Romans

  
 

18
 

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, "hoping against hope, believed" (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men  and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

  
 
Chapter 5
1-5
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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In his greeting the Parish Priest reminded me of something beautiful about Our Lady. Our Lady, as soon as she had heard the news that she was to be the Mother of Jesus and the announcement that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting a child — the Gospel says — she went to her in haste, she did not wait. She did not say: “But now I am with child I must take care of my health. My cousin is bound to have friends who can care for her”. Something stirred her and she “went with haste” to Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39). It is beautiful to think this of Our Lady, of our Mother, that she hastens, because she intends to help. She goes to help, she doesn't go to boast and tell her cousin: “listen, I’m in charge now, because I am the Mother of God!”. No, she did not do that. She went to help! And Our Lady is always like this. She is our Mother who always hurries to us whenever we are in need.

It would be beautiful to add to the Litany of Our Lady something like this: “O Lady who goes in haste, pray for us!”. It is lovely, isn’t? For she always goes in haste, she does not forget her children. And when her children are in difficulty, when they need something and call on her, she hurries to them. This gives us a security, the security of always having our Mother next to us, beside us. We move forward, we journey more easily in life when our mother is near. Let us think of this grace of Our Lady, this grace that she gives us: of being close to us, but without making us wait for her. Always! She — lets us trust in this — she lives to help us. Our Lady who always hastens, for our sake.

Our Lady also helps us to understand God and Jesus well, to understand Jesus’ life well and God’s life, and to understand properly what the Lord is, what the Lord is like and, God is. I ask you children: “Who knows who God is?”. Raise your hand. Tell me? There! Creator of the earth. And how many Gods are there? One? But I have been told that there are three: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! How can this be explained? Is there one or are there three? One? One? And how is it possible to explain that one is the Father, another the Son and the other the Holy Spirit? Louder, Louder! That girl is right. They are three in one, three Persons in one.

And what does the Father do? The Father is the beginning, the Father who created all things, who created us. What does the Son do? What does Jesus do? Who can tell me what Jesus does? Does he love us? And then? He brings the word of God! Jesus comes to teach us the word of God. This is excellent! And what then? What did Jesus do on earth? He saved us! And Jesus came to give his life for us. The Father creates the world; Jesus saves us.

And what does the Holy Spirit do? He loves us! He gives you love! All the children together: the Father creates all, he creates the world; Jesus saves us; and the Holy Spirit? He loves us! And this is Christian life: talking to the Father, talking to the Son and talking to the Holy Spirit. Jesus has saved us, but he also walks beside us in life. Is this true? And how does he walk? What does he do when he walks beside us in life? This is hard. Anyone who knows this wins the Derby! What does Jesus do when he walks with us? Louder! First: he helps us. He leads us! Very good. He walks with us, he helps us, he leads us and he teaches us to journey on.

And Jesus also gives us the strength to work. Doesn’t he? He sustains us! Good! In difficulty, doesn’t he? And also in our school tasks! He supports us, he helps us, he leads us, he sustains us. That’s it! Jesus always goes with us. Good. But listen, Jesus gives us strength. How does Jesus give us strength? You know this, you know that he gives us strength! Louder, I can’t hear you! In Communion he gives us strength, he really helps us with strength. He comes to us. But when you say, “he gives us Communion”, does a piece of bread make you so strong? Isn’t it bread? Is it bread? This is bread, but is what is on the altar bread? Or isn’t it bread? It seems to be bread. It is not really bread. What is it? It is the Body of Jesus. Jesus comes into our heart.

So let us all think about this: the Father has given us life; Jesus has given us salvation, he accompanies us, he leads us, he supports us, he teaches us; and the Holy Spirit? What does he give us? He loves us! He gives us love. Let us think of God in this way and ask Our Lady, Our Lady our Mother, who always hurries to our aid, to teach us to understand properly what God is like: what the Father is like, what the Son is like, and what the Holy Spirit is like. So be it..


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.

  

 Chapter 5

5-11


 

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.

 Chapter 6

19-23


Pope Francis 24.10.13 Holy Mass Romans 6:19-23

For Paul, the only thing that counted was Christ. He left behind the man “of before”, and became a new man whose sole objective was “to gain Christ”. 

What inspired Paul's passion? It was the fire of love with which Christ shed his blood in his Passion, and the desire he has to recreate us in his blood. “What Christ accomplished in us is a recreation. The blood of Christ has recreated us, it is a second creation. And if before our lives, our bodies, our souls and our habits followed the way of sin and iniquity, after this recreation, we must make every effort to walk on the way of justice and
sanctification”. 

At the moment of our baptism, our parents made the act of faith on our behalf: I believe in Jesus Christ who has forgiven our sins. We must make this faith our own and carry it forward by our way of life. And living as a Christian means carrying forward this faith in Christ, this recreation. Carrying forward the works that are born of this faith... Here we are then: the first sanctification accomplished by Christ, the first sanctification we received in baptism, must grow, it must advance”. 

However, in reality “we are weak and we often fall”. Does this mean that we are not on the road of sanctification? “Yes and no”. If you grow accustomed to a life that is so-so, and you say: “I believe in Jesus Christ, but I live as I want”, then “this does not sanctify you, it is not all right, it is absurd. However, if you say 'yes, I am a sinner; I am weak' and you continually turn to the Lord and say to him: 'Lord, you have the power, increase my faith; you can heal me', then through the sacrament of reconciliation even our imperfections are taken up into this way of sanctification. 

In short, we need to enter into the “the logic of before and after” in order not to become “lukewarm” or “wishy-washy” Christians. 

Leaving everything behind for Christ was Paul's passion, and it must be the passion of every Christian: “to suffer the loss of everything that draws us away from Christ, the Lord; to suffer the loss of all that draws us away from our act of faith in him, from our act of faith in the recreation he has accomplished by his blood. He makes all things new. Everything is made new in Christ. Everything is new”. 

Is this goal possible? “Yes”. Paul did it. So many Christians have done it and are doing it. Not only the saints whom we know but also the anonymous saints, those who seriously live out their Christian lives. Perhaps the question we can ask ourselves today is: Do I want to live out my Christian life in a serious way? Do I believe that I have been recreated through the blood of Christ and do I want to pursue this recreation until that day when we shall see the new city, the new creation?.

Let us ask St Paul, who speaks to us today about the logic of the before and after, to grant us the grace to live seriously as Christians and to truly believe that we have been sanctified in the blood of Jesus Christ.

 Chapter 7

18-25

 
Pope Francis      25.10.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta       Romans 7: 18-25

Yesterday Paul was proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ through faith. But today he is telling his brothers in Rome about the battle he is waging within. I know that nothing good dwells within me, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
When I want to do the good, evil is right beside me. In fact, I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of the mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. We do not always have the courage to speaks about this battle as Paul speaks. We always seek to justify ourselves: 'But yes, we are all sinners' we say.

It is against this disposition that we must battle. Indeed, if we do not recognize this we cannot obtain God's forgiveness, because if being a sinner is only a word or a way of speaking, then we do not need God's forgiveness. But if it is a reality that enslaves us, then we truly need the interior freedom and strength of the Lord. Paul shows us the way out of this attitude: Confess your sin and your tendency to sin to the community, do not hide it. This is the disposition which the Church asks of all of us, which Jesus asks of all of us: humbly to confess our sins.

The Church in her wisdom points to the sacrament of confession. “Let us go to our brother, to our brother the priest, and let us make this interior confession: the same confession that Paul himself makes: 'I want the good, I would like to be better, but as you know, I sometimes experience this battle within, sometimes, there is this, that and the other …
Those who refuse to speak with a priest under the pretence that they confess directly to God. “It's easy. It's like confessing by email … God is there, far away; I say things and there is no face to face, there is not face to face encounter. But Paul confessed his weakness to his brothers face to face.

In the alleluia we said: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden the mysteries of the kingdom from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes. Little ones have a certain wisdom. When a child comes to make his confession, he never speaks in generalities. He says: 'Father, I did this, and I did this to my aunt, I did this to someone else, and to someone else I said this word', and they say the word. They are real, they possess the simplicity of truth. And we always tend to hide the reality of our weakness and poverty.

But if there is one thing that is beautiful, it is when we confess our sins in the presence of God just as they are. We always feel the grace of being ashamed. To feel ashamed before God is a grace. It is a grace to say: 'I am ashamed'. Let us think about St Peter after Jesus' miracle on the lake: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinner”. He was ashamed of his sin in the presence of Jesus Christ. 

Going to confession, is “going to an encounter with the Lord who forgives us, who loves us. And our shame is what we offer him: 'Lord, I am a sinner, but I am not so bad, I am capable of feeling ashamed'.

Let us ask for the grace to live in the truth without hiding anything from the Lord and without hiding anything from ourselves.



Pope Francis    25.10.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Romans 7: 18-25A,     Luke 12: 54-59

Pope Francis 25.10.19 The Struggle between Good and Evil

In the First Reading (Romans 7: 18-25A) St. Paul speaks to the Romans about the continuous inner struggle inside him between the desire to do good and not being able to do it.

Some might think that by carrying out the "evil he does not want" St. Paul might be in hell or defeated. Yet, he is a saint because even saints experience this war within themselves. It is "a law for all", "an everyday war".

It is a struggle between
good and evil; but not an abstract good and an abstract evil but between the good that the Holy Spirit inspires and the bad of the evil spirit. It's a fight for all of us. If any of us says " But I do not feel this, I am blessed, I live peacefully, I do not feel ..." I would say: "You're not blessed: you are anesthetized. You’re someone who doesn't understand what’s happening".

In this daily struggle, we win today; tomorrow there will be another and the next day, until the end. The martyrs had to fight to the end to maintain their faith. It’s the same for the saints, like Therese of the Child Jesus, for whom "the hardest struggle was the final moment", on her deathbed, because she felt that "the bad spirit" wanted to snatch her from the Lord.

In daily life there are "extraordinary moments of struggle" as well as "ordinary moments". That is why in today’s Gospel (Luke 12: 54-59), Jesus tells the crowd: "You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"

We Christians are often busy with many things, including good things, but what is going on inside you? Who leads you to them ? What is your spiritual inclination to do them? Who brings you to do them? Our life is like life in the street. We go down the road of life... when we go out on the street, we only look at the things that interest us; we don't look at other things.

There is always the struggle between grace and sin, between the Lord who wants to save and pull us out of this temptation and the bad spirit that always throws us down in order to win us. Let us ask ourselves whether each of us is a street person who comes and goes without realizing what is happening and whether our decisions come from the Lord or are dictated by our selfishness, by the devil. 

It's important to know what's going on inside of us. It's important to live a little inside and to not let our souls be a street where everyone goes. "And how do you do that Father?" Before the end of the day take two to three minutes: what happened today important inside of me? Oh, yes, I had a little hate there and I talked there; I did that charity work... Who helped you do these things, both the bad and good? And ask ourselves these questions to know what is going on inside of us. Sometimes with that chatty soul that we all have, we know what's going on in the neighbourhood, what's going on in the neighbour's house, but we don't know what's going on inside us.



 
Chapter 8
2
 

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

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The biblical Readings we have heard make us think. They have made me think deeply. I have conceived of a sort of meditation for us bishops, first for me, a bishop like you, and I share it with you.

It is important — and I am particularly glad — that our first meeting should take place here, on the site that guards not only Peter’s tomb but also the living memory of his witness of faith, his service to the Truth, and his gift of himself to the point of martyrdom for the Gospel and for the Church.

This evening this Altar of the Confession thus becomes for us the Sea of Tiberias, on whose shores we listen once again to the marvellous conversation between Jesus and Peter with the question addressed to the Apostle, but which must also resonate in our own hearts, as Bishops.

“Do you love me?”. “Are you my friend?” (cf. Jn 21, 15ff.).

The question is addressed to a man who, despite his solemn declarations, let himself be gripped by fear and so had denied.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The question is addressed to me and to each one of us, to all of us: if we take care not to respond too hastily and superficially it impels us to look within ourselves, to re-enter ourselves.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The One who scrutinizes hearts (cf. Rom 8:27), makes himself a beggar of love and questions us on the one truly essential issue, a premiss and condition for feeding his sheep, his lambs, his Church. May every ministry be based on this intimacy with the Lord; living from him is the measure of our ecclesial service which is expressed in the readiness to obey, to humble ourselves, as we heard in the Letter to the Philippians, and for the total gift of self (cf. 2:6-11).

Moreover, the consequence of loving the Lord is giving everything — truly everything, even our life — for him. This is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry; it is the litmus test that tells us how deeply we have embraced the gift received in responding to Jesus’ call, and how closely bound we are to the individuals and communities that have been entrusted to our care. We are not the expression of a structure or of an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord; thus to build up the community in brotherly love.

Not that this should be taken for granted: even the greatest love, in fact, when it is not constantly nourished, weakens and fades away. Not for nothing did the Apostle Paul recommend: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own Son's blood” (cf. Acts 20:28).

A lack of vigilance — as we know — makes the Pastor tepid; it makes him absentminded, forgetful and even impatient. It tantalizes him with the prospect of a career, the enticement of money and with compromises with a mundane spirit; it makes him lazy, turning him into an official, a state functionary concerned with himself, with organization and structures, rather than with the true good of the People of God. Then one runs the risk of denying the Lord as did the Apostle Peter, even if he formally presents him and speaks in his name; one obscures the holiness of the hierarchical Mother Church making her less fruitful.

Who are we, Brothers, before God? What are our trials? We have so many; each one of us has his own. What is God saying to us through them? What are we relying on in order to surmount them?

Just as it did Peter, Jesus' insistent and heartfelt question can leave us pained and more aware of the weakness of our freedom, threatened as it is by thousands of interior and exterior forms of conditioning that all too often give rise to bewilderment, frustration, and even disbelief.

These are not of course the sentiments and attitudes that the Lord wants to inspire; rather, the Enemy, the Devil, takes advantage of them to isolate us in bitterness, complaint and despair.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not humiliate or abandon people to remorse. Through him the tenderness of the Father, who consoles and revitalizes, speaks; it is he who brings us from the disintegration of shame — because shame truly breaks us up — to the fabric of trust; he restores courage, re-entrusts responsibility, and sends us out on mission.

Peter, purified in the crucible of forgiveness could say humbly, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). I am sure that we can all say this with heartfelt feeling. And Peter, purified, urges us in his First Letter to tend “the flock of God... not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3).

Yes, being Pastors means believing every day in the grace and strength that come to us from the Lord despite our weakness, and wholly assuming the responsibility for walking before the flock, relieved of the burdens that obstruct healthy apostolic promptness, hesitant leadership, so as to make our voice recognizable both to those who have embraced the faith and to those who “are not [yet] of this fold” (Jn 10:16). We are called to make our own the dream of God, whose house knows no exclusion of people or peoples, as Isaiah prophetically foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 2:2-5).

For this reason being Pastors also means being prepared to walk among and behind the flock; being capable of listening to the silent tale of those who are suffering and of sustaining the steps of those who fear they may not make it; attentive to raising, to reassuring and to instilling hope. Our faith emerges strengthened from sharing with the lowly. Let us therefore set aside every form of arrogance, to bend down to all whom the Lord has entrusted to our care. Among them let us keep a special, very special, place for our priests. Especially for them may our heart, our hand and our door stay open in every circumstance. They are the first faithful that we bishops have: our priests. Let us love them! Let us love them with all our heart! They are our sons and our brothers!

Dear brothers, the profession of faith we are now renewing together is not a formal act. Rather, it means renewing our response to the “Follow me” with which John’s Gospel ends (21:19). It leads to living our life in accordance with God’s plan, committing our whole self to the Lord Jesus. The discernment that knows and takes on the thoughts, expectations and needs of the people of our time stems from this.

In this spirit, I warmly thank each one of you for your service, for your love for the Church.

And the Mother is here! I place you, and myself, under the mantle of Mary, Our Lady.

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,
Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.
Purify the eyes of Pastors with the eye-wash of memory:
Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,
Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.
Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole; let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.

Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,
Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong.
Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the Truth of love.

Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom. Amen.

  

 Chapter 8

8-17

 
 
Pope Francis  15.05.16  Pentecost

“I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18).

The central purpose of Jesus mission, which culminated in the gift of the
Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship, which enables us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:14-15). Here we see our relationship renewed: the paternity of God is re-established in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation”, in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as “brothers” and “sisters”, since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.

Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.

“I will not leave you orphans”. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.

The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood.


Pope Francis       09.06.19  Holy Mass, St Peter's Square     Solemnity of Pentecost   Year C    John 20: 19-23,   Romans 8: 8-17,   

Pope Francis 09.06.19 Pentecost

Pentecost arrived, for the disciples, after fifty days of uncertainty. True, Jesus had risen. Overjoyed, they had seen him, listened to his words and even shared a meal with him. Yet they had not overcome their doubts and fears: they met behind closed doors (cf. Jn 20:19.26), uncertain about the future and not ready to proclaim the risen Lord. Then the Holy Spirit comes and their worries disappear. Now the apostles show themselves fearless, even before those sent to arrest them. Previously, they had been worried about saving their lives; now they are unafraid of dying. Earlier, they had huddled in the Upper Room; now they go forth to preach to every nation. Before the ascension of Jesus, they waited for God’s kingdom to come to them (cf. Acts 1:6); now they are filled with zeal to travel to unknown lands. Before, they had almost never spoken in public, and when they did, they had often blundered, as when Peter denied Jesus; now they speak with parrhesia to everyone. The disciples’ journey seemed to have reached the end of the line, when suddenly they were rejuvenated by the Spirit. Overwhelmed with uncertainty, when they thought everything was over, they were transformed by a joy that gave them a new birth. The Holy Spirit did this. The Spirit is far from being an abstract reality: he is the Person who is most concrete and close, the one who changes our lives. How does he do this? Let us consider the Apostles. The Holy Spirit did not make things easier for them, he didn’t work spectacular miracles, he didn’t take away their difficulties and their opponents. Rather, the Spirit brought into the lives of the disciples a harmony that had been lacking, his own harmony, for he is harmony.

Harmony within human beings. Deep down, in their hearts, the disciples needed to be changed. Their story teaches us that even seeing the Risen Lord is not enough, unless we welcome him into our hearts. It is no use knowing that the Risen One is alive, unless we too live as risen ones. It is the Spirit who makes Jesus live within us; he raises us up from within. That is why when Jesus appears to his disciples, he repeats the words, “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19.21), and bestows the Spirit. That is what peace really is, the peace bestowed on the Apostles. That peace does not have to do with resolving outward problems – God does not spare his disciples from tribulation and persecution. Rather, it has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit. The peace bestowed on the apostles, the peace that does not bring freedom from problems but in problems, is offered to each of us. Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves. It is a harmony so profound that it can even turn persecutions into blessings. Yet how often we choose to remain on the surface! Rather than seeking the Spirit, we try to keep afloat, thinking that everything will improve once this or that problem is over, once I no longer see that person, once things get better. But to do so is to stay on the surface: when one problem goes away, another arrives, and once more we grow anxious and ill at ease. Avoiding those who do not think as we do will not bring serenity. Resolving momentary problems will not bring peace. What makes a difference is the peace of Jesus, the harmony of the Spirit.

At today’s frenzied pace of life, harmony seems swept aside. Pulled in a thousand directions, we run the risk of nervous exhaustion and so we react badly to everything. Then we look for the quick fix, popping one pill after another to keep going, one thrill after another to feel alive. But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: he brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope. As Saint Paul tells us today, the Spirit keeps us from falling back into fear, for he makes us realize that we are beloved children (cf. Rom 8:15). He is the Consoler, who brings us the tender love of God. Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together. Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.

The Holy Spirit does not bring only harmony within us but also among us. He makes us Church, building different parts into one harmonious edifice. Saint Paul explains this well when, speaking of the Church, he often repeats a single word, “variety”: varieties of gifts, varieties of services, varieties of activities” (1 Cor 12:4-6). We differ in the variety of our qualities and gifts. The Holy Spirit distributes them creatively, so that they are not all identical. On the basis of this variety, he builds unity. From the beginning of creation, he has done this. Because he is a specialist in changing chaos into cosmos, in creating harmony. He is a specialist in creating diversity, enrichment, individuality. He is the creator of this diversity and, at the same time, the one who brings harmony and gives unity to diversity. He alone can do these two things.

In today’s world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born. In the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family. May he regenerate us! There is always a temptation to build “nests”, to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect, even within the Church. How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something! The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. He blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness. He looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions. The Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These nouns come before any adjectives. Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults. It could be said that we are living in a culture of adjectives that forgets about the nouns that name the reality of things. But also a culture of the insult as the first reaction to any opinion that I do not share. Later we come to realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life. Those who live by the Spirit, however, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.

To be spiritual, to savour the harmony of the Spirit, we need to adopt his way of seeing things. Then everything changes: with the Spirit, the Church is the holy People of God, mission is not proselytism but the spread of joy, as others become our brothers and sisters, all loved by the same Father. Without the Spirit, though, the Church becomes an organization, her mission becomes propaganda, her communion an exertion. Many Churches spend time making pastoral plans, discussing any number of things. That seems to be the road to unity, but it is not the way of the Spirit; it is the road to division. The Spirit is the first and last need of the Church (cf. Saint Paul VI, General Audience, 29 November 1972). He “comes where he is loved, where he is invited, where he is expected” (Saint Bonaventure, Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Easter).

Brothers and sisters, let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit. Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centredness into self-gift, come to us. Grant us the joy of the resurrection and perennially young hearts. Holy Spirit, our harmony, you who make of us one body, pour forth your peace upon the Church and our world. Holy Spirit, make us builders of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.

.
  

 Chapter 8

18-25

 
Pope Francis   29.10.19   Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Romans 8: 18-25,      Luke 13: 18-21

Pope Francis  29.10.19  Santa Marta

In the First Reading of today's Liturgy, taken from St Paul's letter to the Romans (Rom 8:18-25) the Apostle sings a hymn to hope. Certainly some of the Romans have come to complain and Paul exhorts us to look ahead. "I believe that the sufferings of the present time are not comparable to the future glory that will be revealed in us," he says, speaking also of Creation as "awaiting with eager expectation for the revelation of the children of God". There may be suffering and problems but this is tomorrow, while today you have the security of the promise that it is the Holy Spirit who awaits us and works already from this moment.

Hope is in fact like throwing an anchor to the other shore and clinging to the rope. But not only we, but of all Creation in hope will be freed, will enter into the glory of the children of God. And we too, who possess the first fruits of the Spirit, the security deposit, groan inwardly waiting for adoption.

Hope is this living in tension, always; knowing that we cannot make a nest here: the life of the Christian is in ongoing tension. If a Christian loses this perspective, his life becomes static and things that do not move are corroded. Let's think of water: when the water is still, it doesn't run, it doesn't move, it stagnates. A Christian who is not capable of being stretched, of being in tension, is missing something: he will end up stagnant. For him, the Christian life will be a philosophical doctrine, he will live it like that, he will say that it is faith but without hope it is not.

It is difficult to understand hope. If we speak of faith, we refer to faith in God who created us, in Jesus who redeemed us; and to reciting the Creed and to knowing concrete things about faith. If we speak of charity, it concerns doing good to one's neighbour, to others, many works of charity that are done to others. But hope is difficult to understand: it is the most humble of virtues that only the poor can have.

If we want to be men and women of hope, we must be poor, poor, not attached to anything. Poor. And open. Hope is humble, and it is a virtue that we work at - so to speak - every day: every day we have to take it back, every day we have to take the rope and see that the anchor is fixed there and I hold it in my hand; every day we have to remember that we have the security, that it is the Spirit who works in us with small things.

In today's Gospel (Lk 13:18-21) Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the mustard seed planted in the garden. Let's wait for it to grow. We don't go every day to see how it goes, because otherwise it will never grow, because, as Paul says, "hope needs patience". It is the patience of knowing that we sow, but it is God who gives growt". Hope is artisanal, small, it is sowing a grain and letting the earth give growth.

To talk about hope, Jesus, in today's Gospel, also uses the image of the yeast that a woman took and mixed in three portions of flour. Yeast not kept in the fridge but kneaded in life, just as the grain is buried underground.

For this reason, hope is a virtue that cannot be seen: it works from below; it makes us go and look from below. It is not easy to live in hope, but I would say that it should be the air that a Christian breathes, an air of hope; on the other hand, he cannot walk, he cannot go on because he does not know where to go. Hope - yes, it's true - gives us security: hope does not disappoint. Never. If you hope, you will not be disappointed. We must be open to that promise of the Lord, leaning towards that promise, but knowing that there is the Spirit that works in us.

May the Lord give us, to all of us, this grace of living in tension, in tension but not through nerves, problems, no: in tension through the Holy Spirit who throws us to the other shore and keeps us in hope.
  

 Chapter 8

31b-39

 
Pope Francis   31.10.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Romans 8: 31b-39,     Luke 13: 31-35
Thursday of the Thirtieth week in Ordinary Time
Pope Francis  31.10.19 Santa Marta

The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the love of Christ for us and to prepare our hearts to allow ourselves to be loved by the Lord.

In the First Reading (Rom 8:31b-39), St Paul could seem to some to be too proud or too sure of himself when he affirms that anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword will succeed in separating us from Christ.

St Paul is really showing us that we conquer overwhelmingly through the love of Christ. Ever since the Lord called to Paul along the road to Damascus, the Apostle to the Gentiles sought to understand the mystery of Christ.

He had fallen in love with Christ, caught up in a strong love and not in a soap opera type of story. St Paul felt the Lord always accompanied him through all manner of good and bad times.

He felt this in love. I ask myself: do I love the Lord like him? When hard times come, how often do we feel the desire to say: ‘The Lord has abandoned me. He doesn’t love me anymore’ and then seek to abandon the Lord in turn. But Paul was sure that the Lord would never abandon him. He understood the love of Christ in his own life. This is the path that Paul shows us: the path of love at all times, through thick and thin, at every moment. This is the greatness of Paul.

Christ’s love, cannot be described. It is immeasurable.

It is really He who was sent by the Father to save us and He did so with love. He gave His life for me: there is no greater love than to give your life for another person. We can think
about a mother – the love of a mother, for example – who gives her life for her child, accompanying him or her through life in difficult times… Jesus’ love is near to us, and is not an abstract love. It is a You-Me/Me-You love – each of us – with our own first and last name.

In Luke’s Gospel, something concrete in Jesus’ love. Speaking about Jerusalem, Jesus recalls the times He tried to gather her children, "like a hen gathers her brood under her wings", but was opposed. So he wept.

Chris's love leads Him to tears, to weep for each of us. What tenderness is in this expression. Jesus could have condemned Jerusalem, said horrible things… But he laments that she would not allow herself to be loved like the hen’s chicks. This is the tender love of God in Jesus. Which is exactly what Paul understood. If we cannot feel or understand the tender love of God in Jesus for each of us, then we will never, never, be able to understand the love of Christ. It is a type of love that always waits patiently, like the love with which He plays His last card with Judas: ‘Friend’, offering him a way out, even until the end. He loves even the worst sinners with this tenderness, all the way up to the end. I’m not sure we think about Jesus being so tender – Jesus who cries, as He cried before the tomb of Lazarus, as He cried here looking out over Jerusalem.

Let us ask ourselves if Jesus weeps for us, He who has given us so many things while we often choose to take another path.

The love of God, is expressed in the tender tears of Jesus, which is why St Paul had fallen so in love with Christ that nothing could drag him away from Him.
  
 
Chapter 8
38-39
 

In the spiritual atmosphere of the month of November, which is marked by the remembrance of the faithful departed, we remember our brother Cardinals and Bishops from around the world who have

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/love-of-god/04.11.13.jpg
returned to the Father’s house during this last year. As we offer this Holy Eucharist for each one of them, let us ask the Lord to grant them the heavenly reward promised to his good and faithful servants.

We have listened to the words of St Paul: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

The Apostle presents the love of God as the deepest and most compelling reason for Christian trust and hope. He lists the opposing and mysterious forces that can threaten the journey of faith. But immediately he states with confidence that even if our entire life is surrounded by threats, nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love which Christ himself has obtained for us by his total self-gift. Even the demonic powers, which are hostile to man, stand powerless before the intimate union of love that exists between Jesus and whoever receives him in faith. This reality of the faithful love that God has for each one of us helps us to face life’s daily journey, which sometimes passes quickly and at other times is slow and laborious, with serenity and strength.

Only man’s sin can break this bond, and yet even in this case God will always seek man, he will run after him in order to reestablish a union with him that endures even after death; indeed, a union that reaches its culmination in the final encounter with the Father. This certitude gives new and full meaning to earthly life and opens us to hope for life beyond death.

In fact, every time we are faced with the death of a loved one or of someone whom we knew well, the question arises within us: “What will become of his life, his work, his service in the Church?”. The Book of Wisdom tells us: they are in the hands of God! The hand is a sign of welcome and protection, it is a sign of a personal relationship of respect and faithfulness: to give a hand, to shake someone’s hand. Now, these zealous pastors who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and their brothers, are in the hands of God. All that concerns them is well cared for and will not be corroded by death. All of their days, interwoven as they were with joy and suffering, hope and struggle, faithfulness to the Gospel and passion for the spiritual and material salvation of the flock entrusted to them, are in the hands of God.

Even their sins, our sins, are in the hands of God; those merciful hands, those hands “wounded” by love. It was not by chance that Jesus willed to preserve the wounds in his hands to enable us to know and feel his mercy. And this is our strength, our hope.

This reality, full of hope, is the prospect of the final resurrection, of eternal life to which the “just”, those who receive the Word of God and are docile to his Spirit, are destined.

This is how we want to remember our deceased brother Cardinals and Bishops. As men devoted to their vocation and to their service to the Church, who have loved as one loves a bride. In prayer let us entrust them to the Lord’s mercy, through the intercession of Our Lady and St Joseph, that he may receive them into his Kingdom of light and peace, there where the just and those who were faithful witnesses of the Gospel live eternally. And let us also pray for ourselves, that the Lord may prepare us for this encounter. We do not know the date, but we do know that the encounter will come.

  
 
Chapter 10
9
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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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