Success

Success - Pope Francis          

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/idols/08.08.18.jpg

Today let us continue to meditate on the Decalogue, and to look more closely at the theme of idolatry; we spoke about it last week. Now let us take up the theme again because it is very important to know about it. And, let us take our cue from the idol par excellence, the golden calf, which the Book of Exodus (32:1-8) describes — we have just heard a passage from it. This episode has a precise context: the desert where the people await Moses who has gone up the mountain to receive God’s instructions.

What is the desert? It is a place where uncertainty and insecurity reign — there is nothing in the desert — where there is no water, no food and no shelter. The desert is an image of human life, whose condition is uncertain and has no inviolable guarantees. This insecurity creates a primal anxiety in mankind which Jesus mentions in the Gospel: “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” (Mt 6:31). These are primal anxieties. And the desert causes these anxieties.

And something occurs in that desert which triggers idolatry. “Moses delayed to come down from the mountain” (Ex 32:1). He remained there for 40 days and the people grew impatient. The reference point was missing: Moses, the leader, the one in charge, the reassuring guide; and this became unbearable. Thus, the people called for a visible god — this is the snare into which the people fell — in order to identify and orient themselves. And they said to Aaron: “make us gods, who shall go before us” (v. 1); make us a leader, make us a chief. In order to escape uncertainty — the uncertainty is the desert — human nature seeks a do-it-yourself religion. If God does not show himself, then we custom-make one for ourselves. “Before an idol, there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security, for idols ‘have mouths, but they cannot speak’ (Ps 115:5). Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands” (Lumen Fidei, 13).

Aaron is unable to refuse the people’s request, and he makes a golden calf. The calf had a double meaning in the ancient Near East: on the one hand it represented fertility and abundance, and on the other, energy and strength. But first and foremost, it was golden, thus, a symbol of wealth, success, power and money. These are the great idols: success, power and money. They are timeless temptations! This is what the golden calf is: the symbol of all desires that give the illusion of freedom but instead enslave, because an idol always enslaves; it has charm and you succumb; the charm of the serpent who looks at the little bird and the bird is unable to move, and the serpent gets him. Aaron was unable to refuse.

But above all, everything stems from the inability to confide in God, to place our insecurities in him, to allow him to give true depth to the desires of our hearts. This also allows us to sustain weakness, uncertainty and precariousness. Referring to God makes us strong in weakness, in uncertainty and also in precariousness. Without God’s primacy one can easily fall into idolatry and settle for poor reassurances. But this is a temptation which we always read about in the Bible. And consider this carefully: it did not cost God much effort to free the people from Egypt: he did so with signs of power, of love. But God’s great work was to remove Egypt from the hearts of the people, that is, to remove idolatry from the people’s hearts. And again, God continues to work to remove it from our hearts. This is God’s great work: to remove “that Egypt” which we carry within us, which is the attraction of idolatry.

When we welcome the God of Jesus Christ who was rich and became poor for us (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), then we discover that recognizing one’s weaknesses is not a disgrace of human life, but the condition necessary to open up to the One who is truly strong. Thus, God’s salvation enters through the door of weakness (cf. 2 Cor 12:10). It is due to man’s own inadequacies that he opens up to the paternity of God. Mankind’s freedom comes from allowing the true God to be the only Lord, and this allows one to accept one’s fragility and reject the idols in one’s heart.

We Christians turn our gaze to Christ crucified (cf. Jn 19:37) who was weak, insulted and stripped of all his possessions. But the face of the true God is revealed in him, the true glory of love and not that of glittering deceit. Isaiah says: “he was wounded by our transgressions” (Is 53:5). We were healed by the very weakness of a man who was God, by his wounds. And through our weaknesses, we can open up to God’s salvation. Our healing comes from the One who became poor, who welcomed failure, who undertook to bear our insecurity until the end, in order to fill it with love and strength. He comes to reveal God’s paternity to us. In Christ our fragility is no longer a curse but a place of encounter with the Father and the wellspring of a new strength from above.




Pope Francis   10.10.18     General Audience, St Peter's Square   Catechesis on  You shall not kill
Pope Francis - You shall not kill

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s catechesis is dedicated to the Fifth Word: You shall not
kill. The fifth Commandment: you shall not kill. We are already in the second part of the Decalogue, the part which deals with relationships with our neighbour. And, with its concise and categorical formulation, this commandment rises up like a wall to defend the basic values of human relationships. And what is the basic value in human relationships?: the value of life.
[1]Thus, you shall not kill.

One could say that all the evil carried out in the world can be summed up in this: contempt for life. Life is assailed by
war, by organizations that exploit people — we read in newspapers or see in newscasts many facts — by speculations on creation and by the throwaway culture and by every system that subjugates human existence to calculated opportunities, while a scandalous number of people live in a state unworthy of mankind. This is having contempt for life, that is, in some way, killing.

A contradictory approach even permits
the termination of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights. But how can an action that ends an innocent and defenceless life in its blossoming stage be therapeutic, civilized or simply human? I ask you: is it right to ‘do away with’ a human life in order to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hit man in order to solve a problem? One cannot. It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem.

Where does all this come from? Violence and the rejection of life; where do they actually come from? From
fear. Indeed, welcoming others is a challenge to individualism. Let us think, for example, about when it is discovered that a new life has a disability, even a serious one. In these tragic cases, parents need true closeness, true solidarity to face the reality and overcome the understandable fears. However, they often receive hasty advice to interrupt the pregnancy, which is an expression: ‘interrupting the pregnancy’ means ‘doing away with someone’, directly.

A sick child is like any other needy person on earth, like an elderly person who needs assistance, like many poor people who struggle to get by. He or she who is seen as a problem is in reality a gift from God that can save me from egocentrism and help me to grow in love. Vulnerable life shows us the way out, the way to save ourselves from a life that withdraws into itself and to discover the joy of love. And here I would like to pause to thank, to thank the many volunteers, to thank Italy’s strong volunteerism, the strongest I have ever known. Thank you.

And what leads man to reject life? It is the idols of this world:
money — better to get rid of this one because it will be costly —, power, success. These are the wrong parameters for evaluating life. What is the only authentic measure of life? It is love, the love with which God loves it! The love with which God loves life: this is the measure. The love with which God loves all human life.

Indeed, what is the positive meaning of the Word “you shall not kill”? That God is a “lover of life”, as we heard a short time ago in the Bible passage.

The secret of life is revealed to us by the way it was regarded by the Son of God who became man, to the point of assuming on the Cross rejection, weakness, poverty and suffering (cf. Jn 13:1). In every sick child, in every weak elderly person, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life. Christ is seeking us (cf. Mt 25:34-46), he is seeking our heart, to open us up to the joy of love.

It is worthwhile to welcome every life because every man and woman is worth the blood of Christ himself (cf. 1 Pt 1:18-19). We cannot have contempt for what God has loved so much!

We must tell the men and women of the world: do not have contempt for life! The life of others, but also one’s own life because the Commandment “thou shall not kill” applies to it too. Many young people should be told, “do not have contempt for your life. Stop rejecting God’s work! You are a work of God! Do not underestimate yourself, do not despise yourself with the addictions that will ruin you and lead you to death!

May no one measure life according to the deceptions of this world, but instead may each one accept him or herself and others in the name of the Father who created us. He is a “lover of life”: this is beautiful. “God is a lover of life”. And we are all so dear to him that he sent his Son for us. In fact, the Gospel says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son; that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

[1] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Vitae, 5: aas 80 (1988), 76-77: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves ‘the creative action of God’ and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being”.



Pope Francis      10.03.19        Angelus, St Peter's Square          Luke 4: 1-13
Pope Francis  10.03.19   Temptaions

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel passage for this first Sunday of Lent (cf. Lk 4:1-13) recounts the experience of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus is tempted three times by the devil. First he invites Him to change stone into bread (v. 3); then, from above, he shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and the prospect of becoming a powerful and glorious messiah (vv. 5-6); lastly he takes Him to the pinnacle of the temple of Jerusalem and invites Him to throw himself down, so as to manifest His divine power in a spectacular way (vv. 9-11). The three temptations point to three paths that the world always offers, promising great success, three paths to mislead us: greed for possession — to have, have, have —, human vainglory and the exploitation of God. These are three paths that will lead us to ruin.

The first, the path of greed for possession. This is always the devil’s insidious logic He begins from the natural and legitimate need for nourishment, life, fulfilment, happiness, in order to encourage us to believe that all this is possible without God, or rather, even despite Him. But Jesus countervails, stating: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’’’ (v. 4). Recalling the long journey of the chosen people through the desert, Jesus affirms his desire to fully entrust himself to the providence of the Father, who always takes care of his children.

The second temptation: the path of human vainglory. The devil says: “If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours” (v. 7). One can lose all personal dignity if one allows oneself to be corrupted by the idols of
money, success and power, in order to achieve one’s own self-affirmation. And one tastes the euphoria of a fleeting joy. And this also leads us to be ‘peacocks’, to vanity, but this vanishes. For this reason Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (v. 8).

And then the third temptation: exploiting God to
one’s own advantage. In response to the devil — who, citing Scripture, invites Him to seek a conspicuous miracle from God — Jesus again opposes with the firm decision to remain humble, to remain confident before the Father: “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (v. 12). Thus, he rejects perhaps the most subtle temptation: that of wanting to ‘pull God to our side’, asking him for graces which in reality serve and will serve to satisfy our pride.

These are the paths that are set before us, with the illusion that in this way one can obtain success and
happiness. But in reality, they are completely extraneous to God’s mode of action; rather, in fact they distance us from God, because they are the works of Satan. Jesus, personally facing these trials, overcomes temptation three times in order to fully adhere to the Father’s plan. And he reveals the remedies to us: interior life, faith in God, the certainty of his love — the certainty that God loves us, that he is Father, and with this certainty we will overcome every temptation.

But there is one thing to which I would like to draw your attention, something interesting. In responding to the tempter, Jesus does not enter a discussion, but responds to the three challenges with only the Word of God. This teaches us that one does not dialogue with the devil; one must not discuss, one only responds to him with the Word of God.

Therefore, let us benefit from Lent as a privileged time to purify ourselves, to feel God’s comforting presence in our life.

May the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, icon of faithfulness to God, sustain us in our journey, helping us to always reject evil and welcome good.