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Monday, January 9, 2017

0509: Reflections on the Second Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis

Entry 0509: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time    
 by Pope Francis 

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



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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

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



Sunday, 19 January 2014

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

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

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

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

(12-19 JANUARY 2015)



Rizal Park, Manila, Sunday, 18 January 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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For reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 

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

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