Witness



Dear Brothers and Sisters! 

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/proclamation/14.04.18.jpg

It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

1. In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

2. But let us take a further step: the proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and he prophesies to him: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives. But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness”, as a French author said, that “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong. But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.

3. But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us. Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him. The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’ – they knew it was the Lord” (Jn 21:12). And this is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord”. Worshipping him! The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honour and glory (cf. Rev 5:11-14). I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.

Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he invites us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. To proclaim, to witness, to adore. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us. Amen.



Pope Francis  25.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Feast of St Mark    1 Peter 5: 5-14,    Mark 16: 15-20

Pope Francis Proclaim the Gospel as a witness in service 25.04.20

Let us pray together today for the people who perform funeral services. It's so painful, so sad what they do, and they feel the pain of this pandemic so closely. Let us pray for them.

Today the Church celebrates St. Mark, one of the four evangelists, he was very close to the Apostle Peter. The Gospel of Mark was the first to be written. It's simple, a simple style, very close. If you have some time today, take it in your hand and read it. It is not long, but it is pleasing to read the simplicity with which Mark recounts the life of the Lord.

And in the Gospel - which is the end of the Gospel of Mark, that we have just read - there is the sending forth by the Lord. The Lord has revealed himself as saviour, as the only Son of God; he has been revealed to all of Israel and the people, especially in more detail to the apostles, to the disciples. This is the Lord's taking leave: the Lord leaves, departs, and "was taken up into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God." But before he left, when he appeared to the Eleven, he said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." This is the missionary nature of faith. 

Faith is either missionary or it is not faith. Faith is not just for me, for me to grow up with faith: this is a gnostic heresy. Faith always leads you out of yourself. Go out. The transmission of faith; faith must be transmitted, it must be offered, especially through witness: "Go, let people see how you live."

Someone told me, a European priest, of a European city: "There is so much disbelief, so much agnosticism in our cities, because Christians have no faith. If they did, they would definitely give it to people." Missionaryness is lacking. Because their roots lack conviction: "Yes, I am a Christian, I am Catholic, but ...". As if it's a social attitude. In the identity card, you call yourself that, like this, and "I'm a Christian." It's a fact on the identity card. This is not faith. This is a cultural thing. Faith necessarily takes you out, leads you to give it, because essentially faith must be transmitted . It's not quiet. "Oh, do you mean, father, that we all have to be missionaries and go to distant countries?" No, this is a part of the missionary dimension. This means that if you have faith you necessarily need to go out of yourself, you need to go out of yourself, and show faith socially. Social faith is for everyone: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." And that's not to proselytize, as if I were recruiting for a football team or a charity. No, faith is "not proselytizing." It is to show the revelation, so that the Holy Spirit can act in people with witness, and as a witness through service. Service is a way of life: if I say that I am a Christian and I live like a pagan, it does not work! That doesn't convince anyone. If I say that I am a Christian and I live as a Christian, that attracts. That's witness.

Once, in Poland, a university student asked me: "But in the university I have many fellow students who are atheists. What do I have to tell them to convince them?" – "Nothing, nothing! The last thing you have to do is say something. Start to live and they will see your witness, and they will ask you, 'But why do you live like this?'" Faith must be transmitted, but not by convincing, but by offering a treasure. "It's there, you see it?" And this is also the humility that St. Peter spoke of in the First Reading: "Clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." How many times in the Church, in history, have movements, groups of men or women who wanted to convince others to faith, to convert and were real "proselytes." And how did they end up? In corruption.

This passage of the Gospel is so tender. But where's the certainty? How can I be sure that by going out of myself I will be fruitful in the transmission of faith? "Proclaim the gospel to every creature," you will do wonders. And the Lord will be with us until the end of the world. He accompanies us. In the transmission of faith, the Lord is always with us. In the transmission of ideology there will be teachers, but when I have an attitude of faith that must be transmitted, there is the Lord there who accompanies me. I am never alone in the transmission of faith . It is the Lord with me who transmits the faith. He promised it: "I will be with you every day until the end of the world."

Let us pray to the Lord to help us live our faith like this: faith with open doors, a transparent faith, not "proselytizing", but one that shows: "Look I am like this." And with this healthy curiosity, you help people get this message that will save them.



Pope Francis  30.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Thursday of the Third Week of Easter   Acts 8: 26-40,   John 6: 44-51

Pope Francis Santa Marta 30.04.20

Let us pray today for the dead, those who died in the pandemic; and also in a special way for the deceased – who let's say are anonymous: we have seen photographs of common graves. Many are there.

"No one can come to me if the Father does not attract him" (John 6:44): Jesus remembers that even the prophets had foretold this: "They will all be taught by God" (John 6:45). It is God who attracts to the knowledge of the Son. Without this, you cannot know Jesus. Yes, you can study, even study the Bible, even know how he was born, what he did: that yes. But knowing him from within, knowing the mystery of Christ is only for those who are attracted by the Father to this.

This is what happened to this Minister of the Economy of the Queen of Ethiopia. You can see that he was a pious man and that he took the time, in so many of his affairs, to go and worship God. A believer. And he returned to his home reading the prophet Isaiah (cf. Acts 8:27-28). The Lord takes Philip, sends him to that place, and then says to him, "Go and draw near to that chariot" (v.8:29), and he hears the minister reading Isaiah. He approaches and asks him a question: "Do you understand?" – "And how could I understand, if no one guides me?" (v.31), and asks the question: "Who is the prophet talking about?" "Please get in the carriage," and during the journey – I don't know how long, I think that at least a few hours, Philip explained: he explained Jesus.

That restlessness that this gentleman had in reading the prophet Isaiah was precisely of the Father, who drew him to Jesus (cf. John 6:44): he had prepared him, had taken him from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship God, and then, with this reading, he had prepared his heart to reveal Jesus, to the point that as soon as he saw the water he said, "I can be baptized" (cf.36). And he believed.

And this - that no one can know Jesus without the Father attracting him (cf.44) - this is valid for our apostolate, for our apostolic mission as Christians. I'm also thinking about missions. "What are you going to do in missions?" – "I, convert people" – "But stop, you will not convert anyone! It will be the Father who attracts those hearts to recognize Jesus." To go on a mission is to bear witness to one's faith; without witness you will do nothing. Go on a mission – and the missionaries are good! – does not mean making great structures, things ... and stop like this. No: the structures must be witness. You can make a hospital structure, educational of great perfection, of great development, but if a structure is without Christian witness, your work there will not be a work of witness, a work of the true proclamation of Jesus: it will be a charitable society, very good – very good! – but nothing more.

If I want to go on a mission, and I say this if I want to go to the apostolate, I must go with the willingness that the Father will draw people to Jesus, and this is what witness is. Jesus himself said this to Peter, when he confesses that He is the Messiah: "Blessed are you, Simon Peter, because the Father has revealed this to you" (cf. Mt 16:17). It is the Father who attracts, and also attracts with our testimony. "I will do many works, here, here, there, of education, of this, of the other ...", but without witness, they are good things, but they are not the proclamation of the Gospel, they are not places that give the possibility that "the Father will attract to the knowledge of Jesus" (cf. John 6:44). Work and witness.

"But what can I do for the Father to bother to attract those people?" Prayer. And this is prayer for missions: to pray that the Father will draw people to Jesus. Witness and prayer, they go together. Without witness and prayer, you cannot do apostolic proclamation, you cannot proclaim. You will give a good moral sermon, you will do many good things, all good. But the Father will not have the opportunity to draw people to Jesus. And this is the centre: this is the centre of our apostolate, that "the Father can attract people to Jesus" (cf. John 6.44). Our witness opens the doors to the people and our prayer opens the doors to the Father's heart to attract people. Witness and prayer. And this is not only for missions, it is also for our work as Christians. Do I bear witness to Christian life, really, with my way of life? Do I pray that the Father will draw people to Jesus?

This is the great rule for our apostolate, everywhere, and especially for missions. Going on a mission is not proselytizing. Once, a lady – a good lady, you could see that she was of good will – approached with two children, a boy and a girl, and said to me: "This boy, Father, was Protestant and converted: I convinced him. And this girl was ..." - I don't know, animist, I don't know what she said to me - "and I converted her". And the lady was good: good. But she was mistaken. I lost my patience a little and said, "But look, you have not converted anyone: it was God who touches people's hearts. And don't forget: witness, yes; proselytizing, no."

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to live our work with witness and prayer, so that he, the Father, may draw people to Jesus.