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Monday, August 1, 2016

0480: Reflections on the 19th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis

Entry 0480: Reflections on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis (Updated 30 July 2017) 

Ofour occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 11 August 2013, 10 August 2014, 9 August 2015, and 7 August 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus that the Holy Father delivered on these occasions.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 11 August 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 12:32-48) speaks to us about the desire for the definitive encounter with Christ, a desire that keeps us ever ready, alert in spirit, for we anticipate this encounter with all our heart, with all our being. This is a fundamental aspect of life. It is a desire that we all share, whether explicit or secret, we have hidden in our heart; we all harbor this desire in our heart.

It is also important to see Jesus’ teaching in the actual context in which he transmitted it. In this case, Luke the Evangelist shows us Jesus walking with his disciples to Jerusalem, walking to his death and resurrection at Easter, and on this journey he teaches them, confiding to them what he himself carries in his heart, the deep attitude of his heart: detachment from earthly possessions, his trust in the Father’s Providence and, indeed, his innermost watchfulness, all the while working for the Kingdom of God. For Jesus it is waiting for his return to the Father’s house. For us it is waiting for Christ himself who will come to take us to the everlasting celebration, as he did for his Mother, Mary Most Holy; he took her up to Heaven with him.

The Gospel intends to tell us that the Christian is someone who has a great desire, a deep desire within him: to meet his Lord with his brothers and sisters, his traveling companions. And what Jesus tells us is summed up in his famous phrase: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Lk 12:34). A heart full of desire. We all have desires. The poor ones are those who have no desire, no desire to go forward, toward the horizon; and for us Christians this horizon is the encounter with Jesus, the very encounter with him, who is our life, our joy, our happiness. I would like to ask you two questions. First: do you all have a desiring heart? A heart that desires? Think about it and respond silently in your hearts. I ask you, is your heart filled with desire, or is it a closed heart, a sleeping heart, a heart numb to the things of life? The desire to go forward to encounter Jesus. The second question: where is your treasure, what are you longing for? Jesus told us: where your treasure is, there will be your heart—and I ask you: where is your treasure? What is the most important reality for you, the most precious reality, the one that attracts your heart like a magnet? What attracts your heart? May I say that it is God’s love? Do you wish to do good to others, to live for the Lord and for your brothers and sisters? May I say this? Each one answer in his own heart. But someone could tell me: Father, I am someone who works, who has a family, for me the most important reality is to keep my family and work going. Certainly, this is true, it is important. But what is the power that unites the family? It is indeed love, and the One who sows love in our hearts is God, God’s love, it is precisely God’s love that gives meaning to our small daily tasks and helps us face the great trials. This is the true treasure of humankind: going forward in life with love, with that love which the Lord has sown in our hearts, with God’s love. This is the true treasure. But what is God’s love? It is not something vague, some generic feeling. God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Jesus. Love for God is made manifest in Jesus. For we cannot love air. Do we love air? Do we love all things? No, no we cannot, we love people and the person we love is Jesus, the gift of the Father among us. It is a love that gives value and beauty to everything else; a love that gives strength to the family, to work, to study, to friendship, to art, to all human activity. It even gives meaning to negative experiences, because this love allows us to move beyond these experiences, to go beyond them, not to remain prisoners of evil, it moves us beyond, always opening us to hope, that’s it! Love of God in Jesus always opens us to hope, to that horizon of hope, to the final horizon of our pilgrimage. In this way our labors and failures find meaning. Even our sin finds meaning in the love of God because this love of God in Jesus Christ always forgives us. He loves us so much that he always forgives us.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the Church today we are commemorating Saint Clare of Assisi who, in the footsteps of Francis, left everything to consecrate herself to Christ in poverty. Saint Clare gives us a very beautiful testimony of today’s Gospel reading: may she, together with the Virgin Mary, help us to live the Gospel, each one of us according to one’s own vocation.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 10 August 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

In today’s Gospel, we are presented with the account of Jesus walking on the water of the lake (see Mt 14:22-23). After the multiplication of loaves and fish, He asks the disciples to get into the boat and go before him to the other side of the lake while He dismisses the crowds. He then goes up into the hills by himself to pray until late at night. Meanwhile a strong storm blows up on the lake and right in the middle of the storm Jesus reaches the disciples’ boat, walking upon the water of the lake. When they see him, the disciples are terrified, but He calms them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear!” (v. 27). Peter, with his usual passion, practically puts him to the test: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water;” and Jesus answers “Come!” (vv. 28-29). Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water; but a strong wind hits him and he begins to sink. And so he yells: “Lord, save me!” (v. 30), and Jesus reaches out his hand and catches him.

This story is a beautiful icon of the faith of the Apostle Peter. In the voice of Jesus who tells him: “Come!” he recognizes the echo of the first encounter on the shore of that very lake, and right away, once again, he leaves the boat and goes toward the Teacher. And he walks on the waters! The faithful and ready response to the Lord’s call always enables one to achieve extraordinary things. But Jesus himself told us that we are capable of performing miracles with our faith, faith in Him, faith in his word, faith in his voice. Peter however begins to sink the moment he looks away from Jesus and he allows himself to be overwhelmed by the hardships around him. But the Lord is always there, and when Peter calls him, Jesus saves him from danger. Peter’s character, with his passion and his weaknesses, can describe our faith: ever fragile and impoverished, anxious yet victorious, Christian faith walks to meet the Risen Lord, amid the world’s storms and dangers.

And the final scene is also very important. “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God!’” (vv. 32-33). All the disciples are on the boat, united in the experience of weakness, of doubt, of fear and of “little faith.” But when Jesus climbs into that boat again, the weather suddenly changes: they all feel united in their faith in Him. All the little and frightened ones become great at the moment in which they fall on their knees and recognize the Son of God in their Teacher. How many times the same thing happens to us! Without Jesus, far from Jesus, we feel frightened and inadequate to the point of thinking we cannot succeed. Faith is lacking! But Jesus is always with us, hidden perhaps, but present and ready to support us.

This is an effective image of the Church: a boat which must brave the storms and sometimes seems on the point of capsizing. What saves her is not the skill and courage of her crew members, but faith which allows her to walk, even in the dark, amid hardships. Faith gives us the certainty of Jesus’ presence always beside us, of his hand which grasps us to pull us back from danger. We are all on this boat, and we feel secure here despite our limitations and our weaknesses. We are safe especially when we are ready to kneel and worship Jesus, the only Lord of our life. This is what our Mother, Our Lady always reminds us. We turn to her trustingly.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 9 August 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday, we continue the Reading of Chapter Six of the Gospel according to John, in which Jesus, after performing the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, explains to the people the meaning of that “sign” (Jn 6:41-51).

As he had done earlier with the Samaritan woman, starting from the experience of thirst and the sign of water, here Jesus begins from the experience of hunger and the sign of bread, to reveal himself and to offer an invitation to believe in him.

The people seek him, the people listen to him, because they are still enthusiastic about the miracle; they want to make him king! However, when Jesus affirms that he is the true bread given by God, many are shocked, they do not understand, and begin murmuring among themselves, saying: “Do we not know his father and mother? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (see Jn 6:42). And they begin to murmur. Then Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and he adds: “he who believes has eternal life” (vv. 44, 47).

This word of the Lord astonishes us, and makes us think. It introduces the dynamic of faith, which is a relationship: the relationship between the human person—all of us—and the Person of Jesus, where the Father plays a decisive role, and, of course, the Holy Spirit does too, which is implied here. To believe in Him, it is not enough to meet Jesus, it is not enough to read the Bible, the Gospel—this is important! But it is not enough. It is not even enough to witness a miracle, such as that of the multiplication of the loaves. So many people were in close contact with Jesus and they did not believe. In fact, they even despised and condemned him. And I ask myself: Why this? Were they not attracted by the Father? No, this happened because their hearts were closed to the action of God’s Spirit. If your heart is always closed, faith doesn’t enter! Instead God the Father draws us to Jesus: it is we who open or close our hearts. Instead, faith, which is like a seed deep in the heart, blossoms when we let the Father draw us to Jesus, and we “go to Him” with an open heart, without prejudices; then we recognize in his face the Face of God, and in his words the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit has made us enter into the relationship of love and of life between Jesus and God the Father. And there we receive a gift, the gift of the faith.

With this attitude of faith, we can also understand the meaning of the “Bread of Life” that Jesus gives us, and which he describes in this way: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn 6:51). In Jesus, in his “flesh”—that is, in his concrete humanity—is all the love of God, which is the Holy Spirit. Those who let themselves be drawn by this love go to Jesus and go with faith, and receive from Him life, eternal life.

The one who lived this experience in such an exemplary way was Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth: the first human person who believed in God by accepting the flesh of Jesus. Let us learn from her, our Mother, joy and gratitude through the gift of faith. A gift that is not “private,” a gift that is not private property but is a gift to be shared: it is a gift “for the life of the world!”



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 7 August 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the text of today’s Gospel (Lk 12:32-48), Jesus speaks to his disciples about the attitude to assume in view of the final encounter with him, and explains that the expectation of this encounter should impel us to live a life full of good works. Among other things he says: “Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys” (v. 33). It is a call to give importance to almsgiving as a work of mercy, not to place trust in ephemeral goods, to use things without attachment and selfishness, but according to God’s logic, the logic of attention to others, the logic of love. We can be so attached to money, and have many things, but in the end we cannot take them with us. Remember that “the shroud has no pockets.”

Jesus’ lesson continues with three short parables on the theme of vigilance. This is important: vigilance, being alert, being vigilant in life. The first is the parable of the servants waiting for their master to return at night. “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes” (v. 37): it is the beatitude of faithfully awaiting the Lord, of being ready, with an attitude of service. He presents himself each day, knocks at the door of our heart. Those who open it will be blessed, because they will have a great reward: indeed, the Lord will make himself a servant to his servants—it is a beautiful reward—in the great banquet of his Kingdom He himself will serve them. With this parable, set at night, Jesus proposes life as a vigil of diligent expectation, which heralds the bright day of eternity. To be able to enter one must be ready, awake and committed to serving others, from the comforting perspective that, “beyond,” it will no longer be we who serve God, but He himself who will welcome us to his table. If you think about it, this already happens today each time we meet the Lord in prayer, or in serving the poor, and above all in the Eucharist, where he prepares a banquet to nourish us of his Word and of his Body.

The second parable describes the unexpected arrival of the thief. This fact requires vigilance; indeed, Jesus exhorts: “You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (v. 40).

The disciple is one who awaits the Lord and his Kingdom. The Gospel clarifies this perspective with the third parable: the steward of a house after the master’s departure. In the first scene, the steward faithfully carries out his tasks and receives compensation. In the second scene, the steward abuses his authority, and beats the servants, for which, upon the master’s unexpected return, he will be punished. This scene describes a situation that is also frequent in our time: so much daily injustice, violence and cruelty are born from the idea of behaving as masters of the lives of others. We have only one master who likes to be called not “master” but “Father.” We are all servants, sinners and children: He is the one Father.

Jesus reminds us today that the expectation of the eternal beatitude does not relieve us of the duty to render the world more just and more liveable. On the contrary, this very hope of ours of possessing the eternal Kingdom impels us to work to improve the conditions of earthly life, especially of our weakest brothers and sisters. May the Virgin Mary help us not to be people and communities dulled by the present, or worse, nostalgic for the past, but striving toward the future of God, toward the encounter with him, our life and our hope.

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For reflections on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

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