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
Before ascending into heaven Jesus sent the Apostles out to evangelize, to preach the kingdom. He sent them to the ends of the earth. ‘Go into all the world’”, he urged them. Jesus did not tell the Apostles to go to Jerusalem or Galilee but sent them out into the entire world. This explains the missionary outreach of the Church which continues to preach to the whole world. But she does not go by herself. She goes with Jesus.
The Christian preaches the Gospel with his witness rather than with his words. Pray to the Lord that they “become missionaries in the Church with this spirit: great magnanimity and also great humility”.
Jesus assures all those who follow him a place among “the family of Christians” and recalls that “we are all brothers and sisters”, but warns that “there will be persecutions, difficulties”. "Whoever follows me, must take the same route that I took”. It is a way, which leads to humbling oneself and which “ends on the Cross. There will always be difficulties and persecutions that come from the world, for he took this path first. When a Christian does not have difficulties in life and all goes well, something is not right”. One might think that he succumbed to the temptation to follow the spirit of the world instead of Jesus. Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus on the path which he has shown to us and taught us. This is beautiful: He never leaves us alone, never. He is always with us.
Christians are like clay vases because they are weak, since they are sinners. Nevertheless between us poor, earthen vessels and the power of Jesus Christ is a dialogue; it is the dialogue of salvation. When this dialogue assumes the tone of self- justification, it means that something is not working and that there is no salvation. The humility of a Christian is that of one who follows the path pointed out by the Apostle. “We must really recognize our sins, and not present ourselves with a false image”.
Brothers, we have a treasure: the Saviour Jesus Christ, the Cross of Jesus Christ is the treasure in which we rejoice, but let us not forget to also confess our sins for it is only in this way the dialogue is Christian, Catholic, and concrete. Jesus Christ did not save us with an idea, or an intellectual programme. He saved us with his flesh, with the concreteness of the flesh. He lowered himself, became man, and was made flesh until the end. You can only understand a treasure like this if you are transformed into clay vases.
"With joy, let us go to the house of the Lord". And we did so, because the first Reading reminds us of a moment of joy for the people of God, a very beautiful moment when “a pagan king helped God's people return to their land and rebuild the temple”. The reference is to a passage from the Book of Ezra (6:7-8, 12, 14-20).
In the history of God's people, there are beautiful moments like this one, which bring great joy, and there are also ugly moments of suffering, martyrdom and sin. In good and bad moments alike, one thing always remains the same: the Lord is there. He never abandons his people, for the Lord, on that day of sin, of the first sin, made a decision; he made a choice, to make history with his people.
God, who has no history since he is eternal, wanted to make history, to walk close to his people. But there is more: he wanted to make himself one of us and as one of us to walk with us in Jesus. And this speaks to us. It tells us about the humility of God” who is “so very great” and powerful precisely in his humility. He “wanted to walk with his people, and when his people wandered far from him through sin, idolatry and the many things we see in the Bible, he was there”.
We also see this attitude of humility in Jesus, “Walking with God's people, walking with sinners, even walking with the proud: how much the Lord did in order to help the proud hearts of the Pharisees. He wanted to walk. Humility. God always waits, God is beside us. God walks with us. He is humble. He waits for us always. Jesus always waits for us. This is the humility of God”.
Thus, “the Church joyfully sings of the humility of God who accompanies us as we did in the psalm: “With joy, let us go to the house of the Lord”. Let us go with joy; then he accompanies us, he along with us”.
The Lord Jesus, also accompanies us in our personal lives with the sacraments. A sacrament is not a magical rite, it is an encounter with Jesus Christ. In it, “we encounter the Lord. And he is by our side and accompanies us: a travelling companion”. And “the Holy Spirit also accompanies us and teaches us all that we do not know in our hearts. He reminds us of all that Jesus taught us and he makes us feel the beauty of the good way. Thus God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are our travelling companions. They make history with us”.
The Church, celebrates this with great joy at each Eucharist. That beautiful Eucharistic prayer that we will pray today, in which we sing of God's great love, which desired to be humble, to be a travelling companion with us, and that also wanted to make history with us. And if God, entered into our history, let us also enter a little into his history or at least ask of him the grace to let him write history. May he write our history. It is a reliable one.
Jesus reprimands these two Apostles, James and John, because in a Samaritan village “they wanted fire to come down from heaven upon those who did not want to receive him”. The two apostles, felt that to close the door on Jesus was a great offense, and that these people needed to be punished. But “the Lord turned and rebuked them: this is not our spirit. In fact, The Lord always goes ahead, making the way of a Christian known to us. It is not... a path of revenge. The Christian spirit is something else, the Lord says. It is the spirit that he showed us in the strongest moment of his life, in his passion: a spirit of humility, a spirit of meekness.
And today, on the anniversary of St Therese of the Child Jesus, it is good for us to think of this spirit of humility, tenderness and goodness. We all want this meek spirit of the Lord. Where is the strength that brings us to this spirit? It is truly in love, in charity, in the awareness that we are in the hands of the Father. As we read at the beginning of Mass: the Lord carries us, he carries us on, he keeps us going. He is with us and he guides us.
Pope Francis recalled the strength of St Therese of the Child Jesus and her importance to the present day: “The Church has made this Saint — who was humble, small, confident in God, and meek — the Patroness of the missions. You don't understand this. The power of the Gospel is right there, because the Gospel reaches its highest point in the humiliation of Jesus... the strength of the Gospel is humility. The humility of a child who is guided by the love and tenderness of the Father”.
“The Church, as Benedict XVI has told us, grows by attraction, by witness. And when people, when peoples see this witness of humility, of meekness and docility, they feel the need” which the prophet Zechariah spoke of, saying: 'Let us go with you'. Faced with the witness of charity, people feel this need.... Charity is simple: worshiping God and serving others. This is the witness that makes the Church grow. “Precisely for this reason”, Pope Francis concluded, St Therese of the Child Jesus, who was “so humble and so trusting in God, has been named Patroness of the missions, because her example makes people say: we want to come with you.
Abide in the Lord, the Christian, man or woman, is one who abides in the Lord. But what does this mean? Many things.
The Christian who abides in the Lord knows what is happening in his heart. That is why the Apostle says: ‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits’; know how to discern the spirits, to discern what you are feeling, what you are thinking, what you want, and whether it is truly to abide in the Lord or something else which distances you from the Lord. Our hearts always have desires, wants, thoughts: but are all of these from the Lord? That is why the Apostle says: test what you are thinking, what you are feeling, what you want... If it is in line with the Lord alright; but if not....
It is then necessary to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. Not only can the prophets be false, but also their prophecies and suggestions. That is why we always need to be watchful. Indeed a Christian is precisely a man or woman who knows how to watch his or her heart.
A heart in which many things come and go is like a local market where you find everything. This is precisely the reason why the constant work of discernment is so needed, in order to understand what is truly of the Lord. But how do I know that something is of Christ? The Apostle John indicates the criteria we should follow. 'Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already'.
It is so simple: if what you desire, or what you think travels down the road of the Incarnation of the Word, of the Lord who comes in the flesh, it means that it is of God. However, if it does not travel by that road, then it does not come from God. Essentially, it is a matter of recognizing the road travelled by God, who emptied himself, who humbled himself unto death on the Cross. Self abasement, humility and also humiliation: this is the way of road of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, if a thought or a desire leads you on the road of humility, of self-abasement and of service to others, it is of Jesus; but if it leads you on the road of self-importance, of vanity and of pride, or on the road of abstract thought, it is not of Jesus. The temptations Jesus underwent in the desert attest to this. All three of the devil's temptations to Jesus were suggestions aimed at distancing Jesus from this path, from the path of service, from humility, from humiliation, from the act of love he made by his life.
Let us think about this today. It will do us good. First: what is going on in my heart? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Do I pay attention to what comes and goes or do I let it go? Do I know what I want? Do I test what I desire? Or do I simply take everything? Beloved, do not believe every spirit; but test the spirits. Often our hearts are like a road that everyone takes. This is precisely why we need to test and ask ourselves if we always choose the things that come from God, if we know what comes from God, if we know the right criteria by which we should discern our desires and our thoughts. And, we must never forget that the true criteria is the Incarnation of God.
In recent days the liturgy has led us to meditate on many Christian attitudes: to give, to be generous, to serve others, to forgive, to be merciful. These are approaches which help the Church to grow. But today especially, the Lord makes us consider one of these approaches, which he has already spoken of, and that is brotherly correction. The bottom line is: When a brother, a sister from the community makes a mistake, how does one correct them?
Always through the liturgy the Lord has given us advice on how to correct others. But today he resumes and says: one must correct him or her, but as a person who sees and not as one who is blind. Luke (6:39-42): “Can a blind man lead a blind man?”.
Thus to correct it is necessary to see clearly. And to follow several rules of behaviour that the Lord himself proposed. First of all, the advice he gives to correct a brother, we heard the other day. It is to take aside your brother who made the error and speak to him, telling him, brother, in this regard, I believe you did not do right!
And to take him aside, indeed, means to correct him with charity. It would otherwise be like performing surgery without anaesthesia, resulting in a patient’s painful death. And charity is like anaesthesia which helps him to receive the care and to accept the correction. Here then is the first step toward a brother: take him aside, gently, lovingly, and speak to him.
Let us always speak with charity, without wounding, in our communities, parishes, institutions, religious communities, when one must say something to a sister, to a brother.
Along with charity, it is necessary to tell the truth and never say something that isn’t true. In fact many times in our communities things are said to another person that aren’t true: they are libellous. Or, if they are true however, they harm the reputation of that person.
In this respect the following may be a way to approach a brother: I am telling you this, to you, what you have done. It is true. It isn’t a rumour that I heard. Because rumours wound, they are insults to a person’s reputation, they are strikes at a person’s heart. And so the truth is always needed, even if at times it isn’t good to hear it. In every case if the truth is told with charity and with love, it is easier to accept. This is why it is necessary to speak the truth with charity: this is how one must speak to others about faults.
Jesus speaks of the third rule, humility, in the passage of Luke’s Gospel: correct others without hypocrisy, that is, with humility. It is good to point out to oneself if you must correct a tiny flaw there, consider that you have so many that are greater. The Lord says this effectively: first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck from the eye of another. Only in this way will you not be blind and will you see clearly to truly help your brother. Thus humility is important in order to recognize that I am a greater sinner than him, a greater sinner than her. Afterwards I must help him and her to correct this flaw.
If I do not perform brotherly correction with charity, do not perform it in truth and do not perform it with humility, I become blind. And if I do not see, it is asked, how do I heal another blind person.
In substance, fraternal correction is an act to heal the body of the Church. It is like mending a hole in the fabric of the Church. However, one must proceed with much sensitivity, like mothers and grandmothers when they mend, and this is the very manner with which one must perform brotherly correction.
On the other hand if you are not capable of performing fraternal reproof with love, with charity, in truth and with humility, you will offend, damage that person’s heart: you will create an extra tale that wounds and you will become a blind hypocrite, as Jesus says. Indeed, the day’s reading from the Gospel of Luke reads: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye”. And while it is necessary to recognize oneself as being a greater sinner than the other, as brothers, however, we are called to help to correct him.
There is a sign which perhaps can help us: when one sees something wrong and feels that he should correct it but perceives a certain pleasure in doing so, then it is time to pay attention, because that is not the Lord’s way. Indeed, in the Lord there is always the cross, the difficulty of doing something good. And love and gentleness always come from the Lord.
This whole line of reasoning on fraternal correction, demands that we not judge. Even if we Christians are tempted to act as scholars, almost as if to move outside the game of sin and of grace, as if were angels.
This is a temptation that St Paul also speaks of in his First Letter to the Corinthians (9:16-19, 22-27): “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. The Apostle therefore reminds us, “a Christian who, in community, doesn’t do things, even brotherly correction, in charity, in truth and with humility, is disqualified”. Because he has not managed to become a mature Christian.
Let us pray that the Lord help us in this brotherly service, so beautiful and so agonizing, of helping brothers and sisters to be better, pushing ourselves to always do so with charity, in truth and with humility.
At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.
These words show us God’s way and, consequently, that which must be the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!
Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the the story of the Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.
This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!
We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabbas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.
This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.
Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the “form of a slave” (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility also means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptying oneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7). This – the pouring out of oneself - is the greatest humiliation of all.
There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, and only by his grace, with his help, we too can overcome this temptation to vanity, to worldliness, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.
In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person, the homeless…
We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time – and there are many. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. In truth, we can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” – the martyrs of our own time (cf. Heb 12:1).
During this week, let us set about with determination along this same path of humility, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In the scene from today’s Gospel passage, Jesus, in the home of one of the chief Pharisees, observes that the guests at lunch rush to choose the first place. It is a scene that we have seen so often: seeking the best place even “with our elbows”. Observing this scene, Jesus shares two short parables, and with them two instructions: one concerning the place, and the other concerning the reward.
The first analogy is set at a wedding banquet. Jesus says: “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man’, and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place” (Lk 14:8-9). With this recommendation, Jesus does not intend to give rules of social behaviour, but rather a lesson on the value of humility. History teaches that pride, careerism, vanity and ostentation are the causes of many evils. And Jesus helps us to understand the necessity of choosing the last place, that is, of seeking to be small and hidden: humility. When we place ourselves before God in this dimension of humility, God exalts us, he stoops down to us so as to lift us up to himself; “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (v. 11).
Jesus’ words emphasize completely different and opposing attitudes: the attitude of those who choose their own place and the attitude of those who allow God to assign it and await a reward from Him. Let us not forget this: God pays much more than men do! He gives us a much greater place than that which men give us! The place that God gives us is close to his heart and his reward is eternal life. “You will be blessed”, Jesus says, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (v. 14).
This is what is described in the second parable, in which Jesus points out the attitude of selflessness that ought to characterize hospitality, and he says: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (vv. 13-14). This means choosing gratuitousness rather than self-seeking and calculating to obtain a reward, seeking interest and trying to increase your wealth. Indeed, the poor, the simple, those who ‘don’t count’, can never reciprocate an invitation to a meal. In this way Jesus shows his preference for the poor and the excluded, who are the privileged in the Kingdom of God, and he launches the fundamental message of the Gospel which is to serve others out of love for God. Today, Jesus gives voice to those who are voiceless, and to each one of us he addresses an urgent appeal to open our hearts and to make our own the sufferings and anxieties of the poor, the hungry, the marginalized, the refugees, those who are defeated by life, those who are rejected by society and by the arrogance of the strong. And those who are discarded make up the vast majority of the population.
At this time, I think with gratitude of the soup kitchens where many volunteers offer their services, giving food to people who are alone, in need, unemployed or homeless. These soup kitchens and other works of mercy — such as visiting the sick and the imprisoned — are a training ground for charity that spreads the culture of gratuity, as those who work in these places are motivated by God’s love and enlightened by the wisdom of the Gospel. In this way serving others becomes a testimony of love, which makes the love of Christ visible and credible.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, who was humble throughout her whole life, to lead us every day along the way of humility, and to render us capable of free gestures of welcome and solidarity with those who are marginalized, so as to become worthy of the divine reward.
This Sunday’s Gospel (cf. Lk 17:11-19) invites us to acknowledge God’s gifts with wonder and gratitude. On the way to his death and resurrection, Jesus meets ten lepers, who approach him, keep their distance and tell their troubles to the one whom their faith perceived as a possible saviour: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13). They are sick and they are looking someone to heal them. Jesus responds by telling them to go and present themselves to the priests, who according to the Law were charged with certifying presumed healings. In this way, Jesus does not simply make them a promise; he tests their faith. At that moment, in fact, the ten were not yet healed. They were restored to health after they set out in obedience to Jesus’ command. Then, rejoicing, they showed themselves to the priests and continued on their way. They forgot the Giver, the Father, who cured them through Jesus, his Son made man.
All but one: a Samaritan, a foreigner living on the fringes of the chosen people, practically a pagan! This man was not content with being healed by his faith, but brought that healing to completion by returning to express his gratitude for the gift received. He recognized in Jesus the true Priest, who raised him up and saved him, who can now set him on his way and accept him as one of his disciples.
To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what he has done for us: this is important! So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying “Thank you”? How many times do we say “Thank you” in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say “Thank you” to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted! This also happens with God. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to return and give thanks... That is why Jesus so emphasizes the failure of the nine ungrateful lepers: “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Lk 17:17-18).
On this Jubilee day, we are given a model, indeed the model, to whom we can look: Mary, our Mother. After hearing the message of the Angel, she lifted up her heart in a song of praise and thanksgiving to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord…” Let us ask our Lady to help us recognize that everything is God’s gift, and to be able to say “Thank you”. Then, I assure you, our joy will be complete. Only those who know how to say “Thank you”, will experience the fullness of joy.
It also takes humility to be able to give thanks. In the first reading we heard the singular story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the King of Aram (cf. 2 Kg 5:14-17). In order to be cured of his leprosy, he accepts the suggestion of a poor slave and entrusts himself to the prophet Elisha, whom he considered an enemy. Naaman was nonetheless ready to humble himself. Elisha asks nothing of him, but simply orders him to bathe in the waters of the River Jordan. This request leaves Naaman perplexed, even annoyed. Can a God who demands such banal things truly be God? He would like to turn back, but then he agrees to be immersed in the Jordan and immediately he is cured.
The heart of Mary, more than any other, is a humble heart, capable of accepting God’s gifts. In order to become man, God chose precisely her, a simple young woman of Nazareth, who did not dwell in the palaces of power and wealth, who did not do extraordinary things. Let us ask ourselves – it will do us good – if we are prepared to accept God’s gifts, or prefer instead to shut ourselves up within our forms of material security, intellectual security, the security of our plans.
Significantly, Naaman and the Samaritans were two foreigners. How many foreigners, including persons of other religions, give us an example of values that we sometimes forget or set aside! Those living beside us, who may be scorned and sidelined because they are foreigners, can instead teach us how to walk on the path that the Lord wishes. The Mother of God, together with Joseph her spouse, knew what it was to live far from home. She too was long a foreigner in Egypt, far from her relatives and friends. Yet her faith was able to overcome the difficulties. Let us cling to this simple faith of the Holy Mother of God; let us ask her that we may always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from his mercy.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Gospel introduces us to the young woman of Nazareth who, having received the Angel’s Annunciation, leaves in haste to be closer to Elizabeth, in the final months of her prodigious pregnancy. Arriving at Elizabeth’s home, Mary hears her utter the words that have come to form the “Hail Mary” prayer: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42). In fact, the greatest gift Mary brings to Elizabeth — and to the whole world — is Jesus, who already lives within her; and he lives not only through faith and through expectation, as in many women of the Old Testament: from the Virgin, Jesus took on human flesh for his mission of salvation.
In the home of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, where sadness once reigned for lack of children, there is now the joy of a child on the way: a child who will become the great John the Baptist, the precursor of the Messiah. And when Mary arrives, joy overflows and gushes from their hearts, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills everything with meaning: life, family, the salvation of the people. Everything! This joy is expressed in Mary’s voice in the marvellous prayer that the Gospel of Luke has conveyed to us and which, from the first Latin word, is called Magnificat. It is a song of praise to God who works great things through humble people, unknown to the world, as is Mary herself, as is her spouse Joseph, and as is the place where they live, Nazareth. The great things God has done with humble people, the great things the Lord does in the world with the humble, because humility is like a vacuum that leaves room for God. The humble are powerful because they are humble: not because they are strong. And this is the greatness of the humble and of humility. I would like to ask you — and also myself — but do not answer out loud — each of you respond in your heart: “How is my humility?”.
The Magnificat praises the merciful and faithful God who accomplishes his plan of salvation through the little ones and the poor, through those who have faith in him, who trust in his Word as did Mary. Here is the exclamation of Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). In that house, the coming of Jesus through Mary created not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, prayer, and praise.
We would like to have all of this happen today in our homes too. Celebrating Mary Most Holy Assumed into Heaven, we would once again wish her to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, this immense gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all the other graces that we also have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!
By bearing Jesus, Our Lady also brings to us a new joy full of meaning; she brings us a new ability to traverse with faith the most painful and difficult moments; she brings us the capacity of mercy, in order to forgive each other, to understand each other and to support each other.
Mary is the model of virtue and of faith. Today, in contemplating her Assumption into Heaven, the final fulfilment of her earthly journey, we thank her because she always precedes us in the pilgrimage of life and faith. She is the first Disciple. And we ask her to keep us and support us; that we may have a strong, joyful and merciful faith; that she may help us to be saints, to meet with her, one day, in Heaven.
Christian witness is meant to edify others and not to serve as path to self-promotion.
Christians are called to provide simple, habitual witness to Jesus; “everyday holiness.”
Christian witness, can mean giving one’s life in martyrdom, after Jesus’ example. But another path is to point to Christ in our everyday actions, when we wake, work, and go to bed.
It seems like such a small thing but miracles are done through small things.
Salt for others; light for others: Because salt does not give flavour to itself but serves others. Light does not illuminate itself but serves others… Supermarkets sell salt in small quantities, not by the ton. And salt does not promote itself because it doesn’t serve itself. It exists to serve others, by conserving things and giving flavour. This is simple witness.
Daily Christian witness means being light for others, “to help them in their darkest hour.”
The Lord says: ‘You are salt; you are light.’… But do so in order that others see and glorify God. You will not even receive any merit. When we eat, we don’t compliment the salt. No, we say the pasta or meat is good… When we go to sleep at night, we don’t say the light is good. We ignore the light, but we live illuminated by light. This impels Christians to be anonymous witnesses.
Do not act like the Pharisee who thanks the Lord for his holiness. We are not the authors of our own merits.
Everyday holiness means being salt and light for others.
What gave Jesus authority, was that “he spent most of his time on the road”, touching, embracing, listening and looking at the people in the eye. “He was near them”. This is what gave him authority.
Jesus taught the same thing that many others taught. It was how he taught that was different. Jesus was meek, and did not cry out. He did not punish the people. He never trumpeted the fact that he was the Messiah or a Prophet. In the Gospel, when Jesus was not with people, he was with the Father praying. His meekness toward the Father was expressed when he visited the house of his Father which had become a shopping mall…. He was angry and threw everyone out. He did this because he loved the Father, because he was humble before the Father.
Jesus was overcome with compassion for the widow. Jesus “thought with his heart”, which was not separated from his head. Then Jesus tenderly touches her and speaks to her, “Do not weep”. “This is the icon of the pastor”. The pastor “needs to have the power and authority that Jesus had, that humility, that meekness, that nearness, the capacity to be compassionate and tender.
it was also the people who yelled “crucify him”. Jesus then compassionately remained silent because “the people were deceived by the powerful”. His response was silence and prayer. Here the shepherd chooses silence when the “Great Accuser” accuses him through so many people. Jesus suffers, offers his life, and prays.
That prayer carried him even to the Cross, with strength; even there he had the capacity of drawing near to and healing the soul of the repentant thief.
St. Paul from the solitude of his imprisonment was writing to the Ephesians a true "hymn to unity", recalling the "dignity of vocation". Paul’s solitude would accompany him until his death in Rome, because Christians were “too busy” in their "internal struggles". And before Paul, Jesus Himself “asked for the grace of unity from the Father for all of us."
Yet, today we are "used to breathing the air of conflict". Every day, on the TV and in newspapers, we hear about conflicts and wars "one after the other", "without peace, without unity”. Agreements made to stop conflicts are ignored, thus the arms race and preparation for war and destruction go ahead.
Even world institutions created with the best of intentions for peace and unity, fail to come to an agreement because of a veto here and an interest there ... While they are struggling to arrive at peace agreements, children have no food, no school, no education and hospitals because the war has destroyed everything.
There is a tendency to destruction, war and disunity in us. It is the tendency that the devil, the enemy and destroyer of humanity sows in our hearts. The Apostle teaches us that the journey of unity is, so to say, clad or “armoured' with the bond of peace. Peace, he said, leads to unity.
Christians open your hearts and make peace in the world taking the path of the “three little things” - "humility, gentleness and patience". Paul's advice is “bear with one another in love". It’s not easy as there is always a judgement, a condemnation which leads to separation and distances…
When a rift is created between members of the family, the devil is happy with the start of war . The advice is then to bear with one another because we always have an excuse to be annoyed and impatient because we are all sinners with defects. St. Paul, inspired by Jesus at the Last Supper who urged for “one body and one spirit”, thus urges us to “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace".
The next step is to see the horizon of peace with God, just as Jesus made us see the horizon of peace with prayer: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one'. In today's Gospel of Luke Jesus advises us to strike an agreement with our adversary along the way. It’s good advice, because "it is not difficult to come to an agreement at the beginning of a conflict.
The advice of Jesus is to settle the matter and make peace at the beginning, which calls for humility, gentleness and patience. One can build peace throughout the world with these little things, which are the attitudes of Jesus who is humble, meek and forgives everything.
Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. I invite Christians to start putting into practice humility, gentleness and patience saying this is the path to making peace and consolidating unity
The Gospel tells of how Jesus sends his disciples into the world to bring healing, just as He Himself came into the world to heal. To heal the root of sin in us, the original sin.
Healing is a bit like creating from anew. Jesus recreated us from the root and then allowed us to move forward with his teaching, with his doctrine, a doctrine that heals.
But, the first requisite is that there be conversion. Conversion is the first step of healing in the sense that it opens the heart so that the Word of God may enter.
If someone is sick and refuses to go to the doctor he will not be healed.
As Christians, we may do many good things, but if our hearts our closed, it’s only a façade.
In order to proclaim so that people may convert, one requires authority that comes from being like Jesus.
In the Gospel Jesus instructs the Apostles to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. In essence, poverty.
The apostle must be a pastor who does not seek sheep's milk, who does not seek sheep's wool. As expressed by Saint Augustine the shepherd who seeks milk seeks money, and the shepherd who seeks wool likes to dress with vanity.
I invite Christians to follow a path of poverty, humility, meekness. Jesus told the Apostles “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet”, but do so with meekness and humility.
If an apostle, an envoy, one of us goes, with his nose in the air, believing himself superior to the others or because of self-interest looking for some human interest he will never heal anyone, he will never succeed in opening anyone's heart, because his word will have no authority.
After having exhorted to conversion, the Twelve drove out many demons and they could do so because they had the authority to say “This is a demon! This is a sin.”
This authority is not the authority of someone who speaks down to people, but of someone who is interested in people. Demons flee before humility, before the power of Christ’s name with which the apostle carries out his mission, because demons cannot bear that sins be healed.
The Apostles also anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. The anointing is the caress of God, so all apostles must learn this wisdom of God’s caresses.
All Christians can bring healing, not only priests and bishops: “each of us has the power to heal his brother or sister.”
We all need to be healed, and we can all heal others if we are humble and meek: with a good word, with patience, with a glance.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
First of all, I have to apologize for the delay, but there was an accident: I was locked in the elevator for 25 minutes! There was a drop in voltage and the elevator stopped. Thank God for the Fire Brigade who came – thank you so much! – and after 25 minutes of work they managed to get it to go. A round of applause for the Fire Department!
The Gospel of this Sunday (cf. Lc 14:1,7-14) shows us Jesus attending a banquet in the house of a Pharisee leader. Jesus watches and observes as the guests run, and hurry to get the top places. It is a rather widespread attitude, even in today, and not only when you are invited to a meal: usually, you look for the top place to assert a supposed superiority over others. In fact, this race to the top is bad for the community, both civil and ecclesiastical, because it ruins fraternity. We all know these people: climbers, who always climb to go higher, and higher... They hurt fraternity, they wound fraternity. Faced with that scene, Jesus recounts two short parables.
The first parable is addressed to the one who is invited to a banquet, and urges him not to put himself first, because, he says, "a more distinguished guest than you, may have been invited by him and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say: "Give your place to that person!" An embarrassment! "and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place" (see Vv. 8-9). Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us to have the opposite attitude: "When you are invited, go and take the lowest place, so that when the host comes to you he may say : "My friend, move up to a higher position!" (see 10). Therefore, we should not seek on our own initiative the attention and consideration of others, but rather let others give it to us. Jesus always shows us the way of humility - we must learn the way of humility! – because it is the most authentic one, which also allows us to have authentic relationships. True humility, not fake humility, that in the Piedmont is called quaciamiller, no, not that. But true humility.
In the second parable, Jesus addresses the one who invites and, referring to the way of selecting the guests, tells him: "When you offer a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because they of their inability to repay you" (v. 13-14). Here, too, Jesus goes completely against the tide, manifesting as always the logic of God the Father. And he also adds the key to interpreting His speech. And what's the key? A promise: if you do so, "you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (v. 14). This means that whoever behaves in this way will have the divine reward, much higher than any human exchange expected: I do you this favour and wait for you to give me one in return. No, this is not Christian. Humble generosity is Christian. Human exchange, in fact, usually distorts relationships, makes them "commercial", introducing self-interest into a relationship that should be generous and free. Instead, Jesus invites selfless generosity, to open the way to a much greater joy, the joy of being part of God's own love that awaits us, all of us, in the heavenly banquet.
May the Virgin Mary, "the humblest and highest of creatures" (Dante, Paradise, XXXIII, 2), help us to recognize ourselves as we are, that is, small; and to rejoice in giving without something in return.
"The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you”. All of us come to terms with our lives, we do it in the present and above all, we will do it at the end of our existence, and this phrase of Jesus "tells us just what that moment will be like", that is, what judgment will be like. Because if the passage of the Beatitudes and the similar chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew show us "the things we have to do" - how to do them, the "style with which we will have to live" - the "measure", is what the Lord says here.
By what extent do I measure others? By what measure do I measure myself? Is it a generous measure, full of God's love? Or is it a low level measure? And by this measure I will be judged, it will not be another: that, just the one I do. What is the level at which I put my bar? At a high level? We have to think about this. And we see this not only, not so much in the good things we do or in the bad things we do but in our daily lifestyle.
Each of us has a style, "a way of measuring ourselves, things and others" and it will be the same that the Lord will use with us. So those who judge with selfishness, will be judged in the same way; those who have no mercy and, in order to climb in life, "are capable of trampling on everyone's heads", will be judged in the same way, that is, "without mercy".
And as a Christian I wonder what is the reference stone, the touchstone to know if I am on a Christian level, a level that Jesus wants? It is the ability to be humble, it is the ability to suffer humiliation. A Christian who is not able to carry with him the humiliations of life, lacks something. He is a Christian of "make-up" or out of interest. "But why father this?" Because Jesus did it, He humbled himself, says Paul: "He humbled himself until the death on the cross." He was God but He did not cling to that: He humbled Himself. This is the model.
And as an example of a lifestyle defined as "worldly" and unable to follow the model of Jesus; bishops report complaints to me when they have difficulty transferring priests to parishes because they are considered "lower category" and not as they would like and therefore see the transfer as a punishment. This is how to recognize "my style", "my way of judging" by the behaviour I take in the face of humiliation: "A way of judging the worldly, a way of judging the sinner, an entrepreneurial way of judging, a way of judging Christian Christians."
"By the measure by which you measure it will be measured to you," the same measure. If it is a Christian measure, which follows Jesus, in His way, I will be judged the same way, with much, much, much pity, with much compassion, with much mercy. But if my measure is worldly and I only use the Christian faith - yes, I do, I go to mass, but I live as a worldly person - I will be measured by that measure.
Let us ask the Lord for the grace to live Christianly and above all not to be afraid of the cross, of humiliation, because this is the path he has chosen to save us and this is what guarantees that my measure is Christian: the ability to carry the cross , the ability to suffer some humiliation.
Dear brothers and sisters, good day!
This Sunday’s Gospel reading (see Mt 11:25-30) is divided into three parts: first of all, Jesus raises a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving to the Father, because He revealed to the poor and to the simple the mystery of the Kingdom of heaven; then He reveals the intimate and unique relationship between Himself and the Father; and finally He invites us to go to Him and to follow Him to find solace.
In the first place, Jesus praises the Father, because He has kept the secrets of His Kingdom, of His truth, hidden from “from the wise and the learned” (v. 25). He calls them so with a veil of irony, because they presume to be wise, learned, and therefore have a closed heart, very often. True wisdom comes also from the heart, it is not only a matter of understanding ideas: true wisdom also enters into the heart. And if you know many things but have a closed heart, you are not wise. Jesus says that the mysteries of His Father are revealed to the “little ones”, to those who confidently open themselves to His Word of salvation, who open their heart to the Word of salvation, who feel the need for Him and expect everything from Him. The heart that is open and trustful towards the Lord.
Then, Jesus explains that He has received everything from the Father, and He calls Him “my Father”, to affirm the unique nature of His relationship with Him. Indeed, there is total reciprocity only between the Son and the Father: each one knows the other, each one lives in the other. But this unique communion is like a flower that unfurls, to reveal freely its beauty and its goodness. And here, then, is Jesus’s invitation: “Come to me…” (v. 28). He wishes to give what He receives from the Father. He wants to give us the Truth, and Jesus’ Truth is always free: it is a gift, it is the Holy Spirit, the Truth.
Just as the Father has a preference for the “little ones”, Jesus also addresses those “who labour and are burdened”. Indeed, He places Himself among them, because He is “meek and humble of heart” (v. 29): this is how He describes Himself. It is the same in the first and third Beatitudes, that of the humble and poor in spirit, and that of the meek (see Mt 5:35): the meekness of Jesus. In this way Jesus, “meek and humble”, is not a model for the resigned, nor is He simply a victim, but rather He is the man who lives this condition "from the heart" in full transparency to the love of the Father, that is, to the Holy Spirit. He is the model of the “poor in spirit" and of all the other “blesseds" of the Gospel, who do the will of God and bear witness to His Kingdom.
And then, Jesus says that if we go to Him, we will find refreshment. The “refreshment" that Christ offers to the weary and oppressed is not merely psychological solace or a lavish handout, but the joy of the poor who are evangelised and are builders of the new humanity: this is solace. Joy. The joy that Jesus gives us. It is unique. It is the joy that He Himself has. It is a message for all of us, for all people of good will, which Jesus still conveys today in the world that exalts those who become rich and powerful … But how many times do we say, “Ah, I would like to be like him, like her, who are rich, have a lot of power, lack nothing…”. The world exalts those who are rich and powerful, no matter by what means, and at times tramples upon the human being and his or her dignity. And we see this every day, the poor who are trampled underfoot… And it is a message for the Church, called to live works of mercy and to evangelise the poor, to be meek and humble. This is how the Lord wants His Church, that is, us, to be.
May Mary, the humblest and highest of creatures, implore from God wisdom of the heart for us - the wisdom of the heart - that we may discern its signs in our lives and be sharers in those mysteries which, hidden from the proud, are revealed to the humble.
Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon and happy feast day!
In today’s Gospel, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary into Heaven, the Magnificat resounds in the liturgy. This hymn of praise is like a “photograph” of the Mother of God. Mary “rejoices in God”, why? “Because he has looked on the humility of his handmaid”, as it says (cf Lk 1:47-48).
Mary’s secret is humility. It is her humility that attracted God’s gaze to her. The human eye always looks for grandeur and allows itself to be dazzled by what is flashy. Instead, God does not look at the appearance, God looks at the heart (cf 1 Sam 16:7) and is enchanted by humility. Humility of heart enchants God. Today, looking at Mary assumed into heaven, we can say that humility is the way that leads to Heaven. The word “humility”, as we know, comes from the Latin word humus, which means “earth”. It is paradoxical: to arrive on high, into Heaven, what is needed is to stay low, like the earth! Jesus teaches this: “the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11). God does not exalt us because of our gifts, because of our wealth or how well we do things, but because of humility. God loves humility. God lifts up the one who humbles him or herself; he lifts up the one who serves. Mary, in fact, attributes no other “title” except servant to herself, to serve: she is, “the servant of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). She says nothing else about herself, she seeks nothing else for herself. Only to be the servant of the Lord.
Today, then, let us ask ourselves, each one of us in our heart: how am I doing with humility? Do I want to be recognised by others, to affirm myself and to be praised, or do I think rather about serving? Do I know how to listen, like Mary, or do I want only to speak and receive attention? Do I know how to keep silence, like Mary, or am I always chattering? Do I know how to take a step back, defuse quarrels and arguments, or do I always want to excel? Let us think about these questions, each one of us: how am I doing with humility?
In her littleness, Mary wins Heaven first. The secret of her success is precisely that she recognises her lowliness, that she recognises her need. With God, only those who recognise themselves as nothing can receive the all. Only the one who empties him or herself can be filled by Him. And Mary is the “full of grace” (v. 28) precisely because of her humility. For us as well, humility is the always the point of departure, always, it is the beginning of our having faith. It is fundamental to be poor in spirit, that is in need of God. Those who are filled with themselves have no space for God. And many times, we are full of ourselves, and the one who is filled with him or herself gives no space to God, but those who remain humble allow the Lord to accomplish great things (cf v.49).
The poet, Dante, calls the Virgin Mary, “humbler and loftier than any creature” (Paradise, XXXIII, 2). It is beautiful to think that the humblest and loftiest creature in history, the first to win heaven with her entire being, in soul and body, lived out her life for the most part within the domestic walls, she lived out her life in the ordinary, in humility. The days of the Full of grace were not all that striking. They followed one after the other, often exactly the same, in silence: externally, nothing extraordinary. But God’s gaze was always upon her, admiring her humility, her availability, the beauty of her heart never stained by sin.
It is a huge message of hope for us, for you, for each one of us, for you whose days are always the same, tiring and often difficult. Mary reminds you today that God calls you too to this glorious destiny. These are not beautiful words: it is the truth. It is not a well-crafted, beautiful ending, a pious illusion or a false consolation. No, it is the truth, it is pure reality, it is as real, as live and true as the Madonna assumed into Heaven. Let us celebrate her today with the love of children, let us celebrate her joyful but humble, enlivened by the hope of one day being with her in Heaven!
And let us pray to her now that she accompany us on our journey that leads from Earth to Heaven. May she remind us that the secret to the journey is contained in the word humility. Let us not forget this word which the Madonna always reminds us of. And that lowliness and service are the secrets for obtaining the goal, of reaching heaven.