our Heart


Our Heart - 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”


Pope Francis       07.01.14   Holy Mass  Santa Marta        1 John 3: 22 - 4: 6

Abide in the Lord, the Christian, man or woman, is one who abides in the Lord. But what does this mean? Many things.

The Christian who abides in the Lord knows what is happening in his heart. That is why the Apostle says: ‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits’; know how to
discern the spirits, to discern what you are feeling, what you are thinking, what you want, and whether it is truly to abide in the Lord or something else which distances you from the Lord. Our hearts always have desires, wants, thoughts: but are all of these from the Lord? That is why the Apostle says: test what you are thinking, what you are feeling, what you want... If it is in line with the Lord alright; but if not....

It is then necessary to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. Not only can the prophets be false, but also their prophecies and suggestions. That is why we always need to be watchful. Indeed a Christian is precisely a man or woman who knows how to watch his or her heart.

A heart in which many things come and go is like a local market where you find everything. This is precisely the reason why the constant work of discernment is so needed, in order to understand what is truly of the Lord. But how do I know that something is of Christ? The Apostle John indicates the criteria we should follow. 'Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already'.

It is so simple: if what you desire, or what you think travels down the road of the Incarnation of the Word, of the Lord who comes in the flesh, it means that it is of God. However, if it does not travel by that road, then it does not come from God. Essentially, it is a matter of recognizing the road travelled by God, who emptied himself, who humbled himself unto death on the Cross. Self abasement, humility and also humiliation: this is the way of road of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if a thought or a desire leads you on the road of
humility, of self-abasement and of service to others, it is of Jesus; but if it leads you on the road of self-importance, of vanity and of pride, or on the road of abstract thought, it is not of Jesus. The temptations Jesus underwent in the desert attest to this. All three of the devil's temptations to Jesus were suggestions aimed at distancing Jesus from this path, from the path of service, from humility, from humiliation, from the act of love he made by his life.

Let us think about this today. It will do us good. First: what is going on in my heart? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Do I pay attention to what comes and goes or do I let it go? Do I know what I want? Do I test what I desire? Or do I simply take everything? Beloved, do not believe every spirit; but test the spirits. Often our hearts are like a road that everyone takes. This is precisely why we need to test and ask ourselves if we always choose the things that come from God, if we know what comes from God, if we know the right criteria by which we should discern our desires and our thoughts. And, we must never forget that the true criteria is the Incarnation of God.



John writes that all who keep his commandments ‘abide’ in God, and God in them. This ‘abiding’ in God is like the breath and the manner of Christian life. Thus we can say that “a Christian is one who abides in God”. John also writes in his letter: “by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us”. Therefore, a Christian is one who ‘has’ the Holy Spirit and is guided by God. We abide in God and God abides in us by the Spirit which he has given us. Then the problem comes. Be mindful, ‘do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God’. This is precisely the rule for daily life which John teaches us.

Therefore, we should “
test the spirits”, but what does it mean to test the spirits? It seems as if they are ghosts.... However, that is not the case, because John tells us to “test the spirits in order to gauge where they come from: to gauge the spirit, what is happening in my heart”. Thus, “it leads us there, to the heart”, to ask ourselves “what is happening, what do I feel in my heart, what do I want to do? The root of what is happening now, where does it come from?”.

This, is testing in order to ‘gauge’. Indeed, the verb ‘gauge’ is the most appropriate verb to truly determine “whether what I feel comes from God, from the spirit that enables me to abide in God, or if it comes from the other one”. Who is the other one: “
the antichrist”. After all John’s reasoning is simple, direct, I would say circular, because it turns on the same topic: either you are of Jesus or you are of the world. John also takes up what Jesus, too, asked of the Father for all of us: not to take us from the world, but to protect us from the world. Because worldliness is the spirit which distances us from the Spirit of God that enables us to abide in the Lord.

Okay Father, yes it is all clear, but what are the criteria to truly discern what is happening in my soul? John offers only one criterion, and he presents it in these words: ‘By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit’ — every emotion, every inspiration that I feel — ‘which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God’.

In other words, the criterion is that Jesus has come in the flesh, the criterion is the incarnation. This means that I can feel many things inside, even good things, good ideas, but if these good ideas, if these feelings do not lead me to God who has come in the flesh, if they do not lead me to my neighbour, to my brother, then they are not of God. This is why John begins this passage of his letter by saying: ‘this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and
love one another’.

We can make many pastoral plans, conceive of new methods for drawing people close, but if we don’t take the path of God who has come in the flesh, of the Son of God who became man in order to walk with us, then we are not on the path of the good spirit. Instead what prevails is the antichrist, worldliness, the spirit of the world.

Yes, how many people do we find in life who seem spiritual, but who do not speak of doing
works of mercy? Yet why is this? Because the works of mercy are precisely the concrete sign of our confession that the Son of God has come in the flesh: visiting the sick, feeding those who do not have food, taking care of outcast. We must perform “works of mercy”, therefore, because each of our brothers and sisters, whom we must love, is the flesh of Christ: God has come in the flesh to identify himself with us and, and one who suffers is Christ who suffers.

Hence, if you take this path, if you feel this, you are on the right path because this is the criterion of
discernment, so as not to confuse feelings, spirits, so as not to go down a path that isn’t right.

Returning then to the words of John: ‘do not believe every spirit’ — be mindful — ‘but test the spirits to see whether they are of God’. For this reason, “
service to the neighbour, brother, sister who is in need — there are so many needs — of advice or of a listening ear: these are signs that we are on the path of the good spirit, that is, on the path of the Word of God who has come in the flesh”.

Ask the Lord for the grace to be well aware of what is happening in our hearts, what we prefer doing, that is to say, what touches me most: whether it is the Spirit of God, which leads me to the service of others, or the spirit of the world that roams within me, in my closure, in my
selfishness, in so many other things. Yes, let us ask for the grace to know what is happening in our hearts.



The Holy Spirit speaks to us: “Brethren, as the Holy Spirit Says”. And in this passage from the Letter to the Hebrews there are two words that the Holy Spirit repeats: ‘today’ and ‘heart’. Paul writes, in fact: “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. Psalm 94: “we have requested this grace: that our heart not harden, that it not be hard”.

Hence, “today” is the first word. But “the ‘today’ that the Holy Spirit is speaking about is our life, it is ‘a today’, as the same Spirit says, ‘full of days’, but it is a today. It is a today after which there will be no replay, in other words, no “tomorrow”, only “today”. And the sunset may be closer or farther off, but it is today, a today chosen by God, a today in which we have received God’s love, God’s promise that we can find him, be with him”. It is “a today in which, in every day of this today, we can renew our covenant by faithfulness to God. But it is a today, because there is only one today in our life.

Of course, there is always the temptation to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”. It is the temptation of the tomorrow that will not be, as Jesus himself explains to us in the parable of the 10 virgins: five foolish [maidens] went to buy oil, which they didn’t have. Yes, later, tomorrow. But in the end, when they arrived, the door was shut.

Thus, life “is today”. It is a today that begins and a today that ends; a today full of days, but it is today. The parable of the man who went to the Lord and knocked at the door: ‘Lord, open up, it’s me, don’t you remember? I ate with you, I was with you’. But the Lord answers him: “I don’t know you, you arrived late”.

I say this not to scare you, but simply to say that our life is a today. It’s either today or never. I think about this. The tomorrow will be the eternal tomorrow, with no sunset, with the Lord, for ever, if I am faithful to this today. And, the question I ask you is this one that the Holy Spirit asks: ‘how am I living this today?’.

The other word found in reading from the Letter to the Hebrews proposed for the day’s liturgy is “heart”. For “with our heart, we encounter the Lord”. But, how is our heart?. Saint Paul gives specific advice in his Letter: “Do not harden your hearts”. Thus, it is good to ask ourselves if our “heart is hard, if it is closed”, perhaps “faithless, sinful, seduced”. After all, Jesus often rebukes the people who are slow at heart, slow to understand. It is precisely “in our heart” that “the today is at play”. This is why we must ask ourselves if “our heart is open to the Lord”.

It always strikes me, when I find an elderly person, oftentimes a priest or a nun, who tells me: ‘Father, pray for my final perseverance’. It is natural to ask those persons if they have fear after having lived their whole life well, living every day of their “today in service to the Lord”. But it is really not a question of fear, as those people respond: “The sun has not yet set on my life, I would like to live it fully, pray that today is full, full, with my heart steadfast in faith and not ruined by sin, by vices, by corruption”.

Above all, today: this today full of days, but a today that will not be repeated; today, the days keep repeating until the Lord says ‘enough’. But “today is not repeated: this is life”. The second word is “heart”, and we must always keep our heart open to the Lord, not closed, not hard, not hardened, not faithless, not sinful, not seduced by sins. And the Lord encountered many who had a closed heart: the doctors of the law, all these people who persecuted him, put him to the test in order to condemn him, and in the end managed to do so.

Let’s go home with just these two words: “how is my today?”. Without forgetting that “the sunset might be today, this very day or many days thereafter”. But it is important to check “how my today is going in the Lord’s presence”. We should also ask ourselves: “how is my heart: is it open, is it steadfast in faith, does it let itself be led by the Lord’s love?”. And with these two questions let us ask the Lord for the grace that each one of us needs.


Pope Francis      17.01.19    Holy Mass, Santa Marta      Hebrews 3: 7-14
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2019-01/word-of-god-is-not-ideology-it-is-life-that-makes-us-grow.html

Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. This is the harsh message, the warning, that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews addresses to the Christian community in today’s liturgy. The Christian community, in all its components - priests, nuns, bishops - runs this danger of slipping towards a perverse heart.

But what does this warning mean to us? The three words, again taken from the First Reading, can help us to understand: “hardness”, “obstinacy”, and “seduction".

A hard heart is a closed heart, that does not want to grow, that defends itself, that is closed in on itself. In life this can happen because of many factors; as, for example, a great sorrow, because, blows harden the skin. It happened to the disciples of Emmaus, as well as to St Thomas the Apostle. And whoever remains in this bad attitude is fainthearted; and a cowardly heart is perverse.

We can ask ourselves: Do I have a hard heart, do I have a closed heart? Do I let my heart grow? Am I afraid that it will grow? And we always grow with trials, with difficulties, we grow as we all grow as children: we learn to walk by falling. From crawling to walking, how many times we have fallen! But we grow through difficulties. Hardness. And, what amounts to the same thing, being closed. But who remains in this? Who are they, father? They are the fainthearted. Faintheartedness is an ugly attitude in a Christian, he lacks the courage to live. He is closed off...

The second word is obstinacy: In the Letter to the Hebrews we read, “Exhort each other every day, as long as this today lasts, so that none of you may be obstinate”; and this is the accusation that Stephen makes to those who will stone him afterwards. Obstinacy is spiritual stubbornness; an obstinate heart is rebellious, is stubborn, is closed in by its own thought, is not open to the Holy Spirit. This is the profile of ideologues, and of the proud and the arrogant.

Ideology is a kind of obstinacy. The Word of God, the grace of the Holy Spirit is not ideology: it is life that makes you grow, always, that makes you go forward, and also opens your heart to the signs of the Spirit, to the signs of the times. But obstinacy is also pride, it is arrogance. Stubbornness, that stubbornness that does so much harm: closed-hearted, hard – the first word – those are the fainthearted; the stubborn, the obstinate, as the text says the ideologues are. But do I have a stubborn heart? Each one should consider this. Am I able to listen to other people? And if I think differently, do I say, “But I think this...” Am I capable of dialogue? The obstinate don’t dialogue, they don’t know how, because they always defend themselves with ideas, they are ideologues. And how much harm do ideologues do to the people of God, how much harm! Because they close the way to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, seduction: the seduction of sin, used by the devil, the great seducer, a great theologian but without faith, with hatred, who wants to enter and dominate the heart and knows how to do it. So a perverse heart is one that lets itself be seduced; and seduction leads him to obstinacy, to closure, and to many other things.

And with seduction, either you convert and change your life or you try to compromise: but a little here and a little there, a little here and a little there. “Yes, yes, I follow the Lord, but I like this seduction, but just a little...” And you’re starting to lead a double Christian life. To use the word of the great Elijah to the people of Israel at that moment: “You limp from both legs”. To limp from both legs, without having one set firmly. It is the life of compromise: “Yes, I am a Christian, I follow the Lord, yes, but I let this in...”. And this is what the lukewarm are like, those who always compromise: Christians of compromise. We, too, often do this: compromise. Even when the Lord lets us know the path, even with the commandments, also with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but I prefer something else, and I try to find a way to go down two tracks, limping on both legs.

May the Holy Spirit, therefore, enlighten us so that no one may have a perverse heart: a hard heart, which will lead you to faintheartedness; a stubborn heart that will lead you to rebellion, that will lead you to ideology; a heart that is seduced, a slave to seduction.



Pope Francis  19.02.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta      Genesis 6: 5-8, 7: 1-5,10
Pope Francis 19.02.19 Holy Mass, Santa Marta - Our Heart

There is a golden thread running through the story of the flood and modern-day conflicts. We must ask God for the grace to cry and lament when faced with the world’s calamities and the victims of war, many of whom are starving children, orphans, and the poor who pay the highest price.

Faced with these realities let us to have a heart like God’s – capable of anger, pain, and closeness to others – one that is both human and divine.

God suffers when He sees the evil of men and women, and God regretted having created people so much that He decided to erase us from the face of the earth.

This is a God with feelings, who is not abstract and who suffers,  this is the mystery of the Lord.

These are the feelings of God, God the Father who loves us – and love is a relationship. He is able to get angry and to feel rage. It is Jesus who comes and gives us the path, with the suffering of the heart, everything… But our God has feelings. Our God loves us with the heart; He doesn’t love us with ideas but loves us with the heart. And when He caresses us, He caresses us with His heart, and when He disciplines us, like a good father, He disciplines us with His heart, suffering more than we do.

Our relationship with God is one of heart to heart, of son to Father who opens Himself, and if He is capable of feeling pain in His heart, then we, too, will be able to feel pain before Him. This is not sentimentalism, but the truth.

Our times are not so different from those of the flood. There are problems and calamities, poor, hungry, persecuted, and tortured people. People who die in war because others throw bombs as if they were candy.

I don’t think our times are better than those of the flood; I don’t think so. Calamities are more or less the same; the victims are more or less the same. Let’s think about the example of the weakest: children. The many hungry children and children without education cannot grow in peace. Many are without parents because they have been massacred in war… child soldiers… Let us just think about those children.

We need to ask for the grace to have a heart like the heart of God – one made in the likeness of God that feels pain when witnessing others suffer.

There is the great calamity of the flood; there is the great calamity of today’s wars, where the price of the party is paid by the weak, the poor, children, and those who have no resources to carry on. Let us consider that the Lord is pained in His heart, and let us draw near to the Lord and speak to Him, saying: ‘Lord, observe these things; I understand you.’ Let us console the Lord: ‘I understand you, and I am with you. I accompany you in prayer and intercede for all of these calamities which are the fruit of the devil who wants to destroy the work of God.