View Articles

Monday, May 22, 2017

0532: Reflections on the Seventh Sunday of Easter
by Pope Francis



Entry 0532: Reflections on the Seventh Sunday of Easter  

by Pope Francis 


On four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, on 12 May 2013, 1 June 2014, 17 May 2015, and 8 May 2016. Here are the texts of four 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, Seventh Sunday of Easter, 12 May 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this celebration I would like to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new saints and in particular the official delegations from Italy, Colombia and Mexico.

May the martyrs of Otranto help the beloved Italian people to look with hope to the future, trusting in the closeness of God who never abandons us, even in difficult moments.

Through the intercession of Mother Laura Montoya may the Lord grant the Church a new missionary and evangelizing impetus and, inspired by this new saint’s example of harmony and reconciliation may the beloved sons and daughters of Colombia continue to work for peace and for the just development of their homeland.

Let us place in the hands of St Guadalupe García Zavala all the poor, the sick and those who care for them. Let us also commend to her intercession the noble Mexican nation so that all violence and insecurity may be eradicated and that it may continue to advance on the path of solidarity and brotherly coexistence.

I am now glad to recall the beatification, yesterday, in Rome, of the priest Luigi Novarese, Founder of the International Confederation of the Volunteers of Suffering Centers and of the Silent Workers of the Cross. I join in the thanksgiving for this exemplary priest, who was able to renew the pastoral care of the sick by giving them an active role in the Church.

I greet the participants in the March for Life which took place this morning in Rome. I ask everyone to continue to pay special attention to this most important issue of respect for human life from the moment of conception. In this regard I would also like to remember the collection of signatures being made today in Italian parishes in support of the European project “One of Us.” The initiative aims to guarantee embryos legal protection, safeguarding every human being from the very first moment of his or her existence. Evangelium Vitae Day will be a special event for those who have at heart the defence of the sacred nature of human life. It will be held here in the Vatican, in the context of the Year of Faith, next 15 and 16 June.

I greet with affection all the parish groups, families, schools and young people present. Let us now turn with filial love to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Model of all Christians.


HOLY MASS AND CANONIZATIONS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Seventh Sunday of Easter, 12 May 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Seventh Sunday of Easter we gather together in joy to celebrate a feast of holiness. Let us give thanks to God who made his glory, the glory of Love, shine on the Martyrs of Otranto, on Mother Laura Montoya and on Mother María Guadalupe García Zavala. I greet all of you who have come for this celebration—from Italy, Colombia, Mexico and other countries—and I thank you! Let us look at the new saints in the light of the word of God proclaimed. It is a word that has invited us to be faithful to Christ, even to martyrdom; it has reminded us of the urgency and beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; and it has spoken to us of the testimony of charity, without which even martyrdom and the mission lose their Christian savor.

1. When the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the Deacon Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, it is written that he was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit” (6:5; 7:55). What does this mean? It means that he was filled with the Love of God, that his whole self, his life, was inspired by the Spirit of the Risen Christ so that he followed Jesus with total fidelity, to the point of giving up himself.

Today the Church holds up for our veneration an array of martyrs who in 1480 were called to bear the highest witness to the Gospel together. About 800 people, who had survived the siege and invasion of Otranto, were beheaded in the environs of that city. They refused to deny their faith and died professing the Risen Christ. Where did they find the strength to stay faithful? In the faith itself, which enables us to see beyond the limits of our human sight, beyond the boundaries of earthly life. It grants us to contemplate “the heavens opened,” as St Stephen says, and the living Christ at God’s right hand. Dear friends, let us keep the faith we have received and which is our true treasure, let us renew our faithfulness to the Lord, even in the midst of obstacles and misunderstanding. God will never let us lack strength and calmness. While we venerate the Martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain all the Christians who still suffer violence today in these very times and in so many parts of the world and to give them the courage to stay faithful and to respond to evil with goodness.

2. We might take the second idea from the words of Jesus which we heard in the Gospel: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn 17:20). St Laura Montoya was an instrument of evangelization, first as a teacher and later as a spiritual mother of the indigenous in whom she instilled hope, welcoming them with this love that she had learned from God and bringing them to him with an effective pedagogy that respected their culture and was not in opposition to it. In her work of evangelization Mother Laura truly made herself all things to all people, to borrow St Paul’s words (see 1 Cor 9:22). Today too, like a vanguard of the Church, her spiritual daughters live in and take the Gospel to the furthest and most needy places.

This first saint, born in the beautiful country of Colombia, teaches us to be generous to God and not to live our faith in solitude—as if it were possible to live the faith alone!—but to communicate it and to make the joy of the Gospel shine out in our words and in the witness of our life wherever we meet others. Wherever we may happen to be, to radiate this life of the Gospel. She teaches us to see Jesus’ face reflected in others and to get the better of the indifference and individualism that corrode Christian communities and eat away our heart itself. She also teaches us to accept everyone without prejudice, without discrimination and without reticence, but rather with sincere love, giving them the very best of ourselves and, especially, sharing with them our most worthwhile possession; this is not one of our institutions or organizations, no. The most worthwhile thing we possess is Christ and his Gospel.

3. Lastly, a third idea. In today’s Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father with these words: “I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:26). The martyr’s fidelity event to the death and the proclamation of the Gospel to all people are rooted, have their roots, in God’s love, which was poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Rom 5:5), and in the witness we must bear in our life to this love.

St Guadalupe García Zavala was well aware of this. By renouncing a comfortable life—what great harm an easy life and well-being cause; the adoption of a bourgeois heart paralyzes us—by renouncing an easy life in order to follow Jesus’ call she taught people how to love poverty, how to feel greater love for the poor and for the sick. Mother Lupita would kneel on the hospital floor, before the sick, before the abandoned, in order to serve them with tenderness and compassion. And this is called “touching the flesh of Christ.” The poor, the abandoned, the sick and the marginalized are the flesh of Christ. And Mother Lupita touched the flesh of Christ and taught us this behavior: not to feel ashamed, not to fear, not to find “touching Christ’s flesh” repugnant. Mother Lupita had realized what “touching Christ’s flesh” actually means. Today too her spiritual daughters try to mirror God’s love in works of charity, unsparing in sacrifices and facing every obstacle with docility and with apostolic perseverance (hypomon?), bearing it with courage.

This new Mexican saint invites us to love as Jesus loved us. This does not entail withdrawal into ourselves, into our own problems, into our own ideas, into our own interests, into this small world that is so harmful to us; but rather to come out of ourselves and care for those who are in need of attention, understanding and help, to bring them the warm closeness of God’s love through tangible actions of sensitivity, of sincere affection and of love.

Faithfulness to Christ and to his Gospel, in order to proclaim them with our words and our life, witnessing to God’s love with our own love and with our charity to all: these are the luminous examples and teachings that the saints canonized today offer us but they call into question our Christian life: how am I faithful to Christ? Let us take this question with us, to think about it during the day: how am I faithful to Christ? Am I able to make my faith seen with respect, but also with courage? Am I attentive to others, do I notice who is in need, do I see everyone as brothers and sisters to love? Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the new saints, to fill our life with the joy of his love. So may it be.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CAELI

Saint Peter’s Square, Seventh Sunday of Easter, 1 June 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning.

Today, in Italy and in other Countries, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, 40 days after Easter. The Acts of the Apostles recounts this episode, the final separation of the Lord Jesus from his disciples and from this world (see Acts 1:2-9). The Gospel of Matthew, however, reports Jesus’ mandate to his disciples: the invitation to go out, to set out in order to proclaim to all nations his message of salvation (see Mt 28:16-20). “To go” or, better, “depart” becomes the key word of today’s feast: Jesus departs to the Father and commands his disciples to depart for the world.

Jesus departs, he ascends to Heaven, that is, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent to the world. He finished his work, thus, he returns to the Father. But this does not mean a separation, for he remains forever with us, in a new way. By his ascension, the Risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles—and our gaze—to the heights of Heaven to show us that the end of our journey is the Father. He himself said that he would go to prepare a place for us in Heaven. Yet, Jesus remains present and active in the affairs of human history through the power and the gifts of his Spirit; he is beside each of us: even if we do not see him with our eyes, He is there! He accompanies us, he guides us, he takes us by the hand and he lifts us up when we fall down. The risen Jesus is close to persecuted and discriminated Christians; he is close to every man and woman who suffers. He is close to us all; he is here, too, with us in the square; the Lord is with us! Do you believe this? Then let’s say it together: the Lord is with us!

When Jesus returns to Heaven, he brings the Father a gift. What is the gift? His wounds. His body is very beautiful, no bruises, no cuts from the scourging, but he retains his wounds. When he returns to the Father he shows him the wounds and says: “behold Father, this is the price of the pardon you have granted.” When the Father beholds the wounds of Jesus he forgives us forever, not because we are good, but because Jesus paid for us. Beholding the wounds of Jesus, the Father becomes most merciful. This is the great work of Jesus today in Heaven: showing the Father the price of forgiveness, his wounds. This is the beauty that urges us not to be afraid to ask forgiveness; the Father always pardons, because he sees the wounds of Jesus, he sees our sin and he forgives it.

But Jesus is present also through the Church, which He sent to extend his mission. Jesus’ last message to his disciples is the mandate to depart: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). It is a clear mandate, not just an option! The Christian community is a community “going forth,” “in departure.” More so: the Church was born “going forth.” And you will say to me: what about cloistered communities? Yes, these too, for they are always “going forth” through prayer, with the heart open to the world, to the horizons of God. And the elderly, the sick? They, too, through prayer and union with the wounds of Jesus.

To his missionary disciples Jesus says: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (v. 20). Alone, without Jesus, we can do nothing! In Apostolic work our own strengths, our resources, our structures do not suffice, even if they are necessary. Without the presence of the Lord and the power of his Spirit our work, though it may be well organized, winds up being ineffective. And thus, we go to tell the nations who Jesus is.

And together with Jesus Mary our Mother accompanies us. She is already in the house of the Father, she is the Queen of Heaven and this is how we invoke her during this time; as Jesus is with us, so too she walks with us; she is the Mother of our hope.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Seventh Sunday of Easter, 17 May 2015

At the conclusion of this celebration, I want to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new Saints, particularly the official Delegations from Palestine, France, Italy, Israel, and Jordan. I greet with affection the Cardinals, Bishops, priests, as well as the spiritual daughters of the four Saints. Through their intercession, may the Lord grant a new missionary impulse to their respective countries. Inspired by their example of mercy, charity, and reconciliation, may the Christians of these lands look to the future with hope, continuing in the journey of solidarity and fraternal coexistence.

I extend my greetings to the families, parish groups, associations, and schools present, especially to confirmands from the Archdiocese of Genoa. I address a special thought to the faithful of the Czech Republic, gathered at the shrine of Svatý Kopeček, near Olomouc, who today are remembering the 20th anniversary of St John Paul II’s visit.

Yesterday in Venice was the beatification of Fr Luigi Caburlotto, pastor, educator, and founder of the Daughters of St Joseph. Let us give thanks to God for this exemplary pastor, who led an intense spiritual and apostolic life, totally dedicated to the good of souls.

I wish to invite all of you to pray for the beloved people of Burundi who are living through a delicate moment: May the Lord help all people to flee the violence and to act responsibly for the good of the nation.

With filial love let us turn now to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, Queen of the Saints, and model for all Christians.


HOLY MASS AND RITE OF CANONIZATION OF BLESSEDS:
- JEANNE EMILIE DE VILLENEUVE
- MARIA CRISTINA DELL’IMMACOLATA CONCEZIONE BRANDO
- MARIE-ALPHONSINE DANIL GHATTAS
- MARIAM OF JESUS CRUCIFIED BAOUARDY

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Seventh Sunday of Easter, 17 May 2015

The Acts of the Apostles have set before us the early Church as she elects the man whom God called to take the place of Judas in the college of the Apostles. It is has to do not with a job, but with service. Indeed, Matthias, on whom the choice falls, receives a mission which Peter defines in these words: “One of these men, must become a witness with us to his resurrection,” the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:21-23). In this way Peter sums up what it means to be part of the Twelve: it means to be a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The fact that he says “with us” brings us to realize that the mission of proclaiming the risen Christ is not an individual undertaking: it is to be carried out in common, with the apostolic college and with the community. The Apostles had a direct and overwhelming experience of the resurrection; they were eyewitnesses to that event. Thanks to their authoritative testimony, many people came to believe; from faith in the risen Lord, Christian communities were born and are born continually. We too, today, base our faith in the risen Lord on the witness of the Apostles, which has come down to us through the mission of the Church. Our faith is firmly linked to their testimony, as to an unbroken chain which spans the centuries, made up not only by the successors of the Apostles, but also by succeeding generations of Christians. Like the Apostles, each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to his resurrection, above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident.

If this is to happen, we need to remain in the risen Christ and in his love, as the First Letter of Saint John has reminded us: “He who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). Jesus had repeated insistently to his disciples: “Abide in me, Abide in my love” (Jn 15:4, 9). This is the secret of the saints: abiding in Christ, joined to him like branches to the vine, in order to bear much fruit (see Jn 15:1-8). And this fruit is none other than love. This love shines forth in the testimony of Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve, who consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love.

A relationship with the risen Jesus is—so to speak—the “atmosphere” in which Christians live, and in which they find the strength to remain faithful to the Gospel, even amid obstacles and misunderstandings. “Abiding in love:” this is what Sister Maria Cristina Brando also did. She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord. From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love.

An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father. Today too, in the Gospel, we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (see Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Holy Spirit made her also a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world. So too, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another.

To abide in God and in his love, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all. This is what the four women Saints canonized today did. Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians. How do I bear witness to the risen Christ? This is a question we have to ask ourselves. How do I abide in him? How do I dwell in his love? Am I capable of “sowing” in my family, in my workplace and in my community, the seed of that unity which he has bestowed on us by giving us a share in the life of the Trinity?

When we return home today, let us take with us the joy of this encounter with the risen Lord. Let us cultivate in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love. Let us remain united to him and among ourselves, and follow in the footsteps of these four women, models of sanctity whom the Church invites us to imitate.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Seventh Sunday of Easter, 8 May 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we are celebrating the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, which occurred 40 days after Easter. Let us contemplate the mystery of Jesus who leaves our earthly space to enter the fullness of the glory of God, taking our humanity with him. In other words, our humanity enters heaven for the first time. The Gospel of Luke describes the reaction of the disciples before the Lord who “parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (24:51). They had no sorrow nor dismay, but “they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (v. 52). It was the return of those who no longer feared the city that had rejected the Master, who had seen Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial; who had seen the dispersion of the disciples and the brutality of a power that felt threatened. Since that day, the Apostles and every disciple of Christ have been able to live in Jerusalem and in all cities of the world, even in those most afflicted by injustice and violence, because above every city there is the same heaven and every inhabitant can lift his or her gaze with hope. Jesus, God, is true man, with his human body, he is in heaven! This is our hope, it is still ours, and we are firm in this hope if we look to heaven.

In this heaven lives that God who revealed himself so closely as to take on the face of a man, Jesus of Nazareth. He remains for us always the God-with-us—let us remember this: Emmanuel, God with us—and he never leaves us alone! We can look to heaven in order to recognize our future before us. In the Ascension of Jesus, Crucified and Risen, there is the promise of our participation in the fullness of life with God.

Before departing from his friends, Jesus, referring to the event of his death and Resurrection, said to them: “You are witnesses of these things” (v. 48). In other words the disciples, the Apostles, were witnesses of the death and Resurrection of Christ, on that day, also of the Ascension of Christ. In fact, after seeing their Lord ascend into heaven, the disciples returned to the city as witnesses joyfully proclaiming to all the new life which comes from the Crucified and Risen One, in whose name “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached to all nations” (see v. 47). This is the witness—born not only with words but with everyday life—the witness that every Sunday should flow from our churches so as to enter during the week into homes, offices, schools, meeting and recreational places, hospitals, prisons, homes for the elderly, in places crowded with immigrants, in the peripheries of the city. We must bear this witness every week: Christ is with us: Jesus rose to heaven, he is with us: Christ lives!

Jesus assured us that in this proclamation and in this witness we shall be “clothed with power from on high” (v. 49), that is, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is the secret to this mission: the presence among us of the Risen Lord, who with the gift of the Holy Spirit, continues to open our minds and our hearts, to proclaim his love and his mercy even in the most resistant areas of our cities. The Holy Spirit is the true artisan of the multiform witness that the Church and every baptized person renders in the world. Therefore, we must never neglect to meditate in prayer in order to praise God and invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. This week, which leads us to the Feast of Pentecost, let us remain spiritually in the Upper Room, together with the Virgin Mary, to receive the Holy Spirit. Let us do so now too, in communion with the faithful gathered in the Shrine of Pompeii for the traditional Supplication



© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



* * * * *


For reflections on the Seventh Sunday of Easter 

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


* * * * *



Monday, May 15, 2017

0531: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter
by Pope Francis



Entry 0531: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter  

by Pope Francis 


On four 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, and 1 May 2016. Here are the texts of four 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, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 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 ON THE OCCASION OF THE DAY OF CONFRATERNITIES
AND OF POPULAR PIETY

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 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 centre 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 ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE MEETING BETWEEN POPE PAUL VI AND PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS IN JERUSALEM

POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CAELI

Bethlehem, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 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 ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE MEETING BETWEEN POPE PAUL VI AND PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS IN JERUSALEM

HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Manger Square in Bethlehem, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 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, Sixth Sunday of Easter, 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 neighbour. 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 neighbour 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



© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



* * * * *


For reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter 

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


* * * * *



Monday, May 8, 2017

0530: Reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter
by Pope Francis



Entry 0530: Reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter  

by Pope Francis 


On four 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, and 24 April 2016. Here are the texts of four 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

St. Peter’s Square, Fifth Sunday of Easter, 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.


HOLY MASS AND CONFERRAL OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Fifth Sunday of Easter, 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, Fifth Sunday of Easter, 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, Fifth Sunday of Easter, 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 St 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 neighbour 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” IN OSTIA

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Fifth Sunday of Easter, 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, Fifth Sunday of Easter, 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.

[After the blessing:]

Dear young people, you have celebrated the Jubilee: now return home with the joy of your Christian identity. On your feet with your heads held high, and with your identity card in your hands and in your hearts. May the Lord accompany you. And please, pray for me too. Thank you.


EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE 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-centred 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



© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



* * * * *


For reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter 

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


* * * * *