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Monday, June 15, 2015

0411: Reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis

Entry 0411: Reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

by Pope Francis (Updated 20 June 2017)

Othree occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 23 June 2013, 21 June 2015, and 19 June 2016. Here are the texts of three brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 23 June 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel resound some of Jesus’ most incisive words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it” (Lk 9:24).

This is a synthesis of Christ’s message, and it is expressed very effectively in a paradox, which shows us his way of speaking, almost lets us hear his voice. But what does it mean “to lose one’s life for the sake of Jesus”? This can happen in two ways: explicitly by confessing the faith, or implicitly by defending the truth. Martyrs are the greatest example of losing one’s life for Christ. In 2,000 years, a vast host of men and women have sacrificed their lives to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world, there are many, many—more than in the first centuries—so many martyrs, who give up their lives for Christ, who are brought to death because they do not deny Jesus Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the first centuries! However, there is also daily martyrdom, which may not entail death but is still a “loss of life” for Christ, by doing one’s duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of gift, of sacrifice. Let us think: how many dads and moms every day put their faith into practice by offering up their own lives in a concrete way for the good of the family! Think about this! How many priests, brothers and sisters carry out their service generously for the Kingdom of God! How many young people renounce their own interests in order to dedicate themselves to children, the disabled, the elderly. They are martyrs too! Daily martyrs, martyrs of everyday life!

And then there are many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who “lose their lives” for truth. And Christ said “I am the truth,” therefore whoever serves the truth serves Christ. One of those who gave his life for the truth is John the Baptist: tomorrow, 24 June, is his great feast, the Solemnity of his birth. John was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus, and he revealed him to the people of Israel as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (see Jn 1:29). John consecrated himself entirely to God and to his envoy, Jesus. But, in the end, what happened? He died for the sake of the truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth! Upright people who are not afraid to go against the current! How many just men prefer to go against the current, so as not to deny the voice of conscience, the voice of truth! And we, we must not be afraid! Among you are many young people. To you young people I say: Do not be afraid to go against the current, when they want to rob us of hope, when they propose rotten values, values like food gone bad—and when food has gone bad, it harms us; these values harm us. We must go against the current! And you young people, are the first: Go against the tide and have the daring to move precisely against the current. Forward, be brave and go against the tide! And be proud of doing so.

Dear friends, let us welcome Jesus’s words with joy. They are a rule of life proposed to everyone. And may Saint John the Baptist help us put that rule into practice. On this path, as always, our Mother, Mary Most Holy, precedes us: she lost her life for Jesus, at the Cross, and received it in fullness, with all the light and the beauty of the Resurrection. May Mary help us to make ever more our own the logic of the Gospel.



Piazza Vittorio, Sunday, 21 June 2015

At the end of this celebration, our thoughts go to the Virgin Mary, a loving, caring mother towards all her children, whom Jesus entrusted to her as he offered Himself on the Cross in the greatest act of love. An icon of this love is the Shroud, which has again drawn so many people to Turin. The Shroud attracts people to the face and tortured body of Jesus and, at the same time, urges us on toward every person who is suffering and unjustly persecuted. It urges us on in the same direction as Jesus’ gift of love. “The love us Christ urges us on:” these words of Saint Paul were the motto of Joseph Benedict Cottolengo.

Recalling the apostolic fervor of so many holy priests of this region, starting with Don Bosco, the bicentennial of whose birth we commemorate, with gratitude I greet you, priests and religious. You dedicate yourselves with commitment to pastoral work, and you are close to the people and their problems. I encourage you to carry forward your ministry with joy, always focusing on what is essential to the proclamation of the Gospel. And as I thank you for your presence, Brother Bishops of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, I urge you to stay close to your priests with paternal affection and warm closeness.

To the Holy Virgin, I entrust this city and the surrounding area and those who live therein, that they may be enabled to live in justice, peace and fraternity. In particular, I entrust to her the families, young people, elderly, inmates and all those who suffer, with a special thought for leukemia patients on today’s National Day Against Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma. May Mary the Consolatrix, Queen of Turin and Piedmont, make firm your faith, make sure your hope, and make fruitful your charity, that you may be the “salt and light” of this blessed land, of which I am a grandson.



Piazza Vittorio, Sunday, 21 June 2015

In the Opening Prayer, we prayed: “Give your people, Father, the gift of living always in veneration and love for your Holy Name, so that Your grace may not be deprived from those whom you have established on the rock of your love.” The readings that we have heard show us how God’s love for us is: it is a faithful love, a love that re-creates everything, a stable and secure love.

The Psalm invites us to give thanks to the Lord for “his love is everlasting.” Thus, a faithful love, fidelity: it is a love that does not disappoint, it never fails. Jesus embodies this love, He is the Witness. He never tires of loving us, of supporting us, of forgiving us, and thus He accompanies us on the path of life, according to the promise He made to the disciples: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). Out of love He became man, out of love He died and rose again, and out of love He is always at our side, in the beautiful moments and in the difficult ones. Jesus loves us always, until the end, without limits and without measure. And He loves us all, to the point that each one of us can say: “He gave his life for me.” For me! Jesus’ faithfulness does not fail, even in front of our infidelity. Saint Paul reminds us of this: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13).

Jesus remains faithful, even when we have done wrong, and He waits to forgive us: He is the face of the Merciful Father. This is a faithful love.

The second aspect: the love of God re-creates everything, that is He makes all things new, as we are reminded in the Second Reading. To recognize our limits, our weaknesses, is the door that opens the forgiveness of Jesus, to his love that can deeply renew us, that can re-create us. Salvation can enter in the heart when we open ourselves to the truth and recognize our mistakes, our sins; now let us make an experience, that beautiful experience of He who has come not for the healthy, but for the sick, not for the just ones, but the sinners (see Mt 9:12-13); let us experience his patience, his tenderness, his will to save all. And what is the sign? The sign that we have become “new” and that we have been transformed by the love of God is to strip off the worn out and old clothes of grudges and enmities to wear the clean robes of meekness, goodness, service to others, of peace in the heart, of children of God. The spirit of the world is always looking for something new, but it is only the faithfulness of Jesus that is capable of true innovation, of making us new men, of re-creating us.

Finally, the love of God is stable and secure, as the rocky shores that provide shelter from the violence of the waves. Jesus manifests this in the miracle recounted in the Gospel, when He calms the storm, commanding the wind and the sea (see Mk 4:41). The disciples are afraid because they realize that they will not make it, but He opens their hearts to the courage of faith. In front of the man who shouts: “I can’t do it anymore,” the Lord meets him, offers the rock of his love, to which everyone can cling, assured of not falling. How many times we feel that we can’t do it anymore! But He is near us, with his outstretched hand and open heart.

Dear brothers and sisters of Turin and Piedmont, our ancestors knew well what it means to be a “rock,” what “solidarity” means.

Our famous poet gives a beautiful witness: “Straight and true, they are as they appear: square of head, steady of hand and healthy of liver, they speak little but know of what they speak, although they walk slowly, they go far. People who spare not time nor sweat—Our free and headstrong local race—The whole world knows who they are and, when they pass, the whole world watches them.”

We may ask ourselves if today we are firm on this rock that is the love of God. How do we live God’s faithful love toward us. There is always the risk of forgetting that great love that the Lord has shown us. Even we Christians run the risk of letting ourselves be paralyzed by fears of the future and looking for security in things that pass, or in a model of a closed society that tends to exclude more than include. Many Saints and Blesseds who grew up in this land received the love of God and spread it around the world, free and headstrong Saints. In the footsteps of these witnesses, we too can also live the joy of the Gospel by practicing mercy; we can share the difficulties of so many people, of families, especially those who are weakest and marked by the economic crisis. Families are in need of feeling the Church’s motherly caress to go forward in married life, in the upbringing of children, in the care of the elderly and also in the transmission of the faith to the younger generations.

Do we believe that the Lord is faithful? How do we live the newness of God that transforms us everyday? How do we live the steady love of the Lord, that is placed as a secure barrier against the wakes of pride and false innovation? May the Holy Spirit help us to always be aware of this “rocky” love that makes us stable and strong in the small and great sufferings, may we not close ourselves in front of difficulties, to confront life with courage and look to the future with hope. As in the Sea of Galilee, also today in the sea of our existence, Jesus overcomes the forces of evil and the threats of desperation. The peace that He gives us is for all; also for so many brothers and sisters who flee from war and persecution in search of peace and freedom.

My dear ones, yesterday you celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Consolation, la Consolà, “who is there: low and solid, without pomp: like a good Mother.”

Let us entrust to our Mother the civil and ecclesial path of this earth: May She help us to follow the Lord so that we may be faithful, so as to be renewed and remain firm in love. So be it.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 June 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel passage this Sunday (Lk 9:18-24) calls us to once again confront Jesus “face to face,” so to speak. In one of the rare quiet moments when he is alone with his disciples, he asks them: “Who do the people say that I am?” (v. 18). They responded to him, saying: “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; others say one of the ancient prophets who has risen” (v. 19). Therefore, people esteemed Jesus and considered him to be a great prophet, but they were not yet aware of his true identity, that is, that He was the Messiah, the Son of God sent by the Father for the salvation of everyone.

Then Jesus directly addresses the Apostles—because this is what most interests him—asking: “But who do you say that I am?” Immediately, on behalf of everyone, Peter responds, “The Christ of God” (v. 20), that is to say: You are the Messiah, the Anointed of God, sent by Him to save his people according to the Covenant and the promise. Therefore Jesus realizes that the Twelve, and Peter in particular, have received the gift of faith from the Father; and for this reason he begins to speak with them openly—this is how the Gospel puts it: “openly”—of what awaits him in Jerusalem. “The Son of Man must suffer many things,” he says, “and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and rise on the third day” (see v. 22).

These same questions are proposed to each of us today: “Who is Jesus for the people of our time?” and more importantly: “Who is Jesus for each of us?” for me, for you, for you, for you, and for you? Who is Jesus for each one of us? We are called to make Peter’s answer our own response, joyfully professing that Jesus is the Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, who became man to redeem mankind, pouring out the abundance of divine mercy upon it. The world needs Christ more than ever: his salvation, his merciful love. Many people feel an empty void around and within themselves—perhaps, at certain times, we do too—others live in restlessness and insecurity due to uncertainty and conflict. We all need adequate answers to our questions, to our concrete questions. Only in Him, in Christ, is it possible to find true peace and the fulfillment of every human aspiration. Jesus knows the human heart better than anyone. This is why he can heal, giving life and consolation.

After concluding the dialogue with the Apostles, Jesus addressed everyone, saying: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (v. 23). This is not an ornamental cross or an ideological cross, but it is the cross of life, the cross of one’s duty, the cross of making sacrifices for others with love—for parents, for children, for the family, for friends, and even for enemies—the cross of being ready to be in solidarity with the poor, to strive for justice and peace. In assuming this attitude, these crosses, we always lose something. We must never forget that “whoever loses his life [for Christ] will save it” (v. 24). It is losing in order to win. Let us remember all of our brothers and sisters who still put these words of Jesus into practice today, offering their time, their work, their efforts and even their lives so as to never deny their faith in Christ. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, gives us the strength to move forward along the path of faith and of witness: doing exactly what we believe; not saying one thing and doing another. On this path Our Lady is always near to us: let us allow her to hold our hand when we are going through the darkest and most difficult moments

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For reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time  

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

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