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Monday, September 18, 2017

0552: Reflections on the 25th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0552: Reflections on the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 22 September 2013, 21 September 2014, 20 September 2015, and 18 September 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions. (The Holy Father also delivered a fourth homily on 18 September 2016 for which there is no English translation available.)


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Square in front of the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, Cagliari
Sunday, 22 September 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I greet affectionately, in particular, my brother Bishops of Sardinia, whom I thank. Here, at the feet of Our Lady, I would like to thank each one of you, dear faithful, priests, men and women religious, the authorities and in a special way those who collaborated to organize this pastoral visit. Above all, I wish to entrust you to Mary, Our Lady of Bonaria. But in this moment I think of all the Marian Shrines of Sardinia: your land has a strong bond with Mary, a bond that you express in your devotions and your culture. May you ever be children of Mary and of the Church, and may you show it with your life, following the example of the saints!

Along this line, let us remember that yesterday, in Bergamo, Tommaso Acerbis da Olera was beatified he was a Capuchin Friar who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries. Let us give thanks for this witness of humility and love for Christ.

Now lets us recite together the Angelus prayer.

After the recitation of the Angelus:

I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch!


HOLY MASS AT THE SHRINE OF “OUR LADY OF BONARIA”

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Cagliari, Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sa paghe ‘e Nostru Segnore siat sempre chin bois’

Today the desire to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, that I had announced in Saint Peter’s Square before the summer began, has come true.

1. I have come to share with you the joys and hopes, the struggles and responsibilities, the ideals and aspirations of your island, and to strengthen you in the faith. Here in Cagliari, as in all Sardinia, there is no lack of difficulties—there are so many—of problems and concerns. I am thinking especially of the lack of work and of job insecurity, and therefore of uncertainty about the future. Your beautiful region of Sardinia has long suffered from many situations of poverty, which have been worsened by its condition as an island. The faithful collaboration of everyone, along with the responsible commitment of institutions—including the Church—is necessary in order to guarantee that fundamental rights are accorded to persons and to families, and in order to foster a more stable and fraternal society. The right to work, the right to bring home bread, bread earned through work must be guaranteed! I am close to you! I am close to you, I remember you in prayer and I encourage you to persevere in bearing witness to the human and Christian values that are so deeply rooted in the faith and history of this land and of its people. May you always keep the light of hope burning!

2. I have come among you to place myself, together with you, at the feet of Our Lady, who gives us her Son. I am well aware that Mary, our Mother, is very much in your hearts, as this Shrine testifies, to which many generations of Sardinians have climbed—and will continue to climb!—in order to invoke the protection of Our Lady of Bonaria, Principle Patroness of the Island. Here you bring the joys and sufferings of this land, of your families, and even of those of its children who live far away, who have left with great pain and longing, in order to find work and a future for themselves and for those who are dear to them. Today, we who gather here want thank Mary, because she is always near to us. We want to renew our trust and our love for her.

The first Reading we heard shows us Mary in prayer, in the Upper Room, together with the Apostles. Mary prays, she prays together with the community of the disciples, and she teaches us to have complete trust in God and in his mercy. This is the power of prayer! Let us never tire of knocking at God’s door. Everyday through Mary let us carry our entire life to God’s heart! Knock at the door of God’s heart!

In the Gospel, however, we take in Jesus’ last gaze upon his Mother (see Jn 19:25-27). From the Cross, Jesus looks at his Mother and entrusts her to the Apostle John, saying: This is your son. We are all present in John, even us, and Jesus’ look of love entrusts us to the maternal care of the Mother. Mary would have remembered another look of love, when she was a girl: the gaze of God the Father, who looked upon her humility, her littleness. Mary teaches us that God does not abandon us; he can do great things even with our weaknesses. Let us trust in him! Let us knock at the door of his heart!

3. The third thought: today I have come among you; or rather, we have come together, to encounter the gaze of Mary, since there, as it were, is reflected the gaze of the Father, who made her the Mother of God, and the gaze of the Son on the Cross, who made her our Mother. It is with that gaze that Mary watches us today. We need her tender gaze, her maternal gaze, which knows us better than anyone else, her gaze full of compassion and care. Mary, today we want to tell you: Mother grant us your gaze! Your gaze leads us to God, your gaze is a gift of the good Father who waits for us at every turn of our path, it is a gift of Jesus Christ on the Cross, who takes upon himself our sufferings, our struggles, our sin. And in order to meet this Father who is full of love, today we say to her: Mother, give us your gaze! Let’s say it all together: “Mother, grant us your gaze!” “Mother, grant us your gaze!”

Along our path, which is often difficult, we are not alone. We are so many, we are a people, and the gaze of Our Lady helps us to look at one another as brothers and sisters. Let us look upon one another in a more fraternal way! Mary teaches us to have that gaze which strives to welcome, to accompany and to protect. Let us learn to look at one another beneath Mary’s maternal gaze! There are people whom we instinctively consider less and who instead are in greater need: the most abandoned, the sick, those who have nothing to live on, those who do not know Jesus, youth who find themselves in difficulty, young people who cannot find work. Let us not be afraid to go out and to look upon our brothers and sisters with Our Lady’s gaze. She invites us to be true brothers and sisters. And let us never allow something or someone to come between us and Our Lady’s gaze. Mother, grant us your gaze! May no one hide from it! May our childlike heart know how to defend itself from the many “windbags” who make false promises? from those who have a gaze greedy for an easy life and full of promises that cannot be fulfilled. May they not rob us of Mary’s gaze, which is full of tenderness, which gives us strength and builds solidarity among us. Let us say together: Mother, grant us your gaze! Mother, grant us your gaze! Mother, grant us your gaze!

Nostra Segnora ‘e Bonaria bos acumpanzet sempre in sa vida.’


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Tirana, Abania, Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I wish to greet each of you who have come from all over Albania and from nearby countries. I thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith.

In a particular way, I wish to greet the young! They say that Albania is the youngest country in Europe and I wish to greet you. I invite you to build your lives on Jesus Christ, on God: the one who builds on God builds on rock, because he is always faithful, even if we sometimes lack faith (see 2 Tim. 2:13). Jesus knows us better than anyone else; when we sin, he does not condemn us but rather says to us, “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11). Dear young people, you are the new generation, the new generation of Albania, the future of the country. With the power of the Gospel and the example of your ancestors and the martyrs, you know how to say “No” to the idolatry of money—“No” to the idolatry of money!—“No” to the false freedom of individualism, “No” to addiction and to violence; you also know how to say “Yes” to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, “Yes” to the beauty that is inseparable from the good and the true; “Yes” to a life lived with great enthusiasm and at the same time faithful in little things. In this way, you will build a better Albania and a better world, in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate above all under her title of “Our Lady of Good Counsel.” I stand before her, spiritually, at her Shrine in Scutari, so dear to you, and to her I entrust the entire Church in Albania and all the people of this country, especially families, children and the elderly, who are the living memory of the people. May Our Lady guide you to walk “together with God towards the hope that does not delude.”


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Tirana, Abania, Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Gospel we have just heard tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (see Lk 10:1-9, 17-20). He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity. To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission. The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!” It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace. Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country! Peace!

In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples. Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them. In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom. Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel. In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, laity, and clerics and ministers of other religions paid for their fidelity with their lives. Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking. How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken! I stand spiritually at that wall of the cemetery of Scutari, a symbolic place of the martyrdom of Catholics before the firing squads, and with profound emotion I place the flower of my prayer and of my grateful and undying remembrance. The Lord was close to you, dear brothers and sisters, to sustain you; he led you and consoled you and in the end he has raised you up on eagle’s wings as he did for the ancient people of Israel, as we heard in the First Reading. The eagle, depicted on your nation’s flag, calls to mind hope, and the need to always place your trust in God, who does not lead us astray and who is ever at our side, especially in moments of difficulty.

Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfill in the Church and in society. Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all. Today, I have come to thank you for your witness and also to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts. Never forget the eagle! The eagle does not forget its nest, but flies into the heights. All of you, fly into the heights! Go high! I have also come to involve the young generations; to nourish you assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ, to the Gospel, to an encounter with God, to an encounter with one another, as you are already doing and by which you witness to the whole of Europe.

In the spirit of communion among bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity, I encourage you to bring vitality to your pastoral activities, which are activities of service, and to continuously seek new ways of making the Church present in society. In particular, I extend an invitation to the young, of whom there were so many along the way from the airport to here. This is a young people, very young! And where there is youth, there is hope. Listen to God, worship him and love one another as a people, as brothers and sisters.

To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say “thank you” for the example of fidelity to the Gospel. Do not forget the nest, your long history, or your trials. Do not forget the wounds, but also do not be vengeful. Go forward to work with hope for a great future. So many of the sons and daughters of Albania have suffered, even to the point of sacrificing their lives. May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and, above all, of peace. So may it be.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Plaza de la RevoluciĆ³n, Havana, Sunday, 20 September 2015

I thank Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, for his fraternal words, and I greet all my brother bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. I also greet the President and all the authorities present.

We have heard in the Gospel how the disciples were afraid to question Jesus when he spoke to them about his passion and death. He frightened them; they could not grasp the thought of seeing Jesus suffer on the cross. We too are tempted to flee from our own crosses and those of others, to withdraw from those who suffer. In concluding this Holy Mass, in which Jesus has once more given himself to us in his body and blood, let us now lift our gaze to the Virgin Mary, our Mother. We ask her to teach us to stand beside the cross of our brothers and sisters who suffer. To learn to see Jesus in every person bent low on the path of life, in all our brothers and sisters who hunger or thirst, who are naked or in prison or sick. With Mary our Mother, on the cross we can see who is truly “the greatest” and what it means to stand beside the Lord and to share in his glory.

Let us learn from Mary to keep our hearts awake and attentive to the needs of others. As the wedding feast of Cana teaches us, let us be concerned for the little details of life, and let us not tire of praying for one another, so that no one will lack the new wine of love, the joy which Jesus brings us.

At this time I feel bound to direct my thoughts to the beloved land of Colombia, “conscious of the crucial importance of the present moment when, with renewed effort and inspired by hope, its sons and daughters are seeking to build a peaceful society.” May the blood shed by thousands of innocent people during long decades of armed conflict, united to that of the Lord Jesus Christ crucified, sustain all the efforts being made, also here on this beautiful island, to achieve definitive reconciliation. Thus may the long night of pain and violence can, with the support of all Colombians, become an unending day of concord, justice, fraternity and love, in respect for institutions and for national and international law, so that there may be lasting peace. Please, we do not have the right to allow ourselves yet another failure on this path of peace and reconciliation. Thank you, Mr President, for all that you do in this work of reconciliation.

I ask you now to join in praying to Mary, that we may place all our concerns and hopes before the heart of Christ. We pray to her in a special way for those who have lost hope and find no reasons to keep fighting, and for those who suffer from injustice, abandonment and loneliness. We pray for the elderly, the infirm, children and young people, for all families experiencing difficulty, that Mary may dry their tears, comfort them with a mother’s love, and restore their hope and joy. Holy Mother, I commend to you these your sons and daughters in Cuba. May you never abandon them!

After the final blessing:

And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you.


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Plaza de la RevoluciĆ³n, Havana, Sunday, 20 September 2015

Jesus asks his disciples an apparently indiscreet question: “What were you discussing along the way?” It is a question which he could also ask each of us today: “What do you talk about every day?” “What are your aspirations?” The Gospel tells us that the disciples “did not answer because on the way they had been arguing about who was the most important.” They were ashamed to tell Jesus what they were talking about. Like the disciples then, today we too can be caught up in these same arguments: who is the most important?

Jesus does not press the question. He does not force them to tell him what they were talking about on the way. But the question lingers, not only in the minds of the disciples, but also in their hearts.

Who is the most important? This is a life-long question to which, at different times, we must give an answer. We cannot escape the question; it is written on our hearts. I remember more than once, at family gatherings, children being asked: “Who do you love more, Mommy or Daddy?” It’s like asking them: “Who is the most important for you?” But is this only a game we play with children? The history of humanity has been marked by the answer we give to this question.

Jesus is not afraid of people’s questions; he is not afraid of our humanity or the different things we are looking for. On the contrary, he knows the depths of the human heart, and, as a good teacher, he is always ready to encourage and support us. As usual, he takes up our searching, our aspirations, and he gives them a new horizon. As usual, he somehow finds an answer which can pose a new challenge, setting aside the “right answers,” the standard replies we are expected to give. As usual, Jesus sets before us the “logic” of love. A mindset, an approach to life, which is capable of being lived out by all, because it is meant for all.

Far from any kind of elitism, the horizon to which Jesus points us is not for those few privileged souls capable of attaining the heights of knowledge or different levels of spirituality. The horizon to which Jesus points us always has to do with daily life, also here on “our island,” something which can season our daily lives with eternity.

Who is the most important? Jesus is straightforward in his reply: “Whoever wishes to be the first—the most important—among you must be the last of all, and the servant of all.” Whatever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others.

This is the great paradox of Jesus. The disciples were arguing about who would have the highest place, who would be chosen for privileges—they were the disciples, those closest to Jesus, and they were arguing about that!—who would be above the common law, the general norm, in order to stand out in the quest for superiority over others. Who would climb the ladder most quickly to take the jobs which carry certain benefits.

Jesus upsets their “logic,” their mindset, simply by telling them that life is lived authentically in a concrete commitment to our neighbor. That is, by serving.

The call to serve involves something special, to which we must be attentive. Serving means caring for their vulnerability. Caring for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people. Theirs are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically to look at and which he asks us to love. With a love which takes shape in our actions and decisions. With a love which finds expression in whatever tasks we, as citizens, are called to perform. It is people of flesh and blood, people with individual lives and stories, and with all their frailty, that Jesus asks us to protect, to care for and to serve. Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it. That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable.

There is a kind of “service” which serves others, yet we need to be careful not to be tempted by another kind of service, one which is “self-serving” with regard to others. There is a way to go about serving which is interested in only helping “my people,” “our people.” This service always leaves “your people” outside, and gives rise to a process of exclusion.

All of us are called by virtue of our Christian vocation to that service which truly serves, and to help one another not to be tempted by a “service” which is really “self-serving.” All of us are asked, indeed urged, by Jesus to care for one another out of love. Without looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing. Jesus says: “Whoever would be first among you must be the last, and the servant of all.” That person will be the first. Jesus does not say: if your neighbor wants to be first, let him be the servant! We have to be careful to avoid judgmental looks and renew our belief in the transforming look to which Jesus invites us.

This caring for others out of love is not about being servile. Rather, it means putting the question of our brothers and sisters at the center. Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, “suffers” that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people.

God’s holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for celebrations, for friendship, for beautiful things. It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur. These were the seeds sown by your forebears. Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, but above all I invite you to care for and be at the service of the frailty of your brothers and sisters. Do not neglect them for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the person beside you. We know, we are witnesses of the incomparable power of the resurrection, which “everywhere calls forth the seeds of a new world” (see Evangelii Gaudium, nos. 276, 278).

Let us not forget the Good News we have heard today: the importance of a people, a nation, and the importance of individuals, which is always based on how they seek to serve their vulnerable brothers and sisters. Here we encounter one of the fruits of a true humanity.

Because, dear brothers and sisters: “whoever does not live to serve, does not ‘serve’ to live.”


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 September 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, Jesus invites us to reflect on two opposing ways of life: the way of the world and that of the Gospel—the worldly spirit is not the spirit of Jesus—and He does so by recounting the parable of the unfaithful and corrupt steward, who is praised by Jesus, despite his dishonesty (see Lk 16:1-13). We must point out immediately that this administrator is not presented as a model to follow, but as an example of deceitfulness. This man is accused of mismanaging his master’s affairs, and before being removed, astutely he tries to ingratiate himself with the debtors, condoning part of their debt so as to ensure himself a future. Commenting on this behaviour, Jesus observes: “For the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light” (v. 8).

We are called to respond to this worldly astuteness with Christian astuteness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a matter of departing from the worldly spirit and values, which the devil really favours, in order to live according to the Gospel. How is worldliness manifested? Worldliness is manifested by attitudes of corruption, deception, subjugation, and it constitutes the most ill-chosen road, the road of sin, because one leads you to the other! It’s like a chain, even if—it’s true—it is generally the easiest road to travel. Instead, the spirit of the Gospel requires a serious lifestyle—serious but joyful, full of joy!—serious and challenging, marked by honesty, fairness, respect for others and their dignity, and a sense of duty. And this is Christian astuteness!

The journey of life necessarily involves a choice between two roads: between honesty and dishonesty, between fidelity and infidelity, between selfishness and altruism, between good and evil. You can not waver between one and the other, because they move on different and conflicting forms of logic. The prophet Elijah said to the people of Israel that went on these two roads: “You are limping with both feet!” (see 1 Kings 18:21). It’s a fine image. It is important to decide which direction to take and then, once you have chosen the right one, to walk it with enthusiasm and determination, trusting in God’s grace and the support of His Spirit. The conclusion of the Gospel passage is powerful and categorical: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Lk 16:13).

With this teaching, Jesus today urges us to make a clear choice between Him and the worldly spirit, between the logic of corruption, of the abuse of power and greed, and that of righteousness, meekness and sharing. Some people conduct themselves with corruption as they do with drugs: they think they can use it and stop when they want. It starts out small: a tip here, a bribe over there. And between this and that, one’s freedom is slowly lost. Corruption is also habit-forming, and generates poverty, exploitation, and suffering. How many victims there are in the world today! How many victims of this widespread corruption. But when we try to follow the Gospel logic of integrity, clarity in intentions and in behavior, of fraternity, we become artisans of justice and we open horizons of hope for humanity. In gratuitousness and by giving of ourselves to our brothers and sisters, we serve the right master: God.

May the Virgin Mary help us to choose at every opportunity and at all costs, the right way, even finding the courage to go against the tide, in order to follow Jesus and his Gospel.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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Monday, September 11, 2017

0551: Reflections on the 24th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0551: Reflections on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 15 September 2013, 14 September 2014, 13 September 2015, and 11 September 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 15 September 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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


FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 September 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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

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


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 11 September 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s liturgy brings us to Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, considered the chapter on mercy. It relates three parables with which Jesus responds to the grumbling of the scribes and the Pharisees, who are criticizing his actions, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (v. 2).

With these three stories, Jesus wants to make us understand that God the Father is the first one to have a welcoming and merciful attitude toward sinners. This is God’s attitude.

In the first parable, God is presented as a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go and look for the one that is lost. In the second, he is compared to a woman who has lost a coin and searches until she finds it. In the third parable, God is imagined as a father who welcomes the son who had distanced himself; the figure of the father reveals the heart of a merciful God, manifested in Jesus.

A common element in these parables is expressed by the verbs that mean rejoice together, join in merry-making. Mourning is not spoken of; there is rejoicing, there is celebrating. The shepherd calls his friends and neighbors and says, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” (v 6). The woman calls her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost” (v. 9). And the father says to his other son: “It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (v. 32).

In the first two parables, the focus is on the joy that is so uncontainable that it must be shared with “friends and neighbors.” In the third parable, the focus is on the joy that springs from the heart of the merciful father and expands to the whole household. God’s rejoicing over those who return to Him repentant is intoned as never before in this Jubilee Year that we are living, as the term itself expresses: “jubilee,” that is, jubilation!

With these three parables, Jesus presents to us the true face of God, a God with open arms, a God who deals with sinners with tenderness and compassion. The parable that is most moving for everyone—because it manifests the infinite love of God—is that of the father who enfolds in a close embrace the son who has been found. What strikes us is not so much the sad story of a youth who falls into dissolute ways, but rather his decisive words, “I will arise and go to my father” (v. 18).

The path to return home is the path of hope and new life. God always expects us to resume our journey, he awaits us with patience, he sees us when we are still a long way off, he runs to meet us, he embraces us, he kisses us, he forgives us. That is how God is. That is how our Father is. And his forgiveness cancels the past and regenerates us in love. Forgetting the past—this is God’s weakness. When he embraces us, he forgives us, and forgets it. He doesn’t remember. He forgets the past. When we sinners convert and let ourselves be re-encountered by God, reproach and sternness do not await us, because God saves, he welcomes us home again with joy and prepares a feast.

Jesus himself in today’s Gospel says, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Lk 15:7).

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever thought about how each time we go to the confessional, there is joy and celebration in heaven? Have you ever thought about this? It’s beautiful.

This fills us with a great hope because there is no sin into which we may have fallen, from which, with the grace of God, we cannot rise up again. There is never a person who can’t be recovered; no one is irrecoverable, because God never stops wanting our good—even when we sin!

May the Virgin Mary, Refuge of Sinners, kindle in our hearts the confidence that was lit in the heart of the prodigal son: “I will arise and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you’” (v. 18). On this path, we can give glory to God, and his glory can become his celebration, and ours.

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 by Pope Benedict XVI,
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