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Monday, September 5, 2016

0485: Reflections on the 24th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0485: Reflections on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 



On three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 15 September 2013, 14 September 2014, and 13 September 2015. Here are the texts of three brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 15 September 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the Liturgy today we read chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, which contains three parables of mercy: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and then the longest of them, characteristic of St Luke, the parable of the father of two sons, the “prodigal” son and the son who believes he is “righteous,” who believes he is saintly. All three of these parables speak of the joy of God. God is joyful. This is interesting: God is joyful! And what is the joy of God? The joy of God is forgiving, the joy of God is forgiving! The joy of a shepherd who finds his little lamb; the joy of a woman who finds her coin; it is the joy of a father welcoming home the son who was lost, who was as though dead and has come back to life, who has come home. Here is the entire Gospel! Here! The whole Gospel, all of Christianity, is here! But make sure that it is not sentiment, it is not being a “do-gooder!” On the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the “cancer” that is sin, moral evil, spiritual evil. Only love fills the void, the negative chasms that evil opens in hearts and in history. Only love can do this, and this is God’s joy!

Jesus is all mercy, Jesus is all love: he is God made man. Each of us, each one of us, is that little lost lamb, the coin that was mislaid; each one of us is that son who has squandered his freedom on false idols, illusions of happiness, and has lost everything. But God does not forget us, the Father never abandons us. He is a patient father, always waiting for us! He respects our freedom, but he remains faithful forever. And when we come back to him, he welcomes us like children into his house, for he never ceases, not for one instant, to wait for us with love. And his heart rejoices over every child who returns. He is celebrating because he is joy. God has this joy, when one of us sinners goes to him and asks his forgiveness.

What is the danger? It is that we presume we are righteous and judge others. We also judge God, because we think that he should punish sinners, condemn them to death, instead of forgiving. So ‘yes’ then we risk staying outside the Father’s house! Like the older brother in the parable, who rather than being content that his brother has returned, grows angry with the father who welcomes him and celebrates. If in our heart there is no mercy, no joy of forgiveness, we are not in communion with God, even if we observe all of his precepts, for it is love that saves, not the practice of precepts alone. It is love of God and neighbour that brings fulfilment to all the Commandments. And this is the love of God, his joy: forgiveness. He waits for us always! Maybe someone has some heaviness in his heart: “But, I did this, I did that,” He expects you! He is your father: he waits for you always!

If we live according to the law “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” we will never escape from the spiral of evil. The evil one is clever, and deludes us into thinking that with our human justice we can save ourselves and save the world! In reality, only the justice of God can save us! And the justice of God is revealed in the Cross: the Cross is the judgment of God on us all and on this world. But how does God judge us? By giving his life for us! Here is the supreme act of justice that defeated the prince of this world once and for all; and this supreme act of justice is the supreme act of mercy. Jesus calls us all to follow this path: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). I now ask of you one thing. In silence, let’s all think, everyone think of a person with whom we are annoyed, with whom we are angry, someone we do not like. Let us think of that person and in silence, at this moment, let us pray for this person and let us become merciful with this person. [Silent prayer]. Let us now invoke the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On 14 September the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Some non-Christian person might ask: why “exalt” the Cross? We can respond that we do not exalt any cross whatsoever or all crosses: we exalt the Cross of Jesus, because in it God’s love for humanity was fully revealed. That’s what the Gospel of John reminds us of in today’s liturgy: “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son” (3:16). The Father “gave” the Son to save us, and this resulted in the death of Jesus, and his death on the Cross. Why? Why was the Cross necessary? Because of the gravity of the evil which enslaved us. The Cross of Jesus expresses both things: all the negative forces of evil, and all of the gentle omnipotence of God’s mercy. The Cross would seem to decree Christ’s failure, but in reality it signals His victory. On Calvary, those who mocked him said to him, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (see Mt 27:40). But the opposite was true: it was precisely because Jesus was the Son of God, that He was there, on the Cross, faithful to the end to the loving plan of the Father. And for this very reason God “exalted” Jesus (Phil 2:9), conferring universal kingship on Him.

When we look to the Cross where Jesus was nailed, we contemplate the sign of love, of the infinite love of God for each of us and the source of our salvation. The mercy of God, which embraces the whole world, springs from the Cross. Through the Cross of Christ the Evil One is overcome, death is defeated, life is given to us, hope is restored. This is important: through the Cross of Christ hope is restored to us. The Cross of Jesus is our one true hope! That is why the Church “exalts” the Holy Cross, and why we Christians bless ourselves with the sign of the cross. That is, we don’t exalt crosses, but the glorious Cross of Christ, the sign of God’s immense love, the sign of our salvation and path toward the Resurrection. This is our hope.

While we contemplate and celebrate the Holy Cross, we think with emotion of so many of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and killed because of their faith in Christ. This happens especially wherever religious freedom is still not guaranteed or fully realized. It happens, however, even in countries and areas which, in principle, protect freedom and human rights but where, in practice, believers, and especially Christians, encounter restrictions and discrimination. So today we remember them and pray for them in a special way.

On Calvary, there at the foot of the Cross, was the Virgin Mary (see Jn 19:25-27). She is Our Lady of Sorrows, whom we shall celebrate tomorrow in the liturgy. To her I entrust the present and the future of the Church, so that we may all always be able to discover and welcome the message of love and salvation of the Cross of Christ. In particular I entrust to her the newlywed couples whom I had the joy of joining in matrimony this morning, in St Peter’s Basilica.


FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

HOLY MASS WITH THE RITE OF MARRIAGE

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 September 2014

Today’s first reading speaks to us of the people’s journey through the desert. We can imagine them as they walked, led by Moses; they were families: fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, grandparents, men and women of all ages, accompanied by many children and the elderly who struggled to make the journey. This people reminds us of the Church as she makes her way across the desert of the contemporary world, reminds us of the People of God composed, for the most part, of families.

This makes us think of families, our families, walking along the paths of life with all their day to day experiences. It is impossible to quantify the strength and depth of humanity contained in a family: mutual help, educational support, relationships developing as family members mature, the sharing of joys and difficulties. Families are the first place in which we are formed as persons and, at the same time, the “bricks” for the building up of society.

Let us return to the biblical story. At a certain point, “the people became impatient on the way” (Num 21:4). They are tired, water supplies are low and all they have for food is manna, which, although plentiful and sent by God, seems far too meager in a time of crisis. And so they complain and protest against God and against Moses: “Why did you make us leave?” (see Num. 21:5). They are tempted to turn back and abandon the journey.

Here our thoughts turn to married couples who “become impatient on the way,” the way of conjugal and family life. The hardship of the journey causes them to experience interior weariness; they lose the flavor of matrimony and they cease to draw water from the well of the Sacrament. Daily life becomes burdensome, and often, even “nauseating.”

During such moments of disorientation—the Bible says—poisonous serpents come and bite the people, and many die. This causes the people to repent and to turn to Moses for forgiveness, asking him to beseech the Lord so that he will cast out the snakes. Moses prays to the Lord, and the Lord offers a remedy: a bronze serpent set on a pole; whoever looks at it will be saved from the deadly poison of the vipers.

What is the meaning of this symbol? God does not destroy the serpents, but rather offers an “antidote:” by means of the bronze serpent fashioned by Moses, God transmits his healing strength, namely his mercy, which is more potent than the Tempter’s poison.

As we have heard in the Gospel, Jesus identifies himself with this symbol: out of love the Father “has given” his only begotten Son so that men and women might have eternal life (see Jn 3:13-17). Such immense love of the Father spurs the Son to become man, to become a servant and to die for us upon a cross. Out of such love, the Father raises up his son, giving him dominion over the entire universe. This is expressed by Saint Paul in his hymn in the Letter to the Philippians (see 2:6-11). Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus crucified receives the mercy of God and finds healing from the deadly poison of sin.

The cure which God offers the people applies also, in a particular way, to spouses who “have become impatient on the way” and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment. To them too, God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them: if they entrust themselves to him, he will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of his grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path.

The love of Christ, which has blessed and sanctified the union of husband and wife, is able to sustain their love and to renew it when, humanly speaking, it becomes lost, wounded or worn out. The love of Christ can restore to spouses the joy of journeying together. This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man. This is the task that you both share. “I love you, and for this love I help you to become ever more a woman;” “I love you, and for this love I help you to become ever more a man.” Here we see the reciprocity of differences. The path is not always a smooth one, free of disagreements, otherwise it would not be human. It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life! Within this theology which the word of God offers us concerning the people on a journey, spouses on a journey, I would like to give you some advice. It is normal for husband and wife to argue: it’s normal. It always happens. But my advice is this: never let the day end without having first made peace. Never! A small gesture is sufficient. Thus the journey may continue. Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not “fiction”! It is the Sacrament of the love of Christ and the Church, a love which finds its proof and guarantee in the Cross. My desire for you is that you have a good journey, a fruitful one, growing in love. I wish you happiness. There will be crosses! But the Lord is always there to help us move forward. May the Lord bless you!


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 September 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel presents us Jesus who, on his way towards Caesarea Philippi, asks the disciples: “Who do men say that I am?” (Mk 8:27). They respond with what the people are saying: some believe he is John the Baptist reborn, others Elijah or one of the great Prophets. The people appreciated Jesus, they considered him “God’s emissary”, but still were unable to recognize him as the foretold Messiah, awaited by all. Jesus looks at the Apostles and asks again: “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 29). This is the most important question, which Jesus directly addresses to those who have followed him, to verify their faith. Peter, in the name of all, exclaims candidly: “You are the Christ” (v. 29). Jesus is struck by Peter’s faith, and recognizes that it is the fruit of grace, a special grace of God the Father. Then he openly reveals to the disciples what awaits him in Jerusalem, which is that “the Son of man must suffer many things, be killed, and after three days rise again” (v. 31).

On hearing this, Peter, who had just professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah, is shocked. He takes the Master aside and rebukes him. And how does Jesus react? He in turn rebukes Peter, with very harsh words: “Get behind me, Satan!”—he calls him Satan!—“You think not as God does, but as men do” (see v. 33). Jesus sees in Peter, as in the other disciples—and in each one of us!—that temptation by the Evil One opposes the grace of the Father, that he wants to deter us from the will of God. Announcing that he must suffer, be put to death in order to then rise, Jesus wants his followers to understand that he is a humble Messiah, a servant. He is the Servant obedient to the word and the will of the Father, until the complete sacrifice of his own life. For this reason, turning toward the whole crowd there, He declares that one who wishes to become his disciple must accept being a servant, as He has made himself a servant, and cautions: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 34).

To undertake the discipleship of Jesus means to take up your cross—we all have one—to accompany him on his path, an uncomfortable path that is not of success or of fleeting glory, but one which takes us to true freedom, to that which frees us from selfishness and sin. It is necessary to clearly reject that worldly mentality which places one’s “I” and one’s own interests at the centre of existence. That is not what Jesus wants from us! Instead Jesus invites us to lose our life for him and for the Gospel, to receive it renewed, fulfilled and authentic. We are certain, thanks to Jesus, that this path leads us to the resurrection, to the full and definitive life with God. Choosing to follow him, our Master and Lord who made himself the Servant of all, one to walk behind and to listen attentively to his Word—remember to read a passage from the Gospel every day—and in the Sacraments.

There are young people here in the Square, young men and women. I want to ask you: do you feel the desire to follow Jesus more closely? Think. Pray, and allow the Lord to speak to you.

May the Virgin Mary, who followed Jesus to Calvary, help us to always purify our faith of false images of God, in order to adhere fully to Christ and his Gospel. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

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


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