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Monday, July 24, 2017

0544: Reflections on the 17th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0544: Reflections on the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 28 July 2013, 27 July 2014, 26 July 2015, and 24 July 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.



XXVIII WORLD YOUTH DAY

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, 28 July 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this Mass, in which we have raised up to God our song of praise and thanksgiving for every grace received during this World Youth Day, I would like once more to thank Archbishop Orani Tempesta and Cardinal Rylko for their kind words. I thank you too, dear young friends, for all the joy you have given me in these days. Thank you! I carry each one of you in my heart! Now let us turn our gaze to our heavenly Mother, the Virgin Mary. During these days, Jesus has insistently and repeatedly invited you to be his missionary disciples; you have listened to the voice of the Good Shepherd, calling you by name, and you have recognized the voice calling you (see Jn 10:4). Could it be that in this voice, resounding in your heart, you have felt the tenderness of God’s love? Have you experienced the beauty of following Christ together with others, in the Church? Have you understood more deeply that the Gospel is the answer to the desire for an even fuller life? (see Jn 10:10). Is this true?

The Immaculate Virgin intercedes for us in heaven as a good mother who watches over her children. May Mary teach us by her life what it means to be a missionary disciple. Every time we pray the Angelus, we recall the event that changed the history of mankind for ever. When the Angel Gabriel proclaimed to Mary that she would become the Mother of Jesus the Savior, even without understanding the full significance of that call, she trusted God and replied: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). But what did she do immediately afterwards? On receiving the grace of being the Mother of the Incarnate Word, she did not keep that gift to herself; with a sense of responsibility, she set off from her home and went in haste to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was in need of assistance (see Lk 1:38-39); she carried out an act of love, of charity, and of practical service, bringing Jesus who was in her womb. And she did all this in haste!

There, my dear friends, we have our model. She who received the most precious gift from God, as her immediate response sets off to be of service and to bring Jesus. Let us ask Our Lady to help us too to give Christ’s joy to our families, our companions, our friends, to everyone. Never be afraid to be generous with Christ. It is worth it! Go out and set off with courage and generosity, so that every man and every woman may meet the Lord.

Dear young friends, we have an appointment for the next World Youth Day in 2016 in Krakow, Poland. Through Our Lady’s maternal intercession, let us ask for the light of the Holy Spirit upon the journey that will lead us to this next stage in our joyful celebration of faith and the love of Christ.

Now let us pray together: [Angelus Domini …]


XXVIII WORLD YOUTH DAY

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, 28 July 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations.” With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? What is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (see Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “go, if you would like to, if you have the time,” but he said: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination, from the desire for power, but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and did not give us just a part of himself, but he gave us the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as people who are free, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you, young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path for all of you to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, as we have just heard in the reading, when he was called by God to be a prophet. “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus never leaves anyone alone! He always accompanies us.

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go,” but “All of you go:” we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! Certainly he has rejuvenated all of you. The young make everyone feel young. But this experience is only a stage on the journey. Please, continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And here I wish to thank from the heart the youth ministry teams from the movements and new communities that are accompanying the young people in their experience of being Church, in such a creative and bold way. Go forth and don’t be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. The life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all.” Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives more joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Dear young friends, Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Amen.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The brief similes proposed in today’s liturgy conclude the chapter of the Gospel of Matthew dedicated to the parables of the Kingdom of God (13:44-52). Among these are two small masterpieces: the parables of the treasure hidden in the field and of the pearl of great value. They tell us that the discovery of the Kingdom of God can happen suddenly like the farmer who, ploughing, finds an unexpected treasure; or after a long search, like the pearl merchant who eventually finds the most precious pearl, so long dreamt of. Yet, in each case the point is that the treasure and the pearl are worth more than all other possessions; and therefore when the farmer and the merchant discover them, they give up everything else in order to obtain them. They do not need to rationalize or think about it or reflect: they immediately perceive the incomparable value of what they’ve found and they are prepared to lose everything in order to have it.

This is how it is with the Kingdom of God: those who find it have no doubts, they sense that this is what they have been seeking and waiting for; and this is what fulfills their most authentic aspirations. And it really is like this: those who know Jesus, encounter Him personally, are captivated, attracted by so much goodness, so much truth, so much beauty, and all with great humility and simplicity. To seek Jesus, to find Jesus: this is the great treasure!

Many people, many saints, reading the Gospel with an open heart, have been so struck by Jesus they convert to Him. Let us think of Saint Francis of Assisi: he was already a Christian, though a “rosewater” Christian. When he read the Gospel, in that decisive moment of his youth, he encountered Jesus and discovered the Kingdom of God; with this, all his dreams of worldly glory vanished. The Gospel allows you to know the real Jesus, it lets you know the living Jesus; it speaks to your heart and changes your life. And then yes, you leave it all. You can effectively change lifestyles, or continue to do what you did before but you are someone else, you are reborn: you have found what gives meaning, what gives flavor, what gives light to all things, even to toil, even to suffering, and even to death.

Read the Gospel. Read the Gospel. We have spoken about it, do you remember? To read a passage of the Gospel every day; and to carry a little Gospel with us, in our pocket, in a purse, in some way, to keep it at hand. And there, reading a passage, we will find Jesus. Everything takes on meaning when you find your treasure there, in the Gospel. Jesus calls it “the Kingdom of God,” that is to say, God who reigns in your life, in our life; God who is love, peace and joy in every man and in all men. This is what God wants and it is why Jesus gave himself up to death on the cross, to free us from the power of darkness and to move us to the kingdom of life, of beauty, of goodness and of joy. To read the Gospel is to find Jesus and to have this Christian joy, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of finding the treasure of the Kingdom of God shines through, it’s visible. The Christian cannot keep his faith hidden, because it shines through in every word, in every deed, even the most simple and mundane: the love that God has given through Jesus shines through. Let us pray, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that His Kingdom of love, justice and peace may reign in us and in the whole world.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 26 July 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

This Sunday’s Gospel presents the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves, in the account of John the Evangelist (6:1-15). Jesus is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and is surrounded by “a multitude,” who were attracted by “the signs which he did on those who were diseased” (v. 2). Acting in Him is the merciful power of God, who heals every evil of the body and spirit. But Jesus is not only healer, he is also teacher: indeed, he goes up into the hills and sits, with the typical attitude of a teacher when he teaches: he goes up to that natural “pulpit” created by his Heavenly Father. At this point Jesus, who fully understands what he is about to do, puts his disciples to the test. How can they feed all these people? Philip, one of the Twelve, quickly calculates: by taking up a collection, they might collect 200 denarii at most, which would not be enough to feed 5,000 people.

The disciples reason in “marketing” terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with another logic, the logic of giving. It is here that Andrew, one of the Apostles, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a young lad who offers everything he has: five loaves and two fish; but of course, Andrew says, they are nothing for that multitude (see v. 9). Jesus actually expecting this. He orders the disciples to make the people sit down, then he takes those loaves and those fish, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them (see v. 11). These acts prefigure the Last Supper, which gives the bread of Jesus its truest significance. The bread of God is Jesus Himself. By receiving Him in Communion, we receive his life within us and we become children of the Heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. By receiving communion we meet Jesus truly living and risen! Taking part in the Eucharist means entering into the logic of Jesus, the logic of giving freely, of sharing. And as poor as we are, we all have something to give. “To receive Communion” means to draw from Christ the grace which enables us to share with others all we are and all we have.

The crowd is struck by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves; but the gift Jesus offers is the fullness of life for a hungering mankind. Jesus satiates not only material hunger, but the most profound one, the hunger for the meaning of life, the hunger for God. Before the suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people, what can we ourselves do? Complaining doesn’t resolve anything, but we can offer the little that we have, like the lad in the Gospel. We surely have a few hours of time, certain talents, some skills. Who among us doesn’t have “five loaves and two fish” of his own? We all have them! If we are willing to place them in the Lord’s hands, they will be enough to bring about a little more love, peace, justice and especially joy in the world. How necessary joy is in the world! God is capable of multiplying our small acts of solidarity and allowing us to share in his gift.

May our prayer sustain the common commitment that no one may lack the heavenly Bread which gives eternal life and the basic necessities for a dignified life, and may it affirm the logic of sharing and love. May the Virgin Mary accompany us with her maternal intercession.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter's Square, Sunday, 24 July 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel this Sunday (Lk 11:1-13) opens with the scene of Jesus who is praying alone, apart from the others; when he finishes, the disciples ask him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (v. 1); and He says in reply, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, ...’” (v. 2). This word is the “secret” of Jesus’ prayer, it is the key that he himself gives to us so that we too might enter into that relationship of confidential dialogue with the Father who accompanied and sustained his whole life.

With the name “Father” Jesus combines two requests: “hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come” (v. 2). Jesus’ prayer, and the Christian prayer therefore, first and foremost, makes room for God, allowing him to show his holiness in us and to advance his kingdom, beginning with the possibility of exercising his Lordship of love in our lives.

Three other supplications complete this prayer that Jesus taught, the “Our Father.” There are three questions that express our basic needs: bread, forgiveness and help in temptation (see vv. 3-4). One cannot live without bread, one cannot live without forgiveness and one cannot live without God’s help in times of temptation. The bread that Jesus teaches us to ask for is what is necessary, not superfluous. It is the bread of pilgrims, the righteous, a bread that is neither accumulated nor wasted, and that does not weigh us down as we walk. Forgiveness is, above all, what we ourselves receive from God: only the awareness that we are sinners forgiven by God’s infinite mercy can enable us to carry out concrete gestures of fraternal reconciliation. If a person does not feel that he/she is a sinner who has been forgiven, that person will never be able to make a gesture of forgiveness or reconciliation. It begins in the heart where you feel that you are a forgiven sinner. The last supplication, “lead us not into temptation,” expresses the awareness of our condition, which is always exposed to the snares of evil and corruption. We all know what temptation is!

Jesus’ teaching on prayer continues with two parables, which he modelled on the behavior of a friend towards another friend, and that of a father towards his son (see vv. 5-12). Both are intended to teach us to have full confidence in God, who is Father. He knows our needs better than we do ourselves, but he wants us to present them to him boldly and persistently, because this is our way of participating in his work of salvation. Prayer is the first and principle “working instrument” we have in our hands! In being persistent with God, we don’t need to convince him, but to strengthen our faith and our patience, meaning our ability to strive together with God for the things that are truly important and necessary. In prayer there are two of us: God and I, striving together for the important things.

Among these, there is one, the great important thing that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel, which we almost never ask for, and that is the Holy Spirit. “Give me the Holy Spirit!” And Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him for it!” (v. 13). The Holy Spirit! We must ask that the Holy Spirit comes within us. But what is the use of the Holy Spirit? We need him to live well, to live with wisdom and love, doing God’s will. What a beautiful prayer it would be if, this week, each of us were to ask the Father: “Father, give me the Holy Spirit!” Our Lady demonstrates this with her life, which was entirely enlivened by the Spirit of God. May She, united to Jesus, help us to pray to the Father so that we might not live in a worldly manner, but according to the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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Friday, July 21, 2017

0543: The Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas

ACTA PHILOSOPHICA
Fascicolo II, Volume 25 (2016), pp. 386-389.

Book review by O.J. Gonzalez
Stephen L. Brock, The Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas: A Sketch, Eugene, Oregon, 2015, pp. xix + 195.

It is well known that Saint Thomas Aquinas manifests most clearly his own philosophical insights in contexts where he is explaining the content of revelation. As a consequence, these philosophical principles are uncovered only by extracting them from a massive amount of theological work. With The Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas: A Sketch, Stephen Brock joins scholars like John Wippel (The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas) and Jan Aertsen (Nature and Creature) who have undertaken this task. Written as a general summary of Thomas’s philosophical thought, the book is wider in scope than those of Wippel and Aertsen which focused on metaphysics. Brock provides helpful summaries of Thomas’s teachings on logic, the philosophy of nature, moral philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, and natural theology to mention a few. While it may be just a sketch, the book is not a primer for beginners. Every chapter is packed with content and some even take up the interpretation of controversial issues. In general Brock draws directly from Aquinas’s writings, but his discussions seem to emphasize Aristotle’s influence on Saint Thomas.
The book opens with a chapter containing a brief biography of Saint Thomas Aquinas which is followed by chapters focusing on mobile being, living beings, human beings, purely spiritual beings, and ethics.
In Chapter One the author provides some historical context and sets the stage for the issues discussed in the rest of the book. Brock states unequivocally that Saint Thomas was above all a professional theologian (p. xviii). But in this chapter he also makes clear that Aquinas had a genuine interest in learning about the principles that govern the workings of physical reality and in cultivating the philosophical disciplines. Saint Thomas judges that philosophy is highly useful in theology, because the human mind is more easily led to that which is above reason by the knowledge of that which is most intelligible to us (p. 19). Thus for Aquinas, the goal of becoming proficient in the knowledge afforded by the natural sciences is ultimately intended only as an aid to a better vision of reality as whole and, especially, of non-physical reality (p. 24). Through metaphysical inquiry the human mind is capable of reaching valid knowledge of supra-sensible being. For Aquinas, Brock maintains, we know through the natural light of reason about the immaterial substances like angels and God only what we can infer about them from our understanding of sensible reality (pp. 93, 108).
Chapter Two, which deals with Aquinas’s understanding of mobile being, directs the reader’s attention towards the concept of nature. In a step by step explanation Brock explores the different senses of the term “natura” and claims that for Aquinas the most proper meaning of nature is a body’s substantial form (pp. 44-46). Substantial form is what functions in a composite as principle of generation, principle of motion, and principle of activity (p. 29). Here Brock’s explanation is particularly lucid and would be excellent reading for students taking a course on the philosophy of mobile being as understood by Aristotle and Saint Thomas.
The distinction between inanimate and animate things manifests the existence of a special kind of substantial form: the principle of life, the anima or soul. In Chapter Three on living beings, Brock outlines Thomas’s explanation of how substantial forms in general, and souls in particular—vegetative, sensitive and intellectual—can be said to transcend matter. At the most basic level, «every substantial form overcomes the divisibility of matter and makes a body an unqualified unity, a substance in act» (p. 77). But with the introduction of the principle of life there comes as well a gradual increase in the elevation of the substantial form over matter: «The intellectual soul stands at the peak of a whole hierarchy of forms, each higher one being less conditioned by matter. The senses have a qualified immateriality. Plant-souls are not tied to this matter» (p. 77). Through the analysis of the powers which are specific to each kind of soul, we are able to recognize different degrees of perfection in living beings. Brock concentrates on the cognitive powers, making extensive use of the principle that “cognition and materiality are inversely proportional.” In this discussion he provides an excellent explanation of how Aquinas conceived the activity of the senses to be in some degree immaterial. The chapter also discusses Aquinas’s understanding of how the human intellect can be a power possessing total immateriality and yet inhere in a substantial form that is meant to inform a body. Matter does condition the human intellect but in an extrinsic way, for, in order to understand something, the human intellect must abstract the forms from sensible phantasms (p. 78).
The fourth chapter on human beings centers on Aquinas’s account of human cognition. The author explains how the human intellect rises to some knowledge of supra-sensible being by making use of Aristotle’s observation that the things that are first and more knowable to us are not the same as those that are first and more knowable by nature or in themselves. This explains why Aquinas holds that the science of logic should be taught first, even though metaphysics is primary simply. Thus, because learning builds on previous knowledge, some knowledge must also precede the teaching of logic. Accordingly, Brock suggests that the first elements of knowledge that human beings understand are definitely metaphysical: «The ens that is the very first object of understanding coincides with the ens that is the subject of metaphysics» (p. 97, n. 62). In every human being, there is an understanding of the basic principles prior to being taught, and the role of the metaphysician is to “verify” the principles themselves. «Science presupposes unteachable knowledge, sheer understanding of certain things» (p. 95). From knowledge of the universality associated with common being, the mind of the metaphysician rises to the universality associated with God and the separate, immaterial beings. Both logic and metaphysics extend to everything, but the object of logic does not reside in the things themselves while the object of metaphysics does.
In Chapter Five Brock uses the notion of form to lead into the metaphysics of esse. In fact this chapter could be described as an ascent to God through the notion of form. «I would venture to say that, for Thomas, it is only this intellectual experience of form, as cause of being to matter—that is, substantial form—which gives us the possibility of framing some positive notion of immaterial reality» (p.  110). The analysis of form leads the author to conclude in a somewhat neo-Platonic way that the common notion of esse is not God’s esse and that esse commune occupies a mediating place between God and existing things. Brock indeed opposes strongly the identification of Aquinas’s esse commune with the divine form. But while doing so he still sees the need for ascribing to esse commune the mediating role. Here Brock seems to be in disagreement with Aertsen who (following Cornelio Fabro) holds that in the metaphysics of participation, even this element of mediation of esse commune is dropped. Reading Aquinas under the light of the Aristotelian contraction of ens universale into the diverse categories, Brock may not give sufficient attention to the other contraction of being postulated by Aquinas, namely, the contraction of being by participation. This other contraction is the contraction of the infinite fullness of being itself (ens per essentiam) into finite being (ens per participationem), a doctrine that Saint Thomas conveys in a particularly insightful way in this text of the Summa theologiae: «Being caused does not belong to being as such, therefore it is possible for us to find a being which is uncaused» (I, 44, 1, ad 1). It is significant in this regard that Cornelio Fabro is not cited in the book nor does he figure in Brock’s list of great Thomistic scholars.
The final chapter on ethics focuses mainly on the relationship between the practical and the speculative orders. Just as the first principles of the particular sciences are founded on and presuppose the general principles of metaphysics so do the first principles of the province of being that is considered in moral philosophy.
A recurring theme in Brock’s book is the thesis that in philosophical matters Aquinas’s way of thinking is Aristotle’s way of thinking. This is reminiscent of the late Thomist, Lawrence Dewan (1932-2015), who said about himself that he was much more inclined than his own teachers (Etienne Gilson and Joseph Owens) to stress the continuity of thought between Aristotle and Thomas. In this book, Brock affirms that «On many metaphysical themes I have found the writings of Lawrence Dewan, O.P. especially illuminating» (p. 91, n. 36). And according to Brock, Dewan’s treatment of the centrality of form in metaphysics almost amounts to a rediscovery.
Notwithstanding this tendency to interpret Saint Thomas in an Aristotelian key, Brock’s explanations are uniformly clear and helpful. Sifting out and distilling the philosophical principles from the theological works of Saint Thomas Aquinas is no easy task. Among other things it requires years of study, talent and hard work. Brock’s book represents a well organized and a well argued analysis of the most important notions and principles that guided the philosophical mind of Thomas Aquinas.
Orestes J. Gonzalez
Editor of Actus Essendi

Acta Philosophica 
Via dei Farnesi 82, I-00186 Roma
Tel: +39 06681641
Fax: +39 0668164600
actaphil@pusc.it 

© Edizioni Santa Croce s.c.ar.l.

Monday, July 17, 2017

0542: Reflections on the 16th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0542: Reflections on the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 21 July 2013, 20 July 2014, 19 July 2015, and 17 July 2016. Here are the texts of the four brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus that the Holy Father delivered on these occasions.



POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 July 2013

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday we continue reading the 10 chapters of the Evangelist Luke. The passage today is that on Martha and Mary. Who are these two women? Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, are the relatives and faithful disciples of the Lord, who lived in Bethany. Saint Luke describes them in this way: Mary, at the feet of Jesus, “listened to his teaching,” while Martha was burdened with much serving (see Lk 10:39-40). Both welcome the Lord on his brief visit, but they do so differently. Mary sets herself at the feet of Jesus to listen but Martha lets herself become absorbed in preparing everything, and so much so that she says to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (v. 40). And Jesus answers scolding her sweetly: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing” (v. 41).

What does Jesus mean? What is this one thing that we need? First of all, it is important to understand that this is not about two contradictory attitudes: listening to the word of the Lord, contemplation, and practical service to our neighbor. These are not two attitudes opposed to one another, but, on the contrary, they are two essential aspects in our Christian life; aspects that can never be separated, but are lived out in profound unity and harmony. Why then was Martha scolded, even if kindly, by Jesus? Because she considered only what she was doing to be essential; she was too absorbed and worried by the things “to do.” For a Christian, works of service and charity are never detached from the principle of all our action: that is, listening to the Word of the Lord, to be—like Mary—at the feet of Jesus, with the attitude of a disciple. And that is why Martha was scolded.

In our Christian life too, dear brothers and sisters, may prayer and action always be deeply united. A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother—the poor, the sick, those in need of help, a brother in difficulty—is a sterile and incomplete prayer. But, in the same way, when ecclesial service is attentive only to doing, things gain in importance, functions, structures, and we forget the centrality of Christ. When time is not set aside for dialogue with him in prayer, we risk serving ourselves and not God present in our needy brother and sister. Saint Benedict sums up the kind of life that indicated for his monks in two words: ora et labora, pray and work. It is from contemplation, from a strong friendship with the Lord that the capacity is born in us to live and to bring the love of God, his mercy, his tenderness, to others. And also our work with brothers in need, our charitable works of mercy, lead us to the Lord, because it is in the needy brother and sister that we see the Lord himself.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the Mother of listening and of service, to teach us to meditate in our hearts on the Word of her Son, to pray faithfully, to be ever more attentive in practical ways to the needs of our brothers and sisters.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 July 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

These Sundays the liturgy proposes several Gospel parables, that is, short stories which Jesus used to announce the Kingdom of Heaven to the crowds. Among those in today’s Gospel, there is a rather complex one which Jesus explained to the disciples: it is that of the good grain and the weed, which deals with the problem of evil in the world and calls attention to God’s patience (see Mt 13:24-30, 36-43). The story takes place in a field where the owner sows grain, but during the night his enemy comes and sows weed, a term which in Hebrew derives from the same root as the name “Satan” and which alludes to the concept of division. We all know that the demon is a “sower of weed,” one who always seeks to sow division between individuals, families, nations and peoples. The servants wanted to uproot the weed immediately, but the field owner stopped them, explaining that: “in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them” (Mt 13:29). Because we all know that a weed, when it grows, looks very much like good grain, and there is the risk of confusing them.

The teaching of the parable is twofold. First of all, it tells that the evil in the world comes not from God but from his enemy, the evil one. It is curious that the evil one goes at night to sow weed, in the dark, in confusion; he goes where there is no light to sow weed. This enemy is astute: he sows evil in the middle of good, thus it is impossible for us men to distinctly separate them; but God, in the end, will be able to do so.

And here we arrive at the second theme: the juxtaposition of the impatience of the servants and the patient waiting of the field owner, who represents God. At times we are in a great hurry to judge, to categorize, to put the good here, the bad there. But remember the prayer of that self-righteous man: “God, I thank you that I am good, that I am not like other men, malicious” (see Lk 18:11-12). God, however, knows how to wait. With patience and mercy he gazes into the “field” of life of every person; he sees much better than we do the filth and the evil, but he also sees the seeds of good and waits with trust for them to grow. God is patient, he knows how to wait. This is so beautiful: our God is a patient father, who always waits for us and waits with his heart in hand to welcome us, to forgive us. He always forgives us if we go to him.

The field owner’s attitude is that of hope grounded in the certainty that evil does not have the first nor the last word. And it is thanks to this patient hope of God that the same weed, which is the malicious heart with so many sins, in the end can become good grain. But be careful: evangelical patience is not indifference to evil; one must not confuse good and evil! In facing weeds in the world the Lord’s disciple is called to imitate the patience of God, to nourish hope with the support of indestructible trust in the final victory of good, that is, of God.

In the end, in fact, evil will be removed and eliminated: at the time of harvest, that is, of judgment, the harvesters will follow the orders of the field owner, separating the weed to burn it (see Mt 13:30). On the day of the final harvest, the judge will be Jesus, He who has sown good grain in the world and who himself became the “grain of wheat,” who died and rose. In the end we will all be judged by the same measure with which we have judged: the mercy we have shown to others will also be shown to us. Let us ask Our Lady, our Mother, to help us to grow in patience, in hope and in mercy with all brothers and sisters.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 July 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

I see you are braving this heat in the Square, well done!

Today’s Gospel tells us that the Apostles, after the experience of the mission, have returned content but also tired. Jesus, filled with understanding, wants to give them some relief; and so he takes them away, to a lonely place, so they can rest a while (see Mk 6:31). “Many saw them going, and knew, and got there ahead of them” (v. 33). From this point the Evangelist offers us the image of Jesus of singular intensity, “photographing,” so to speak, his eyes and gathering the sentiments of his heart. The Evangelist states: “As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (v. 34).

Let us recall the three verbs in this evocative photogram: to see, to have compassion, to teach. We can call them the verbs of the Shepherd. To see, to have compassion, to teach. The first and second, to see and to have compassion, are always found together in the attitude of Jesus: in fact his gaze is not the gaze of a sociologist or a photojournalist, for he always gazes with “the eyes of the heart.” These two verbs, to see and to have compassion, configure Jesus as the Good Shepherd. His compassion too, is not merely a human feeling, but is the deep emotion of the Messiah in whom God’s tenderness is made flesh. From this tenderness is born Jesus’ wish to nourish the crowd with the bread of his Word, that is, to teach the Word of God to the people. Jesus sees, Jesus has compassion, Jesus teaches us. This is beautiful!

I asked the Lord that the Spirit of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, this Spirit, should guide me in the course of the Apostolic Journey which I carried out in recent days in Latin America, and which allowed me to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. I wholeheartedly thank God for this gift. I thank the peoples of the three countries for their warm and affectionate welcome and enthusiasm. I renew my recognition of the Authorities of these countries for their welcome and cooperation. With great affection I thank my brother Bishops, the priests, consecrated people and all the peoples for their warm participation. With these brothers and sisters I praised the Lord for the wonders that he has worked in the People of God journeying in those lands, through the faith which has enlivened and enlivens their life and their culture. We also praised him for the natural beauty with which he has enriched these countries. The Latin American Continent has great human and spiritual resources, safeguards deeply rooted Christian values, but also experiences serious social and economic problems. In order to contribute to their solution, the Church is committed to mobilizing the spiritual and moral forces of its communities, cooperating with all members of society. Before the great challenges that must be faced in proclaiming the Gospel, I urged them to draw from Christ the Lord the grace which saves and which gives strength to the commitment of Christian testimony, to enhance the spreading of the Word of God, so that the outstanding religiosity of those peoples may always bear faithful witness to the Gospel.

I entrust the fruit of this unforgettable Apostolic Journey to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom all of Latin America venerates as its Patron with the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 17 July 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In today’s Gospel the Evangelist Luke writes about Jesus who, on the way to Jerusalem, enters a village and is welcomed into the home of two sisters: Martha and Mary (see Lk 10:38-42). Both welcome the Lord, but they do so in different ways. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to his words (see v. 39), whereas Martha is completely caught up in preparing things; at a certain point she says to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (v. 40). Jesus responds to her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her” (vv. 41-42).

In bustling about and busying herself, Martha risks forgetting—and this is the problem—the most important thing, which is the presence of the guest, Jesus in this case. She forgets about the presence of the guest. A guest is not merely to be served, fed, looked after in every way. Most importantly he ought to be listened to. Remember this word: Listen! A guest should be welcomed as a person, with a story, his heart rich with feelings and thoughts, so that he may truly feel like he is among family. If you welcome a guest into your home but continue doing other things, letting him just sit there, both of you in silence, it is as if he were of stone: a guest of stone. No. A guest is to be listened to. Of course, Jesus’ response to Martha—when he tells her that there is only one thing that needs to be done—finds its full significance in reference to listening to the very word of Jesus, that word which illuminates and supports all that we are and what we do. If we go to pray, for example, before the Crucifix, and we talk, talk, talk, and then we leave, we do not listen to Jesus. We do not allow him to speak to our heart. Listen: this is the key word. Do not forget! And we must not forget that in the house of Martha and Mary, Jesus, before being Lord and Master, is a pilgrim and guest. Thus, his response has this significance first and foremost: “Martha, Martha why do you busy yourself doing so much for this guest even to the point of forgetting about his presence?”—A guest of stone!—Not much is necessary to welcome him; indeed, only one thing is needed: listen to him—this is the word: listen to him—be brotherly to him, let him realize he is among family and not in a temporary shelter.

Understood in this light, hospitality, which is one of the works of mercy, is revealed as a truly human and Christian virtue, a virtue which in today’s world is at risk of being overlooked. In fact, nursing homes and hospices are multiplying, but true hospitality is not always practiced in these environments. Various institutions are opened to care for many types of disease, of loneliness, of marginalization, but opportunities are decreasing for those who are foreign, marginalized, excluded, from finding someone ready to listen to them: because they are foreigners, refugees, migrants. Listen to that painful story. Even in one’s own home, among one’s own family members, it might be easier to find services and care of various kinds rather than listening and welcome. Today we are so taken, by excitement, by countless problems—some of which are not important—that we lack the capacity to listen. We are constantly busy and thus we have no time to listen. I would like to ask you, to pose a question to you, each one answer in your own heart: do you, husband, take time to listen to your wife? And do you, woman, take time to listen to your husband? Do you, parents, take time, time to “waste”, to listen to your children? or your grandparents, the elderly?—“But grandparents always say the same things, they are boring.”—But they need to be listened to! Listen. I ask that you learn to listen and to devote more of your time. The root of peace lies in the capacity to listen.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of listening and of service and of attentive care, teach us to be welcoming and hospitable to our brothers and our sisters.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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Monday, July 10, 2017

0541: Reflections on the 15th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0541: Reflections on the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


On four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 14 July 2013, 13 July 2014, 12 July 2015, and 10 July 2016. Here are the texts of the four brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.



POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Castel Gandolfo, Sunday, 14 July 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Today our Sunday meeting for the Angelus is taking place here in Castel Gandolfo. I greet the inhabitants of this beautiful little town! Above all, I would like to thank you for your prayers, and I do this with all of you who have come here in large numbers as pilgrims.

Today’s Gospel—we are at Chapter 10 of Luke—is the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan. Who was this man? He was an ordinary person coming down from Jerusalem on his way to Jericho on the road that crosses the Judean Desert. A short time before, on that road a man had been attacked by brigands, robbed, beaten and left half dead by the wayside. Before the Samaritan arrived, a priest as well as a Levite had passed by, that is, two people associated with worship in the Lord’s Temple. They saw the poor man, but passed him by without stopping. Instead, when the Samaritan saw that man, “he had compassion” (Lk 10:33), the Gospel says. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; then he set him on his own mount, took him to an inn and paid for his board and lodging; in short, he took care of him: this is the example of love of neighbor. However, why does Jesus choose a Samaritan to play the lead in the parable? Because Samaritans were despised by Jews on account of their different religious traditions; and yet Jesus shows that the heart of that Samaritan was good and generous and that—unlike the priest and the Levite—he puts into practice the will of God who wants mercy rather than sacrifices (see Mk 12:33). God always wants mercy and does not condemn it in anyone. He wants heartfelt mercy because he is merciful and can understand well our misery, our difficulties and also our sins. He gives all of us this merciful heart of his! The Samaritan does precisely this: he really imitates the mercy of God, mercy for those in need.

A man who lived to the full this Gospel of the Good Samaritan is the Saint we are commemorating today: Saint Camillus de Lellis, Founder of the Clerks Regular Ministers to the Sick, Patron of ill people and health-care workers. Saint Camillus died on 14 July 1614: this very day his fourth centenary is being inaugurated and will end in a year. I greet with deep affection all the spiritual sons and daughters of Saint Camillus who live by his charism of charity in daily contact with the sick. Be “Good Samaritans” as he was! And I hope that doctors, nurses and all those who work in hospitals and clinics may also be inspired by the same spirit. Let us entrust this intention to the intercession of Mary Most Holy.

Moreover I would like to entrust another intention to Our Lady, together with you all. The World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro is now at hand. One can see that there are many young people here, but you are all young at heart! I shall leave in a week, but many young people will set out for Brazil even sooner. Let us therefore pray for this great pilgrimage which is beginning, that Our Lady of Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil, may guide the footsteps of the participants and open their hearts to accepting the mission that Christ will give them.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 July 2014

Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 13:1-23) shows us Jesus preaching on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, and because a large crowd surrounds him, He climbs into a boat, goes a little away from the shore and preaches from there. When he speaks to the people, Jesus uses many parables: in language understandable to everyone, with images from nature and from everyday situations.

The first story he tells is an introduction to all the parables: that of the sower, who sows his seed unsparingly on every type of soil. And the real protagonist of this parable is actually the seed, which produces more or less according to the type of soil upon which it falls. The first three areas are unproductive: along the path the seed is eaten by birds; on rocky ground the sprouts are scorched and wither away because they have no roots; among the briars the seed is choked by thorns. The fourth piece of ground is good soil, and only there does the seed take root and bear fruit.

In this case, Jesus does not limit himself to presenting this parable, he also explains it to his disciples. The seed fallen on the path stands for those who hear the message of the Kingdom of God but do not understand it; thus the evil one comes and snatches it away. Indeed, the evil one does not want the seed of the Gospel to sprout in the heart of man. This is the first analogy. The second is that of the seed fallen among the stones: this represents the people who hear the word of God and understand it immediately, but superficially, because they have no roots and they are unsettled; and when trials and tribulations arise, these people give up immediately. The third case is that of the seed fallen among the briars: Jesus explains that this refers to the people who hear the word but they, because of the cares of the world and the seduction of riches, are choked. Finally, the seed fallen on fertile soil represents those who hear the word, accept it, cherish it and understand it, and they bear fruit. The perfect model of this good soil is the Virgin Mary.

This parable speaks to each of us today, as it spoke to those who listened to Jesus 2,000 years ago. It reminds us that we are the soil where the Lord tirelessly sows the seed of his Word and of his love. How do we receive it? And we can ask ourselves: how is our heart? Which soil does it resemble: that of the path, the rocks, the thorns? It’s up to us to become good soil with neither thorns nor stones, but tilled and cultivated with care, so it may bear good fruit for us and for our brothers and sisters.

And it will do us good not to forget that we too are sowers. God sows good seed, and here too we can also ask ourselves: which type of seed comes out of our heart and our mouth? Our words can do much good and also much harm; they can heal and they can wound; they can encourage and they can dishearten. Remember: what counts is not what goes in but what comes out of the mouth and of the heart.

Our Lady teaches us, by her example, to understand the Word, cherish it and make it bear fruit in us and in others.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO ECUADOR, BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY
(5-13 JULY 2015)

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Asunción (Paraguay), Sunday, 12 July 2015

I thank the Archbishop of Asuncion, the Most Reverend Edmundo Ponziano Valenzuela Mellid, and the Orthodox Archbishop of South America, Tarasios, for their kind words.

At the end of this celebration we look with trust to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. She is the gift that Jesus gives to his people. He gave her to us as our Mother at the hour of his cross and suffering. She is the fruit of Christ’s sacrifice for us. And from that moment, Mary has always been, and will always be, with her children, especially the poor and those most in need.

Mary has become part of the tapestry of human history, of our lands and peoples. As in so many other countries of Latin America, the faith of the Paraguayan people is imbued with love of the Virgin Mary. They approach their mother with confidence, they open their hearts and entrust to her their joys and sorrows, their aspirations and sufferings. Our Lady consoles them and with tender love fills them with hope. They never cease to turn with trust to Mary, mother of mercy for each and every one of her children.

I also ask the Blessed Mother, who persevered in prayer with the Apostles as they waited for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13-14), to watch over the Church and strengthen her members in fraternal love. With Mary’s help, may the Church be a home for all, a welcoming home, a mother for all peoples.

Dear brothers and sisters: I ask you please not to forget to pray for me. I know very well how much the Pope is loved in Paraguay. I also keep you in my heart and I pray for you and your country.

Let us now join in praying the Angelus to the Blessed Virgin.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO ECUADOR, BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY
(5-13 JULY 2015)

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Asunción (Paraguay), Sunday, 12 July 2015

“The Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase.” These are the words of the Psalm. We are invited to celebrate this mysterious communion between God and his People, between God and us. The rain is a sign of his presence, in the earth tilled by our hands. It reminds us that our communion with God always brings forth fruit, always gives life. This confidence is born of faith, from knowing that we depend on grace, which will always transform and nourish our land.

It is a confidence which is learned, which is taught. A confidence nurtured within a community, in the life of a family. A confidence which radiates from the faces of all those people who encourage us to follow Jesus, to be disciples of the One who can never deceive. A disciple knows that he or she is called to have this confidence; we feel Jesus’s invitation to be his friend, to share his lot, his very life. “No longer do I call you servants, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” The disciples are those who learn how to live trusting in the friendship offered by Jesus.

The Gospel speaks to us of this kind of discipleship. It shows us the identity card of the Christian. Our calling card, our credentials.

Jesus calls his disciples and sends them out, giving them clear and precise instructions. He challenges them to take on a whole range of attitudes and ways of acting. Sometimes these can strike us as exaggerated or even absurd. It would be easier to interpret these attitudes symbolically or “spiritually.” But Jesus is quite precise, very clear. He doesn’t tell them simply to do whatever they think they can.

Let us think about some of these attitudes: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money.” “When you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” (see Mk 6:8-11). All this might seem quite unrealistic.

We could concentrate on the words, “bread,” “money,” “bag,” “staff,” “sandals,” and “tunic.” And this would be fine. But it strikes me that one key word can easily pass unnoticed among the challenging words I have just listed. It is a word at the heart of Christian spirituality, of our experience of discipleship: “welcome.” Jesus as the good master, the good teacher, sends them out to be welcomed, to experience hospitality. He says to them: “Where you enter a house, stay there.” He sends them out to learn one of the hallmarks of the community of believers. We might say that a Christian is someone who has learned to welcome others, who has learned to show hospitality.

Jesus does not send them out as men of influence, landlords, officials armed with rules and regulations. Instead, he makes them see that the Christian journey is simply about changing hearts. One’s own heart first all, and then helping to transform the hearts of others. It is about learning to live differently, under a different law, with different rules. It is about turning from the path of selfishness, conflict, division and superiority, and taking instead the path of life, generosity and love. It is about passing from a mentality which domineers, stifles and manipulates to a mentality which welcomes, accepts and cares.

These are two contrasting mentalities, two ways of approaching our life and our mission.

How many times do we see mission in terms of plans and programs. How many times do we see evangelization as involving any number of strategies, tactics, maneuvers, techniques, as if we could convert people on the basis of our own arguments. Today the Lord says to us quite clearly: in the mentality of the Gospel, you do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by simply learning how to welcome them.

The Church is a mother with an open heart. She knows how to welcome and accept, especially those in need of greater care, those in greater difficulty. The Church, as desired by Jesus, is the home of hospitality. And how much good we can do, if only we try to speak this language of hospitality, this language of receiving and welcoming. How much pain can be soothed, how much despair can be allayed in a place where we feel at home! This requires open doors, especially the doors of our heart. Welcoming the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner (Mt 25:34-37), the leper and the paralytic. Welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it. And sometimes, we are to blame. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, of which our earth is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners, because each one of us is also a sinner.

So often we forget that there is an evil underlying our sins, that precedes our sins. There is a bitter root which causes damage, great damage, and silently destroys so many lives. There is an evil which, bit by bit, finds a place in our hearts and eats away at our life: it is isolation. Isolation which can have many roots, many causes. How much it destroys our life and how much harm it does us. It makes us turn our back on others, God, the community. It makes us closed in on ourselves. From here we see that the real work of the Church, our mother, should not be mainly about managing works and projects, but rather about learning to experience fraternity with others. A welcome-filled fraternity is the best witness that God is our Father, for “by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

In this way, Jesus teaches us a new way of thinking. He opens before us a horizon brimming with life, beauty, truth and fulfillment.

God never closes off horizons; he is never unconcerned about the lives and sufferings of his children. God never allows himself to be outdone in generosity. So he sends us his Son, he gives him to us, he hands him over, he shares him, so that we can learn the way of fraternity, of self-giving. In a definitive way, he opens up a new horizon; he is a new word which sheds light on so many situations of exclusion, disintegration, loneliness and isolation. He is a word which breaks the silence of loneliness.

And when we are weary or worn down by our efforts to evangelize, it is good to remember that the life which Jesus holds out to us responds to the deepest needs of people. “We were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 265).

On thing is sure: we cannot force anyone to receive us, to welcome us; this is itself part of our poverty and freedom. But neither can anyone force us not to be welcoming, hospitable in the lives of our people. No one can tell us not to accept and embrace the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who have lost hope and zest for life. How good it would be to think of our parishes, communities, chapels, wherever there are Christians, with open doors, true centers of encounter between ourselves and God.

The Church is a mother, like Mary. In her, we have a model. We too must provide a home, like Mary, who did not lord it over the word of God, but rather welcomed that word, bore it in her womb and gave it to others.

We too must provide a home, like the earth, which does not choke the seed, but receives it, nourishes it and makes it grow.

That is how we want to be Christians, that is how we want to live the faith on this Paraguayan soil, like Mary, accepting and welcoming God’s life in our brothers and sisters, in confidence and with the certainty that “the Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase.” May it be so.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 10 July 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s liturgy presents us with the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” taken from the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37). This passage, this simple and inspiring story, indicates a way of life, which has as its main point not ourselves, but others, with their difficulties, whom we encounter on our journey and who challenge us. Others challenge us. And when others do not challenge us, something is not right; something in the heart is not Christian. Jesus uses this parable in his dialogue with a lawyer when asked about the twofold commandment that allows us to enter into eternal life: to love God with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself (see vv. 25-28). “Yes,” the lawyer replies, “but, tell me, who is my neighbor?” (v. 29). We too can ask ourselves this question: Who is my neighbor? Who must I love as myself? My parents? My friends? My fellow countrymen? Those who belong to my religion? Who is my neighbor?

Jesus responds with this parable. A man, along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, was attacked, beaten and abandoned by robbers. Along that road, a priest passed by, then a Levite, and upon seeing this wounded man, they did not stop, but walked straight past him (vv. 31-32). Then a Samaritan came by, that is, a resident of Samaria, a man who was therefore despised by the Jews because he did not practice the true religion; and yet he, upon seeing that poor wretched man, “had compassion. He went to him, bandaged his wounds [...], brought him to an inn and took care of him” (vv. 33-34); and the next day he entrusted him to the care of the innkeeper, paid for him and said that he would pay for any further costs (see v. 35).

At this point, Jesus turns to the lawyer and asks him: “Which of these three—the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan—do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell victim to the robbers?” And the lawyer, of course—because he was intelligent—said in reply: “The one who had compassion on him” (vv. 36-37). In this way, Jesus completely overturned the lawyer’s initial perspective (as well as our own!): I must not categorize others in order to decide who is my neighbor and who is not. It is up to me whether to be a neighbor or not—the decision is mine—it is up to me whether or not to be a neighbor to those whom I encounter who need help, even if they are strangers or perhaps hostile. And Jesus concludes, saying: “Go and do likewise” (v. 37). What a great lesson! And he repeats it to each of us: “Go and do likewise,” be a neighbor to the brother or sister whom you see in trouble. “Go and do likewise.” Do good works, don’t just say words that are gone with the wind. A song comes to mind: “Words, words, words.” No. Works, works. And through the good works that we carry out with love and joy towards others, our faith emerges and bears fruit. Let us ask ourselves—each of us responding in his own heart—let us ask ourselves: Is our faith fruitful? Does our faith produce good works? Or is it sterile instead, and therefore more dead than alive? Do I act as a neighbor or simply pass by? Am I one of those who selects people according to my own liking? It is good to ask ourselves these questions, and to ask them often, because in the end we will be judged on the works of mercy. The Lord will say to us: Do you remember that time on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho? That man who was half dead was me. Do you remember? That hungry child was me. Do you remember? That immigrant who many wanted to drive away, that was me. That grandparent who was alone, abandoned in nursing homes, that was me. That sick man, alone in the hospital, who no one visited, that was me.

May the Virgin Mary help us to walk along the path of love, love that is generous towards others, the way of the Good Samaritan. My she help us to live the first commandment that Christ left us. This is the way to enter into eternal life.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


* * * * *

For reflections on the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


* * * * *