Vigilance / Watchfulness


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.





Pope Francis    03.12.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square      1st Sunday of Advent Year B       Isaiah 63: 16b,17,19b, 64: 2-7,      Mark 13: 33-37


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis 1st Sunday of Advent - Angelus - 03.12.17


Today we begin the journey of Advent, which will culminate in Christmas. Advent is the time we are given to welcome the Lord who comes to encounter us, and also to verify our longing for God, to look forward and prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. He will return to us in the celebration of Christmas, when we will remember his historic coming in the humility of the human condition; but he enters our heart each time we are willing to receive him; and he will come again at the end of time to “judge the living and the dead”. Therefore, we must always be vigilant and await the Lord with the hope of encountering him. Today’s liturgy introduces us precisely to this evocative theme of vigilance and waiting.

In the Gospel (cf. Mk 13:33-37) Jesus exhorts us to take heed and watch, so as to be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return. He tells us: “Take heed, watch ... for you do not know when the time will come.... Watch therefore ... lest he come suddenly and find you asleep” (vv. 33-37).

The person who takes heed is the one who, amid the worldly din, does not let himself be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, with concern first and foremost for others. With this manner we become aware of the tears and the needs of neighbours and we can also understand their human and spiritual strengths and qualities. The heedful person then also turns toward the world, seeking to counter the indifference and cruelty in it, and taking delight in its beautiful treasures which also exist and are to be safeguarded. It is a matter of having an understanding gaze so as to recognize both the misery and poverty of individuals and of society, and to recognize the richness hidden in little everyday things, precisely there where the Lord has placed us.

The watchful person is the one who accepts the invitation to keep watch, that is, not to let himself be overpowered by the listlessness of discouragement, by the lack of hope, by disappointment; and at the same time it wards off the allure of the many vanities with which the world is brimming and for which, now and then, time and personal and familial peace is sacrificed. It is the painful experience of the people of Israel, recounted by the Prophet Isaiah: God seemed to have let his people err from his ways (cf. 63:17), but this was a result of the unfaithfulness of the people themselves (cf. 64:4b). We too often find ourselves in this situation of unfaithfulness to the call of the Lord: He shows us the good path, the way of faith, the way of love, but we seek our happiness elsewhere.

Being attentive and watchful are prerequisites so as not to continue to “err from the Lord’s ways”, lost in our sins and in our unfaithfulness; being attentive and being watchful are the conditions that allow God to permeate our existence, in order to restore meaning and value to it with his presence full of goodness and tenderness. May Mary Most Holy, role model for awaiting God and icon of watchfulness, lead us to her son Jesus, rekindling our love for him.




Pope Francis     11.08.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome      19th Sunday of Ordinary Time   Year C      Luke 12: 32-48

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-08/pope-francis-angelus-ready-final-encounter-with-lord.html

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12: 32-42), Jesus calls his disciples to constant vigilance. Why? To capture the presence of God in their lives, because God constantly passes through our lives. And Jesus points out the ways to live this vigilance well: "be ready, gird your loins and light your lamps" (v. 35). This is the way. First of all "gird your loins", this is an image that recalls the attitude of the pilgrim, ready to set out on a journey. It's not a question of putting down roots in comfortable and reassuring places, but of abandoning oneself with simplicity and trust to the will of God in our lives, to God's will, which guides us to our next destination. The Lord always walks with us and many times takes us by the hand to guide us, and lead us and make sure that we don't fall along this difficult journey. In fact, those who trust in God know that a life of faith is not something static, but is dynamic! The life of faith is a continuous journey going towards ever new stages, that the Lord Himself indicates day after day. Because he is Lord of the surprises, the Lord of novelty, but the real, true novelties.

First He tells us to gird our loins and then we are asked to make sure that we keep our lamps lit. Light your lamps to be able to light up the darkness of the night. We are invited to live an authentic and mature faith, capable of illuminating the many nights of life. We know, we've all had days that were true spiritual nights. The lamp of faith needs to be nourished continuously, with a heart to heart encounter with Jesus in prayer and in listening to His word. I want to repeat something I've told you many times: always carry a small Gospel with you, in your pocket, in your purse, in your bag, to take out and read at anytime. It is an encounter with Jesus, with Jesus ' words. This is the lamp of the encounter with Jesus in prayer and in his word. It is entrusted to us for the good of everyone: no-one can withdraw intimately into the certainty of their own salvation, being disinterested in others. It is an illusion to believe that we can illuminate ourselves within. No, this is a fantasy. True faith opens the heart to ones neighbour and spurs us on towards concrete communion with our brothers and sisters, especially those who live in need.

To help us understand this attitude, Jesus tells the parable of the servants who await the return of the master when he returns from the wedding (verses 36-40), providing another aspect of vigilance: being ready for the final and definitive encounter with the Lord. Each of us will find ouselves facing that encounter one day. We all have that date and day awaiting us for that definitive encounter with the Lord. The Lord says: "blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival; ... And, should he come in the middle of the night or before dawn, and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants!" (verses 37-38). With these words, the Lord reminds us that life is a journey to eternity; Which is why, we are called to make all our talents bear fruit, without ever forgetting that here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come (Heb 13:14). In a sense, every moment becomes precious, and so we must live and act on this earth with a longing for heaven in our hearts: our feet on the Earth, walking on the Earth, working on the Earth, doing good things on the Earth, but with a longing for heaven in our hearts.

We can't really understand what this supreme joy consists of, however, Jesus helps us to understand it with the image of the master who finding his servants awake on his return: Jesus tells us "he will gird himself, have them recline at table and proceed to wait on them (v. 37). The eternal joy of paradise manifests itself in this way: the situation will be reversed, upside down, and it will no longer be the servants, namely us, who serve the Lord, but God himself will put himself at our service. And Jesus already does this now: Jesus prays for us, Jesus watches us and prays to the Father for us, Jesus is already serving us, He is our servant. As we wait the definitive joy of heaven. The thought of the final encounter with the Father, who is rich in mercy, fills us with hope, and stimulates us to the constant commitment to holiness and to building a more just and fraternal world.

May the Virgin Mary, through her maternal intercession, sustain this commitment of ours.



Pope Francis   01.12.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square      1st Sunday of Advent Year A       Isaiah 2: 1-5,       Matthew 24: 37-44

Pope Francis  01.12.19 Advent

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, the first Sunday of the time of
Advent, a new liturgical year begins. In these four weeks of Advent, the liturgy leads us to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, while it reminds us that He comes into our lives every day, and will return gloriously at the end of time. This certainty leads us to look trustfully to the future, as we are invited to do by the prophet Isaiah, who with his inspired voice accompanies the entire Advent journey.

In today’s first reading, Isaiah prophesies that “it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it” (Is 2: 2). The temple of the Lord in Jerusalem is presented as the point of convergence and meeting of all peoples. After the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Himself revealed himself as the true temple. Therefore, the marvellous vision of Isaiah is a divine promise and impels us to assume an attitude of pilgrimage, of a journey towards Christ, the meaning and end of all history. Those who hunger and thirst for justice can only find it through the ways of the Lord, while evil and sin come from the fact that individuals and social groups prefer to follow paths dictated by selfish interests, which cause conflicts and wars. Advent is the time to welcome the coming of Jesus, Who comes as a messenger of peace to show us the ways of God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to be ready for His coming: “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Mt 24: 42). Staying awake does not mean to have one’s eyes materially open, but to have one’s heart free and facing the right direction, that is disposed to giving and to service. This is staying awake! The slumber from which we must awaken is constituted of indifference, of vanity, of the inability to establish genuinely human relationships, of the inability to take charge of our brother who is alone, abandoned or ill. The expectation of Jesus Who is coming must therefore be translated into a commitment to
vigilance. It is above all a question of wondering at God’s action, at His surprises, and of according Him primacy. Vigilance also means, in a concrete sense, being attentive to our neighbour in difficulty, allowing oneself to be called upon by his needs, without waiting for him or her to ask us for help, but learning to prevent, to anticipate, as God always does with us.

May Mary, the vigilant Virgin and Mother of hope, guide us on this journey, helping us to turn our gaze towards the “mountain of the Lord”, the image of Jesus Christ, which attracts all men and all peoples.





Pope Francis    29.11.20  Holy Mass with the new Cardinals, Vatican Basilica   1st Sunday of Advent Year B     Isaiah 63: 16b,17,19b, 64: 2-7,    Mark 13: 33-37


Pope Francis Holy Mass with New Cardinals 29.11.20
Today’s readings propose two key words for the Advent season: closeness and watchfulness. God’s closeness and our watchfulness. The prophet Isaiah says that God is close to us, while in the Gospel Jesus urges us to keep watch in expectation of his return.

Closeness. Isaiah begins by speaking personally to God: “You, O Lord, are our father” (63:16). “Never has anyone heard”, he continues, “[of] any God, other than you, who has done so much for those who trust in him” (cf. 64:3). We are reminded of the words of Deuteronomy: who is like the Lord our God, so close to us whenever we call upon him? (cf. 4:7). Advent is the season for remembering that closeness of God who came down to dwell in our midst. The prophet goes on to ask God to draw close to us once more: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” (Is 64:1). We prayed for this in today’s responsorial psalm: “Turn again… come to save us” (Ps 80:15.3). We often begin our prayers with the invocation: “God, come to my assistance”. The first step of faith is to tell God that we need him, that we need him to be close to us.

This is also the first message of Advent and the liturgical year: we need to recognize God’s closeness and to say to him: “Come close to us once more!” God wants to draw close to us, but he will not impose himself; it is up to us to keep saying to him: “Come!” This is our Advent prayer: “Come!” Advent reminds us that Jesus came among us and will come again at the end of time. Yet we can ask what those two comings mean, if he does not also come into our lives today? So let us invite him. Let us make our own the traditional Advent prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). The Book of Revelation ends with this prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus”. We can say that prayer at the beginning of each day and repeat it frequently, before our meetings, our studies and our work, before making decisions, in every more important or difficult moment in our lives: Come, Lord Jesus! It is a little prayer, yet one that comes from the heart. Let us say it in this Advent season. Let us repeat it: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

If we ask Jesus to come close to us, we will train ourselves to be watchful. Today Mark’s Gospel presented us with the end of Jesus’ final address to his disciples, which can be summed up in two words: “Be watchful!” The Lord repeats these words four times in five verses (cf. Mk 13:33-35.37). It is important to remain watchful, because one great mistake in life is to get absorbed in a thousand things and not to notice God. Saint Augustine said: “Timeo Iesum transeuntem” (Sermons, 88, 14, 13), “I fear that Jesus will pass by me unnoticed”. Caught up in our own daily concerns (how well we know this!), and distracted by so many vain things, we risk losing sight of what is essential. That is why today the Lord repeats: “To all, I say: be watchful!” (Mk 13:37). Be watchful, attentive.

Having to be watchful, however, means it is now night. We are not living in broad daylight, but awaiting the dawn, amid darkness and weariness. The light of day will come when we shall be with the Lord. Let us not lose heart: the light of day will come, the shadows of night will be dispelled, and the Lord, who died for us on the cross, will arise to be our judge. Being watchful in expectation of his coming means not letting ourselves be overcome by discouragement. It is to live in hope. Just as before our birth, our loved ones expectantly awaited our coming into the world, so now Love in person awaits us. If we are awaited in Heaven, why should we be caught up with earthly concerns? Why should we be anxious about money, fame, success, all of which will pass away? Why should we waste time complaining about the night, when the light of day awaits us? Why should we look for “patrons” to help advance our career? All these things pass away. Be watchful, the Lord tells us.

Staying awake is not easy; it is really quite hard. At night, it is natural to sleep. Even Jesus’s disciples did not manage to stay awake when told to stay awake “in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn” (cf. v. 35). Those were the very times they were not awake: in the evening, at the Last Supper, they betrayed Jesus; at midnight, they dozed off; at the cock’s crow, they denied him; in the morning, they let him be condemned to death. They did not keep watch. They fell asleep. But that same drowsiness can also overtake us. There is a dangerous kind of sleep: it is the slumber of mediocrity. It comes when we forget our first love and grow satisfied with indifference, concerned only for an untroubled existence. Without making an effort to love God daily and awaiting the newness he constantly brings, we become mediocre, lukewarmworldly. And this slowly eats away at our faith, for faith is the very opposite of mediocrity: it is ardent desire for God, a bold effort to change, the courage to love, constant progress. Faith is not water that extinguishes flames, it is fire that burns; it is not a tranquilizer for people under stress, it is a love story for people in love! That is why Jesus above all else detests lukewarmness (cf. Rev 3:16). God clearly disdains the lukewarm.

How can we rouse ourselves from the slumber of mediocrity? With the vigilance of prayer. When we pray, we light a candle in the darkness. Prayer rouses us from the tepidity of a purely horizontal existence and makes us lift our gaze to higher things; it makes us attuned to the Lord. Prayer allows God to be close to us; it frees us from our solitude and gives us hope. Prayer is vital for life: just as we cannot live without breathing, so we cannot be Christians without praying. How much we need Christians who keep watch for those who are slumbering, worshipers who intercede day and night, bringing before Jesus, the light of the world, the darkness of history. How much we need worshipers. We have lost something of our sense of adoration, of standing in silent adoration before the Lord. This is mediocrity, lukewarmness.

There is also another kind of interior slumber: the slumber of indifference. Those who are indifferent see everything the same, as if it were night; they are unconcerned about those all around them. When everything revolves around us and our needs, and we are indifferent to the needs of others, night descends in our hearts. Our hearts grow dark. We immediately begin to complain about everything and everyone; we start to feel victimized by everyone and end up brooding about everything. It is a vicious circle. Nowadays, that night seems to have fallen on so many people, who only demand things for themselves, and are blind to the needs of others.

How do we rouse ourselves from the slumber of indifference? With the watchfulness of charity. To awaken us from that slumber of mediocrity and lukewarmness, there is the watchfulness of prayer. To rouse us from that slumber of indifference, there is the watchfulness of charity. Charity is the beating heart of the Christian: just as one cannot live without a heartbeat, so one cannot be a Christian without charity. Some people seem to think that being compassionate, helping and serving others is for losers. Yet these are the only things that win us the victory, since they are already aiming towards the future, the day of the Lord, when all else will pass away and love alone will remain. It is by works of mercy that we draw close to the Lord. This is what we asked for in today’s opening prayer: “Grant [us]… the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming”. The resolve to run forth to meet Christ with good works. Jesus is coming, and the road to meet him is clearly marked: it passes through works of charity.

Dear brothers and sisters, praying and loving: that is what it means to be watchful. When the Church worships God and serves our neighbour, she does not live in the night. However weak and weary, she journeys towards the Lord. Let us now call out to him. Come, Lord Jesus, we need you! Draw close to us. You are the light. Rouse us from the slumber of mediocrity; awaken us from the darkness of indifference. Come, Lord Jesus, take our distracted hearts and make them watchful. Awaken within us the desire to pray and the need to love.