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Monday, January 25, 2016

0449: Reflections on the Fourth Sunday of
Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0449: Reflections on the Fourth Sunday of 

Ordinary Time by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
two occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 1 February 2015 and 31 January 2016. Here are the texts of the two reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus that the Pope delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 February 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

This Sunday’s Gospel passage (see Mk 1:21-28) presents Jesus who, with his small community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived and which was the largest city in Galilee at that time. Jesus goes to that city.

The Evangelist Mark recounts that, since it was the Sabbath, Jesus went straight to the Synagogue and began to teach (see v. 21). This reminds us of the primacy of the Word of God, the Word to be listened to, the Word to be received, the Word to be proclaimed. Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not delay proclaiming the Gospel, does not think first about the necessary logistics of his small community, does not tarry over the organization. His primary concern is to communicate the Word of God with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the people in the Synagogue were astonished, because Jesus “taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (v. 22).

What does “with authority” mean? It means that in the human words of Jesus, the power of the Word of God could be felt, the authority of God, who is the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that He does what He says. For the Word of God corresponds to his will. We, on the other hand, often speak empty, shallow words, or superfluous words, words that do not coincide with the truth. Instead, the Word of God corresponds to the truth, it is united to his will and fulfills what He says. Indeed, Jesus, after preaching, immediately demonstrates his authority by freeing a man, in the Synagogue, who was possessed by a demon, (see Mk 1:23-36). The very divine authority of Christ provoked the reaction of Satan, hidden in that man; Jesus, in his turn, immediately recognized the voice of the evil one and “rebuked him: ‘Be silent, and come out of him’” (v. 25). With the power of his word alone, Jesus frees the person from the evil one. And once again those present were amazed: “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27). The Word of God arouses amazement in us. It has the power to astonish us.

The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are slaves to the many evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, attachment to money, pride, sensuality. The Gospel changes the heart, changes life, transforms evil inclinations into good intentions. The Gospel is capable of changing people! Therefore it is the task of Christians to spread the redeeming power throughout the world, becoming missionaries and heralds of the Word of God. This is also suggested by today’s passage which closes with a missionary perspective, saying: “his fame”—the fame of Jesus—“spread everywhere, throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee” (v. 28). The new doctrine, taught by Jesus with authority, is what the Church takes to the world, along with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God become words of salvation and gestures expressing the love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change lives! Do not forget this. It is the Good News, which transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. That is why I always ask you to have daily contact with the Gospel, to read it every day: a verse, a passage, to meditate on it and even to take it with you everywhere: in your pocket, in your bag. In other words to nourish yourself every day with this inexhaustible source of salvation. Do not forget! Read a passage of the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, that transforms us: it changes life, it changes the heart.

Let us invoke the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, she who received the Word and conceived Him for the world, for all mankind. She teaches us to be assiduous listeners and authoritative proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 31 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel account once again, like last Sunday, brings us to the synagogue of Nazareth, the village in Galilee where Jesus was brought up in a family and was known by everyone. He, who left not long before to begin his public life, now returns and for the first time presents himself to the community, gathered in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He reads the passage of the Prophet Isaiah, who speaks of the future Messiah, and he declares at the end: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). Jesus’ compatriots, who were at first astonished and admired him, now begin to look sideways, to murmur among themselves and ask: why does he, who claims to be the Lord’s Consecrated, not repeat here in his homeland the wonders they say he worked in Capernaum and in nearby villages? Thus Jesus affirms: “no prophet is acceptable in his own country,” and he refers to the great prophets of the past, Elijah and Elisha, who had worked miracles in favor of the pagans in order to denounce the incredulity of their people. At this point those present are offended, rise up, indignant, and cast Jesus out and want to throw him down from the precipice. But he, with the strength of his peace, “passed through the midst of them and went away” (see v. 30). His time has not yet come.

This passage of Luke the Evangelist is not simply the account of an argument between compatriots, as sometimes happens even in our neighborhoods, arising from envy and jealousy, but it highlights a temptation to which a religious man is always exposed—all of us are exposed—and from which it is important to keep his distance. What is this temptation? It is the temptation to consider religion as a human investment and, consequently, “negotiate” with God, seeking one’s own interest. Instead, true religion entails accepting the revelation of a God who is Father and who cares for each of his creatures, even the smallest and most insignificant in the eyes of man. Jesus’ prophetic ministry consists precisely in this: in declaring that no human condition can constitute a reason for exclusion—no human condition can constitute a reason for exclusion!—from the Father’s heart, and that the only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges, of not having godparents, of being abandoned in his hands.

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). The ‘today’, proclaimed by Christ that day, applies to every age; it echoes for us too in this Square, reminding us of the relevance and necessity of the salvation Jesus brought to humanity. God comes to meet the men and women of all times and places, in their real life situations. He also comes to meet us. It is always he who takes the first step: he comes to visit us with his mercy, to lift us up from the dust of our sins; he comes to extend a hand to us in order to enable us to return from the abyss into which our pride made us fall, and he invites us to receive the comforting truth of the Gospel and to walk on the paths of good. He always comes to find us, to look for us.

Let us return to the synagogue. Surely that day, in the synagogue of Nazareth, Mary, his Mother, was also there. We can imagine her heart beating, a small foreboding of what she will suffer under the Cross, seeing Jesus, there in the synagogue, first admired, then challenged, then insulted, threatened with death. In her heart, filled with faith, she kept every thing. May she help us to convert from a god of miracles to the miracle of God, who is Jesus Christ. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


* * * * *


For reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 

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


* * * * *

Monday, January 18, 2016

0448: Reflections on the Third Sunday of
Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0448: Reflections on the Third Sunday of 

Ordinary Time by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 26 January 2014, 25 January 2015, and 24 January 2016. Here are the texts of the three 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 centre and also the social and political centre, 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. St 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 St 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 centre 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 centre 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. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


* * * * *


For reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time 

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


* * * * *

Monday, January 11, 2016

0447: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0447: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 

by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 19 January 2014, 18 January 2015, and 17 January 2016. Here are the texts of the two reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and two homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which was celebrated last Sunday, we entered in the liturgical season called “ordinary” time. On this Second Sunday, the Gospel presents us with the scene of the encounter between Jesus and John the Baptist at the River Jordan. The one who recounts it is the eyewitness, John the Evangelist, who before becoming a disciple of Jesus, was a disciple of the Baptist, together with his brother James, with Simon and Andrew, all from Galilee, all fishermen.

The Baptist then sees Jesus who is approaching amid the crowd and, inspired from on High, he recognizes in him the One sent by God; he therefore points him out with these words: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).

The verb that is translated as “take away” literally means “to lift up,” “to take upon oneself.” Jesus came into the world with a precise mission: to liberate it from the slavery of sin by taking on himself the sins of mankind. How? By loving. There is no other way to conquer evil and sin than by the love that leads to giving up one’s life for others. In the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus assumes the features of the Lord’s Suffering Servant, who “has borne our grief and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:4) unto death on the Cross. He is the true Paschal Lamb, who immerses himself in the river of our sin in order to purify us.

The Baptist sees before him a man who stands in line with sinners to be baptized, though he had no need of it. A man whom God sent into the world as a Lamb to be immolated. In the New Testament, the word “lamb” recurs many times and always in reference to Jesus. This image of the lamb might be surprising; indeed, an animal that is certainly not characterized by strength and robustness takes upon its shoulders such an oppressive weight. The huge mass of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature, a symbol of obedience, docility and defenseless love that ultimately offers itself in sacrifice. The lamb is not a ruler but docile, it is not aggressive but peaceful; it shows no claws or teeth in the face of any attack; rather, it bears it and is submissive. And so is Jesus! So is Jesus, like a lamb.

What does it mean for the Church, for us today, to be disciples of Jesus, the Lamb of God? It means replacing malice with innocence, replacing power with love, replacing pride with humility, replacing status with service. It is good work! We Christians must do this: replace malice with innocence, replace power with love, replace pride with humility, replace status with service. Being disciples of the Lamb means not living like a “besieged citadel,” but like a city placed on a hill, open, welcoming and supportive. It means not assuming closed attitudes but rather proposing the Gospel to everyone, bearing witness by our lives that following Jesus makes us freer and more joyous.


PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN CASTRO PRETORIO

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sunday, 19 January 2014

This passage from the Gospel is beautiful. John was baptizing; and Jesus, who had been baptized prior to this—some days before—was coming towards him and came before John. And John felt the power of the Holy Spirit within him to bear witness to Jesus. Looking at him, and looking at the people around Him, he said: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And he bore witness to Jesus: this is Jesus, this is the One who has come to save us; this is the One who will give us the power of hope.

Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them. “But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that, I can’t even carry it with a truck.” Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault. He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin:” he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Savior, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin,” everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!” And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints. Never, never! Listen carefully, young people, who are just beginning life now: Jesus never disappoints. Never. This is the testimony of John: Jesus, the good One, the meek One, will end as a lamb, who is slain. Without crying out. He came to save us, to take away sin. Mine, yours and that of the whole world: all of it, all of it.

And now I invite you to do something: let us close our eyes, let us imagine the scene on the banks of the river, John as he is baptizing and Jesus who is approaching. And let us listen to John’s voice: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Let us watch Jesus and in silence, each one of us, say something to Jesus from his heart. In silence. (Pause for silence).

May the Lord Jesus, who is meek, who is good—he is a lamb—who came to take away sin, accompany us on the path of our life. So be it.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF POPE FRANCIS
TO SRI LANKA AND THE PHILIPPINES
(12-19 JANUARY 2015)

HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Rizal Park, Manila, Sunday, 18 January 2015

“A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Is 9:5). It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the scepter, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness. It brings the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guides us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children.” That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.

The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph 1:3). These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.

God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4). He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern,” “like everyone else.” He distracts us with the view of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: forget, at heart, that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.

The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.

In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16). We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.

It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless!


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel presents the prodigious event that occurred at Cana, a village in Galilee, during a wedding feast also attended by Mary and Jesus, with his first disciples (see Jn 2:1-11). The Mother points out to her Son that the wine has run out, and, after responding that his hour had not yet come, Jesus nevertheless accepts her request and gives to the bride and groom the best wine of the entire feast. The Evangelist underlines that this was the first of the signs Jesus performed; it “manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (v. 11).

Miracles, thus, are extraordinary signs that accompany the Good News and have the purpose of causing or strengthening faith in Jesus. In the miracle performed at Cana, we are able to glimpse an act of benevolence on the part of Jesus toward the bride and groom, a sign of God’s blessing on the marriage. The love between a man and a woman is therefore a good path through which to live the Gospel, that is, to set out with joy on the path of holiness.

Yet the miracle at Cana does not pertain only to spouses. Every human person is called to encounter the Lord in his or her life. Christian faith is a gift which we receive in Baptism and which allows us to encounter God. Faith intersects times of joy and pain, of light and darkness, as in every authentic experience of love. The narrative of the wedding at Cana invites us to rediscover that Jesus does not present himself to us as a judge ready to condemn our faults, nor as a commander who imposes upon us to blindly follow his orders; he is manifest as Savior of mankind, as brother, as our elder brother, Son of the Father: he presents himself as he who responds to the expectations and promises of joy that dwell in the heart of each one of us.

Thus we can ask ourselves: do I really know the Lord like this? Do I feel him close to me, to my life? Am I responding to him on the wavelength of that spousal love which he manifests each day to everyone, to every human being? It is about realizing that Jesus looks for us and invites us to make room in the inner reaches of our heart. In this walk of faith with him we are not left alone: we have received the gift of the Blood of Christ. The large stone jars that Jesus had filled with water in order to transform it into wine (v. 7) are a sign of the passage from the old to the new covenant: in place of the water used for the rites of purification, we have received the Blood of Jesus, poured out in a sacramental way in the Eucharist and in the bloodstained way of the Passion and of the Cross. The Sacraments, which originate from the Pascal Mystery, instill in us supernatural strength and enable us to experience the infinite mercy of God.

May the Virgin Mary, model of meditation of the words and acts of the Lord, help us to rediscover with faith the beauty and richness of the Eucharist and of the other Sacraments, which render present God’s faithful love for us. In this way we fall ever more in love with the Lord Jesus, our Bridegroom, and we go to meet him with our lamps alight with our joyous faith, thus becoming his witnesses in the world. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 

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


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Monday, January 4, 2016

0446: Reflections on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord by Pope Francis



Entry 0446: Reflections on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord 

by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, on 12 January 2014, 11 January 2015, and 10 January 2016. Here are the texts of the three reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This morning I baptized 32 infants. With you I thank the Lord for these creatures and for every new life. I am glad to baptize babies. I like it very much! Every newborn child is a gift of joy and hope, and each baby that is baptized is a miracle of faith and a celebration for the family of God.

Today’s page from the Gospel emphasizes that, when Jesus had received baptism from John in the River Jordan, “the heavens were opened” to him (Mt 3:16). This fulfills the prophecies. In fact, there is an invocation which the liturgy has us repeat during the Season of Advent: “O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down” (Is 64:1). If the heavens remain closed, our horizon in this earthly life is dark and without hope. Instead, in celebrating Christmas, once again faith has given us the certainty that the heavens have been rent with the coming of Christ. And on the day of the baptism of Christ we continue to contemplate the heavens opened. The manifestation of the Son of God on earth marks the beginning of the great time of mercy, after sin had closed the heavens, raising itself as a barrier between the human being and his Creator. With the birth of Jesus the heavens open! God gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love. From the moment the Word became flesh it is therefore possible to see the open heavens. It was possible for the shepherds of Bethlehem, for the Magi of the East, for the Baptist, for Jesus’ Apostles, and for St Stephen, the first martyr, who exclaimed: “Behold, I see the heavens opened!” (Acts 7:56). And it is possible for each one of us, if we allow ourselves to be suffused with God’s love, which is given to us for the first time in Baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. Let us allow ourselves to be invaded by God’s love! This is the great time of mercy! Do not forget it: this is the great time of Mercy!

When Jesus received the baptism of repentance from John the Baptism, showing solidarity with the repentant people—He without sin and with no need for conversion—God the Father made his voice heard from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (v. 17). Jesus receives approval from the heavenly Father, who sent him precisely that he might accept to share our condition, our poverty. Sharing is the true way to love. Jesus does not dissociate himself from us, he considers us brothers and sisters and he shares with us. And so he makes us sons and daughters, together with him, of God the Father. This is the revelation and source of true love. And this is the great time of mercy!

Does it not seem to you that in our own time extra fraternal sharing and love is needed? Does it not seem to you that we all need extra charity? Not the sort that is content with extemporaneous help which does not involve or stake anything, but that charity that shares, that takes on the hardship and suffering of a brother. What flavor life acquires when we allow ourselves to be inundated by God’s love!

Let us ask the Holy Virgin to support us by her intercession in our commitment to follow Christ on the way of faith and charity, the path traced out by our Baptism.


 FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 12 January 2014

Jesus did not need to be baptized, but the first theologians say that, with his body, with his divinity, in baptism he blessed all the waters, so that the waters would have the power to confer baptism. And then, before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world to baptize. And from that day forward up until today, this has been an uninterrupted chain: they baptized their children, and their children their own, and those children. And also today this chain continues.

These children are a link in a chain. You parents have a baby boy or girl to baptize, but in some years they will have a child to baptize, or a grandchild. Such is the chain of faith! What does this mean? I would like to tell you only this: you are those who transmit the faith, the transmitters; you have a duty to hand on the faith to these children. It is the most beautiful inheritance you will leave to them: the faith! Only this. Today, take this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think about this, always think about how to hand on the faith to your children.

Today the choir sings, but the most beautiful choir is the children making noise. Some of them will cry, because they are uncomfortable or because they are hungry: if they are hungry, mothers, feed them with ease, because they are the most important ones here. And now, with this awareness of being transmitters of the faith, let us continue with the rite of Baptism.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, which concludes the Christmas season. The Gospel describes what happens on the bank of the Jordan. At the time that John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, the heavens opened. “When he came up out of the water,” St Mark writes, “immediately he saw the heavens opened” (1:10). This brings to mind the dramatic supplication of the Prophet Isaiah: “O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down” (Is 64:1). This invocation was granted at the event of the Baptism of Jesus. Thus ended the time that the “heavens were closed,” which had symbolized the separation between God and man as a consequence of sin. Sin distanced us from God and broke the bond between heaven and earth, thereby determining our misery and failures in our lives. The opening of the heavens indicates that God granted his grace in order that the land bears its fruit (see Ps 85[84]: 11-12). This is how the earth became the dwelling place of God among men, and it is possible for each one of us to meet the Son of God, experiencing all of his love and infinite mercy. We are able to encounter Him truly present in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We are able to recognize Him in the faces of our brothers and sisters, especially in the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the displaced: they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and the visible image of the invisible God.

With the Baptism of Jesus, not only do the heavens open, but God speaks once again making his voice resound: “This is my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). The Father’s voice proclaims the mystery that is hidden in the Man baptized by the Forerunner.

Then the Holy Spirit descends, in the form of a dove: this allows Christ, the Lord’s Consecrated One, to inaugurate his mission, which is our salvation. The Holy Spirit: the great One forgotten in our prayers. We often pray to Jesus: we pray to the Father, especially in the “Our Father;” but we do not often pray to the Holy Spirit, is it true? He is the Forgotten One. And we need to ask for his help, his strength, his inspiration. The Holy Spirit who has wholly animated the life and mystery of Jesus, is the same Spirit who today guides Christian existence, the existence of men and women who call themselves and want to be Christians. To subject our Christian life and mission, which we have all received in Baptism, to the action of the Holy Spirit means finding the apostolic courage necessary to overcome easy worldly accommodations. Christians and communities who are instead “deaf” to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who urges us to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth and of society, also become “mutes” who do not speak and do not evangelize.

But remember this: pray often to the Holy Spirit, that He help us, give us strength, give us inspiration and enable us to go forward.

May Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, accompany the journey of all of us baptized; may she help us to grow in our love for God and in the joy of serving the Gospel, in order to thereby give full meaning to our life.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 11 January 2015

In the First Reading we heard that the Lord takes care of his children like a parent: He takes care to provide his children with nourishing food. God says through the Prophet: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Is 55:2). God, like a good father and a good mother, wants to give good things to his children. And what is this nourishing food that God gives us? It is his Word: his Word makes us grow, it enables us to bear good fruit in life, just as the rain and snow imbue the earth, making it fruitful (see Is 55:10-11). Likewise you, parents, and you too, godmothers and godfathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, will help these children grow if you give them the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus. And give it also by your example! Every day, make it a habit to read a passage of the Gospel, a small one, and always carry a little Gospel with you in your pocket, in your purse, so you can read it. And this will set the example for your children, seeing dad, mom, their godparents, grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles, reading the Word of God.

You, mothers, give milk to your children—even now, if they are crying with hunger, feed them, don’t worry. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of milk, and let us pray for those mothers—there are so many, unfortunately—who are unable to breast-feed their children. Let us pray and let us try to help these mothers. Thus, what milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit: the Word of God makes faith grow. And thanks to faith we have been begotten by God. This is what happens at Baptism. We have heard the Apostle John: “Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God” (1 Jn 5:1). Your children are baptized in this faith. Today it is your faith, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers. It is the faith of the Church, in which these little ones receive Baptism. But tomorrow, by the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal “yes” to Jesus Christ, which gives us the Father’s love.

I said: it is the faith of the Church. This is very important. Baptism integrates us into the body of the Church, into the holy People of God. And in this body, in this people journeying on, faith is passed down from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. It is the faith of Mary, our Mother, the faith of St Joseph, of St Peter, of St Andrew, of St John, the faith of the Apostles and of the Martyrs, which has come down to us, through Baptism: the chain of transmission of the faith. This is really beautiful! It is a passing of the flame of faith from hand to hand: we too will soon express it with the act of lighting candles from the great Paschal candle. The large wax candle represents the Risen Christ, living in our midst. You, families, take the light of faith from Him in order to pass it on to your children. You receive this light in the Church, in the Body of Christ, in the People of God who are journeying through every time and in every place. Teach your children that one cannot be a Christian outside of the Church, one cannot follow Jesus Christ without the Church, for the Church is Mother, who makes us grow in the love of Jesus Christ.

One last feature emerges powerfully from today’s Bible Readings: in Baptism we are consecrated by the Holy Spirit. This is what the word “Christian” means, it means consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed throughout his earthly existence. He is the “Christ,” the Anointed One, the Consecrated One; we, the baptized, are “Christian,” meaning consecrated, anointed. Therefore, dear parents, dear godfathers and godmothers, if you want your children to become true Christians, help them to grow up “immersed” in the Holy Spirit, that is to say, in the warmth of the love of God, in the light of his Word. For this reason, do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day. “Do you pray, Ma’am?”—“Yes”—“Whom do you pray to?”—“I pray to God.” But “God” does not exist like this: God is one person, and as a Person the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist. “Whom do you pray to?”—“The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.” We usually pray to Jesus. When we pray the “Our Father,” we pray to the Father. But we do not often pray to the Holy Spirit. It is very important to pray to the Holy Spirit, because He teaches us how to bring up the family, the children, so that these children may grow up in the atmosphere of the Holy Trinity. It is precisely the Spirit who leads them forward. For this reason, do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day. You can do so, for example, with this simple prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” You can say this prayer for your children, as well as, naturally, for yourselves!

When you recite this prayer, you feel the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us to pray to the Holy Spirit, and to live in accordance with the Spirit, like Jesus. May Our Lady, our Mother, always accompany the journey of your children and of your families. So be it.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 10 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this Sunday after the Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, and we gratefully recall our Baptism. In this context, this morning I baptized 26 infants: let us pray for them!

The Gospel presents Jesus, in the waters of the River Jordan, at the centre of a wondrous divine revelation. St Luke writes: “when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased’” (Lk 3:21-22). In this way Jesus is consecrated and manifested by the Father as the Savior Messiah and liberator.

In this event—attested by all four Gospels—is the passing from the baptism of John the Baptist, symbolized by water, to the Baptism of Jesus “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Lk 3:16). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the principal artisan in Christian Baptism: it is he who burns and destroys original sin, restoring to the baptized the beauty of divine grace; it is he who frees us from the dominion of darkness, namely sin, and transfers us to the kingdom of light, namely love, truth and peace: this is the kingdom of light. Let us think about the dignity to which Baptism elevates us! “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1), the Apostle John exclaims. This splendid reality of being Children of God entails the responsibility of following Jesus, the obedient Servant, and reproduces his lineaments in our very selves: namely docility, humility, tenderness. This is not easy, especially when there is so much intolerance, arrogance, harshness around us. But with the strength we receive from the Holy Spirit it is possible!

The Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the day of our Baptism, opens our heart to the Truth, to all Truth. The Spirit impels our life on the challenging but joyful path of charity and solidarity toward our brothers and sisters. The Spirit gives us the tenderness of divine forgiveness and permeates us with the invincible power of the Father’s mercy. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is a living and vivifying presence in those who welcome him, he prays in us and fills us with spiritual joy.

Today, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, let us ponder the day of our Baptism. All of us were baptized, let us give thanks for this gift. I ask you a question: which of you knows the date of your Baptism? Surely not everyone. Therefore, I encourage you to find out the date, by asking, for example, your parents, your grandparents, your godparents, or going to the parish. It is very important to know it, because it is a date to be celebrated: it is the date of our rebirth as Children of God. For this reason, homework for this week: go and find out the date of your Baptism. Celebrating that day means and reaffirms our adherence to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and of a new humanity, in which all are brothers and sisters.

May the Virgin Mary, first Disciple of her Son Jesus, help us to live our Baptism with joy and apostolic zeal, welcoming each day the gift of the Holy Spirit, which makes us Children of God.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 10 January 2016

Forty days after his birth, Jesus was taken to the Temple. Mary and Joseph brought him in order to present him to God. Today, on the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism, you parents have brought your children to receive Baptism, to receive what you asked for at the beginning, when I asked you the first question: “Faith. I want faith for my child.” In this way faith is passed on from one generation to the next, as a sequence, over the course of time.

These little boys, these little girls, years from now, will take your place with another child—your grandchildren—and will ask the same: faith. The faith that Baptism gives us. The faith that the Holy Spirit brings today to the heart, to the soul, to the life of these, your children.

You have asked for faith. When the Church hands you the lit candle, she will tell you to safeguard the faith of these children. Lastly, do not forget that the greatest legacy that you can give to your children is faith. Take care that it is not lost, make it grow and leave it as a legacy.

I wish you this today, on this day that is joyful for you. I wish that you may be able to raise these children in the faith and that the greatest legacy they receive from you is truly faith.

I have only one piece of advice. A baby cries because he or she is hungry, I say to the mothers: if your child is hungry, feed him or her here, you are completely free to do so. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


* * * * *


For reflections on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 

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


* * * * *

Saturday, January 2, 2016

0445: Reflections on the solemnity of the Epiphany by Pope Francis



Entry 0445: Reflections on the solemnity of the Epiphany 

by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the solemnity of the Epiphany, on 6 January 2014, 6 January 2015, and 6 January 2016. Here are the texts of the three reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Monday, 6 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we are celebrating the Epiphany, that is, the “manifestation” of the Lord. This Solemnity is tied to the biblical narrative of the coming of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem in order to pay homage to the King of the Jews: an episode on which Pope Benedict gave a magnificent commentary in his book on the infancy of Jesus. This precise moment was the first “manifestation” of Christ to the nations. Thus, the Epiphany brings to the fore the universal opening of the salvation brought by Jesus. The Liturgy today acclaims: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you,” because Jesus came for us all, for every nation, for everyone!

Thus, this Feast lets us see a double movement: in one direction, the movement of God towards the world, towards humanity—the whole of the history of salvation, which culminates in Jesus—and in the other, the movement of men towards God—let us think of religions, of the quest for truth, the journey of the nations toward peace, interior peace, justice, freedom. And this double movement is driven by a mutual attraction. What is it that draws God? It is love for us: we are his children, he loves us and wants to free us from evil, from sickness, from death, and to bring us to his home, to his Kingdom. “God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with him” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, no. 112). And from us too there arises a love, a desire: the good always draws us, truth draws us, life, happiness, beauty attracts us. Jesus is the meeting point of this mutual attraction, of this double movement. He is God and man: Jesus. God and man. But who took the initiative? God, always! God’s love always comes before our own! He always takes the initiative. He waits for us, he invites us, the initiative is always his. Jesus is God made man, made flesh, he is born for us. The new star that appears to the Magi was a sign of the birth of Christ. Had they not seen the star, these men would not have set out. The light goes before us, truth goes before us, beauty precedes us. God goes before us. The Prophet Isaiah said that God is like the flower of the almond tree. Why? Because in that region the almond is the first to flower. And God goes ever before, he is always the first to seek us, he takes the first step. God goes ever before us. His grace precedes us and this grace appeared in Jesus. He is the Epiphany. He, Jesus Christ, is the manifestation of God’s love. He is with us.

The Church stands entirely within this movement of God toward the world: her joy is the Gospel, to mirror the light of Christ. The Church is the people who have experienced this attraction and bear it within, in their hearts and in their lives. “I would like to say—sincerely—I would like to say to those who feel far from God and from the Church—I would like to say respectively—to all those who are fearful or indifferent: the Lord is also calling you to be a part of his people and he does so with deep respect and love!” (see ibid., no. 113). The Lord is calling you. The Lord is seeking you. The Lord is waiting for you. The Lord does not proselytize, he loves, and this love seeks you, waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.

Let us ask God, on behalf of the whole Church, let us ask for the joy of evangelizing, for we were “sent by Christ to reveal and communicate the love of God to all men and to all peoples” (Ad Gentes, no. 10). May the Virgin Mary help us all to be missionary-disciples, little stars that mirror his light. Let us pray too that hearts be open to receiving the proclamation, and that all men and women may be “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (Eph 3:6).


HOLY MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Monday, 6 January 2014

Lumen requirunt lumine.” These evocative words from a liturgical hymn for the Epiphany speak of the experience of the Magi: following a light, they were searching for the Light. The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ. The Magi followed faithfully that light which filled their hearts, and they encountered the Lord.

The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great “books” which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us, who always speaks to us. As the Psalm says in referring to the Law of the Lord: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). Listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially allows us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love.

The first reading echoes, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, the call of God to Jerusalem: “Arise, shine!” (Is 60:1). Jerusalem is called to be the city of light which reflects God’s light to the world and helps humanity to walk in his ways. This is the vocation and the mission of the People of God in the world. But Jerusalem can fail to respond to this call of the Lord. The Gospel tells us that the Magi, when they arrived in Jerusalem, lost sight of the star for a time. They no longer saw it. Its light was particularly absent from the palace of King Herod: his dwelling was gloomy, filled with darkness, suspicion, fear, envy. Herod, in fact, proved himself distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail Child whom he thought of as a rival. In reality Jesus came not to overthrow him, a wretched puppet, but to overthrow the Prince of this world! Nonetheless, the king and his counselors sensed that the foundations of their power were crumbling. They feared that the rules of the game were being turned upside down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built on power, on success, possessions and corruption was being thrown into crisis by a child! Herod went so far as to kill the children. As Saint Quodvultdeus writes, “You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart” (Sermo 2 de Symbolo: PL 40, 655). This was in fact the case: Herod was fearful and on account of this fear, he became insane.

The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And so they fled the darkness and dreariness of the night of the world. They resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star, and the gospel tells us that they experienced “a great joy” (Mt 2:10). The very star which could not be seen in that dark, worldly palace.

One aspect of the light which guides us on the journey of faith is holy “cunning.” This holy “cunning” is also a virtue. It consists of a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it. The Magi used this light of “cunning” when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life. By this holy “cunning,” the Magi guarded the faith. We too need to guard the faith, guard it from darkness. Many times, however, it is a darkness under the guise of light. This is because the devil, as Saint Paul says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light. And this is where a holy “cunning” is necessary in order to protect the faith, guarding it from those alarmist voices that exclaim: “Listen, today we must do this, or that.” Faith though, is a grace, it is a gift. We are entrusted with the task of guarding it, by means of this holy “cunning” and by prayer, love, charity. We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as Jesus told his disciples: “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16).

On the feast of the Epiphany, as we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi at our side, as wise companions on the way. Their example helps us to lift our gaze towards the star and to follow the great desires of our heart. They teach us not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of “playing it safe,” but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful, by God, who is all of this, and so much more! And they teach us not to be deceived by appearances, by what the world considers great, wise and powerful. We must not stop at that. It is necessary to guard the faith. Today this is of vital importance: to keep the faith. We must press on further, beyond the darkness, beyond the voices that raise alarm, beyond worldliness, beyond so many forms of modernity that exist today. We must press on towards Bethlehem, where, in the simplicity of a dwelling on the outskirts, beside a mother and father full of love and of faith, there shines forth the Sun from on high, the King of the universe. By the example of the Magi, with our little lights, may we seek the Light and keep the faith. May it be so.


SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning! Happy Feast Day!

On Christmas Eve we meditated on the hastening of several shepherds of the people of Israel to the grotto of Bethlehem; today, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we remember the arrival of the Magi, who came from the Orient to adore the newborn King of the Jews and Universal Savior and to offer Him symbolic gifts. With their act of adoration, the Magi bear witness that Jesus has come to earth to save not one people alone but all peoples. Therefore, on today’s feast our gaze broadens to the horizons of the whole world in order to celebrate the “manifestation” of the Lord to all peoples, which is the manifestation of the love and universal salvation of God. He does not reserve his love to the privileged few, but offers it to all.

As the Creator and Father is of all people, so the Savior wants to be for all people. That is why we are called to always nourish great faith and hope for every person and his or her salvation: even those who seem far from the Lord are followed—or better yet “chased”—by his passionate love, by his faithful and also humble love. For God’s love is humble, very humble!

The Gospel account of the Magi describes their journey from the East as a journey of the spirit, as a journey toward the encounter with Christ. They are attentive to signs that indicate his presence; they are tireless in facing the trials of the search; they are courageous in deducing the implications for life that derive from encounter with the Lord. This is life: Christian life is a journey, but being attentive, tireless and courageous. A Christian journeys like this. Journey attentively, tirelessly, courageously. The experience of the Magi evokes the journey of every man and woman towards Christ. As for the Magi, so for us, to seek God means to journey—and as I said: attentive, tireless and courageous—focused on the sky and discerning in the visible sign of the star the invisible God who speaks to our hearts. The star that is able to lead every man to Jesus is the Word of God, the Word that is in the Bible, in the Gospels. The Word of God is the light that guides our journey, nourishes our faith and regenerates it. It is the Word of God that continually renews our hearts and our communities. Therefore, let us not forget to read it and meditate upon it every day, so that it may become for each like a flame that we bear inside us to illuminate our steps, as well as those of others who journey beside us, who are perhaps struggling to find the path to Christ. Always with the Word of God! The Word of God carried in your hand: a little Gospel in your pocket, purse, always to be read. Do not forget this: always with me, the Word of God!

On this day of Epiphany, our thoughts turn also to our brothers and sisters of the Christian East, Catholics and Orthodox, many of whom are celebrating the Birth of the Lord tomorrow. May our warmest wishes reach them.

I would like to recall, then, that today we celebrate Children’s mission Day. It is the feast dedicated to children who joyfully live the gift of faith and pray for the light of Jesus to reach all the children of the world. I encourage teachers to cultivate the missionary spirit in the little ones. May they not be closed but open children and young people. May they see a great horizon, may their hearts move toward this horizon, in order that witnesses of God’s tenderness and heralds of the Gospel might arise among them. Now let us turn to the Virgin Mary and invoke her protection on the Universal Church, in order that the Gospel of Christ, the light of nations, the light of all peoples, might be spread through the entire world. And may she make us increasingly embrace the journey; may she make us journey and be attentive, untiring and courageous on that path.


HOLY MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Tuesday, 6 January 2015

That child, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, came not only for the people of Israel, represented by the shepherds of Bethlehem, but also for all humanity, represented today by the wise men from the East. It is on the Magi and their journey in search of the Messiah that the Church today invites us to meditate and pray.

These wise men from the East were the first in that great procession of which the prophet Isaiah spoke in today’s first reading (see 60:1-6): a procession which from that time on has continued uninterrupted; in every age it hears the message of the star and finds the Child who reveals the tenderness of God. New persons are always being enlightened by that star; they find the way and come into his presence.

According to tradition, the wise men were sages, watchers of the constellations, observers of the heavens, in a cultural and religious context which saw the stars as having significance and power over human affairs. The wise men represent men and woman who seek God in the world’s religions and philosophies: an unending quest. Men and women who seek God.

The wise men point out to us the path of our journey through life. They sought the true Light. As a liturgical hymn of Epiphany which speaks of their experience puts it: Lumen requirunt lumine;” by following a light, they sought the light, “Lumen requirunt lúmine.” They set out in search of God. Having seen the sign of the star, they grasped its message and set off on a long journey.

It is the Holy Spirit who called them and prompted them to set out; during their journey they were also to have a personal encounter with the true God.

Along the way, the wise men encountered many difficulties. Once they reached Jerusalem, they went to the palace of the king, for they thought it obvious that the new king would be born in the royal palace. There they lost sight of the star. How often sight of the star is lost! And, having lost sight of the star, they met with a temptation, placed there by the devil: it was the deception of Herod. King Herod was interested in the child, not to worship him but to eliminate him. Herod is the powerful man who sees others only as rivals. Deep down, he also considers God a rival, indeed the most dangerous rival of all. In the palace the wise men experience a moment of obscurity, of desolation, which they manage to overcome thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who speaks through the prophecies of sacred Scripture. These indicate that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David.

At that point they resume their journey, and once more they see the star; the evangelist says that they “rejoiced exceedingly” (Mt 2:10). Coming to Bethlehem, they found “the child with Mary his mother” (Mt 2:11). After that of Jerusalem, this was their second great temptation: to reject this smallness. But instead, “they fell down and worshiped him,” offering him their precious symbolic gifts. Again, it is the grace of the Holy Spirit which assists them. That grace, which through the star had called them and led them along the way, now lets them enter into the mystery. The star which led them on the journey allows them to enter into the mystery. Led by the Spirit, they come to realize that God’s criteria are quite different from those of men, that God does not manifest himself in the power of this world, but speaks to us in the humbleness of his love. God’s love is great. God’s love is powerful. But the love of God is humble, yes, very humble. The wise men are thus models of conversion to the true faith, since they believed more in the goodness of God than in the apparent splendor of power.

And so we can ask ourselves: what is the mystery in which God is hidden? Where can I find him? All around us we see wars, the exploitation of children, torture, trafficking in arms, trafficking in persons. In all these realities, in these, the least of our brothers and sisters who are enduring these difficult situations, there is Jesus (see Mt 25:40, 45). The crib points us to a different path from the one cherished by the thinking of this world: it is the path of God’s self-abasement, that humility of God’s love by which he abases himself, he completely lowers himself, his glory concealed in the manger of Bethlehem, on the cross upon Calvary, in each of our suffering brothers and sisters.

The wise men entered into the mystery. They passed from human calculations to the mystery: this was their conversion. And our own? Let us ask the Lord to let us undergo that same journey of conversion experienced by the wise men. Let us ask him to protect us and to set us free from the temptations which hide the star. To let us always feel the troubling question: “Where is the star?” whenever—amid the deceptions of this world—we lose sight of it. To let us know ever anew God’s mystery, and not to be scandalized by the “sign,” that sign spoken of by the angels, which points to “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12), and to have the humility to ask the Mother, our Mother, to show him to us. To find the courage to be liberated from our illusions, our presumptions, our “lights,” and to seek this courage in the humility of faith and in this way to encounter the Light, Lumen, like the holy wise men. May we enter into the mystery. So may it be. Amen.


SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In today’s Gospel, the narrative of the Magi coming from the East to Bethlehem to adore the Messiah, conveys a breath of universality to the Feast of the Epiphany. This is the breath of the Church which wants all peoples of the earth to be able to encounter Jesus, to experience his merciful love. This is the desire of the Church: that peoples may find Jesus’ mercy, his love. Christ is newly born, he does not yet know how to speak, and already people—represented by the Magi—can meet him, recognize him, worship him. The Wise Men stated: “we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (Mt 2:2). Herod heard this as soon as the Magi arrived in Jerusalem. These Wise Men were prestigious men, of a distant religion and different culture, and they were on their way to the land of Israel to worship the newborn king. The Church has always seen in them the image of humanity as a whole, and with today’s celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, the Church almost tries to direct, respectfully, each man and each woman of this world to the Child who is born for the salvation of all. On Christmas Eve Jesus manifested himself to shepherds, humble and scorned men—some say brigands. They were the first to bring a little warmth to that gelid cave in Bethlehem. Then the Magi arrived from faraway lands. They too were mysteriously drawn by that Child. The shepherds and the Wise Men were very different from each other; however, they had one thing in common: heaven. The shepherds of Bethlehem immediately hastened to see Jesus, not because they were particularly good, but because they kept watch in the night and, raising their eyes to heaven, they saw a sign, they heard its message and followed it. It was the same for the Magi: they observed the heavens, saw a new star, interpreted the sign and set out on their journey, from afar. The shepherds and the Wise Men teach us that in order to encounter Jesus it is necessary to be able to lift our gaze to heaven, not to withdraw into ourselves, into our own selfishness, but to have our heart and mind open to the horizons of God, who always surprises us, to be able to welcome his messages and respond with readiness and generosity.

When the Magi, the Gospel says, “saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly” (Mt 2:10). For us too, there is great comfort in seeing the star, in other words in feeling guided and not abandoned to our fate. The star is the Gospel, the Word of the Lord, as the Psalm states: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (119[118]:105). This light guides us to Christ. Without listening to the Gospel, it is impossible to encounter him! The Wise Men, indeed, by following the star arrived at the place where they found Jesus. Here “they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2:11). The experience of the Magi exhorts us not to be satisfied with mediocrity, not to “cut corners,” but to seek the meaning of things, to fervently explore the great mystery of life. It teaches us not to be scandalized by smallness and poverty but to recognize majesty in humility, and to be able to kneel before it.

May the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Wise Men in Bethlehem, help us to lift our gaze from ourselves, to allow ourselves to be guided by the star of the Gospel in order to encounter Jesus, and to be able to humble ourselves to adore him. In this way we will be able to bring to others a ray of his light, and to share with them the joy of the journey.


HOLY MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The words of the Prophet Isaiah—addressed to the Holy City of Jerusalem—are also meant for us. They call us to rise and go forth, to leave behind all that keeps us self-enclosed, to go out from ourselves and to recognize the splendor of the light which illumines our lives: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1). That “light” is the glory of the Lord. The Church cannot illude herself into thinking that she shines with her own light. Saint Ambrose expresses this nicely by presenting the moon as a metaphor for the Church: “The moon is in fact the Church, [she] shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ. She draws her brightness from the Sun of Justice, and so she can say: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’” (Hexaemeron, IV, 8, 32). Christ is the true light shining in the darkness. To the extent that the Church remains anchored in him, to the extent that she lets herself be illumined by him, she is able to bring light into the lives of individuals and peoples. For this reason the Fathers of the Church saw in her the mysterium lunae.

We need this light from on high if we are to respond in a way worthy of the vocation we have received. To proclaim the Gospel of Christ is not simply one option among many, nor is it a profession. For the Church, to be missionary does not mean to proselytize: for the Church to be missionary means to give expression to her very nature, which is to receive God’s light and then to reflect it. This is her service. There is no other way. Mission is her vocation; to shine Christ’s light is her service. How many people look to us for this missionary commitment, because they need Christ. They need to know the face of the Father.

The Magi mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew are a living witness to the fact that the seeds of truth are present everywhere, for they are the gift of the Creator, who calls all people to acknowledge him as good and faithful Father. The Magi represent the men and woman throughout the world who are welcomed into the house of God. Before Jesus, all divisions of race, language and culture disappear: in that Child, all humanity discovers its unity. The Church has the task of seeing and showing ever more clearly the desire for God which is present in the heart of every man and woman. This is the service of the Church, with the light that she reflects: to draw out the desire for God present in every heart. Like the Magi, countless people, in our own day, have a “restless heart” which continues to seek without finding sure answers—it is the restlessness of the Holy Spirit that stirs in hearts. They too are looking for a star to show them the path to Bethlehem.

How many stars there are in the sky! And yet the Magi followed a new and different star, which for them shone all the more brightly. They had long peered into the great book of the heavens, seeking an answer to their questions—they had restless hearts—and at long last the light appeared. That star changed them. It made them leave their daily concerns behind and set out immediately on a journey. They listened to a voice deep within, which led them to follow that light. It was the voice of the Holy Spirit, who works in all people. The star guided them, until they found the King of the Jews in a humble dwelling in Bethlehem.

All this has something to say to us today. We do well to repeat the question asked by the Magi: “Where is the child who has been born the King of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage” (Mt 2:2). We are impelled, especially in an age like our own, to seek the signs which God offers us, realizing that great effort is needed to interpret them and thus to understand his will. We are challenged to go to Bethlehem, to find the Child and his Mother. Let us follow the light which God offers us—that tiny light. The hymn in the breviary poetically tells us that the Magi lumen requirunt lumine—that tiny light. The light which streams from the face of Christ, full of mercy and fidelity. And once we have found him, let us worship him with all our heart, and present him with our gifts: our freedom, our understanding and our love. True wisdom lies concealed in the face of this Child. It is here, in the simplicity of Bethlehem, that the life of the Church is summed up. For here is the wellspring of that light which draws to itself every individual in the world and guides the journey of the peoples along the path of peace. 

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 by Pope Benedict XVI,
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