Word of God

Word of God - Pope Francis    


So many Christian communities, are persecuted throughout the world. In this time more than in the early times, no? Today, now, this day, this hour. Why? But why does the spirit of the world hate?. Persecution usually comes after a long road. Think, how the prince of the world tried to trick Jesus in the desert, tempting especially his vanity. Jesus never answered this prince with his own words but with the word of God. You cannot dialogue with the prince of the world. Dialogue is necessary between us, necessary for peace. Dialogue is a habit, it is precisely and attitude that we must have among us, to hear one another, to understand one another. It is must always be maintained. Dialogue is born of charity, of love. But with that prince though, you cannot dialogue; you can only answer him with the Word of God who defends us. The prince of the world, hates us. And what he did with Jesus, he will do with us. With a little word here, a trifle there, he will lead us down a path of injustice. It begins with the little things, “softening us” to the point that “we fall into the trap. Jesus tell us 'I send you like lambs in the midst of wolves'. Be prudent, but simple.”

Jesus is meek and humble of heart. And today, this makes one thing of that hate that the prince of the world has against us, against the followers of Jesus. And let us ponder the weapons that we have to defend ourselves: let us remain lambs forever, because then we will have a shepherd to defend us.



The Word of God, to which listening alone “gives rise to wonder”, should be jealously guarded in the depths of one’s heart. It was this that took hold of those who listened to the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:41-51). Likewise, it was wonder that filled Mary and Joseph at finding Jesus there. The first effect of the Word of God is therefore wonder: And then it gives us joy. But wonder is more than joy alone. It is the moment when the Word of God is sown in our hearts. And yet it isn’t only a moment: it is something that we carry within us for a lifetime, “in guardianship”. We need “to guard the Word of God, and the Gospel says this: "his mother guarded all these things in her heart”.

What does it mean to guard the Word of God? It means “opening our hearts” to the Word, “as the earth opens to the seed”. Some seeds scatter and “are eaten by birds”, and this happens when the Word is not guarded. It means that some hearts “do not know how to receive it”. Sometimes the seed falls “on earth with many rocks and the seed cannot take root and dies”. That is, they are not capable of guardianship because they are inconstant. “The Word can also fall on unprepared ground, where there are thorns and in the end it dies” because “it is not guarded”. But what are these thorns? Jesus says it is our “attachment to wealth, vice”. To guard the Word is to receive it, but we must “prepare our hearts to receive it. Meditate on what the Word tells us today, watching what happens in life.” This is what Mary did during the flight to Egypt and the wedding at Canaa, she pondered these events. Here lies the task for Christians: to welcome the Word of God and to think about what it means today.





Pope Francis   13.07.14   Angelus, St Peter's Square        15th Sunday Year A         Matthew 13: 1-23


Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 13:1-23) shows us Jesus preaching on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, and because a large crowd surrounds him, He climbs into a boat, goes a little away from the shore and preaches from there. When he speaks to the people, Jesus uses many parables: in language understandable to everyone, with images from nature and from everyday situations.

The first story he tells is an introduction to all the parables: that of the sower, who sows his seed unsparingly on every type of soil. And the real protagonist of this parable is actually the seed, which produces more or less according to the type of soil upon which it falls. The first three areas are unproductive: along the path the seed is eaten by birds; on rocky ground the sprouts are scorched and wither away because they have no roots; among the briars the seed is choked by thorns. The fourth piece of ground is good soil, and only there does the seed take root and bear fruit.

In this case, Jesus does not limit himself to presenting this parable, he also explains it to his disciples. The seed fallen on the path stands for those who hear the message of the Kingdom of God but do not understand it; thus the evil one comes and snatches it away. Indeed, the evil one does not want the seed of the Gospel to sprout in the heart of man. This is the first analogy. The second is that of the seed fallen among the stones: this represents the people who hear the word of God and understand it immediately, but superficially, because they have no roots and they are unsettled; and when trials and tribulations arise, these people give up immediately. The third case is that of the seed fallen among the briars: Jesus explains that this refers to the people who hear the word but they, because of the cares of the world and the seduction of riches, are choked. Finally, the seed fallen on fertile soil represents those who hear the word, accept it, cherish it and understand it, and they bear fruit. The perfect model of this good soil is the Virgin Mary.

This parable speaks to each of us today, as it spoke to those who listened to Jesus 2,000 years ago. It reminds us that we are the soil where the Lord tirelessly sows the seed of his Word and of his love. How do we receive it? And we can ask ourselves: how is our heart? Which soil does it resemble: that of the path, the rocks, the thorns? It’s up to us to become good soil with neither thorns nor stones, but tilled and cultivated with care, so it may bear good fruit for us and for our brothers and sisters.

And it will do us good not to forget that we too are sowers. God sows good seed, and here too we can also ask ourselves: which type of seed comes out of our heart and our mouth? Our words can do much good and also much harm; they can heal and they can wound; they can encourage and they can dishearten. Remember: what counts is not what goes in but what comes out of the mouth and of the heart.

Our Lady teaches us, by her example, to understand the Word, cherish it and make it bear fruit in us and in others.




Pope Francis   01.09.14  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Monday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time    1 Corinthians 2: 1-5,     Luke 4: 16-30


In the first reading, St Paul reminds the Corinthians what his message was like, how he had proclaimed the Gospel: “I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom”. Paul continues by saying that he did not present himself in order to convince his interlocutors with arguments, with words, even with images. The Apostle chose instead another mode, another style, and that is a demonstration of the Spirit and power, that — these are Paul’s words — “your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.

In effect the Apostle recalled that the Word of God is something different, something which is unequalled by a human word, a wise word, a scientific word, a philosophical word. The Word of God, indeed, is something else, it comes in another way: it is different because it is how God speaks.

Luke confirms this in the Gospel passage which tells of Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth, where he grew up and where everyone knew him as a child. In that context, he began to speak and the people listened to him, commenting: “Oh, how interesting!”. Then they bore witness: they were amazed with the words he spoke. And among them they observed: “Look at him, this one! How good, this boy whom we know, how good he has become! But where must he have studied?”.

However, Jesus stopped them and said to them: “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country”. Thus, to those who listened to him in the Synagogue at first it seemed a good thing and they accepted that manner of conversation and reception. But when Jesus began to give the Word of God they became furious and they wanted to kill him. Thus they passed from one side to the other, because the Word of God is different from the word of man, even from the loftiest word of man, the most philosophical word of man.

And so, what is the Word of God like? The Letter to the Hebrews, began by saying that, since ancient times, God had spoken, and he spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these times, at the end of that world, he spoke through the Son. In other words, the Word of God is Jesus, Jesus himself. That is what Paul was preaching, when he said: “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Christ crucified”.

This is the Word of God, the only Word of God. And Jesus Christ is a reason for scandal: the Cross of Christ scandalizes. That is the strength of the Word of God: Jesus Christ, the Lord.

It becomes so important, to ask ourselves: “How do we receive the Word of God?”. The response is clear: “As one receives Jesus Christ. The Church tells us that Jesus is present in the Scripture, in His Word”. This is why, I have advised you many times to always carry a small Gospel with you — moreover, it costs little to buy it, to keep it in your purse, in your pocket, and read a passage from the Gospel during the day. Some practical advice, not so much to learn something, but mostly to find Jesus, because Jesus actually is in His Word, in His Gospel. Every time I read the Gospel, I find Jesus.

And what is the right attitude to receive this Word? It must be received as one receives Jesus, that is, with an open heart, with a humble heart, with the spirit of the Beatitudes. Because this is how Jesus came, in humility: he came in poverty, he came anointed by the Holy Spirit. Such that he himself began his discourse in the Synagogue of Nazareth with these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”.

Thus, he is strength, he is the Word of God, because he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. In this way, , we too, if we want to hear and receive the Word of God, we must pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for this anointing of the heart, which is the unction of the Beatitudes. Thus, to have a heart like the heart of the Beatitudes.

As Jesus is present in the Word of God, and He speaks to us in the Word of God, it will do us good during the day today to ask ourselves: How do I receive the Word of God?





Pope Francis      11.01.15  Holy Mass, Sistine Chapel     Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year B     Isaiah 55: 1-11,     1 John 5: 1-9,      Mark 1: 7-11

Pope Francis  Baptism of the Lord   Mass - 11.01.2015

In the First Reading we heard that the Lord takes care of his children like a parent: He takes care to provide his children with nourishing food. God says through the Prophet: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?” (Is 55:2). God, like a good father and a good mother, wants to give good things to his children. And what is this nourishing food that God gives us? It is his Word: his Word makes us grow, it enables us to bear good fruit in life, just as the rain and snow imbue the earth, making it fruitful (cf. Is 55:10-11). Likewise you, parents, and you too, godmothers and godfathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, will help these children grow if you give them the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus. And give it also by your example! Every day, make it a habit to read a passage of the Gospel, a small one, and always carry a little Gospel with you in your pocket, in your purse, so you can read it. And this will set the example for your children, seeing dad, mom, their godparents, grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles, reading the Word of God.

You, mothers, give milk to your children — even now, if they are crying with hunger, feed them, don’t worry. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of milk, and let us pray for those mothers — there are so many, unfortunately — who are unable to breast-feed their children. Let us pray and let us try to help these mothers. Thus, what milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit: the Word of God makes faith grow. And thanks to faith we have been begotten by God. This is what happens at Baptism. We have heard the Apostle John: “Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God” (1 Jn 5:1). Your children are baptized in this faith. Today it is your faith, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers. It is the faith of the Church, in which these little ones receive Baptism. But tomorrow, by the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal “yes” to Jesus Christ, which gives us the Father’s love.

I said: it is the faith of the Church. This is very important. Baptism integrates us into the body of the Church, into the holy People of God. And in this body, in this people journeying on, faith is passed down from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. It is the faith of Mary, our Mother, the faith of St Joseph, of St Peter, of St Andrew, of St John, the faith of the Apostles and of the Martyrs, which has come down to us, through Baptism: the chain of transmission of the faith. This is really beautiful! It is a passing of the flame of faith from hand to hand: we too will soon express it with the act of lighting candles from the great Paschal candle. The large wax candle represents the Risen Christ, living in our midst. You, families, take the light of faith from Him in order to pass it on to your children. You receive this light in the Church, in the Body of Christ, in the People of God who are journeying through every time and in every place. Teach your children that one cannot be a Christian outside of the Church, one cannot follow Jesus Christ without the Church, for the Church is Mother, who makes us grow in the love of Jesus Christ.

One last feature emerges powerfully from today’s Bible Readings: in Baptism we are consecrated by the Holy Spirit. This is what the word “Christian” means, it means consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed throughout his earthly existence. He is the “Christ”, the Anointed One, the Consecrated One; we, the baptized, are “Christian”, meaning consecrated, anointed. Therefore, dear parents, dear godfathers and godmothers, if you want your children to become true Christians, help them to grow up “immersed” in the Holy Spirit, that is to say, in the warmth of the love of God, in the light of his Word. For this reason, do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day. “Do you pray, Ma’am?” — “Yes” — “Whom do you pray to?”. — “I pray to God”. But “God” does not exist like this: God is one person, and as a Person the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist. “Whom do you pray to?”. — “The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit”. We usually pray to Jesus. When we pray the “Our Father”, we pray to the Father. But we do not often pray to the Holy Spirit. It is very important to pray to the Holy Spirit, because He teaches us how to bring up the family, the children, so that these children may grow up in the atmosphere of the Holy Trinity. It is precisely the Spirit who leads them forward. For this reason, do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day. You can do so, for example, with this simple prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love”. You can say this prayer for your children, as well as, naturally, for yourselves!

When you recite this prayer, you feel the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us to pray to the Holy Spirit, and to live in accordance with the Spirit, like Jesus. May Our Lady, our Mother, always accompany the journey of your children and of your families. So be it.





Pope Francis        01.02.15  Angelus, St Peter's Square        4th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B       Mark 1: 21-28


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Word of God

This Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 1:21-28) presents Jesus who, with his small community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived and which was the largest city in Galilee at that time. Jesus goes to that city.

The Evangelist Mark, recounts that, since it was the Sabbath, Jesus went straight to the Synagogue and began to teach (cf. v. 21). This reminds us of the primacy of the Word of God, the Word to be listened to, the Word to be received, the Word to be proclaimed. Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not delay proclaiming the Gospel, does not think first about the necessary logistics of his small community, does not tarry over the organization. His primary concern is to communicate the Word of God with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the people in the Synagogue were astonished, because Jesus “taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (v. 22).

What does “with authority” mean? It means that in the human words of Jesus, the power of the Word of God could be felt, the authority of God, who is the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that He does what He says. For the Word of God corresponds to his will. We, on the other hand, often speak empty, shallow words, or superfluous words, words that do not coincide with the truth. Instead, the Word of God corresponds to the truth, it is united to his will and fulfils what He says. Indeed, Jesus, after preaching, immediately demonstrates his authority by freeing a man, in the Synagogue, who was possessed by a demon, (cf. Mk 1:23-36). The very divine authority of Christ provoked the reaction of Satan, hidden in that man; Jesus, in his turn, immediately recognized the voice of the evil one and “rebuked him:.... ‘Be silent, and come out of him’” (v. 25). With the power of his word alone, Jesus frees the person from the evil one. And once again those present were amazed: “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27). The Word of God arouses amazement in us. It has the power to astonish us.

The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are slaves to the many evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, attachment to money, pride, sensuality.... The Gospel changes the heart, changes life, transforms evil inclinations into good intentions. The Gospel is capable of changing people! Therefore it is the task of Christians to spread the redeeming power throughout the world, becoming missionaries and heralds of the Word of God. This is also suggested by today’s passage which closes with a missionary perspective, saying: “his fame” — the fame of Jesus — “spread everywhere, throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee” (v. 28). The new doctrine, taught by Jesus with authority, is what the Church takes to the world, along with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God become words of salvation and gestures expressing the love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change lives! Do not forget this. It is the Good News, which transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. That is why I always ask you to have daily contact with the Gospel, to read it every day: a verse, a passage, to meditate on it and even to take it with you everywhere: in your pocket, in your bag.... In other words to nourish yourself every day with this inexhaustible source of salvation. Do not forget! Read a passage of the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, that transforms us: it changes life, it changes the heart.

Let us invoke the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, she who received the Word and conceived Him for the world, for all mankind. She teaches us to be assiduous listeners and authoritative proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus.





Pope Francis   14.6.15   Angelus, St Peter's Square    Mark 4: 26-34

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel is composed of two very brief parables: that of the seed that sprouts and grows on its own, and that of the mustard seed (cf. Mk 4:26-34). Through these images taken from the rural world, Jesus presents the efficacy of the Word of God and the requirements of his Kingdom, showing the reasons for our hope and our commitment in history.

In the first parable, attention is placed on the fact that the seed scattered on the ground (v. 26) takes root and develops on its own, regardless of whether the farmer sleeps or keeps watch. He is confident in the inner power of the seed itself and in the fertility of the soil. In the language of the Gospel, the seed is the symbol of
the Word of God, whose fruitfulness is recalled in this parable. As the humble seed grows in the earth, so too does the Word by the power of God work in the hearts of those who listen to it. God has entrusted his Word to our earth, that is to each one of us with our concrete humanity. We can be confident because the Word of God is a creative word, destined to become the “full grain in the ear” (v. 28). This Word, if accepted, certainly bears fruit, for God Himself makes it sprout and grow in ways that we cannot always verify or understand. (cf. v. 27). All this tells us that it is always God, it is always God who makes his Kingdom grow. That is why we fervently pray “thy Kingdom come”. It is He who makes it grow. Man is his humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices in divine creative action and waits patiently for its fruits.

The Word of God makes things grow, it gives life. And here, I would like to remind you once again, of the importance of having the Gospel, the Bible, close at hand. A small Gospel in your purse, in your pocket and to nourish yourselves every day with this living Word of God. Read a passage from the Gospel every day, a passage from the Bible. Please don’t ever forget this. Because this is the power that makes the life of the
Kingdom of God sprout within us.

The second parable uses the image of the mustard seed. Despite being the smallest of all the seeds, it is full of life and grows until it becomes “the greatest of all shrubs” (Mk 4:32). And thus is the Kingdom of God: a humanly small and seemingly irrelevant reality. To become a part of it, one must be poor of heart; not trusting in their own abilities, but in the power of the love of God; not acting to be important in the eyes of the world, but precious in the eyes of God, who prefers the simple and the humble. When we live like this, the strength of Christ bursts through us and transforms
what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the entire mass of the world and of history.

An important lesson comes to us from these two parables: God’s Kingdom requires our cooperation, but it is above all the initiative and gift of the Lord. Our weak effort, seemingly small before the complexity of the problems of the world, when integrated with God’s effort, fears no difficulty. The victory of the Lord is certain: his love will make every seed of goodness present on the ground sprout and grow. This opens us up to trust and hope, despite the tragedies, the injustices, the sufferings that we encounter. The seed of goodness and peace sprouts and develops, because the merciful love of God makes it ripen.

May the Holy Virgin, who like “fertile ground” received the seed of the divine Word, sustain us in this hope which never disappoints.




Pope Francis    22.01.17   Angelus, St Peter's Square   Third Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A     Isaiah 8: 23 to 9: 3,     Matthew 4: 12-23


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 4:12-23) recounts the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in Galilee. He leaves Nazareth, a village in the mountains, and settles in Capernaum, an important centre on the lakeshore, inhabited largely by pagans, a crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Mesopotamian inland. This choice indicates that the beneficiaries of his preaching are not only his compatriots, but those who arrive in the cosmopolitan “Galilee of the Gentiles” (v. 15, cf. Is 9:1): that’s what it was called. Seen from the capital Jerusalem, that land is geographically peripheral and religiously impure because it was full of pagans, having mixed with those who did not belong to Israel. Great things were not expected from Galilee for the history of salvation. Instead, right from there — precisely from there — radiated that “light” on which we meditated in recent Sundays: the light of Christ. It radiated right from the periphery.

Jesus’ message reiterates that of the Baptist, announcing the “kingdom of heaven” (v. 17). This kingdom does not involve the establishment of a new political power, but the fulfilment of the Covenant between God and his people, which inaugurates a season of peace and justice. To secure this covenant pact with God, each one is called to convert, transforming his or her way of thinking and living. This is important: converting is not only changing the way of life but also the way of thinking. It is a transformation of thought. It is not a matter of changing clothing, but habits! What differentiates Jesus from John the Baptist is the way and manner. Jesus chooses to be an itinerant prophet. He doesn’t stay and await people, but goes to encounter them. Jesus is always on the road! His first missionary appearances take place along the lake of Galilee, in contact with the multitude, in particular with the fishermen. There Jesus does not only proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, but seeks companions to join in his salvific mission. In this very place he meets two pairs of brothers: Simon and Andrew, James and John. He calls them, saying: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (v. 19). The call reaches them in the middle of their daily activity: the Lord reveals himself to us not in an extraordinary or impressive way, but in the everyday circumstances of our life. There we must discover the Lord; and there he reveals himself, makes his love felt in our heart; and there — with this dialogue with him in the everyday circumstances of life — he changes our heart. The response of the four fishermen is immediate and willing: “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (v. 20). We know, in fact, that they were disciples of the Baptist and that, thanks to his witness, they had already begun to believe in Jesus as the Messiah (cf. Jn 1:35-42).

We, today’s Christians, have the joy of proclaiming and witnessing to our faith because there was that first announcement, because there were those humble and courageous men who responded generously to Jesus’ call. On the shores of the lake, in an inconceivable land, the first community of disciples of Christ was born. May the knowledge of these beginnings give rise in us to the desire to bear Jesus’ word, love and tenderness in every context, even the most difficult and resistant. To carry the Word to all the peripheries! All the spaces of human living are soil on which to cast the seeds of the Gospel, so they may bear the fruit of salvation.

May the Virgin Mary help us with her maternal intercession to respond joyfully to Jesus’ call, and to place ourselves at the service of the Kingdom of God.




Pope Francis   05.03.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square  1st Sunday of Lent Year A      Matthew 4: 1-11

Pope Francis talks about the devil and temptations 05.03.17
  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In this First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel introduces us to the journey toward Easter, revealing Jesus as he remains in the desert for 40 days, subjected to the temptations of the devil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). This episode takes place at a precise moment in Jesus’ life: immediately after his Baptism in the River Jordan and prior to his public ministry. He has just received the solemn investiture: the Spirit of God has descended upon him, the heavenly Father has declared him “my beloved Son” (Mt 3:17). Jesus is now ready to begin his mission; and as this mission has a declared enemy, namely, Satan, He confronts him straight away, “up close”. The devil plays precisely on the title “Son of God” in order to deter Jesus from the fulfilment of his mission: “If you are the Son of God” (4:3, 6); and proposes that He perform miraculous acts — to be a “magician” — such as transforming stones into bread so as to satiate his hunger, and throwing himself down from the temple wall so as to be saved by the angels. These two temptations are followed by the third: to worship him, the devil, so as to have dominion over the world (cf. v. 9).

Through this three-fold temptation, Satan wants to divert Jesus from the way of obedience and humiliation — because he knows that in this way, on this path, evil will be conquered — and to lead Him down the false shortcut to success and glory. But the devil’s poisonous arrows are “blocked” by Jesus with the shield of God’s Word (vv. 4, 10), which expresses the will of the Father. Jesus does not speak a word of his own: He responds only with the Word of God. Thus the Son, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, comes out of the desert victorious.

During the 40 days of Lent, as Christians we are invited to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and face the spiritual battle with the Evil One with the strength of the Word of God. Not with our words: they are worthless. The Word of God: this has the strength to defeat Satan. For this reason, it is important to be familiar with the Bible: read it often, meditate on it, assimilate it. The Bible contains the Word of God, which is always timely and effective. Someone has asked: what would happen were we to treat the Bible as we treat our mobile phone?; were we to always carry it with us, or at least a small, pocket-sized Gospel, what would happen?; were we to turn back when we forget it: you forget your mobile phone — ‘oh! I don’t have it, I’m going back to look for it’; were we to open it several times a day; were we to read God’s messages contained in the Bible as we read telephone messages, what would happen? Clearly the comparison is paradoxical, but it calls for reflection. Indeed, if we had God’s Word always in our heart, no temptation could separate us from God, and no obstacle could divert us from the path of good; we would know how to defeat the daily temptations of the evil that is within us and outside us; we would be more capable of living a life renewed according to the Spirit, welcoming and loving our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and neediest, and also our enemies.

May the Virgin Mary, perfect icon of obedience to God and of unconditional trust in his will, sustain us on the Lenten journey, that we may set ourselves to listen docilely to the Word of God in order to achieve a true conversion of heart.





Pope Francis   16.07.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square        15th Sunday Year A        Matthew 13: 1-23


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

When Jesus spoke, he used simple words and he also used images which were examples taken from daily life, in order to be easily understood by all. This is why they listened to him willingly and appreciated his message which directly touched their heart. And it was not that complicated language which was difficult to understand, as that used by the Doctors of the Law of that time, which was not easily understood, was very rigid and distanced people. And with this language Jesus made the mystery of the Kingdom of God understood; it was not complicated theology. And one example is that of today’s Gospel passage: the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13:1-23).

The sower is Jesus. With this image, we can see that he presents himself as one who does not impose himself, but rather offers himself. He does not attract us by conquering us, but by donating himself: he casts seeds. With patience and generosity, he spreads his Word, which is not a cage or a trap, but a seed which can bear fruit. And how can it bear fruit? If we welcome it.

Therefore, the parable concerns us especially. In fact, it speaks more of the soil than of the sower. Jesus carries out, so to speak, a “spiritual X-ray” of our heart, which is the soil on which the seed of the Word falls. Our heart, like the soil, may be good and then the Word bears fruit — and a great deal — but it can also be hard and impermeable. This happens when we hear the Word but it bounces off of us, just as on a street: it does not enter.

Between the good soil and the street; the asphalt — if we throw a seed on the “sanpietrini” (cobblestones), nothing grows — there are however, two intermediate types of soil which, in different amounts, we can have within us. The first, Jesus says, is rocky. Let us try to imagine it: rocky ground is a terrain that “does not have much soil” (cf. Mt 13:5), so the seed sprouts but is unable to put down deep roots. This is how the superficial heart is: it welcomes the Lord, wants to pray, love and bear witness, but does not persevere; it becomes tired and never “takes off”. It is a heart without depth, where the rocks of laziness prevail over the good soil, where love is fickle and fleeting. But whoever welcomes the Lord only when they want to does not bear fruit.

Then, there is the last ground, the thorny one, filled with briars which choke the good plants. What do these thorns represent? “The cares of the world and the delight in riches” (v. 22), as Jesus says explicitly. The thorns are the vices which come to blows with God, which choke his presence: above all these are the idols of worldly wealth, living avidly, for oneself, for possessions and for power. If we cultivate these thorns, we choke God’s growth within us. Each of us can recognize his or her big or small thorns, the vices that inhabit the heart, those more or less deeply rooted briars that God does not like and that prevent us from having a clean heart. It is necessary to tear them out, otherwise the Word cannot bear fruit, the seed will not grow.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus invites us today to look inside ourselves: to give thanks for our good soil and to tend the soil that is not yet good. Let us ask ourselves if our heart is open to welcome the seed of the Word of God with faith. Let us ask ourselves if our rocks of laziness are still numerous and large; let us identify our thorns of vice and call them by name. Let us find the courage to reclaim the soil, to effect a nice conversion of our heart, bringing to the Lord in Confession and in prayer our rocks and our thorns. In doing this, Jesus, the Good Sower will be glad to carry out an additional task: purify our hearts by removing the rocks and the thorns which choke his Word.

May the Mother of God, whom we remember today with the title of Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, unparalleled in welcoming the Word of God and putting it into practice (cf. Lk 8:21), help us to purify our hearts and welcome the Lord’s presence there.





Pope Francis          01.10.17 Holy Mass, Stadium Dall'Ara, Bologna        26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A           Philippians 2: 1-11,           Matthew 21: 28-32
Pastoral visit to Bologna for the conclusion of the Diocese Eucharistic Congress

I celebrate with you the first Sunday of the Word: the Word of God makes the heart burn (cf. Lk 24:32), because it makes us feel loved and comforted by the Lord. The icon of "Our Lady of St. Luke", the evangelist, can help us to understand the maternal tenderness of the "living" word, which is at the same time "knife-sharp", as in today's Gospel: in fact it penetrates the soul (cf. Heb 4:12) and brings to light the secrets and contradictions of the heart.

Today it challenges us with the parable of the two sons, who respond to the Father's invitation to go into his vineyard: One says no, but then goes; the second says yes, but then doesn't work. There is, however, a big difference between the first son, who is lazy, and the second, who is hypocritical. Let's try to imagine what happened inside them. In the heart of the first, after his no, the invitation of his father still rang out; in the second, however, despite his yes, the father's voice was buried. The memory of the father awakened the first child from laziness, while the second, although he knew the good, contradicted his word with his actions. In fact, he had become impervious to the voice of God and of conscience, and without any problems accepted the duplicity of life. Jesus with this parable places two paths before us. Experience shows that we are not always willing to say yes in word and deed, because we are sinners. But we can choose whether to be sinners on the way, who listen to the Lord, and when they fall they repent and rise, like the first child; or sitting sinners, ready to always justify themselves and only with words according to what suits them.

This parable Jesus was addressed to some religious leaders of the time, the Son with his double life, while ordinary people often behaved like the other son. These leaders knew and explained everything, in a formally flawless way, like true intellectuals of religion. But they did not have the humility to listen, the courage to question themselves, and no strength to repent. And Jesus is very strict: he says that even tax collectors are more likely to enter the Kingdom of God. It is a harsh rebuke, because the tax collectors were corrupt traitors of the homeland. So what was the problem with these leaders? They were not simply mistaken about something, but they were mistaken in the way of life before God: they were, in words and with others, unyielding guardians of human traditions, unable to understand that life according to God is on the way and requires the humility to open up, repent and start again.

What does that say to us? That there is no Christian life designed on the drawing board, scientifically built, where it is sufficient to fulfil a few commandments to soothe consciences: Christian life is a humble path of a conscience never rigid and always relates to God, who knows how to repent and rely on Him in his poverty, without ever assuming that it is sufficient to itself. Thus we overcome the revised and up-to-date versions of that ancient evil, denounced by Jesus in the parable: hypocrisy, duplicity of life, clericalism that is accompanied by legalism, detachment from the people. The key word is repentance: it is repentance that allows us not to harden, to turn no to God into yes, and yes to sin into no for the sake of the Lord. The will of the Father, who every day gently speaks to our conscience, is carried out only in the form of repentance and continuous conversion. In the end, everyone has two paths ahead of them: to be repentant sinners or hypocritical sinners. But what matters is not the reasoning that justifies and attempts to save appearances, but a heart that moves forward with the Lord, struggles every day, repents and returns to Him. Because the Lord seeks the pure of heart, not pure "on the outside".

Thus we see, dear brothers and sisters, that the Word of God goes into the depths, "discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart"(Heb 4:12). But it is also current: the parable also reminds us of the relationships, not always easy, between fathers and children. Today, at the rate at which one generation changes to the next, we feel more strongly the need for autonomy from the past, sometimes to the point of rebellion. But, after the closures and the long silences on one side or the other, it is good to recover the encounter, even if there are still conflicts simmering, which can become the stimulus to find a new balance. As in the family, so in the Church and in society: never give up encounter, dialogue, seek new ways to walk together.

The question often comes in the journey of the Church: where to go, how to move forward? I would like to leave you, at the end of this day, three reference points, three "P's". The first is the Word, which is the compass for humble walking, so as not to fall away from the way of God and fall into worldliness. The second is Bread, the Eucharistic bread, because from the Eucharist everything begins. It is in the Eucharist that we encounter the Church: not in gossip and chronicles, but here, in the Body of Christ shared by sinful and needy people, but who feel loved and then desire to love. From here we set off and meet again every time, this is the indispensable beginning of our being as a Church. The Eucharistic Congress proclaims it "out loud": the Church gathers like this, is born and lives around the Eucharist, with Jesus present and alive to worship, to receive and to give every day. Finally, the third P: the poor. Unfortunately, so many people lack the necessities. But there are also so many poor people of affection, lonely people, and poor people of God. In all of them we find Jesus, because Jesus in the world followed the path of poverty, of annihilation, as St Paul says in the second Reading: "Jesus emptied himself by assuming a condition of servant" (Ph 2:7) From the Eucharist to the poor, let us meet Jesus. You have reproduced the inscription that the Card. Lercaro loved to see engraved on the altar: "If we share the bread of heaven, how can we not share the earthly bread?" It will do us good to remember that all the time. The Word, the Bread, the poor: let us ask for the grace never to forget these basic foods that support us on our way.






Pope Francis
Sunday of the Word of God
Aperuit Illis 30.09.19

Pope Francis  30.09.19  Sunday of the Word of God

"He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk 24:45).  

A Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people - the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.





Pope Francis        03.10.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Nehemiah 8: 1-4a,5-6,7b-12
Pope Francis  03.10.19  Santa Marta

Opening our hearts to the encounter with the Word of God fills us with joy. Listen attentively to the readings, without letting them go in one ear and out the other.

Nehemiah 8: 1-4a,5-6,7b-12. It is the story of the encounter of the people of God with the Word of God. It’s all a story of rebuilding.

The reading is centred on the reconstruction of the Temple and the return of the Jewish people from exile. The leaders of the people – the governor, Nehemiah; and Ezra, the scribe – "enthroned" the Word of God. They had gathered the people in the square in front of the Water Gate, and Ezra read from the scroll of the Law; afterwards, the priests explained the reading to the people. A beautiful thing. Consider how for decades this had not happened. It is the encounter of the people with their God, the encounter of the people with the Word of God.

We are used to having this book which is the Word of God, but we have gotten used to it in a bad way. The people in Ezra’s time, on the other hand, had been deprived of the Word, they hungered for the Word of God, and so when they saw the book of the Word they stood up.

Nehemiah, who was the governor; Ezra, the priest and scribe; and the priests who taught the people, said to all the people, "This day is consecrated to the Lord." For us, it is Sunday. Sunday is the day of the encounter of the people with the Lord, the day of the encounter of my family with the Lord. The day of my encounter with the Lord is a day of encounter. "This day is consecrated to the Lord."

For this reason, Nehemiah, Ezra, and the priests encouraged the people not to mourn and not to weep. The day’s first Reading says that the people wept when they heard the Word; but they wept from emotion, they wept from joy.

When we hear the Word of God, what happens in my heart? Do I pay attention to the Word of God? Do I let it touch my heart, or do I stand there staring at the ceiling thinking of other things, and the Word goes in one ear and out the other, and does not reach the heart? What do I do to prepare myself so that the Word will reach the heart? And when the Word reaches the heart, there are tears of joy and there is the feast. The feast of Sunday cannot be understood without the Word of God, it is not understood. "Then Nehemiah said to them, ‘Go, make a feast’ – and he gave a good recipe for a feast: Eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and send portions to those who have nothing’ – that is, to the poor. The poor are always the altar servers of the Christian feast, the poor! – because this day is consecrated to our Lord; do not be sad, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.

The encounter with the Word of God fills us with joy, and this joy is my strength, it is our strength. Christians are joyful because they have accepted, they have received the Word of God in their hearts, and they continually encounter the Word, they seek it out. This is the message for today, for all of us. A brief examination of conscience: ‘How do I listen to the Word of God? Or do I simply not listen? How do I encounter the Lord in His Word, which is the Bible?’ And then, ‘Am I convinced that the joy of the Lord is my strength?’ Sadness is not our strength.

The devil immediately casts down saddened hearts, while the joy of the Lord makes us rise up, look and sing, and weep with joy. One of the Psalms, says that at the moment of liberation from the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish people thought they were dreaming – they could not believe it. Our experience is similar, when we meet the Lord in His Word, when we think, "But this is a dream… and cannot believe such beauty."

May the Lord give us the grace to open our hearts for this encounter with His Word, and to not be afraid of joy, to not be afraid to make the feast of joy – that joy that flows precisely from this encounter with the Word of God.





Pope Francis Sunday of the Word of God 26.01.20
 

“Jesus began to preach” (Mt 4:17). With these words, the evangelist Matthew introduces the ministry of Jesus. The One who is the Word of God has come to speak with us, in his own words and by his own life. On this first Sunday of the Word of God, let us go to the roots of his preaching, to the very source of the word of life. Today’s Gospel (Mt 4:12-23) helps us to know how, where and to whom Jesus began to preach.

1. How did he begin? With a very simple phrase: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 17). This is the main message of all Jesus’ sermons: to tell us that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. What does this mean? The kingdom of heaven means the reign of God, that is, the way in which God reigns through his relationship with us. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, that God is near. Here is the novelty, the first message: God is not far from us. The One who dwells in heaven has come down to earth; he became man. He has torn down walls and shortened distances. We ourselves did not deserve this: he came down to meet us. Now this nearness of God to his people is one of the ways he has done things since the beginning, even of the Old Testament. He said to his people: “Imagine: what nation has its gods so near to it as I am near to you?” (cf. Dt 4:7). And this nearness became flesh in Jesus.

This is a joyful message: God came to visit us in person, by becoming man. He did not embrace our human condition out of duty, no, but out of love. For love, he took on our human nature, for one embraces what one loves. God took our human nature because he loves us and desires freely to give us the salvation that, alone and unaided, we cannot hope to attain. He wants to stay with us and give us the beauty of life, peace of heart, the joy of being forgiven and feeling loved.

We can now understand the direct demand that Jesus makes: “Repent”, in other words, “Change your life”. Change your life, for a new way of living has begun. The time when you lived for yourself is over; now is the time for living with and for God, with and for others, with and for love. Today Jesus speaks those same words to you: “Take heart, I am here with you, allow me to enter and your life will change”. Jesus knocks at the door. That is why the Lord gives you his word, so that you can receive it like a love letter he has written to you, to help you realize that he is at your side. His word consoles and encourages us. At the same time it challenges us, frees us from the bondage of our selfishness and summons us to conversion. Because his word has the power to change our lives and to lead us out of darkness into the light. This is the power of his word.

2. If we consider where Jesus started his preaching, we see that he began from the very places that were then thought to be “in darkness”. Both the first reading and the Gospel speak to us of people who “sat in the region and shadow of death”. They are the inhabitants of “the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, on the road by the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (Mt 4:15-16; cf. Is 8:23-9:1). Galilee of the nations, this region where Jesus began his preaching ministry, had been given this name because it was made up of people of different races and was home to a variety of peoples, languages and cultures. It was truly “on the road by the sea”, a crossroads. Fishermen, businessmen and foreigners all dwelt there. It was definitely not the place to find the religious purity of the chosen people. Yet Jesus started from there: not from the forecourt of the temple of Jerusalem, but from the opposite side of the country, from Galilee of the nations, from the border region. He started from a periphery.

Here there is a message for us: the word of salvation does not go looking for untouched, clean and safe places. Instead, it enters the complex and obscure places in our lives. Now, as then, God wants to visit the very places we think he will never go. Yet how often we are the ones who close the door, preferring to keep our confusion, our dark side and our duplicity hidden. We keep it locked up within, approaching the Lord with some rote prayers, wary lest his truth stir our hearts. And this is concealed hypocrisy. But as today’s Gospel tells us: “Jesus went about all Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity” (v. 23). He passed through all of that varied and complex region. In the same way, he is not afraid to explore the terrain of our hearts and to enter the roughest and most difficult corners of our lives. He knows that his mercy alone can heal us, his presence alone can transform us and his word alone can renew us. So let us open the winding paths of our hearts – those paths we have inside us that we do not wish to see or that we hide – to him, who walked “the road by the sea”; let us welcome into our hearts his word, which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword… and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).

3. Finally, to whom did Jesus begin to speak? The Gospel says that, “as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Mt 4:18-19). The first people to be called were fishermen: not people carefully chosen for their abilities or devout people at prayer in the temple, but ordinary working people.

Let us think about what Jesus said to them: I will make you fishers of men. He was speaking to fishermen, using the language they understood. Their lives changed on the spot. He called them where they were and as they were, in order to make them sharers in his mission. “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (v. 20). Why immediately? Simply because they felt drawn. They did not hurry off because they had received an order, but because they were drawn by love. To follow Jesus, mere good works are not enough; we have to listen daily to his call. He, who alone knows us and who loves us fully, leads us to put out into the deep of life. Just as he did with the disciples who heard him.

That is why we need his word: so that we can hear, amid the thousands of other words in our daily lives, that one word that speaks to us not about things, but about life.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us make room inside ourselves for the word of God! Each day, let us read a verse or two of the Bible. Let us begin with the Gospel: let us keep it open on our table, carry it in our pocket or bag, read it on our cell phones, and allow it to inspire us daily. We will discover that God is close to us, that he dispels our darkness and, with great love, leads our lives into deep waters.




Pope Francis   26.01.20 Angelus, St Peter's Square  Sunday of the Word of God - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A  Isaiah 8: 23 - 9: 3,     Matthew 4: 12-23 

Pope Francis Angelus Word of God 26.01.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel (cf. Matthew 4:12-23) presents us with the beginning of Jesus' public mission. This was in Galilee, a land on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and viewed with suspicion for its mingling with the gentiles. Nothing good and new was expected from that region; instead, it was there that Jesus, who had grown up in the Nazareth of Galilee, began his preaching.

He proclaimed the core of his teaching summed up in the call: "Convert, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (v. 17). This proclamation is like a powerful beam of light that crosses darkness and cuts through the fog, and it evokes the prophecy of Isaiah that is read on Christmas night: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone" (9:1). With the coming of Jesus, the light of the world, God the Father showed humanity his closeness and friendship. They are given to us free of charge beyond our merits. God's closeness and God's friendship are not our own merits: they are a free gift from God. We must cherish this gift. 

The call to conversion, which Jesus addresses to all people of good will, can be fully understood precisely in the light of the event of the manifestation of the Son of God, on which we have meditated in the past Sundays. Often it seems impossible to change ones life, to abandon the path of selfishness, evil, and to abandon the path of sin because our commitment to conversion is focused only on ourselves and on our own strength, and not on Christ and His Spirit. But our adherence to the Lord cannot be reduced to a mere personal effort, no. Believing this also would be a sin of pride. Our adherence to the Lord cannot be reduced to a personal effort, but it must be expressed in a confident openness of heart and mind in order to receive the Good News of Jesus. It is this – the Word of Jesus, the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel – that changes the world and hearts! We are therefore called to trust the word of Christ, to open ourselves to the mercy of the Father and let ourselves be transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirt.

This is where the true journey of conversion path. Just as it happened to the first disciples: the encounter with the divine Master, with his gaze, with his word gave them the impetus to follow Him, to change their lives by putting their selves concretely at the service of the Kingdom of God. 

The Word of Jesus has reached us thanks to these men. Simple fishermen who left their nets and said yes to Him, turning them into announcers and witnesses of God's love for his people. In imitation of these early heralds and messengers of the Word of God, may each of us can take steps in the saviour's footsteps, to offer hope to those who are thirsty for it.

May the Virgin Mary, to whom we turn in this prayer of the Angelus, sustain these intentions and strengthen them with her maternal intercession.





Pope Francis       12.07.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square       15th Sunday Year A         Matthew 13: 1-23

Pope Francis The Parable of the Sower 12.07.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning!

In this Sunday's Gospel passage (cf. Mt 13:1-23), Jesus tells a great crowd the Parable - which we all know well - of the Sower, who casts seed over four different types of terrain. The Word of God, symbolized by the seeds is not an abstract Word, but is Christ himself, the Word of the Father who became flesh in Mary's womb. Therefore, embracing the Word of God means embracing the personage of Christ; of Christ Himself.

There are many ways to receive the Word of God. We may do so like a path, where birds immediately come and eat the seeds. This would be distraction, a great danger of our time. Beset by lots of small talk, by many ideologies, by continuous opportunities to be distracted inside and outside the home, we can lose our zest for silence, for reflection, for dialogue with the Lord, such that we risk losing our faith, not receiving the Word of God, as we are seeing everything, distracted by everything, by worldly things.

Another possibility: we may receive the Word of God like rocky ground, with little soil. There the seeds spring up quickly, but they soon wither away, because they are unable to sink roots to any depth. This is the image of those who receive the Word of God with momentary enthusiasm, though it remains superficial; it does not assimilate the Word of God. In this way, at the first difficulty, such as a discomfort or disturbance of life, that still-feeble faith dissolves, as the seed withers that falls among the rocks.

Again - a third possibility that of which Jesus speaks in the parable - we may receive the Word of God like ground where thorny bushes grow. And the thorns are the deceit of wealth, of success, of worldly concerns... There, the word grows a little, but becomes choked, it is not strong, and it dies or does not bear fruit.

Lastly - the fourth possibility - we may receive it like good soil. Here, and only here the seed takes root and bears fruit. The seed fallen upon this fertile soil represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, safeguard it in their heart and put it into practice in everyday life.

This Parable of the Sower is somewhat the 'mother' of all parables, because it speaks about listening to the Word. It reminds us that the Word of God is a seed which in itself is fruitful and effective; and God scatters it everywhere, paying no mind to waste. Such is the heart of God! Each one of us is ground on which the seed of the Word falls; no one is excluded! The Word is given to each one of us. We can ask ourselves: what type of terrain am I? Do I resemble the path, the rocky ground, the bramble bush? But, if we want, we can become good soil, ploughed and carefully cultivated, to help ripen the seed of the Word. It is already present in our heart, but making it fruitful depends on us; it depends on the embrace that we reserve for this seed.

Often one is distracted by too many interests, by too many enticements, and it is difficult to distinguish, among the many voices and many words, that of the Lord, the only one that makes us free. This is why it is important to accustom oneself to listening to the Word of God, to reading it. And I return once more to that advice: always keep with you a handy copy of the Gospel, a pocket edition of the Gospel, in your pocket, in your purse… and so, every day, read a short passage, so that you become used to reading the Word of God, understanding well the seed that God offers you, and thinking about the earth that receives it.

May the Virgin Mary, perfect model of good and fertile soil, help us, with her prayer, to become willing soil without thorns or rocks, so that we may bear good fruit for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters.




Pope Francis        03.01.21  Angelus, Library of the Apostolic Palace       2nd Sunday after Christmas Year B        John 1: 1-18


Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!
Pope Francis - Jesus Word of God - Angelus  03.01.2021


On this second Sunday after Christmas, the Word of God does not offer us an episode from the life of Jesus, but rather it tells us about Him before He was born. It takes us back to reveal something about Jesus before He came among us. It does so especially in the prologue of the Gospel of John, which begins: “In the beginning was the Word” (Jn 1:1). In the beginning: are the first words of the Bible, the same words with which the creation account begins: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Today, the Gospel says that Jesus, the One we contemplated at His Birth, as an infant, existed before: before things began, before the universe, before everything. He existed before space and time. “In Him was life” (Jn 1:4), before life appeared.

Saint John calls Him the Logos, that is, the Word. What does he mean by this? The word is used to communicate: people do not speak alone, people speak with someone. One always speaks with someone. When we are in the street and we see people who talk to themselves, we say, “This person, something has happened to them…”. No, we always speak to someone. Now, the fact that Jesus was the Word from the very beginning means that from the beginning God wants to communicate with us, He wants to talk to us. The only-begotten Son of the Father (see v. 14) wants to tell us about the beauty of being children of God; He is “the true light” (v. 9) and wants to remove the darkness of evil from us; He is “the life” (v. 4), who knows our lives and wants to tell us that He has always loved them. He loves us all. Here is today’s wondrous message: Jesus is God’s Word, the eternal Word of God, who has always thought of us and wanted to communicate with us.

And to do so, He went beyond words. In fact, at the heart of today’s Gospel we are told that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). The Word became flesh: why does Saint John use this expression “flesh”? Could he not have said, in a more elegant way, that the Word was made man? No, he uses the word flesh because it indicates our human condition in all its weakness, in all its frailty. He tells us that God became fragile so He could touch our fragility up close. So, from the moment that the Lord became flesh, nothing about our life is extraneous to Him. There is nothing that He scorns, we can share everything with Him, everything. Dear brother, dear sister, God became flesh to tell us, to tell you that He loves us like that, in our frailty, in your frailty; right there, where we are most ashamed, where you are most ashamed. This is bold, God’s decision is bold: He took on flesh precisely where very often we are ashamed; He enters into our shame, to become our brother, to share the path of life.

He became flesh and never turned back. He did not put our humanity on like a garment that can be put on and taken off. No, He never detached Himself from our flesh. And He will never be separated from it: now and forever He is in heaven with His body made of human flesh. He has united Himself forever to our humanity; we might say that He “espoused” Himself to it. I like to think that when the Lord prays to the Father for us, He does not merely speak: He makes Him see the wounds of the flesh, He makes Him see the wounds He suffered for us. This is Jesus: with His flesh He is the intercessor, he wanted to bear even the signs of suffering. Jesus, with His flesh, is in front of the Father. Indeed, the Gospel says that He came to dwell among us. He did not come to visit us, and then leave; He came to dwell with us, to stay with us. What, then, does He desire from us? He desires a great intimacy. He wants us to share with Him our joys and sufferings, desires and fears, hopes and sorrows, people and situations. Let us do this, with confidence: let us open our hearts to Him, let us tell Him everything. Let us pause in silence before the crib to savour the tenderness of God who became near, who became flesh. And without fear, let us invite Him among us, into our homes, into our families. And also - everyone knows this well - let us invite Him into our frailties. Let us invite Him, so that He may see our wounds. He will come and life will change.

May the Holy Mother of God, in whom the Word became flesh, help us to welcome Jesus, who knocks on the door of our hearts to dwell with us.





Pope Francis Homily     24.01.21  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica     Sunday of the Word of God     3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B      Mark 1: 14-20

Pope Francis Homily - The Word of God Sunday - 24.01.2021

On this Sunday of the Word, let us listen to Jesus as he proclaims the Kingdom of God. Let us consider what he says and to whom he says it.

What does he say? Jesus begins his preaching with these words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15). God is near, that is the first message. His kingdom has come down to earth. God is not, as we are often tempted to think, distant, up in heaven, detached from the human condition. No, he is in our midst. The time of his distance ended when, in Jesus, he became man. Ever since then, God has been very close to us; he will never retire from our human condition or tire of it. This closeness is the very first message of the Gospel; today’s reading tells us that Jesus “was saying” (v. 15) those words: he kept repeating them. “God is near” was the leitmotif of his preaching, the heart of his message. If this was the opening theme and the refrain of all Jesus’ preaching, it must necessarily be the one constant of the Christian life and message. Before all else, we must believe and proclaim that God has drawn near to us, that we have been forgiven and shown mercy. Prior to every word of ours about God, there is his word to us, his Word who continues to tell us: “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I am at your side and I will always be there”.

The word of God enables us to touch this closeness, since – as the Book of Deuteronomy tells us – it is not far from us, it is near to our hearts (cf. 30:14). It is the antidote to our fear of having to face life alone. Indeed, by his word the Lord consoles us, that is, he stands “with” (con-) those who are “alone” (soli). In speaking to us, he reminds us that he has taken us to heart, that we are precious in his eyes, and that he holds us in the palm of his hand. God’s word infuses this peace, but it does not leave us in peace. It is a word of consolation but also a call to conversion. “Repent”, says Jesus, immediately after proclaiming God’s closeness. For, thanks to his closeness, we can no longer distance ourselves from God and from others. The time when we could live thinking only of ourselves is now over. To do so is not Christian, for those who experience God’s closeness cannot ignore their neighbours or treat them with indifference. Those who hear God’s word are constantly reminded that life is not about shielding ourselves from others, but about encountering them in the name of God who is near. The word sown in the soil of our hearts, leads us in turn to sow hope through closeness to others. Even as God has done with us.

Let us now consider to whom Jesus speaks. His first words are to Galilean fishermen, simple folk who lived by harsh manual labour, by day and night. They were no experts in Scripture or people of great knowledge and culture. They lived in a region made up of various peoples, ethnic groups and cults: one that could not have been further from the religious purity of Jerusalem, the heart of the country. Yet that is where Jesus began, not from the centre but from the periphery, and he did so in order to tell us too that no one is far from God’s heart. Everyone can receive his word and encounter him in person. The Gospel offers a nice detail in this regard, when it tells us that Jesus’ preaching came “after” that of John (Mk 1:14). That word after is decisive: it points to a difference. John received people in the desert, where only those able to leave their homes could go. Jesus, on the other hand, speaks of God in the heart of society, to everyone, wherever they find themselves. He does not speak at fixed times or places, but “walking along the shore”, to fishermen who were “casting their nets” (v. 16). He speaks to people in the most ordinary times and places. Here we see the universal power of the word of God to reach everyone and every area of life.

Yet the word of God also has particular power, that is, it can touch each person directly. The disciples would never forget the words they heard that day on the shore of the lake, by their boats, in the company of their family members and fellow workers: words that marked their lives forever. Jesus said to them: “Follow me, I will make you become fishers of men” (v. 17). He did not appeal to them using lofty words and ideas, but spoke to their lives. He told fishermen that they were to be fishers of men. If he had told them: “Follow me, I will make you Apostles, you will be sent into the world to preach the Gospel in the power of the Spirit; you will be killed, but you will become saints”, we can be sure that Peter and Andrew would have answered: “Thanks, but we’ll stick to our nets and our boats!” But Jesus spoke to them in terms of their own livelihood: “You are fishermen, and you will become fishers of men”. Struck by those words, they come to realize that lowering their nets for fish was too little, whereas putting out into the deep in response to the word of Jesus was the secret of true joy. The Lord does the same with us: he looks for us where we are, he loves us as we are, and he patiently walks by our side. As he did with those fishermen, he waits for us on the shore of our life. With his word, he wants to change us, to invite us to live fuller lives and to put out into the deep together with him.

So dear brothers and sisters, let us not ignore God’s word. It is a love letter, written to us by the One who knows us best. In reading it, we again hear his voice, see his face and receive his Spirit. That word brings us close to God. Let us not keep it at arm’s length, but carry it with us always, in our pocket, on our phone. Let us give it a worthy place in our homes. Let us set the Gospel in a place where we can remember to open it daily, perhaps at the beginning and at the end of the day, so that amid all those words that ring in our ears, there may also be a few verses of the word of God that can touch our hearts. To be able to do this, let us ask the Lord for the strength to turn off the television and open the Bible, to turn off our cell phone and open the Gospel. During this liturgical year, we are reading Saint Mark, the simplest and the shortest of the Gospels. Why not read it at home too, even a brief passage each day. It will make us feel God’s closeness to us and fill us with courage as we make our way through life.