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Monday, January 15, 2018

0573: Reflections on the Third Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0573: Reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time    
 by Pope Francis 


On four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 26 January 2014, 25 January 2015, 24 January 2016, and 22 January 2017. Here are the texts of the four reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus that the Pope delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 26 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel recounts the beginnings of the public life of Jesus in the cities and villages of Galilee. His mission does not begin in Jerusalem, the religious center and also the social and political center, but in an area on the outskirts, an area looked down upon by the most observant Jews because of the presence in that region of various foreign peoples; that is why the Prophet Isaiah calls it “Galilee of the nations” (Is 9:1).

It is a borderland, a place of transit where people of different races, cultures, and religions converge. Thus Galilee becomes a symbolic place for the Gospel to open to all nations. From this point of view, Galilee is like the world of today: the co-presence of different cultures, the necessity for comparison and the necessity of encounter. We too are immersed every day in a kind of “Galilee of the nations,” and in this type of context we may feel afraid and give in to the temptation to build fences to make us feel safer, more protected. But Jesus teaches us that the Good News, which he brings, is not reserved to one part of humanity, it is to be communicated to everyone. It is a proclamation of joy destined for those who are waiting for it, but also for all those who perhaps are no longer waiting for anything and haven’t even the strength to seek and to ask.

Starting from Galilee, Jesus teaches us that no one is excluded from the salvation of God, rather it is from the margins that God prefers to begin, from the least, so as to reach everyone. He teaches us a method, his method, which also expresses the content, which is the Father’s mercy. “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” (Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 20).

Jesus begins his mission not only from a decentralized place, but also among men whom one would call, refer to, as having a “low profile.” When choosing his first disciples and future apostles, he does not turn to the schools of scribes and doctors of the Law, but to humble people and simple people, who diligently prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus goes to call them where they work, on the lakeshore: they are fishermen. He calls them, and they follow him, immediately. They leave their nets and go with him: their life will become an extraordinary and fascinating adventure.

Dear friends, the Lord is calling today too! The Lord passes through the paths of our daily life. Even today at this moment, here, the Lord is passing through the square. He is calling us to go with him, to work with him for the Kingdom of God, in the “Galilee” of our times. May each one of you think: the Lord is passing by today, the Lord is watching me, he is looking at me! What is the Lord saying to me? And if one of you feels that the Lord says to you “follow me” be brave, go with the Lord. The Lord never disappoints. Feel in your heart if the Lord is calling you to follow him. Let’s let his gaze rest on us, hear his voice, and follow him! “That the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world” (ibid., no. 288).


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 25 January 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

The Gospel today presents to us the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry in Galilee. Saint Mark stresses that Jesus began to preach “after John [the Baptist] was arrested” (1:14). Precisely at the moment in which the prophetic voice of the Baptist, who proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, was silenced by Herod, Jesus begins to travel the roads of his land to bring to all, especially the poor, “the gospel of God” (see ibid.). The proclamation of Jesus is like that of John, with the essential difference that Jesus no longer points to another who must come: Jesus is Himself the fulfilment of those promises; He Himself is the “good news” to believe in, to receive and to communicate to all men and women of every time that they too may entrust their life to Him. Jesus Christ in his person is the Word living and working in history: whoever hears and follows Him may enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is the fulfilment of divine promises for He is the One who gives to man the Holy Spirit, the “living water” that quenches our restless heart, thirsting for life, love, freedom and peace: thirsting for God. How often do we feel, or have we felt that thirst in our hearts! He Himself revealed it to the Samaritan woman, whom he met at Jacob’s well to whom he says: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4:7). These very words of Christ, addressed to the Samaritan, have constituted the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which is concluding today. This evening, with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome and with the Representatives of different Churches and ecclesial communities, we will gather together in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls to pray intensely that the Lord may strengthen our commitment to bring about the full unity of all Christians. That Christians remain divided is a very bad thing! Jesus wants us to be united: one body. Our sins, history, have divided us and that is why we must pray that the same Holy Spirit unite us anew.

God, in becoming man, made our thirst his own, a thirst not only for water itself, but especially for a full life, a life free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time by his Incarnation God placed his own thirst—because God too thirsts—in the heart of a man: Jesus of Nazareth. God thirsts for us, for our hearts, for our love, and placed this thirst in the heart of Jesus. Therefore, human and divine thirst meet in Christ’s heart. And His disciples’ desire for unity is part of this thirst. We find it expressed in the prayer raised to the Father before the Passion: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). That is what Jesus wanted: the unity of all! The devil—we know—is the father of division, the one who always divides, always makes war, does so much evil.

May Jesus’ thirst become ever more our own thirst! Let us continue, therefore to pray and commit ourselves to the full unity of the disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us by the power of his Spirit so that we may bring this goal closer. And let us entrust this our prayer to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, that she may unite us all like a good mother.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In today’s Gospel, before presenting Jesus’ programmatic speech in Nazareth, Luke the Evangelist briefly recounts the work of evangelization. It is an activity that Jesus carries out with the power of the Holy Spirit: his Word is original because it reveals the meaning of the Scriptures; it is an authoritative Word because he commands even impure spirits with authority, and they obey him (see Mk 1:27). Jesus is different from the teachers of his time. For example, he doesn’t open a law school but rather goes around preaching and teaching everywhere: in the synagogues, on the streets, in houses, always moving about! Jesus is also different from John the Baptist, who proclaims God’s imminent judgment. Instead Jesus announces God’s fatherly forgiveness.

Now let us imagine that we too enter the synagogue of Nazareth, the village where Jesus has grown up, until he is about 30 years old. What happens is an important event, which delineates Jesus’ mission. He stands up to read the Sacred Scripture. He opens the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah and takes up the passage where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). Then, after a moment of silence filled with expectation on the part of everyone, he says, in the midst of their general amazement: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21).

Evangelizing the poor: this is Jesus’ mission. According to what he says, this is also the mission of the Church, and of every person baptized in the Church. Being a Christian is the same thing as being a missionary. Proclaiming the Gospel with one’s word, and even before, with one’s life, is the primary aim of the Christian community and of each of its members. It is noted here that Jesus addresses the Good News to all, excluding no one, indeed favoring those who are distant, suffering sick, cast out by society.

Let us ask ourselves: what does it mean to evangelize the poor? It means first of all drawing close to them, it means having the joy of serving them, of freeing them from their oppression, and all of this in the name of and with the Spirit of Christ, because he is the Gospel of God, he is the Mercy of God, he is the liberation of God, he is the One who became poor so as to enrich us with his poverty. The text of Isaiah, reinforced with little adaptations introduced by Jesus, indicates that the messianic announcement of the Kingdom of God come among us is addressed in a preferential way to the marginalized, to captives, to the oppressed.

In Jesus’ time these people probably were not at the center of the community of faith. Let us ask ourselves: today, in our parish communities, in our associations, in our movements, are we faithful to Christ’s plan? Is the priority evangelizing the poor, bringing them the joyful Good News? Pay heed: it does not only involve doing social assistance, much less political activity. It involves offering the strength of the Gospel of God, who converts hearts, heals wounds, transforms human and social relationships according to the logic of love. The poor are indeed at the center of the Gospel.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of evangelizers, help us to strongly perceive the hunger and thirst for the Gospel that there is in the world, especially in the hearts and the flesh of the poor. May she enable each of us and every Christian community to tangibly bear witness to the mercy, the great mercy that Christ has given us.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 22 January 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage (see Mt 4:12-23) recounts the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in Galilee. He leaves Nazareth, a village in the mountains, and settles in Capernaum, an important center on the lakeshore, inhabited largely by pagans, a crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Mesopotamian inland. This choice indicates that the beneficiaries of his preaching are not only his compatriots, but those who arrive in the cosmopolitan “Galilee of the Gentiles” (v. 15, see Is 9:1): that’s what it was called. Seen from the capital Jerusalem, that land is geographically peripheral and religiously impure because it was full of pagans, having mixed with those who did not belong to Israel. Great things were not expected from Galilee for the history of salvation. Instead, right from there—precisely from there—radiated that “light” on which we meditated in recent Sundays: the light of Christ. It radiated right from the periphery.

Jesus’ message reiterates that of the Baptist, announcing the “kingdom of heaven” (v. 17). This kingdom does not involve the establishment of a new political power, but the fulfillment of the Covenant between God and his people, which inaugurates a season of peace and justice. To secure this covenant pact with God, each one is called to convert, transforming his or her way of thinking and living. This is important: converting is not only changing the way of life but also the way of thinking. It is a transformation of thought. It is not a matter of changing clothing, but habits! What differentiates Jesus from John the Baptist is the way and manner. Jesus chooses to be an itinerant prophet. He doesn’t stay and await people, but goes to encounter them. Jesus is always on the road! His first missionary appearances take place along the lake of Galilee, in contact with the multitude, in particular with the fishermen. There Jesus does not only proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, but seeks companions to join in his salvific mission. In this very place he meets two pairs of brothers: Simon and Andrew, James and John. He calls them, saying: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (v. 19). The call reaches them in the middle of their daily activity: the Lord reveals himself to us not in an extraordinary or impressive way, but in the everyday circumstances of our life. There we must discover the Lord; and there he reveals himself, makes his love felt in our heart; and there—with this dialogue with him in the everyday circumstances of life—he changes our heart. The response of the four fishermen is immediate and willing: “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (v. 20). We know, in fact, that they were disciples of the Baptist and that, thanks to his witness, they had already begun to believe in Jesus as the Messiah (see Jn 1:35-42).

We, today’s Christians, have the joy of proclaiming and witnessing to our faith because there was that first announcement, because there were those humble and courageous men who responded generously to Jesus’ call. On the shores of the lake, in an inconceivable land, the first community of disciples of Christ was born. May the knowledge of these beginnings give rise in us to the desire to bear Jesus’ word, love and tenderness in every context, even the most difficult and resistant. To carry the Word to all the peripheries! All the spaces of human living are soil on which to cast the seeds of the Gospel, so they may bear the fruit of salvation.

May the Virgin Mary help us with her maternal intercession to respond joyfully to Jesus’ call, and to place ourselves at the service of the Kingdom of God

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time 

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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