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Saturday, May 9, 2015

0405: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter by Pope Francis



Entry 0405: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter 

by Pope Francis (Updated)



On four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, on 5 May 2013, 25 May 2014, 10 May 2015, and 1 May 2016. Here are the texts of four brief reflections prior to the recitation of the prayer Regina Caeli and two homilies delivered by the Holy Father on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 5 May 2013

At this moment of profound communion with Christ, we also feel among us the living presence of the Virgin Mary. It is a motherly presence, a familial presence, especially for you who are part of the confraternity. Love for Our Lady is one of the characteristics of popular devotion that must be respected and well directed. For this reason, I invite you to meditate on the last chapter of the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which speaks of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. There it says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (no. 58). Dear friends, in the Year of Faith I leave you this icon of Mary the pilgrim, who follows her Son Jesus and precedes us all in the journey of faith.

Today the Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar are celebrating Easter. I wish to send a special greeting to these brothers and sisters, uniting myself with all my heart to them in proclaiming the joyful news: Christ is Risen! Gathered in prayer around Mary, let us invoke from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, that he may console and comfort all Christians, especially those celebrating Easter amid trial and suffering, and guide them on the path of reconciliation and peace.

Yesterday in Brazil Francisca de Paula de Jesus, called “Nhá Chica,” was proclaimed Blessed. Her simple life was totally dedicated to God and to charity, so much so that she was called “mother of the poor.” I join in the joy of the Church in Brazil for this luminous disciple of the Lord.

I greet with affection all the confraternities present, having come from many Countries. Thank you for your witness to the faith! I greet too the parish groups and the families, as well as the great parade of musical bands and associations of the Schützen from Germany.

A special greeting goes today to the “Meter” Association on the National Day for Child Victims of Violence. And this offers me the occasion to turn my thoughts to those who have suffered and are suffering from abuse. I would like to assure them that they are present in my prayers, but I would like to strongly declare that we must all commit ourselves with clarity and courage so that every human person, especially children, who are among the most vulnerable, be always defended and protected.

I also encourage those suffering from pulmonary hypertension and their families.


HOLY MASS ON THE OCCASION OF THE DAY OF CONFRATERNITIES
AND OF POPULAR PIETY

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 5 May 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is brave of you to come here in this rain. May the Lord bless you abundantly!

As part of the journey of the Year of Faith, I am happy to celebrate this Eucharist dedicated in a special way to confraternities: a traditional reality in the Church, which in recent times has experienced renewal and rediscovery. I greet all of you with affection, particularly the confraternities which have come here from all over the world! Thank you for your presence and your witness!

1. In the Gospel we heard a passage from the farewell discourses of Jesus, as related by the evangelist John in the context of the Last Supper. Jesus entrusts his last thoughts, as a spiritual testament, to the apostles before he leaves them. Today’s text makes it clear that Christian faith is completely centered on the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whoever loves the Lord Jesus welcomes him and his Father interiorly, and thanks to the Holy Spirit receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life. Here we are shown the centre from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by living the Gospel. When Benedict XVI spoke to you, he used this expression: evangelical spirit. Dear confraternities, the popular piety of which you are an important sign is a treasure possessed by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined, significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is “a place of encounter with Jesus Christ.” Draw always from Christ, the inexhaustible wellspring; strengthen your faith by attending to your spiritual formation, to personal and communitarian prayer, and to the liturgy. Down the centuries confraternities have been crucibles of holiness for countless people who have lived in utter simplicity an intense relationship with the Lord. Advance with determination along the path of holiness; do not rest content with a mediocre Christian life, but let your affiliation serve as a stimulus, above all for you yourselves, to an ever greater love of Jesus Christ.

2. The passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we heard also speaks to us about what is essential. In the early Church there was immediately a need to discern what was essential about being a Christian, about following Christ, and what was not. The apostles and the other elders held an important meeting in Jerusalem, a first “council,” on this theme, to discuss the problems which arose after the Gospel had been preached to the pagans, to non-Jews. It was a providential opportunity for better understanding what is essential, namely, belief in Jesus Christ who died and rose for our sins, and loving him as he loved us. But note how the difficulties were overcome: not from without, but from within the Church. And this brings up a second element which I want to remind you of, as Benedict XVI did, namely: ecclesial spirit. Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors. Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you! Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones. The Latin American Bishops wrote that the popular piety which you reflect is “a legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church” (Aparecida Document, no. 264). This is wonderful! A legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church. Love the Church! Let yourselves be guided by her! In your parishes, in your dioceses, be a true “lung” of faith and Christian life, a breath of fresh air! In this Square I see a great variety: earlier on it was a variety of umbrellas, and now of colors and signs. This is also the case with the Church: a great wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads back to unity; the variety leads back to unity, and unity is the encounter with Christ.

3. I would like to add a third expression which must distinguish you: missionary spirit. You have a specific and important mission, that of keeping alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom you belong. You do this through popular piety. When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing to the centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us. Likewise, when you express profound devotion for the Virgin Mary, you are pointing to the highest realization of the Christian life, the one who by her faith and obedience to God’s will, and by her meditation on the words and deeds of Jesus, is the Lord’s perfect disciple (see Lumen Gentium, no. 53). You express this faith, born of hearing the word of God, in ways that engage the senses, the emotions and the symbols of the different cultures. In doing so you help to transmit it to others, and especially the simple persons whom, in the Gospels, Jesus calls “the little ones.” In effect, “journeying together towards shrines, and participating in other demonstrations of popular piety, bringing along your children and engaging other people, is itself a work of evangelization” (Aparecida Document, no. 264). When you visit shrines, when you bring your family, your children, you are engaged in a real work of evangelization. This needs to continue. May you also be true evangelizers! May your initiatives be “bridges,” means of bringing others to Christ, so as to journey together with him. And in this spirit may you always be attentive to charity. Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly.

Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Three themes! Do not forget them! Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Let us ask the Lord always to direct our minds and hearts to him, as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to his mercy and love. In this way we will make our way towards the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, towards that extremely beautiful shrine, the heavenly Jerusalem. There, there is no longer any temple: God himself and the lamb are its temple; and the light of the sun and the moon give way to the glory of the Most High. Amen.


PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE MEETING BETWEEN POPE PAUL VI AND PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS IN JERUSALEM

POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CAELI

Bethlehem, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 25 May 2014

In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace. I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.

All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. All of us—especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples—have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers.

Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we prepare to conclude our celebration, our thoughts turn to Mary Most Holy, who here, in Bethlehem, gave birth to Jesus her Son. Our Lady is the one who, more than any other person, contemplated God in the human face of Jesus. Assisted by Saint Joseph, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

To Mary we entrust this land and all who dwell here, that they may live in justice, peace and fraternity. We entrust also the pilgrims who come here to draw from the sources of the Christian faith—so many of them are also present at this Holy Mass.

Mary, watch over our families, our young people and our elderly. Watch over those who have lost faith and hope. Comfort the sick, the imprisoned and all who suffer. Watch over the Church’s Pastors and the entire community of believers; may they may be “salt and light” in this blessed land. Sustain all educational initiatives, particularly Bethlehem University.

Contemplating the Holy Family here in Bethlehem, my thoughts turn spontaneously to Nazareth, which I hope to visit, God willing, on another occasion. From this place I embrace with affection the Christian faithful living in Galilee and I express my support for the building of the International Centre for the Family in Nazareth.

We entrust the future of our human family to Mary Most Holy, that new horizons may open in our world, with the promise of fraternity, solidarity and peace.


PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE MEETING BETWEEN POPE PAUL VI AND PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS IN JERUSALEM

HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Manger Square in Bethlehem, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 25 May 2014

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12).

What a great grace it is to celebrate the Eucharist in the place where Jesus was born! I thank God and I thank all of you who have welcomed me on my pilgrimage: President Mahmoud Abbas and the other civil authorities; Patriarch Fouad Twal and the other bishops and ordinaries of the Holy Land, the priests, the good Franciscans, the consecrated persons and all those who labor to keep faith, hope and love alive in these lands; the faithful who have come from Gaza and Galilee, and the immigrants from Asia and Africa. Thank you for your welcome!

The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the sign given by God to those who awaited salvation, and he remains forever the sign of God’s tenderness and presence in our world. The angel announces to the shepherds: “This will be a sign for you: you will find a child.”

Today too, children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world. Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human. Here we can think of the work carried out by the Ephpheta Paul VI institute for hearing and speech impaired Palestinian children: it is a very real sign of God’s goodness. It is a clear sign that society is healthier.

To us, the men and women of the twenty-first century, God today also says: “This will be a sign for you,” look to the child.

The Child of Bethlehem is frail, like all newborn children. He cannot speak and yet he is the Word made flesh who came to transform the hearts and lives of all men and women. This Child, like every other child, is vulnerable; he needs to be accepted and protected. Today too, children need to be welcomed and defended, from the moment of their conception.

Sadly, in this world, with all its highly developed technology, great numbers of children continue to live in inhuman situations, on the fringes of society, in the peripheries of great cities and in the countryside. All too many children continue to be exploited, maltreated, enslaved, prey to violence and illicit trafficking. Still too many children live in exile, as refugees, at times lost at sea, particularly in the waters of the Mediterranean. Today, in acknowledging this, we feel shame before God, before God who became a child.

And we have to ask ourselves: Who are we, as we stand before the Child Jesus? Who are we, standing as we stand before today’s children? Are we like Mary and Joseph, who welcomed Jesus and care for him with the love of a father and a mother? Or are we like Herod, who wanted to eliminate him? Are we like the shepherds, who went in haste to kneel before him in worship and offer him their humble gifts? Or are we indifferent? Are we perhaps people who use fine and pious words, yet exploit pictures of poor children in order to make money? Are we ready to be there for children, to “waste time” with them? Are we ready to listen to them, to care for them, to pray for them and with them? Or do we ignore them because we are too caught up in our own affairs?

“This will be a sign for us: you will find a child.” Perhaps that little boy or girl is crying. He is crying because he is hungry, because she is cold, because he or she wants to be picked up and held in our arms. Today too, children are crying, they are crying a lot, and their crying challenges us. In a world which daily discards tons of food and medicine there are children, hungry and suffering from easily curable diseases, who cry out in vain. In an age which insists on the protection of minors, there is a flourishing trade in weapons which end up in the hands of child-soldiers, there is a ready market for goods produced by the slave labor of small children. Their cry is stifled: the cry of these children is stifled! They must fight, they must work, they cannot cry! But their mothers cry for them, as modern-day Rachels: they weep for their children, and they refuse to be consoled (see Mt 2:18).

“This will be a sign for you:” you will find a child. The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, every child who is born and grows up in every part of our world, is a diagnostic sign indicating the state of health of our families, our communities, our nation. Such a frank and honest diagnosis can lead us to a new kind of lifestyle where our relationships are no longer marked by conflict, oppression and consumerism, but fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation, solidarity and love.

Mary, Mother of Jesus,
you who accepted, teach us how to accept;
you who adored, teach us how to adore;
you who followed, teach us how to follow.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 10 May 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel—John Chapter 15—brings us back to the Last Supper, when we hear Jesus’ new commandment. He says: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (v. 12). Thinking of his imminent sacrifice on the cross, He adds: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you” (v. 13-14). These words, said at the Last Supper, summarize Jesus’ full message. Actually they summarize all that He did: Jesus gave His life for His friends. Friends who did not understand Him, in fact they abandoned, betrayed and denied Him at the crucial moment. This tells us that He loves us, even though we don’t deserve His love. Jesus loves us in this way!

Thus Jesus shows us the path to follow Him: the path of love. His commandment is not a simple teaching which is always abstract or foreign to life. Christ’s commandment is new because He realized it first, He gave His flesh and thus the law of love is written upon the heart of man (see Jer 31:33). And how is it written? It is written with the fire of the Holy Spirit. With this Spirit that Jesus gives us, we too can take this path!

It is a real path, a path that leads us to come out of ourselves and go towards others. Jesus showed us that the love of God is realized in love for our neighbour. Both go hand-in-hand. The pages of the Gospel are full of this love: adults and children, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, just and sinners all were welcomed into the heart of Christ.

Therefore, this Word of God calls us to love one another, even if we do not always understand each other, and do not always get along: it is then that Christian love is seen. A love which manifests even if there are differences of opinion or character. Love is greater than these differences! This is the love that Jesus taught us. It is a new love because Jesus and his Spirit renewed it. It is a redeeming love, free from selfishness. A love which gives our hearts joy, as Jesus himself said: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15:11).

It is precisely Christ’s love that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts to make everyday wonders in the Church and in the world. There are many small and great actions which obey the Lord’s commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (see Jn 15:12). Small everyday actions, actions of closeness to an elderly person, to a child, to a sick person, to a lonely person, those in difficulty, without a home, without work, an immigrant, a refugee. Thanks to the strength of the Word of Christ, each one of us can make ourselves the brother or sister of those whom we encounter. Actions of closeness, actions which manifest the love that Christ taught us.

May our Most Holy Mother help us in this, so that in each of our daily lives love of God and love of neighbour may be ever united.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 May 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel takes us back to the Upper Room. During the Last Supper, before confronting his passion and death on the cross, Jesus promises the Apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will have the task of teaching and recalling [Jesus’] words to the community of disciples. Jesus says: “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Teach and recall. This is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts.

At the moment in which he is about to return to the Father, Jesus foretells of the coming of the Spirit who will first teach the disciples to understand the Gospel ever more fully, in order to welcome it in their existence and to render it living and operative by their witness. While he is about to entrust to the Apostles—which in fact means “envoys”—the mission of taking the Gospel to all the world, Jesus promises that they will not be alone. The Holy Spirit, the Counselor, will be with them, and will be beside them, moreover, will be within them, to protect and support them. Jesus returns to the Father but continues to accompany and teach his disciples through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The second aspect of the Holy Spirit’s mission consists in helping the Apostles to remember Jesus’ words. The Spirit has the task of reawakening the memory, recalling Jesus’ words. The divine Teacher has already communicated all that he intended to entrust to the Apostles: with Him, the Word made flesh, the revelation is complete. The Spirit will recall Jesus’ teachings in the various concrete circumstances of life, so that they may be put into practice. That is precisely what still happens today in the Church, guided by the light and the power of the Holy Spirit, so that he may bring to everyone the gift of salvation, which is the love and mercy of God. For example, each day when you read—as I have advised you—a passage, a passage of the Gospel, ask the Holy Spirit: “Let me understand and remember these words of Jesus.” Then read the passage, every day. But first the prayer to the Spirit, who is in our heart: “Let me remember and understand.”

We are not alone: Jesus is close to us, among us, within us! His new presence in history happens through the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom it is possible to instill a living relationship with Him, the Crucified and Risen One. The Spirit, flowing within us through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, acts in our life. He guides us in the way to think, to act, to distinguish between what is good and what is bad; he helps us to practice the charity of Jesus, his giving of himself to others, especially to the most needy. We are not alone! The sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is also the peace that Jesus gives to his disciples: “My peace I give to you” (v. 27). It is different from what mankind hopes for or tries to achieve. The peace of Jesus flows from victory over sin, over selfishness which impedes us from loving one another as brothers and sisters. It is a gift of God and a sign of his presence. Each disciple called today to follow Jesus carrying the cross, receives within himself or herself the peace of the Crucified and Risen One in the certainty of his victory and in expectation of his definitive coming.

May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome with docility the Holy Spirit as interior Teacher and as the living Memory of Christ on the daily journey



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For reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter 

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


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