Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Complaining “is bad”, because “it does away with hope”. Resist entering “this game of living on complaint”. The Lord’s presence was made visible “when he broke the bread”. Then, the disciples could see “the wounds”, and then “he disappeared”. We must have hope and trust in God who “always moves with us along our path”, even at the darkest hour. “We may be sure”, we may be sure that the Lord never abandons us.... Let us not seek refuge in complaint. It harms our heart.
Witness, complaining, questions.
The first word, then, is the “witness” of Jesus, which, was a new thing for the time, because going to sinners made you unclean, like touching a leper. For this reason, the doctors of the law kept away from them. Bearing witness has never been a convenient thing, either for the witnesses – who often paid with martyrdom – or for the powerful.
Bearing witness is breaking a habit, a way of being… Breaking it for the better, changing it. For this reason, the Church advances through witness. What is attractive [to people] is the witness. Not the words, which help, yes; but witness is what is attractive, and what makes the Church grow. It is a new thing, but not entirely new, because the mercy of God was also there in the Old Testament. They, these doctors of the law, never understood the meaning of the words: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ They had read about mercy, but they had not understood what it was. And Jesus, with His way of acting, proclaimed this mercy with His witness.
Witness, always breaks a habit, and also puts you at risk.
In fact, Jesus’ witness caused people to murmur. The Pharisees, the scribes, the doctors of the law complained about Him, saying, “He welcomes sinners, and eats with them.” They did not say, “Look, this man seems to be good because he seeks to convert sinners.” This, is an attitude that consists in always making negative comments “to destroy the one bearing witness.” This sin of complaining about others, is a part of daily life, in big and small ways. In our own lives, we can find ourselves murmuring “because we don’t like something or other”; and instead of dialoguing, or trying to resolve a conflict situation, we secretly complain, always in a low voice, because there is no courage to speak clearly.
And so it happens, even in smaller societies, “in parishes.” How often is there murmuring in parishes?” Whenever I don’t like the testimony, or there is a person that I don’t like, murmuring immediately breaks out.
And in dioceses? ‘Infra-diocesan’ conflicts… Internal conflict within the diocese. You know this. And also in politics. And this is bad. When a government is not honest, it seeks to soil its opponents with murmuring. There’s always defamation, slander, always looking for something [to criticize]. And you know dictatorial governments well, because you have experienced it. What makes a dictatorial government? Taking control first of the means of communication with a law, and from there, it begins to murmur, to belittle everyone that is a danger to the government. Murmuring is our daily bread, at the level of persons, of the family, the parish, the diocese, the social level.
It’s a matter of finding a way “to not look at reality,” “of not allowing people to think.” Jesus knows this, but the Lord is good, and instead of condemning them for murmuring, He asks a question. He uses the method they use. They ask questions with evil intentions, in order to test Jesus, “to make Him fall”; as, for example, when they asked Him about paying taxes, or about divorce. Jesus asks them, in today’s Gospel, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” And “the normal thing would be for them to understand”; instead they do the calculation: “I have 99,” so what if one is lost?"
"We’ll let this one perish, and in the balance it will result in profit and loss, and we will save these." This is the logic of the doctors of the law. ‘Which one of you?’ And their choice is the opposite of Jesus’. For this reason, they do not go to speak with sinners, they do not go to the tax collectors, they do not go because ‘it is better not to dirty myself with these people, it is a risk. Let us save ourselves.’ Jesus is smart in asking them this question: He enters into their casuistry, but puts them in a position contrary to what is right. ‘Which one of you?’ And not one of them says, ‘Yes, it’s true,’ but all of them say, ‘No, no, I would not do it.’ And for this reason they are unable to forgive, to be merciful, to receive.
"Witness,” which is provocative, and makes the Church grow; “murmuring,” which is like a “guardian of my inner self, so that the witness doesn’t wound me”; and Jesus’ “question".
Another word: "joy", the feast, which these people do not know: “All those who follow the path of the doctors of the law, do not know the joy of the Gospel”.
Pray, “That the Lord might make us understand this logic of the Gospel, in contrast to the logic of the world.”
According to the Reading, the people of God could not bear the journey: their enthusiasm and hope as they escaped slavery in Egypt gradually faded, their patience wore out, and they began muttering and complaining to God: “Why have you brought us from Egypt to die in this desert?”
The spirit of tiredness takes away our hope. Tiredness is selective: it always causes us to see the negative in the moment we are living, and forget the good things we have received.
When we feel desolated and cannot bear the journey, we seek refuge either in idols or in complaint... This spirit of fatigue leads us Christians to be dissatisfied and everything goes wrong… Jesus himself taught us this when he said we are like children playing games when we are overcome by this spirit of dissatisfaction.
Some Christians give in to failure without realizing that this creates the perfect terrain for the devil.
They are afraid of consolation, afraid of hope, afraid of the Lord’s caress.
This is the life of many Christians: They live complaining, they live criticizing, they mutter and are unsatisfied.
It is the desolation of the serpent: the ancient serpent, that of the Garden of Eden. Here it is a symbol of that same serpent that seduced Eve. It is a way of showing the serpent inside that always bites in times of desolation.
Those who spend their lives complaining are those who prefer failure, who bear to hope, of those who could not bear the resurrection of Jesus.
Let us Christians ask the Lord to free us from this disease.
May the Lord always give us hope for the future and the strength to keep going.
Jesus quotes the ancient law: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Mt 5:38; Ex 21:24). We know what that law meant: when someone takes something from you, you are to take the same thing from him. This law of retaliation was actually a sign of progress, since it prevented excessive retaliation. If someone harms you, then you can repay him or her in the same degree; you cannot do something worse. Ending the matter there, in a fair exchange, was a step forward.
But Jesus goes far beyond this: “But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil” (Mt 5:39). But how, Lord? If someone thinks badly of me, if someone hurts me, why can I not repay him with the same currency? “No”, says Jesus. Nonviolence. No act of violence.
We might think that Jesus’ teaching is a part of a plan; in the end, the wicked will desist. But that is not why Jesus asks us to love even those who do us harm. What, then, is the reason? It is that the Father, our Father, continues to love everyone, even when his love is not reciprocated. The Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (v. 45). In today’s first reading, he tells us: “You shall be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev 19:2). In other words: “Live like me, seek the things that I seek”. And that is precisely what Jesus did. He did not point a finger at those who wrongfully condemned him and put him to a cruel death, but opened his arms to them on the cross. And he forgave those who drove the nails into his wrists (cf. Lk 23:33-34).
If we want to be disciples of Christ, if we want to call ourselves Christians, this is the only way; there is no other. Having been loved by God, we are called to love in return; having been forgiven, we are called to forgive; having been touched by love, we are called to love without waiting for others to love first; having been saved graciously, we are called to seek no benefit from the good we do. You may well say: “But Jesus goes too far! He even says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who they persecute you” (Mt 5:44). Surely he speaks like this to gain people’s attention, but he cannot really mean it”. But he really does. Here Jesus is not speaking in paradoxes or using nice turns of phrase. He is direct and clear. He quotes the ancient law and solemnly tells us: “But I say to you: love your enemies”. His words are deliberate and precise.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. This is the Christian innovation. It is the Christian difference. Pray and love: this is what we must do; and not only with regard to those who love us, not only with regard to our friends or our own people. The love of Jesus knows no boundaries or barriers. The Lord demands of us the courage to have a love that does not count the cost. Because the measure of Jesus is love without measure. How many times have we neglected that demand, behaving like everyone else! Yet his commandment of love is not simply a challenge; it is the very heart of the Gospel. Where the command of universal love is concerned, let us not accept excuses or preach prudent caution. The Lord was not cautious; he did not yield to compromises. He asks of us the extremism of charity. This is the only legitimate kind of Christian extremism: the extremism of love.
Love your enemies. We do well today, at Mass and afterwards, to repeat these words to ourselves and apply them to those who treat us badly, who annoy us, whom we find hard to accept, who trouble our serenity. Love your enemies. We also do well to ask ourselves: “What am I really concerned about in this life? About my enemies, or about those who dislike me? Or about loving?” Do not worry about the malice of others. about those who think ill of you. Instead, begin to disarm your heart out of love for Jesus. For those who love God have no enemies in their hearts.
The worship of God is contrary to the culture of hatred. And the culture of hatred is fought by combatting the cult of complaint. How many times do we complain about the things that we lack, about the things that go wrong! Jesus knows about all the things that don’t work. He knows that there is always going to be someone who dislikes us. Or someone who makes our life miserable. All he asks us to do is pray and love. This is the revolution of Jesus, the greatest revolution in history: from hating our enemy to loving our enemy; from the cult of complaint to the culture of gift. If we belong to Jesus, this is the road we are called to take! There is no other.
True enough, you can object: “I understand the grandeur of the ideal, but that is not how life really is! If I love and forgive, I will not survive in this world, where the logic of power prevails and people seem to be concerned only with themselves”. So is Jesus’ logic, his way of seeing things, the logic of losers? In the eyes of the world, it is, but in the eyes of God it is the logic of winners. As Saint Paul told us in the second reading: “Let no one deceive himself... For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Cor 3:18-19). God sees what we cannot see. He knows how to win. He knows that evil can only be conquered by goodness. That is how he saved us: not by the sword, but by the cross. To love and forgive is to live as a conqueror. We will lose if we defend the faith by force.
The Lord would repeat to us the words he addressed to Peter in Gethsemane: “Put your sword into its sheath” (Jn 18:11). In the Gethsemanes of today, in our indifferent and unjust world that seems to testify to the agony of hope, a Christian cannot be like those disciples who first took up the sword and later fled. No, the solution is not to draw our sword against others, or to flee from the times in which we live. The solution is the way of Jesus: active love, humble love, love “to the end” (Jn 13:1).
Dear brothers and sisters, today Jesus, with his limitless love, raises the bar of our humanity. In the end, we can ask ourselves: “Will we be able to make it?” If the goal were impossible, the Lord would not have asked us to strive for it. By our own effort, it is difficult to achieve; it is a grace and it needs to be implored. Ask God for the strength to love. Say to him: “Lord, help me to love, teach me to forgive. I cannot do it alone, I need you”. But we also have to ask for the grace to be able to see others not as hindrances and complications, but as brothers and sisters to be loved. How often we pray for help and favours for ourselves, yet how seldom do we pray to learn how to love! We need to pray more frequently for the grace to live the essence of the Gospel, to be truly Christian. For “in the evening of life, we will be judged on love” (Saint John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love, 57).
Today let us choose love, whatever the cost, even if it means going against the tide. Let us not yield to the thinking of this world, or content ourselves with half measures. Let us accept the challenge of Jesus, the challenge of charity. Then we will be true Christians and our world will be more human.
Today's liturgy makes us reflect on water, water as a sign of salvation, because it is a means of salvation, but water is also a means of destruction: we think of the Flood ... But in these readings, water is for salvation.
In the first reading, that water that leads to life, that heals the waters of the sea, a new water that heals. And in the Gospel, the pool, that pool where the sick went, full of water, to heal themselves, because it was said that every now and then the waters moved, like a river, because an angel came down from the sky to move them, and the first, or the first, who threw themselves into the water were healed. And many – as Jesus says – many sick people, "lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled", there waiting for healing, for the water to move. There was a man who had been ill for 38 years. 38 years there, waiting for healing. It makes us think. It's a bit long isn't it? Because someone who wants to be healed arranges to have someone to help him move, quickly, even smartly ... but he was there 38 years, at a certain point we don't even know if he is alive or dead ... Jesus, seeing him lying there, and knowing the reality, that he had been there for a long time, said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" And the answer is interesting: he doesn't say yes, he complains. About the disease? No. The sick man said, "Sir, I don't have anyone to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed. While I'm about to go there – I'm about to make the decision to go – another gets down there before me." A man who always gets there late. Jesus says to him, "Get up, pick up your mat and walk." Instantly that man was cured.
It makes us think about this man's behaviour. Was he sick? Yes, maybe he had some paralysis, but it looks like he could walk a little. But he was sick in the heart, he was sick in the soul, he was ill with pessimism, he was ill with sadness, he was sick with spiritual laziness. This was this man's illness: "Yes, I want to live, but ...", he just stayed there. But the answer should have been, "Yes, I want to be healed!" But no, it's complaining, "It's the others who get there first, always the others." The response to Jesus' offering to heal is a complaint against others. And so, 38 years complaining about others. And doing nothing to get better.
It was a sabbath: we heard what the doctors of the law did. But the key is the encounter with Jesus, after. He found him in the Temple and said, "Look, you are healed. Don't sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you." That man was in sin, but he wasn't there because he had done something really wrong, no. The sin of surviving on complaining about the lives of others: the sin of sadness that is the seed of the devil, of that inability to make a decision about one's own life, but yes, to look at the lives of others to complain. Not to criticize them: to complain. "They go first, I am the victim of this life": complaints, they breath complaints, these people.
If we make a comparison with the blind man from the birth that we heard about last Sunday, the other Sunday: how much joy, how decisive he had been about being healed, and also how decisively he went to discuss with the doctors of the Law! This one he just informs, "Yes it's him, that's it." Without involving himself in that life... It makes me think of so many of us, of so many Christians who live in this state of apathy, unable to do anything but complaining about everything. And apathy is a poison, it is a fog that surrounds the soul and does not make us live. And also, it's a drug because if you taste it often, you like it. And you end up "addicted to sadness", and "addicted to apathy" ... It's like air. And this is a quite habitual sin among us: sadness, apathy, I do not say melancholy but it is very similar.
It will do us good to reread this chapter 5 of John to see what this illness is like into which we may fall. Water is to save us. "But I can't save myself" – "Why?" – "Because it is the fault of others". And he remains there 38 years ... Jesus healed me: we don't see the reaction of others who are healed, who pick up their mat and dance, sing, give thanks, and say it to the whole world? No, he just goes ahead. The others say to him you shouldn't be doing that, he says: "But, the one who healed me told me to do it", and he just goes ahead. And then, instead of going to Jesus to thank he informs: "It was him." A grey life, grey because of this bad spirit that is apathy, sadness, melancholy.
Let us think of water, that water that is a symbol of our strength, of our life, of the water that Jesus used to regenerate us in Baptism. And let us also think of ourselves, if any of us have the danger of slipping into this apathy, into this neutral sin: the sin of neutral is this, neither white nor black, we do not know what it is. And this is a sin that the devil can use to drown our spiritual life and also our personal life. May the Lord help us understand how awful and how evil this sin is.
My Jesus, I believe you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things and I desire you in my soul. Because I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As I have come, I embrace you and unite myself to you. Don't ever let me be separated from You. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel, set on the day of the Passover, tells the story of the two disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24: 13-35). It's a story that starts and ends on the move. There is, in fact the outbound journey of the disciples who, sad about the end of the story of Jesus, leave Jerusalem and return home, to Emmaus, walking for about eleven kilometres. It is a journey that takes place during the day, with much of it downhill. And there is the return journey: another eleven kilometres, but made at nightfall, with part of the way uphill after the fatigue of the outward journey and all day. Two trips: one easy during the day and the other tiring at night. Yet the first takes place in sadness, the second in joy. In the first there is the Lord who walks by their side, but they do not recognize him; in the second they no longer see him, but they feel him near them. In the first they are despondent and hopeless; in the second they run to bring the good news of the encounter with the Risen Lord to others .
The two different paths of those early disciples tell us, the disciples of Jesus today, that in life we have two opposite directions in front of us: there is the path of those who, like those two at the beginning, allow themselves to be paralyzed by the disappointments of life and go ahead sadly; and there is the path of those who do not put themselves and their problems first, but Jesus who visits us, and the brothers who await his visit, that is, the brothers and sisters who wait for us to take care of them. Here is the turning point: to stop orbiting around one's self, the disappointments of the past, unrealized ideals, so many bad things that have happened in one's life. So many times we are led to orbit around ourselves. Leave that and move forward looking at the greatest and truest reality of life: Jesus is alive, Jesus loves me. This is the greatest reality. And I can do something for others. It's a beautiful reality, positive, sunny, beautiful!
The U-turn is this: to move from thoughts about myself to the reality of my God; pass – with another pun – from "ifs" to "yes". From "if" to "yes." What does it mean? "If he had freed us, if God had listened to me, if life had gone the way I wanted, if I had this and that..." in a tone of complaint. This "if" does not help, it is not fruitful, it does not help us or others. Here our ifs are similar to those of the two disciples. But they pass to yes: "yes, the Lord is alive, he walks with us. Yes, now, not tomorrow, we are on our way to announce it." "Yes, I can do this so that people are happier, because people will get better, to help so many people. Yes, yes, I can." From if to yes, from complaint to joy and peace, because when we complain, we are not joyful; we are in a grey area, that grey air of sadness. And that doesn't even help us grow well. From if to yes, from complaint to the joy of service.
This change of pace, from self to God, from if to yes, how did that happen with the disciples? Meeting Jesus: the two of Emmaus first open their hearts to him; then they listen to him explain the scriptures; so they invite him home. These are three steps that we too can take in our homes: first, open our heart to Jesus, entrust him with the burdens, the hardships, the disappointments of life, entrust him with the "ifs"; and then, second step, listen to Jesus, take t he Gospel in hand, read this passage today, chapter twenty-four of Luke's Gospel; thirdly, pray to Jesus, in the same words as those disciples: "Lord, "stay with us" (v. 29). Lord, stay with me. Lord, stay with all of us, because we need you to find our way. And without you there is night.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are always on our way in life. And we become what we're going towards. Let us choose God's way, not that of the self; the way of yes, not the way of the if. We will find that there is no unexpected events, there is no uphill path, there is no night that cannot be faced with Jesus. May Our Lady Mother of the journey, who, by receiving the Word, has made her entire life a "yes" to God, show us the way.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good afternoon.
The Gospel for today’s liturgy shows a few scribes and Pharisees amazed by Jesus’ attitude. They are scandalized because his disciples pick up food without first performing the traditional ritual ablutions. They think among themselves “This way of doing things is contrary to the religious practice” (cf. Mk 7:2-5).
We too can ask ourselves: why do Jesus and his disciples disregard these traditions? After all, they are not bad things, but good ritual habits, simple washings before eating. Why doesn’t Jesus attend to it? Because for Him it is important to bring faith back to its centre. In the Gospel we see it repeatedly: this bringing faith back to the centre. And to avoid a risk, which applies to those scribes as well as to us: to observe outward formalities, putting the heart and the faith in the background. Many times we too “put makeup” on our soul. Outward formality and not the heart of faith: this is a risk. It is the risk of a religiosity of appearances: looking good on the outside, while failing to purify the heart. There is always the temptation to “organize God” with some outward devotion, but Jesus does not settle for this worship. Jesus does not want outward appearances, he wants a faith that touches the heart.
In fact, immediately afterwards, he calls the people back to speak a great truth: “there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him” (v. 15). Rather, it is “from within, out of the heart” (v. 21) that evil things are born. These words are revolutionary, because in the mindset of the time it was thought that certain foods or external contacts would render one impure. Jesus reverses the perspective: what comes from the outside does not do harm, but rather, what is born from within.
Dear brothers and sisters, this also pertains to us. We often think that evil comes mainly from the outside: from other people’s conduct, from those who think badly of us, from society. How often we blame others, society, the world, for everything that happens to us! It is always the fault of “others”: it is the fault of people, of those who govern, of misfortune, and so on. It seems that problems always come from the outside. And we spend time assigning blame; but spending time blaming others is wasting time. We become angry, bitter and keep God away from our heart. Like those people in the Gospel, who complain, who are scandalized, who cause controversy and do not accept Jesus. One cannot be truly religious in complaining: complaining poisons, it leads you to anger, to resentment and to sadness, that of the heart, which closes the door to God.
Today let us ask the Lord to free us from blaming others – like children: “No, it wasn’t me! It’s the other one, the other one…”. Let us ask in prayer for the grace not to waste time polluting the world with complaints, because this is not Christian. Jesus instead invites us to look at life and the world starting from our heart. If we look inside, we will find almost all that we despise outside. And if, sincerely, we ask God to purify our heart, that is when we will start making the world cleaner. Because there is an infallible way to defeat evil: by starting to conquer it within yourself. The first Fathers of the Church, the monks, when they were asked: “What is the path of holiness?”, the first step, they used to say, was to blame yourself: blame yourself. Blaming ourselves. How many of us, during the day, in a moment during the day or a moment during the week, area able to blame ourselves within? “Yes, this one did this to me, the other one … that is barbarity…”. But me? I do the same thing, or I do it this way…. It is wisdom: learning to blame yourself. Try to do it, it will do you good. It does me good, when I manage to do so, it is good for us, it will do us all good.
May the Virgin Mary, who changed history through the purity of her heart, help us to purify our own, by overcoming first and foremost the vice of blaming others and complaining about everything.