Psalms

  

  Psalm 1

1-4, 6

 
Pope Francis        19.02.15   Holy Mass  Santa Marta      Deuteronomy 30: 15-20;       Psalms 1: 1-4,6            Luke 9: 22-25
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/choices-in-life/Courage%20to%20choose%20God%20every%20time%20crop.jpg

At the beginning of the Lenten journey, the Church makes us reflect on the words of Moses and of Jesus: “You have to choose”. It is thus a reflection on the need we all have, to make choices in life. And Moses is clear: ‘See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil’: choose. Indeed the Lord gave us freedom, the freedom to love, to walk on his streets. We are free and we can choose. However,  “it’s not easy to choose”. It’s more comfortable “to live by letting ourselves be carried by the inertia of life, of situations, of habits”. This is why today the Church tells us: ‘You are responsible; you have to choose’”. 

Have you chosen? How do you live? What is your lifestyle, your way of living, like? Is it on the side of life or on the side of death?

Naturally the response should be to choose the way of the Lord. ‘I command you to love the Lord’. This is how Moses shows us the path of the Lord: ‘If your heart turns back and if you do not listen and you let yourself be drawn to prostrate yourself before other gods and serve them, you will perish’. Choose between God and the other gods, those who do not have the power to give us anything, only little things that pass.

We always have this habit of going where the people go, somewhat like everyone. But, today the Church is telling us: ‘
stop and choose’. It’s good advice. And today it will do us good to stop during the day and think: what is my lifestyle like? Which road am I taking?

After all, in everyday life we tend to take the opposite approach. Many times, we live in a rush, we are on the run, without noticing what the path is like; and we let ourselves be carried along by the needs, by the necessities of the days, but without thinking. And thus came the invitation to stop: “Begin Lent with small questions that will help one to consider: ‘What is my life like?’”. The first thing to ask ourselves is: “who is God for me? Do I choose the Lord? How is my relationship with Jesus?”. And the second: “How is your relationship with your family: with your parents; with your siblings; with your wife; with your husband; with your children?”. In fact, these two series of questions are enough, and we will surely find things that we need to correct.

Why do  we hurry so much in life, without knowing which path we are on. Because we want to win, we want to earn, we want to be successful. But Jesus makes us think: “What advantage does a man have who wins the whole world, but loses or destroys himself?”. Indeed, “the wrong road" is that of always seeking success, one’s own riches, without thinking about the Lord, without thinking about family. Returning to the two series of questions on one’s relationship with God and with those who are dear to us, one can win everything, yet become a failure in the end. He has failed. That life is a failure. So are those who seem to have had success, those women and men for whom “they’ve made a monument” or “they’ve dedicated a portrait”, but didn’t “know how to make the right choice between life and death”.

It will do us good to stop for a bit — five, 10 minutes — and ask ourselves the question: what is the speed of my life? Do I reflect on my actions? How is my relationship with God and with my family?”. The Pope indicated that we can find help in “that really beautiful advice of the Psalm: ‘Blessed are they who trust in the Lord’”. And “when the Lord gives us this advice — ‘Stop! Choose today, choose’ — He doesn’t leave us on our own; He is with us and wants to help us. And we, for our part, need “only to trust, to have faith in Him”.

“Blessed are they who trust in the Lord”, be aware that God does not abandon us. Today, at the moment in which we stop to think about these things and to take decisions, to choose something, we know that the Lord is with us, is beside us, to help us. He never lets us go alone. He is always with us. Even in the moment of choosing. 

Let us have faith in this Lord, who is with us, and when He tells us: ‘choose between good and evil’ helps us to choose good”. And above all “let us ask Him for the grace to be courageous”, because it takes a bit of courage to stop and ask myself: how do I stand before God, how are my relationships in the family, what do I need to change, what should I choose?
  

 Psalm 8

4-9

 
Pope Francis    16.06.19   Holy Mass, Piazza Cavour, Camerino  Trinity Sunday Year C    Psalm 8: 4-9      Romans 5: 1-5
Pope Francis 16.06.19 Camerino

Psalm 8: "What is man that you are mindful of him?” These words came to my mind with you in my mind: Faced with what you have seen and suffered, with houses collapsed and buildings reduced to rubble, the question arises: what is man ever? What is he, if his hopes can end up in dust?

God remembers us as we are, in our frailty…He returns to us with the heart, because we are in His heart. We may be small under heaven and powerless when the earth trembles but for God we are more precious than anything.

Remembering is a key word for life. Remembering gives us the strength not to surrender. Bad memories return, even when we don't want them to. To free ourselves from the negative memories that keep us prisoner, from the regrets that paralyze us, we need someone to help us carry the burdens we have inside. Jesus does not offer us the quick and easy solution of taking away our burdens. Instead, He sends us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who transforms the wounds of the past into memories of salvation…because the Holy Spirit is the rebuilder of
hope.

Earthly hopes are fleeting they always have an expiry date. The hope of the Spirit, on the other hand, is a long-lasting one because it is based on God's fidelity. This is the hope that confirms we are not alone. It is a hope with strong roots, which no storm of life can eradicate. This is the hope that, according to St Paul, does not disappoint.

The Trinity is not a theological puzzle but the splendid mystery of God's closeness. God is not up there, distant and indifferent. God sends us the Spirit, knowing that it takes more strength to repair than to build. Almost three years have passed since the earthquake struck in 2016. The risk is that, after the first emotional and media involvement, attention falls and promises are forgotten. The Lord instead pushes us to remember, repair, rebuild, and to do so together without ever forgetting those who suffer.

I came here today to be close to you to pray with you to the God who remembers…the God of hope…the God who is close to us…so that what is unstable on earth will not shake the certainty that we hold within us.




Pope Francis  20.05.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis: Prayer - The Mystery of Creation       Psalm 8: 4-5

Pope Francis Prayer and Creation 20.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us continue the catechesis on prayer, considering the mystery of creation. Life, the simple fact that we exist, opens the heart of man to prayer.
The first page of the Bible resembles a great hymn of thanksgiving. The story of creation is punctuated by refrains, in which the goodness and beauty of everything that exists is continually reaffirmed. God, with his word, calls into life, and everything enters existence. With the word, he separates light from darkness, alternates day and night, alternates the seasons, opens a colour palette with the variety of plants and animals. In this overflowing forest that quickly overcomes chaos, man finally appears. And this apparition causes an excess of exultation that amplifies satisfaction and joy: "God saw all that he had made, and he found it was very good"(Gen 1: 31). So good, but also beautiful: you see the beauty of all creation!

The beauty and mystery of creation generate in the heart of man the first movement that stirs prayer (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,2566). This is how the Eighth Psalm, which we heard at the beginning, says: "When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?" (Psalm 8: 4-5). Man in prayer contemplates the mystery of existence around him, he sees the starry sky that towers over him – and that astrophysics shows us today in all of its immensity – and wonders what the design of love must be behind such a wonderful work!... And, in this boundless vastness, what is man? "Almost nothing," says another Psalm (89: 48): a being who is born, a being that dies, a very fragile creature. Yet, throughout the universe, the human being is the only creature aware of so much profusion of beauty. A small being who is born, dies, here today and gone tomorrow, he is the only one aware of this beauty. We are aware of this beauty!

Man's prayer is closely linked with the feeling of wonder. Man's greatness is infinitesimal when compared to the size of the universe. His greatest achievements seem very little. But man is not nothing. In prayer, a feeling of mercy is overwhelmingly affirmed. Nothing exists by chance: the secret of the universe lies in a benevolent glance that catches our eyes. The Psalm states that we are made as little less than a god, we are crowned with honour and glory(cf. 8: 6). The relationship with God is the greatness of man: his enthronement. By nature we are almost nothing, today we are and tomorrow we are not, but by vocation, by our calling we are the children of the great King!

It's an experience that many of us have had. If the story of life, with all its bitterness, sometimes risks suffocating the gift of prayer in us, it is enough to contemplate a starry sky, a sunset, a flower, to rekindle the spark of thanksgiving. This experience is perhaps the basis of the first page of the Bible. 

When the great biblical account of Creation is written, the people of Israel were not going through happy days. An enemy power had occupied the land; many had been deported, and now they were slaves in Mesopotamia. There was no more homeland, no temple, no social and religious life, nothing.

Yet, starting from the great account of creation, someone begins to find reasons for thanksgiving, to praise God for existence. Prayer is the first force of hope. You pray and hope grows, it goes on. I would say that prayer opens the door to hope. Hope is there, but with my prayer I open the door. Because men of prayer guard the basic truths; they are those who repeat, first to themselves and then to all others, that this life, despite all its labours and trials, despite its difficult days, is filled with a grace at which to marvel. And as such it must always be defended and protected.

The men and women who pray know that hope is stronger than discouragement. They believe that love is more powerful than death, and that one day it will triumph, albeit in times and ways that we do not know. The men and women of prayer reflect light on their faces: because, even on the darkest days, the sun does not stop illuminating them. Prayer illuminates you: it brightens your soul, brightens your heart and brightens your face. Even in the darkest times, even in times of greatest pain.

We are all bearers of joy. Have you thought about this? That you are a bearer of joy? Or do you prefer to bring bad news, things that are sad? We are all capable of bringing joy. This life is the gift that God has given us: and it is too short to consume it in sadness, in bitterness. We praise God, content simply to exist. We look at the universe, we look at the beauties and we also look at our crosses and say, "But, you exist, you did it like this, for you." It is necessary to feel that restlessness of the heart that leads to thanking and praising God. We are the children of the great King, of the Creator, able to read his signature in all creation; that creation that we do not care about today, but in that creation there is the signature of God who did it out of love. The Lord makes us understand this more and more deeply and leads us to say "thank you": and that "thank you" is a beautiful prayer.



  

 Psalm 18

2-3, 29,33


Pope Francis  24.06.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace    Catechesis on prayer - 8.   The prayer of David      Psalm 18: 2-3, 29, 33

Pope Francis David's Prayer 24.06.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On the itinerary for the catechesis on prayer, today we meet King David. Favoured by God even from his youth, he is chosen for a unique mission that would play a central role in the history of the people of God and in our own faith. In the Gospels, Jesus is called “son of David” a number of times; like him, in fact, He is born in Bethlehem. According to the promises, the Messiah would come from the descendants of David: a King completely after God’s heart, in perfect obedience to the Father, whose action faithfully realises His plan of salvation (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2579).

David’s story begins on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, where he grazes the flock of his father, Jesse. He is still a boy, the last of many brothers. So much so that when the prophet Samuel, acting on God’s order, goes in search of the new king, it almost seems that his father has forgotten about his youngest son (see 1 Sam 16:1-13). He worked in the open air: we can think of him as a friend of the wind, of the sounds of nature, of the sun’s rays. He has only one companion to comfort his soul: his harp; and during those long days spent in solitude, he loves to play and to sing to his God. He also played with the slingshot.

David is, therefore, first of all a shepherd: a man who takes care of animals, who defends them from oncoming danger, who provides for their sustenance. When by God’s will David will have to care for his people, the things he will do will not be very different. This is why the image of the shepherd frequently occurs in the Bible. Even Jesus defined Himself as “the good shepherd”, whose behaviour is different than that of the mercenary; He offers His life on behalf of the sheep, He guides them, He knows each one by name (see Jn 10:11-18).

David had learned a lot from his previous job. So, when the prophet Nathan reproves him for his very serious sin (see 2 Sam 12:1-15), David understands right away that he had been a bad shepherd, that he had despoiled another man of his only sheep that he loved, that he was no longer a humble servant, but a man who was crazy for power, a poacher who looted and preyed on others.

A second characteristic trait present in David’s vocation is his poet’s soul. From this small observation, we can deduce that David was not a vulgar man, as is often the case with individuals who are forced to live for long periods in isolation from society. He is, instead, a sensitive person who loves music and singing. His harp would accompany him always: sometimes to raise a hymn of joy to God (see 2 Sam 6:16), other times to express a lament, or to confess his own sin (see Ps 51:3).

The world that presented itself before his eyes was not a silent scene: as things unravelled before his gaze he observed a greater mystery. That is exactly where prayer arises: from the conviction that life is not something that takes us by surprise, but a stupefying mystery that inspires poetry, music, gratitude, praise, even lament and supplication in us. When a person lacks that poetic dimension, let’s say, when poetry is missing, his or her soul limps. Thus, tradition has it that David is the great artist behind the composition of the Psalms. Many of them at the beginning bear an explicit reference to the king of Israel, and to some of the more or less noble events of his life.

David, therefore, has a dream: that of being a good shepherd. Sometimes he will live up that that task, other times less so; what is important, however, in the context of the history of salvation, is that he is a prophecy of another King, whom he merely announces and prefigures.

Look at David, think about David. Holy and sinful, persecuted and persecutor, victim and murderer, which is a contradiction. David was all of this, together. And we too have recorded events in our lives that are often opposed to each other; in the drama of life, all people often sin because of inconsistency. There is one single golden thread running through David’s life, that gave unity to everything that happened: his prayer. That is the voice that was never extinguished. David the saint prays: David the sinner prays; David, persecuted, prays; David the persecutor prays. Even David the murderer prays. This is the golden thread running through his life. A man of prayer. That is the voice that is never silenced. Whether it assumed tones of jubilation or lament, it is always the same prayer, it is only the melody that changes. In so doing, David teaches us to let everything enter into dialogue with God: joy as well as guilt, love as well as suffering, friendship as much as sickness. Everything can become a word spoken to the “You” who always listens to us.

David, who knew solitude, was in reality never alone! In the end, this is the power of prayer in all those who make space for it in their lives. Prayer gives you nobility, and David is noble because he prays. But he is a murderer who prays; he repents and his nobility returns thanks to prayer. Prayer gives us nobility. It is capable of securing the relationship with God who is the true Companion on the journey of every man and woman, in the midst of life’s thousand adversities, good or bad: but always prayer. Thank you, Lord. I am afraid, Lord. Help me, Lord. Forgive me, Lord. David’s trust is so great that, when he was persecuted and had to flee, he did not let anyone defend him: “If my God humiliates me thus, He knows what He is doing”, because the nobility of prayer leaves us in God’s hands. Those hands wounded by love: the only sure hands we have.
  

 Psalm 23

1-3A, 3B-6


 

Jesus wanted to show us his heart as the heart that loved so deeply. This is why we have this commemoration today, especially of God’s love. God loved us, he loved us with such great love. I am thinking of what St Ignatius told us.... He pointed out two criteria on love. The first: love is expressed more clearly in actions than in words. The second: there is greater love in giving than in receiving.

These two criteria are like the pillars of true love: deeds, and the gift of self. The shepherd close to his flock, to his sheep that he knows one by one. The Lord loves us tenderly. The Lord knows the beautiful science of caresses — God’s tenderness. He does not love us with words. He approaches us, and in being close to us gives us his love with the deepest possible tenderness.

More difficult than loving God is letting ourselves be loved by him. Lord, I want to love you but teach me the difficult science, the difficult habit of letting myself be loved by you.... Perhaps this is what we should pray for at Mass.



Pope Francis   30.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Daniel 13: 1-9,15-17, 19-30, 33-62,   Psalm 23: 1-6,    John 8: 1-11
Monday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis Casa Santa Marta 30.03.20

In the Psalm, we prayed: "The Lord is my shepherd: There is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose, near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. He guides me on the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil will I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff. With these you give me comfort."

This is the experience that these two women had, whose story we read in the two Readings. An innocent woman, falsely accused, slandered, and a sinful woman. Both sentenced to death. The innocent and the sinner. Some Fathers of the Church saw in these women a figure of the Church: holy, but with sinful children. They said in a beautiful Latin expression: "The Church is the caste meretrix (chaste sinner)", the saint with sinful children.

Both women were desperate, humanly desperate. But Susanna trusts God. There are also two groups of people, of men; both had positions in the Church: the judges and the doctors of the Law. They were not ecclesiastical, but they were in the service of the Church, in the courthouse, and in the teaching of the Law. Different. The first, those who accused Susanna, were corrupt: the corrupt judge, an emblematic figure in history. Even in the Gospel, Jesus recounts, in the parable of the insistent widow, the corrupt judge who did not believe in God and did not care about others. The corrupt. The doctors of the law were not corrupt, but hypocrites.

And these women, one fell into the hands of the hypocrites and the other into the hands of the corrupt: there was no way out. "Even if I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil will I, because you are with me with your crook and staff, with these you give me comfort. " Both women were in a valley of darkness, they went there: a valley of darkness heading towards death. The first explicitly trusts God, and the Lord intervened. The second, poor woman, knows that she is guilty, shamed before all the people – because the people were present in both situations – the Gospel does not say it, but surely she prayed inside, asked for some help.

What does the Lord do with these people? He saves the innocent woman and does her justice. To the sinful woman, He forgives her. The corrupt judges, He condemns them; and the hypocrites, He helps them to convert and in front of the people Jesus says: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone", and one by one they are gone. With what irony the Apostle John says: "When they heard this they went one by one, beginning with the elders." He gives them some time to repent; He does not forgive the corrupt, simply because the corrupt are incapable of asking for forgiveness, of going beyond. They were tired ... no, it's not that they were tired: they are not capable. Corruption has also taken away from them that capacity that we all have to be ashamed of, asking for forgiveness. No, the corrupt are sure of themselves, they go ahead, they destroy, they exploit people, like this woman, everything, everything ... goes on. They put themselves in God's place.

And the Lord responds to the women. To Susanna, He frees her from these corrupt people, and she goes ahead, and the other: "Neither do I condemn you. Go away and don't sin anymore." He lets her go. And this, before the people. In the first case, the people praise the Lord; In the second case, the people learn. Learn what God's mercy is like.
Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own sins. And if you don't remember them, think a little: you'll find them. Thank God if you find them, because if you don't find them, you're corrupt. Each of us has our own sins. Let us look at the Lord who does justice but who is so merciful. Let us not be ashamed of being in the Church: let us be ashamed of ourselves as sinners. The Church is the mother of all. We thank God that we are not corrupt, but are sinners. And each of us, looking at how Jesus acts in these cases, trusts God's mercy. And pray, with confidence in God's mercy, pray for forgiveness. "Because God guides me on the right path because He is true to His name. Even if I walk in the valley of darkness – the valley of sin – no evil will I fear you are there. With your crook and staff. With these you give me comfort."



Pope Francis  03.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Martha)    1 Peter 2: 20b-25,     Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b, 4-6,      John 10: 1-10
Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A

Pope Francis Jesus the Good Shepherd 03.05.20

Three weeks after the Lord's Resurrection, the Church today on the fourth Sunday of Easter celebrates the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, Jesus the Good Shepherd. This makes me think of so many shepherds in the world who give their lives for the faithful, even in this pandemic, many, more than 100 here in Italy have died. I also think of other shepherds who care for the good of the people, the doctors. We are talking about doctors, about what they do, but we must realize that, in Italy alone, 154 doctors have died, in an act of service. May the example of these pastors, priests and medical pastors help us take care of the holy faithful people of God.

The First Letter of the Apostle Peter, which we have heard, is a passage of serenity. It's about Jesus. He says: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness; By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls." (1 Peter 2: 24-25) Jesus is the shepherd - as Peter sees him - who comes to save, to save the wandering sheep: it was us. And in Psalm 23 that we read after this reading, we repeated, "The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want." The presence of the Lord as a shepherd, as a shepherd of the flock. 

And Jesus, in chapter 10 of John, which we have read, presents himself as the shepherd. Indeed, not only the shepherd, but the "door" through which the flock enters. All those who came and did not enter through that door were thieves or robbers or wanted to take advantage of the flock: the false shepherds. And in the history of the Church there have been many of them who exploited the flock. They weren't interested in the flock, it was just a career or politics or money. But the flock knows them, they always know them and they go in search of God by their own paths.

But when there is a good shepherd, there is a flock that goes on, that carries on. The good shepherd listens to the flock, leads the flock, heals the flock. And the flock knows how to distinguish between shepherds, it is not wrong: the flock trusts the good shepherd, trusts Jesus. Only the shepherd who resembles Jesus gives confidence to the flock, because he is the door. The style of Jesus must be the style of the shepherd, there is no other. 

But even Jesus, the good shepherd, as Peter says in the first reading: "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you would follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was insulted, he returned no insult, when he suffered, he did not threaten", (1 Peter 2: 21-23) he was meek. One of the signs of a good shepherd is meekness, it is meekness. A good shepherd is meek. A shepherd who is not meek is not a good shepherd. He has something hidden, because meekness shows him as he is, without defending himself. And furthermore, the shepherd is tender, has that tenderness of closeness, knows the sheep one by one by name and takes care of each one as if it were the only one, to the point that when he comes home after a day's work, tired, he realizes that he is missing one, goes out to work again to look for it and he brings it back with him, he carries it on his shoulders. 

This is the good shepherd, this is Jesus, this is the one who accompanies us on the journey of life, for everyone. And this idea of the shepherd, and this idea of the flock and the sheep, is an Easter idea. The Church in the first week of Easter sings that beautiful song for the newly baptized: "These are the new lambs", the hymn we heard at the beginning of Mass. It is an idea of community, of tenderness, of kindness, of meekness. It is the Church that loves Jesus and he guards this Church.

This Sunday is a beautiful Sunday, it is a Sunday of peace, it is a Sunday of tenderness, of meekness, because our pastor takes care of us. "The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want."




 Psalm 30

2,4,5-6,11-12,13
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters! 

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/proclamation/14.04.18.jpg

It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

1. In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

2. But let us take a further step: the proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and he prophesies to him: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives. But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness”, as a French author said, that “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong. But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.

3. But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us. Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him. The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’ – they knew it was the Lord” (Jn 21:12). And this is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord”. Worshipping him! The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honour and glory (cf. Rev 5:11-14). I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.

Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he invites us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. To proclaim, to witness, to adore. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us. Amen.

  

 Psalm 30

2,4-6,11-13

 
Pope Francis   05.06.16     Angelus, St Peter's Square    1 Kings 17: 17-14,     Galatians 1: 11-19,     Luke 7: 11-17     Psalms 30: 2,4-6, 11-13
   
The word of God, which we have just heard, points us to the central event of our faith: God’s victory over suffering and death. It proclaims the Gospel of hope, born of Christ’s paschal mystery, whose splendour is seen on the face of the Risen Lord and reveals God our Father as one who comforts all of us in our afflictions. That word calls us to remain united to the Passion of the Lord Jesus, so that the power of his resurrection may be revealed in us.

In the Passion of Christ, we find God’s response to the desperate and at times indignant cry that the experience of pain and death evokes in us. He tells us that we cannot flee from the Cross, but must remain at its foot, as Our Lady did. In suffering with Jesus, she received the grace of hoping against all hope (cf. Rom 4:18).

This was the experience of Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, and Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, who today are proclaimed saints. They remained deeply united to the passion of Jesus, and in them the power of his resurrection was revealed.

This Sunday’s first reading and Gospel offer us amazing signs of death and resurrection. The first took place at the hand of the Prophet Isaiah, the second by Jesus. In both cases, they involved the young children of widows, who were then given back alive to their mothers.

The widow of Zarephath — a woman who was not a Jew, yet had received the Prophet Elijah in her home — was upset with the prophet and with God, because when Elijah was a guest in her home her child had taken ill and had died in her arms. Elijah says to her: “Give me your son” (1 Kings 17:19). What he says is significant. His words tell us something about God’s response to our own death, however it may come about. He does not say: “Hold on to it; sort it out yourself!” Instead, he says: “Give it to me”. And indeed the prophet takes the child and carries him to the upper room, and there, by himself, in prayer “fights with God”, pointing out to him the absurdity of that death. The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, for it was in fact he, God, who spoke and acted in the person of the prophet. It was God who, speaking through Elijah, told the woman: “Give me your son”. And now it was God who gave the child back alive to his mother.

God’s tenderness is fully revealed in Jesus. We heard in the Gospel (Lk 7:11-17) of the “great compassion” (v. 13) which Jesus felt for the widow of Nain in Galilee, who was accompanying her only son, a mere adolescent, to his burial. Jesus draws close, touches the bier, stops the funeral procession, and must have caressed that poor mother’s face bathed in tears. “Do not weep”, he says to her (Lk 7:13), as to say: “Give me your son”. Jesus asks to takes our death upon himself, to free us from it and to restore our life. The young man then awoke as if from a deep sleep and began to speak. Jesus “gave him to his mother” (v. 15). Jesus is no wizard! It is God’s tenderness incarnate; the Father’s immense compassion is at work in Jesus.

The experience of the Apostle Paul was also a kind of resurrection. From a fierce enemy and persecutor of Christians, he became a witness and herald of the Gospel (cf. Gal 1:13-17). This radical change was not his own work, but a gift of God’s mercy. God “chose” him and “called him by his grace”. “In him”, God desired to reveal his Son, so that Paul might proclaim Christ among the Gentiles (vv. 15-16). Paul says that God the Father was pleased to reveal his Son not only to him, but in him, impressing as it were in his own person, flesh and spirit, the death and resurrection of Christ. As a result, the Apostle was not only to be a messenger, but above all a witness.

So it is with each and every
sinner. Jesus constantly makes the victory of life-giving grace shine forth. Today, and every day, he says to Mother Church: “Give me your children”, which means all of us. He takes our sins upon himself, takes them away and gives us back alive to the Mother Church. All that happens in a special way during this Holy Year of Mercy.

The Church today offers us two of her children who are exemplary witnesses to this mystery of resurrection. Both can sing forever in the words of the Psalmist: “You have changed my mourning into dancing / O Lord, my God, I will thank you forever” (Ps 30:12). Let us all join in saying: “I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up” (Antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm).
  
 
Psalm 34
2-3,17-18,19,23
 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/family/27.10.13.jpg

The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

1. First: the family prays.  The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector.  The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction.  The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal.  The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words.  His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs.  Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his mercy.

The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God.  It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, “will reach to the clouds” (Sir 35:20), unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family?  Some of you do, I know.  But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does, it is clear: humbly, before God.  Each one, with humility, allowing themselves to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us.  But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace…  Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God, like the tax collector!  And all families, we need God: all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness.  And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength!  And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents….praying for each other.  This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

2. The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith.  The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning and says: “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).  But how did he keep the faith?  Not in a strong box!  Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant.  Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race.  He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, brought it to distant lands.  He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to “embalm” the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine.  That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly.  Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away, he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family?  Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness?  We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do.  But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith?  Christian families are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!  Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

3. And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy.  In the responsorial psalm we find these words: “let the humble hear and be glad” (33/34:2).  The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace.  What is the reason for this gladness?  It  is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil.  As Saint Paul himself writes: “Rejoice always … The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).  I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of “homework”.  Only you must answer.  How are things when it comes to joy at home?  Is there joy in your family?   You can answer this question.

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well...  True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.  But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all.  And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love.  God alone knows how to create harmony from differences.  But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades.  But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.  That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth!  The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!

  

  Psalm 37

3-6, 23-24, 39-40

 

"The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord” (Ps 37[36]:39). This Psalm verse, reminds us of the truth that “salvation is a gift the Lord gives”: it can’t be bought nor obtained through study, for it is always a gift, a present. But the real question is: “How to protect this salvation? What to do so this salvation remains in us and bears fruit, as Jesus explains, like a seed or kernel of mustard?” Mark (4:26-35).

Hebrews (10:32-39), there are criteria to protect this present, this gift of salvation; in order to allow this salvation to go forth and bear its fruit in us.

The first criterion is that of
memory. In fact, we read in the text: “Brethren, recall the former days, after you received the light of Christ”. Those are “the days of the first love”, as the prophets say: it is “the day of the encounter with Jesus”. Because, when we encountered Jesus, or better yet, when “He let Himself be encountered by us, for it is He who does all” — “it brought great joy, the will to do great things”, as the same author of the Letter explains. Therefore, the first criterion to protect the gift of salvation is “not to forget those first days” marked by “certain enthusiasm”: most of all, “do not forget” that “first love”.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews then goes on, emphasizing the “joy that enabled you to bear all things”, to a point when “all seemed meagre in those former days, and one went forth with enthusiasm”. The Letter exhorts us not to abandon that courage — namely ‘this honesty’ — that parrhesìa of those former days. It is indeed that “first love” which made grow within us that courage, that ‘let’s go on!’, that enthusiasm.

The call, however, is to not abandon honesty. But, “abandon” is not even the right word, if we go to the original text we find a powerful expression: “Do not throw away, do not waste, do not reject honesty”. It is like a rejection: do not push away this honesty, this courage, the courage of the former days.

This is why memory is so important, to remember the grace received. Indeed, if we push away this enthusiasm which comes from our memory of that first love, this enthusiasm which comes from the first love then what comes is that serious danger to Christians: warmth. For
lukewarm Christians stay there, idle; and yes, they are Christians, but they have forgotten that first love, they have lost their enthusiasm. What’s more, lukewarm Christians have also lost patience, that ‘tolerating’ things in life with the spirit of Jesus’ love; that ‘tolerating’, that bearing difficulties “on one’s shoulders’. This is why, lukewarm Christians, the poor souls, are in grave danger.

In this regard, there are two images which really strike me, and of which each person should be warned: “But you are lukewarm, be careful!”. St Peter, in his Second Letter, uses the image of the dog who turns back to its own vomit. And this image is distasteful, however, it is a fitting example of “the lukewarm Christian” who returns to that “first love, as if that love never existed”.

The second image, also unpleasant is the one that Jesus recounts of the person who wants to follow Him, and does follow Him, and then He casts out the
demon. This demon, who has gone out of the man, passes through the desert with the intention of returning to that man, to that woman from which he came. And when he returns, he finds the house in order, clean and nice. Thus he gets angry, goes, looks for seven demons worse than him and returns to take possession of that house. And in this way the person isn’t wounded, because it involves ‘polite’ demons: who even knock on the door to come in, but they do come in. The same happens to a lukewarm Christian who doesn’t know who is knocking at the door and opens it, even saying come in! But, Jesus says, in the end, that soul ends up even worse than before.

These two images of the warmth of the Christian make us think. This way we must never forget our first love; rather, we should always remember that first love. This is why the answer to the question how do I go on? is: “with
hope”. That is what the Letter to the Hebrews says to every Christian: For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry.

And thus there are two parameters available to the Christian: “memory and hope”. Ultimately it means reclaiming the memory so as not to lose that most beautiful experience of the first love which nourishes our hope. So often, hope is dark. But the Christian goes forward. He believes. He goes, for he knows that hope does not disappoint, to find Jesus.

These two parameters are the very framework in which we are able to protect this salvation of the righteous which comes from the Lord, this gift of the Lord. We must protect this salvation, for the little mustard seed to grow and bear its fruit. However, many Christians, cause pain, create heartache — so many Christians!. They are the many Christians who go halfway and fail along this path toward the encounter with Jesus. Even if the journey began with the encounter with Jesus, in the middle of the road, they have lost the memory of that first love and have no hope.

Ask the Lord for the grace to protect the present, the gift of salvation. It is a gift that each Christian must protect on this journey that always reclaims the memory and hope. But, He alone can give us this grace: may He send us the Holy Spirit to walk on this path.
  
 
Psalm 42
1-2
 


Dear Catechumens,

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This concluding moment of the Year of Faith sees you gathered here, with your catechists and family members, also representing many other men and women around the world who are in your same walk of faith. Spiritually, we are all connected at this moment. You come from many different countries, from different cultural traditions and experiences. Yet this evening we feel we have so many things in common among us. We especially have one: the desire for God. This desire is evoked by the words of the Psalmist: “As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42 [41]: 1-2). It is so important to keep this desire alive, this longing to behold the Lord and to experience him, to experience his love, to experience his mercy! If one ceases to thirst for the living God, faith is in danger of becoming a habit, it risks being extinguished, like a fire that is not fed. It risks becoming “rancid”, meaningless.

The Gospel account (cf. Jn 1:35-42) showed us John the Baptist who points out Jesus as the Lamb of God to his disciples. Two of them follow the Master, and then, in turn, become “mediators” who enable others to encounter the Lord, to know him and to follow him. There are three moments in this narrative that recall the experience of the catechumenate. First, there is the moment of listening. The two disciples listened to the witness of the Baptist. You too, dear Catechumens, have listened to those who have spoken to you about Jesus and suggested that you follow him by becoming his disciples through Baptism. Amid the din of many voices that echo around you and within you, you have listened and accepted the voice that points to Jesus as the One who can give full meaning to our life.

The second moment is the encounter. The two disciples encounter the Teacher and stay with him. After having encountered him, immediately they notice something new in their hearts: the need to transmit their joy to others, that they too may meet him. Andrew, in fact, meets his brother Simon and leads him to Jesus. What good it does us to meditate on this scene! It reminds us that God did not create us to be alone, closed in on ourselves, but in order to be able to encounter him and to open ourselves to encounter others. God first comes to each one of us; and this is marvellous! He comes to meet us! In the Bible God always appears as the one who takes the initiative in the encounter with man: it is he who seeks man, and usually he seeks him precisely while man is in the bitter and tragic moment of betraying God and fleeing from him. God does not wait in seeking him: he seeks him out immediately. He is a patient seeker, our Father! He goes before us and he waits for us always. He never tires of waiting for us, he is never far from us, but he has the patience to wait for the best moment to meet each one of us. And when the encounter happens, it is never rushed, because God wants to remain at length with us to sustain us, to console us, to give us his joy. God hastens to meet us, but he never rushes to leave us. He stays with us. As we long for him and desire him, so he too desires to be with us, that we may belong to him, we are his “belonging”, we are his creatures. He, too, we can say, thirsts for us, to meet us. Our God is thirsty for us. And this is God’s heart. It is so beautiful to hear this.

The last part of the narrative is walking. The two disciples walk toward Jesus and then walk a stretch of the road together with him. It is an important teaching for us all. Faith is a walk with Jesus. Remember this always: faith is walking with Jesus; and it is a walk that lasts a lifetime. At the end there shall be the definitive encounter. Certainly, at some moments on the journey we feel tired and confused. But the faith gives us the certainty of Jesus’ constant presence in every situation, even the most painful or difficult to understand. We are called to walk in order to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of the love of God, which reigns over us and permits us to live in serenity and hope.

Dear catechumens, today you begin the journey of the catechumenate. My wish for you is to follow it with joy, sure of the entire Church’s support, who is watching over you with great trust. May Mary, the perfect disciple, accompany you: it is beautiful to have her as our Mother in faith! I invite you to guard the enthusiasm of that first moment in which he opened your eyes to the light of faith; to remember, like the beloved disciple, the day, the hour in which for the first time you stayed with Jesus, felt his gaze upon you. Never forget the gaze of Jesus upon you; upon you, upon you... never forget his gaze! It is a gaze of love. And thus you shall be forever certain of the Lord’s faithful love. He is faithful. Be assured: he will never betray you!

  

 Psalm 46

2-3, 5-6, 8-9

 
Pope Francis   09.11.19  St John's Basilica, Lateran        Ezekiel 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12,       Psalms 46: 2-3, 5-6, 8-9,      1 Corinthians 3: 9c-11, 16-17,      John 2: 13-22
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Pope Francis 09.11.19 St John's Basilica, Lateran

Tonight, in this celebration of dedication, I would like to take three verses from the Word of God and offer them to you, so that you can meditate and pray over them.

The first I feel is addressed to everyone, to the entire diocesan community of Rome. It is the verse of the Psalm: "A river and its streams gladden the city of God" (46:5). The Christians who live in this city are like the river that flows from the temple: they bring a Word of life and hope capable of fertilizing the deserts of hearts, as the stream described in the vision of Ezekiel (cf. 47) that fertilizes the desert of Araba and restores the salty and lifeless waters of the Dead Sea. The important thing is that the stream comes out of the temple and flows to hostile-looking lands. The city can only rejoice when it sees Christians become joyful announcers, determined to share with others the treasures of God's Word and to work for the common good. The land that seemed destined to remain dry forever, reveals an extraordinary potential: it becomes a garden with evergreen trees and leaves and fruits with healing power. Ezekiel explains the reason for so much fertility: "Their waters flow from the sanctuary" (47:12). God is the secret of this new life force!

May the Lord rejoice at seeing us on the move, ready to listen with our hearts to His poor who cry out to Him. May the Mother Church of Rome experience the consolation of seeing once again the obedience and courage of her children, full of enthusiasm for this new season of
evangelization. Meeting others, entering into dialogue with them, listening to them with humility, graciousness and poverty of heart... I invite you to live all this not as something stressful, but with spiritual ease: instead of getting caught up in performance anxieties, it is more important to broaden our perception in order to grasp God's presence and action in the city. It is a contemplation born of love.

To you priests I want to dedicate a verse of the second Reading, of the First Letter to the Corinthians: "No-one can lay a foundation other than the one that is already there, which is Jesus Christ"(3:11). This is your task, the heart of your ministry: to help the community be always at the Lord's feet listening to His Word; to keep it away from all worldliness, from bad compromises; to guard the foundation and blessed roots of the spiritual building; to defend it from rapacious wolves, from those who would like to divert it from the way of the Gospel. Like Paul, you too are "wise architects" (cf. 3:10), wise because you are well aware that any other idea or reality we wanted to place at the base of the Church instead of the Gospel, might perhaps guarantee us more success, perhaps more immediate gratification, but it would inevitably lead to the collapse, the collapse of the whole spiritual building!

Since I have been Bishop of Rome, I have come to know many of you priests more closely: I have admired your faith and love for the Lord, your closeness to the people and generosity in caring for the poor. You know the city's neighbourhoods like no other and keep in your heart the faces, smiles and tears of so many people. You have set aside ideological differences and personal ambition to make room for what God asks of you. The realism of those who have their feet on the ground and know "how things are in this world" has not prevented you from flying high with the Lord and dreaming big. God bless you. May the joy of intimacy with Him be the truest reward for all the good you do on a daily basis.

And finally a verse for you, members of the pastoral teams, who are here to receive a special mandate from the Bishop. I could only choose him from the Gospel(John 2:13-22), where Jesus behaves in a divinely provocative way. In order to shake the dullness of people and induce them to radical changes, sometimes Jesus chooses to take strong action, to break through the situation. With his action Jesus wants to produce a change of pace, a turnaround. Many saints had acted in the same way: some of their actions, incomprehensible by human logic, were the result of insights that came from the Spirit and were intended to provoke their contemporaries and help them understand that "my thoughts are not your thoughts," as God says through the prophet Isaiah (55:8).

In order to understand todays Gospel passage, we need to stress an important detail. The merchants were in the courtyard of the pagans, the place accessible to non-Jews. This very courtyard had been turned into a market. But God wants his temple to be a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56,7). Hence Jesus' decision to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive out the animals. This purification of the sanctuary was necessary for Israel to rediscover its vocation: to be light for all people, a small nation chosen to serve to the salvation that God wants to give to everyone. Jesus knows that this provocation will cost him dearly. And when they ask him, "What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this ?" (v. 18), the Lord responds by saying, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it"( v. 19).

And tonight this is exactly the verse that I want to give to you, pastoral teams. You are entrusted with the task of helping your communities and pastoral workers reach all the inhabitants of the city, finding new ways to meet those who are far from the faith and the Church. But, in fulfilling this service, you carry within yourselves this awareness, this trust: that there is no human heart in which Christ does not want to be and cannot be reborn. In our lives as sinners, we often turn away from the Lord and extinguish the Spirit. We destroy the temple of God that is in each of us. Yet this is never a definitive situation: it takes the Lord three days to rebuild his temple within us!

No one, no matter how wounded by evil, is condemned to be separated from God on this earth forever. In a way that is often mysterious but real, the Lord opens new cracks in our hearts, the desire for truth, goodness and beauty, which make room for evangelization. We may sometimes encounter mistrust and hostility: but we must not allow ourselves to be blocked, rather to hold onto the belief that it takes God three days to raise His Son in someone's heart. It is also the story of some of us: profound conversions resulting from the unpredictable action of grace! I think of the Second Vatican Council: "Christ has died for all and since the ultimate vocation of humanity is in fact one, the divine one; therefore we must believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to everyone the possibility of being associated with the Easter mystery" (Cost. past. Gaudium et spes, 22).

May the Lord let us experience this in all our evangelizing action. May we can grow in faith in the Easter Mystery and be associated with His "zeal" for our house. And may you be blessed on your journey!
  

Psalm 67

2,3,5,6,8


Pope Francis    17.08.14 
Holy Mass, Haemi Castle, Korea     6th Asian Youth Day    Psalm 67: 2,3,5,6,8,     Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32,      Matthew 15: 21-28

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A


Dear Young Friends,

The glory of the martyrs shines upon you! These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all. Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ. He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives! The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant. With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.

The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation. The other part of this Day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up! – speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility. Let us consider for a moment each of these words.

First, the word “Asian”. You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia. Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love. The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!

As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions. Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death.

Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”. You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture. In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.

As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present! You are Church’s present! Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.

In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted. It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!”. The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ. It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!” It is often a cry which rises from our own hearts as well: “Lord, help me!” Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in the way of our being close to the Lord. No! We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy and compassion.

Finally, the third part of this Day’s theme – “Wake up!” – This word speaks of a responsibility which the Lord gives you. It is the duty to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel. Today’s responsorial psalm invites us constantly to “be glad and sing for joy”. No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice. I don’t like to see young people who are sleeping. No! Wake up! Go! Go Forward! Dear young people, “God, our God, has blessed us!” (Ps 67:6); from him we have “received mercy” (Rom 11:30). Assured of God’s love, go out to the world so that, “by the mercy shown to you”, they – your friends, co-workers, neighbours, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – “may now receive the mercy of God” (cf. Rom 11:31). It is by his mercy that we are saved.

Dear young people of Asia, it is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy. Now, as we approach the table of the Eucharist, let us turn to our Mother Mary, who brought Jesus to the world. Yes, Mother Mary, we long to have Jesus; in your maternal affection help us to bring him to others, to serve him faithfully, and to honour him in every time and place, in this country and throughout Asia. Amen.

Asian youth, wake up!

  

 Psalm 71

1-19


Pope Francis       28.09.14 
 Holy Mass for the Elderly, St Peter's Square      Sirach 3: 1-8,        Psalm 71: 1-19,        1 Timothy 5: 1-8,       Luke 1: 39-45


Today we accept the Gospel we have just heard as a Gospel of encounter: the encounter between young and old, an encounter full of joy, full of faith, and full of hope.

Mary is young, very young. Elizabeth is elderly, yet God’s mercy was manifested in her and for six months now, with her husband Zechariah, she has been expecting a child.

Here too, Mary shows us the way: she set out to visit her elderly kinswoman, to stay with her, to help her, of course, but also and above all to learn from her – an elderly person – a wisdom of life.

Today’s first reading echoes in various ways the Fourth Commandment: “Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex 20:12). A people has no future without such an encounter between generations, without children being able to accept with gratitude the witness of life from the hands of their parents. And part of this gratitude for those who gave you life is also gratitude for our heavenly Father.

There are times when generations of young people, for complex historical and cultural reasons, feel a deeper need to be independent from their parents, “breaking free”, as it were, from the legacy of the older generation. It is a kind of adolescent rebellion. But unless the encounter, the meeting of generations, is re-established, unless a new and fruitful intergenerational equilibrium is restored, what results is a serious impoverishment for everyone, and the freedom which prevails in society is actually a false freedom, which almost always becomes a form of authoritarianism.

We hear the same message in the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy and, through him, to the Christian community. Jesus did not abolish the law of the family and the passing of generations, but brought it to fulfilment. The Lord formed a new family, in which bonds of kinship are less important than our relationship with him and our doing the will of God the Father. Yet the love of Jesus and the Father completes and fulfils our love of parents, brothers and sisters, and grandparents; it renews family relationships with the lymph of the Gospel and of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Saint Paul urges Timothy, who was a pastor and hence a father to the community, to show respect for the elderly and members of families. He tells him to do so like a son: treating “older men as fathers”, “older women as mothers” and “younger women as sisters” (cf. 1 Tim 5:1). The head of the community is not exempt from following the will of God in this way; indeed, the love of Christ impels him to do so with an even greater love. Like the Virgin Mary, who, though she became the mother of the Messiah, felt herself driven by the love of God taking flesh within her to hasten to her elderly relative.

And so we return to this “icon” full of joy and hope, full of faith and charity. We can imagine that the Virgin Mary, visiting the home of Elizabeth, would have heard her and her husband Zechariah praying in the words of today’s responsorial psalm: “You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth… Do not cast me off in the time of old age, do not forsake me when my strength is spent... Even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come” (Ps 71:5,9,18). The young Mary listened, and she kept all these things in her heart. The wisdom of Elizabeth and Zechariah enriched her young spirit. They were no experts in parenthood; for them too it was the first pregnancy. But they were experts in faith, experts in God, experts in the hope that comes from him: and this is what the world needs in every age. Mary was able to listen to those elderly and amazed parents; she treasured their wisdom, and it proved precious for her in her journey as a woman, as a wife and as a mother.

The Virgin Mary likewise shows us the way: the way of encounter between the young and the elderly. The future of a people necessarily supposes this encounter: the young give the strength which enable a people to move forward, while the elderly consolidate this strength by their memory and their traditional wisdom.

  

 Psalm 85

8-14


Pope Francis       12.07.15
 Holy Mass Campo Grande, Ñu Guazú, Asuncion, Paraguay       Psalm 85: 8-14,      Mark 6: 7-13

Pope Francis Welcoming others 12.07.15

“The Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase”. These are the words of the Psalm. We are invited to celebrate this mysterious communion between God and his People, between God and us. The rain is a sign of his presence, in the earth tilled by our hands. It reminds us that our communion with God always brings forth fruit, always gives life. This confidence is born of faith, from knowing that we depend on grace, which will always transform and nourish our land.

It is a confidence which is learned, which is taught. A confidence nurtured within a community, in the life of a family. A confidence which radiates from the faces of all those people who encourage us to follow Jesus, to be disciples of the One who can never deceive. A disciple knows that he or she is called to have this confidence; we feel Jesus’s invitation to be his friend, to share his lot, his very life. “No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”. The disciples are those who learn how to live trusting in the friendship offered by Jesus.

The Gospel speaks to us of this kind of discipleship. It shows us the identity card of the Christian. Our calling card, our credentials.

Jesus calls his disciples and sends them out, giving them clear and precise instructions. He challenges them to take on a whole range of attitudes and ways of acting. Sometimes these can strike us as exaggerated or even absurd. It would be easier to interpret these attitudes symbolically or “spiritually”. But Jesus is quite precise, very clear. He doesn’t tell them simply to do whatever they think they can.

Let us think about some of these attitudes: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money...” “When you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” (cf. Mk 6:8-11). All this might seem quite unrealistic.

We could concentrate on the words, “bread”, “money”, “bag”, “staff”, “sandals” and “tunic”. And this would be fine. But it strikes me that one key word can easily pass unnoticed among the challenging words I have just listed. It is a word at the heart of Christian spirituality, of our experience of discipleship: “welcome”. Jesus as the good master, the good teacher, sends them out to be welcomed, to experience hospitality. He says to them: “Where you enter a house, stay there”. He sends them out to learn one of the hallmarks of the community of believers. We might say that a Christian is someone who has learned to welcome others, who has learned to show hospitality.

Jesus does not send them out as men of influence, landlords, officials armed with rules and regulations. Instead, he makes them see that the Christian journey is simply about changing hearts. One’s own heart first all, and then helping to transform the hearts of others. It is about learning to live differently, under a different law, with different rules. It is about turning from the path of selfishness, conflict, division and superiority, and taking instead the path of life, generosity and love. It is about passing from a mentality which domineers, stifles and manipulates to a mentality which welcomes, accepts and cares.

These are two contrasting mentalities, two ways of approaching our life and our mission.

How many times do we see mission in terms of plans and programs. How many times do we see evangelization as involving any number of strategies, tactics, manoeuvres, techniques, as if we could convert people on the basis of our own arguments. Today the Lord says to us quite clearly: in the mentality of the Gospel, you do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by simply learning how to welcome them.

The Church is a mother with an open heart. She knows how to welcome and accept, especially those in need of greater care, those in greater difficulty. The Church, as desired by Jesus, is the home of hospitality. And how much good we can do, if only we try to speak this language of hospitality, this language of receiving and welcoming. How much pain can be soothed, how much despair can be allayed in a place where we feel at home! This requires open doors, especially the doors of our heart. Welcoming the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner (Mt 25:34-37), the leper and the paralytic. Welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it. And sometimes, we are to blame. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, of which our earth is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners, because each one of us is also a sinner.

So often we forget that there is an evil underlying our sins, that precedes our sins. There is a bitter root which causes damage, great damage, and silently destroys so many lives. There is an evil which, bit by bit, finds a place in our hearts and eats away at our life: it is isolation. Isolation which can have many roots, many causes. How much it destroys our life and how much harm it does us. It makes us turn our back on others, God, the community. It makes us closed in on ourselves. From here we see that the real work of the Church, our mother, should not be mainly about managing works and projects, but rather about learning to experience fraternity with others. A welcome-filled fraternity is the best witness that God is our Father, for “by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

In this way, Jesus teaches us a new way of thinking. He opens before us a horizon brimming with life, beauty, truth and fulfilment.

God never closes off horizons; he is never unconcerned about the lives and sufferings of his children. God never allows himself to be outdone in generosity. So he sends us his Son, he gives him to us, he hands him over, he shares him... so that we can learn the way of fraternity, of self-giving. In a definitive way, he opens up a new horizon; he is a new word which sheds light on so many situations of exclusion, disintegration, loneliness and isolation. He is a word which breaks the silence of loneliness.

And when we are weary or worn down by our efforts to evangelize, it is good to remember that the life which Jesus holds out to us responds to the deepest needs of people. “We were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters” (Evangelii Gaudium, 265).

On thing is sure: we cannot force anyone to receive us, to welcome us; this is itself part of our poverty and freedom. But neither can anyone force us not to be welcoming, hospitable in the lives of our people. No one can tell us not to accept and embrace the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who have lost hope and zest for life. How good it would be to think of our parishes, communities, chapels, wherever there are Christians, with open doors, true centres of encounter between ourselves and God.

The Church is a mother, like Mary. In her, we have a model. We too must provide a home, like Mary, who did not lord it over the word of God, but rather welcomed that word, bore it in her womb and gave it to others.

We too must provide a home, like the earth, which does not choke the seed, but receives it, nourishes it and makes it grow.

That is how we want to be Christians, that is how we want to live the faith on this Paraguayan soil, like Mary, accepting and welcoming God’s life in our brothers and sisters, in confidence and with the certainty that “the Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase”. May it be so.

  
 

2, 3, 21-22,25,27
 
Pope Francis 28.03.13 Chrism Mass

The readings and the Psalm of our Mass speak of God’s “anointed ones”: the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God’s faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed… A fine image of this “being for” others can be found in the Psalm 133: “It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe” (v. 2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe....
From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn now to a consideration of activity, action. The precious oil which anoints the head of Aaron does more than simply lend fragrance to his person; it overflows down to “the edges”. The Lord will say this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone. My dear brothers, the ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter.
A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed: this is a clear proof. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me Father”, “Pray for me” – these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into a prayer of supplication, the supplication of the People of God. When we have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal – but only apparently so – the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it. To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples – future priests – see or understand: on the “existential outskirts”, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.
We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.
The priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say “not at all” because, thank God, the people take the oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, “has already received his reward”, and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason for the dissatisfaction of some, who end up sad – sad priests - in some sense becoming collectors of antiques or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with “the odour of the sheep”. This I ask you: be shepherds, with the “odour of the sheep”, make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men. True enough, the so-called crisis of priestly identity threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis; but if we can resist its onslaught, we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and cast our nets. It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to “put out into the deep”, where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is “unction” – not function – and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.
Dear lay faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.
Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those “outskirts” where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen




Pope Francis  07.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Psalm 89: 2-3, 21-22, 25,27      Acts 13: 13-25

Pope Francis Belonging 07.05.20

Yesterday I received a letter from a group of artists: they thanked us for our prayer for them. I would like to ask the Lord to bless them because artists make us understand what beauty is and without beauty the Gospel cannot be understood. Let's pray again for the artists.

When Paul is invited to speak at the synagogue in Antioch, in Pisidia, to explain this new doctrine, that is to explain Jesus, to proclaim Jesus, Paul begins by talking about the history of salvation (Acts 13: 13-25). Paul got up and began: "The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt" ( 13: 17). All of salvation, the history of salvation. So did Stephen before his martyrdom ( Acts 7: 1-54) and Paul another time. So does the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, when he tells the story of Abraham and all of our fore-fathers ( Heb 11: 1-39). We sang the same thing today, we sang: "Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord, through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness" (Psalm 89: 2). We sang David's story: "I have found David, my servant" (89: 21). So do Matthew ( Mt 1: 1-14) and Luke (Luke 3: 23-38): when they begin to talk about Jesus, they start with the genealogy of Jesus.

What is before Jesus? There's a history. A story of grace, a story of election, a story of promise. The Lord chose Abraham and went with his people. At the beginning of Mass, in the antiphon, we said, "When you advanced, Lord, before your people and you opened your path and walked beside your people, close to your people." There is a history of God with his people. And that's why when Paul is asked to explain why faith in Jesus Christ he does not begin with Jesus Christ: he begins with history. Christianity is a doctrine, yes, but not only. It is not only the things that we believe, it is a history that leads to this doctrine that is the promise of God, the covenant of God, being chosen by God.
Christianity is not just an ethic. Yes, it is true, it has moral principles, but one is not a Christian only with an ethical vision. It's more than that. 

Christianity is not an elite of people chosen for the truth. This elitist sense that then goes on in the Church, doesn't it? For example, I am of that institution, I belong to this movement that is better than yours, to this, to that other... It's a sense of elitism. No, Christianity is not this: Christianity belongs to a people, to a people freely chosen by God . If we do not have this awareness of belonging to a people, we will be ideological Christians, with a small doctrine of affirmation of truth, with ethics, with morality – it is fine – or with an elite. We feel part of a group chosen by God – Christians – and others will go to hell or if they are saved it is by God's mercy, but they are the discarded. And so on. If we do not have an awareness of belonging to a people, we are not true Christians.

This is why Paul explains Jesus from the beginning, from belonging to a people. And so often, so often, we fall into these partialities, whether dogmatic, moral or elitist, don't we? The sense of the elite is what hurts us so much and we lose that sense of belonging to the holy faithful people of God, whom God chose in Abraham and promised, the great promise, Jesus, and made him go with hope and made a covenant with him. Awareness of a people.

Something that always strikes me; is that passage of Deuteronomy, I think it is Chapter 26, when it says: "Once a year you will go to present the offerings, the first fruits, to the Lord, and when your son asks you, 'But dad why are you doing this?', you are not to say to him that God commanded us, no: we were a people, we were like this and the Lord freed us...'" ( Dt 26: 1-11). Tell the story, as Paul did here. Transmit the history of our salvation. The Lord in Deuteronomy himself advises: "When you arrive in the land that you have not conquered, that I have conquered, and you eat the fruit that you have not planted and you inhabit the houses that you have not built, when you give the first fruits recite the famous creed that's in Deuteronomy: "My father was a wandering Aramean, who went down to Egypt. He was there for 400 years, then the Lord freed him, and brought him forward." They sang the history, the memory of the people, of being a people.

And in this story of the people of God, until we get to Jesus Christ, there were saints, sinners and many ordinary people, good, with virtues and sins, but everyone. The famous "crowd" that followed Jesus, who had the sense of belonging to a people. A self-proclaimed Christian who does not have this sense is not a true Christian; he's a little particular and feels justified without the people. Belonging to a people, to have the memory of God's people. And this is taught by Paul, Stephen, another time Paul, the apostles. And the advice of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews: "Remember your ancestors" ( Heb 11:2), that is, those who preceded us on this path of salvation.

If someone asked me, "What is the deviation of Christians today and always for you? What would be the most dangerous deviation of Christians for you?", I would say without doubt: the lack of memory of belonging to a people. When this is missing comes dogmatism, moralism, ethicisms, elitist movements. The people are missing. A sinful people, always, we all are, but who are not wrong in general, who have the sense of being a chosen people, who walk behind a promise and who has made a covenant that we may not fulfil, but which we know.

Let us ask the Lord for this awareness of the people, which Our Lady beautifully sang in her Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-56), that Zachariah sang so beautifully in his Benedictus (cf. Luke 1: 67-79), hymns that we sing every day, in the morning and evening. Awareness of the people: we are the holy faithful people of God who, as the Vatican Councils say, the first and then the second,in its totality with the sense of faith is infallible in this way of believing.

  
 
Psalm 95
1
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

Dear Young Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  
 
Psalm 98

1-4
 
Pope Francis   09.05.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Psalm 98: 1-4,     Acts 13: 44-52
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Pope Francis The Power of God 09.05.20

Today is the commemoration of Saint Luisa de Marillac. Let us pray for the Vincentian sisters who have been running this clinic, this hospital for almost 100 years and have worked here, in Santa Marta, for this hospital. May the Lord bless the sisters.


We recited in the Psalm "Sing a new song to the Lord for he has done wondrous deeds. His right hand and his holy arm have gave him victory. The Lord has made his salvation known. He has revealed his justice to the nations." (Psalm 98: 1-2) This is true. The Lord has done marvellous things but with how much effort. How much effort for Christian communities to carry on these marvellous deeds of Lord. We have heard in the Acts of the Apostles the joy (Acts 13: 44-52): the whole city of Antioch gathered to hear the word of the Lord, because Paul and the apostles preached strongly and the Holy Spirit helped them. But "when they saw the crowds, the Jews were filled with jealousy, and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said." (: 45).

On the one hand there is the Lord, there is the Holy Spirit that makes the Church grow, and grow more and more, this is true. But on the other hand is the evil spirit that seeks to destroy the Church. It's always like that. Always like this. You go on, but then comes the enemy trying to destroy. The balance is always positive in the long run, but how much effort, how much pain, how much martyrdom!
 
This happened here, in Antioch, and it happens everywhere in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Think, for example, of Lystra, when they arrived and healed a crippled man and everyone believed they were gods and wanted to make sacrifices, and all the people were with them (Acts 14: 8-18). Then the others came and convinced them that it was not so. And how did Paul and his companion end up? Stoned ( Acts 14:9). Always this battle. Let us think of the magician Elymas, how he stopped the Gospel from reaching the consul (Acts 13: 6-12). Let us think of the owners of that girl who was a fortune teller: they exploited the girl, because she "read palms" and received the money that went into the pockets of her owners. And when Paul and the apostles showed others this lie that was not going well, immediately there was the revolution against them ( Acts 16: 16-24). Think of the artisans of the goddess Artèmis who lost business because they could not sell those figurines, because people no longer bought them, because they had converted. And so, one after the other. On the one hand, the Word of God that summons, that makes persecution grow, on the other hand persecution, and great persecution because it ends by driving them away, beating them.

And what is the devil's tool for destroying the Gospel proclamation? Envy. The Book of Wisdom says it clearly: "Because of the devils envy sin entered the world (Wisdom 2: 24) – envy, jealousy, here. Always this bitter, bitter feeling. These people saw how the Gospel was preached and they got angry, they were inflamed by anger. And this anger carried them on: it is the anger of the devil, it is the anger that destroys, the anger of that "crucify him! crucify him!"; of that torture of Jesus. It wants to destroy. Always. Always.
Seeing this battle, that very beautiful saying also applies to us: "The Church goes forward between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world" (cf. St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XVIII, 51,2). A Church that has no difficulty lacks something. The devil is too calm. And if the devil is calm, things are not going well. Always difficulty, temptation, struggle. Jealousy that destroys. The Holy Spirit makes the harmony of the Church, and the evil spirit destroys. Even today. Even today. Always this struggle. The instrument of this jealousy, of this envy, is the temporal power. Here it tells us that "the Jews incited the women of prominence who were worshipers"(Acts 13:50). They went to these women and said, "These are revolutionaries, expel them." The women talked to the others and expelled them: they were the women of prominence who were worshipers and also the leading men of the city (v:50). Those who have temporal power; and temporal power can be good: people can be good, but power of itself is always dangerous. The power of the world against the power of God moves all this; and always behind this, behind that power, is money.

What happens in the early Church: the work of the Holy Spirit to build the Church, to harmonize the Church, and the work of the evil spirit to destroy it, and the use of temporal powers to stop the Church, destroy the Church, is nothing more than a development of what happens on the morning of the Resurrection. The soldiers, seeing that triumph, went to the priests, and the priests "bought" the truth. And the truth has been silenced (Mt 28: 11-15). From the first morning of the Resurrection, the triumph of Christ, there is this betrayal, this silencing the word of Christ, silencing the triumph of the Resurrection with temporal power: the high priests and money.

Let us be careful, let us be careful with the preaching of the Gospel: never fall into putting trust in temporal powers and money. The trust of Christians is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that he has sent! And it is precisely the Holy Spirit that is the yeast, it is the strength that makes the Church grow! Yes, the Church goes forward, in peace, with resignation, joyful: between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world.
  
 
Psalm 100
1,2,3,5
 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/priests/21.04.13.jpg

Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation and prayer, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.

In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.

Now, my dear brothers and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy.  Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith!  They transmitted to you this gift of faith.  Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach.  Remember too that the word of God is not your property: it is the word of God.  And the Church is the custodian of the word of God.

In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.

You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance.  Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful.  You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.  You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.

 Psalm 103

1B-4,  8-11

 

This is a true example of familiarity and respect for God. Abraham was more than 100 years old. He had been conversing with the Lord for a good 25 years and was well acquainted with him and so could ask the Lord “what to do with that sinful city”. Abraham feels “strong enough to speak to the Lord face to face and seeks to defend the city. He is insistent”.

The first thing we notice in the Bible, is the affirmation that “
prayer must be courageous”. When we speak of courage “we always think of apostolic courage” that spurs us “to go and preach the Gospel”. But there is also courage in standing before the Lord... in going bravely to the Lord to ask him things”. Abraham insists and “from 50, he manages to get the price down to 10”, although he knows it is impossible to save sinful cities from punishment.

How often we must have found ourselves praying for someone. But if a person wants the Lord to grant a grace he must go courageously and do what Abraham did with insistence, Jesus himself tells us we must pray like this. Abraham had been with the Lord for 25 years, he had acquired familiarity with him so he dared to embark on this form of prayer. Insistence, courage. It is tiring, true, but this is prayer. This is what receiving a grace from God is.

He does not say ‘poor things, they will be burned.... but ‘forgive them’. Do you want to do this? You who are so good, do you want to do the same to the wicked as to the righteous? Of course not! He takes the arguments of God’s own heart. “Convince the Lord with the virtues of the Lord and this is beautiful”.

The suggestion is to go to the Lord’s heart. Jesus teaches us: the Father knows things. Do not worry, the Father sends rain on the righteous and on sinners, he causes the sun to rise on the righteous and on sinners.

I would like us all to take up the Bible, starting today, and to recite slowly Psalm 103[102]: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul’.... Pray it all and in this way we will learn what to say to the Lord when we ask for a grace.



Pope Francis   27.06.14  Holy Mass, Square, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Faculty of Medicine and Surgery     Deuteronomy 7: 6-11,   Psalm 103: 1-4, 6-8, 10, Matthew 11: 25-30          Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus


“The Lord set his love upon you and chose you” (Dt 7:7).

God is bound to us, he chose us, and this bond is for ever, not so much because we are faithful, but because the Lord is faithful and endures our faithlessness, our indolence, our lapses.

God was not afraid to bind himself. This may seem odd to us: at times we call God “the Absolute”, which literally means “free, independent, limitless”; but in reality our Father is always and only “absolute” in love: he made the Covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, with Jacob for love, and so forth. He loves bonds, he creates bonds; bonds that liberate, that do not restrict.

We repeated with the Psalm that “the love of the Lord is everlasting” (cf. Ps 103[102]:17). However, another Psalm states about we men and women: “the faithful have vanished from among the sons of men” (cf. Ps 12[11]:1). Today especially, faith is a value that is in crisis because we are always prompted to seek change, supposed innovation, negotiating the foundation of our existence, of our faith. Without faithfulness at its foundation, however, a society does not move forward, it can make great technical progress, but not a progress that is integral to all that is human and to all human beings.

God’s steadfast love for his people is manifest and wholly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who, in order to honour God’s bond with his people, he made himself our slave, stripped himself of his glory and assumed the form of a servant. Out of love he did not surrender to our ingratitude, not even in the face of rejection. St Paul reminds us: “If we are faithless, he, Jesus, remains faithful for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tm 2:13). Jesus remains faithful, he never betrays us: even when we were wrong, He always waits for us to forgive us: He is the face of the merciful Father.

This love, this steadfastness of the Lord manifests the humility of His heart: Jesus did not come to conquer men like the kings and the powerful of this world, but He came to offer love with gentleness and humility. This is how He defined himself: “learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). And the significance of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we are celebrating today, is to discover ever more and to let ourselves be enfolded by the humble faithfulness and the gentleness of Christ’s love, revelation of the Father’s mercy. We can experience and savour the tenderness of this love at every stage of life: in times of joy and of sadness, in times of good health and of frailty and those of sickness.

God’s faithfulness teaches us to accept life as a circumstance of his love and he allows us to witness this love to our brothers and sisters in humble and gentle service. This is what doctors and healthcare workers in particular are called to do in this Polyclinic of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. Here, each of you brings a bit of the love of the Heart of Christ to the sick, and you do so with proficiency and professionalism. This means remaining faithful to the founding values that Fr Gemelli established as the foundation of the Italian Catholic University, to unite scientific research enlightened by faith with the education of skilled Christian professionals.
Dear brothers and sisters, in Christ we contemplate God’s faithfulness. Every act, every word of Jesus reveals the merciful and steadfast love of the Father. And so before him we ask ourselves: how is my love for my neighbour? Do I know how to be faithful? Or am I inconsistent, following my moods and impulses? Each of us can answer in our own mind. But above all we can say to the Lord: Lord Jesus, render my heart ever more like yours, full of love and faithfulness.



 

 Psalm 104

1-2A,5,6,10,12,24, 30, 35C

 
Pope Francis             06.02.17   Holy Mass  Santa Marta           Genesis 1: 1-19,          Psalm 104: 1-2A, 5,6,10,12,24,35C,         Mark 6: 53-56 
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/creation/06.02.17.png

In Psalm 104, “we praised the Lord”, saying: “You are very great, O Lord, my God! You are great indeed!”. This Psalm, is a song of praise: we praise the Lord for the things we heard in both readings, for creation, so great; and in the second reading, for the re-creation, the even more wondrous creation that Jesus makes. The Father labours and thus, Jesus says: ‘My Father labours and I too labour”. It is a way of saying ‘labour’, ad instar laborantis, as one who labours, as Saint Ignatius defines in the Exercises (cf. Spiritual Exercises, n. 236).

In this way, the Father labours to make this wonder of creation, and with the Son to make this wonder of re-creation; to make that passing from chaos to cosmos, from disorder to order, from sin to grace. And, this is the Father’s labour and for this reason we praised the Father, the Father who labours.

But, “why did God want to create the world?”. This is one of the difficult questions. Once, a boy put me in difficulty because he asked me this question: ‘tell me, Father, what did God do before he created the world;  was he bored?”. Surely, children know how to ask questions, and they ask the right questions that put you in difficulty.

To answer that child, the Lord helped me and I told the truth: God loved; in his fullness, he loved, among the three Persons, he loved and needed nothing more. The answer, gave rise to another question: if God “needed nothing more, why did he create the world? This is a question, not posed in a childlike manner but as the first theologians did, the great theologians, the first. Thus, why did God “create the world?”. The response to give is this: “Simply to share his fullness, to have someone whom to give and with whom to share his fullness”. In a word, “to give”.

We can ask “the same question, in regard to re-creation: “why did he send his Son for this work of re-creation?”. He did so “in order to share, to re-organize”. And in the first creation, as in the second, he makes out of chaos a cosmos, out of ugliness something beautiful, out of a mistake a truth, out of bad something good. This is precisely the labour of creation that is God, and one he does by hand. And, in Jesus we clearly see: with his body he gives life completely. Thus, “when Jesus says: ‘The Father labours always, and I too labour always ’, the doctors of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him because they did not know how to receive the things of God as a gift, but “only as justice”; and so they even came to think: the commandments are few: let’s make more!

Thus, instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid; they sought refuge in the rigidity of the commandments, which they had increased up to 500 or more: they did not know how to receive the gift. The gift, is only received with freedom, but these rigid men were afraid of God-given freedom; they were afraid of love. For this reason, they wanted to kill Jesus, because He said the Father had done this wonder as a gift: receive the gift of the Father!

You are great, Lord, I love you, because you have given me this gift, you have saved me, you created me: this, is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the cheerfulness of Christian life. It is not that closed, sad prayer of people who are never able to receive a gift because they are afraid of the freedom that a gift always brings. Thus, in the end, they know only duty, but a closed duty: slaves to duty, but not to love. But, when you become a slave to love you are free: it is a beautiful slavery, but they did not understand this.

Therefore, these are the two wonders of the Lord: the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, of re-creation; that of the beginning of the world and that, after the fall of man, of restoring the world and this is why he sent the Son: it is beautiful. Of course, we can ask ourselves how I receive these wonders, how I receive this creation God has given me as a gift. And, if I receive it as a gift, I love creation, I safeguard creation because it was a gift.

In this light, we should ask ourselves: how I receive redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, making me a son or daughter with his Son, with love, with tenderness, with freedom. We must never hide in the rigidity of closed commandments that are always, always more ‘certain’ — in quotation marks — but which give you no joy because they do not make you free. Each one of us, can ask ourselves how we can live these two wonders: the wonder of creation and the even greater wonder of re-creation. We must do so with the hope that the Lord will help us understand this great thing and help us understand what he did before creating the world: he loved. May he help us understand his love for us and may we say — as we have said today — ‘You are very great, O Lord. Thank you, thank you!’”. And let us go forth in this way.


Pope Francis  22.04.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace   Catechesis on the occasion of the 50th Earth Day   Genesis 2: 4-7     Psalm 104:30
Pope Francis Care for our Common Home - Earth Day 22.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we celebrate the 50th Earth Day. It is an opportunity to renew our commitment to love and care for our common home and the weakest members of our family. Just as the tragic coronavirus pandemic is showing us, only together and by embracing the most vulnerable, can we overcome global challenges. The Laudato Si Encyclical Letter has just this subtitle: "on the care for our common home". Today we will reflect a little together on this responsibility that characterizes "our passage on this earth" (LS, 160). We must grow in our awareness of the care for our common home.

We are made of earthly matter, and the fruits of the earth sustain our lives. But, as the book of Genesis reminds us, we are not simply "earthly": we also carry in us the vital breath that comes from God (cf. Gen 2:4-7). We therefore live in this common home as one human family and in biodiversity with the other creatures of God. As an imago Dei, the image of God, we are called to care of and respect all creatures and to nurture love and compassion for our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest, in imitation of God's love for us, manifested in his Son Jesus, who became a man to share this situation with us and save us.

Because of selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility as custodians and stewards of the earth. "But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair"(ibid., 61). We polluted it, we plundered it, endangering our own lives. For this reason, various international and local movements have been formed to awaken our consciences. I sincerely appreciate these initiatives, and it will still be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us what is obvious, namely that there is no future for us if we destroy the environment that sustains us.

We have failed to care for the earth, our garden home, and in caring for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours and, ultimately, against the Creator, the good Father who provides for everyone and wants us to live together in communion and prosperity. And how does the earth react? There is a Spanish saying that is very clear in this, and says thus: "God always forgives; we men and women forgive sometimes and sometimes we don't; the earth never forgives." The earth does not forgive: if we have made the earth deteriorate, the response will be very ugly.

How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship ... So often we lose the vision of harmony: harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even in our common home, on the earth, also in our relationship with the people, with our neighbours, with the poorest, how can we restore this harmony? We need a new way of looking at our common home. Let's understand each other, it is not a store house of resources to be exploited. For us believers, the natural world is the "Gospel of Creation", which expresses God's creative power in shaping human life and making the world exist along with what it contains to support humanity. The biblical account of creation concludes: "God saw all that he had made, and saw that it was very good." When we see these natural tragedies that are the earth's response to our mistreatment, I think, "If I ask the Lord now what he thinks, I don't think he will tell me it's a very good thing." We ruined the Lord's work!

In celebrating Earth Day today, we are called to rediscover a sense of sacred respect for the earth, because it is not only our home, but also God's home. This should make us aware of being on holy ground!

Dear brothers and sisters, "Let us awaken the aesthetic and contemplative sense that God has placed in us" (Esort. ap. postsin. Exultation Amazonia, 56). The prophetic gift of contemplation is something we especially learn from indigenous peoples, who teach us that we cannot heal the earth unless we love it and respect it. They have that wisdom of "living well", not in the sense of getting through life well, no: but of living in harmony with the earth. They call this harmony "living well."

At the same time, we need an ecological conversion that is expressed in concrete action. As a single, interdependent family, we need a shared plan to ward off threats against our common home. "Interdependence obliges us to think of one world, with a common plan" (LS, 164). We are aware of the importance of working together as an international community to protect our common home. I urge those with authority to guide the preparations for two major international conferences: COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming(China) and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow (United Kingdom). These two meetings are very important.

I would like to encourage concerted interventions at national and local level as well. It is good to come together from all levels of society and also to create a popular movement "from below". The same Earth Day, which we celebrate today, was itself born just like that. Each of us can make our own small contribution: "We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread" (LS, 212).
In this Easter time of renewal, let us commit ourselves to love and appreciate the magnificent gift of the earth, our common home, and to take care of all members of the human family. As brothers and sisters as we are, let us together plead with our Heavenly Father: "Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth" (cf. Psalm 104:30).



Pope Francis     01.09.20   Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation   Saint John Lateran, Rome       Psalm 104: 30,     Leviticus 25: 10


“You shall thus hallow the fiftieth year
and you shall proclaim a release throughout the land
to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you.”
(Lev 25:10)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Each year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS, 24 may 2015), the first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October. During this period, Christians worldwide renew their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home.

I am very pleased that the theme chosen by the ecumenical family for the celebration of the 2020 Season of Creation is Jubilee for the Earth, precisely in this year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day. In the Holy Scriptures, a Jubilee is a sacred time to remember, return, rest, restore, and rejoice.

1. A Time to Remember

We are invited to remember above all that creation’s ultimate destiny is to enter into God’s eternal Sabbath. This journey, however, takes place in time, spanning the seven-day rhythm of the week, the cycle of seven years, and the great Jubilee Year that comes at the end of the seven Sabbath years.

A Jubilee is indeed a time of grace to remember creation’s original vocation to exist and flourish as a community of love. We exist only in relationships: with God the Creator, with our brothers and sisters as members of a common family, and with all of God’s creatures within our common home. “Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth” (LS, 92)

A Jubilee, then, is a time of remembrance, in which we cherish the memory of our inter-relational existence. We need constantly to remember that “everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (LS, 70).

2. A Time to Return

A Jubilee is a time to turn back in repentance. We have broken the bonds of our relationship with the Creator, with our fellow human beings, and with the rest of creation. We need to heal the damaged relationships that are essential to supporting us and the entire fabric of life.

A Jubilee is a time to return to God our loving Creator. We cannot live in harmony with creation if we are not at peace with the Creator who is the source and origin of all things. As Pope Benedict observed, “the brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has become simply material for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is simply our property” (Meeting with Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, 6 August 2008).

The Jubilee season calls us to think once again of our fellow human beings, especially the poor and the most vulnerable. We are asked to re-appropriate God’s original and loving plan of creation as a common heritage, a banquet which all of our brothers and sisters share in a spirit of conviviality, not in competitive scramble but in joyful fellowship, supporting and protecting one another. A Jubilee is a time for setting free the oppressed and all those shackled in the fetters of various forms of modern slavery, including trafficking in persons and child labour.

We also need once more to listen to the land itself, which Scripture calls adamah, the soil from which man, Adam, was made. Today we hear the voice of creation admonishing us to return to our rightful place in the natural created order – to remember that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters. The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption.

Particularly during this Season of Creation, may we be attentive to the rhythms of this created world. For the world was made to communicate the glory of God, to help us to discover in its beauty the Lord of all, and to return to him (cf. SAINT BONAVENTURE, In II Sent., I, 2, 2, q. 1, conclusion; Breviloquium, II, 5.11). The earth from which we were made is thus a place of prayer and meditation. “Let us awaken our God-given aesthetic and contemplative sense” (Querida Amazonia, 56). The capacity to wonder and to contemplate is something that we can learn especially from our indigenous brothers and sisters, who live in harmony with the land and its multiple forms of life.

3. A Time to Rest

In his wisdom, God set aside the Sabbath so that the land and its inhabitants could rest and be renewed. These days, however, our way of life is pushing the planet beyond its limits. Our constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world. Forests are leached, topsoil erodes, fields fail, deserts advance, seas acidify and storms intensify. Creation is groaning!

During the Jubilee, God’s people were invited to rest from their usual labour and to let the land heal and the earth repair itself, as individuals consumed less than usual. Today we need to find just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires, ways that satisfy everyone with a sufficiency, without destroying the ecosystems that sustain us.

In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.


4. A Time to Restore

A Jubilee is a time to restore the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human relationships.

It invites us to re-establish equitable societal relationships, restoring their freedom and goods to all and forgiving one another’s debts. We should not forget the historic exploitation of the global South that has created an enormous ecological debt, due mainly to resource plundering and excessive use of common environmental space for waste disposal. It is a time for restorative justice. In this context, I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19. We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages. Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met.

We also need to restore the land. Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us. We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world. We need to stand up for intra-generational and inter-generational solidarity at this critical moment. I invite all nations to adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions, in preparation for the important Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.

Biodiversity restoration is also crucially important in the context of unprecedented loss of species and degradation of ecosystems. We need to support the U.N. call to safeguard 30% of the earth as protected habitats by 2030 in order to stem the alarming rate of biodiversity loss. I urge the international community to work together to guarantee that the Summit on Biodiversity (COP 15) in Kunming, China becomes a turning point in restoring the earth to be a home of life in abundance, as willed by the Creator.

We must restore with justice in mind, ensuring that those who have lived on the land for generations can regain control over its usage. Indigenous communities must be protected from companies, particularly multinational companies, that “operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home” (LS, 51), through the destructive extraction of fossil fuels, minerals, timber and agroindustrial products. This corporate misconduct is a “new version of colonialism” (SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 27 April 2001, cited in Querida Amazonia, 14), one that shamefully exploits poorer countries and communities desperately seeking economic development. We need to strengthen national and international legislation to regulate the activities of extractive companies and ensure access to justice for those affected.

5. A Time to Rejoice

In the biblical tradition, a Jubilee was a joyous occasion, inaugurated by a trumpet blast resounding throughout the land. We are aware that the cries of the earth and of the poor have become even louder and more painful in recent years. At the same time, we also witness how the Holy Spirit is inspiring individuals and communities around the world to come together to rebuild our common home and defend the most vulnerable in our midst. We see the gradual emergence of a great mobilization of people from below and from the peripheries who are generously working for the protection of the land and of the poor. We rejoice to see how young people and communities, particularly indigenous communities, are on the frontlines in responding to the ecological crisis. They are calling for a Jubilee for the earth and a new beginning, aware that “things can change” (LS, 13).

We also rejoice to see how the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year is inspiring many initiatives at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor. This year should lead to long-term action plans to practise integral ecology in our families, parishes and dioceses, religious orders, our schools and universities, our healthcare, business and agricultural institutions, and many others as well.

We rejoice too that faith communities are coming together to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. We are particularly happy that the Season of Creation is becoming a truly ecumenical initiative. Let us continue to grow in the awareness that we all live in a common home as members of a single family.

Let us all rejoice that our loving Creator sustains our humble efforts to care for the earth, which is also God’s home where his Word “became flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14) and which is constantly being renewed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30).



  

 Psalm 105

2-9
 
Pope Francis   02.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Genesis 17: 3-9,    Psalm 105: 4-9,    John 8: 51-59
Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Christian Life 02.04.20

The Lord remembers His covenant forever. We repeated this in the Psalm. The Lord never forgets, He never forgets. Yes, He only forgets in one case, when He forgives sins. After forgiving He loses his memory, He does not remember sins. In other cases God does not forget. His fidelity is memory. His fidelity with His people. His fidelity with Abraham is a memory of the promise He had made. God chose Abraham to go on a journey. Abraham is chosen, he was chosen. God chose him. Then in that election He promised him an inheritance and today, in the passage of the book of Genesis, there is one more step. As for you, my covenant is with you is this. The covenant. A covenant that makes him see his fruitfulness in the future: you will become the father of a host of nations. 

The election, the promise and the covenant, are the three dimensions of the life of faith, the three dimensions of Christian life. Each of us has been chosen, no one chooses to be a Christian among all the possibilities that the religious market offers him, we have been chosen. We are Christians because we have been chosen. In this election there is a promise, there is a promise of hope, the promise is fruitfulness: Abraham will be the father of a host of nations and ... we will be fruitful in faith. Your faith will flourish in works, in good works, in works of fruitfulness also, a fruitful faith. But you must take a step to keep the covenant with me. And the covenant is fidelity, to be faithful. We were chosen, the Lord gave us a promise, now He asks us to enter into a covenant. A covenant of faithfulness. Jesus says that Abraham rejoiced thinking, seeing his day, the day of great fruitfulness, that son of his - Jesus was the son of Abraham - who came to remake creation, which was more difficult than doing it, says the liturgy - came to in act the redemption of our sins, to free us.

A Christian isn't someone who can just show their Baptismal certificate: the certificate of Baptism is just a piece of paper. You are a Christian if you say yes to the election that God has made of you, if you follow the promise that the Lord has made to you and if you live the covenant with the Lord: this is Christian life. 

The sins on the journey are always against these three dimensions: not accepting ones election and we "choose" so many idols, so many things that are not of God; not accepting hope in the promise which is looking far away to the promise, even so many times, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, greeting them from afar and but we want the promises to be today with the little idols that we make; and forgetting the covenant, living without the covenant, as if we were without the covenant. Fruitfulness is the joy, that joy of Abraham who saw Jesus' day and was full of joy. This is the revelation that today the word of God gives us about our Christian existence.
 
May we be like our Father: conscious of having been chosen, joyful of going toward a promise and faithful in fulfilling the covenant.




Pope Francis        08.07.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Hosea 10: 1-3, 7-8, 12      Psalm 105: 2-7,       Matthew 10: 1-7
Wednesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time

Pope Francis The Face of Jesus 08.07.20

The Responsorial Psalm invites us always to seek the Lord’s face: “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Ps 105:4). This quest is fundamental for the life of every believer, for we have come to realize that our ultimate goal in life is the encounter with God.

To seek the face of God is an assurance that our journey through this world will end well. It is an exodus towards the Promised Land, our heavenly home. The face of God is our destination and the guiding star that helps us not to lose our way.

The people of Israel, as described by the prophet Hosea in the first reading (cf. 10:1-3.7-8.12), had gone astray. They had lost sight of the Promised Land and were wandering in the desert of iniquity. Abundance, prosperity and wealth had caused their hearts to drift away from the Lord and had filled them instead with falsehood and injustice.

We too, as Christians today, are not immune to this sin. “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!” (Homily in Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).

Hosea’s words reach us today as a renewed summons to conversion, a call to turn our eyes to the Lord and recognize his face. The prophet says: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (10:12).

Our efforts to seek the face of God are born of the desire for an encounter with the Lord, a personal encounter, an encounter with his immense love, with his saving power. The twelve apostles described in today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 10:1-7) received the grace to encounter him physically in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Jesus – as we heard – called each of them by name. He looked them in the eye, and they in turn gazed at his face, listened to his voice and beheld his miracles. The personal encounter with the Lord, a time of grace and salvation, entails a mission: “As you go”, Jesus tells them, proclaim the good news: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (v. 7). Encounter and mission must not be separated.

This kind of personal encounter with Jesus Christ is possible also for us, who are the disciples of the third millennium. In our effort to seek the Lord’s face, we can recognize him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. This encounter becomes also for us a time of grace and salvation, and summons us to the same mission entrusted to the Apostles.

Today marks the seventh year, the seventh anniversary of my visit to Lampedusa. In the light of God’s word, I would like to repeat what I said to those taking part in the meeting “Free from Fear” in February last year: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us this. He is the one knocking on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned; he is the one seeking an encounter with us, asking our help, asking to come ashore. And lest we have any doubt, he tells us categorically: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me’” (Mt 25:40).

“Whatever you did...” for better or for worse! This admonition is all the more timely today. We ought to use it as a basic starting point for our daily examination of conscience. Here I think of Libya, detention camps, the abuses and violence to which migrants are subjected; I think of journeys of hope, rescue operations, and cases of rejection. “Whatever you did… you did to me.”

I remember that day, seven years ago, in the very south of Europe, on that island… A number of people told me their stories and all that they had gone through to get there. There were interpreters present. One person was telling me about terrible things in his language, and the interpreter seemed to translate well, but this person spoke so long and the translation was brief. “Well”, I thought, “their language must require more words to express an idea”. When I returned home that afternoon, in the reception area there was a lady – God bless her, she has since passed away - who was a daughter of Ethiopians. She understood the language and she had seen our conversation on television. She said this to me. “Listen, what the Ethiopian translator told you is not even a quarter of the torture and suffering that those people experienced”. They gave me the “distilled” version. This is what is happening today with Libya: they are giving us a “distilled version”. The war is indeed horrible, we know that, but you cannot imagine the hell that people are living there, in that detention camp. And those people came only with hope of crossing the sea.

May the Virgin Mary, Solacium migrantium, “Solace of Migrants”, help us discover the face of her Son in all our brothers and sisters forced to flee their homeland because of the many injustices that continue to afflict our world.


  

Psalm 106
19-23
 
Pope Francis   26.03.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        Exodus 32: 7-14,     Psalm 106: 19-20,21-22,23

Pope Francis talks about Idolatry 26.03.20

In the first Reading there is the scene of the mutiny of the people. Moses went to the Mountain to receive the Law: God gave it to him, in stone, written by his hand. But the people got bored and stood around Aaron and said, "But, this Moses, it's been a little while and we don't where he is, where he went, and we are without a leader. Make us a god to help us move forward." And Aaron, who later will be a priest of God but there he was a priest of stupidity, of idols, said: "But yes, give me all the gold and silver that you have", and they give everything and they made that golden calf.

In the Psalm we heard the lament of God: "They made a calf at Horeb, and worshiped an image of metal, exchanging the God who was their glory for the image of a bull that eats grass." And here, in this moment, when the Reading begins: "The Lord said to Moses: "Go down, come down, because your people who you have brought out the land of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to move away from the path that I had marked out for them. They have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshiped it, offered it sacrifices and cried out, 'Here is your god, Israel, the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt.'" A true apostasy! From the living God to idolatry. They didn't have patience to wait for Moses to come back: they wanted something, they wanted something, liturgical spectacle, something ...

I would like to add a few things on this. First of all, that idolatrous nostalgia in the people: in this case, they thought of the idols of Egypt, but had the longing to return to idols, to return to the worst, they didn't know how to wait for the living God. This nostalgia is an illness which is even ours. We begin on the path of liberation with the enthusiasm, but then the complaints begin: "But yes, this is a hard time, the desert, I'm thirsty, I want water, I want meat ... but in Egypt we ate onions, good things and here there is nothing ...". Idolatry is always selective: it makes you think about the good things it gives you but doesn't allow you to see the bad things. In this case, they remembered their meals at the table and how good they were and how much they liked them, but they forgot that this was the table of slavery. Idolatry is selective.

Then, another thing: idolatry makes you lose everything. Aaron, to make the calf, asks them: "Give me gold and silver": but it was the gold and silver that the Lord had given them, when he said to them, "Ask the Egyptians for gold on loan", and then it went with them. It was a gift from God and with the gift from God they make the idol. And this is very bad. But this mechanism also happens to us: when we have attitudes that lead us to idolatry, we are attached to things that distance us from God, because we make another god and we do so with the gifts that the Lord has given us. With our intelligence, with our will, with our love, with our heart ... it is the very gifts of God that we use to make idolatry.

Yes, some of you may say to me, "But I have no idols at home. I have the Crucifix, the image of Our Lady, these are not idols ..." – No, no: they are in your heart. And the question we should ask today is: what is the idol that you have in your heart, in my heart. That hidden place where I feel good, that distances me from the living God. And we also have a very clever behaviour with idolatry: we know how to hide idols, as Rachel did when she ran away from her father and hid them in the camel's saddle and among the clothes. We too, among our clothes of the heart, have hidden so many idols.

The question I would like to ask today is: what is my idol? That idol of my worldliness ... and idolatry also comes to piety, because they wanted the golden calf not to make a circus: no. To worship: "They bowed before it." Idolatry leads you to a wrong religiosity, indeed: so often worldliness, which is an idolatry, makes you change the celebration of a sacrament into a worldly celebration. An example: I don't know, I think, let's think, I don't know, let alone a wedding celebration. You do not know if it is really a sacrament where the newlyweds give everything and love each other before God and promise to be faithful before God and receive the grace of God, or it is a fashion show... worldliness. It's idolatry. This is an example. Because idolatry does not stop: it always goes on.

Today the question I would like to ask all of us, to everyone: what are my idols? Everyone has their own. What are my idols. Where do I hide them. May the Lord not find us at the end of life, and say to us: "You have apostatised. You strayed from the path I had indicated. You prostrated yourself before an idol."
Let us ask the Lord for the grace to know our idols. And if we can't cast them out, at least keep them on the side...

Finally, the Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic worship and blessing, inviting Spiritual Communion. Below is the prayer recited by the Pope:
My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire you in my soul. Because I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you were already there, I embrace you and unite myself wholly to you. Don't let me ever separate from You. Amen
  

 Psalm 106
35-36
 
Pope Francis   13.02.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        1 Kings 11:4-13    Psalm 106: 35-36      

Pope Francis talks about turning away from God 13.02.20

When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods.

King Solomon began as a “good boy”, who asked the Lord for wisdom and God made him wise to the point that judges, and even the Queen of Sheba in Africa, came bearing gifts because they had heard of his wisdom.

At that time it was possible to have more than one wife. But that did not mean it was permissible to be “a womanizer”.

But Solomon’s heart became weak, not because he married several women, but because they came from other peoples with other gods. He fell into a trap by letting his wives convince him to worship their idols, Chemosh or Molech.

And so he did this for all his foreign women who offered sacrifices to their gods. In one word, he allowed everything and stopped worshipping the one God. With a weakened heart because of his overly fondness for women, paganism entered his life. Then that wise man who had prayed well asking for wisdom, fell to the point of being rejected by the Lord.

His wasn’t an apostasy overnight. It was a slow apostasy. Even King David, his father, in fact, had sinned - strongly at least twice - but immediately he had repented and asked for forgiveness: he had remained faithful to the Lord who guarded him to the end. David wept for that sin and for the death of his son Absalom, and when he fled from him before, he was humbled thinking of his sin, when people insulted him. He was holy. Solomon is not holy. The Lord had given him so many gifts, but he had wasted everything because he had let his heart weaken. King Solomon did not just sin once but slid into sin.

The women led his heart astray, and the Lord rebuked him: ‘You have turned your heart away.’ This happens in our own lives. None of us is a criminal; none of us commits great sins like David did with the wife of Uriah. But wherein lies the danger? Letting ourselves slide slowly, because it is an anesthetized fall. You don’t even realize it, but slowly you slip. Things get relativized, and faithfulness to God is lost. These women were from other peoples – they had their own gods – and how often do we forget the Lord and begin to deal with other gods: money, vanity, pride. But this is done slowly, and without the grace of God everything is lost.

Psalm 106: 35-36 "But they mingled with the nations and imitated their ways. They served their idols and were ensnared by them", shows that serving their idols means becoming worldly and pagan.

For us this slippery slide in life is towards worldliness. This is the grave sin: ‘Everyone is doing it, don’t worry about it; obviously it’s not ideal, but…’ We justify ourselves with these words to the price of losing our faithfulness to the one God. They are modern idols. Let us consider this sin of worldliness, of losing the authenticity of the Gospel. The authenticity of the Word of God, and the love of God who gave His life for us. There is no way to maintain a good relationship with God and the devil. In practice it means not being faithful "neither to God nor to the devil." 

Let us think of this sin of Solomon, let us think of how that wise Solomon fell, blessed by the Lord, with all the inheritances of his father David, how he fell slowly, anesthetized towards this idolatry, towards this worldliness, and the kingdom was taken from him.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand when our heart begins to weaken and to slide, so that we can stop. It will be His grace and His love that will stop us if we pray for him.

  
 
Psalm 118
2-4, 13-15, 22-24
 

1. Today we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as "Divine Mercy Sunday". What a beautiful truth of faith this is for our lives: the mercy of God! God’s love for us is so great, so deep; it is an unfailing love, one which always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up and leads us on.

2. In today’s Gospel, the Apostle Thomas personally experiences this mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the face of Jesus, the risen Jesus. Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: "We have seen the Lord". It isn’t enough for him that Jesus had foretold it, promised it: "On the third day I will rise". He wants to see, he wants to put his hand in the place of the nails and in Jesus’ side. And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief; he gives him a week’s time, he does not close the door, he waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. "My Lord and my God!": with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by divine mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in his open side, and he discovers trust: he is a new man, no longer an unbeliever, but a believer.

Let us also remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: "Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me". Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!

Let us think too of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: their sad faces, their barren journey, their despair. But Jesus does not abandon them: he walks beside them, and not only that! Patiently he explains the Scriptures which spoke of him, and he stays to share a meal with them. This is God’s way of doing things: he is not impatient like us, who often want everything all at once, even in our dealings with other people. God is patient with us because he loves us, and those who love are able to understand, to hope, to inspire confidence; they do not give up, they do not burn bridges, they are able to forgive. Let us remember this in our lives as Christians: God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us.

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father; it impresses me because it always gives me great hope. Think of that younger son who was in the Father’s house, who was loved; and yet he wants his part of the inheritance; he goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the Father, yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the Father’s house and he goes back. And the Father? Had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar, he was waiting for him every hour of every day, the son was always in his father’s heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: he has returned! And that is the joy of the Father. In that embrace for his son is all this joy: he has returned! God is always waiting for us, he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence, hope – always! A great German theologian, Romano Guardini, said that God responds to our weakness by his patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope (cf. Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg, 1949, p. 28). It is like a dialogue between our weakness and the patience of God, it is a dialogue that, if we do it, will grant us hope.

3. I would like to emphasize one other thing: God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands and his feet, and in his side. We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus, we can actually touch him. This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith. Saint Bernard, in a fine homily, says: "Through the wounds of Jesus I can suck honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock (cf. Deut 32:13), I can taste and see the goodness of the Lord" (On the Song of Songs, 61:4). It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. Thomas understood this. Saint Bernard goes on to ask: But what can I count on? My own merits? No, "My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits" (ibid., 5). This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. Saint Bernard even states: "So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? ‘Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20)" (ibid.). Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said: "Father, I have many sins"; and I have always pleaded: "Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything". We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

Adam, after his sin, experiences shame, he feels naked, he senses the weight of what he has done; and yet God does not abandon him: if that moment of sin marks the beginning of his exile from God, there is already a promise of return, a possibility of return. God immediately asks: "Adam, where are you?" He seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness, he took upon himself the shame of Adam, the nakedness of his sin, in order to wash away our sin: by his wounds we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: "What shall I boast of, if not my weakness, my poverty? Precisely in feeling my sinfulness, in looking at my sins, I can see and encounter God’s mercy, his love, and go to him to receive forgiveness.

In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.

  
  
Psalm 119

23-24, 26-27, 29-30

 

Slander is as old as the world and it is already mentioned in the Old Testament. It suffices to think of the episode of Queen Jezabel with the vineyard of Naboth, or that of Susanna with the two judges. When it is impossible to obtain something “in the right way, in a holy way”, people have recourse to slander which destroys. This reminds us, that we are sinners: all of us. We have sinned. But slander is something else. It is a sin but it is also something more, because “it wants to destroy God's work and is spawned by something very nasty: it is spawned by hatred. And the person who generates hatred is Satan”. Falsehood and slander go hand in hand since in order to make headway they need each other. And there is no doubt, wherever there is slander there is Satan, Satan himself.

Psalm 119 [118] : “Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight”. The just man in this case is Stephen, the Proto-Martyr mentioned in the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen “gazed at the Lord and obeyed the law”. He was the first in the long series of witnesses of Christ who spangle the history of the Church. Martyrs abound, not only in the past but also in our day. Here in Rome, we have a great many witnesses of martyrs, starting with Peter; but the season of martyrs is not over. We can truly say that today too the Church has more martyrs than she had in the early centuries. Indeed, the Church has so many men and women who are slandered,
persecuted and killed, in hatred of Jesus, in hatred of the faith. Several are killed for “teaching the Catechism”; others, for “wearing the cross”. Calumny finds room in the large number of countries where Christians are persecuted. They are our brothers and sisters, who are suffering today, in this age of martyrs. This must give us food for thought. Persecuted by hatred: it is actually the devil who sows hatred in those who instigate persecution.

The first Latin Antiphon of the Virgin Mary is “ Sub tuum praesidium ”. “Let us pray Our Lady to protect us”, and in times of spiritual turbulence the safest place is beneath Our Lady's mantle”. Indeed, she is the Mother who cares for the Church. And in this season of martyrs, she is, as it were, the protagonist of protection. She is Mother.

Trust in Mary, address to her the prayer that begins with the words “Under your protection”, and remember the ancient icon showing her “covering her people with her mantle: she is Mother”. This is the most useful thing: in this time of “hatred, of spiritual turbulence, the safest possible place is beneath Our Lady's mantle.


Pope Francis  07.09.19 Midday Prayer

Dear Mother Madeleine of the Annunciation,
Dearest Sisters,

Thank you, Mother, for your warm welcome and your kind words, which echo the sentiments of the contemplative nuns of all the different monasteries of this country. I thank every one of you, dear Sisters, for leaving the cloister for a moment in order to show your communion with me and with the life and mission of the entire Church, particularly the Church in Madagascar.

I am grateful for your presence, for your fidelity and for the radiant witness to Jesus Christ that you offer to the community. In this country, there may be poverty, but there is also great richness! For here we find a great treasure of natural, human and spiritual beauty. You too, dear Sisters, share in this beauty of Madagascar, its people and its Church, for it is the beauty of Christ that lights up your faces and your lives. Indeed, thanks to you, the Church in Madagascar is all the more beautiful in the Lord’s eyes and in the eyes of the whole world as well.

The three Psalms of today’s liturgy express the anguish of the Psalmist in a moment of trial and danger. Allow me to reflect on the first of them, taken from Psalm 119, the lengthiest of the Psalter, since it devotes eight verses to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. No doubt, its author was a contemplative, someone familiar with prolonged and beautiful experiences of
prayer. In today’s passage, the word “consume” appears several times and, significantly, in two senses.

The one who prays is “consumed” by the desire to encounter God. You yourselves are a living testimony to this insatiable desire present in the heart of all men and women. Amid the many proposals that claim to satisfy the human heart, but prove incapable of doing so, the contemplative life is the torch that leads to the one eternal fire, “the living flame of love that wounds tenderly” (Saint John of the Cross). You are a visible sign of “the goal toward which the entire ecclesial community journeys. For the Church ‘advances down the paths of time with her eyes fixed on the future restoration of all things in Christ’, thus announcing in advance the glory of heaven”
Vultum Dei quaerere, 2).

We are constantly tempted to satisfy our desire for eternity with fleeting things. We find ourselves adrift on surging seas that only end up overwhelming our lives and our spirit. For this reason, “the world needs you every bit as much as a sailor on the high seas needs a beacon to guide him to a safe haven. Be beacons to those near to you and, above all, to those far away. Be torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time. Be sentinels of the morning (cf. Is 21:11-12), heralding the dawn (cf. Lk 1:78). By your transfigured life, and with simple words pondered in silence, show us the One who is the way, and the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14:6), the Lord who alone brings us fulfilment and bestows life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Cry out to us, as Andrew did to Simon: ‘We have found the Lord’ (cf. Jn 1:40). Like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, announce to us: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (Jn 20:18)” (ibid., 6).

The Psalm also speaks of another way of being “consumed”. It speaks of the malicious, who seek to ruin the just. They persecute them, set traps for them, try to bring them down. A monastery is always a space where people consumed by the pain and sorrows of this world can come and find a hearing. May your monasteries, faithful to your charism of contemplation and your constitutions, also be places of welcome and listening, especially for those in greatest need. With us today are two mothers who have lost their children and who embody all the hurt and pain felt by our brothers and sisters on this island. Please be attentive to the pleas and the grief of those in your midst who, consumed by the experience of suffering, exploitation and discouragement, turn to you. Do not be like those who listen only to pass the time, to satisfy curiosity or to have something else to talk about.

You have a fundamental mission in this regard. The cloister sets you in the heart of God; his heart is thus always present in your midst. Your sensitivity to the heart of the Lord will enable you to hear him speaking in your brothers and sisters. The persons around you are often very poor, weak, troubled and hurting in a thousand ways; yet they are full of faith. In you, they instinctively recognize witnesses of God’s presence and invaluable sources of encouragement on the way to encountering him and receiving his help. However great the pain that consumes them, robbing them of joy and hope, and making them feel isolated and alone, you can be a pathway to that rock evoked in another passage from the Psalms: “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps 61:1-2).

Faith is the greatest treasure of the poor! How important it is that the faith be proclaimed to them, strengthened within them, and help them to live in hope. May the contemplation of God’s mysteries, which finds expression in your liturgy and your times of prayer, enable you better to discover his active presence in each human situation, even the most troubling, and to be thankful that, in contemplation, God gives you the gift of intercession. Thanks to your prayer, you are like mothers, taking your children upon your shoulders and carrying them towards the promised land. Indeed, “our prayer will be all the more pleasing to God and more effective for our growth in holiness if, through intercession, we attempt to practise the twofold commandment that Jesus left us. Intercessory prayer is an expression of our fraternal concern for others, since we are able to embrace their lives, their deepest troubles and their loftiest dreams. Of those who commit themselves generously to intercessory prayer we can apply the words of Scripture: ‘This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people’ (2 Mac 15:14)” (
Gaudete et exsultate, 154).

Dear contemplative Sisters, what would the Church and those who live on the human peripheries of Madagascar be like without you? What would happen to all those who work in the forefront of evangelization, especially here, in very precarious, difficult and often dangerous conditions? They rely on your prayers and on the ever-renewed gift of your lives, an inestimable gift in the sight of God, one that makes you share in the mystery of the redemption of this land and of the beloved persons who dwell in it.

“For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke”, says the Psalm (119:83), reminding us of how time passes when we experience this two-fold way of being consumed: by God and by the difficulties of the world. At times, almost imperceptibly, we can fall into “listlessness, mere routine, lack of enthusiasm and paralyzing lethargy” (
Vultum Dei quaerere, 11). It makes no difference how old you are, or how difficult it is to walk or to arrive on time for prayers… We are not wineskins drying next to the smoke, but logs burning until they are consumed in the fire which is Jesus. For he never fails us, he covers our every debt.

Thank you for this time we have spent together. I entrust myself to your prayers. To you I entrust all the intentions I carry in my heart during this visit to Madagascar. Let us pray together that the spirit of the Gospel may spring up in the hearts of all your people
.
  

 Psalm 122

1,2,3-4AB,4CD-5

 

"With joy, let us go to the house of the Lord". And we did so, because the first Reading reminds us of a moment of joy for the people of God, a very beautiful moment when “a pagan king helped God's people return to their land and rebuild the temple”. The reference is to a passage from the Book of Ezra (6:7-8, 12, 14-20).

In the history of God's people, there are beautiful moments like this one, which bring great joy, and there are also ugly moments of suffering, martyrdom and sin. In good and bad moments alike, one thing always remains the same:
the Lord is there. He never abandons his people, for the Lord, on that day of sin, of the first sin, made a decision; he made a choice, to make history with his people.

God, who has no history since he is eternal, wanted to make history, to walk close to his people. But there is more: he wanted to make himself one of us and as one of us to walk with us in Jesus. And this speaks to us. It tells us about the
humility of God” who is “so very great” and powerful precisely in his humility. He “wanted to walk with his people, and when his people wandered far from him through sin, idolatry and the many things we see in the Bible, he was there”.

We also see this attitude of humility in Jesus, “Walking with God's people, walking with sinners, even walking with the proud: how much the Lord did in order to help the proud hearts of the Pharisees. He wanted to walk. Humility. God always waits, God is beside us.
God walks with us. He is humble. He waits for us always. Jesus always waits for us. This is the humility of God”.

Thus, “the Church joyfully sings of the humility of God who accompanies us as we did in the psalm: “With joy, let us go to the house of the Lord”. Let us go with joy; then he accompanies us, he along with us”.

The Lord Jesus, also accompanies us in our personal lives with the sacraments. A sacrament is not a magical rite, it is an encounter with Jesus Christ. In it, “we encounter the Lord. And he is by our side and accompanies us: a travelling companion”. And “the Holy Spirit also accompanies us and teaches us all that we do not know in our hearts. He reminds us of all that Jesus taught us and he makes us feel the beauty of the good way. Thus God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are our travelling companions. They make history with us”.

The Church, celebrates this with great joy at each Eucharist. That beautiful Eucharistic prayer that we will pray today, in which we sing of God's great love, which desired to be humble, to be a travelling companion with us, and that also wanted to make history with us. And if God, entered into our history, let us also enter a little into his history or at least ask of him the grace to let him write history. May he write our history. It is a reliable one.
  

 Psalm 146

6-10


 
Pope Francis   29.09.19  St Peter's Square,  Holy Mass World Day for Migrants and Refugees        26th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C               Amos 6: 1A, 4-7,    Psalms 146; 7-10,      1 Timothy 6: 11-16,        Luke 16: 19-31
Pope Francis  29.09.19 Mass for Migrants and Refugees

Today’s Responsorial Psalm reminds us that the Lord upholds the stranger as well as the widow and the orphan among his people. The Psalmist makes explicit mention of those persons who are especially vulnerable, often forgotten and subject to oppression. The Lord has a particular concern for foreigners, widows and orphans, for they are without rights, excluded and marginalized. This is why God tells the Israelites to give them special care.

In the Book of Exodus, the Lord warns his people not to mistreat in any way widows and orphans, for he hears their cry (cf. 22:23). Deuteronomy sounds the same warning twice (cf. 24:17; 27:19), and includes strangers among this group requiring protection. The reason for that warning is explained clearly in the same book: the God of Israel is the one who “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (10:18). This loving care for the less privileged is presented as a characteristic trait of the God of Israel and is likewise required, as a moral duty, of all those who would belong to his people.

That is why we must pay special attention to the strangers in our midst as well as to widows, orphans and all the outcasts of our time. In the
Message for this 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the theme “It is not Just about Migrants” is repeated as a refrain. And rightly so: it is not only about foreigners; it is about all those in existential peripheries who, together with migrants and refugees, are victims of the throwaway culture. The Lord calls us to practise charity towards them. He calls us to restore their humanity, as well as our own, and to leave no one behind.

Along with the exercise of charity, the Lord also invites us to think about the injustices that cause exclusion – and in particular
the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status, act to the detriment of the many. “Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded”: this is a painful truth; our word is daily more and more elitist, more cruel towards the excluded. “Developing countries continue to be drained of their best natural and human resources for the benefit of a few privileged markets. Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts. Those who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable, who are prevented from sitting at the table and are left with the ‘crumbs’ of the banquet” (
Message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees).

It is in this context that the harsh words of the Prophet Amos proclaimed in the first reading (6:1.4-7) should be understood. Woe to those who are at ease and seek pleasure in Zion, who do not worry about the ruin of God’s people, even though it is in plain sight. They do not notice the destruction of Israel because they are too busy ensuring that they can still enjoy the good life, delicious food and fine drinks. It is striking how, twenty-eight centuries later, these warnings remain as timely as ever. For today too, the “culture of comfort… makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people… which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference” (
Homily in Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).

In the end, we too risk becoming like
that rich man in the Gospel who is unconcerned for the poor man Lazarus, “covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table” (Lk 16:20-21). Too intent on buying elegant clothes and organizing lavish banquets, the rich man in the parable is blind to Lazarus’s suffering. Overly concerned with preserving our own well-being, we too risk being blind to our brothers and sisters in difficulty.
Pope Francis  29.09.19  Holy Mass for Migrants and Refugees

Yet, as Christians, we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to “our” group. We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of tears, the tears that can convert our hearts before such sins.

If we want to be men and women of God, as Saint Paul urges Timothy, we must “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tm 6:14). The commandment is to love God and love our neighbour; the two cannot be separated! Loving our neighbour as ourselves means being firmly committed to building a more just world, in which everyone has access to the goods of the earth, in which all can develop as individuals and as families, and in which fundamental rights and dignity are guaranteed to all.

Loving our neighbour means feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them, touching their sores and sharing their stories, and thus manifesting concretely God’s tender love for them. This means being a neighbour to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met.

God gave this holy commandment to his people and sealed it with the blood of his Son Jesus, to be a source of blessing for all mankind. So that all together we can work to build the human family according to his original plan, revealed in Jesus Christ: all are brothers and sisters, all are sons and daughters of the same Father.

Today we also need a mother. So we entrust to the maternal love of Mary, Our Lady of the Way, of so many painful journeys, all migrants and refugees, together with those who live on the peripheries of our world and those who have chosen to share their journey.



Pope Francis  15.12.19  Mass for Rome's Filipino Community, Vatican Basilica    Isaiah 35: 1-6A, 10         Psalms 146: 6-10,         Matthew 11: 2-11  
3rd Sunday of Advent Year A  Gaudete Sunday
Pope Francis 15.12.19 Filipino Mass

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we celebrate the third Sunday of
Advent. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah invites the whole earth to rejoice in the coming of the Lord, who brings salvation to his people. He comes to open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, to heal the lame and mute (cf. 35:5-6). Salvation is offered to all, but the Lord manifests a special tenderness for the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the poorest of his people.

From the words of the Psalm We learn that there are other vulnerable people who deserve a look of special love on the part of God: they are the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, foreigners, orphans and widows (cf. Psalm 145: 7-9). They are the inhabitants of the existential peripheries of yesterday and today.

In Jesus Christ, God's saving love is tangible: "The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are purified, the deaf hear, the dead rise, and the Gospel is announced to the poor"(Mt 11.5). These are the signs that accompany the realization of the Kingdom of God. Not trumpet blasts or military triumphs, not judgments and condemnations of sinners, but liberation from evil and an announcement of mercy and peace.

Also this year we are preparing to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation, of Emmanuel, the "God with us" who works wonders for His people, especially the least and most fragile. Such wonders are the signs of the presence of his Kingdom. And as the inhabitants of the existential peripheries continue to be many, we must ask the Lord to renew the miracle of Christmas every year, offering ourselves as instruments of his merciful love for the least.

In order to prepare us adequately for this new outpouring of grace, the Church offers us the time of Advent, in which we are called to awaken in our hearts a sense of expectation and to intensify our prayer. For this purpose, in the richness of the different traditions, particular Churches have introduced a variety of devotional practices.

In the Philippines, for centuries, there has been a novena in preparation for a Blessed Christmas called Simbang-Gabi (Mass of the night). During nine days the Filipino faithful gather at dawn in their parishes for a special Eucharistic celebration. In recent decades, thanks to Filipino migrants, this devotion has crossed national borders and arrived in many other countries. For years we have also celebrated Simbang-Gabi in the diocese of Rome, and today we celebrate it together here, in St. Peter's Basilica.

Through this celebration we want to prepare ourselves for Christmas according to the spirit of the Word of God which we have heard, while remaining constant until the final coming of the Lord, as the Apostle James recommends (cf. James c 5,7). We are committed to expressing God's love and tenderness to all, especially to the least. We are called to be yeast in a society that often can no longer taste the beauty of God and experience the grace of His presence.

And you, dear brothers and sisters, who have left your land in search of a better future, have a special mission. Your faith is yeast in the parish communities to which you belong today. I encourage you to multiply the opportunities for encounter; to share your cultural and spiritual wealth, while allowing yourselves to be enriched by the experiences of others. We are all invited to build together that communion in diversity that constitutes a hallmark of the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Jesus Christ, Son of God made man. We are all called to practice charity together towards those who live in the existential peripheries, putting our different gifts at service, so as to renew the signs of the presence of the Kingdom. Together we are all called to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation, in all languages, so as to reach as many people as possible.

May the Holy Child we are about to worship, wrapped in poor swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, bless you and give you the strength to carry on your testimony with joy.


  
 
Psalm 149

1-9b
 
Pope Francis  18.05.20  Altar of St John Paul II , Vatican Basilica    Holy Mass in Memory of the Centenary of the Birth of St John Paul II   Psalm 149: 1-6a, 9b

Pope Francis Centenary of the Birth of St John Paul II 18.05.20

"The Lord loves his people" (Psalm 149: 4 ) we sang this refrain in the chorus and also a truth that the people of Israel repeated, they liked to repeat: "The Lord loves his people" and in difficult times, "the Lord loves" you have to wait to see how this love will manifest itself. When the Lord sent out of this love a prophet, or a man of God, the reaction of the people was: "The Lord has visited his people"(Luke 7: 16 cf 1.68 Ex 4.31), because he loves them, he has visited them. And so did the crowd that followed Jesus, seeing the things Jesus did: "The Lord has visited his people." And today we can say here: a hundred years ago the Lord visited his people, sent a man, prepared him to be a bishop and lead the Church. By remembering St. John Paul II we repeat this: "The Lord loves his people," the Lord visited his people, sent a pastor. 

And what are, let's say, "the traits" of a good shepherd that we can find in St. John Paul II? Many! But let's just talk about three. As they say that the Jesuits always say things in three, we say three: prayer, closeness to the people, and love for justice. St. John Paul II was a man of God because he prayed and prayed so much. But how is it that a man who has so much work to do, so much work to lead the Church... how can he have a lot of prayer time? He knew well that the first task of a bishop is to pray and this was not said by Vatican II, St Peter said it, when he made the Deacons with the Twelve, they said: "And to us bishops, prayer and the proclamation of the Word" (Acts 6: 4). A bishop's first task is to pray. And he knew it, and he did it. A model bishop praying, the first task. And he taught us that when a bishop examines his conscience in the evening, he has to ask himself: how many hours today have I prayed? A man of prayer.

The second trait, a man of closeness. He was not a man detached from the people, indeed he went to visit the people and travelled the whole world, finding his people, searching for his people, making himself close. And closeness is one of God's traits with his people. Let us remember that the Lord said to the people of Israel, "Look, what other people have their gods as close as I am with you?" (cf. Dt 4: 7). A closeness of God with the people who then get close to Jesus, is made strong in Jesus. A shepherd is close to the people, on the contrary, if he is not, he is not a shepherd, he is a manager, he is an administrator, perhaps good but he is not a shepherd. Closeness to the people. And St. John Paul II gave us the example of this closeness: close to the great and the small, the neighbours and the distant, always close, he was close.

The third trait, a love for justice. But complete justice! A man who wanted justice, social justice, the justice for the people, justice to drive out war. But complete justice! For this reason St. John Paul II was a man of mercy because justice and mercy go together, they cannot be distinguished, they are together: justice is justice, mercy is mercy, but one without the other is not found. And speaking of a man of justice and mercy, let us think about what St. John Paul II did for people to understand God's mercy. Let us think about how he promoted the devotion to Saint Faustina whose liturgical memory from today will be for the whole Church. He had felt that God's justice had this face of mercy, this attitude of mercy. And this is a gift that he has left us: justice in mercy and merciful justice.

Let us pray to him today, that he will grant to all of us, especially the pastors of the Church but to all, the grace of prayer, the grace of closeness and the grace of justice in mercy, merciful justice.