lose the memory preserved by the elderly, for we are children of that history, and without roots, we will wither. They protected us as we grew, and now it is up to us to protect their lives, to alleviate their difficulties, to attend to their needs and to ensure that they are helped in daily life and not feel alone. Let us ask ourselves: “Have I visited my grandparents, my elderly relatives, the older people in my neighbourhood? Have I listened to them? Have I spent time with them?” Let us protect them, so that nothing of their lives and dreams may be lost. May we never regret that we were insufficiently attentive to those who loved us and gave us life.

Brothers and sisters, grandparents and the elderly are bread that nourishes our life. We are grateful to them for the watchful eyes that cared for us, the arms that held us and the knees on which we sat. For the hands that held our own and lifted us up, for the games they played with us and for the comfort of their caress. Please, let us not forget about them. Let us covenant with them. Let us learn to approach them, listen to them and never discard them. Let us cherish them and spend time with them. We will be the better for it. And, together, young and old alike, we will find fulfilment at table of sharing, blessed by God.

Pope Francis Angelus 18.07.21

Rest, Contemplation and Compassion
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Jesus’s attitude that we observe in the Gospel of today’s liturgy (Mk 6:30-34) helps us to grasp two important aspects of life. The first is rest. To the Apostles returning from the labours of the mission who enthusiastically begin to relate everything they had done, Jesus tenderly directs this invitation to the Apostles: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while”. An invitation to rest.

In so doing, Jesus gives us a valuable teaching. Even though he rejoices on seeing his disciples’ happiness due to the wonders of their preaching, he does not spend time giving them compliments or asking questions. Rather, he is concerned about their physical and interior tiredness. And why does he do this? Because he wants to make them aware of a danger that is always lurking there for us too: the danger to be caught up in the frenzy of doing things, to fall into the trap of activism where what is most important are the results that we obtain and the feeling of being absolute protagonists. How many times this happens in the Church: we are busy, we run around, we think that everything depends on us and, in the end, we risk neglecting Jesus and we always make ourselves the centre. This is why He invites His disciples to rest a bit with Him on their own. It is not only physical rest, but also rest for the heart. For it is not enough to “unplug” ourselves, we need to truly rest. And how do we do this? To do so, we must return to the heart of things: to stop, to remain in silence, to pray so as not to go from the frenzy of work to the frenzy of times of relaxation. Jesus did not neglect the needs of the crowd, but each day, before anything else, he would withdraw in prayer, in silence, in intimacy with the Father. His tender invitation – rest a while – should accompany us. Let us beware, brothers and sisters, of efficiency, let us put a halt to the frantic running around dictated by our agendas. Let us learn how to take a break, to turn off the mobile phone, to contemplate nature, to regenerate ourselves in dialogue with God.

Nonetheless, the Gospel tells us that Jesus and his disciples could not rest as they had wished. The people find them and flock to them from all sides. At which point, he is moved with compassion. This is the second aspect: compassion, which is God’s style. God’s style is to draw near, compassion and tenderness. How many times we find this phrase in the Gospel, in the Bible: “He had compassion on them”. Touched, Jesus dedicates himself to the people and begins to teach again (cf. vv. 33-34). This seems to be a contradiction, but in reality, it is not. In fact, only a heart that does not allow itself to be taken over by hastiness is capable of being moved; that is, of not allowing itself to be caught up in itself and by things to do, and is aware of others, of their wounds, their needs. Compassion is born from contemplation. If we learn to truly rest, we become capable of true compassion; if we cultivate a contemplative outlook, we will carry out our activities without that rapacious attitude of those who want to possess and consume everything; if we stay in touch with the Lord and do not anesthetise the deepest part of ourselves, the things to do will not have the power to cause us to get winded or devour us. We need – listen to this – we need an “ecology of the heart”, that is made up of rest, contemplation and compassion. Let us take advantage of the summer time for this! It will help us quite a bit.

And now, let us pray to the Madonna, who cultivated silence, prayer and contemplation and who is always moved with tender compassion for us, her children.

Pope Francis Angelus 11.07.21

The Sick

Pope Francis Angelus 11.07.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

I am glad to be able to keep the Sunday Angelus appointment, even here from “Gemelli” Policlinico. I thank you all: I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The Gospel passage we read today in the Liturgy recounts that Jesus’ disciples, sent by Him, “anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mk 6:13). This “oil” also makes us think of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which gives comfort to spirit and body. But this “oil” is also listening, the closeness, the care, the tenderness of those who take care of the sick person: it is like a caress that makes you feel better, soothes your pain and cheers you up. All of us, everyone, sooner or later, we all need this “anointing” of closeness and tenderness, and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, a hand outstretched to someone who needs help.

Let us remember that, in the protocol of the final judgment – Matthew 25 – one of the things they will ask us will be about closeness to the sick.

In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced once again how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries. Free health care, that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept! And for this everyone needs to be committed, because it helps everyone and requires everyone’s contribution. In the Church it also happens at times that some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it. But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: to save free institutions.

I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all the healthcare workers and staff of this and of other hospitals. They work so hard! And let us pray for all the sick. Here there are some friends, sick children…. Why do children suffer? Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart. Accompany them with prayer and pray for all those who are sick, especially for those in the most difficult conditions: may no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness, tenderness and care. Let us ask this through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, Health of the Sick.

Pope Francis Angelus 04.07.21

The disbelief of Jesus’s fellow villagers

 Pope Francis - a Prophet is not recognised in his own country - Angelus - 04.07.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mk 6:1-6) tells us about the disbelief of Jesus’s fellow villagers. After preaching in other villages in Galilee, Jesus returned to Nazareth where he had grown up with Mary and Joseph; and, one sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who were listening asked themselves: “Where does he get all this wisdom? But, isn’t he the son of the carpenter and Mary, that is, of our neighbours that we know so well?” (cf. vv. 1-3). Confronted with this reaction, Jesus confirms the truth that had even become a part of popular wisdom: “A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house” (v. 4). We say this many times…

Let us reflect on the attitude of Jesus’s fellow villagers. We could say they knew Jesus, but they did not recognise him. There is a difference between knowing and recognizing. In essence, this difference makes us understand that we can know various things about a person, form an idea, rely on what others say about that person, we might perhaps meet that person every now and then in the neighbourhood; but all that is not enough. This is a knowledge, I would say ordinary, superficial, that does not recognise the uniqueness of the person. We all run this risk: we think we know so much about a person, even worse, we use labels and close the person within our own prejudices. Jesus’s fellow villagers knew him for thirty years in the same way and they thought they knew everything! “But isn’t this the boy we saw growing up, the son of the carpenter and Mary? Where do these things come from?”. The distrust…in reality, they never realised who Jesus truly was. They remained at the exterior level and refused what was new about Jesus.

And here, we enter into the true crux of the problem: when we allow the convenience of habit and the dictatorship of prejudice to have the upper hand, it is difficult to open ourselves to what is new and allow ourselves to be amazed. We control: through attitudes, through prejudices… It often happens in life that we seek from our experiences and even from people only what conforms to our own ideas and ways of thinking so as never to have to make an effort to change. And this can even happen with God, and even to us believers, to us who think we know Jesus, that we already know so much about Him and that it is enough to repeat the same things as always. And this is not enough with God. But without openness to what is new and, above all – listen well – openness to God’s surprises, without amazement, faith becomes a tiring litany that slowly dies out and becomes a habit, a social habit.

I said a word: amazement. What is amazement? Amazement happens when we meet God: “I met the Lord”. But we read in the Gospel: many times the people who encountered Jesus and recognised him felt amazed. And we, by encountering God, must follow this path: to feel amazement. It is like the guarantee certificate that the encounter is true and not habitual.

In the end, why didn’t Jesus’s fellow villagers recognise and believe in Him? But why? What is the reason? In a few words, we can say that they did not accept the scandal of the Incarnation. They did not recognise this mystery of the Incarnation. They thought it was scandalous that the immensity of God should be revealed in the smallness of our flesh, that the Son of God should be the son of a carpenter, that the divine should be hidden in the human, that God should inhabit a face, the words, the gestures of a simple man. This is the scandal: the incarnation of God, his concreteness, his ‘daily life’. And God became concrete in a man, Jesus of Nazareth, he became a companion on the way, he made himself one of us. “You are one of us”, we can say to Jesus. What a beautiful prayer! It is because one of us understands us, accompanies us, forgives us, loves us so much. In reality, an abstract, distant god is more comfortable, one that doesn’t get himself involved in situations and who accepts a faith that is far from life, from problems, from society. Or we would even like to believe in a ‘special effects’ god who does only exceptional things and always provokes strong emotions. Instead, brothers and sisters, God incarnated Himself: God is humble, God is tender, God is hidden, he draws near to us, living the normality of our daily life.

And then, the same thing happens to us like Jesus’s fellow villagers, we risk that when he passes by, we will not recognize him. I repeat that beautiful phrase from Saint Augustine: “I am afraid of God, of the Lord, when he passes by”. But, Augustine, why are you afraid? “I am afraid of not recognising him. I am afraid that when the Lord passes by we do not recognize him, we are scandalised by Him, let us think with our hearts about this reality.

Now, in prayer, let us ask the Madonna, who welcomed the mystery of God in her daily life in Nazareth, for eyes and hearts free of prejudices and to have eyes open to be amazed: “Lord that we might meet you!”, and when we encounter the Lord there is this amazement. Let us meet him in normality: eyes open to God’s surprises, to His humble and hidden presence in daily life.

Pope Francis Day of reflection and prayer for Lebanon 01.07.21

Ecumenical prayer for peace

Pope Francis Lebanon Ecumenical Prayer Speech 01.07.21
Excerpt below, for the full text click on the picture link above 

Sustained by the prayers of the Holy People of God, in facing this dark situation, we, as pastors, have sought together to be guided by God’s light. In this light of His, we have seen our own lack of clarity and the mistakes we have made. For all this we ask forgiveness, and with contrite hearts we pray: “Lord, have mercy”.
This was the cry of a woman, who met Jesus and, in anguish, insistently implored him: "Lord, help me!". This cry has now become that of an entire people, the disillusioned and weary Lebanese, in need of certainty, hope and peace. With our prayer we wanted to accompany this cry. Let us not desist nor tire of imploring heaven for that peace which men and women struggle to build on earth.