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Monday, June 27, 2016

0475: Reflections on the 14th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0475: Reflections on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis (Updated 30 June 2017) 


Othree occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 7 July 2013, 6 July 2014, and 3 July 2016. Here are the texts of three brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS


ANGELUS


Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 7 July 2013


Dear Brothers and Sisters! Good morning!


First of all I would like to share with you the joy of having met, yesterday and today, a special pilgrimage for the Year of Faith of seminarians and novices. I ask you to pray for them, that love of Christ may always grow in their lives and that they may become true missionaries of the Kingdom of God.


The Gospel this Sunday (Lk 10:1-12, 17-20) speaks to us about this: the fact that Jesus is not a lone missionary, he does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples. And today we see that in addition to the twelve Apostles he calls another 72, and sends them to the villages, two by two, to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone, he came to bring the love of God into the world and he wants to spread it in the style of communion, in the style of brotherhood. That is why he immediately forms a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. He trains them straight away for the mission, to go forth.


But pay attention: their purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together, no, their purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! And it is still urgent today! There is no time to be lost in gossip, there is no need to wait for everyone’s consensus, what is necessary is to go out and proclaim. To all people you bring the peace of Christ, and if they do not welcome it, you go ahead just the same. To the sick you bring healing, because God wants to heal man of every evil. How many missionaries do this, they sow life, health, comfort to the outskirts of the world. How beautiful it is! Do not live for yourselves, do not live for yourselves, but live to go forth and do good! There are many young people today in the Square: think of this, ask yourselves this: is Jesus calling me to go forth, to come out of myself to do good? To you, young people, to you boys and girls I ask: you, are you brave enough for this, do you have the courage to hear the voice of Jesus? It is beautiful to be missionaries! Ah, you are good! I like this!


These 72 disciples, whom Jesus sent out ahead of him, who were they? Who do they represent? If the Twelve were the Apostles, and also thus represent the Bishops, their successors, these 72 could represent the other ordained ministries, priests and deacons; but more broadly we can think of the other ministries in the Church, of catechists, of the lay faithful who engage in parish missions, of those who work with the sick, with different kinds of disadvantaged and marginalized people; but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is close at hand. Everyone must be a missionary, everyone can hear that call of Jesus and go forth and proclaim the Kingdom!


The Gospel says that those 72 came back from their mission full of joy, because they had experienced the power of Christ’s Name over evil. Jesus says it: to these disciples He gives the power to defeat the evil one. But he adds: “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:20). We should not boast as if we were the protagonists: there is only one protagonist, it is the Lord! The Lord’s grace is the protagonist! He is the one hero! And our joy is just this: to be his disciples, his friends. May Our Lady help us to be good agents of the Gospel.


Dear friends, be glad! Do not be afraid of being joyful! Don’t be afraid of joy! That joy which the Lord gives us when we allow him to enter our life. Let us allow him to enter our lives and invite us to go out to the margins of life and proclaim the Gospel. Don’t be afraid of joy. Have joy and courage!



HOLY MASS WITH SEMINARIANS, NOVICES AND THOSE DISCERNING THEIR VOCATION


HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS


Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 7 July 2013


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting you, and today our joy is even greater, because we have gathered for the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery, assessment, formation. And it is a very beautiful season, in which foundations are laid for the future. Thank you for coming!


Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. Where does mission originate? The answer is simple: it originates from a call, the Lord’s call, and when he calls people, he does so with a view to sending them out. How is the one sent out meant to live? What are the reference points of Christian mission? The readings we have heard suggest three: the joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer.


1. The first element: the joy of consolation. The prophet Isaiah is addressing a people that has been through a dark period of exile, a very difficult trial. But now the time of consolation has come for Jerusalem; sadness and fear must give way to joy: “Rejoice, be glad, rejoice with her in joy,” says the prophet (66:10). It is a great invitation to joy. Why? What is the reason for this invitation to joy? Because the Lord is going to pour out over the Holy City and its inhabitants a “cascade” of consolation, a veritable overflow of consolation—such that it will be overcome—a cascade of maternal tenderness: “You shall be carried upon her hip and dandled upon her knees” (vv. 12). As when a mother takes her child upon her knee and caresses him or her: so the Lord will do and does with us. This is the cascade of tenderness which gives us much consolation. “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (v. 13). Every Christian, and especially you and I, is called to be a bearer of this message of hope that gives serenity and joy: God’s consolation, his tenderness towards all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others! I have occasionally met consecrated persons who are afraid of the consolations of God, and the poor things, they were tormented, because they are of this divine tenderness. But be not afraid. Do not be afraid, because the Lord is the Lord of consolation, he is the Lord of tenderness. The Lord is a Father and he says that he will be for us like a mother with her baby, with a mother’s tenderness. Do not be afraid of the consolations of the Lord. Isaiah’s invitation must resound in our hearts: “Comfort, comfort my people” (40:1) and this must lead to mission. We must find the Lord who consoles us and go to console the people of God. This is the mission. People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!


2. The second reference point of mission is the Cross of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Galatians, says: “Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14). And he speaks of the “marks of Jesus,” that is, the wounds of the crucified Lord, as a countersign, as the distinctive mark of his life as an Apostle of the Gospel. In his ministry Paul experienced suffering, weakness and defeat, but also joy and consolation. This is the Paschal mystery of Jesus: the mystery of death and resurrection. And it was precisely by letting himself be conformed to the death of Jesus that Saint Paul became a sharer in his resurrection, in his victory. In the hour of darkness, in the hour of trial, the dawn of light and salvation is already present and operative. The Paschal mystery is the beating heart of the Church’s mission! And if we remain within this mystery, we are sheltered both from a worldly and triumphalistic view of mission and from the discouragement that can result from trials and failures. Pastoral fruitfulness, the fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by becoming conformed to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and spending oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross—always the Cross that is present with Christ, because at times we are offered the Cross without Christ: this has not purpose!—it is the Cross, and always the Cross with Christ, which guarantees the fruitfulness of our mission. And it is from the Cross, the supreme act of mercy and love, that we are reborn as a “new creation” (Gal 6:15).


3. Finally the third element: prayer. In the Gospel we heard: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into his harvest” (Lk 10:2). The laborers for the harvest are not chosen through advertising campaigns or appeals of service and generosity, but they are “chosen” and “sent” by God. It is he who chooses, it is he who sends, it is Lord who sends, it is he who gives the mission. For this, prayer is important. The Church, as Benedict XVI has often reiterated, is not ours, but God’s; and how many times do we, consecrated men and women, think that the Church is ours! We make of it something that we invent in our minds. But it is not ours! it is God’s. The field to be cultivated is his. The mission is grace. And if the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength of his action. Our mission ceases to bear fruit, indeed, it is extinguished the moment the link with its source, with the Lord, is interrupted.


Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations. One of you, one of your formators, said to me the other days, “evangelizer, on le fait à genoux” “evangelization is done on one’s knees.” Listen well: “evangelization is done on one’s knees.” Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. But for what do you work? As a tailor, a cook a priest, is your job being a priest, being a sister? No. It is not a job, but rather something else. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of pastoral fruitfulness, of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!


Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lk 10:4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.


Dear friends, with great confidence I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear. May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation, without being afraid of joy, she will help you to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross, to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord in prayer. Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.



POPE FRANCIS


ANGELUS


Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 6 July 2014


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!


In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). When Jesus says this, he has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: very many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are marginalized. These people always followed him to hear his word—a word that gave hope! Jesus’ words always give hope!—and even just to touch a hem of his garment. Jesus himself sought out these tired, worn out crowds like sheep without a shepherd (see Mt 9:35-36), and he sought them out to proclaim to them the Kingdom of God and to heal many of them in body and spirit. Now he calls them all to himself: “Come to me,” and he promises them relief and rest.


This invitation of Jesus reaches to our day, and extends to the many brothers and sisters oppressed by life’s precarious conditions, by existential and difficult situations and at times lacking valid points of reference. In the poorest countries, but also on the outskirts of the richest countries, there are so many weary people, worn out under the unbearable weight of neglect and indifference. Indifference: human indifference causes the needy so much pain! And worse, the indifference of Christians! On the fringes of society so many men and women are tried by indigence, but also by dissatisfaction with life and by frustration. So many are forced to emigrate from their homeland, risking their lives. Many more, every day, carry the weight of an economic system that exploits human beings, imposing on them an unbearable “yoke,” which the few privileged do not want to bear. To each of these children of the Father in heaven, Jesus repeats: “Come to me, all of you.” But he also says it to those who have everything, but whose heart is empty and without God. Even to them, Jesus addresses this invitation: “Come to me.” Jesus’ invitation is for everyone. But especially for those who suffer the most.


Jesus promises to give rest to everyone, but he also gives us an invitation, which is like a commandment: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). The “yoke” of the Lord consists in taking on the burden of others with fraternal love. Once Christ’s comfort and rest is received, we are called in turn to become rest and comfort for our brothers and sisters, with a docile and humble attitude, in imitation of the Teacher. Docility and humility of heart help us not only to take on the burden of others, but also to keep our personal views, our judgments, our criticism or our indifference from weighing on them.


Let us invoke Mary Most Holy, who welcomes under her mantle all the tired and worn out people, so that through an enlightened faith, witnessed in life, we can offer relief for so many in need of help, of tenderness, of hope.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 July 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage, taken from the tenth Chapter of the Gospel of Luke (vv. 1-12, 17-20), makes us consider how necessary it is to invoke God, “the Lord of harvest to send out laborers” (v. 2). The “laborers” whom Jesus speaks of are the missionaries of the Kingdom of God, whom he himself calls and sends on “ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come” (v. 1). Their task is to proclaim a message of salvation addressed to everyone. Missionaries always proclaim a message of salvation to everyone; not only those missionaries who go afar, but we too, [are] Christian missionaries who express a good word of salvation. This is the gift that Jesus gives us with the Holy Spirit. This message is to say: “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (v. 9), because God has “come near” to us through Jesus; God became one of us; in Jesus, God reigns in our midst, his merciful love overcomes sin and human misery.

This is the Good News that the “laborers” must bring to everyone: a message of hope and comfort, of peace and charity. When Jesus sends the disciples ahead of him into the villages, he tells them: “first, say ‘Peace be to this house!’; heal the sick in it” (vv. 5, 9). All of this signifies that the Kingdom of God is built day by day and already offers on this earth its fruits of conversion, of purification, of love and of comfort among men. It is a beautiful thing! Building day by day this Kingdom of God that is to be made. Do not destroy, build!

With what spirit must disciples of Jesus carry out this mission? First of all they must be aware of the difficult and sometimes hostile reality that awaits them. Jesus minces no words about this! Jesus says: “I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (v. 3). This is very clear. Hostility is always at the beginning of persecutions of Christians; because Jesus knows that the mission is blocked by the work of evil. For this reason, the laborer of the Gospel will strive to be free from every kind of human conditioning, carrying neither purse nor bag nor sandals (see v. 4), as Jesus counseled, so as to place reliance solely in the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. This means abandoning every motive of personal advantage, careerism or hunger for power, and humbly making ourselves instruments of the salvation carried out by Jesus’ sacrifice.

A Christian’s mission in the world is splendid, it is a mission intended for everyone, it is a mission of service, excluding no one; it requires a great deal of generosity and above all setting one’s gaze and heart facing on High, to invoke the Lord’s help. There is a great need for Christians who joyfully witness to the Gospel in everyday life. The disciples, sent out by Jesus, “returned with joy” (v. 17). When we do this, our heart fills with joy. This expression makes me think of how much the Church rejoices, she revels when her children receive the Good News thanks to the dedication of so many men and women who daily proclaim the Gospel: priests—those brave parish priests whom we all know—nuns, consecrated women, missionary men and women. I ask myself—listen to the question: how many of you young people who are now present today in the Square, hear the Lord’s call to follow him? Fear not! Be courageous and bring to others this guiding light of apostolic zeal that these exemplary disciples have given to us.

Let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that the Church may never lack generous hearts that work to bring everyone the love and kindness of our heavenly Father.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


* * * * *

For reflections on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


* * * * *

Monday, June 20, 2016

0474: Reflections on the 13th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0474: Reflections on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis (Updated 21 June 2017) 


Otwo occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 30 June 2013 and 28 June 2015. Here are the texts of the two brief addresses delivered prior to the recitation of the Angelus.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 30 June 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel Reading (Lk 9:51-62) shows a very important step in Christ’s life: the moment when, as Saint Luke writes: “He [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51). Jerusalem is the final destination where Jesus, at his last Passover, must die and rise again and thus bring his mission of salvation to fulfilment.

From that moment, after that “firm decision” Jesus aimed straight for his goal and in addition said clearly to the people he met and who asked to follow him what the conditions were: to have no permanent dwelling place; to know how to be detached from human affections and not to give in to nostalgia for the past.

Jesus, however, also told his disciples to precede him on the way to Jerusalem and to announce his arrival, but not to impose anything: if the disciples did not find a readiness to welcome him, they should go ahead, they should move on. Jesus never imposes, Jesus is humble, Jesus invites. If you want to, come. The humility of Jesus is like this: he is always inviting but never imposing.

All of this gives us food for thought. It tells us, for example, of the importance which the conscience had for Jesus too: listening in his heart to the Father’s voice and following it. Jesus, in his earthly existence, was not, as it were “remote-controlled:” he was the incarnate Word, the Son of God made man, and at a certain point he made the firm decision to go up to Jerusalem for the last time; it was a decision taken in his conscience, but not alone: together with the Father, in full union with him! He decided out of obedience to the Father and in profound and intimate listening to his will. For this reason, moreover, his decision was firm, because it was made together with the Father. In the Father Jesus found the strength and light for his journey. And Jesus was free, he took that decision freely. Jesus wants us to be Christians, freely as he was, with the freedom which comes from this dialogue with the Father, from this dialogue with God. Jesus does not want selfish Christians who follow their own ego, who do not talk to God. Nor does he want weak Christians, Christians who have no will of their own, “remote-controlled” Christians incapable of creativity, who always seek to connect with the will of someone else and are not free. Jesus wants us free. And where is this freedom created? It is created in dialogue with God in the person’s own conscience. If a Christian is unable to speak with God, if he cannot hear God in his own conscience, he is not free, he is not free.

This is why we must learn to listen to our conscience more. But be careful! This does not mean following my own ego, doing what interests me, what suits me, what I like. It is not this! The conscience is the interior place for listening to the truth, to goodness, for listening to God; it is the inner place of my relationship with him, the One who speaks to my heart and helps me to discern, to understand the way I must take and, once the decision is made, to go forward, to stay faithful.

We have had a marvelous example of what this relationship with God is like, a recent and marvelous example. Pope Benedict XVI gave us this great example when the Lord made him understand, in prayer, what the step was that he had to take. With a great sense of discernment and courage, he followed his conscience, that is, the will of God speaking in his heart. And this example of our Father does such great good to us all, as an example to follow.

Our Lady, in her inmost depths with great simplicity was listening to and meditating on the Word of God and on what was happening to Jesus. She followed her Son with deep conviction and with steadfast hope. May Mary help us to become increasingly men and women of conscience, free in our conscience, because it is in the conscience that dialogue with God takes place; men and women, who can hear God’s voice and follow it with determination, who can listen to God’s voice, and follow it with decision.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 28 June 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel presents the account of the resurrection of a young, 12-year-old girl, the daughter of a one of the leaders of the synagogue, who falls at Jesus’ feet and beseeches him: “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live” (Mk 5:23). In this prayer we hear the concern of every father for the life and well-being of his child. We also hear the great faith which that man has in Jesus. And when news arrives that the little girl is dead, Jesus tells him: “Do not fear, only believe” (v. 36). These words from Jesus give us courage! And He frequently also says them to us: “Do not fear, only believe.” Entering the house, the Lord sends away all those who are weeping and wailing and turns to the dead girl, saying: “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (v. 41). And immediately the little girl rose and began to walk. Here we see Jesus’ absolute power over death, which for Him is like a dream from which one can awaken.

The Evangelist inserts another episode in this account: the healing of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Because of this ailment, which, according to the culture of the time, rendered her “impure,” she was forced to avoid all human contact. The poor woman was condemned to a civic death. In the midst of the crowd following Jesus, this unknown woman says to herself: “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well” (v. 28). And thus it happened. The need to be freed urges her to dare and her faith “snatches,” so to speak, healing from the Lord. She who believes “touches” Jesus and draws from Him a saving grace. This is faith: to touch Jesus is to draw from Him the grace that saves. It saves us, it saves our spiritual life, it saves us from so many problems. Jesus notices and, in the midst of the people, looks for the woman’s face. She steps forward trembling and He says to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (v. 34). It is the voice of the heavenly Father who speaks in Jesus: “Daughter, you are not cursed, you are not excluded, you are my child!” And every time Jesus approaches us, when we go forth from Him with faith, we feel this from the Father: “Child, you are my son, you are my daughter! You are healed. I forgive everyone for everything. I heal all people and all things.”

These two episodes—a healing and a resurrection—share one core: faith. The message is clear, and it can be summed up in one question: do we believe that Jesus can heal us and can raise us from the dead? The entire Gospel is written in the light of this faith: Jesus is risen, He has conquered death, and by his victory we too will rise again. This faith, which for the first Christians was sure, can tarnish and become uncertain, to the point that some may confuse resurrection with reincarnation. The Word of God this Sunday invites us to live in the certainty of the Resurrection: Jesus is the Lord, Jesus has power over evil and over death, and He wants to lead us to house of the Father, where life reigns. And there we will all meet again, all of us here in this square today, we will meet again in the house of the Father, in the life that Jesus will give us.

The Resurrection of Christ acts in history as the principle of renewal and hope. Anyone who is desperate and tired to death, if he entrusts himself to Jesus and to his love, can begin to live again. And to begin a new life, to change life is a way of rising again, of resurrecting. Faith is a force of life, it gives fullness to our humanity; and those who believe in Christ must acknowledge this in order to promote life in every situation, in order to let everyone, especially the weakest, experience the love of God who frees and saves.

Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for the gift of a strong and courageous faith, that might urge us to be diffusers of hope and life among our brothers and sisters.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


* * * * *

For reflections on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


* * * * *

Monday, June 13, 2016

0473: Reflections on the 12th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0473: Reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis (Updated 20 June 2016) 


Othree occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 23 June 2013, 21 June 2015, and 19 June 2016. Here are the texts of three brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and a homily delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 23 June 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel resound some of Jesus’ most incisive words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it” (Lk 9:24).

This is a synthesis of Christ’s message, and it is expressed very effectively in a paradox, which shows us his way of speaking, almost lets us hear his voice. But what does it mean “to lose one’s life for the sake of Jesus”? This can happen in two ways: explicitly by confessing the faith, or implicitly by defending the truth. Martyrs are the greatest example of losing one’s life for Christ. In 2,000 years, a vast host of men and women have sacrificed their lives to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world, there are many, many—more than in the first centuries—so many martyrs, who give up their lives for Christ, who are brought to death because they do not deny Jesus Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the first centuries! However, there is also daily martyrdom, which may not entail death but is still a “loss of life” for Christ, by doing one’s duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of gift, of sacrifice. Let us think: how many dads and moms every day put their faith into practice by offering up their own lives in a concrete way for the good of the family! Think about this! How many priests, brothers and sisters carry out their service generously for the Kingdom of God! How many young people renounce their own interests in order to dedicate themselves to children, the disabled, the elderly. They are martyrs too! Daily martyrs, martyrs of everyday life!

And then there are many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who “lose their lives” for truth. And Christ said “I am the truth,” therefore whoever serves the truth serves Christ. One of those who gave his life for the truth is John the Baptist: tomorrow, 24 June, is his great feast, the Solemnity of his birth. John was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus, and he revealed him to the people of Israel as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (see Jn 1:29). John consecrated himself entirely to God and to his envoy, Jesus. But, in the end, what happened? He died for the sake of the truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth! Upright people who are not afraid to go against the current! How many just men prefer to go against the current, so as not to deny the voice of conscience, the voice of truth! And we, we must not be afraid! Among you are many young people. To you young people I say: Do not be afraid to go against the current, when they want to rob us of hope, when they propose rotten values, values like food gone bad—and when food has gone bad, it harms us; these values harm us. We must go against the current! And you young people, are the first: Go against the tide and have the daring to move precisely against the current. Forward, be brave and go against the tide! And be proud of doing so.

Dear friends, let us welcome Jesus’s words with joy. They are a rule of life proposed to everyone. And may Saint John the Baptist help us put that rule into practice. On this path, as always, our Mother, Mary Most Holy, precedes us: she lost her life for Jesus, at the Cross, and received it in fullness, with all the light and the beauty of the Resurrection. May Mary help us to make ever more our own the logic of the Gospel.


PASTORAL VISIT OF POPE FRANCIS TO TURIN

ANGELUS

Piazza Vittorio, Sunday, 21 June 2015

At the end of this celebration, our thoughts go to the Virgin Mary, a loving, caring mother towards all her children, whom Jesus entrusted to her as he offered Himself on the Cross in the greatest act of love. An icon of this love is the Shroud, which has again drawn so many people to Turin. The Shroud attracts people to the face and tortured body of Jesus and, at the same time, urges us on toward every person who is suffering and unjustly persecuted. It urges us on in the same direction as Jesus’ gift of love. “The love us Christ urges us on:” these words of Saint Paul were the motto of Joseph Benedict Cottolengo.

Recalling the apostolic fervor of so many holy priests of this region, starting with Don Bosco, the bicentennial of whose birth we commemorate, with gratitude I greet you, priests and religious. You dedicate yourselves with commitment to pastoral work, and you are close to the people and their problems. I encourage you to carry forward your ministry with joy, always focusing on what is essential to the proclamation of the Gospel. And as I thank you for your presence, Brother Bishops of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, I urge you to stay close to your priests with paternal affection and warm closeness.

To the Holy Virgin, I entrust this city and the surrounding area and those who live therein, that they may be enabled to live in justice, peace and fraternity. In particular, I entrust to her the families, young people, elderly, inmates and all those who suffer, with a special thought for leukemia patients on today’s National Day Against Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma. May Mary the Consolatrix, Queen of Turin and Piedmont, make firm your faith, make sure your hope, and make fruitful your charity, that you may be the “salt and light” of this blessed land, of which I am a grandson.


PASTORAL VISIT OF POPE FRANCIS TO TURIN

HOMILY

Piazza Vittorio, Sunday, 21 June 2015

In the Opening Prayer, we prayed: “Give your people, Father, the gift of living always in veneration and love for your Holy Name, so that Your grace may not be deprived from those whom you have established on the rock of your love.” The readings that we have heard show us how God’s love for us is: it is a faithful love, a love that re-creates everything, a stable and secure love.

The Psalm invites us to give thanks to the Lord for “his love is everlasting.” Thus, a faithful love, fidelity: it is a love that does not disappoint, it never fails. Jesus embodies this love, He is the Witness. He never tires of loving us, of supporting us, of forgiving us, and thus He accompanies us on the path of life, according to the promise He made to the disciples: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). Out of love He became man, out of love He died and rose again, and out of love He is always at our side, in the beautiful moments and in the difficult ones. Jesus loves us always, until the end, without limits and without measure. And He loves us all, to the point that each one of us can say: “He gave his life for me.” For me! Jesus’ faithfulness does not fail, even in front of our infidelity. Saint Paul reminds us of this: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13).

Jesus remains faithful, even when we have done wrong, and He waits to forgive us: He is the face of the Merciful Father. This is a faithful love.

The second aspect: the love of God re-creates everything, that is He makes all things new, as we are reminded in the Second Reading. To recognize our limits, our weaknesses, is the door that opens the forgiveness of Jesus, to his love that can deeply renew us, that can re-create us. Salvation can enter in the heart when we open ourselves to the truth and recognize our mistakes, our sins; now let us make an experience, that beautiful experience of He who has come not for the healthy, but for the sick, not for the just ones, but the sinners (see Mt 9:12-13); let us experience his patience, his tenderness, his will to save all. And what is the sign? The sign that we have become “new” and that we have been transformed by the love of God is to strip off the worn out and old clothes of grudges and enmities to wear the clean robes of meekness, goodness, service to others, of peace in the heart, of children of God. The spirit of the world is always looking for something new, but it is only the faithfulness of Jesus that is capable of true innovation, of making us new men, of re-creating us.

Finally, the love of God is stable and secure, as the rocky shores that provide shelter from the violence of the waves. Jesus manifests this in the miracle recounted in the Gospel, when He calms the storm, commanding the wind and the sea (see Mk 4:41). The disciples are afraid because they realize that they will not make it, but He opens their hearts to the courage of faith. In front of the man who shouts: “I can’t do it anymore,” the Lord meets him, offers the rock of his love, to which everyone can cling, assured of not falling. How many times we feel that we can’t do it anymore! But He is near us, with his outstretched hand and open heart.

Dear brothers and sisters of Turin and Piedmont, our ancestors knew well what it means to be a “rock,” what “solidarity” means.

Our famous poet gives a beautiful witness: “Straight and true, they are as they appear: square of head, steady of hand and healthy of liver, they speak little but know of what they speak, although they walk slowly, they go far. People who spare not time nor sweat—Our free and headstrong local race—The whole world knows who they are and, when they pass, the whole world watches them.”

We may ask ourselves if today we are firm on this rock that is the love of God. How do we live God’s faithful love toward us. There is always the risk of forgetting that great love that the Lord has shown us. Even we Christians run the risk of letting ourselves be paralyzed by fears of the future and looking for security in things that pass, or in a model of a closed society that tends to exclude more than include. Many Saints and Blesseds who grew up in this land received the love of God and spread it around the world, free and headstrong Saints. In the footsteps of these witnesses, we too can also live the joy of the Gospel by practicing mercy; we can share the difficulties of so many people, of families, especially those who are weakest and marked by the economic crisis. Families are in need of feeling the Church’s motherly caress to go forward in married life, in the upbringing of children, in the care of the elderly and also in the transmission of the faith to the younger generations.

Do we believe that the Lord is faithful? How do we live the newness of God that transforms us everyday? How do we live the steady love of the Lord, that is placed as a secure barrier against the wakes of pride and false innovation? May the Holy Spirit help us to always be aware of this “rocky” love that makes us stable and strong in the small and great sufferings, may we not close ourselves in front of difficulties, to confront life with courage and look to the future with hope. As in the Sea of Galilee, also today in the sea of our existence, Jesus overcomes the forces of evil and the threats of desperation. The peace that He gives us is for all; also for so many brothers and sisters who flee from war and persecution in search of peace and freedom.

My dear ones, yesterday you celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Consolation, la Consolà, “who is there: low and solid, without pomp: like a good Mother.”

Let us entrust to our Mother the civil and ecclesial path of this earth: May She help us to follow the Lord so that we may be faithful, so as to be renewed and remain firm in love. So be it.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 June 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel passage this Sunday (Lk 9:18-24) calls us to once again confront Jesus “face to face,” so to speak. In one of the rare quiet moments when he is alone with his disciples, he asks them: “Who do the people say that I am?” (v. 18). They responded to him, saying: “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; others say one of the ancient prophets who has risen” (v. 19). Therefore, people esteemed Jesus and considered him to be a great prophet, but they were not yet aware of his true identity, that is, that He was the Messiah, the Son of God sent by the Father for the salvation of everyone.

Then Jesus directly addresses the Apostles—because this is what most interests him—asking: “But who do you say that I am?” Immediately, on behalf of everyone, Peter responds, “The Christ of God” (v. 20), that is to say: You are the Messiah, the Anointed of God, sent by Him to save his people according to the Covenant and the promise. Therefore Jesus realizes that the Twelve, and Peter in particular, have received the gift of faith from the Father; and for this reason he begins to speak with them openly—this is how the Gospel puts it: “openly”—of what awaits him in Jerusalem. “The Son of Man must suffer many things,” he says, “and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and rise on the third day” (see v. 22).

These same questions are proposed to each of us today: “Who is Jesus for the people of our time?” and more importantly: “Who is Jesus for each of us?” for me, for you, for you, for you, and for you? Who is Jesus for each one of us? We are called to make Peter’s answer our own response, joyfully professing that Jesus is the Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, who became man to redeem mankind, pouring out the abundance of divine mercy upon it. The world needs Christ more than ever: his salvation, his merciful love. Many people feel an empty void around and within themselves—perhaps, at certain times, we do too—others live in restlessness and insecurity due to uncertainty and conflict. We all need adequate answers to our questions, to our concrete questions. Only in Him, in Christ, is it possible to find true peace and the fulfillment of every human aspiration. Jesus knows the human heart better than anyone. This is why he can heal, giving life and consolation.

After concluding the dialogue with the Apostles, Jesus addressed everyone, saying: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (v. 23). This is not an ornamental cross or an ideological cross, but it is the cross of life, the cross of one’s duty, the cross of making sacrifices for others with love—for parents, for children, for the family, for friends, and even for enemies—the cross of being ready to be in solidarity with the poor, to strive for justice and peace. In assuming this attitude, these crosses, we always lose something. We must never forget that “whoever loses his life [for Christ] will save it” (v. 24). It is losing in order to win. Let us remember all of our brothers and sisters who still put these words of Jesus into practice today, offering their time, their work, their efforts and even their lives so as to never deny their faith in Christ. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, gives us the strength to move forward along the path of faith and of witness: doing exactly what we believe; not saying one thing and doing another. On this path Our Lady is always near to us: let us allow her to hold our hand when we are going through the darkest and most difficult moments


© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



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For reflections on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time  

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


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Monday, June 6, 2016

0472: Reflections on the 11th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0472: Reflections on the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis  (Updated 20 June 2017)


Othree occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 16 June 2013, 14 June 2015, and 12 June 2016. Here are the texts of three brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and two homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 June 2013


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this Eucharistic Celebration dedicated to the Gospel of Life, I am pleased to recall that yesterday Odardo Focherini, husband and father of seven children, a journalist, was beatified in Carpi. Arrested and incarcerated in hatred of his Catholic faith, he died in the concentration camp of Hersbruck in 1944 at the age of 37. He saved many Jews from Nazi persecution. Together with the Church in Carpi, let us give thanks to God for this witness to the Gospel of Life!

I warmly thank all of you who have come from Rome and from many parts of Italy and of the world, especially the families and those who are more directly involved in the promotion and protection of life.

I cordially greet the 150 members of the Association “Grávida”-Argentina, gathered in the city of Pilar. Thank you so much for what you have done! Have courage and go forward!

Finally, I greet the many participants in the Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally as well as those from the Motoclub Polizia di Stato [State Police Motoclub].

Let us turn now to Our Lady, entrusting all human life, especially the most fragile, helpless and threatened, to her motherly protection.


HOLY MASS FOR “EVANGELIUM VITAE” DAY

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 June 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This celebration has a very beautiful name: the Gospel of Life. In this Eucharist, in the Year of Faith, let us thank the Lord for the gift of life in all its forms, and at the same time let us proclaim the Gospel of Life.

On the basis of the word of God which we have heard, I would like to offer you three simple points of meditation for our faith: first, the Bible reveals to us the Living God, the God who is life and the source of life; second, Jesus Christ bestows life and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and third, following God’s way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death.

1. The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. King David’s adultery is one example of this. Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. We heard how the prophet says to David: “Why have you done evil in the Lord’s sight?” (see 2 Sam 12:9). The King is forced to face his deeds of death; what he has done is truly a deed of death, not life! He recognizes what he has done and he begs forgiveness: “I have sinned against the Lord!” (v. 13). The God of mercy, who desires life and always forgives us, now forgives David and restores him to life. The prophet tells him: “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

What is the image we have of God? Perhaps he appears to us as a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth; he breathes in his nostrils the breath of life, and man becomes a living being (see 2:7). God is the source of life; thanks to his breath, man has life. God’s breath sustains the entire journey of our life on earth. I also think of the calling of Moses, where the Lord says that he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of the living. When he sends Moses to Pharaoh to set his people free, he reveals his name: “I am who I am,” the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions—you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great “Yes!” a yes to God, to Love, to life. Dear friends, our lives are fulfilled in God alone, because only he is the Living One!

2. Today’s Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk 7:47). Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid so many deeds of death, amid sin, selfishness and self-absorption. Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. This was the experience of the woman who anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment: she felt understood, loved, and she responded by a gesture of love: she let herself be touched by God’s mercy, she obtained forgiveness and she started a new life. God, the Living One, is merciful. Do you agree? Let’s say it together: God, the Living One, is merciful! All together now: God, the Living One, is merciful. Once again: God, the Living One is merciful!

This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). What is this life? It is God’s own life. And who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. The Spirit leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are we open to the Holy Spirit? Do we let ourselves be guided by him? Christians are “spiritual.” This does not mean that we are people who live “in the clouds,” far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.

3. God is the Living One, the Merciful One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love—a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death. The wisdom of the Psalmist says: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps 19:8). Let us always remember: the Lord is the Living One, he is merciful. The Lord is the Living One, he is merciful.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say “Yes” to love and not selfishness. Let us say “Yes” to life and not death. Let us say “Yes” to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say “Yes” to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints (see 1 Jn 4:8; Jn 11:2; Jn 8:32); let us say “Yes” to the God who is the Living One and the Merciful One. Only faith in the Living God saves us: in the God who in Jesus Christ has given us his own life by the gift of the Holy Spirit and has made it possible to live as true sons and daughters of God through his mercy. This faith brings us freedom and happiness. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the “Gospel of Life.” Amen.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 June 2015

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel is composed of two very brief parables: that of the seed that sprouts and grows on its own, and that of the mustard seed (see Mk 4:26-34). Through these images taken from the rural world, Jesus presents the efficacy of the Word of God and the requirements of his Kingdom, showing the reasons for our hope and our commitment in history.

In the first parable, attention is placed on the fact that the seed scattered on the ground (v. 26) takes root and develops on its own, regardless of whether the farmer sleeps or keeps watch. He is confident in the inner power of the seed itself and in the fertility of the soil. In the language of the Gospel, the seed is the symbol of the Word of God, whose fruitfulness is recalled in this parable. As the humble seed grows in the earth, so too does the Word by the power of God work in the hearts of those who listen to it. God has entrusted his Word to our earth, that is to each one of us with our concrete humanity. We can be confident because the Word of God is a creative word, destined to become the “full grain in the ear” (v. 28). This Word, if accepted, certainly bears fruit, for God Himself makes it sprout and grow in ways that we cannot always verify or understand. (see v. 27). All this tells us that it is always God, it is always God who makes his Kingdom grow. That is why we fervently pray “thy Kingdom come.” It is He who makes it grow. Man is his humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices in divine creative action and waits patiently for its fruits.

The Word of God makes things grow, it gives life. And here, I would like to remind you once again, of the importance of having the Gospel, the Bible, close at hand. A small Gospel in your purse, in your pocket and to nourish yourselves every day with this living Word of God. Read a passage from the Gospel every day, a passage from the Bible. Please don’t ever forget this. Because this is the power that makes the life of the Kingdom of God sprout within us.

The second parable uses the image of the mustard seed. Despite being the smallest of all the seeds, it is full of life and grows until it becomes “the greatest of all shrubs” (Mk 4:32). And thus is the Kingdom of God: a humanly small and seemingly irrelevant reality. To become a part of it, one must be poor of heart; not trusting in their own abilities, but in the power of the love of God; not acting to be important in the eyes of the world, but precious in the eyes of God, who prefers the simple and the humble. When we live like this, the strength of Christ bursts through us and transforms what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the entire mass of the world and of history.

An important lesson comes to us from these two parables: God’s Kingdom requires our cooperation, but it is above all the initiative and gift of the Lord. Our weak effort, seemingly small before the complexity of the problems of the world, when integrated with God’s effort, fears no difficulty. The victory of the Lord is certain: his love will make every seed of goodness present on the ground sprout and grow. This opens us up to trust and hope, despite the tragedies, the injustices, the sufferings that we encounter. The seed of goodness and peace sprouts and develops, because the merciful love of God makes it ripen.

May the Holy Virgin, who like “fertile ground” received the seed of the divine Word, sustain us in this hope which never disappoints.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 12 June 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Yesterday, in Vercelli, Fr Giacomo Abbondo was proclaimed Blessed. He lived in the 1700’s, in love with God, educated and always available to his parishioners. Let us join in the joy and thanksgiving of the Diocese of Vercelli. As well as with that of Monreale, where today Sr Carolina Santocanale, Foundress of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculata of Lourdes, was also beatified. Born to a noble family in Palermo, she chose to leave comfort behind and become “poor among the poor.” It was from Christ, especially in the Eucharist, that she drew strength for her spiritual motherhood and her tenderness for the weak.

In the context of the Jubilee of the Sick, in recent days an International Congress dedicated to people affected by Hansen’s disease was held in Rome. With gratitude I greet the organizers and participants and I wish them fruitful results in their fight against this disease.

Today is the World Day Against Child Labor. United together, let us renew our efforts to eradicate the causes of this form of modern slavery, which deprives millions of children of their fundamental rights and exposes them to grave dangers. Today there are so many child slaves in the world!

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims from Italy and other countries for this Jubilee Day. In a special way, I thank you, who in your condition or disability wanted to be present. Heartfelt thanks also goes to the doctors and healthcare workers who, at the “health points” set up around the four Papal Basilicas, are offering specialized check-ups to the hundreds of people who live on the outskirts of Rome. Thank you very much!

May the Virgin Mary, to whom we turn now in prayer, always be with us on our journey.


EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY
FOR THE SICK AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 12 June 2016

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:19). In these words, the Apostle Paul powerfully expresses the mystery of the Christian life, which can be summed up in the paschal dynamic of death and resurrection received at baptism. Indeed, through immersion in water, each of us, as it were, dies and is buried with Christ (see Rom 6:3-4), and remerging, shows forth new life in the Holy Spirit. This rebirth embraces every aspect of our lives: even sickness, suffering and death are taken up in Christ and in him find their ultimate meaning. Today, on the Jubilee day devoted to the sick and bearers of disabilities, this word of life has a special resonance for our assembly.

Each of us, sooner or later, is called to face—at times painfully—frailty and illness, both our own and those of others. How many different faces do these common yet dramatically human experiences take! Yet all of them directly raise the pressing question of the meaning of life. Our hearts may quietly yield to cynicism, as if the only solution were simply to put up with these experiences, trusting only in our own strength. Or we may put complete trust in science, thinking that surely somewhere in the world there is a medicine capable of curing the illness. Sadly, however, this is not always the case, and, even if the medicine did exist, it would be accessible to very few people.

Human nature, wounded by sin, is marked by limitations. We are familiar with the objections raised, especially nowadays, to a life characterized by serious physical limitations. It is thought that sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment. In an age when care for one’s body has become an obsession and a big business, anything imperfect has to be hidden away, since it threatens the happiness and serenity of the privileged few and endangers the dominant model. Such persons should best be kept apart, in some “enclosure”—even a gilded one—or in “islands” of pietism or social welfare, so that they do not hold back the pace of a false well-being. In some cases, we are even told that it is better to eliminate them as soon as possible, because they become an unacceptable economic burden in time of crisis. Yet what an illusion it is when people today shut their eyes in the face of sickness and disability! They fail to understand the real meaning of life, which also has to do with accepting suffering and limitations. The world does not become better because only apparently “perfect” people live there—I say “perfect” rather than “false”—but when human solidarity, mutual acceptance and respect increase. How true are the words of the Apostle: “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27)!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 7:36-8:3) presents us with a specific situation of weakness. The woman caught in sin is judged and rejected, yet Jesus accepts and defends her: “She has shown great love” (7:47). This is the conclusion of Jesus, who is attentive to her suffering and her plea. This tenderness is a sign of the love that God shows to those who suffer and are cast aside. Suffering need not only be physical; one of today’s most frequent pathologies is also spiritual. It is a suffering of the heart; it causes sadness for lack of love. It is the pathology of sadness. When we experience disappointment or betrayal in important relationships, we come to realize how vulnerable and defenseless we are. The temptation to become self-absorbed grows stronger, and we risk losing life’s greatest opportunity: to love in spite of everything!

The happiness that everyone desires, for that matter, can be expressed in any number of ways and attained only if we are capable of loving. This is the way. It is always a matter of love; there is no other path. The true challenge is that of who loves the most. How many disabled and suffering persons open their hearts to life again as soon as they realize they are loved! How much love can well up in a heart simply with a smile! The therapy of smiling. Then our frailness itself can become a source of consolation and support in our solitude. Jesus, in his passion, loved us to the end (see Jn 13:1); on the cross he revealed the love that bestows itself without limits. Can we reproach God for our infirmities and sufferings when we realize how much suffering shows on the face of his crucified Son? His physical pain was accompanied by mockery, condescension and scorn, yet he responds with a mercy that accepts and forgives everything: “by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5; 1 Pet 2:24). Jesus is the physician who heals with the medicine of love, for he takes upon himself our suffering and redeems it. We know that God can understand our infirmities, because he himself has personally experienced them (see Heb 4:15).

The way we experience illness and disability is an index of the love we are ready to offer. The way we face suffering and limitation is the measure of our freedom to give meaning to life’s experiences, even when they strike us as meaningless and unmerited. Let us not be disturbed, then, by these tribulations (see 1 Th 3:3). We know that in weakness we can become strong (see 2 Cor 12:10) and receive the grace to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for his body, the Church (see Col 1:24). For that body, in the image of the risen Lord’s own, keeps its wounds, the mark of a hard struggle, but they are wounds transfigured for ever by loves


© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



* * * * *


For reflections on the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time  

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


* * * * *