Pope Francis Homilies

Pope Francis Message for World Food Day 2021

to the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), His Excellency Mr. Qu Dongyu

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

The annual celebration of World Food Day brings us face to face with one of humanity's greatest challenges: overcoming hunger once and for all is an ambitious goal. The UN Food Systems Summit in New York on 23 September highlighted the urgency of adopting innovative solutions able to transform the way we produce and consume food for the well-being of people and the planet.

FAO's proposed theme this year: “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”, underlines the need for concerted action to ensure that everyone has access to diets that ensure maximum environmental sustainability and are both adequate and affordable. Each of us has a role to play in transforming food systems for the benefit of people and the planet.

We are currently witnessing a real paradox in terms of access to food: on the one hand, more than 3 billion people do not have access to a nutritious diet, while on the other hand, almost 2 billion are overweight or obese due to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. We need to actively engage in change at all levels and reorganise food systems as a whole.

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Pope Francis General Audience 13.10.21

Christian freedom

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

In our itinerary of catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians, we have been able to focus on what was for Saint Paul the core of freedom: the fact that, with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been freed from the slavery of sin and of death. In other words, we are free because we have been freed, freed by grace – not by payment, freed by love, which becomes the supreme and new law of Christian life. Love: we are free because we were liberated freely. This, in fact, is the key point.

Today I would like to emphasise how this novelty of life opens us up to welcoming every people and culture, and at the same time opens every people and culture to a greater freedom.

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Pope Francis Angelus 10.10.21

From duty to giving

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

Today’s Liturgy offers us the encounter between Jesus and a man who “had great possessions” (Mk 10:22), and who went down in history as “the rich young man” (cf. Mt 19:20-22). We do not know his name. The Gospel of Mark actually speaks of him as “a man”, without mentioning his age or name, suggesting that we can all see ourselves in this man, as though in a mirror. His encounter with Jesus, in fact, allows us to test our faith. Reading this, I test myself on my faith.

The man begins with a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 17). Notice the verbs he uses: “must do” – “inherit”. Here is his religiosity: a duty, a doing so as to obtain; I do something to get what I need”. But this is a commercial relationship with God, a quid pro quo. Faith, on the other hand, is not a cold, mechanical ritual, a “must-do-obtain”. It is a question of freedom and love. Here is a first test: what is faith for me? If it is mainly a duty or a bargaining chip, we are off track, because salvation is a gift and not a duty, it is free and cannot be bought. The first thing to do is to free ourselves of a commercial and mechanical faith, which insinuates the false image of an accounting and controlling God, not a father. And very often in life we experience this “commercial” relationship of faith: I do this, so that God will give me that.

Jesus, in the second step, helps this man by offering him the true face of God. Indeed, the text says, “Jesus looking upon him loved him” (v. 21): this is God! This is where faith is born and reborn: not from a duty, not from something that is to be done or paid, but from a look of love to be welcomed. In this way Christian life becomes beautiful, if it is based not on our abilities and our plans; it is based on God’s gaze. Is your faith, is my faith tired? Do you want to reinvigorate it? Look for God's gaze: sit in adoration, allow yourself to be forgiven in Confession, stand before the Crucified One. In short, let yourself be loved by him. This is the starting point of faith: letting oneself be loved by him, by the Father.

After the question and the look there is – the third and final step – an invitation from Jesus, who says: “You lack one thing”. What was that rich man lacking? Giving, gratuitousness. “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor” (v. 21). It is perhaps what we are missing too. Often, we do the bare minimum, whereas Jesus invites us to do the maximum possible. How many times are we satisfied with doing our duties – the precepts, a few prayers, and many things like that – whereas God, who gives us life, asks us for the impetus of life! In today’s Gospel we see clearly this passage from duty to giving; Jesus begins by recalling the Commandments: “Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal….”, and so on (v. 19) and arrives at a positive proposal: “Go, sell, give, follow me!” (cf. v. 21). Faith cannot be limited to “do not”, because Christian life is a “yes” a “yes” of love.

A faith without giving, a faith without gratuitousness is an incomplete faith. We could compare it to rich and nourishing food that nonetheless lacks flavour, or a more or less well-played game, but without a goal: no, it isn’t good, it lacks “salt”. A faith without giving, without gratuitousness, without works of charity, makes us sad in the end: just like that man whose “face fell” and returned home “sorrowful”, even though he had been looked upon with love by Jesus in person. Today we can ask ourselves: “At what point is my faith? Do I experience it as something mechanical, like a relationship of duty or interest with God? Do I remember to nourish it by letting myself be looked at and loved by Jesus?” Letting oneself be looked at and loved by Jesus; letting Jesus look at us, love us. “And, attracted by him, do I respond freely, with generosity, with all my heart?”.

May the Virgin Mary, who said a total “yes” to God, a “yes” without “but” – it is not easy to say “yes” without “but”: Our Lady did just that, a “yes” without a “but” - let us savour the beauty of making life a gift.

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Pope Francis Holy Mass 10.10.21

Opening of the Synodal Path

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

A certain rich man came up to Jesus “as he was setting out on his journey” (Mk 10:17). The Gospels frequently show us Jesus “on a journey”; he walks alongside people and listens to the questions and concerns lurking in their hearts. He shows us that God is not found in neat and orderly places, distant from reality, but walks ever at our side. He meets us where we are, on the often rocky roads of life. Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves – all of us, Pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity – whether we, the Christian community, embody this “style” of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity. Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: “It’s useless” or “We’ve always done it this way”?

Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together. Let us look at Jesus. First, he encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life. Encounter, listen and discern. I would like to reflect on these three verbs that characterize the Synod.

The first is encounter. A man comes up to Jesus and kneels down before him, asking him a crucial question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Lord is not stand aloof. He is open to encounter. Nothing leaves Jesus indifferent; everything is of concern to him. . He knows that someone’s life can be changed by a single encounter. The Gospel is full of such encounters with Christ, encounters that uplift and bring healing. He was always at the service of the person he was with, listening to what he or she had to say.

As we initiate this process, we too are called to become experts in the art of encounter. Taking time to encounter the Lord and one another. Time to devote to prayer and to adoration, and to hearing what the Spirit wants to say to the Church. Time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers, to let ourselves be enriched by the variety of charisms, vocations and ministries. So often God points out new paths. He invites us to leave our old habits behind. Everything changes once we are capable of genuine encounters with him and with one another, without formalism or pretence, but simply as we are.

The second verb is listen. True encounter arises only from listening. Jesus listened to that man’s question and to the religious and existential concerns that lay behind it. He did not give a non-committal reply or offer a pre-packaged solution; he did not pretend to respond politely, simply as a way of dismissing him and continuing on his way. Most importantly, he is not afraid to listen to him with his heart and not just with his ears. Indeed, he does more than simply answer the rich man’s question; he lets him tell his story, to speak freely about himself. Christ reminds him of the commandments, and the man starts to talk about his youth, to share his religious journey and his efforts to seek God. This happens whenever we listen with the heart: people feel that they are being heard, not judged; they feel free to recount their own experiences and their spiritual journey.

Let us ask ourselves frankly during this synodal process: Are we good at listening? How good is the “hearing” of our heart? Do we allow people to express themselves, to walk in faith even though they have had difficulties in life, and to be part of the life of the community without being hindered, rejected or judged? Participating in a Synod means placing ourselves on the same path as the Word made flesh. It means following in his footsteps, listening to his word along with the words of others. It means discovering with amazement that the Holy Spirit always surprises us, to suggest fresh paths and new ways of speaking. It is a slow and perhaps tiring exercise, this learning to listen to one another – bishops, priests, religious and laity, all the baptized – and to avoid artificial and shallow and pre-packaged responses. The Spirit asks us to listen to the questions, concerns and hopes of every Church, people and nation. And to listen to the world, to the challenges and changes that it sets before us. Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties. So often our certainties can make us closed. Let us listen to one another.

Finally, discern. Encounter and listening are not ends in themselves, leaving everything just as it was before. In the end, we are no longer the same; we are changed. We see this in today’s Gospel. Jesus senses that the person before him is a good and religious man, obedient to the commandments, but he wants to lead him beyond the mere observance of precepts. Through dialogue, he helps him to discern. Jesus encourages that man to look within, in the light of the love that the Lord himself had shown by his gaze (cf. v. 21), and to discern in that light what his heart truly treasures. And in this way to discover that he cannot attain happiness by filling his life with more religious observances, but by emptying himself, selling whatever takes up space in his heart, in order to make room for God.

Here is a valuable lesson also for us. The Synod is a process of spiritual discernment, of ecclesial discernment, that unfolds in adoration, in prayer and in dialogue with the word of God. It guides the Synod, preventing it from becoming a Church convention, a study group or a political gathering, a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Spirit. In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us have a good journey together! May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.

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