St John

Pope Francis       24.06.13   Holy Mass  Santa Marta     Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist  Year C     Luke 1: 57-66, 80

Who really was John? John himself told the scribes and Pharisees he was a voice crying in the wilderness, he was preaching about another who was yet to come. The meaning of his life was to prepare the way for another. In all this lies “the mystery of John” who “never makes the word his own”. St John is the one who points to him, who teaches, the voice that indicates Another.

In sum, he is “a voice, not a word, a light but not his own, John seems to be nothing”. This is John’s “vocation”. When we contemplate the life of this man, so great, so powerful — everyone believed he was the Messiah — when we think of how this life was annihilated, his last days spent in a dark prison, we discover a mystery. We only know that his head ended on a platter as a great gift from a dancer to an adulteress. I believe it is impossible to sink any lower, to annihilate oneself.

The model we are offered today is John, the model of “a Church ever at the service of the Word. Pray for the grace to imitate John, to be solely a Church-voice which points to the Word, even to martyrdom.




Pope Francis     19.01.14  Holy Mass Roman Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Castro Pretorio      Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A      John 1: 29-34

Pope Francis 19.01.14

This passage from the Gospel is beautiful. John was baptizing; and Jesus, who had been baptized prior to this — some days before — was coming towards him and came before John. And John felt the power of the Holy Spirit within him to bear witness to Jesus. Looking at him, and looking at the people around Him, he said: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. And he bore witness to Jesus: this is Jesus, this is the One who has come to save us; this is the One who will give us the power of hope.

Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them. “But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that..., I can’t even carry it with a truck...”. Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault.... He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin...”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints. Never, never! Listen carefully, young people, who are just beginning life now: Jesus never disappoints. Never. This is the testimony of John: Jesus, the good One, the meek One, will end as a lamb, who is slain. Without crying out. He came to save us, to take away sin. Mine, yours and that of the whole world: all of it, all of it.

And now I invite you to do something: let us close our eyes, let us imagine the scene on the banks of the river, John as he is baptizing and Jesus who is approaching. And let us listen to John’s voice: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Let us watch Jesus and in silence, each one of us, say something to Jesus from his heart. In silence. (Pause for silence).

May the Lord Jesus, who is meek, who is good — he is a lamb — who came to take away sin, accompany us on the path of our life. So be it.




Pope Francis   15.01.17   Holy Mass, Roman Parish of Santa Maria A Setteville      Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A     John 1: 29-34

 
Pope Francis 15.01.17 Santa Maria
The Gospel presents us John at the moment in which he bears witness to Jesus. Seeing Jesus come toward him, he says: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me’” (Jn 1:29-30). This is the Messiah. He bears witness. And several disciples, upon hearing this testimony — John’s disciples — follow Jesus: they go after Him and are happy: “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). They felt Jesus’ presence. But why did they encounter Jesus? Because there was a witness; because there was a man who bore witness to Jesus.

This is how it happens in our life. There are many Christians who profess that Jesus is God; there are many priests who profess that Jesus is God, many bishops.... But does everyone bear witness to Jesus? Or is being Christian ... a way of life like another, like being the fan of a team? ‘Yes, I’m a Christian...’. Or having a philosophy: ‘I follow these commandments, I’m a Christian, I must do this...’. Being Christian, first of all, is bearing witness to Jesus. The first thing. This is what the Apostles did: the Apostles bore witness to Jesus, and because of this, Christianity spread throughout the world. Witness and martyrdom: the same thing. One bears witness in small ways, and some reach greatness, giving their life in martyrdom, like the Apostles. But the Apostles did not take a course to become witnesses to Jesus; they did not study, they did not go to university. They felt the Spirit within and followed the inspiration of the Spirit; they were faithful to this. But they were sinners, all! The Twelve were sinners. ‘No, Father, only Judas!’. No, poor man.... We do not know what happened after his death, because there is also God’s mercy at that moment. But all were sinners, every one. Envious, they had jealousy among them: ‘No, I must have the first place, and you the second’; and two of them spoke to their mother so she went to ask Jesus to give the first place to her sons.... They were like this, with all their sins. They were also traitors, because when Jesus was captured, they all fled, full of fear; they hid: they were frightened. And Peter, who knew he was in charge, felt the need to come a little closer to see what was happening; and when the priest’s housekeeper said: ‘You too were...’, he said: ‘No, no, no!’. He denied Jesus; he betrayed Jesus. Peter! The first Pope. He betrayed Jesus. These are witnesses! Yes, because they were witnesses of the salvation that Jesus brings, and everyone converted for this salvation, they let themselves be saved. It is beautiful when, on the riverbank, Jesus performed that miracle [the miraculous catch of fish] and Peter says: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8). Being a witness does not mean being a saint, but being a poor man, a poor woman who says: ‘Yes, I am a sinner, but Jesus is the Lord and I bear witness to him, and I seek to do good every day, to correct my life, to take the right path’.

I would only like to leave you a message. We all understand this, what I have said: sinful witnesses. But, reading the Gospel, I do not find one [certain type of] sin in the Apostles. There were some brutes, who wanted to burn down a village that had not welcomed them.... They had many sins: traitors, cowards.... But I do not find one [in particular]: they were not gossipmongers; they did not speak ill of others, they did not speak badly of one another. In this they were good. They did not ‘rip off others’. I think of our communities: how many times this sin of ‘flaying one another’, of disparaging, of believing oneself superior to another and secretly speaking ill! In the Gospel, they did not do this. They did terrible things; they betrayed the Lord, but did not do this. Even in one parish, in one community who knows where ... this one cheated, this one did that..., but then they confess, they convert.... We are all sinners. But a community where there are gossipmongers is a community that is incapable of bearing witness.

I will say only this: do you want a perfect parish? No gossiping. None. If you have something against another, go and say it to his face, or tell the parish priest; but not among yourselves. This is a sign that the Holy Spirit is in a parish. Other sins, we all have them. There is a collection of sins: one takes this, one takes that, but we are all sinners. But like a woodworm, what destroys a community is gossip, behind others’ backs.

I would like this community, on this day of my visit, to make the resolution not to gossip. When you have the desire to gossip, bite your tongue: it will swell, but it will do you so much good, because in the Gospel these witnesses to Jesus — sinners: they even betrayed the Lord! — they never gossiped about one another. This is beautiful. A parish where there is no gossip is a perfect parish; it is a parish of sinners, yes, but of witnesses. This is the witness that the first Christians bore: ‘As they love each other, as they love each other!’. Love each other at least in this. May the Lord give you this gift, this grace: never, never speak ill of one another. Thank you.
 



Pope Francis    08.02.19      Holy Mass, Santa Marta         Mark 6: 14-29
Pope Francis 08.02.19 at Holy Mass Santa Marta

John knew he had to diminish and annihilate himself to the point of death because Jesus must grow. The forerunner of Christ denied he was the Messiah but showed Jesus to His disciples and gradually faded away until he was extinguished and beheaded in the dark and lonely cell of the prison.

Martyrdom is a service and mystery which entails the very great gift of life. He met a violent end because of human attitudes that lead to taking away the life of a Christian, of an honest person and make him a martyr.
At first, Herod believed John was a prophet, listened to him willingly and protected him to a certain extent but held him in prison. He was undecided because John reproached him for the sin of adultery.

The king heard God’s voice asking him to change his life but he could not because he was
corrupt, and it is very difficult to get out of corruption. Herod could not come out of the tangle as he tried to make diplomatic balances between his adulterous life and many injustices and the awareness of the holiness of the prophet whom he decapitated.
The Gospel says that Herodias
hated John because he spoke clearly. Hatred is “Satan’s breath”, it is very powerful, capable of doing everything excepting loving. The devil’s 'love' is hatred and Herodias had the satanic spirit of hatred that destroys.

The daughter of Herodias was a good dancer and a delight to the diners and Herod who promised the girl everything she asked, just like Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.

Behind these characters there was Satan, who sowed hatred in the woman,
vanity in the girl and corruption in the king.

The precursor of Christ, the greatest man born of a woman, as Jesus described him, ended up alone, in a dark prison cell, the victim of the whim of a vain dancer, the hatred of a diabolical woman and the corruption of a vacillating king. John is a martyr who allowed himself to diminish in order to give way to the Messiah.

John died in the cell, in anonymity, like so many of our martyrs. This is a great witness, of a great man, of a great saint.

Life has value only in giving it, in giving it in love, in truth, in giving it to others, in daily life, in the family.

If someone preserves life for himself, guards it like the king in h
is corruption or the woman with her hatred, or the daughter with her vanity, a little like an adolescent, unknowingly, life dies and withers, becoming useless.

Let us all to think about the 4 characters in the Gospel and  open our hearts so that the Lord may speak to us about this.




Pope Francis  19.01.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square   Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A        John 1: 29-34

 
Pope Francis Angelus 19.01.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This second Sunday of Ordinary Time is in continuity with the Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. The Gospel passage (cf. Jn 1: 29-34) again speaks to us of the manifestation of Jesus. Indeed, after being baptized in the River Jordan, He was consecrated by the Holy Spirit Who came upon Him, and was proclaimed Son of God by the voice of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 3: 16-17 et seq.). The Evangelist John, unlike the other three, does not describe the event, but proposes to us the witness of John the Baptist. He was the first witness of Christ. God had called him and prepared him for this.

The Baptist cannot hold back the urgent desire to bear witness to Jesus and declares: “I have seen and have borne witness” (v. 34). John saw something shocking, that is, the beloved Son of God in solidarity with sinners; and the Holy Spirit made him understand this unheard-of novelty, a true reversal. In fact, while in all religions it is man who offers and sacrifices something to God, in the event Jesus is God Who offers His Son for the salvation of humanity. John manifests his astonishment and his consent to this newness brought by Jesus, through a meaningful expression that we repeat each time in the Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29).

The testimony of John the Baptist invites us to start out again and again on our journey of faith: to start afresh from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy that the Father gave for us. Let us be surprised once again by God’s choice to be on our side, to show solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking it on fully.

Let us learn from John the Baptist not to assume that we already know Jesus, that we already know everything about Him (cf. v. 31). This is not so. Let us pause with the Gospel, perhaps even contemplating an icon of Christ, a “Holy face”. Let us contemplate with our eyes and yet more with our hearts; and let us allow ourselves to be instructed by the Holy Spirit, Who tells us inside: It is He! He is the Son of God made lamb, immolated out of love. He alone has brought, He alone has suffered, He alone has atoned for sin, the sin of each one of us, the sin of the world, and also my sins. All of them. He brought them all upon Himself and took them away from us, so that we would finally be free, no longer slaves to evil. Yes, we are still poor sinners, but not slaves, no, not slaves: children, children of God!

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the strength to bear witness to her Son Jesus; to proclaim Him with joy with a life freed from evil and a word full of astonished and grateful faith.





Pope Francis          06.12.20   Angelus, St Peter's Square        2nd Sunday of Advent Year B          Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11,        Mark 1: 1-8


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis  2nd Sunday of Advent Angelus 06.12.20


This Sunday's Gospel passage (Mk 1:1-8) introduces the person and work of John the Baptist. He reveals to his contemporaries an itinerary of faith similar to the one that Advent proposes to us: that we prepare ourselves to receive the Lord at Christmas. This itinerary of faith is an itinerary of conversion. What does the word 'conversion' mean? In the Bible it means, first and foremost, to change direction and orientation; and thus also to change one’s way of thinking. In the moral and spiritual life, to convert means to turn oneself from evil to good, from sin to love of God. And this is what what the Baptist was teaching, who in the desert of Judea was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”(v. 4). Receiving baptism was an outward and visible sign of the conversion of those who had listened to his preaching and decided to repent. That baptism occurred with immersion in the Jordan, in water, but it proved worthless; it was a only a sign and it was worthless if there was no willingness to repent and change one's life.

Conversion involves sorrow for sins committed, the desire to be free from them, the intention to exclude them from one’s own life forever. To exclude sin it is also necessary to reject everything that is connected to sin; the things that are connected to sin and that need to be rejected – a worldly mentality, excessive esteem for comforts, excessive esteem for pleasure, for well-being, for wealth. The example illustrating this comes to us once again from today's Gospel in the person of John the Baptist: an austere man who renounces excess and seeks the essential. This is the first aspect of conversion: detachment from sin and worldliness: Commencing a journey of detachment from these things.

The other aspect of conversion is the the aim of the journey, that is, the search for God and his kingdom. Detachment from worldly things and seeking God and his kingdom. Abandoning comforts and a worldly mentality is not an end in itself; it is not an asceticism only to do penance: a Christian is not a “fakir”. It is something else. Detachment is not an end in itself, but is a means of attaining something greater, namely, the kingdom of God, communion with God, friendship with God. But this is not easy, because there are many ties that bind us closely to sin; it is not easy... Temptation always pulls down, pulls down, and thus the ties that keep us close to sin: inconstancy, discouragement, malice, unwholesome environments, bad examples. At times the yearning we feel toward the Lord is too weak and it almost seems that God is silent; his promises of consolation seem far away and unreal to us, like the image of the caring and attentive shepherd, which resounds today in the reading from Isaiah (40:1,11). And so one is tempted to say that it is impossible to truly convert. How often we have heard this discouragement! “No, I can't do it. I barely start and then I turn back”. And this is bad. But it is possible. It is possible. When you have this discouraging thought, do not remain there, because this is quicksand. It is quicksand: the quicksand of a mediocre existence. This is mediocrity. What can we do in these cases, when one would like to go but feels he or she cannot do it? First of all, remind ourselves that conversion is a grace: no one can convert by his or own strength. It is a grace that the Lord gives you, and thus we need to forcefully ask God for it. To ask God to convert us to the degree in which we open ourselves up to the beauty, the goodness, the tenderness of God. Think about God's tenderness. God is not a bad father, an unkind father, no. He is tender. He loves us so much, like the Good Shepherd, who searches for the last member of his flock. It is love, and this is conversion: a grace of God. You begin to walk, because it is he who moves you to walk, and you will see how he will arrive. Pray, walk, and you will always take a step forward.

May Mary Most Holy, whom we will celebrate the day after tomorrow as the Immaculate Conception, help us to separate ourselves more and more from sin and worldliness, in order to open ourselves to God, to his Word, to his love which restores and saves.





Pope Francis    13.12.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square      3rd Sunday of Advent Year B Gaudete Sunday       Philippians 4: 4,5,       John 1: 6-8, 19-28


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis 3rd Sunday of Advent - Angelus 13.12.2020


The invitation to joy is characteristic of the season of Advent: the expectation of Jesus' birth that we experience is joyful, somewhat like when we await the visit of a person we love a great deal, for example, a friend whom we have not seen for a long time, a relative.... We are in joyful anticipation. And this dimension of joy emerges particularly today, the Third Sunday, which opens with Saint Paul's exhortation: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Phil 4:4, 5). “Rejoice!” Christian joy. And what is the reason for this joy? That “the Lord is at hand” (v. 5). The closer the Lord is to us, the more joy we feel; the farther away he is, the more sadness we feel. This is a rule for Christians. Once a philosopher said something more or less like this: “I do not understand how one can believe today, because those who say they believe have a face from a funeral wake. They do not bear witness of the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Many Christians have that face, yes, a face from a funeral wake, a face of sadness.... But Christ is risen! Christ loves you! And you have no joy? Let us think a bit about this and let us ask: “Do I have joy because the Lord is close to me, because the Lord loves me, because the Lord has redeemed me?”.

The Gospel according to John today presents us the biblical character who – excluding Our Lady and Saint Joseph – first and most fully experienced the expectation of the Messiah and the joy of seeing him arrive: naturally, we are speaking of John the Baptist (cf. Jn 1:6-8, 19-28).

The Evangelist introduces him in a solemn way: “There was a man sent from God.... He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light” (vv. 6-7). The Baptist is the first witness of Jesus, with the word and with the gift of his life. All the Gospels agree in showing that he fulfilled his mission by indicating Jesus as the Christ, the One sent by God, promised by the Prophets. John was a leader of his time. His renown had spread throughout Judea and beyond, to Galilee. But he did not surrender even for an instant to the temptation to draw attention to himself: he always oriented himself toward the One who was to come. He used to say: “he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (v. 27). Always indicating the Lord. Like Our Lady: always indicating the Lord: “Do whatever he tells you”. The Lord is always at the centre. The Saints around him, indicating the Lord. And one who does not indicate the Lord is not holy! This is the first condition of Christian joy: to decentralize from oneself and place Jesus at the centre. This is not alienation, because Jesus is effectively the centre; he is the light that gives full meaning to the life of every man and woman who comes into this world. It is the same dynamism of love, which leads me to come out of myself not to lose myself but to find myself again, while I give myself, while I seek the good of others.

John the Baptist undertook a long journey to come to bear witness to Jesus. The journey of joy is not a walk in the park. It takes work to always be joyful. John left everything, in his youth, to put God in first place, to listen to His Word with all his heart and all his strength. John withdrew into the desert, stripping himself of all things superfluous, in order to be freer to follow the wind of the Holy Spirit. Of course, some of his personality traits are unique, unrepeatable; they cannot be recommended for everyone. But his witness is paradigmatic for whoever wishes to seek the meaning of his or her life and find true joy. In particular, the Baptist is a model for those in the Church who are called to proclaim Christ to others: they are able to do so only by detaching from themselves and from worldliness, by not attracting people to themselves but directing them toward Jesus.

This is joy: directing toward Jesus. And joy must be the characteristic of our faith. And in dark moments, that inner joy, of knowing that the Lord is with me, that the Lord is with us, that the Lord is Risen. The Lord! The Lord! The Lord! This is the centre of our life, and this is the centre of our joy. Think well today: how do I behave? Am I a joyful person who knows how to transmit the joy of being Christian, or am I always like those sad people, as I said before, who seem to be at a funeral wake? If I do not have the joy of my faith, I cannot bear witness and others will say: “But if faith is so sad, it is better not to have it”.

By praying the Angelus now, we see all of this fully realized in the Virgin Mary: she silently awaited God's Word of salvation; she welcomed it; she listened to it; she conceived it. In her, God became close. This is why the Church calls Mary a “Cause of our joy”.