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Monday, October 31, 2016

0494: Reflections on the 32nd Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0494: Reflections on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis (6 November 2017) 


On four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 10 November 2013, 9 November 2014, 8 November 2015, and 6 November 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and one homily delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel sets before us Jesus grappling with the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection. They pose a question to Jesus on this very matter, in order to trip him up and ridicule faith in the resurrection of the dead. They begin with an imaginary case: “A woman had seven husbands, who died one after the other,” and they ask Jesus: “Whose wife will the woman be after her death?” Jesus, ever meek and patient, first replies that life after death does not have the same parameters as earthly life. Eternal life is another life, in another dimension where, among other things, there will be no marriage, which is tied to our existence in this world. Those who rise—Jesus says—will be like the angels and they will live in a different state, which now we can neither experience nor imagine. This is the way Jesus explains it.

But then Jesus, as it were, moves to the counterattack. And he does so by citing the Sacred Scripture with a simplicity and originality which leaves us full of admiration for our Teacher, the only Teacher! Jesus finds proof for the resurrection in the account of Moses and the burning bush (see Ex 3:1-6), where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob. The name of God is bound to the names of men and women to whom he binds himself, and this bond is stronger than death. And we can also say this about God’s relationship with us, with each one of us: He is our God! He is the God of each one of us! As though he bore each of our names. It pleases him to say it, and this is the covenant. This is why Jesus states: “God is not the god of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk 20:38). And this is the decisive bond, the fundamental covenant, the covenant with Jesus: He himself is the Covenant, he himself is the Life and the Resurrection, for by his crucified love he has triumphed over death. In Jesus, God gives us eternal life, he gives it to everyone, and thanks to him everyone has the hope of a life even truer than this one. The life that God prepares for us is not a mere embellishment of the present one: it surpasses our imagination, for God continually amazes us with his love and with his mercy.

Therefore, what will happen is quite the opposite of what the Sadducees expected. It is not this life that will serve as a reference point for eternity, for the other life that awaits us; rather, it is eternity—that life—which illumines and gives hope to the earthly life of each one of us! If we look at things from only a human perspective, we tend to say that man’s journey moves from life to death. This is what we see! But this is only so if we look at things from a human perspective. Jesus turns this perspective upside down and states that our pilgrimage goes from death to life: the fullness of life! We are on a journey, on a pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that fullness of life is what illumines our journey! Therefore death stands behind us, not before us. Before us is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our names stand before us, as he said: “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob,” and also the God with my name, with your name, with our names. The God of the living! Before us stands the final defeat of sin and death, the beginning of a new time of joy and of endless light. But already on this earth, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in fraternity, we encounter Jesus and his love, and thus we may already taste something of the risen life. The experience we have of his love and his faithfulness ignites in our hearts like a fire and increases our faith in the resurrection. In fact, if God is faithful and loves, he cannot be thus for only a limited time: faithfulness is eternal, it cannot change. God’s love is eternal, it cannot change! It is not only for a time: it is forever! It is for going forward! He is faithful forever and he is waiting for us, each one of us, he accompanies each one of us with his eternal faithfulness.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 9 November 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today the liturgy commemorates the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, which is the Cathedral of Rome and which tradition defines as “mother of all Churches of the city and of the world.” The term “mother,” refers not as much to the sacred building of the Basilica, as to the work of the Holy Spirit who is made manifest in this building, bearing fruit through the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, and in all communities which abide in unity with the Church over which he presides.

Each time we celebrate the dedication of a church, an essential truth is recalled: the physical temple made of brick and mortar is a sign of the living Church serving in history, that is to say, of that “spiritual temple,” as the Apostle Peter says, in which Christ himself is the “living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious” (1 Pt 2:4). In the Gospel from today’s liturgy, Jesus, speaking about the temple, reveals a shocking truth: that the Temple of God is not only a building made of brick and mortar, but is his Body, made of living stone. Through the power of Baptism, every Christian takes part in “God’s building” (1 Cor 3:9), indeed they become the Church of God. The spiritual structure, the Church community of mankind sanctified by the Blood of Christ and by Spirit of the Risen Lord, asks each one of us to be consistent with the gift of the faith and to undertake a journey of Christian witness. And we all know that in life it is not easy to maintain consistency between faith and testimony; but we must carry on and be coherent in our daily life. “This is a Christian!” not so much in what he says, but in what he does, and the way in which he behaves. This coherence, which gives us life, is a grace of the Holy Spirit which we must ask for. The Church, at the beginning of her life and of her mission in the world, was but a community constituted to confess faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God and Redeemer of Man, a faith which operates through love. They go together! In today’s world too, the Church is called to be the community in the world which, rooted in Christ through Baptism, humbly and courageously professes faith in Him, witnessing to it in love.

The institutional elements, the structures and the pastoral entities must also be directed toward this goal, this essential goal of bearing witness to the faith in love. Love is the very expression of faith and also, faith is the explanation and the foundation of love. Today’s celebration invites us to meditate on the communion of all Churches, that is, of this Christian community. By analogy she spurs us to commit ourselves in order that humanity may overcome the confines of enmity and indifference, to build bridges of understanding and dialogue, to make of the entire world one family of people reconciled among themselves, in fraternal solidarity. The Church herself is a sign and preview of this new humanity, as she lives and, through her witness, spreads the Gospel, the message of hope and reconciliation for all mankind.

Let us invoke the intercession of the Most Holy Mary, that she may help us to become like her, the “House of God,” the living temple of his love.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 8 November 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning, on this beautiful, sunny day!

This Sunday’s Gospel passage is composed of two parts: one that describes how not to be followers of Christ; the other offers an example of a Christian.

Let’s start with the first: what not to do. In the first part, Jesus accuses the scribes, the teachers of the law, of having three defects in their lifestyle: pride, greed and hypocrisy. They like “to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts” (Mk 12:38-39). But beneath such solemn appearances they are hiding falsehood and injustice.

While flaunting themselves in public, they use their authority—as Jesus says—to devour “the houses of widows” (see v. 40); those who, along with orphans and foreigners, were considered to be the people most vulnerable and least protected. Lastly, Jesus says that the scribes, “for a pretense make long prayers” (v. 40). Even today we risk taking on these attitudes. For example, when prayer is separate from justice so that God cannot be worshiped, and causing harm to the poor. Or when one claims to love God, but instead offers him only grandiosity for one’s own advantage.

The second part of the Gospel follows this line of thinking. The scene is set in the temple of Jerusalem, precisely in the place where people are tossing coins as offerings. There are many rich people putting in large sums, and there is a poor woman, a widow, who contributes only two bits, two small coins. Jesus observes the woman carefully and calls the disciples’ attention to the sharp contrast of the scene.

The wealthy contributed with great ostentation what for them was superfluous, while the widow, Jesus says, “put in everything she had, her whole living” (v. 44). For this reason, Jesus says, she gave the most of all. Because of her extreme poverty, she could have offered a single coin to the temple and kept the other for herself. But she did not want to give just half to God; she divested herself of everything. In her poverty she understood that in having God, she had everything; she felt completely loved by him and in turn loved him completely. What a beautiful example this little old woman offers us!

Today Jesus also tells us that the benchmark is not quantity but fullness. There is a difference between quantity and fullness. You can have a lot of money and still be empty. There is no fullness in your heart. This week, think about the difference there is between quantity and fullness. It is not a matter of the wallet, but of the heart. There is a difference between the wallet and the heart. There are diseases of the heart, which reduce the heart to the wallet. This is not good! To love God “with all your heart” means to trust in him, in his providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return.

Allow me to tell you a story, which happened in my previous diocese. A mother and her three children were at the table, the father was at work. They were eating Milan-style cutlets. There was a knock at the door and one of the children—they were young, 5, 6 and the oldest was 7—comes and says: “Mom, there is a beggar asking for something to eat.” And the mom, a good Christian, asks them: “What shall we do?”—“Let’s give him something, mom.”—“Ok.” She takes her fork and knife and cuts the cutlets in half. “Ah no, mom, no! Not like this! Take something from the fridge”—“No! Let’s make three sandwiches with this!” The children learned that true charity is given, not with what is left over, but with what we need. That afternoon I am sure that the children were a bit hungry. But this is how it’s done!

Faced with the needs of our neighbors, we are called—like these children and the halved cutlets—to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the time that is necessary, not only what is extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or for our own group.

Let us ask the Lord to admit us to the school of this poor widow, whom Jesus places in the cathedra and presents as a teacher of the living Gospel even to the astonishment of the disciples. Through the intercession of Mary, the poor woman who gave her entire life to God for us, let us ask for a heart that is poor, but rich in glad and freely given generosity.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 6 November 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Within just days of the Solemnity of All Saints and of the Commemoration of the faithful departed, this Sunday’s Liturgy invites us once again to reflect upon the mystery of the resurrection of the dead. The Gospel (see Lk 20:27-38) presents Jesus confronted by several Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection and considered the relationship with God only in the dimension of earthly life. Therefore, in order to place the resurrection under ridicule and to create difficulty for Jesus, they submit a paradoxical and absurd case: that of a woman who’d had seven husbands, all brothers, who died one after the other. Thus came the malicious question posed to Jesus: in the resurrection, whose wife will the woman be (v. 33)?

Jesus does not fall into the snare and emphasizes the truth of the resurrection, explaining that life after death will be different from that on earth. He makes his interlocutors understand that it is not possible to apply the categories of this world to the realities that transcend and surpass what we see in this life. He says, in fact: “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (vv. 34-35). With these words, Jesus means to explain that in this world we live a provisional reality, which ends; conversely, in the afterlife, after the resurrection, we will no longer have death as the horizon and will experience all things, even human bonds, in the dimension of God, in a transfigured way. Even marriage, a sign and instrument of God in this world, will shine brightly, transformed in the full light of the glorious communion of saints in Paradise.

The “sons of heaven and of the resurrection” are not a few privileged ones, but are all men and all women, because the salvation that Jesus brings is for each one of us. And the life of the risen shall be equal to that of angels (see v. 36), meaning wholly immersed in the light of God, completely devoted to his praise, in an eternity filled with joy and peace. But pay heed! Resurrection is not only the fact of rising after death, but is a new genre of life which we already experience now; it is the victory over nothing that we can already anticipate. Resurrection is the foundation of the faith and of Christian hope. Were there no reference to Paradise and to eternal life, Christianity would be reduced to ethics, to a philosophy of life. Instead, the message of Christian faith comes from heaven, it is revealed by God and goes beyond this world. Belief in resurrection is essential in order that our every act of Christian love not be ephemeral and an end in itself, but may become a seed destined to blossom in the garden of God, and to produce the fruit of eternal life.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, confirm us in the hope of resurrection and help us to make fruitful in good works her Son’s word sown in our hearts.


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 6 November 2016

The message that God’s word wants to bring us today is surely that of hope, the hope that does not disappoint.

One of the seven brothers condemned to death by King Antiochus Epiphanes speaks of “the hope God gives of being raised again by him” (2 Macc 7:14). These words demonstrate the faith of those martyrs who, despite suffering and torture, were steadfast in looking to the future. Theirs was a faith that, in acknowledging God as the source of their hope, reflected the desire to attain a new life.

In the Gospel, we have heard how Jesus, with a simple yet complete answer, demolishes the banal casuistry that the Sadducees had set before him. His response—“He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk 20:38)—reveals the true face of God, who desires only life for all his children. The hope of being born to a new life, then, is what we must make our own, if we are to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus.

Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it. It is placed deep within each human heart in order to shed light on this life, so often troubled and clouded by so many situations that bring sadness and pain. We need to nourish the roots of our hope so that they can bear fruit; primarily, the certainty of God’s closeness and compassion, despite whatever evil we have done. There is no corner of our heart that cannot be touched by God’s love. Whenever someone makes a mistake, the Father’s mercy is all the more present, awakening repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

Today we celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy for you and with you, our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned. Mercy, as the expression of God’s love, is something we need to think about more deeply. Certainly, breaking the law involves paying the price, and losing one’s freedom is the worst part of serving time, because it affects us so deeply. All the same, hope must not falter. Paying for the wrong we have done is one thing, but another thing entirely is the “breath” of hope, which cannot be stifled by anyone or anything. Our heart always yearns for goodness. We are in debt to the mercy that God constantly shows us, for he never abandons us (see Augustine, Sermo 254:1).

In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of God as “the God of hope” (15:13). It is as if Paul wants to say also to us: “God hopes.” While this may seem paradoxical, it is true: God hopes! His mercy gives him no rest. He is like that Father in the parable, who keeps hoping for the return of his son who has fallen by the wayside (Lk 15:11-32). God does not rest until he finds the sheep that was lost (Lk 15:5). So if God hopes, then no one should lose hope. For hope is the strength to keep moving forward. It is the power to press on towards the future and a changed life. It is the incentive to look to tomorrow, so that the love we have known, for all our failings, can show us a new path. In a word, hope is the proof, lying deep in our hearts, of the power of God’s mercy. That mercy invites us to keep looking ahead and to overcome our attachment to evil and sin through faith and abandonment in him.

Dear friends, today is your Jubilee! Today, in God’s sight, may your hope be kindled anew. A Jubilee, by its very nature, always brings with it a proclamation of freedom (Lev 25:39-46). It does not depend on me to grant this, but the Church’s duty, one she cannot renounce, is to awaken within you the desire for true freedom. Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer. I want to tell you, every time I visit a prison I ask myself: “Why them and not me?” We can all make mistakes: all of us. And in one way or another we have made mistakes. Hypocrisy leads us to overlook the possibility that people can change their lives; we put little trust in rehabilitation, rehabilitation into society. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners. At times we are locked up within our own prejudices or enslaved to the idols of a false sense of wellbeing. At times we get stuck in our own ideologies or absolutize the laws of the market even as they crush other people. At such times, we imprison ourselves behind the walls of individualism and self-sufficiency, deprived of the truth that sets us free. Pointing the finger against someone who has made mistakes cannot become an alibi for concealing our own contradictions.

We know that in God’s eyes no one can consider himself just (see Rom 2:1-11). But no one can live without the certainty of finding forgiveness! The repentant thief, crucified at Jesus’ side, accompanied him into paradise (see Lk 23:43). So may none of you allow yourselves to be held captive by the past! True enough, even if we wanted to, we can never rewrite the past. But the history that starts today, and looks to the future, has yet to be written, by the grace of God and your personal responsibility. By learning from past mistakes, you can open a new chapter of your lives. Let us never yield to the temptation of thinking that we cannot be forgiven. Whatever our hearts may accuse us of, small or great, “God is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). We need but entrust ourselves to his mercy.

Faith, even when it is as tiny as a grain of mustard seed, can move mountains (see Mt 17:20). How many times has the power of faith enabled us to utter the word pardon in humanly impossible situations. People who have suffered violence and abuse, either themselves, or in the person of their loved ones, or their property, there are some wounds that only God’s power, his mercy, can heal. But when violence is met with forgiveness, even the hearts of those who have done wrong can be conquered by the love that triumphs over every form of evil. In this way, among the victims and among those who wronged them, God raises up true witnesses and workers of mercy.

Today we venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary in this statue, which represents her as a Mother who holds Jesus in her arms, together with a broken chain; it is the chain of slavery and imprisonment. May Our Lady look upon each of you with a Mother’s love. May she intercede for you, so that your hearts can experience the power of hope for a new life, one worthy of being lived in complete freedom and in service to your neighbor.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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