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
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 12:32-48) speaks to us about the desire for the definitive encounter with Christ, a desire that keeps us ever ready, alert in spirit, for we anticipate this encounter with all our heart, with all our being. This is a fundamental aspect of life. It is a desire that we all share, whether explicit or secret, we have hidden in our heart; we all harbour this desire in our heart.
It is also important to see Jesus’ teaching in the actual context in which he transmitted it. In this case, Luke the Evangelist shows us Jesus walking with his disciples to Jerusalem, walking to his death and resurrection at Easter, and on this journey he teaches them, confiding to them what he himself carries in his heart, the deep attitude of his heart: detachment from earthly possessions, his trust in the Father’s Providence and, indeed, his innermost watchfulness, all the while working for the Kingdom of God. For Jesus it is waiting for his return to the Father’s house. For us it is waiting for Christ himself who will come to take us to the everlasting celebration, as he did for his Mother, Mary Most Holy; he took her up to Heaven with him.
The Gospel intends to tell us that the Christian is someone who has a great desire, a deep desire within him: to meet his Lord with his brothers and sisters, his travelling companions. And what Jesus tells us is summed up in his famous phrase: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Lk 12:34). A heart full of desire. We all have desires. The poor ones are those who have no desire, no desire to go forward, toward the horizon; and for us Christians this horizon is the encounter with Jesus, the very encounter with him, who is our life, our joy, our happiness. I would like to ask you two questions. First: do you all have a desiring heart? A heart that desires? Think about it and respond silently in your hearts. I ask you is your heart filled with desire, or is it a closed heart, a sleeping heart, a heart numb to the things of life? The desire to go forward to encounter Jesus. The second question: where is your treasure, what are you longing for? Jesus told us: where your treasure is, there will be your heart — and I ask you: where is your treasure? What is the most important reality for you, the most precious reality, the one that attracts your heart like a magnet? What attracts your heart? May I say that it is God’s love? Do you wish to do good to others, to live for the Lord and for your brothers and sisters? May I say this? Each one answer in his own heart. But someone could tell me: Father, I am someone who works, who has a family, for me the most important reality is to keep my family and work going.... Certainly, this is true, it is important. But what is the power that unites the family? It is indeed love, and the One who sows love in our hearts is God, God’s love, it is precisely God’s love that gives meaning to our small daily tasks and helps us face the great trials. This is the true treasure of humankind: going forward in life with love, with that love which the Lord has sown in our hearts, with God’s love. This is the true treasure. But what is God’s love? It is not something vague, some generic feeling. God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Jesus. Love for God is made manifest in Jesus. For we cannot love air.... Do we love air? Do we love all things? No, no we cannot, we love people and the person we love is Jesus, the gift of the Father among us. It is a love that gives value and beauty to everything else; a love that gives strength to the family, to work, to study, to friendship, to art, to all human activity. It even gives meaning to negative experiences, because this love allows us to move beyond these experiences, to go beyond them, not to remain prisoners of evil, it moves us beyond, always opening us to hope, that’s it! Love of God in Jesus always opens us to hope, to that horizon of hope, to the final horizon of our pilgrimage. In this way our labours and failures find meaning. Even our sin finds meaning in the love of God because this love of God in Jesus Christ always forgives us. He loves us so much that he always forgives us.
Dear brothers and sisters, in the Church today we are commemorating St Clare of Assisi who, in the footsteps of Francis, left everything to consecrate herself to Christ in poverty. St Clare gives us a very beautiful testimony of today’s Gospel reading: may she, together with the Virgin Mary, help us to live the Gospel, each one of us according to one’s own vocation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Today’s Gospel again offers us the words that Jesus addressed to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). In hearing these words, we turn our heart’s gaze to Jesus Crucified and we feel within us that God loves us, truly loves us, and He loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that epitomizes all of the Gospel, all of the faith, all of theology: God loves us with a free and boundless love.
This is how God loves us and God shows this love first through creation, as the Liturgy announces, in the fourth Eucharistic Prayer: “You have created all things, to fill your creatures with every blessing and lead all men to the joyful vision of your light”. At the beginning of the world there is only the freely given love of the Father. St Irenaeus, a saint of the first centuries, writes: “In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have one upon whom to confer His benefits” (Adversus Haereses, IV, 14, 1). It is like this, God’s love is like this.
Thus the fourth Eucharistic Prayer continues: “Even when he disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon him to the power of death”, but with your mercy “helped all men to seek and find you”. He came with his mercy. As in creation, and also in the subsequent stages of salvation history, the freely given love of God returns: the Lord chooses his people not because they are deserving but because they are the smallest among all peoples, as He says. And when “the fullness of time” arrived, despite the fact that man had repeatedly broken the covenant, God, rather than abandoning him, formed a new bond with him, in the blood of Jesus — the bond of a new and everlasting covenant — a bond that nothing will ever break.
St Paul reminds us: “God, who is rich in mercy”, — never forget that He is rich in mercy — “out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4). The Cross of Christ is the supreme proof of the mercy and love that God has for us: Jesus loved us “to the end” (Jn 13:1), meaning not only to the last instant of his earthly life, but to the farthest limit of love. While in creation the Father gave us proof of his immense love by giving us life, in the passion and death of his Son He gave us the proof of proofs: He came to suffer and die for us. So great is God’s mercy: He loves us, He forgives us; God forgives all and God forgives always.
May Mary, who is the Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certitude that we are loved by God. May she be close to us in moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of her Son, so our Lenten journey may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome, and of charity.
The Apostle John, continues to speak to the early Christians about the two commandments that Jesus taught us: to love God and love our neighbour. In the passage from the First Letter of John proposed in the day’s Liturgy (4:7-10), we read: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God”. This word, ‘love’, is a word that is often used but, when you use it, you don’t know exactly what it means. What then, is love? Sometimes, we think of the love in soap operas: no, that doesn’t seem like love. Or love might seem like enthusiasm for a person, which then burns out.
The real question then, is: “where does true love come from?”. John writes: “he who loves is born of God”, for “God is love”. The Apostle does not say: “all love is God”. He says instead: “God is love”. John continues, saying that “God loved us so much that he ‘sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him’”. Thus, God gives his life in Jesus, in order to give us life. Love is beautiful, to love is beautiful, and in heaven there will be only love, charity. So says Paul. And if love is beautiful, one is always strengthened and grows in the gift of one’s own life: one grows by giving of oneself to others.
John 4: 10 - “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us”. This confirms that God loved us first; he gave us life out of love, he gave life and his Son out of love. Therefore, when we find God, there is always a surprise: it is first he who waits for us; it is he who finds us.
Mark (6:34-44). Those people followed him to listen to him, because he spoke like one with authority, not like the scribes. He looked at those people and went further. Precisely because he loved, the Gospel says, ‘he had compassion on them’, which is not the same as having pity. The correct word is compassion: love led him to suffer with them, to be involved in the people’s life. And, the Lord is always there, loving first: he is waiting for us, he is the surprise.
This is precisely what happens, to Andrew when he goes to Peter to tell him: ‘We have found the Messiah, come!’. Peter goes, and Jesus looks at him and says to him: ‘Are you Simon? You shall be Peter’. He was waiting for him with a mission. [Jesus] loved him first.
The same happens when Zacchaeus, who was small, climbs the tree to better see Jesus, who passes by, lifts his eyes and says: ‘Zacchaeus, come down, I want to go to supper at your house’. Zacchaeus, who wanted to meet Jesus, realizes that Jesus had been waiting for him.
Nathanael who, a bit sceptical, goes to see the one whom they say is the Messiah. Jesus says to him: “when you were under the fig tree, I saw you”. So, God always loves first. The idea is also recalled in the parable of the Prodigal Son: when the son — who had spent all of his father’s inheritance on vices — returned home, he realized that his father had been waiting for him. God is always waiting for us first. Before us, always. And when the other son didn’t want to come to the feast, because he did not understand his father’s attitude, his father went to find him. And God is this way with us: he loves us first, always.
Thus, we can see in the Gospel how God loves: when we have something in our heart and we want to ask the Lord’s forgiveness, it is he who is waiting for us, to grant forgiveness.
This Year of Mercy, is also in part so that we may know that the Lord is awaiting us, each of us. He is waiting to embrace us, nothing more, in order to say: ‘Son, daughter, I love you. I let my Son be crucified for you; this is the value of my love; this is the gift of love’.
The Lord is waiting for me, the Lord wants me to open the door of my heart, because he is there waiting to enter. It is unconditional.
Of course, someone might say: “Father, no, no, I would like to, but I have so many ugly things inside!”. It is better! Better! Because he is waiting for you, just as you are, not as they tell you that one should be. You should be as you are. This is how he loves you, he embraces you, kisses you, forgives you.
Go with haste to the Lord and say: “Lord, you know that I love you”. Or if I don’t feel like it, to say this: ‘Lord, you know that I would like to love you, but I am such a sinful man, such a sinful woman”. Do so with the certainty that he will do as the father did with the Prodigal Son who spent all his money on vices. I will not let you finish your speech, I will silence you with an embrace: the embrace of God’s love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, called “laetare”, that is, “rejoice”, because this is the opening antiphon of the Eucharistic liturgy that invites us to joy: “Rejoice, Jerusalem” — thus, it is a call to joy — “Be joyful, all who were in mourning”. This is how the Mass begins. What is the reason for this joy? The reason is God’s great love for mankind, as today’s Gospel passage tells us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). These words, spoken by Jesus during the encounter with Nicodemus, summarize a theme that lies at the centre of the Christian message: even when the situation seems desperate, God intervenes, offering man salvation and joy. Indeed, God does not remain apart from us, but enters the history of mankind; he “meddles” in our life; he enters, in order to animate it with his grace and save it.
We are called to listen to this message, rejecting the temptation to value our own self-confidence, to think we can do without God, to claim absolute freedom from him and from his Words. When we find the courage to recognize ourselves for what we are — this takes courage! — we realize we are people called to take our weaknesses and our limitations into account. So it may happen that we are gripped by anguish, by anxiety about the future, by fear of illness and death. This explains why many people, searching for a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts such as, for example, the path of drugs or that of superstition or of disastrous magic rituals. It is good to know our limitations and our weaknesses; we must be aware of them, however, not in order to despair, but to offer them to the Lord. And he helps us on the path of healing; he takes us by the hand, and never abandons us, never! God is with us and for this reason I “rejoice”; we “rejoice” today: “Rejoice, Jerusalem”, [the antiphon] says, because God is with us. And we have the true and great hope in God the Father rich in mercy, who gave us his Son to save us, and this is our joy. We also have many sorrows, but, when we are true Christians, there is the hope that is a small joy which grows and gives us certainty. We must not become disheartened when we see our limitations, our sins, our weakness: God is near; Jesus is on the Cross to heal us. This is God’s love. To look at the Cross and tell ourselves within: “God loves me”. It is true, there are these limitations, these weaknesses, these sins, but he is greater than the limitations and the weaknesses and the sins. Do not forget this: God is greater than our weaknesses, than our infidelities, than our sins. And let us take the Lord by the hand; let us look to the Crucifix and go forward.
May Mary, Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certainty that we are loved by God. May she be close to us in the moments in which we feel alone, when we are tempted to surrender to life’s difficulties. May she convey to us the sentiments of her Son Jesus, so that our Lenten journey may become an experience of forgiveness, of welcome and of charity.
It is not us who first loved God, it's the other way around: it is He who loved us first.
The prophets used the symbol of the almond blossom to explain this reality highlighting the fact that the almond blossom is the first to bloom in spring.
God is like that: he is always first. He's the first to wait for us, the first to love us, the first to help us.
However, it is not easy to understand God's love as is narrated in the passage from today liturgical reading in which the Apostle Paul speaks of "preaching to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ.”
It is a love that cannot be understood. A love that surpasses all knowledge. It surpasses everything. The love of God is so great; a poet described it as a “bottomless sea without shores…” This is the love that we must try to understand, the love that we receive.
Throughout the history of salvation the Lord has revealed his love to us: He has been a great teacher.
God did not reveal his love through power but by loving His people, teaching them to walk, taking them in His arms, caring for them.
How does God manifest his love? With great works? No: He makes himself smaller and smaller with gestures of tenderness and goodness. He approaches His children and with his closeness He makes us understand the greatness of love.
God sent us His Son. He sent Him in the flesh and the Son humbled himself until death.
This, is the mystery of God's love: the greatest greatness expressed in the smallest smallness. This, allows us to understand Christianity.
Jesus teaches us the kind of attitude a Christian should have; it is all about carrying on God’s own work in your own small way: that is feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, visiting the sick and the prisoner.
Works of mercy, pave the path of love that Jesus teaches us in continuity with God’s great love for us!
We do not need great discourse on love, but men and women who know how to do these little things for Jesus, for the Father.
Our works of mercy, he said, are the continuity of this love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christ is risen! Christos vozkrese!
It is wonderful to see how with these words Christians in your country greet one another in the joy of the Risen Lord during the Easter season.
The entire episode we have just heard, drawn from the final pages of the Gospels, helps us immerse ourselves in this joy that the Lord asks us to spread. It does so by reminding us of three amazing things that are part of our lives as disciples: God calls, God surprises, God loves.
God calls. Everything takes place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus first called Peter. He had called him to leave behind his trade as a fisher in order to become a fisher of men (cf. Lk 5:4-11). Now, after all that had happened to him, after the experience of seeing the Master die and hearing news of his resurrection, Peter goes back to his former life. He tells the others disciples, “I am going fishing”. And they follow suit: “We will go with you” (Jn 21:3). They seem to take a step backwards; Peter takes up the nets he had left behind for Jesus. The weight of suffering, disappointment, and of betrayal had become like a stone blocking the hearts of the disciples. They were still burdened with pain and guilt, and the good news of the resurrection had not taken root in their hearts.
The Lord knows what a strong temptation it is for us to return to the way things were before. In the Bible, Peter’s nets, like the fleshpots of Egypt, are a symbol of a tempting nostalgia for the past, of wanting to take back what we had decided to leave behind. In the face of failure, hurt, or even the fact that at times things do not go the way we want, there always comes a subtle and dangerous temptation to become disheartened and to give up. This is the tomb psychology that tinges everything with dejection and leads us to indulge in a soothing sense of self-pity that, like a moth, eats away at all our hope. Then the worst thing that can happen to any community begins to appear – the grim pragmatism of a life in which everything appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 83).
But it was at the very moment of Peter’s failure that Jesus appears, starts over, patiently comes to him and calls him “Simon” (v. 15) – the name Peter received when he was first called. The Lord does not wait for perfect situations or frames of mind: he creates them. He does not expect to encounter people without problems, disappointments, without sins or limitations. He himself confronted sin and disappointment in order to encourage all men and women to persevere. Brothers and sisters, the Lord never tires of calling us. His is the power of a Love that overturns every expectation and is always ready to start anew. In Jesus, God always offers us another chance. He calls us day by day to deepen our love for him and to be revived by his eternal newness. Every morning, he comes to find us where we are. He summons us “to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death”, and to stop seeking “the living among the dead” (Homily at the Easter Vigil, 20 April 2019). When we welcome him, we rise higher and are able to embrace a brighter future, not as a possibility but as a reality. When Jesus’s call directs our lives, our hearts grow young.
God surprises. He is the Lord of surprises. He invites us not only to be surprised, but also to do surprising things. The Lord calls the disciples and, seeing them with empty nets, he tells them to do something odd: to fish by day, something quite out of the ordinary on that lake. He revives their trust by urging them once more to take a risk, not to give up on anyone or anything. He is the Lord of surprises, who breaks down paralyzing barriers by filling us with the courage needed to overcome the suspicion, mistrust and fear that so often lurk behind the mindset that says, “We have always done things this way”. God surprises us whenever he calls and asks us to put out into the sea of history not only with our nets, but with our very selves. To look at our lives and those of others as he does, for “in sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand” (ibid.).
We can now turn to the third amazing thing: God calls and God surprises, because God loves. Love is his language. That is why he asks Peter, and us, to learn that language. He asks Peter: “Do you love me?” And Peter says yes; after spending so much time with Jesus, he now understands that to love means to stop putting himself at the centre. He now makes Jesus, and not himself, the starting point: “You know everything” (Jn 21:18), he says. Peter recognizes his weakness; he realizes that he cannot make progress on his own. And he takes his stand on the Lord and on the strength of his love, to the very end.
The Lord loves us: this is the source of our strength and we are asked to reaffirm it each day. Being a Christian is a summons to realize that God’s love is greater than all our shortcomings and sins. One of our great disappointments and difficulties today comes not from knowing that God is love, but that our way of proclaiming and bearing witness to him is such that, for many people, this is not his name. God is love, a love that bestows itself, that calls and surprises.
Here we see the miracle of God, who makes of our lives works of art, if only we let ourselves to be led by his love. Many of the witnesses of Easter in this blessed land created magnificent masterpieces, inspired by simple faith and great love. Offering their lives, they became living signs of the Lord, overcoming apathy with courage and offering a Christian response to the concerns that they encountered (cf. Christus Vivit, 174). Today we are called to lift up our eyes and acknowledge what the Lord has done in the past, and to walk with him towards the future, knowing that, whether we succeed or fail, he will always be there to keep telling us to cast our nets.
Here I would like to repeat what I said to young people in my recent Exhortation. A young Church, young not in terms of age but in the grace of the Spirit, is inviting us to testify to the love of Christ, a love that inspires and directs us to strive for the common good. This love enables us to serve the poor and to become protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism. Brimming with the love of Christ, be living witnesses of the Gospel in every corner of this city (cf. Christus Vivit, 174-175). Do not be afraid of becoming the saints that this land greatly needs. Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, it will take away none of your vitality or joy. On the contrary, you and all the sons and daughters of this land will become what the Father had in mind when he created you (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 32).
Called, surprised and sent for love!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12: 49-53 ) Jesus warns his disciples that now is the time to decide. His coming into the world, in fact, coincides with the time of making decisive choices: the option in favour of the Gospel cannot be postponed. And in order to better explain His message, He uses the image of fire that He himself came to bring upon Earth. He says: "I have come to bring fire upon the Earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!» (see para. 49). These words are meant to help the disciples abandon every attitude of laziness, apathy, indifference and closure so as to welcome the fire of God's love; that love which, as Saint Paul reminds us was poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 5). Because it is the Holy Spirit that helps us love God and love our neighbour; It is the Holy Spirit that we all have inside.
Jesus reveals to his friends, and to us, his most ardent desire: to bring the fire ground of His Father's love to Earth, which kindles life and by which we are saved. Jesus calls us to spread this fire in the world, thanks to which we will be recognized as his true disciples. The fire of love, kindled by Christ into the world through the Holy Spirit, is a limitless fire, is a universal fire. This has been seen since the early days of Christianity: the witness of the Gospel has spread like beneficial wildfire overcoming every division between individuals, groups, peoples and nations. The evangelical message burns all forms of particularism and keeps charity open to all, with a preference for the poorest and most excluded.
The adherence to the fire of love that Jesus brought to Earth embraces our entire existence and adoring God and a willingness to serve our neighbour. Worshiping God and being available to serve our neighbour. The first, adoring God means learning the prayer of adoration, which we often forget. That is why I invite everyone to discover the beauty of the prayer of adoration and to practice it often. And then the second, a willingness to serve our neighbour: I think with admiration of so many communities and groups of young people who, even during the summer, are dedicated to this service for the sick, the poor, and people with disabilities. To live according to the spirit of the Gospel, it is necessary that in the face of ever changing needs that are emerging in the world, that there be disciples of Christ who can respond with new charitable initiatives. And so, by adoring God and serving our neighbours – both together, loving God and serving our neighbour – the Gospel might truly manifest itself as the fire that saves, that changes the world starting from a change in each one of our hearts.
In this perspective, we can also understand the other statement of Jesus in today's passage, that at first glance might disconcert us: "Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I say to you, division "(Lk 12.51). He came to "separate with fire". Separate what? Good from evil, right from wrong. In this sense He came to "divide", put into crisis – but in a healthy way – the lives of His disciples, breaking the easy illusions of those who believe they can combine Christian life and worldliness, Christian life with compromises of all kinds, religious practices and attitudes against others. In other words, true religion with superstitious practices: how many people who say they are Christians go to sooth sayers or palm readers in order to have their future read! This is superstition, this is not of God. We are talking about not living as hypocrites, but of being willing to pay the price of consistent choices – this is the attitude that all of us should seek in life: consistent – pay the price to be consistent with the Gospel. Consistent with the Gospel. Because it is good to say that we are Christians, but above all we need to be Christians in concrete situations, witnessing to the Gospel which is essentially love for God and for our brothers and sisters.
May Mary Most Holy helps us to allow ourselves to allow our hearts to be purified by the fire brought by Jesus, and to spread it through our lives, decisive and courageous choices.
The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the love of Christ for us and to prepare our hearts to allow ourselves to be loved by the Lord.
In the First Reading (Rom 8:31b-39), St Paul could seem to some to be too proud or too sure of himself when he affirms that anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword will succeed in separating us from Christ.
St Paul is really showing us that we conquer overwhelmingly through the love of Christ. Ever since the Lord called to Paul along the road to Damascus, the Apostle to the Gentiles sought to understand the mystery of Christ.
He had fallen in love with Christ, caught up in a strong love and not in a soap opera type of story. St Paul felt the Lord always accompanied him through all manner of good and bad times.
He felt this in love. I ask myself: do I love the Lord like him? When hard times come, how often do we feel the desire to say: ‘The Lord has abandoned me. He doesn’t love me anymore’ and then seek to abandon the Lord in turn. But Paul was sure that the Lord would never abandon him. He understood the love of Christ in his own life. This is the path that Paul shows us: the path of love at all times, through thick and thin, at every moment. This is the greatness of Paul.
Christ’s love, cannot be described. It is immeasurable.
It is really He who was sent by the Father to save us and He did so with love. He gave His life for me: there is no greater love than to give your life for another person. We can think about a mother – the love of a mother, for example – who gives her life for her child, accompanying him or her through life in difficult times… Jesus’ love is near to us, and is not an abstract love. It is a You-Me/Me-You love – each of us – with our own first and last name.
In Luke’s Gospel, something concrete in Jesus’ love. Speaking about Jerusalem, Jesus recalls the times He tried to gather her children, "like a hen gathers her brood under her wings", but was opposed. So he wept.
Chris's love leads Him to tears, to weep for each of us. What tenderness is in this expression. Jesus could have condemned Jerusalem, said horrible things… But he laments that she would not allow herself to be loved like the hen’s chicks. This is the tender love of God in Jesus. Which is exactly what Paul understood. If we cannot feel or understand the tender love of God in Jesus for each of us, then we will never, never, be able to understand the love of Christ. It is a type of love that always waits patiently, like the love with which He plays His last card with Judas: ‘Friend’, offering him a way out, even until the end. He loves even the worst sinners with this tenderness, all the way up to the end. I’m not sure we think about Jesus being so tender – Jesus who cries, as He cried before the tomb of Lazarus, as He cried here looking out over Jerusalem.
Let us ask ourselves if Jesus weeps for us, He who has given us so many things while we often choose to take another path.
The love of God, is expressed in the tender tears of Jesus, which is why St Paul had fallen so in love with Christ that nothing could drag him away from Him.
“My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you!” This was the anguished cry of David, weeping at news of the death of his son. The Second Book of Samuel tells of the end of the long battle Absalom had waged against his own father, King David, in order to replace him on the throne. David suffered from that war that his son had unleashed against him by convincing the people to fight by his side, so much so that David had had to flee Jerusalem, barefoot, his head uncovered, insulted by some, while others threw stones at him, because all the people were with this son who had deceived the people, had seduced the heart of the people with promises.
Today's reading shows David waiting for news from the front, and tells of the arrival, finally, of a messenger, who tells him that Absalom had died in the battle. David was shaken at this news, and trembling and weeping, cried out, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you!” Those who were with him were amazed by this reaction.
‘But why are you weeping? This person was against you, he had disowned you, he had renounced your fatherhood, he had insulted you, he had persecuted you. But celebrate, rejoice that you have won!’ But David only said, “My son, my son, my son,” and wept. This weeping of David is an historic fact, but it is also a prophecy. It makes us see the heart of God, what God does when we turn away from Him, what the Lord does when we destroy ourselves with sin, when we are disoriented, lost. The Lord is a Father, and He never denies this paternity, but says ‘My son, my son’.
We encounter this weeping of God when we confess our sins. Confession, is not like going to the dry cleaners to take away a stain; rather, it is going to the Father who weeps for me, precisely because He is a Father.
David’s words — “If only I had died instead of you, Absalom my son” — are prophetic and in God it comes true.
So great is the love of a father that God has for us that He died in our place. He became man and died for us. When we look at the crucifix, we think of this: ‘He died instead of you’. And we hear the voice of the Father who in the Son says to us, ‘My child, my child’. God does not deny His children, He does not reject His paternity.
God's love reaches the extreme. Who is on the cross, is God, the Son of the Father, sent to give life for us.
It would be good in the difficult moments in our lives — and we all have them — in moments of sin, in moments when we feel far from God, to hear this voice in our hearts: ‘My son, my daughters, what are you doing? Don’t kill yourself, please. I died for you”.
Jesus wept as He looked at Jerusalem. Jesus weeps for us, because we don’t let Him love us. In the moment of temptation, in the moment of sin, in the moment when we distance ourselves from God, let us try to hear this voice: ‘My son, my daughter, why?’”
At a time when so much unity is needed among us, among nations, let us pray today for Europe, for Europe to succeed in having this unity, this fraternal unity that the founding fathers of the European Union dreamed of.
This passage of the Gospel of John, chapter 3, the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, is a true treatise on theology: here is everything. Kerygma, catechesis, theological reflection, the parenesis ... there's everything in this chapter. And every time we read it, we encounter more wealth, more explanations, more things that make us understand the revelation of God. It would be nice to read it many times, to get closer to the mystery of redemption. Today I will only take two points of all this, two points that are in today's passage.
The first is the revelation of God's love. God loves us and loves us – as a saint says – madly: God's love seems crazy. He loves us: "he loved the world so much that he gave his only Son." He gave his Son, sent his Son and sent him to die on the cross. Every time we look at the crucifix, we find this love. The crucifix is precisely the great book of God's love. It is not an object to put here or to put there, more beautiful, not so beautiful, older, more modern ... No. It is precisely the expression of God's love. God loved us like this: he sent his Son, who annihilated himself to the point of death on the cross out of love. He loved the world so much that God gave his Son.
How many people, how many Christians spend their time looking at the crucifix ... and there they find everything, because they understood, the Holy Spirit made them understand that there is all the science, all the love of God, all Christian wisdom. Paul talks about this, explaining that all the human reasoning that he was able to do served only up to a certain point, but the true reasoning, the most beautiful way of thinking, but also that more explains everything is the cross of Christ, it is Christ crucified that is a scandal and madness, but that is the way. And this is God's love. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. And why? So that everyone who believes in Him will not to be lost but may have eternal life. The love of the Father who wants his children to be with him.
Look at the crucifix in silence, look at the wounds, look at the heart of Jesus, look at the whole: Christ crucified, the Son of God, annihilated, humiliated ... out of love. This is the first point that this passage on theology shows us today, this dialogue of Jesus with Nicodemus.
The second point is a point that will also help us: "The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil." Jesus also picks up this theme of the light. There are people – us as well, many times – who cannot live in the light because they are accustomed to darkness. The light dazzles them, they are unable to see. They are human bats: they can only move in the night. And we too, when we are in sin, are in this state: we do not tolerate light. It is more comfortable for us to live in darkness; light hits us, makes us see what we don't want to see. But the worst thing is that the eyes, the eyes of the soul from so much living in darkness get so used to it that they end up ignoring what light is. Losing the sense of light because I get more used to darkness. And so many human scandals, so many corruptions show us this. The corrupt don't know what light is, they don't know. We too, when we are in a state of sin, in a state of distance from the Lord, become blind and feel better in darkness and go forward like this, without seeing, like a blind person, moving around as best we can.
Let the love of God, who sent Jesus to save us, enter into us and the light that Jesus brings, the light of the Spirit enter into us and help us to see things with the light of God, with the true light and not with the darkness that the lord of darkness gives us.
Two things, today: God's love in Christ, crucified; and in everyday life the daily question that we can ask ourselves: "Do I walk in light or walk in darkness? Am I a child of God or have I ended up being a poor bat?"
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good afternoon!
With the narrative of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, in today's Gospel passage (cf. Mt 22:1-14), Jesus outlines the plan that God envisaged for humanity. The king who “who gave a marriage feast for his son” (v. 2) is the image of the Father who prepared for the entire human family a wonderful celebration of love and communion around his only begotten Son. Two times the king sends his servants to call the invited guests, but they refuse; they do not want to go to the feast because they have other things to think about: fields and business. So often we too put our interests and material things ahead of the Lord who calls us – and he calls us to a feast. But the king in the parable does not want the hall to remain empty, because he wants to offer the treasures of his kingdom. So he tells his servants: “Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find” (v. 9). This is how God reacts: when he is rejected, rather than giving up, he starts over and asks that all those found at the thoroughfares be called, excluding no one. No one is excluded from the house of God.
The original term that Matthew the Evangelist uses refers to the limits of the roads, or those points at which the city streets end and the paths begin that lead to the area of the countryside, outside the residential area, where life is precarious. It is to this humanity of the thoroughfares that the king in the parable sends his servants, in the certainty of finding people willing to sit at the table. Thus the banquet hall is filled with the “excluded”, those who are “outside” those who never seemed worthy to partake in a feast, in a wedding banquet. In fact, the master, the king, tells the messengers: “Call everyone, both good and bad. Everyone!”. God even calls those who are bad. “No, I am bad; I have done many [bad things]...”. He calls you: “Come, come, come!”. And Jesus went to lunch with the tax collectors, who were public sinners; they were the bad guys. God is not afraid of our spirits wounded by many cruelties, because he loves us; he invites us. And the Church is called to reach the daily thoroughfares, that is, the geographic and existential peripheries of humanity, those places at the margins, those situations in which those who have set up camp are found where and hopeless remnants of humanity live. It is a matter of not settling for comforts and the customary ways of evangelization and witnessing to charity, but of opening the doors of our hearts and our communities to everyone, because the Gospel is not reserved to a select few. Even those on the margins, even those who are rejected and scorned by society, are considered by God to be worthy of his love. He prepares his banquet for everyone: the just and sinners, good and bad, intelligent and uneducated.
Yesterday evening, I was able to make a phone call to an elderly Italian priest, a missionary in Brazil since youth, but always working with the excluded, with the poor. And he lives his old age in peace: he burned his life up with the poor. This is our Mother Church; this is God's messenger who goes to the crossroads.
However, the Lord places one condition: to wear a wedding garment. Let us return to the parable. When the hall is full, the king arrives and greets the latest guests, but he sees one of them without a wedding garment, that kind of little cape that each guest would receive as a gift at the entrance. The people went as they were dressed, as they were able to be dressed; they were not wearing gala attire. But at the entrance they were give a type of capelet, a gift. That man, having rejected the free gift, excluded himself: the king could do nothing but throw him out. This man accepted the invitation but then decided that it meant nothing to him: he was a self-sufficient person; he had no desire to change or to allow the Lord to change him. The wedding garment – this capelet - symbolizes the mercy that God freely gives us, namely, grace. Without grace we cannot take a step forward in Christian life. Everything is grace. It is not enough to accept the invitation to follow the Lord; one must be open to a journey of conversion, which changes the heart. The garment of mercy, which God offers us unceasingly, is the free gift of his love; it is precisely grace. And it demands to be welcomed with astonishment and joy: “Thank you, Lord, for having given me this gift”.
May Mary Most Holy help us to imitate the servants in the Gospel parable by emerging from our frameworks and from our narrow views, proclaiming to everyone that the Lord invites us to his banquet, in order to offer us his saving grace, to give us his gift.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday's Gospel passage (Mk 1:1-8) introduces the person and work of John the Baptist. He reveals to his contemporaries an itinerary of faith similar to the one that Advent proposes to us: that we prepare ourselves to receive the Lord at Christmas. This itinerary of faith is an itinerary of conversion. What does the word 'conversion' mean? In the Bible it means, first and foremost, to change direction and orientation; and thus also to change one’s way of thinking. In the moral and spiritual life, to convert means to turn oneself from evil to good, from sin to love of God. And this is what what the Baptist was teaching, who in the desert of Judea was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”(v. 4). Receiving baptism was an outward and visible sign of the conversion of those who had listened to his preaching and decided to repent. That baptism occurred with immersion in the Jordan, in water, but it proved worthless; it was a only a sign and it was worthless if there was no willingness to repent and change one's life.
Conversion involves sorrow for sins committed, the desire to be free from them, the intention to exclude them from one’s own life forever. To exclude sin it is also necessary to reject everything that is connected to sin; the things that are connected to sin and that need to be rejected – a worldly mentality, excessive esteem for comforts, excessive esteem for pleasure, for well-being, for wealth. The example illustrating this comes to us once again from today's Gospel in the person of John the Baptist: an austere man who renounces excess and seeks the essential. This is the first aspect of conversion: detachment from sin and worldliness: Commencing a journey of detachment from these things.
The other aspect of conversion is the the aim of the journey, that is, the search for God and his kingdom. Detachment from worldly things and seeking God and his kingdom. Abandoning comforts and a worldly mentality is not an end in itself; it is not an asceticism only to do penance: a Christian is not a “fakir”. It is something else. Detachment is not an end in itself, but is a means of attaining something greater, namely, the kingdom of God, communion with God, friendship with God. But this is not easy, because there are many ties that bind us closely to sin; it is not easy... Temptation always pulls down, pulls down, and thus the ties that keep us close to sin: inconstancy, discouragement, malice, unwholesome environments, bad examples. At times the yearning we feel toward the Lord is too weak and it almost seems that God is silent; his promises of consolation seem far away and unreal to us, like the image of the caring and attentive shepherd, which resounds today in the reading from Isaiah (40:1,11). And so one is tempted to say that it is impossible to truly convert. How often we have heard this discouragement! “No, I can't do it. I barely start and then I turn back”. And this is bad. But it is possible. It is possible. When you have this discouraging thought, do not remain there, because this is quicksand. It is quicksand: the quicksand of a mediocre existence. This is mediocrity. What can we do in these cases, when one would like to go but feels he or she cannot do it? First of all, remind ourselves that conversion is a grace: no one can convert by his or own strength. It is a grace that the Lord gives you, and thus we need to forcefully ask God for it. To ask God to convert us to the degree in which we open ourselves up to the beauty, the goodness, the tenderness of God. Think about God's tenderness. God is not a bad father, an unkind father, no. He is tender. He loves us so much, like the Good Shepherd, who searches for the last member of his flock. It is love, and this is conversion: a grace of God. You begin to walk, because it is he who moves you to walk, and you will see how he will arrive. Pray, walk, and you will always take a step forward.
May Mary Most Holy, whom we will celebrate the day after tomorrow as the Immaculate Conception, help us to separate ourselves more and more from sin and worldliness, in order to open ourselves to God, to his Word, to his love which restores and saves.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). This is the heart of the Gospel; this is the source of our joy. The Gospel message is not an idea or a doctrine. It is Jesus himself: the Son whom the Father has given us so that we might have life. The source of our joy is not some lovely theory about how to find happiness, but the actual experience of being accompanied and loved throughout the journey of life. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son”. Brothers and sisters, let us dwell on these two thoughts for a moment: “God so loved” and “God gave”.
First of all, God so loved. Jesus’ words to Nicodemus – a Jewish elder who wanted to know the Master – help us to see the true face of God. He has always looked at us with love, and for the sake of love, he came among us in the flesh of his Son. In Jesus, he went in search of us when we were lost. In Jesus, he came to raise us up when we fell. In Jesus, he wept with us and healed our wounds. In Jesus, he blessed our life forever. The Gospel tells us that whoever believes in him will not perish (ibid.). In Jesus, God spoke the definitive word about our life: you are not lost, you are loved. Loved forever.
If hearing the Gospel and practicing our faith don’t enlarge our hearts and make us grasp the immensity of God’s love – maybe because we prefer a glum, sorrowful and self-absorbed religiosity – then this is a sign that we need to stop and listen once more to the preaching of the Good News. God loves you so much that he gave you his entire life. He is not a god who looks down upon us from on high, indifferent, but a loving Father who becomes part of our history. He is not a god who takes pleasure in the death of sinners, but a Father concerned that that no one be lost. He is not a god who condemns, but a Father who saves us with the comforting embrace of his love.
We now come to the second aspect: God “gave” his Son. Precisely because he loves us so much, God gives himself; he offers us his life. Those who love always go out of themselves. Don’t forget this: those who love go out of themselves. Love always offers itself, gives itself, expends itself. That is the power of love: it shatters the shell of our selfishness, breaks out of our carefully constructed security zones, tears down walls and overcomes fears, so as to give freely of itself. That is what loves does: it gives itself. And that is how lovers are: they prefer to risk self-giving over self-preservation. That is why God comes to us: because he “so loved” us. His love is so great that he cannot fail to give himself to us. When the people were attacked by poisonous serpents in the desert, God told Moses to make the bronze serpent. In Jesus, however, exalted on the cross, he himself came to heal us of the venom of death; he became sin to save us from sin. God does not love us in words: he gives us his Son, so that whoever looks at him and believes in him will be saved (cf. Jn 3:14-15).
The more we love, the more we become capable of giving. That is also the key to understanding our life. It is wonderful to meet people who love one another and share their lives in love. We can say about them what we say about God: they so love each other that they give their lives. It is not only what we can make or earn that matters; in the end, it is the love we are able to give.
This is the source of joy! God so loved the world that he gave his Son. Here we see the meaning of the Church’s invitation this Sunday: “Rejoice... Rejoice and be glad, you who mourn: find contentment and consolation” (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Is 66:10-11). I think of what we saw a week ago in Iraq: a people who had suffered so much rejoiced and were glad, thanks to God and his merciful love.
Sometimes we look for joy where it is not to be found: in illusions that vanish, in dreams of glory, in the apparent security of material possessions, in the cult of our image, and in so many other things. But life teaches us that true joy comes from realizing that we are loved gratuitously, knowing that we are not alone, having someone who shares our dreams and who, when we experience shipwreck, is there to help us and lead us to a safe harbour.
Dear brothers and sisters, five hundred years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel: the good news that God so loved us that he gave his Son for us. And this joy is evident in your people. We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands. I have often said that here in Rome Filipino women are “smugglers” of faith! Because wherever they go to work, they sow the faith. It is part of your genes, a blessed “infectiousness” that I urge you to preserve. Keeping bringing the faith, the good news you received five hundred years ago, to others. I want to thank you, then, for the joy you bring to the whole world and to our Christian communities. I think, as I mentioned, of the many beautiful experiences in families here in Rome – but also throughout the world – where your discreet and hardworking presence became a testimony of faith. In the footsteps of Mary and Joseph, for God loves to bring the joy of faith through humble, hidden, courageous and persevering service.
On this very important anniversary for God’s holy people in the Philippines, I also want to urge you to persevere in the work of evangelization – not proselytism, which is something else. The Christian proclamation that you have received needs constantly to be brought to others. The Gospel message of God’s closeness cries out to be expressed in love for our brothers and sisters. God desires that no one perish. For this reason, he asks the Church to care for those who are hurting and living on the fringes of life. God so loves us that he gives himself to us, and the Church has this same mission. The Church is called not to judge but to welcome; not to make demands, but to sow seeds; not to condemn, but to bring Christ who is our salvation.
I know that this is the pastoral program of your Church: a missionary commitment that involves everyone and reaches everyone. Never be discouraged as you walk this path. Never be afraid to proclaim the Gospel, to serve and to love. With your joy, you will help people to say of the Church too: “she so loved the world!” How beautiful and attractive is a Church that loves the world without judging, a Church that gives herself to the world. May it be so, dear brothers and sisters, in the Philippines and in every part of the earth.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On this fourth Sunday of Lent, the Eucharistic liturgy begins with this invitation: “Rejoice, Jerusalem...". (see Is 66:10). What is the reason for this joy? In the middle of Lent, what is the reason for this joy? Today’s Gospel tells us: God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). This joyful message is the heart of the Christian faith: God’s love found its summit in the gift of his Son to a weak and sinful humanity. He gave his Son to us, to all of us.
This is what appears in the nocturnal dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, a part of which is described in the same Gospel passage (see Jn 3:14-21). Nicodemus, like every member of the people of Israel, awaited the Messiah, identifying him as a strong man who would judge the world with power. Instead, Jesus challenges this expectation by presenting himself in three forms: the Son of man exalted on the cross; the Son of God sent into the world for salvation; and that of the light that distinguishes those who follow the truth from those who follow lies. Let us take a look at these three aspects: Son of man, Son of God, and light.
Jesus presents himself first of all as the Son of man (vv. 14-15). The text alludes to the account of the bronze serpent (see Nm 21: 4-9) which, by God's will, was mounted by Moses in the desert when the people were attacked by poisonous snakes; whoever had been bitten and looked at the bronze serpent was healed. Similarly, Jesus was lifted up on the cross and those who believe in him are healed of sin and live.
The second aspect is that of the Son of God (vv.16-18). God the Father loves humanity to the point of “giving” his Son: he gave him in the Incarnation and he gave him in handing him over to death. The purpose of God's gift is the eternal life of every person: in fact, God sends his Son into the world not to condemn it, but so that the world that it might be saved through Jesus. Jesus' mission is a mission of salvation, of salvation for everyone.
The third name that Jesus gives himself is “light” (vv. 19-21). The Gospel says: "The light has come into the world, but people have loved darkness more than light" (v. 19). The coming of Jesus into the world leads to a choice: whoever chooses darkness will face a judgment of condemnation, whoever chooses light will have a judgment of salvation. The judgement is always the consequence of the free choice of each person: whoever practices evil seeks the darkness, evil always hides, it covers itself. Whoever seeks the truth, that is, who practices what is good, comes to the light, illuminates the paths of life. Whoever walks in the light, whoever approaches the light, cannot but do good works. This is what we are called to do with greater dedication during Lent: to welcome the light into our conscience, to open our hearts to God's infinite love, to his mercy full of tenderness and goodness, to his forgiveness. Do not forget that God always forgives, always, if we humbly ask for forgiveness. It is enough just to ask for forgiveness, and he forgives. In this way we will find true joy and be able to rejoice in God's forgiveness, which regenerates and gives life.
May Mary Most Holy help us not to be afraid of letting ourselves be “thrown into crisis” by Jesus. It is a healthy crisis, for our healing: so that our joy may be full.
Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!
In the Gospel of today’s liturgy there is an expression of Jesus which always strikes us and challenges us. While he is walking with his disciples, he says: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49). What fire is he talking about? And what is the meaning of these words for us today, this fire that Jesus brings?
As we know, Jesus came to bring to the world the Gospel, that is, the good news of God’s love for each one of us. Therefore, he is telling us that the Gospel is like a fire, because it is a message that, when it erupts into history, burns the old balances of living, burns the old balances of living, challenges us to come out of our individualism, challenges us to overcome selfishness, challenges us to shift from the slavery of sin and death to the new life of the Risen One, of the Risen Jesus. In other words, the Gospel does not leave things as they are; when the Gospel passes, and is listened to and received, things do not stay as they are. The Gospel provokes change and invites conversion. It does not dispense a false intimist peace, but sparks a restlessness that sets us in motion, and drives us to open up to God and to our brothers. It is just like fire: while it warms us with God’s love, it wants to burn our selfishness, to enlighten the dark sides of life – we all have them, eh! – to consume the false idols that enslave us.
In the wake of the Biblical prophets – think, for example, of Elijah and Jeremiah – Jesus is inflamed by God’s love and, to make it spread throughout the world, he expends himself personally, loving up to the end, that is, up to death, and death on the cross (cf. Phil 2:8). He is filled with the Holy Spirit, who is compared to fire, and with his light and his strength, he unveils the mysterious face of God and gives fullness to those considered lost, breaks down the barriers of marginalization, heals the wounds of the body and the soul, and renews a religiosity that was reduced to external practices. This is why he is fire: he changes, purifies.
So, what does that word of Jesus mean for us, for each one of us – for me, for you, for you – what does this word of Jesus, about fire, mean for us? It invites us to rekindle the flame of faith, so that it does not become a secondary matter, or a means to individual wellbeing, enabling us to evade the challenges of life or commitment in the Church and society. Indeed – as a theologian said – faith in God “reassures us – but not on our level, or so to produce a paralyzing illusion, or a complacent satisfaction, but so as to enable us to act” (De Lubac, The Discovery of God). In short, faith is not a “lullaby” that lulls us to sleep. True faith is a fire, a living flame to keep us wakeful and active even at night!
And then, we might wonder: am I passionate about the Gospel? Do I read the Gospel often? Do I carry it with me? Does the faith I profess and celebrate lead me to complacent tranquility or does it ignite the flame of witness in me? We can also ask ourselves this question as. Church: in our communities, does the fire of the Spirit burn, with the passion for prayer and charity, and the joy of faith? Or do we drag ourselves along in weariness and habit, with a downcast face, and a lament on our lips, and gossip every day? Brothers and sisters, let us examine ourselves on this, so that we too can say, like Jesus: we are inflamed with the fire of God’s love, and we want to spread it around the world, to take it to everyone, so that each person may discover the tenderness of the Father and experience the joy of Jesus, who enlarges the heart – and Jesus enlarges the heart! – and makes life beautiful. Let us pray to the Holy Virgin for this: may she, who welcomed the fire of the Holy Spirit, intercede for us.