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Monday, October 16, 2017

0556: Reflections on the 29th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0556: Reflections on the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 20 October 2013, 19 October 2014, 18 October 2015, and 16 October 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable on the need to pray always, never wearying. The main character is a widow whose insistent pleading with a dishonest judge succeeds in obtaining justice from him. Jesus concludes: if the widow succeeded in convincing that judge, do you think that God will not listen to us if we pray to him with insistence? Jesus’ words are very strong: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7).

“Crying day and night” to God! This image of prayer is striking, but let us ask ourselves: Why does God want this? Doesn’t he already know what we need? What does it mean to “insist” with God?

This is a good question that makes us examine an important aspect of the faith: God invites us to pray insistently not because he is unaware of our needs or because he is not listening to us. On the contrary, he is always listening and he knows everything about us lovingly. On our daily journey, especially in times of difficulty, in the battle against the evil that is outside and within us, the Lord is not far away, he is by our side. We battle with him beside us, and our weapon is prayer which makes us feel his presence beside us, his mercy and also his help. But the battle against evil is a long and hard one; it requires patience and endurance, like Moses who had to keep his arms outstretched for the people to prevail (see Ex 17:8-13). This is how it is: there is a battle to be waged each day, but God is our ally, faith in him is our strength and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore Jesus assures us of the victory, but at the end he asks: “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). If faith is snuffed out, prayer is snuffed out, and we walk in the dark. We become lost on the path of life.

Therefore, let us learn from the widow of the Gospel to pray always without growing weary. This widow was very good! She knew how to battle for her children! I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray and never grow weary. Today let us all remember these women who by their attitude provide us with a true witness of faith and courage, and a model of prayer. Our thoughts go out to them!

Pray always, but not in order to convince the Lord by dint of words! He knows our needs better than we do! Indeed persevering prayer is the expression of faith in a God who calls us to fight with him every day and at every moment in order to conquer evil with good.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 October 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this solemn celebration, I would like to greet the pilgrims who have come from Italy and from various countries, with a deferential thought for the official Delegations. In particular, I greet the faithful from the Dioceses of Brescia, Milan and Rome, linked in a meaningful way to the life and to the ministry of Pope Montini. I thank everyone for your presence and I beseech you to faithfully follow the teachings and the example of the new Blessed.

He was a strenuous supporter of the missione ad gentes; testimony of which is above all the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, with which he intended to reawaken the passion for and commitment to the Church’s mission. This Exhortation is still current, it retains all of its relevance! It is important to consider this aspect of the Pontificate of Paul VI today, as World Mission Sunday is celebrated.

Before we, everyone together, invoke Our Lady with the Angelus prayer, I would like to underline Blessed Paul VI’s profound Marian devotion. The Christian people will always be grateful to this Pontiff for the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus and for his having proclaimed Mary “Mother of the Church,” on the occasion of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

May Mary, Queen of Saints and Mother of the Church, help us to faithfully realize the will of the Lord in our life, as the new Blessed did.


HOLY MASS AND BEATIFICATION OF POPE PAUL VI

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 October 2014

We have just heard one of the most famous phrases in the entire Gospel: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21).

Goaded by the Pharisees who wanted, as it were, to give him an exam in religion and catch him in error, Jesus gives this ironic and brilliant reply. It is a striking phrase which the Lord has bequeathed to all those who experience qualms of conscience, particularly when their comfort, their wealth, their prestige, their power and their reputation are in question. This happens all the time; it always has.

Certainly Jesus puts the stress on the second part of the phrase: “and [render] to God the things that are God’s.” This calls for acknowledging and professing—in the face of any sort of power—that God alone is the Lord of mankind, that there is no other. This is the perennial newness to be discovered each day, and it requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God’s surprises.

God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us “new.” A Christian who lives the Gospel is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this “newness”!

“Rendering to God the things that are God’s” means being docile to his will, devoting our lives to him and working for his kingdom of mercy, love and peace.

Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavor to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s. That is why we Christians look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest—with our feet firmly planted on the ground—and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.

In these days, during the extraordinary Synod of Bishops, we have seen how true this is. “Synod” means “journeying together.” And indeed pastors and lay people from every part of the world have come to Rome, bringing the voice of their particular Churches in order to help today’s families walk the path the Gospel with their gaze fixed on Jesus. It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church. For the Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.

For the gift of this Synod and for the constructive spirit which everyone has shown, in union with the Apostle Paul “we give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Th 1:2). May the Holy Spirit, who during these busy days has enabled us to work generously, in true freedom and humble creativity, continue to guide the journey which, in the Churches throughout the world, is bringing us to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2015. We have sown and we continued to sow, patiently and perseveringly, in the certainty that it is the Lord who gives growth to what we have sown (see 1 Cor 3:6).

On this day of the Beatification of Pope Paul VI, I think of the words with which he established the Synod of Bishops: “by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society” (Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo).

When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks! Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI! Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!

In his personal journal, the great helmsman of the Council wrote, at the conclusion of its final session: “Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and savior” (P. Macchi, Paolo VI nella sua parola, Brescia, 2001, pp. 120-121). In this humility the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom—and at times alone—to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.

Paul VI truly “rendered to God what is God’s” by devoting his whole life to the “sacred, solemn and grave task of continuing in history and extending on earth the mission of Christ” (Homily for the Rite of Coronation: Insegnamenti I, (1963), 26), loving the Church and leading her so that she might be “a loving mother of the whole human family and at the same time the minister of its salvation” (Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam, Prologue).


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 October 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am following with great concern the situations of heightened tension and violence that are afflicting the Holy Land. In this time there is need for much courage and much strength and fortitude in order to say ‘no’ to hate and vengeance and to perform gestures of peace. Let us pray for this, so that God may strengthen in all, governments and citizens, the courage to take a stand against violence and to take practical steps in easing tensions. In the current context of the Middle East it is more decisive than ever that peace be made in the Holy Land: this is asked of us by God and the good of mankind.

At the close of this celebration I would like to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new saints, particularly the official delegations of Italy, Spain and France.

I greet the faithful from the Dioceses of Lodi and Cremona, as well as the Daughters of the Oratory. May the example of Saint Vincent Grossi sustain the commitment to the Christian education of the younger generations.

I greet the pilgrims from Spain, especially from Seville, and the Sisters of the Society of the Cross. May the testimony of Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception help us to live in solidarity and closeness with the neediest.

I greet the faithful from France, especially from Bayeux, Lisieux and Sées: let us entrust the joys, expectations and difficulties of the families of France and of all the world to the intercession of the holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Zélie Guérin Martin.

I thank the cardinals, bishops, priests, consecrated people as well as the families, parish groups and organizations.

Now let us address the Virgin Mary with filial love.


HOLY MASS AND CANONIZATION OF
VINCENZO GROSSI,
MARY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION,
LUDOVICO MARTIN, AND
MARIA AZELIA GUÉRIN

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 October 2015

Today’s biblical readings present the theme of service. They call us to follow Jesus on the path of humility and the cross.

The prophet Isaiah depicts the Servant of the Lord (53:10-11) and his mission of salvation. The Servant is not someone of illustrious lineage; he is despised, shunned by all, a man of sorrows. He does not do great things or make memorable speeches; instead, he fulfils God’s plan through his humble, quiet presence and his suffering. His mission is carried out in suffering, and this enables him to understand those who suffer, to shoulder the guilt of others and to make atonement for it. The abandonment and sufferings of the Servant of the Lord, even unto death, prove so fruitful that they bring redemption and salvation to many.

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord. His life and death, marked by an attitude of utter service (see Phil 2:7), were the cause of our salvation and the reconciliation of mankind with God. The kerygma, the heart of the Gospel, testifies that his death and resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Servant of the Lord. Saint Mark tells us how Jesus confronted the disciples James and John. Urged on by their mother, they wanted to sit at his right and left in God’s Kingdom (see Mk 10:37), claiming places of honor in accordance with their own hierarchical vision of the Kingdom. Their horizon was still clouded by illusions of earthly fulfilment. Jesus then gives a first “jolt” to their notions by speaking of his own earthly journey: “The cup that I drink you will drink, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (vv. 39-40). With the image of the cup, he assures the two that they can fully partake of his destiny of suffering, without, however, promising their sought-after places of honor. His response is to invite them to follow him along the path of love and service, and to reject the worldly temptation of seeking the first place and commanding others.

Faced with people who seek power and success in order to be noticed, who want their achievements and efforts to be acknowledged, the disciples are called to do the opposite. Jesus warns them: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (vv. 42-44). These words show us that service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church. Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility.

After proposing a model not to imitate, Jesus then offers himself as the ideal to be followed. By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 45). In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one who receives from God “dominion, glory and kingship” (Dan 7:14). Jesus fills this image with new meaning. He shows us that he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life. By his passion and death, he takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon his Church.

There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honor, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified. Instead, compatibility exists between Jesus, “the man of sorrows,” and our suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear by presenting Jesus as the high priest who completely shares our human condition, with the exception of sin: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). Jesus exercises a true priesthood of mercy and compassion. He knows our difficulties at first hand, he knows from within our human condition; the fact that he is without sin does not prevent him from understanding sinners. His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is the glory of one who loves men and women, who accepts them and shares in their weakness, who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations.

Each of us, through baptism, share in our own way in Christ’s priesthood: the lay faithful in the common priesthood, priests in the ministerial priesthood. Consequently, all of us can receive the charity which flows from his open heart, for ourselves but also for others, and become “channels” of his love and compassion, especially for those who are suffering, discouraged and alone.

The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. Saint Vincent Grossi was a zealous parish priest, ever attentive to the needs of his people, especially those of the young. For all he was concerned to break the bread of God’s word, and thus became a Good Samaritan to those in greatest need.

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, drawing from the springs of prayer and contemplation, devoted her life, with great humility, to serving the least of our brothers and sisters, especially the children of the poor and the sick.

The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practiced Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.

The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 October 2016

At the end of this celebration, I would like to cordially greet all of you, who have come from various countries to pay homage to the new Saints. A different thought goes in a special way to the official Delegations of Argentina, Spain, France, Italy and Mexico. May the example and intercession of these luminous witnesses sustain the commitment of each one in his or her respective fields of work and of service, for the good of the Church and of the civil community.

Tomorrow is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Let us join our moral and economic forces to fight together against poverty which demeans, offends and kills many brothers and sisters, by implementing serious policies for families and for labor.

Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary all our intentions, especially our persistent and heartfelt prayer for peace.


HOLY MASS AND CANONIZATION OF
SALOMON LECLERCQ,
JOSÉ SÁNCHEZ DEL RÍO,
MANUEL GONZÁLEZ GARCÍA,
LODOVICO PAVONI,
ALFONSO MARIA FUSCO,
JOSÉ GABRIEL DEL ROSARIO BROCHERO, AND
ELISABETH OF THE HOLY TRINITY CATEZ

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 October 2016

At the start of today’s celebration, we addressed this prayer to the Lord: “Create in us a generous and steadfast heart, so that we may always serve you with fidelity and purity of spirit” (Collect).

By our own efforts, we cannot give ourselves such a heart. Only God can do this, and so in the prayer we ask him to give it to us as his “creation.” In this way, we come to the theme of prayer, which is central to this Sunday’s scriptural readings and challenges all of us who are gathered here for the canonization of new Saints. The Saints attained the goal. Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart. They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious.

So pray! Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer. We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised. From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people. So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won.

This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace!

There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another. Weariness is inevitable. Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work.

Saint Paul writes to Timothy, his disciple and co-worker, and urges him to hold fast to what he has learned and believed (see 2 Tim 3:14). But Timothy could not do this by his own efforts: the “battle” of perseverance cannot be won without prayer. Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Pray always, without ever losing heart” (Lk 18:1). This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony. Here once again we may hear a voice within us, saying: “But Lord, how can we not grow weary? We are human, even Moses grew weary!” True, each of us grows weary. Yet we are not alone; we are part of a Body! We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, whose arms are raised day and night to heaven, thanks to the presence of the Risen Christ and his Holy Spirit. Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.

We have heard the promise Jesus makes in the Gospel: “God will grant justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night” (see Lk 18:7). This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised. This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit. To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm. On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us. For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray. He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.

The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them. They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers. That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart. Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer. May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart. May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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Monday, October 9, 2017

0555: Reflections on the 28th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0555: Reflections on the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 13 October 2013, 12 October 2014, 11 October 2015, and 9 October 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 October 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today in Tarragona, Spain approximately 500 martyrs who were killed for the faith during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s are being beatified. We praise the Lord for their courageous witness; through their intercession let us ask him to free the world from every form of violence.

I wish to thank all of you who have come out in such great numbers from Rome, Italy and from so many parts of the world for this celebration of faith dedicated to Mary, our Mother.

I greet the children from the “Little Footprints” International Orchestra for Peace, and the National Association of Mutilated and Disabled at Work.

I also greet the youth of Rome who over the course of recent days have been engaged in the “Jesus at the Centre” mission: always be missionaries of the Gospel, every day and in every place! And I also gladly greet the inmates of the Castovillari prison.

And now together let us pray the Angelus.

[After the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Pope added:] I wish you a blessed Sunday, have a nice lunch. Goodbye!


HOLY MASS
(YEAR OF FAITH)

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 October 2013

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things” (Ps 98:1).

Today we consider one of the marvelous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.

1. First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (see 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.

This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?

2. In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ; if we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (see 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always—to be mindful of Jesus Christ—and thus to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes,” but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.

3. The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.

Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord,” in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Sorry,” “excuse me,” “thank you.” If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Sorry,” “excuse me,” “thank you.” How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to.”

As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 12 October 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning,

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to us about the response given to the invitation from God—who is represented by a king—to participate in a wedding banquet (see Mt 22:1-14). The invitation has three characteristics: freely offered, breadth and universality. Many people were invited, but something surprising happened: none of the intended guests came to take part in the feast, saying they had other things to do; indeed, some were even indifferent, impertinent, even annoyed. God is good to us, he freely offers us his friendship, he freely offers us his joy, his salvation; but so often we do not accept his gifts, we place our practical concerns, our interests first. And when the Lord is calling to us, it so often seems to annoy us.

Some of the intended guests went so far as to abuse and kill the servants who delivered the invitation. But despite the lack of response from those called, God’s plan is never interrupted. In facing the rejection of the first invitees, He is not discouraged, He does not cancel the feast, but makes another invitation, expanding it beyond all reasonable limits, and sends his servants into the town squares and the byways to gather anyone they find. These, however, are ordinary, poor, neglected and marginalized people, good and bad alike—even bad people are invited—without distinction. And the hall is filled with “the excluded.” The Gospel, rejected by some, is unexpectedly welcomed in many other hearts.

The goodness of God has no bounds and does not discriminate against anyone. For this reason the banquet of the Lord’s gifts is universal, for everyone. Everyone is given the opportunity to respond to the invitation, to his call; no one has the right to feel privileged or to claim an exclusive right. All of this induces us to break the habit of conveniently placing ourselves at the center, as did the High Priests and the Pharisees. One must not do this; we must open ourselves to the peripheries, also acknowledging that, at the margins too, even one who is cast aside and scorned by society is the object of God’s generosity. We are all called not to reduce the Kingdom of God to the confines of the “little church”—our “tiny little church”—but to enlarge the Church to the dimensions of the Kingdom of God. However, there is one condition: wedding attire must be worn, that is, charity toward God and neighbor must be shown.

Let us entrust the tragedies and the hopes of so many of our excluded, weak, outcast, scorned brothers and sisters, as well as of those who are persecuted for reasons of faith, to the intercession of Most Holy Mary, and let us also invoke her protection upon the work of the Synod of Bishops, meeting in the Vatican during these days.


HOLY MASS OF THANKSGIVING FOR THE CANONIZATION OF
SAINT FRANÇOIS DE LAVAL AND SAINT MARIE DE L’INCARNATION

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 12 October 2014

We have heard Isaiah’s prophecy: “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Is 25:8). These words, full of hope in God, point us to the goal, they show the future towards which we are journeying. Along this path the Saints go before us and guide us. These words also describe the vocation of men and women missionaries.

Missionaries are those who, in docility to the Holy Spirit, have the courage to live the Gospel. Even this Gospel which we have just heard: “Go, therefore, into the byways,” the king tells his servants (Mt 22:9). The servants then go out and assemble all those they find, “both good and bad,” and bring them to the King’s wedding feast (see v. 10).

Missionaries have received this call: they have gone out to call everyone, in the highways and byways of the world. In this way they have done immense good for the Church, for once the Church stops moving, once she becomes closed in on herself, she falls ill, she can be corrupted, whether by sins or by that false knowledge cut off from God which is worldly secularism.

Missionaries have turned their gaze to Christ crucified; they have received his grace and they have not kept it for themselves. Like Saint Paul, they have become all things to all people; they have been able to live in poverty and abundance, in plenty and hunger; they have been able to do all things in him who strengthens them (see Phil 4:12-13). With this God-given strength, they have the courage to “go forth” into the highways of the world with confidence in the Lord who has called them. Such is the life of every missionary man and woman, ending up far from home, far from their homeland; very often, they are killed, assassinated! This is what has happened even now to many of our brothers and sisters.

The Church’s mission of evangelization is essentially a proclamation of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Missionaries have served the Church’s mission by breaking the bread of God’s word for the poor and those far off, and by bringing to all the gift of the unfathomable love welling up from the heart of the Savior.

Such was the case with Saint François de Laval and Saint Marie de l’Incarnation. Dear pilgrims from Canada, today I would like to leave you with two words of advice drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews. Keeping missionaries in mind, they will be of great benefit for your communities.

The first is this: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (13:7). The memory of the missionaries sustains us at a time when we are experiencing a scarcity of laborers in the service of the Gospel. Their example attracts us, they inspire us to imitate their faith. They are fruitful witnesses who bring forth life!

The second is this: “Recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Do not therefore abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance” (10:32, 35-36). Honoring those who endured suffering to bring us the Gospel means being ready ourselves to fight the good fight of faith with humility, meekness, and mercy, in our daily lives. And this bears fruit.

We must always remember those who have gone before us, those who founded the fruitful Church in Quebéc! The missionaries from Quebec who went everywhere were fruitful. The world was full of Canadian missionaries like François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation. So a word of advice: remembering them prevents us from renouncing candor and courage. Perhaps—indeed, even without perhaps—the devil is jealous and will not tolerate that a land could be such fertile ground for missionaries. Let us pray to the Lord, that Quebéc may once again bear much fruit, that it may give the world many missionaries. May the two missionaries, who we celebrate today, and who—in a manner of speaking—founded the Church in Québec, help us by their intercession. May the seed that they sowed grow and bear fruit in new courageous men and women, who are far-sighted, with hearts open to the Lord’s call. Today, each one must ask this for your homeland. The saints will intercede for us from heaven. May Quebéc once again be a source of brave and holy missionaries.

This, then, is the joy and the challenge of this pilgrimage of yours: to commemorate the witnesses, the missionaries of the faith in your country. Their memory sustains us always in our journey towards the future, towards the goal, when “the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.”

“Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Is 25:9).


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 11 October 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel, taken from Mark, Chapter 10, is divided into three scenes, punctuated by three gazes of Jesus.

The first scene presents the encounter between the Teacher and a fellow who—according to the parallel passage of Matthew—is identified as a “young man.” The encounter of Jesus with a young man. This man runs up to Jesus, kneels and calls him “Good Teacher.” Then he asks: “what must I do to inherit eternal life,” in other words, happiness (v. 17). “Eternal life” is not only the afterlife, but is a full life, fulfilled, without limitations. What must we do to achieve it? Jesus’ answer restates the commandments that refer to loving one’s neighbors. In this regard the young man has nothing to reproach; but clearly, observing the precepts is not enough. It does not satisfy his desire for fulfillment. Jesus perceives this desire that the young man bears in his heart; for this reason his response is expressed in an intense gaze filled with tenderness and love. The Gospel thus says: “[Jesus] looking upon him loved him” (v. 21). He realized he was a good young man. But Jesus also understood his interlocutor’s weakness, and offers him a practical proposal: to give all his possessions to the poor and follow Him. That young man’s heart, however, was divided between two masters: God and money, and he went away sorrowful. This shows that faith and attachment to riches cannot coexist. Thus, in the end, the young man’s initial enthusiasm is dampened in the unhappiness of a sunken sequela.

In the second scene the Evangelist frames the eyes of Jesus, and this time it is a pensive gaze, one of caution: “[Jesus] looked around and said to his disciples: ‘How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’” (v. 23). To the astonishment of the disciples, who ask him: “Then who can be saved?” (v. 26), Jesus responds with a encouraging gaze—it is the third gaze—and says: salvation, yes, “with men it is impossible, but not with God!” (v. 27). If we trust in the Lord, we can overcome all obstacles that impede us from following him on the path of faith. Trust in the Lord. He will give us strength, he gives us salvation, he accompanies us on the way.

And thus we arrive at the third scene, that of Jesus’ solemn declaration: Truly, I say to you those who leave all to follow me shall have eternal life in the age to come and a hundredfold now in this time (see vv. 29-30). This “hundredfold” is comprised of things first possessed and then left, but which shall be restored and multiplied ad infinitum. In divesting oneself of possessions, one receives in exchange the comfort of true good; freed from the slavery of things, one earns the freedom of serving out of love; in renouncing possessions, one acquires the joy of giving. As Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (see Acts 20:35).

The young man did not allow himself to be conquered by Jesus’ loving gaze, and thus was not able to change. Only by accepting with humble gratitude the love of the Lord do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure, success dazzle but then disappoint: they promise life but procure death. The Lord asks us to detach ourselves from these false riches in order to enter into true life, the full, authentic, luminous life. I ask you, young people, young men and young women, who are here now in the Square: “Have you felt Jesus’ gaze upon you? Do you prefer to leave this Square with the joy that Jesus gives us or with the sadness of heart that worldliness offers us?”

May the Virgin Mary help us to open our heart to Jesus’ love, to Jesus’ gaze, the only One who can satiate our thirst for happiness.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 9 October 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I was greatly saddened to hear the news of the grave consequences of the hurricane that in recent days struck the Caribbean, and Haiti in particular, leaving behind many victims and homeless, in addition to considerable material damage. I assure my closeness to the population and express my confidence in the sense of solidarity of the international community, the Catholic institutions and people of good will. I ask you to join me in praying for these brothers and sisters, who are put to such a difficult test.

Yesterday in Oviedo, Spain, the priest Gennaro Fueyo Castañón and three lay believers were beatified. We praise the Lord for these heroic witnesses of the faith, joined to the multitude of martyrs who have given their lives in the name of Christ.

I send my most cordial greetings to all of you, dear pilgrims, who have participated in the Marian Jubilee. Thank you for your presence! I would like to repeat with you the words of Saint John Paul II pronounced on 8 October 2000, in the Act of Entrustment to Mary for the Jubilee: “Mother, we wish to entrust to you the future that awaits us. Humanity can turn this world into a garden, or reduce it to a pile of rubble.” At this crossroads, may the Virgin help us choose life, welcoming and practicing the Gospel of Christ the Savior.


HOLY MASS
(JUBILEE OF MERCY)

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 9 October 2016

This Sunday’s Gospel (see Lk 17:11-19) invites us to acknowledge God’s gifts with wonder and gratitude. On the way to his death and resurrection, Jesus meets ten lepers, who approach him, keep their distance and tell their troubles to the one whom their faith perceived as a possible savior: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13). They are sick and they are looking someone to heal them. Jesus responds by telling them to go and present themselves to the priests, who according to the Law were charged with certifying presumed healings. In this way, Jesus does not simply make them a promise; he tests their faith. At that moment, in fact, the ten were not yet healed. They were restored to health after they set out in obedience to Jesus’ command. Then, rejoicing, they showed themselves to the priests and continued on their way. They forgot the Giver, the Father, who cured them through Jesus, his Son made man.

All but one: a Samaritan, a foreigner living on the fringes of the chosen people, practically a pagan! This man was not content with being healed by his faith, but brought that healing to completion by returning to express his gratitude for the gift received. He recognized in Jesus the true Priest, who raised him up and saved him, who can now set him on his way and accept him as one of his disciples.

To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what he has done for us: this is important! So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying “Thank you”? How many times do we say “Thank you” in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say “Thank you” to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted! This also happens with God. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to return and give thanks. That is why Jesus so emphasizes the failure of the nine ungrateful lepers: “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Lk 17:17-18).

On this Jubilee day, we are given a model, indeed the model, to whom we can look: Mary, our Mother. After hearing the message of the Angel, she lifted up her heart in a song of praise and thanksgiving to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Let us ask our Lady to help us recognize that everything is God’s gift, and to be able to say “Thank you.” Then, I assure you, our joy will be complete. Only those who know how to say “Thank you,” will experience the fullness of joy.

It also takes humility to be able to give thanks. In the first reading we heard the singular story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the King of Aram (see 2 Kg 5:14-17). In order to be cured of his leprosy, he accepts the suggestion of a poor slave and entrusts himself to the prophet Elisha, whom he considered an enemy. Naaman was nonetheless ready to humble himself. Elisha asks nothing of him, but simply orders him to bathe in the waters of the River Jordan. This request leaves Naaman perplexed, even annoyed. Can a God who demands such banal things truly be God? He would like to turn back, but then he agrees to be immersed in the Jordan and immediately he is cured.

The heart of Mary, more than any other, is a humble heart, capable of accepting God’s gifts. In order to become man, God chose precisely her, a simple young woman of Nazareth, who did not dwell in the palaces of power and wealth, who did not do extraordinary things. Let us ask ourselves—it will do us good—if we are prepared to accept God’s gifts, or prefer instead to shut ourselves up within our forms of material security, intellectual security, the security of our plans.

Significantly, Naaman and the Samaritans were two foreigners. How many foreigners, including persons of other religions, give us an example of values that we sometimes forget or set aside! Those living beside us, who may be scorned and sidelined because they are foreigners, can instead teach us how to walk on the path that the Lord wishes. The Mother of God, together with Joseph her spouse, knew what it was to live far from home. She too was long a foreigner in Egypt, far from her relatives and friends. Yet her faith was able to overcome the difficulties. Let us cling to this simple faith of the Holy Mother of God; let us ask her that we may always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from his mercy.

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 by Pope Benedict XVI,
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