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Monday, April 25, 2016

0466: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter
by Pope Francis



Entry 0466: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter 

by Pope Francis (Updated 30 April 2018) 


On five occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, on 5 May 2013, 25 May 2014, 10 May 2015, 1 May 2016, and 21 May 2017. Here are the texts of five brief reflections prior to the recitation of the prayer Regina Caeli and two homilies delivered by the Holy Father on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 5 May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 5 May 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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


PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND

POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CAELI

Bethlehem, Sunday, 25 May 2014

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

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

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

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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


PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND

HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Manger Square in Bethlehem, Sunday, 25 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 10 May 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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

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

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


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 May 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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

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


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel (see Jn 14:15-21), the continuation of that of last Sunday, takes us back to the moving and dramatic moment of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. John the Evangelist gathers from the lips and heart of the Lord His last teachings, before His Passion and death. Jesus promises his friends, at that sad, dark moment, that after him, they will receive “another Paraclete” (v. 16). This word means another “Advocate,” another Defender, another Counsellor: “the Spirit of Truth” (v. 17); and he adds, “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you” (v. 18). These words convey the joy of a new Coming of Christ. He, Risen and glorified, dwells in the Father and at the same time comes to us in the Holy Spirit. And in his new coming, he reveals our union with him and with the Father: “You will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (v. 20).

Today, by meditating on these words of Jesus, we perceive with the sense of faith that we are the People of God in communion with the Father and with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The Church finds the inexhaustible source of her very mission, which is achieved through love, in this mystery of communion. Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (v. 21). So, love introduces us to the knowledge of Jesus, thanks to the action of this “Advocate” that Jesus sent, that is, the Holy Spirit. Love for God and neighbor is the greatest commandment of the Gospel. The Lord today calls us to respond generously to the Gospel’s call to love, placing God at the center of our lives and dedicating ourselves to the service of our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need of support and consolation.

If ever there is an attitude that is never easy, even for a Christian community, it is precisely how to love oneself, to love after the Lord’s example and with his grace. Sometimes disagreements, pride, envy, divisions, leave their mark even on the beautiful face of the Church. A community of Christians should live in the charity of Christ, and instead, it is precisely there that the evil one “sets his foot in” and sometimes we allow ourselves to be deceived. And those who pay the price are those who are spiritually weaker. How many of them—and you know some of them—how many of them have distanced themselves because they did not feel welcomed, did not feel understood, did not feel loved. How many people have distanced themselves, for example, from some parish or community because of the environment of gossip, jealousy, and envy they found there. Even for a Christian, knowing how to love is never a thing acquired once and for all. We must begin anew every day. We must practice it so that our love for the brothers and sisters we encounter may become mature and purified from those limitations or sins that render it incomplete, egotistical, sterile, and unfaithful. We have to learn the art of loving every day. Listen to this: every day we must learn the art of loving; every day we must patiently follow the school of Christ. Every day we must forgive and look to Jesus, and do this with the help of this “Advocate,” of this Counsellor whom Jesus has sent to us that is the Holy Spirit.

May the Virgin Mary, the perfect disciple of her Son and Lord, help us to be more and more docile to the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, to learn every day how to love each other as Jesus loved us

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



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For reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter 

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


* * * * *


Monday, April 18, 2016

0465: Reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter
by Pope Francis



Entry 0465: Reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter 

by Pope Francis (Updated 22 April 2018) 


On five occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, on 28 April 2013, 18 May 2014, 3 May 2015, 24 April 2016, and 14 May 2017. Here are the texts of five brief reflections prior to the recitation of the prayer Regina Caeli and three homilies delivered by the Holy Father on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 28 April 2013

Before closing this celebration, I would like to entrust to Our Lady the confirmands and all of you. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to accept the news of God in our life. She conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to accept the Word of God, to accept Jesus inside of us and then to bring him to everyone. Mary invoked the Holy Spirit with the Apostles in the Upper Room: we too, every time that we come together in prayer, are sustained by the spiritual presence of the Mother of Jesus, in order to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the strength to witness to Jesus Risen. I say this in a special way to you who have received Confirmation today: may Mary help you to be attentive to what the Lord asks of you, and to live and walk forever with the Holy Spirit!

I would like to extend my affectionate greeting to all the pilgrims present from so many countries. I greet in particular the children who are preparing for Confirmation, the large group led by the Sisters of Charity, the faithful of several Polish parishes and those from Bisignano, as well as the Katholische akademische Verbindung Capitolina.

At this moment, a special moment, I wish to raise a prayer for the many victims caused by the tragic collapse of a factory in Bangladesh. I express my solidarity with and deepest sympathies to the families who are mourning their loved ones, and I address a strong appeal from my heart that the dignity and safety of the worker always be protected.

Now, in the light of Easter, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we turn together to the Mother of the Lord.


CONFIRMATIONS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Confirmands,

I would like to offer three short and simple thoughts for your reflection.

1. In the second reading, we listened to the beautiful vision of Saint John: new heavens and a new earth, and then the Holy City coming down from God. All is new, changed into good, beauty and truth; there are no more tears or mourning. This is the work of the Holy Spirit: he brings us the new things of God. He comes to us and makes all things new; he changes us. The Spirit changes us! And Saint John’s vision reminds us that all of us are journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem, the ultimate newness which awaits us and all reality, the happy day when we will see the Lord’s face—that marvelous face, the most beautiful face of the Lord Jesus—and be with him for ever, in his love.

You see, the new things of God are not like the novelties of this world, all of which are temporary; they come and go, and we keep looking for more. The new things which God gives to our lives are lasting, not only in the future, when we will be with him, but today as well. God is even now making all things new; the Holy Spirit is truly transforming us, and through us he also wants to transform the world in which we live. Let us open the doors to the Spirit, let ourselves be guided by him, and allow God’s constant help to make us new men and women, inspired by the love of God which the Holy Spirit bestows on us! How beautiful it would be if each of you, every evening, could say: Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love towards one of my friends, my parents, an older person! How beautiful!

2. A second thought. In the first reading Paul and Barnabas say that “we must undergo many trials if we are to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The journey of the Church, and our own personal journeys as Christians, are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials. To follow the Lord, to let his Spirit transform the shadowy parts of our lives, our ungodly ways of acting, and cleanse us of our sins, is to set out on a path with many obstacles, both in the world around us but also within us, in the heart. But difficulties and trials are part of the path that leads to God’s glory, just as they were for Jesus, who was glorified on the cross; we will always encounter them in life! Do not be discouraged! We have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome these trials!

3. And here I come to my last point. It is an invitation which I make to you, young confirmandi, and to all present. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness. The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God’s work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people!

The new things of God, the trials of life, remaining steadfast in the Lord. Dear friends, let us open wide the door of our lives to the new things of God which the Holy Spirit gives us. May he transform us, confirm us in our trials, strengthen our union with the Lord, our steadfastness in him: this is a true joy! So may it be.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CAELI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 May 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today the Reading from the Acts of the Apostles enables us to see that the first tensions and the first dissension also arose in the early Church. There are conflicts in life, the question is how we confront them. Until that time the unity of the Christian communities had been fostered by belonging to one single ethnicity, and to one single culture, that of the Jews. But when Christianity, which by the will of Jesus is destined for all peoples, opened up to the Greek cultural atmosphere, this homogeneity is lost and the first difficulties arose. At that time, discontent was spreading, there was grumbling, rumors of favoritism and unequal treatment circling. This happens in our parishes too! The community’s help to those in need—widows, orphans and the poor in general—seems to favor Christians of Jewish extraction over others.

And so, faced with this conflict, the Apostles take the situation into their own hands: they call a meeting that is also open to the disciples, and they discuss the matter together. Everyone. Problems, in fact, are not resolved by pretending that they do not exist! And this frank and open exchange between pastors and the other faithful is beautiful. They then come to the subdivision of some of the tasks. The Apostles make a proposal that is welcomed by all: they will dedicate themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word, while seven men, deacons, will provide for the service of the tables for the poor. These seven men are not chosen because they are experts in business, but because they are honest men of good repute, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom; and they are established in the service through the imposition of hands by the Apostles. So from that malcontent, that grumbling, from those rumors of favoritism and unequal treatment, they arrive at a solution. Conflicts in the Church are resolved by facing one other, by discussing and praying. By facing each other, by discussing and praying, with the certainty that gossip, envy, jealousy can never bring us to concord, harmony or peace. There, too, it was the Holy Spirit who crowned this understanding, and this enables us to understand that when we let ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, he brings us to harmony, unity and respect for various gifts and talents. Have you understood well? No gossiping, no envy, no jealousy! Understood? May the Virgin Mary help us to be docile to the Holy Spirit, so that we may be able to esteem one another and converge ever more deeply in faith and love, keeping our hearts open to the needs of our brother.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 May 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel shows us Jesus during the Last Supper, in the moment He knows His death is close at hand. His ‘hour’ has come. For it is the last time He is with His disciples, and now He wants to impress firmly a fundamental truth in their minds: even when He will no longer be physically present in the midst of them, they will still be able to remain united to Him in a new way, and thus bear much fruit. Everyone can be united to Jesus in a new way. If, on the contrary, one should lose this unity with Him, this union with Him, would become sterile, or rather, harmful to the community. And to express this reality, this new way of being united to Him, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches: Just “as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:4-5). With this image He teaches us how to abide Him, to be united to Him, even though He is not physically present.

Jesus is the vine, and through Him—like the sap in the tree—the very love of God, the Holy Spirit is passed to the branches. Look: we are the branches, and through this parable, Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to him. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which the source of their life is found. So it is with us Christians. Grafted by Baptism in Christ, we have freely received the gift of new life from Him; and thanks to the Church we are able to remain in vital communion with Christ. We must remain faithful to Baptism, and grow in intimacy with the Lord through prayer, listening and docility to His Word (read the Gospel), participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

When one is intimately united to Jesus, he enjoys the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are—as Saint Paul tells us—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). These are the gifts that we receive if we remain united in Jesus; and therefore a person who is so united in Him does so much good for neighbor and society, is a Christian person. In fact, one is recognized as a true Christian by this attitude, as a tree is recognized by its fruit. The fruits of this profound union with Christ are wonderful: our whole person is transformed by the grace of the Spirit: soul, understanding, will, affections, and even body, because we are united body and soul. We receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes our own: we are able to think like Him, to act like Him, to see the world and the things in it with the eyes of Jesus. And so we are able to love our brothers, beginning with the poorest and those who suffer the most, as He did and love them with His heart, and so bear fruits of goodness, of charity, and of peace in the world.

Each one of us is a branch of the one vine; and all of us together are called to bear the fruits of this common membership in Christ and in the Church. Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that we might be able to be living branches in the Church and witness to our faith in a consistent manner—consistency of one’s own life and thought, of life and faith—knowing that all of us, according to our particular vocations, participate in the one saving mission of Christ.


PASTORAL VISIT TO THE PARISH
SANTA MARIA REGINA PACIS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Ostia, Sunday, 3 May 2015

Something Jesus often repeats, especially during the Last Supper, is: “Abide in me.” Do not tire of me, abide in me. And Christian life is precisely this: to abide in Jesus. This is Christian life: to abide in Jesus. And Jesus, in order to explain to us what he means by this, uses this beautiful figure of the vine: “I am the true vine, you the branches” (see Jn 15:1). And every branch that is not joined to the vine ends up dying, it bears no fruit; and then is thrown away to feed the fire. Many are used for this, to feed the fire—they are very, very useful—but not in bearing fruit. Rather, the branches that are united to the vine receive the lifeblood and thus develop, grow and bear fruit. It’s a simple, simple image. To abide in Jesus means to be united to Him in order to receive life from Him, love from Him; the Holy Spirit from Him. It’s true, we are all sinners, but if we abide in Jesus, like the branches to the vine, the Lord comes. He prunes us a little, so that we can bear more fruit. He always takes care of us. But if we detach from Him, if we do not abide in the Lord, we are Christians in name only, but not in life; we are Christians, but dead ones, because we bear no fruit, like branches broken away from the vine.

To abide in Jesus means to be willing to receive life from Him, as well as pardon, even pruning, but to receive it from Him. To abide in Jesus means to seek Jesus, to pray, prayer. To abide in Jesus means to approach the sacraments: the Eucharist, Reconciliation. To abide in Jesus—and this is the most difficult thing—means to do what Jesus did, to have the same attitude as Jesus. But when we “slur” someone else [speaking badly of others], for example, or when we gossip, we do not abide in Jesus. Jesus never did this. When we are liars, we do not abide in Jesus. He never did this. When we cheat others with the dirty deals that are available to everyone, we are dead branches, we do not abide in Jesus. To abide in Jesus is to do the things that he did: to do good, to help others, to pray to the Father, to care for the sick, to help the poor, to have the joy of the Holy Spirit.

A beautiful question for us Christians is this: do I abide in Jesus or am I far from Jesus? Am I united to the vine that gives me life or am I a dead branch, that is incapable of bearing fruit, giving witness? And there are other branches too, of which Jesus does not speak here, but he speaks about them elsewhere: those who make themselves look like disciples of Jesus, but they do the opposite of Jesus’ disciple: these are hypocritical branches. Perhaps they go to Mass every Sunday, perhaps their face looks like a holy card, all pious, but then they live like pagans. And Jesus calls them hypocrites in the Gospel. Jesus is good, he invites us to abide in Him. He gives us the strength, and if we slide into sin—we are all sinners—He forgives us, because He is merciful. But what He wants are these two things: that we abide in Him and that we are not hypocrites. And with this a Christian life moves forward.

And what does the Lord give us if we abide in Him? We just heard it: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” (Jn 15:7). The power of prayer: “Ask whatever you will,” that is, prayer is so powerful that Jesus does whatever we ask of him. However if our prayer is weak—if it is not done sincerely in Jesus—prayer does not bear its fruit, because the branch is not united to the vine. But if the branch is united to the vine, that is, “if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” And this is the almighty prayer. Where does the omnipotence of this prayer come from? From abiding in Jesus; from being united to Jesus, like the branch to the vine. May the Lord grant us this grace.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 April 2016

At the end of this Jubilee celebration, my thought goes in a special way to you, dear boys and girls. You have come to Italy from different parts of the world to live a moment of faith and fraternal conviviality. Thank you for your joyful and enthusiastic witness. Go forth with courage!

Yesterday in Burgos, Spain, Fr. Valentín Palencia Marquina and his four companion martyrs were declared Blessed. They were killed for their faith during the Spanish Civil War. Let us praise the Lord for their courageous witness, and let us pray for their intercession to free the world from all violence.

I am always deeply concerned for the brother bishops, priests and religious, both Catholic and Orthodox, who have long been sequestered in Syria. May Merciful God touch the hearts of their abductors and allow our brothers and sisters to be set free and to return to their communities as soon as possible. For this I invite you all to pray, without forgetting other abductees in the world.

Let us entrust all our hopes and aspirations to the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy.


HOLY MASS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 April 2016

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Dear young friends, what an enormous responsibility the Lord gives us today! He tells us that the world will recognize the disciples of Jesus by the way they love one another. Love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card, the only valid “document” identifying us as Christians. It is the only valid document. If this card expires and is not constantly renewed, we stop being witnesses of the Master. So I ask you: Do you wish to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to be his disciples? Do you wish to be his faithful friends? The true friends of Jesus stand out essentially by the genuine love; not some “pie in the sky” love; no, it is a genuine love that shines forth in their way of life. Love is always shown in real actions. Those who are not real and genuine and who speak of love are like characters is a soap opera, some fake love story. Do you want to experience his love? Do you want this love: yes or no? Let us learn from him, for his words are a school of life, a school where we learn to love. This is a task which we must engage in every day: to learn how to love.

Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness. But it is not an easy path. It is demanding and it requires effort. Think, for example, of when we receive a gift. It makes us happy, but receiving a gift means that someone generous has invested time and effort; by their gift they also give us a bit of themselves, a sacrifice they have made. Think too of the gift that your parents and group leaders have given you in allowing you to come to Rome for this Jubilee day dedicated to you. They planned, organized, and prepared everything for you, and this made them happy, even if it meant that they had to give up a trip for themselves. This is putting love into action. To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one’s self: one’s own time, one’s friendship, one’s own abilities.

Look to the Lord, who is never outdone in generosity. We receive so many gifts from him, and every day we should thank him. Let me ask you something. Do you thank the Lord every day? Even if we forget to do so, he never forgets, each day, to give us some special gift. It is not something material and tangible that we can use, but something even greater, a life-long gift. What does the Lord give to us? He offers us his faithful friendship, which he will never take back. The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself. This is an example of genuine love that Jesus teaches to us. This is very important! Because the biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us—and that is always a sadness—from feeling that we are all alone. The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes.”

Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection. The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful. He will guide your hearts to “love without being possessive,” to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free. Because love is free! There is no true love that is not free! The freedom that the Lord gives to us is his love for us. He is always close to each one of us. There is always a temptation to let our affections be tainted by an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing; this is selfishness. Our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency. Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside. The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them. This is putting tenderness and love into action.

At this point in life you feel also a great longing for freedom. Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want. But here you have to be able to say no. If you do not know how to say “no,” you are not free. The person who is free is he or she who is able to say “yes” and who knows how to say “no.” Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want. This makes us self-centered and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends; it is not true to say “it is good enough if it serves me.” No, this is not true. Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy. I believe that you young men and women are not afraid to make the effort, that you are indeed courageous! Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue. Courageous and noble choices. Do not be content with mediocrity, with “simply going with the flow,” with being comfortable and laid back. Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions. Be skeptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions. Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love. True freedom is something else altogether.

That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart; love is a responsibility, but a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams! Woe to your people who do not know how to dream, who do not dare to dream! If a person of your age is not able to dream, if they have already gone into retirement, this is not good. Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness. Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice! How can we grow in love? The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world. And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall. Throughout life we will fall many times, because we are sinners, we are weak. But there is always the hand of God who picks us up, who raises us up. Jesus wants us to be up on our feet! Think of the beautiful word Jesus said to the paralytic: “Arise!” God has created us to be on our feet. There is a lovely song that mountain climbers sing as they climb. It goes like this: “In climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but to not remain fallen!” To have the courage to pick oneself up, to allow oneself to be raised up by Jesus. And his hand is often given through the hand of a friend, through the hand of one’s parents, through the hand of those who accompany us throughout life. Jesus himself is present in them. So arise! God wants us up on our feet, ever on our feet!

I know that you are capable of acts of great friendship and goodness. With these you are called to build the future, together with others and for others, but never against anyone! One never builds “against;” this is called “destruction.” You will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life, champions in love! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus. In this way, you will have the identification card of the Christian. And I promise you: your joy will be complete.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 May 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!

Yesterday evening, I returned from my pilgrimage to Fatima—let us greet Our Lady of Fatima—and today’s Marian prayer takes on a special meaning, laden with memories and prophesy for those who look at history through the eyes of faith. At Fatima, I immersed myself in the prayer of the Holy faithful people, a prayer that has been flowing there like a river for the past 100 years, to implore Mary’s motherly protection over the entire world. I thank the Lord who allowed me to go to the feet of the Virgin Mother as a pilgrim of hope and of peace. I offer my heartfelt thanks to the Bishops, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the state Authorities, the President of the Republic and all those who offered their collaboration.

From the beginning, in the Chapel of the Apparitions, as I paused for a long while in silence, accompanied by the prayerful silence of all the pilgrims, an atmosphere of recollection and contemplation was created, in which the various moments of prayer took place. And at the center of all this, there was and there is the Risen Lord, present in the midst of his People in the Word and in the Eucharist; present in the midst of so many sick people, who are the protagonists of the liturgical and pastoral life of Fatima, as of every Marian Shrine.

At Fatima, the Virgin chose the innocent heart and simplicity of little Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, as custodians of her message. These children welcomed it worthily, so much so as to be recognized

as trustworthy witnesses of the apparitions, and becoming role models of Christian life. With the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta, I wanted to propose to the entire Church their example of bonding with Christ and their evangelic witness, and I also wanted to urge the entire Church to take care of children. Their holiness is not the consequence of the apparitions, but of their faithfulness and the ardor with which they responded to the privilege of being able to see the Virgin Mary. After the encounter with the “Beautiful Lady”—as they called her—they frequently recited the Rosary, they did penance and offered sacrifices to bring about the end of the War, and for the souls most in need of divine mercy.

And today too, there is much need of prayer and penitence to implore the grace of conversion, to implore the end to the many wars there are throughout the world and that are growing ever larger, as well as an end to the absurd, large and small conflicts which disfigure the face of humanity.

Let us be guided by the Light which comes from Fatima. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary always be our refuge, our consolation and the path that leads to Christ

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



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For reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter 

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
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