Service

Service - Pope Francis       


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Pope Francis   07.08.16   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome       19th Sunday of Ordinary Time   Year C      Luke 12: 32-48

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the text of today’s Gospel (Lk 12:32-48), Jesus speaks to his disciples about the attitude to assume in view of the final encounter with him, and explains that the expectation of this encounter should impel us to live a life full of
good works. Among other things he says: “Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys” (v. 33). It is a call to give importance to almsgiving as a work of mercy, not to place trust in ephemeral goods, to use things without attachment and selfishness, but according to God’s logic, the logic of attention to others, the logic of love. We can be so attached to money, and have many things, but in the end we cannot take them with us. Remember that “the shroud has no pockets”.

Jesus’ lesson continues with three short parables on the theme of vigilance. This is important:
vigilance, being alert, being vigilant in life. The first is the parable of the servants waiting for their master to return at night. “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes” (v. 37): it is the beatitude of faithfully awaiting the Lord, of being ready, with an attitude of service. He presents himself each day, knocks at the door of our heart. Those who open it will be blessed, because they will have a great reward: indeed, the Lord will make himself a servant to his servants — it is a beautiful reward — in the great banquet of his Kingdom He himself will serve them. With this parable, set at night, Jesus proposes life as a vigil of diligent expectation, which heralds the bright day of eternity. To be able to enter one must be ready, awake and committed to serving others, from the comforting perspective that, “beyond”, it will no longer be we who serve God, but He himself who will welcome us to his table. If you think about it, this already happens today each time we meet the Lord in prayer, or in serving the poor, and above all in the Eucharist, where he prepares a banquet to nourish us of his Word and of his Body.

The second parable describes the unexpected arrival of the thief. This fact requires vigilance; indeed, Jesus exhorts: “You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (v. 40).

The disciple is one who awaits the Lord and his Kingdom. The Gospel clarifies this perspective with the third parable: the steward of a house after the master’s departure. In the first scene, the steward faithfully carries out his tasks and receives compensation. In the second scene, the steward abuses his authority, and beats the servants, for which, upon the master’s unexpected return, he will be punished. This scene describes a situation that is also frequent in our time: so much daily injustice, violence and cruelty are born from the idea of behaving as masters of the lives of others. We have only one master who likes to be called not “master” but “Father”. We are all servants, sinners and children: He is the one Father.

Jesus reminds us today that the expectation of the eternal beatitude does not relieve us of the duty to render the world more just and more liveable. On the contrary, this very hope of ours of possessing the eternal Kingdom impels us to work to improve the conditions of earthly life, especially of
our weakest brothers and sisters. May the Virgin Mary help us not to be people and communities dulled by the present, or worse, nostalgic for the past, but striving toward the future of God, toward the encounter with him, our life and our hope. 




https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-06/pope-homily-santa-marta-barnabas-evangelization.html

Evangelization has three fundamental dimensions: proclamation, service and gratuitousness.

The readings for the Memorial of St Barnabas (Acts 11:21-26; 12: 1-3 and Matthew 10:7-13) demonstrate that the
Holy Spirit is the “protagonist” of the Gospel proclamation. That proclamation is unlike other types of communication. Due to the action of the Holy Spirit, it has the power to change hearts. There have been pastoral plans that seem to be perfect. They were incapable of changing hearts because they were ends in themselves. They were not instruments of evangelization.

It is not with an entrepreneurial attitude that Jesus sends us…. No, it is with the Holy Spirit. This is courage. The true courage behind evangelization is not human stubbornness. No, it is the Spirit who gives us courage and who carries you forward.

Service is the second dimension of evangelization. In fact, pursuing a career or success in the Church is a sure sign that someone doesn’t know what evangelization is…for the one who commands must be the one who serves.

We can say good things but without service it is not proclamation. It may seem to be, but it is not, because the Spirit not only carries you forward to proclaim the truths of the Lord and the life of the Lord, but He also brings you to the service of the brothers and sisters, even in small things. It’s awful when you find evangelizers who make others serve them and who live to be served. They are like the princes of evangelization – how awful.

Gratuitousness is the third aspect of evangelization because no one can be redeemed by his or her own merit. The Lord reminds us, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Matthew 10:8).

All of us have been saved gratuitously by Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must give gratuitously. Those who carry out the pastoral work of evangelization must learn this. Their life must be gratuitous, given in service, proclamation, borne by the Spirit. Their personal poverty forces them to open themselves up to the Spirit.




Pope Francis        09.10.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta        Luke 10: 38-42
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/busy/09.10.18.jpg

There are so many Christians, yes, they go to Mass on Sundays, but they are always busy. They have no time for their children, they don’t play with their children. This is bad. “I have so much to do, I’m so busy…” [they say]. And in the end they become worshippers of that religion which is busy-ness: they belong to the group of the busy, who are always doing things… But pause, gaze upon the Lord, take the Gospel, listen to the Word of the Lord, open your heart… No: always the language of the hands, always. And they do good, but not Christian good: a human good. These people lack contemplation. Martha lacked that. [She was] courageous, always going forward, taking things in hand, but lacking peace: losing time gazing upon the Lord.

On the other hand, Mary doesn’t sit around “doing-nothing.” She “gazed upon the Lord because the Lord had touched her heart; and it is from there, from that inspiration of the Lord, that there came the work that she had to undertake later.” This is the rule of St Benedict, “Ora et labora,” “
pray and work,” which monks and nuns incarnate in the cloister, who certainly don’t spend the whole day gazing at the heavens. They pray and work.” And this was especially what St Paul incarnated, as he wrote in the day’s first Reading: “When God chose him,” the Pope said, “he didn’t go off to preach” immediately, but instead “went off to pray,” “to contemplate the mystery of Jesus Christ who was revealed”:

Everything Paul did, he did with this spirit of contemplation, of gazing upon the Lord. It was the Lord who spoke from his heart, because Paul was in love with the Lord. And this is the key for not going astray: “being in love.” In order to know which side we are on, or whether we are exaggerating because we are getting into an overly abstract, even gnostic, contemplation; or whether we are too busy; we must ask ourselves the question: “Am I in love with the Lord? Am I certain, certain that He has chosen me? Or do I
live my Christianity like this, doing things… Yes, I do this, I do that; But what does my heart do? Does it contemplate?

The Pope said it is like a husband returning home from work, and finding his wife waiting to greet him: A wife that is truly in love does not make him comfortable, and then return to her chores; she “takes the time to be with him.” We too take time for the Lord in our service to others:

Contemplation and
service: this is the path of our life. Each one of us can think to ourselves, “How much time each day do I give to contemplating the mystery of Jesus?” And then, “How do I work? Do I work so much that there seems to be an alienation? Or is my work consistent with my faith, work as a service that comes from the Gospel?” We would do well to consider this.


                         Matthew 25: 1-13  
Pope Francis The secret to live is to live to serve

In the parable of today’s Gospel, we heard that the bridesmaids, all ten of them, “went forth to meet the bridegroom” (Mt 25:1). For all of us, life is a constant call to go forth: from our mother’s womb, from the house where we are born, from infancy to youth, from youth to adulthood, all the way to our going forth from this world. For ministers of the Gospel too, life is in constant movement, as we go forth from our family home to wherever the Church sends us, from one variety of service to another. We are always on the move, until we make our final journey.

The Gospel shows us the meaning of this constant wayfaring that is life: it is a going forth to meet the Bridegroom. This is what life is meant to be lived for: the call that resounds in the night, according to the Gospel, and which we will hear at the hour of our death: “Here is the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (v. 6). The encounter with Jesus, the Bridegroom who “loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), gives meaning and direction to our lives. That and nothing more. It is the finale that illuminates everything that preceded it. Just as the seeding is judged by the harvest, so the journey of life is shaped by its ultimate goal.

If our life is a journey to meet the Bridegroom, it is also the time we have been granted to grow in love. Every day of our lives is a preparation for the wedding banquet, a great period of betrothal. Let us ask ourselves: do I live like someone preparing to meet the Bridegroom? In the ministry, amid all our meetings, activities and paperwork, we must never lose sight of the one thread that holds the entire fabric together: our expectation of the Bridegroom. The centre of it all can only be a heart in love with the Lord. Only in this way will the visible body of our ministry be sustained by an invisible soul. Here we begin to realize what the Apostle tells us in the second reading: “We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). Let us not keep our gaze fixed on earthly affairs, but look beyond them. It is true when they say that the really important things are invisible to our eyes. The really important thing in life is hearing the voice of the Bridegroom. That voice asks us daily to catch sight of the Lord who comes, and to make our every activity a means of preparation for his wedding banquet.

We are reminded of this by what the Gospel tells is the one essential thing for the bridesmaids awaiting the wedding banquet. It is not their gowns, or their lamps, but rather the oil kept in small jars.

Here we see a first feature of oil: it is not impressive. It remains hidden; it does not appear, yet without it there is no light. What does this suggest to us? That in the Lord’s eyes what matters is not appearances but the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7). Everything that the world runs after and then parades – honours, power, appearances, glory – passes away and leaves nothing behind. Detachment from worldly appearances is essential to our preparation for heaven. We need to say no to the “cosmetic culture” that tells us to worry about how we look. Instead of our outward appearance that passes away, we should purify and keep custody of our heart, our inner self, which is precious in the eyes of God.

Along with this first feature – not to be flashy but essential – there is another aspect of oil: it exists in order to be consumed. Only when it is burned does it spread light. Our lives are like that: they radiate light only if they are consumed, if they spend themselves in service. The secret to live is to live to serve. Service is the ticket to be presented at the door of the eternal wedding banquet. Whatever will remain of life, at the doorstep of eternity, is not what we gained but what we gave away (cf. Mt 6:19-21; 1 Cor 13:8). The meaning of life is found in our response to God’s offer of love. And that response is made up of true love, self-giving and service. Serving others involved a cost, since it involves spending ourselves, letting ourselves be consumed. In our ministry, those who do not live to serve do not de-serve to live. Those who hold on too tightly to their lives will lose them.

A third feature of oil is clearly present in the Gospel: it must be prepared. Oil has to be stored up ahead of time and carried with one (cf. vv. 4, 7). Love is certainly spontaneous, but it is not impromptu. It was precisely by their lack of preparation that the bridesmaids excluded from the wedding banquet showed their foolishness. Now is the time for preparation: here and now, day by day, love has to be stored up and fostered. Let us ask for grace to renew daily our first love with the Lord (cf. Rev 2:4), lest its flame die out. It is a great temptation to sink into a life without love, which ends up being like an empty vase, a snuffed lamp. If we do not invest in love, life will stifle it. Those called to God’s wedding feast cannot be content with a sedentary, flat and humdrum life that plods on without enthusiasm, seeking petty satisfactions and pursuing fleeting rewards. A dreary and predictable life, content to carry out its duties without giving of itself, is unworthy of the Bridegroom.

As we pray for the Cardinals and Bishops who have passed away in this last year, let us beg the intercession of all those who lived unassuming lives, content to prepare daily to meet the Lord. Following the example of these witnesses, who praise God are all around us in great numbers, let us not be content with a quick glance at this day and nothing else. Instead, let us desire to look farther ahead, to the wedding banquet that awaits us. A life burning with desire for God and trained by love will be prepared to enter the chamber of the Bridegroom, and this, forever.




Pope Francis   21.07.19   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome   16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C    Luke 10: 38-42 

Pope Francis  21.07.19  Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this Sunday's Gospel passage, Luke the evangelist tells us of Jesus's visit to the house of Martha and Mary, the Sisters of Lazarus (cf. Lk 10: 38-42). They welcome Him, and Mary sits at His feet to listen to Him; she leaves what she was doing to be close to Jesus: she does not want to miss any of His words. As it was for Mary it can be said for each of us. There should be no occupation or concern that can keep us away from the divine master. Everything should always be put aside because, when He comes to visit us in our lives, His presence and His word come before everything else. The Lord always surprises us: when we really listen to Him, the clouds vanish, doubts give way to truth, fears to serenity, and the numerous situations of life find their rightful place. The Lord always, fixes things as well. Even for us.

In this scene of Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus, St. Luke shows the
prayerful attitude of the believer, who knows how to be in the presence of the Master in order to listen to Him and to be in harmony with Him. It is a matter of taking a break during the day, of gathering together in silence for a few minutes to make room for the Lord who passes and of finding the courage to remain a little on the side lines with Him in order to then return, with more serenity and effectiveness to the aspects of everyday life. Praising the behaviour of Mary, who has chosen the better part (v. 42), Jesus seems to repeat to each of us: "do not be carried away by things to do but listen to the voice of the Lord, to carry out well the tasks that life gives you."

Then there is the other sister, Martha. Saint Luke says that she was the one who welcomed Jesus (cf. v. 38). Perhaps Martha was the older of the two sisters, we don't know, but certainly this woman had the charism of hospitality. In fact, while Mary is listening to Jesus, she's taken with many services. Therefore, Jesus says to her, "Martha, Martha, you anxious and worried about many things" (v. 41). With these words He certainly doesn't intend to condemn the attitude of
service, but rather the anxiety with which it is sometimes experienced. We also share Saint Martha's concern and, following her example, we propose to make sure that in our families and in our communities, there is a sense of welcome, of fraternity, so that everyone can feel at home, especially the little ones and the poor and those who knock on our door.

Therefore, today's Gospel reminds us that the wisdom of the heart lies precisely in knowing how to combine these two elements:
contemplation and action. Martha and Mary show us the way. If we want to savour life with joy, we must associate these two attitudes: on the one hand, to stand at the feet of Jesus, to listen to Him as He reveals to us the secret of everything; on the other, to be attentive and ready in hospitality, when He passes by and knocks on our door, with the face of a friend who needs a moment of refreshment and fraternity. It wants our hospitality.

May Mary most Holy, Mother of the Church, give us the grace to love and serve God and our brothers and sisters with the hands of Martha and the heart of Mary, so that by always listening to Christ can we be artisans of peace and hope. And this is interesting: with these two attitudes we can become artisans of peace and hope.





Pope Francis      18.08.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome     Angelus 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Luke  12: 49-53

Pope Francis  18.08.19  Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12: 49-53 ) Jesus warns his disciples that now is the time to decide. His coming into the world, in fact, coincides with the time of making decisive choices: the option in favour of the Gospel cannot be postponed. And in order to better explain His message, He uses the image of fire that He himself came to bring upon Earth. He says: "I have come to bring fire upon the Earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!» (see para. 49). These words are meant to help the disciples abandon every attitude of laziness, apathy, indifference and closure so as to welcome the fire of
God's love; that love which, as Saint Paul reminds us was poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 5). Because it is the Holy Spirit that helps us love God and love our neighbour; It is the Holy Spirit that we all have inside.

Jesus reveals to his friends, and to us, his most ardent desire: to bring the fire ground of His Father's love to Earth, which kindles life and by which we are saved. Jesus calls us to spread this fire in the world, thanks to which we will be recognized as his true disciples. The fire of love, kindled by Christ into the world through the Holy Spirit, is a limitless fire, is a universal fire. This has been seen since the early days of Christianity: the witness of the Gospel has spread like beneficial wildfire overcoming every division between individuals, groups, peoples and nations. The evangelical message burns all forms of particularism and keeps charity open to all, with a preference for the poorest and most excluded.

The adherence to the fire of love that Jesus brought to Earth embraces our entire existence and
adoring God and a willingness to serve our neighbour. Worshiping God and being available to serve our neighbour. The first, adoring God means learning the prayer of adoration, which we often forget. That is why I invite everyone to discover the beauty of the prayer of adoration and to practice it often. And then the second, a willingness to serve our neighbour: I think with admiration of so many communities and groups of young people who, even during the summer, are dedicated to this service for the sick, the poor, and people with disabilities. To live according to the spirit of the Gospel, it is necessary that in the face of ever changing needs that are emerging in the world, that there be disciples of Christ who can respond with new charitable initiatives. And so, by adoring God and serving our neighbours – both together, loving God and serving our neighbour – the Gospel might truly manifest itself as the fire that saves, that changes the world starting from a change in each one of our hearts.

In this perspective, we can also understand the other statement of Jesus in today's passage, that at first glance might disconcert us: "Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I say to you, division "(Lk 12.51). He came to "separate with fire". Separate what? Good from evil, right from wrong. In this sense He came to "divide", put into crisis – but in a healthy way – the lives of His disciples, breaking the easy illusions of those who believe they can combine Christian life and worldliness, Christian life with compromises of all kinds, religious practices and attitudes against others. In other words, true religion with superstitious practices: how many people who say they are Christians go to
sooth sayers or palm readers in order to have their future read! This is superstition, this is not of God. We are talking about not living as hypocrites, but of being willing to pay the price of consistent choices – this is the attitude that all of us should seek in life: consistent – pay the price to be consistent with the Gospel. Consistent with the Gospel. Because it is good to say that we are Christians, but above all we need to be Christians in concrete situations, witnessing to the Gospel which is essentially love for God and for our brothers and sisters.

May Mary Most Holy helps us to allow ourselves to allow
our hearts to be purified by the fire brought by Jesus, and to spread it through our lives, decisive and courageous choices.