Pope Francis Angelus 16.01.22

Jesus transforms water into wine

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The Gospel of today’s liturgy recounts the episode of the wedding at Cana, where, to the couple’s delight, Jesus transformed water into wine. This is the way the account ends: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn 2:11). We notice that the evangelist John does not speak of a miracle, that is, of a powerful and extraordinary deed that provokes wonder. He writes that a sign took place at Cana, a sign that sparked the faith of his disciples. We can, then, ask ourselves: What is a “sign” according to the Gospel?

It is a sign that gives a clue that reveals God’s love, that does not call attention to the power of the action, but to the love that caused it. It teaches us something about God’s love that is always near, tender and compassionate. Jesus’ first sign took place when a couple faced a difficulty on the most important day of their lives. Right in the middle of the feast, an essential element for a feast, the wine, is missing and their joy risked being snuffed out due to the criticism and dissatisfaction of the guests.

It is Our Lady who became aware of the problem and discretely brought it to Jesus’ attention. And he intervened without fanfare, almost without making it obvious. Everything took place reservedly, everything took place “behind the scenes” . This is how God acts, near to us and discretely. Jesus’ disciples understood this. Nobody was aware of it, only the servants. This is how the seed of faith began to develop within them – that is, they believed that God, God’s love, was present in Jesus.

How beautiful it is to think that the first sign Jesus accomplished was not an extraordinary healing or something prodigious in the temple of Jerusalem, but an action that responded to a simple and concrete need of common people, a domestic gesture. Let us put it this way – a miracle done on tip toes, discretely, silently. Jesus is ready to help us, to lift us up. And then, if we are attentive to these “signs”, we will be conquered by his love and we will become his disciples.

But there is another distinctive characteristic about the sign at Cana. Generally, the wine provided at the end of the feast was not as good – this is still done today. Jesus, instead, acts in such a way that the feast ends with better wine. Symbolically, this tells us that God wants what is better for us, he wants us to be happy. He does not set limits and he does not ask us for incentives. There is no place for ulterior motives or demands placed on the couple. No, the joy Jesus brought to their hearts was complete and disinterested joy, a joy that was not diluted, no!

Let us try to rummage through our memories, looking for the signs the Lord has accomplished in my life. Let each of us say: in my life, what are the signs the Lord has accomplished? What are the hints of his presence, the signs he has done to show that he loves us? Let us think about that difficult moment in which God allowed me to experience his love… And let us ask ourselves: what are the discrete and loving signs through which he has allowed me to feel his tenderness? When have I felt the Lord nearer to me? When have I felt his tenderness and his compassion more? Every one of us has these moments in our personal history. Let us go in search of these signs, let us remember them. How have I discovered his nearness and how did it fill my heart with great joy? Let us relive the moments in which we have experienced his presence and Mary’s intercession. May she, the Mother who is always attentive as at Cana, help us treasure the signs of God’s presence in our lives.

16.01.22 e

Pope Francis General Audience 12.01.22

Saint Joseph - the Carpenter

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The evangelists Matthew and Mark refer to Joseph as a “carpenter” or “joiner.” We heard earlier that the people of Nazareth, hearing Jesus speak, asked themselves: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” . Jesus practised his father’s trade.

"Carpenter” or “joiner” was a generic qualification, indicating both woodworkers and craftsmen engaged in activities related to construction. It was quite a hard job, having to work with heavy materials such as wood, stone, and iron. From an economic point of view, it did not ensure great earnings, as can be deduced from the fact that Mary and Joseph, when they presented Jesus in the Temple, offered only a couple of turtledoves or pigeons, as the Law prescribed for the poor.

Thus, the young Jesus learnt this trade from his father. Therefore, when as an adult he began to preach, his astonished neighbours asked: “But where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?”, and were scandalized by him, because he was the son of the carpenter, but he spoke like a doctor of the law, and they were scandalized by this.

This biographical fact about Joseph and Jesus makes me think of all the workers in the world, especially those who do gruelling work in mines and certain factories; those who are exploited through undocumented work; the victims of labour: we have seen a lot of this in Italy recently; the children who are forced to work and those who rummage among the trash in search of something useful to trade.

The hidden workers, the workers who do hard labour in mines and in certain factories: let's think of them. Those who are exploited with undeclared work, who are paid in contraband, on the sly, without a pension, without anything. And if you don't work, you have no security. Undocumented work. And today there is a lot of undocumented work.

Let us think of the victims of work, who suffer from work accidents. Of the children who are forced to work: this is terrible! A child at the age of play, who should be playing, forced to work like an adult! Children forced to work. And of those — poor people! — who rummage in the dumps to look for something useful to trade: they go to the dumps... All these are our brothers and sisters, who earn their living this way: with work that gives them no dignity! Let us think about this. And this is happening today, in the world.

But I think too of those who are out of work. How many people go knocking on the doors of factories, of businesses [asking] “Is there anything to do?” — “No, there’s nothing, there’s nothing. I think of those who feel their dignity wounded because they cannot find work. They return home: “And? Have you found something?” — “No, nothing… I went to Caritas and I brought bread. What gives dignity is not bringing bread home. You can get it from Caritas — no, this doesn’t give you dignity. What gives you dignity is earning bread — and if we don’t give our people, our men and women, the ability to earn bread, that is a social injustice in that place, in that nation, in that continent. The leaders must give everyone the possibility of earning bread, because this ability to earn gives them dignity.

Many young people, many fathers and mothers experience the ordeal of not having a job that allows them to live tranquilly. They live day to day. And how often the search for work becomes so desperate that it drives them to the point of losing all hope and the desire to live. In these times of pandemic, many people have lost their jobs — we know this — and some, crushed by an unbearable burden, reached the point of taking their own lives. I would like to remember each of them and their families today.

Not enough consideration is given to the fact that work is an essential component of human life. Work is not only a means of earning a living: it is also a place where we express ourselves, feel useful, and learn the great lesson of concreteness, which helps keep the spiritual life from becoming spiritualism. Unfortunately, however, labour is often a hostage to social injustice and, rather than being a means of humanization, it becomes an existential periphery. I often ask myself: With what spirit do we do our daily work? How do we deal with fatigue? Do we see our activity as linked only to our own destiny or also to the destiny of others? In fact, work is a way of expressing our personality, which is relational by its nature. And, too, work is a way to express our creativity: each one of us works in their own way, with their own style: the same work but with different styles.

It is good to think about the fact that Jesus himself worked and had learned this craft from St Joseph. Today, we should ask ourselves what we can do to recover the value of work; and what contribution we can make, as the Church, so that work can be redeemed from the logic of mere profit and can be experienced as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and increases his or her dignity.

12.01.22 e

Pope Francis Angelus 09.01.22

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The Gospel of today’s Liturgy shows us the scene with which Jesus’ public life begins: he, who is the Son of God and the Messiah, goes to the banks of the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. After about thirty years of hidden life, Jesus does not present himself with a miracle, or by rising to the podium to teach. He lines up with the people who were going to receive baptism from John. Today’s liturgical hymn says that the people went to be baptized with a bare soul and bare feet, humbly. This is a beautiful attitude, with a bare soul and bare feet. And Jesus shares the plight of us sinners, he comes down towards us; he descends into the river, and at the same time into the wounded history of humanity, he immerses himself in our waters to heal them, and he immerses himself with us, in our midst. He does not rise up above us, but rather comes down towards us with a bare soul, with bare feet, like the people. He does not come by himself, nor does he come with a select, privileged group. No: he comes with the people. He belongs to the people and he comes with them to be baptized, with these humble people.

Let us reflect on an important point: at the moment in which Jesus receives Baptism, the text says that he “was praying”. It is good for us to contemplate this: Jesus prays. But why? He, the Lord, the Son of God, prays like us? Yes, Jesus – the Gospels repeat this many times – spends a lot of time in prayer: at the beginning of every day, often at night, before making important decisions… His prayer is a dialogue, a relationship with the Father. Thus, in today’s Gospel, we can see the “two moments” in the life of Jesus: on the one hand, he descends towards us into the waters of the Jordan; on the other, he raises his eyes and his heart, praying to the Father.

It is a tremendous lesson for us: we are all immersed in the problems of life and in many complicated situations, called upon to face difficult moments and choices that get us down. But, if we do not want to be crushed, we need to raise everything upwards. And this is exactly what prayer does. It is not an escape route; prayer is not a magic ritual or a repetition of memorized jingles. No. Prayer is the way we allow God to act in us, to understand what he wants to communicate to us even in the most difficult situations, prayer is having the strength to go forward. Many people feel they can’t go on, and pray: “Lord, give me the strength to continue”. We too, very often, have done this. Prayer helps us because it unites us to God, it opens us up to encountering him. Yes, prayer is the key that opens our heart to the Lord. It is dialoguing with God, it is listening to his Word, it is worshipping: remaining in silence, entrusting to him what we are experiencing. And at times it is also crying out with him like Job, other times it is venting with Him. He is the father, He understands well. He never gets angry with us.

Prayer – to use a beautiful image from today’s Gospel – “opens the heavens”; it gives life oxygen, a breath of fresh air amidst life’s troubles and allows us to see things from a broader perspective. Above all, it enables us to have the same experience of Jesus by the Jordan River: it makes us feel like beloved children of the Father. When we pray, the Father says to us too, as he does to Jesus in the Gospel: “You are my beloved child”. Being God’s children began on the day of our Baptism, which immersed us in Christ and, as members of the people of God, we became beloved children of the Father. Let us not forget the date of our Baptism! If I were to ask each one of you now: what is the date of your Baptism? Perhaps some of you don’t remember. This is a beautiful thing: remembering the date of your baptism, because it is our rebirth, the moment in which we became children of God with Jesus! And when you return home – if you don’t know – ask your mother, your aunt, your grandmother or your grandfather: “When was I baptized?”, and remember that date so as to celebrate it, to thank the Lord. And today, at this moment, let us ask ourselves: how is my prayer going? Do I pray out of habit, do I pray unwillingly, just reciting formulas, or is my prayer an encounter with God? I, a sinner, always with the people of God, never isolated? Do I cultivate intimacy with God, dialogue with Him, listen to his Word? Among the many things we do each day, let us not neglect prayer: let us dedicate time to it, let us use short invocations to be repeated often, let us read the Gospel every day. The prayer that opens the heavens.

09.01.22 a e

Pope Francis Holy Mass and baptism of infants 09.01.22

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today we commemorate the Baptism of the Lord. There is a very beautiful liturgical hymn, for today's feast, which says that the people of Israel went to the Jordan "with bare feet and a bare soul", that is, a soul that wanted to be washed by God, that they had nothing, and they needed God. These children also come here today with "bare souls" to receive god's justification, the power of Jesus, the power to go forward in life. They come to receive their Christian identity. It is this, simply. Your children will receive their Christian identity today. And you, parents and godparents, must preserve this identity. This is your task during your life: to preserve the Christian identity of your children. It is an everyday commitment: to make them grow with the light they will receive today. This is what I just wanted to tell you, this is today's message: to preserve the Christian identity that you have brought your children today to receive.

09.01.22 m e

Pope Francis Message for World Mission Day on 23.10.2022

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

These words were spoken by the Risen Jesus to his disciples just before his Ascension into heaven, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (1:8). They are also the theme of the 2022 World Mission Day which, as always, reminds us that the Church is missionary by nature.

Let us reflect on the three key phrases that synthesize the three foundations of the life and mission of every disciple: “You shall be my witnesses”, “to the ends of the earth” and “you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit”.

I continue to dream of a completely missionary Church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities. Would that all of us in the Church were what we already are by virtue of baptism: prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the ends of the earth!

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Pope Francis Angelus 06.01.22

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we contemplate the episode of the Magi (cf. Mt 2:1-12). They faced a long and difficult journey to go and adore “the king of the Jews” (v. 2). They were guided by the wondrous sign of a star, and when they finally reached their destination, rather than finding something spectacular, they found a baby with his mamma. They could have protested: “How many roads and how many sacrifices, only to find a poor child?” And they did not protest. Neither were they scandalized or disappointed. They did not complain. What did they do? They prostrated themselves. “Going into the house”, the Gospel says, “they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” .

Let us think about these wise, rich, educated men whom everyone knew who had come from afar who prostrate themselves, that is, they bow down on the ground to adore a baby! This seems to be such a contradiction. Such a humble action performed by such illustrious men is surprising. To prostrate oneself before a leader who presented himself with the trappings of power and glory was something normal at that time. And even today this would not be strange. But before the Babe of Bethlehem, it was not that easy. It is not easy to adore this God, whose divinity remains hidden and who does not appear triumphant. It means accepting God’s greatness that manifests itself in littleness. This is the message. The Magi humbled themselves before the unheard-of logic of God. They accepted the Saviour not the way they had imagined him to be – someone grand – but as he was, the Lord is small, poor. Their prostration is the sign of those who place their own ideas aside and make room for God. It takes humility to do this.

The Gospel stresses this: it does not only say that the Magi worshipped, it emphasizes that they fell down and worshipped. Let us understand this detail: their worship and prostration go together. Performing this action, the Magi manifest their humble acceptance of the One who presented himself in humility. And so it is that they are open to worship God. The treasures they open are images of their open hearts: their true wealth does not consist in their fame, it does not consist in their success, but in their humility, their awareness of their need of salvation. This is the example the Magi give us today.

If we always remain at the centre of everything with our ideas, and if we presume to have something to boast of before God, we will never fully encounter him, we will never end up worshipping him. If our pretensions, vanity, stubbornness, competitiveness do not fall by the wayside, we may well end up worshipping someone or something in life, but it will not be the Lord! If instead, we abandon our pretence of self-sufficiency, if we make ourselves little inside, we will then rediscover the wonder of worshipping Jesus because adoration comes from humility of heart: those who are obsessed with winning will never be aware of the Lord’s presence. Jesus passes nearby and is ignored, as happened to many at that time, but not to the Magi.

Let us ask ourselves today: what is my humility like? Am I convinced that pride impedes my spiritual progress? That pride, apparent or hidden, but that pride that always dampers the drive toward God. Am I working on docility to be open to God and others, or am I rather centred on myself and my pretences, that hidden selfishness which is pride? Do I know how to set aside my own perspective to embrace that of God and others? Finally: do I pray and worship only when I need something, or do I consistently do so because I believe that I am always in need of Jesus? The Magi began their journey looking at a star, and they found Jesus. They walked a lot. Today, we can take this piece of advice: look at the star and walk. Never stop walking, but, do not stop looking at the star. This is the strong advice for today: look at the star and walk.

May the Virgin Mary, the servant of the Lord, teach us to rediscover our vital need for humility and the vibrant desire to worship. May she teach us to look at the star and walk.

06.01.22 a e

Pope Francis Holy Mass 06.01.22

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The Magi travel towards Bethlehem. Their pilgrimage speaks also to us, who are called to journey towards Jesus, for he is the North Star that lights up the sky of life and guides our steps towards true joy. Yet where did the Magi’s pilgrimage to encounter Jesus begin? What made these men of the East set out on their journey?

They had excellent reasons not to depart. They were wise men and astrologers, famous and wealthy. Having attained sufficient cultural, social and economic security, they could have remained content with what they already knew and possessed. Instead, they let themselves be unsettled by a question and by a sign: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star…” (Mt 2:2). They did not allow their hearts to retreat into the caves of gloom and apathy; they longed to see the light. They were not content to plod through life, but yearned for new and greater horizons. Their eyes were not fixed here below; they were windows open to the heavens.

Where did it originate, this spirit of healthy restlessness that led them to set out on their journey? It was born of desire. To desire means to fuel the fire that burns within us; it drives us to look beyond what is immediate and visible. To desire means embracing life as a mystery that surpasses us, as an ever-present cranny in the wall that beckons us to look into the distance, since life is not just our here and now, but something much greater. It is like a blank canvas that cries out for colour. For that is the way God made us: brimming with desire, directed, like the Magi, towards the stars. We can say that we are what we desire. For it is our desires that enlarge our gaze and drive our lives forward, beyond the barriers of habit, beyond banal consumerism, beyond a drab and dreary faith, beyond the fear of becoming involved and serving others and the common good.

As it was for the Magi, so it is for us. The journey of life and faith demands a deep desire and inner zeal. Sometimes we live in a spirit of a “parking lot”; we stay parked, without the impulse of desire that carries us forward. We do well to ask: where are we on our journey of faith? Have we been stuck all too long, nestled inside a conventional, external and formal religiosity that no longer warms our hearts and changes our lives? It is sad when a community of believers loses its desire and is content with “maintenance” rather than allowing itself to be startled by Jesus and by the explosive and unsettling joy of the Gospel. It is sad when a priest has closed the door of desire, sad to fall into clerical functionalism, very sad.

The crisis of faith in our lives and in our societies also has to do with the eclipse of desire for God. It is related to a kind of slumbering of the spirit, to the habit of being content to live from day to day, without ever asking what God really wants from us. We are sated with plenty of things, but fail to hunger for our absent desire for God. We are fixated on our own needs, on what we will eat and wear (cf. Mt 6:25), even as we let the longing for greater things evaporate. And we find ourselves living in communities that crave everything, have everything, yet all too often feel nothing but emptiness in their hearts. Indeed the lack of desire leads only to sadness and indifference, to sad communities, sad priests or bishops.

Let us look first to ourselves and ask: How is the journey of my faith going? Is it parked or is it on the move? Faith, if it is to grow, has to begin ever anew. It needs to be sparked by desire, to take up the challenge of entering into a living and lively relationship with God. Does my heart still burn with desire for God? Or have I allowed force of habit and my own disappointments to extinguish that flame? Today is the day we should return to nurturing our desire. How do we do this? Let us go to the Magi. Let us look at the steps they took, and draw some lessons from them.

The Magi teach us that we need to set out anew each day, in life as in faith, for faith is not a suit of armour that encases us; instead, it is a fascinating journey, a constant and restless movement, ever in search of God, always discerning our way forward.

In Jerusalem the Magi ask questions: they inquire where the Child is to be found. They teach us that we need to question. We need to listen carefully to the questions of our heart and our conscience, for it is there that God often speaks to us. He addresses us more with questions than with answers. We must learn this well.

The Magi then defy Herod. They teach us that we need a courageous faith, one that is unafraid to challenge the sinister logic of power, and become seeds of justice and fraternity in societies where in our day modern Herods continue to sow death and slaughter the poor and innocent, amid general indifference.

Finally, the Magi return “by another way” . They challenge us to take new paths. Here we see the creativity of the Spirit who always brings out new things. That is also one of the tasks of the Synod we are currently undertaking: to journey together and to listen to one another, so that the Spirit can suggest to us new ways and paths to bring the Gospel to the hearts of those who are distant, indifferent or without hope, yet continue to seek what the Magi found: “a great joy” (Mt 2:10). We must always move forwards.

At the end of the Magi’s journey came the climactic moment: once they arrived at their destination, “they fell down and worshiped the Child” (cf. v. 11). They worshiped. Let us we never forget this: the journey of faith finds renewed strength and fulfilment only when it is made in the presence of God. Only if we recover our “taste” for adoration will our desire be rekindled. Desire leads us to adoration and adoration renews our desire. For our desire for God can only grow when we place ourselves in his presence. For Jesus alone heals our desires. From what? From the tyranny of needs. Indeed, our hearts grow sickly whenever our desires coincide merely with our needs. God, on the other hand, elevates our desires; he purifies them and heals them of selfishness, opening them to love for him and for our brothers and sisters. This is why we should not neglect adoration, that prayer of silent adoration which is not so common among us.

In this way, like the Magi, we will have the daily certainty that even in the darkest nights a star continues to shine. It is the star of the Lord, who comes to care for our frail humanity. Let us set out on the path towards him. Let us not give apathy and resignation the power to drive us into a cheerless and banal existence. Let our restless hearts embrace the restlessness of the Spirit. The world expects from believers a new burst of enthusiasm for the things of heaven. Like the Magi, let us lift up our eyes, listen to the desire lodged in our hearts, and follow the star that God makes shine above us. As restless seekers, let us remain open to God’s surprises. Brothers and sisters, let us dream, let us seek and let us adore.

06.01.22 m e