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HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER POPE FRANCIS Sistine Chapel Thursday, 14 March 2013. . . ..

Pope Francis pays homage to Our Lady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan. 31, 2014

POPE'S SANTA MARTA HOMILY: CHRISTIAN MEDIOCRITY LEADS TO A ‘LOSS OF SENSE OF SIN'

(Vatican Radio) When the presence God is not felt among men, "you lose the sense of sin," and so others end up paying the price ...

 

Vatican Radio) When the presence God is not felt among men, "you lose the sense of sin," and so others end up paying the price for our "Christian mediocrity ." That was the message behind Pope Francis’ homily at this morning’s Mass at the Santa Marta guesthouse here in the Vatican.
Listen to Tracey McClure’s report:MP3

All too often today, the Pope observes, grave sin such as adultery is declassified as simply a "problem to be solved ." That’s what happens in today’s reading in which King David falls in love with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his generals. Taking up this story, Pope Francis says David took her for his own and sent her husband to the front lines of battle where the man was killed. In actual fact, the Pope stressed, David also committed murder. And yet, having committed both grave sins, the King is not moved. Despite committing a grave sin, the Pope observes, David does not feel pity and fails to ask forgiveness. He only considers how he can resolve a problem.

This can happen to any of us, the Pope says, and observes “When the Kingdom of God diminishes, one of the signs is that you lose the sense of sin."
Conversely, you also lose the "sense of the Kingdom of God" and in its place, reflects the Pope, there emerges an “all-powerful anthropological vision," that leads us to believe we “can do anything.”

The Pope confesses that even he himself can fall into the trap of losing a sense of sin. But a commitment to daily prayer, he stresses, can counter the injustices perpetrated out of human pride and stop so many from falling victim to “Christian mediocrity” and our “unrecognized sins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 30, 2014

Jan. 30, 2014

 

 

POPE: CHRISTIANS MUST "FEEL WITH THE CHURCH"

(Vatican Radio) Humility, faithfulness and prayer are the three signs of a Christian who belongs to the Church. That was the theme that Pope Francis ...

 

Vatican Radio) Humility, faithfulness and prayer are the three signs of a Christian who belongs to the Church. That was the theme that Pope Francis chose for his homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, urging his listeners to really “feel with the Church”.
The Pope said the first fruit of our Baptism is to make us a part of the Church, a member of the people of God. Recalling the words of Pope Paul VI, he said it’s absurd to claim that we love Christ without the Church, that we listen to Christ but not the Church, that we are with Christ but on the margins of the Church. The Gospel message, Pope Francis said, comes to us through the Church and our path to holiness must be found within the Church.
Speaking of the three pillars which underpin our sense of belonging to the Church, the Pope said the first is humility and the realization that the story of salvation does not start or end with us. A person who is not humble, he said, cannot feel with the Church but only feels what he or she desires. Instead, humility helps us understand that we are just a small part of the great people of God, that is following the way of the Lord.
The second pillar, Pope Francis said, is faithfulness to the teachings and doctrine of the Church. Quoting again from his predecessor Paul VI, he said we receive the Gospel as a gift and we must pass that gift on to others in faithfulness, rather than seeing it as something that belongs to us.
Thirdly, the Pope said, we must remember to pray with and for the Church in all parts of the world. Do we really pray for the Church, he asked, not just at daily Mass but also when we are at home? May the Lord help us, he concluded, to follow this path, to deepen our sense of belonging and feeling with the Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 30, 2014

PAPA FRANCESCO: DICOTOMIA ASSURDA AMARE CRISTO SENZA LA CHIESA

“Non si capisce un cristiano senza Chiesa”: lo ha affermato stamani Papa Francesco durante la Messa presieduta a Santa Marta. Il Pontefice ha indicato tre ...

 

“Non si capisce un cristiano senza Chiesa”: lo ha affermato stamani Papa Francesco durante la Messa presieduta a Santa Marta. Il Pontefice ha indicato tre pilastri del senso di appartenenza ecclesiale: l’umiltà, la fedeltà e la preghiera per la Chiesa.

L’omelia del Papa è partita dalla figura del re Davide, come viene presentata dalle letture del giorno: un uomo che parla col Signore come un figlio parla con il padre e anche se riceve un “no” alle sue richieste, lo accetta con gioia. Davide – osserva Papa Francesco – aveva “un sentimento forte di appartenenza al popolo di Dio”. E questo – ha proseguito – ci fa chiedere su quale sia il nostro senso di appartenenza alla Chiesa, il nostro sentire con la Chiesa e nella Chiesa:
“Il cristiano non è un battezzato che riceve il Battesimo e poi va avanti per la sua strada. Il primo frutto del Battesimo è farti appartenere alla Chiesa, al popolo di Dio. Non si capisce un cristiano senza Chiesa. E per questo il grande Paolo VI diceva che è una dicotomia assurda amare Cristo senza la Chiesa; ascoltare Cristo ma non la Chiesa; stare con Cristo al margine della Chiesa. Non si può. E’ una dicotomia assurda. Il messaggio evangelico noi lo riceviamo nella Chiesa e la nostra santità la facciamo nella Chiesa, la nostra strada nella Chiesa. L’altro è una fantasia o, come lui diceva, una dicotomia assurda”.

Il “sensus ecclesiae” – ha affermato - è “proprio il sentire, pensare, volere, dentro la Chiesa”. Ci sono “tre pilastri di questa appartenenza, di questo sentire con la Chiesa. Il primo è l’umiltà”, nella consapevolezza di essere “inseriti in una comunità come una grazia grande”:
“Una persona che non è umile, non può sentire con la Chiesa, sentirà quello che a lei piace, a lui piace. E’ questa umiltà che si vede in Davide: ‘Chi sono io, Signore Dio, e che cosa è la mia casa?’. Con quella coscienza che la storia di salvezza non è incominciata con me e non finirà quando io muoio. No, è tutta una storia di salvezza: io vengo, il Signore ti prende, ti fa andare avanti e poi ti chiama e la storia continua. La storia della Chiesa incominciò prima di noi e continuerà dopo di noi. Umiltà: siamo una piccola parte di un grande popolo, che va sulla strada del Signore”.

Il secondo pilastro è la fedeltà, “che va collegata all’ubbidienza”:
“Fedeltà alla Chiesa; fedeltà al suo insegnamento; fedeltà al Credo; fedeltà alla dottrina, custodire questa dottrina. Umiltà e fedeltà. Anche Paolo VI ci ricordava che noi riceviamo il messaggio del Vangelo come un dono e dobbiamo trasmetterlo come un dono, ma non come una cosa nostra: è un dono ricevuto che diamo. E in questa trasmissione essere fedeli. Perché noi abbiamo ricevuto e dobbiamo dare un Vangelo che non è nostro, che è di Gesù, e non dobbiamo – diceva Lui – diventare padroni del Vangelo, padroni della dottrina ricevuta, per utilizzarla a nostro piacere”.

Il terzo pilastro – ha detto il Papa – è un servizio particolare: “pregare per la Chiesa”. “Come va la nostra preghiera per la Chiesa? – domanda Papa Francesco - Preghiamo per la Chiesa? Nella Messa tutti i giorni, ma a casa nostra, no? Quando facciamo le nostre preghiere?”. Pregare per tutta la Chiesa, in tutte le parti del mondo. “Che il Signore –ha concluso il Papa - ci aiuti ad andare su questa strada per approfondire la nostra appartenenza alla Chiesa e il nostro sentire con la Chiesa”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 30, 2014

THE POPE'S MASS AT SANTA MARTA

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday 30 January, Pope Francis reflected on a verse from Psalm 132 which he said “opens the door ...

 

2014-01-30 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday 30 January, Pope Francis reflected on a verse from Psalm 132 which he said “opens the door to reflecting on the word of God in today's liturgy”. Reciting the psalm's first verse, he said: “Remember, O Lord, in David's favour, all the hardships he endured”. This psalm, he said, “presents David as a model, it presents King David as a man who laboured much, who struggled much for the Kingdom of God”.

This psalm verse, the Pope continued, is linked to “the passage from the second book of Samuel (7:18-19,24-29)”, which recounts David's words to the Lord as he reflects on his dwelling place: “I live in a palace but the Ark of the Lord is still in a tent: let us build a temple”. The Lord's response is negative: “No, not you, your son will do it!”. The Pontiff added: “David accepts this, and he accepts it with joy” as he presents himself before the Lord and talks to him “as a son to this father”.

David said: “Who am I, O Lord, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me thus far?”. First he asked himself: “Who am I?”. He knew well that he was once “a young shepherd of sheep - as he says elsewhere, he was 'taken from among the sheep'” and that he had become “the king of Israel”. This is the meaning of David's question: “Who am I?”

David's question reveals that he “had a strong sense of belonging to the people of God,” the Pope said. And the Pontiff remarked: “this caused me to reflect that it would be good to ask ourselves what are the signs that we belong to the Church, that we think and feel with the Church”. For “a Christian isn't someone who is baptized and then goes his own way … the first fruit of baptism is to make you belong to the Church, to the people of God; a Christian without the Church is incomprehensible. This is why the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ but not the Church; to remain with Christ on the margins of the Church. It is an absurd dichotomy”.“We receive the Gospel message in the Church and we are sanctified in the Church. Our way is in the Church”. The alternative, he said, “is a fantasy” or as Pual VI said, “an absurd dichotomy”.

The Pope then delved more deeply into the meaning “of thinking with the Church”. He explained: “in Latin we say sensus Ecclesiae: it means feeling and thinking and willing in and with the Church”. And “in reflecting on this passage about David, on his sense of belonging to the people of God, we find three pillars of this belonging, of this thinking and feeling with the Church: humility, fidelity and the service of prayer”.

Regarding the first, the Bishop of Rome explained that “a person who isn't humble cannot think and feel with the Church: he thinks what he likes. We see true humility in David who asks: 'Who I am, O Lord God, and what is my house?'”. David, he said, “is aware that salvation history did not begin with me and it will not finish when I die. No! It is truly a history of salvation” through which “the Lord guides you, makes you go forward and then calls you; and then history continues”. Humility is the awareness that “the history of the Church began before us and will continue after us” for “we are only a small part of a great people travelling along the way of the Lord”.

The second pillar, fidelity, is “joined to obedience”. In this regard, Pope Francis again put forward the figure of David who “obeys the Lord and is faithful to his teaching, to his law”. Thus fidelity for us means “fidelity to the Church, fidelity to her teaching, fidelity to the Creed, fidelity to her doctrine, and safeguarding this doctrine”. Thus “humility and fidelity” go together.

Pope Francis continued: “Paul VI also reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift. And we must transmit it as a gift, not as our own possession. We give a gift that we ourselves have received. We must be faithful to this transmission, because we have received and we must give a Gospel that is not our own, but which is the Lord's. And we must not become lord and master over the Gospel, lord and master of a received doctrine that we use as we please”.

Lastly, the Pope focused on the third pillar: “the third pillar is service: service in the Church; there is service to God and service to our neighbour, to the brethren … but here I will only mention service to God”. Turning once more to David, he noted that “when he finishes reflecting before God, which is prayer, he prays for God's people”. This, the Pope said, “is the third pillar: to pray for the Church”.

In 2 Samuel we hear David pray: “O Lord, God, thou art God, and thy words are true, and thou hast promised this good thing to thy servant”. The Lord has also promised us that “the Church will never be destroyed and that the gates of hell shall never prevail against her,” the Pope said. He then continued reading David's prayer: “Now therefore may it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continued forever before thee!”. The Pontiff noted that David's words raise a question: “What is your prayer for the Church like? Do we pray for the Church? Each day at the Mass, but at home, no? When do we pray?”.We need to pray to the Lord “for the whole Church, all over the world”, he said. This is the essence of “serving God by praying for the Church”.

“Humility,” Pope Francis concluded, makes us understand that “we have been inserted into a community as a great grace” and that “salvation history did not begin with me nor will it end with me: each of us can say this”. Fidelity reminds us that “we have received the Gospel, we have received doctrine” to which we must be faithful and which we must safeguard. And service moves us to be constant in “prayer for the Church”. May the Lord, he said, “help us to go along this road to deepen our belonging in the Church, our thinking and feeling with the Church”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 28, 2014

POPE FRANCIS AT DAILY MASS: THE FRUITFULNESS OF PRAISE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence. Following the readings of the day, the Holy Father ...

 

Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence. Following the readings of the day, the Holy Father spoke about the proper attitude of the Christian at prayer. Listen:MP3

Reflecting on the episode from the Second Book of Samuel, which was read at Mass, in which “David danced with all his might before the Lord,” Pope Francis recalled that the whole people of Israel were celebrating because the Ark of the Covenant was returning home. He went on to say that David’s prayer of praise, “led him to move beyond all composure,” adding, “this was precisely a prayer of praise.”
Explaining that the passage caused his thoughts to turn to Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who, after giving birth to her son, Isaac, said, “The Lord made ​​me dance with joy.” He said that it is easy to understand a prayer of petition – asking something of the Lord – and prayer of thanksgiving, as well. Even prayer of adoration, he said, “is not so difficult,” to understand. Prayer of praise, however, “We leave aside – it does not come to us so easily [It. Non ci viene così spontanea].”:
“‘But, Father! This is for the Renewal in the Spirit folks, not for all Christians!’ No: prayer of praise is a Christian prayer, for all of us. In the Mass, every day, when we sing the Holy, Holy, Holy ... This is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because He is great. We say beautiful things to Him, because we happy for His greatness [It. perché ci piace che sia così]. ‘But, Father! I am not able...I have to...’ Well, you’re able to shout when your team scores a goal, and you are not able to sing praises to the Lord? To come out of your shell ever so slightly to sing [His praise]? Praising God is completely gratis. [In it] we do not ask [Him to give us anything]: we do not express gratitude for anything [He has given]; we praise [Him]!”
We need to pray “whole-heartedly,” he said. “It is also an act of justice, because He is great! He is our God.” David, Pope Franics went on to observe, “was so happy, because the ark was returning, the Lord was returning: his body, too, prayed with that dance.”:
“[Here is] a good question for us to pose to ourselves today: ‘But how am I doing vis à vis prayer of praise? Do I know how to praise the Lord? Do I know how to praise the Lord when I pray the Gloria or the Sanctus? Is my whole heart really in it, or do I merely mouth [the words]. What does David dancing here say to me, and Sarah, dancing for joy? When David enters the city there begins another thing: a party!”
“The joy of praise,” said Pope Francis, “leads us to the joy of the feast - the feast of the family.” The Pope went on to recall how, when David returned to the palace, Michal, the daughter of King Saul, scolded him and asked him if he did not feel ashamed for having danced like that in front of everyone, he, who is the king. Michal “despised David”:
“I wonder sometimes how many times we despise good people in our hearts, good people who praise the Lord as it comes to them, so spontaneously, because they are not cultured, because they do not follow the formalities? [I mean really] despise [them]? The Bible says that, because of this, Michal remained sterile for the rest of her life. What does the Word of God mean, here? [It means] that joy, that the prayer of praise makes us fruitful! Sarah danced in the great moment of her fecundity – at the age of ninety! The fruitfulness that praise of the Lord gives us, the gratuity of praising the Lord: that man or that woman who praises the Lord, who prays praising the Lord, who, when praying the Gloria is filled with joy at doing so, and who, when singing the Sanctus in the Mass rejoices in singing it, is a fruitful person.”
On the other hand, warned Pope Francis, “Those, who are closed in the formality of a prayer that is cold, stingy [It. misurata], might end up as Michal, in the sterility of her formality.” The Pope asked, then, [that we] imagine David dancing, “with all his might before the Lord,” and that, “we think how beautiful it is to make the prayer of praise.” It will do us good, he said, to repeat the words of Psalm 23, which we prayed today: “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 28, 2014

MASS AT SANTA MARTA-THE PRAYER OF PRAISE

In his homily at Holy Mass on Tuesday, 28 January, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the second Book of Samuel (6:12-15, 17-17) which tells ...

 

 

2014-01-28 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Tuesday, 28 January, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the second Book of Samuel (6:12-15, 17-17) which tells of David's dancing before the Ark of the Lord on its re-entry into Jerusalem. “King David,” the Pope said, “offered sacrifice in honour of God; he prayed. Then his prayer became exultant ... it became the prayer of praise and of joy, and he began to dance. The Bible says: 'David danced before the Lord with all his might'”, and he rejoiced greatly as he offer praise to the Lord. “That,” Pope Francis said, “was truly the prayer of praise”.

Pope Francis remarked: “I thought immediately of Sarah after she gave birth to Isaac: 'God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me'. This elderly woman at the age of 90 laughed and danced for joy”. David was young, but he also “danced, he danced before the Lord. This is an example of the prayer of praise”.

The prayer of praise is quite different than the prayer we normally raise to God, the Pope continued, when “we ask something of the Lord” or even “thank the Lord”. “We often leave aside the prayer of praise”. It doesn't come so easily to us, he said. Some might think that this kind of prayer is only “for those who belong to the renewal in the spirit movement, not for all Christians. The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us. Each day in the Mass, when we sing: 'Holy, Holy...', this is the prayer of praise. We praise God for his greatness, for he is great. And we tell him beautiful things, because we like it to be so”. And it does not matter if we are good singers, the Pope remarked. In fact, he said, it is impossible to imagine that “you are able to shout out when your team scores a goal and you cannot sing the Lord's praises, and leave behind your composure a bit to sing”.

Praising God is “totally gratuitous”, Pope Francis continued. “We do not ask, we do not thank. We praise: you are great. 'Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit...”. We say this with all our heart. It is also an act of justice, for he is great, he is our God. Let us think about a good question we can ask ourselves today: 'How is my prayer of praise? Do I know how to praise the Lord? Or when I pray the Gloria or the Sanctus, do I only pray with my lips and not with all my heart? What does David dancing say to me? And Sarah who dances for joy? As David enters into the city, he begins something else as well: celebration. The joy of praise leads us to the joy of celebration”. This celebration then extends to the whole family, the Pope continued. “Each person was given a cake of bread and departed to his own house to celebrate” (cf. v. 19). But when David re-entered his household, he had to face the reproach and scorn of Michal, the daughter of King Saul: “'Aren't you ashamed of what you have done?. How could you have done this, you the king, dancing in front of everyone? Are you not ashamed?' I wonder how many times in our hearts we hold in contempt good people who praise the Lord?” so spontaneously, as it comes to them.

In the Bible, the Pope recalled, we read that “'Michal had no child to the day of her death'. What does the word of God mean here? That joy, that the prayer of praise makes us fruitful. Sarah was dancing for joy at the at ninety years old in the great moment of her fruitfulness! Fruitfulness gives praise to the Lord”. The man or woman who praises the Lord, who prays by praising the Lord and rejoice “as they sing the Sanctus at Mass” is fruitful. On the other hand, the Pope said, those who “close themselves into the formality of a cold, measured prayer perhaps end up like Michal, in the sterility of formality”.

“Let us think of and imagine David who dances with all his might before the Lord. Let us think about how beautiful it is to offer the prayer of praise. Perhaps it will do us good to repeat the words of the psalm we just prayed, number 23: 'Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the King of glory may come in, the Lord strong and mighty, he is the king of glory! Lift up your heads O gates! Who is this king of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory!'”.This ought to be our prayer of praise, Pope Francis said. And he concluded: when we raise this prayer to the Lord we ought “to say to our heart: 'Lift up your hearts, for you stand before the king of glory'”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 27, 2014 POPE FRANCIS AT MASS: BISHOPS, PRIESTS ORDAINED TO SERVE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence. In remarks following the readings of ...

 

Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence. In remarks following the readings of the day, the Holy Father spoke of the Church as a divinely ordained institution in which some individuals – the men who answer the call to become priests and bishops – are specially anointed to serve the people of God. The Pope thanked the many holy priests who give their lives in the anonymity of their daily service.
Commenting on the first reading of the day, which speaks of the tribes of Israel that anoint David as their king, the Pope explained the significance of spiritual anointing, saying, “Without this anointing, David would have been only the head,” of the, “company” of a “political society, which was the Kingdom of Israel” He would have been a mere, “political organizer.” Instead, “After the anointing , the Spirit of the Lord,” descends upon David and stays with him. Scripture says that David continued to grow in power, and that the Lord was with him. “This,” said Pope Francis, “is precisely the difference anointing makes.” The anointed one is a person chosen by the Lord. So it is in the Church for bishops and priests: Listen:  MP3

“The bishops are elected not only to conduct an organization, which is called the particular Church. They are anointed: they have the anointing and the Spirit of the Lord is with them. All the bishops are sinners, every one. Still, we are anointed. We all want to be more holy every day, more faithful to this anointing. The person of the bishop is the thing that [constitutes] a Church [as such], in the name of Jesus Christ – because he is anointed, not because he was voted by the majority. It is in this anointing that a particular Church has its strength. Because they take part [in the bishop’s mission of service] priests are anointed, as well.”
Pope Francis went on to say that anointing brings bishops and priests closer to the Lord and gives them the joy and strength, “To carry [their] people forward, to help [their] people, to live in the service of [their] people.” Anointing gives the joy of feeling oneself “chosen by the Lord, watched by the Lord, with that love with which the Lord looks upon all of us.” Thus, “When we think of bishops and priests, we must think of them in this way: [as] anointed ones.”:
“On the contrary, it is impossible to understand – not only – it is impossible to explain how the Church could continue under merely human strength. This diocese goes forward because it has a holy people, many things, and also an anointed one who leads, who helps it to grow. This parish progresses because it has many organizations, many things, but it also has a priest, who carries the parish forward. We in history know but a small part - though how many holy bishops, how many priests, how many holy priests have given their lives in the service of the diocese, the parish – how many people have received the power of faith, the power of love, hope [itself] from these anonymous pastors? We do not know: there are so many.”
They are many, explained Pope Francis, “The parish priests of the country or the city, who, with their anointing have given strength the people, who have passed on the teaching of the faith, have given the sacraments: [in a word], holiness.”:
“‘But , Father, I have read in a newspaper that a bishop has done such a thing, or a priest who has done this thing.’ Oh yes, I read it, too. Tell me, though: do the papers carry news of what great charity so many priests, so many priests in so many parishes of the city and the countryside, perform? Of the great work they do in carrying their people forward? No? This is not news. It is the same as always: a single falling tree makes more noise than a forest that grows. Today, thinking about this anointing of David, it will do us good to think of our brave, holy , good , faithful bishops and priests, and pray for them. We are here today thanks to them.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 27, 2014 MASS AT SANTA MARTA

In his homily at Holy Mass on Monday, 27 January, Pope Francis reflected on the first Reading from the second Book of Samuel (5:1-7,10), which ...

 

2014-01-27 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Monday, 27 January, Pope Francis reflected on the first Reading from the second Book of Samuel (5:1-7,10), which tells of the anointing of King David. “We have listened to the account of that meeting” when “all the tribes of Israel come to David at Hebron and proposed that he be made king”. “David was the king of Judah, however his kingdom was divided”. The elders of the people “saw that the only capable of being king was David”. Therefore “they went to him to make a covenant”, the Pope said. “Surely they spoke, they discussed how they ought to make a covenant. And in the end they decided to make him king”. “This was not, let us say, a democratic decision”. The Pope said. “Rather, it came from their unanimous agreement: “you shall be king!”.

“This was a first step,” the Pope continued. “Then came the second: King David made a covenant with them” and the elders of the people “anointed David king of Israel”. Here we see the importance of the anointing, he said. “Without this anointing David would have only been head and organizer of a company that carried forward this political society of the kingdom of Israel”. “The anointing is something else”, and it was “the anointing that consecrated David king”.

“What is the difference between being a political organizer of a country and being an anointed king?,” the Pope asked. “When David was anointed king of Judah by Samuel, he was young, he was a young man. The Bible says that after the anointing the Spirit of the Lord descended on David”. And so “the anointing makes the Spirit of the Lord descend upon the person and be with him”.

The passage from today's liturgy “says the same: David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him”. And “this is what is specific to the anointing”.

The Bishop of Rome then recalled David's attitude towards Saul, “who wanted to murder him through jealousy and envy”. David “had the opportunity to kill King Saul but he didn't want to do it: I shall never lay hands on Lord's anointed, he is someone chosen for the Lord, anointed by the Lord!”. In his words, the Pope said, there is “the sense of the sacredness of a king”.

“We have inherited this in the Church in the person of the bishops and priests”. The bishops, in fact, “are not chosen merely to carry forward an organization called a particular Church. They are anointed. They have the anointing and the Spirit of the Lord is with them. We are all sinners, but we are anointed! We all want to be holier each day, more faithful to this anointing”. The Pope continued: “what makes the Church, what gives unity to the Church is the person of the bishop, in the name of Jesus Christ, because he has been anointed: not because he had a majority of the votes, but because he is anointed”.

The particular Church derives its strength from this anointing and, through participation, priests are also anointed: the bishops lay hands and effect this anointing in them … for bishops and priests, this anointing is their strength and their joy”. Strength, because therein “they find their vocation to lead a people forward, to help the people” and to “live at the service of the people”. And joy, “because they feel they have been chosen by the Lord, protected by the Lord with that love with which the Lord protects us all”.

That is why, he said, “when we think of bishops, of priests – both are priests because this is the priesthood of Christ: bishop and priest – we should think of them in this way: as anointed”. Otherwise, he said “we cannot understand the Church” and “not only would we not understand her but we would also be unable to explain how Church continues on only by human strength. A diocese continues ahead because it is a holy people, because it has many things, and it also has one who is anointed who helps it to grow”. The same is true for a parish, which “continues ahead because it has many organizations, many things, but also because it has a priest: an anointed one who carries it forward”.

We only remember “a small number of the many holy bishops, the many priests, the many holy priests” who have dedicated “their entire lives to the service of the diocese, of the parish”. Therefore , we also only remember of small portion “of the many people who have received the strength of faith, the strength of love and hope from these anonymous parish priests whom we do not know. And there are many!”. “Parish priests in the village and countryside and parish priests in the city who by their anointing gave their people strength, transmitted doctrine, conferred the sacraments; that is, holiness”.

The Pope then said: “someone might object: but, Father, I read in the newspaper that a bishop did such and such, or that a priest did such and such!”. To this objection the Pope replied: “yes, I read it too! But tell me: do the newspapers print all the good that so many priests do, so many priests in so many parishes in the city and countryside? The charity they show? The work they do to carry their people forward?” And he added: “No, this isn't news!” The proverb still holds true: “A single tree falling in the forest causes more sound than an entire forest that slowly grows and matures”.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by inviting those present to think “about David's anointing” and about “our courageous, holy, good and faithful bishops and priests”. He also asked those present to pray for them: “It is thanks to them that we are here today, since it was they who baptized us”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 24, 2014 HOW TO CREATE DIALOGUE

In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 24 January, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the first book of Samuel (24:3-21), which recounts the ...

 

2014-01-24 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 24 January, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the first book of Samuel (24:3-21), which recounts the confrontation between Saul and David. “Yesterday,” the Pope reminded those who were present at the morning celebration of Mass, “we heard the word of God, which allowed us to see what jealousy does, what envy does in families and in Christian communities. We saw this story played out in the opposition Saul harbored in his heart against David: so jealous was he that he wanted to kill him”.

“Today,” the Pope continued, “the word of God allows us to see another attitude, that of David”, who “knew very well” that he was “in danger; he knew that the king wanted to kill him. And he found himself in a situation in which he could have killed the king, and the story would have ended there”. And yet “he chose another path”; he preferred “to draw near, to seek to clarify the situation, to explain himself, he chose the path of dialogue to make peace”.

Instead, Saul “brooded over bitterness in his heart”. He insulted David “because he believed him to be his enemy. And this bitterness grew in his heart”. Unfortunately, the Pope said, “these imaginings always grow stronger when we listen to them within ourselves. And they create a wall that distances us from the other person”. Ultimately, we end up “isolated in the bitter broth of our resentment”.

Yet David, “by the Lord’s inspiration”, breaks this mechanism of hatred "and says no, I want to talk to you." And thus it is, the Pope explained,"that the path of peace begins, with dialogue”. But, he warned, "dialogue is not easy, it is difficult”. And yet, it is only “with dialogue that we build bridges of peace in relationships rather than walls that distance us”.

“For dialogue to occur, what we need above all else is humility. It was David who, in humility, said to the king: look, ‘I could have killed you, I could have done this to you, but I don’t want to do it! I want to be close to you because you are the authority, you are the Lord’s anointed!’”. David’s act was an “act of humility”.

We don’t need to raise our voice in order to dialogue “what we need is meekness”. And “we need to consider that the other person has something more that we do”, as David did. Looking at Saul, he said to himself: “He is the Lord’s anointed, he is more important than I am”. We need to do what we prayed for in the opening of Mass: become all things to all”.

“Humility, meekness, becoming all things to all” are three basic elements of dialogue. However, the Holy Father noted, even though “it is not written in the Bible, to do this we have to eat a lot of crow: yet we must do it because that’s how peace is made!” Peace is made “with humility and humiliation”, by seeking always to “see in the other person the image of God”. Solutions to so many problems are found “through dialogue in families, in communities, in all quarters”. It requires a readiness to acknowledge to another person: “But listen, excuse me, this is what I thought...”. The right attitude is “to humble oneself: it is always good to make a bridge, always always!”. This is in keeping with the manner of someone who wants “to be Christian”; even if, as the Pope admitted, “it is not easy, it is not easy!”. And yet “Jesus did this, he humbled himself unto the end, he showed us the way”.

The Pope then offered another practical piece of advice: to open up dialogue “we need to not allow too much time to pass”. Problems should be addressed “as soon as possible, at the first possible opportunity once the storm has passed”. Right away, we need “to draw near in dialogue, because time makes walls grow, as it makes weeds grow and impede the growth of the wheat. Once walls have grown, reconciliation is so diffuclt; it is so difficult!”. The bishop of Rome made reference to the Berlin Wall, which for many years had been an element of division, and he noted that the possiblity “also exists in our hearts” of becoming like Berlin, of putting up a wall against others. Hence the Holy Father’s invitation “not to let too much time pass” and “to seek peace as soon as possible”.

In particular, the Pope wished to speak to spouses: “It is normal for you to argue, it is normal”. Seeing a smile from several couples who were present at morning Mass, he reminded them that “in marriage there are arguments, and sometimes even plates go flying”. However, he advised, “never end the day without making peace; without talking, which sometimes only takes a small gesture”.

“I am afraid of these walls that grow each day and breed resentment and even hatred,” the Pope said. He again pointed to young David: “he could have gotten perfect revenge”, he could have killed the king, but “he chose the path of dialogue with humility, meekness, sweetness”. Pope Francis concluded by asking “St. Francis di Sales, the Doctor of gentleness and sweetness” to give “all of us the grace to make bridges with others, and never walls”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 23, 2014 POPE FRANCIS: JEALOUSY, ENVY AND GOSSIP DIVIDE AND DESTROY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

(Vatican Radio) Christians must close the doors to the jealousies, envy and gossip that divide and destroy our communities: that’s what Pope Francis stressed in ...

 

Vatican Radio) Christians must close the doors to the jealousies, envy and gossip that divide and destroy our communities: that’s what Pope Francis stressed in his homily at Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse Thursday morning.

The Pope’s remarks take on added meaning because today marks the sixth day of prayer for Christian unity which culminates Saturday with the celebration of Vespers presided by Pope Francis in the Rome Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflects on the day’s first reading which recalls the victory of the Israelites over the Philistines - thanks to the courageous actions of the young David. But, King Saul’s joy over the victory soon turns to sadness and jealousy when he sees the women praising David for killing Goliath. So, "that great victory,” Pope Francis says, “begins to undergo defeat in the heart of the King" and like Cain, the "worm of jealousy and envy" begins to insinuate itself in its place. And again like Cain and Abel, the king decides to kill David. "This is what jealousy does in our hearts,” observes the Pope. “It is a destructive anxiety (it: inquietudine cattiva), which cannot tolerate that a brother or sister has something that I have not." Saul, "instead of praising God for this victory as did the women of Israel, prefers to withdraw into himself, feeling sorry for himself (it. rammaricarsi)” and “stew his feelings in the broth of bitterness."
"Jealousy leads to murder. Envy leads to murder,” the Pope says. “It was this door, the door of envy, through which the devil entered the world.” “Jealousy and envy open the doors,” the Pope says, to “all evil things…They also divide the community.”
When some members of a Christian community suffer from envy and jealousy, the Pope reminds us, the community “ends up divided: one against the other.” And “this is a strong poison – a poison that we find on the first page of the Bible in Cain."
Pope Francis goes on to say that in the heart of a person affected by jealousy and envy " two things are very clear." The first thing is bitterness:
"The envious person, the jealous person, is a bitter person who doesn’t know how to sing, how to praise, (or) know what joy is.” This kind of person, reflects the Pope, always looks at what someone else has that he or she does not have . “And this leads to bitterness, a bitterness that spreads throughout the whole community.” These people, he says, are the “sowers of bitterness.”
The second approach, the Pope remarks, that “brings jealousy and envy, are rumors.” When someone cannot stand to see that someone else has something he wishes for himself, Pope Francis says often, the “solution is to put the other person down” so that “I am a bit higher up.” And the tool used to do this, the Pope points out, is “gossip.” Behind every rumor, says the Pope, “there is jealousy and envy. And gossip divides the community, destroys the community. Rumors are the weapons of the devil."
"How many beautiful Christian communities," the Pope exclaimed, “were getting along well,” but then were divided and destroyed because one member allowed the “worm of jealousy and envy” to enter his heart. And with it, come “sadness, resentment and gossip." A person under the influence of envy and jealousy, the Pope insists, “kills."
In concluding, Pope Francis called for prayer for “our Christian communities so that this seed of jealousy will not be sown between us, so that envy will not take root in our heart, in the heart of our communities, and so we can move forward with praise to the Lord, praising the Lord with joy. It is a great grace, the grace of not falling into sadness, being resentful, jealous and envious."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 23, 2014 HEARTS FREE OF ENVY AND JEALOUSY

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday, 23 January, Pope Francis spoke about jealously and envy and described them as the doors through which ...

 

2014-01-23 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday, 23 January, Pope Francis spoke about jealously and envy and described them as the doors through which the devil entered the world. The Bishop of Rome drew upon the day's first Reading from 1 Samuel (18:6-9; 19:1-7), where we read that, after the chosen people conquered the Philistines through David's courage, “the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul”. Saul too “was happy”, the Pope remarked, “but something he heard displeased him. As the women sang David's praises, “bitterness and sadness” arose in Saul's heart. When he heard the women's songs, “he was very angry”at the words their songs contained.

It was then, the Holy Father said, that “a great victory was turned into great defeat in the king's heart, the same bitterness that took hold of Cain's heart: the worm of jealously and envy began to gnaw”.

The same thing happened to Saul that happened to Cain when the Lord asked him: “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? (Gen 4:6). In face, Pope Francis explained, “the worm of jealously leads to resentment, envy, bitterness” and also instinctive decisions, such as the one to kill. It is not by chance that Saul and Cain determined in their hearts to commit murder. Thus, Saul decided to kill David.

This same reality is repeated today “in our hearts,” the Pope added. “It is an evil disquiet, which will not tolerate that a brother or sister have something that I do not have”. And thus “instead of praising God, as the women of Israel did over the victory” we prefer to withdraw into ourselves “stewing in our feelings, cooking them in the broth of bitterness”.

Jealousy and envy are the doors through which the devil entered the world, the Pope continued, emphasizing that it is the Bible which affirms it: “through the devil's envy evil entered into the world”. And “jealousy and envy open the doors to every evil thing”, causing strife even between believers. The Pope referred explicitly to the life of Christian communities, underlining that when “some members suffer jealousy and envy, they end in division”. Pope Francis called this division a “strong poison”, the same poison that is found in the first pages of the Bible, in account of Cain and Abel.

The Holy Father then described what happens in the heart of a person who is consumed by jealousy and envy. First comes bitterness: “the envious and jealous person is a bitter person, he doesn't sing, he doesn't praise, he doesn't know what joy is; he is always looking” at what others have. And unfortunately bitterness “spreads through the entire community” since all who fall prey to this poison become “sowers of bitterness”.

The second poison fruit of jealously and envy is gossip. There are those who cannot bear for anyone else to have anything, the Pope said, and so “the solution is to put the other person down, so that I'm a bit higher. And the instrument for carrying this out is gossip: always look and you will see that jealousy and envy are always lurking behind gossip”.

“Gossip divides communities, it destroys communities,” he said. “It is the weapon of the devil. How many beautiful Christian communities have we seen go well” but then “the worm of jealously and envy entered” some of its members “and sadness comes” and “they take offence”. Hence the Pope's warning to not forget the episode concerning Saul, because in his case “after a great victory, a process of defeat began. A person who is under the influence of envy and jealousy kills. John the Apostle tells us: 'whoever hates his brother is a murderer'. And someone who is envious, who is jealous, begins to hate his brother”.

The Pope concluded his homily expressing this hope: “Today at this Mass let us pray for our Christian communities, that the seed of jealousy not be sown among us; that envy have no place in our hearts, and in the hearts of our communities. In this way, we can go forward joyously praising the Lord. It is a great grace: the grace not to fall into sadness, resentment, into jealously and envy”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 21, 2014 GOD CHOOSES THE LITTLE ONES

In his homily on Tuesday morning, 21 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's first Reading from 1 Samuel (16:1-13a), which recounts the anointing of ...

 

2014-01-21 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily on Tuesday morning, 21 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's first Reading from 1 Samuel (16:1-13a), which recounts the anointing of David. “The Lord's relationship with his people,” the Pope began, “is a personal relationship, always. It is a person to person relationship. He is the Lord, and the people have a name. Persons have a name. It is not a dialogue between the Almighty and the masses”. Rather, it is something “personal”. “Persons are organized as as a people, and the dialogue is with the people; and in a people, each person has a place”.

For this reason, he said, “the Lord never speaks to the people as to 'the masses'; rather, “he always speaks to them personally”, calling each person by name. The Pope then added that the Lord also “chooses personally”, and he cited the example of the account of Creation. “The same Lord, who fashions man with an artist's hands, gives him a name: 'you will be called Adam'. And so began the relationship between God and the human person”.

Pope Francis then pointed out another fundamental aspect: “A relationship exists between God and us, we who are little. God is great and we are little”, and so “when God want to choose people, also his people, he always chooses the little ones”. So much so, the Pope added, that “he says to his people: I chose you because you are the littlest, those with the least power among all the peoples”.

The supreme example of this “dialogue between God and human littleness”, he said, is to be found in “Our Lady, in she who said: 'the Lord has looked upon my lowliness, he has looked upon those who are little, he has chosen the little ones'”.

“In today's first Reading, we see this attitude of the Lord shine through clearly. As Samuel stands before Jesse's eldest son, he says: 'Surely the Lord's anointed is before him!'. For he was a tall man”. However, he added, the Lord says to Samuel: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.

Therefore, Pope Francis said, “the Lord chooses according to his own criteria”. That is why “in the prayer at the beginning of the Mass, in looking to St. Agnes, we prayed: “You, Lord, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong...”.

“The Lord chooses David, the youngest, who didn't matter even to his father. He thought he wasn't at home, and perhaps he'd said to him: 'go look after the sheep because we need to finalize a great affair here and you don't matter'”. And yet it was David, the youngest, “who was chosen” by the Lord and anointed by Samuel.

“All of us, by virtue of our baptism, have been chosen by the Lord; we are all chosen. He has chosen us one by one. He has given us a name. And he looks upon us. There is a dialogue, because this is the way the Lord loves”.

However, as the Pope went on to note, although David was chosen and became king, “he erred” and “perhaps he made many, many mistakes”. The Bible, he said, recounts “two weighty mistakes”. Yet “what did David do?,” the Pope asked. “He humbled himself, he returned to his littleness and said: I am a sinner! He asked for forgiveness and did penance”.

Thus, “after the second sin, when he wanted to see how strong the people were, the Lord made him see that the census was an act of pride”. And David said: “But punish me and not the people! The people are not at fault, I am the one who is guilty!”. In doing so, “David kept watch over his littleness: through repentance, through prayer”. And even with tears. For“as he fled from his enemies he wept, and said: perhaps the Lord will see my tears and have pity on us”.

The Pope then asked: “Where is Christian faithfulness to be found?” And he answered: “Christian faithfulness, our faithfulness, is simply a matter of guarding over our littleness so that it may remain in dialogue with the Lord”. “Lowliness, humility, meekness are so important in the life of a Christian: they are guardians of littleness”. They are the basis for continuing “the dialogue between our littleness and the greatness of the Lord”.

Pope Francis concluded his homily with a prayer: “May the Lord grant us, through the intercession of Our Lady – who joyfully sang to God, for he had looked upon her lowliness – the grace of keeping watch over our littleness in his sight”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 20, 2014 MASS AT SANTA MARTA

In his homily at Holy Mass on Monday morning, 20 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's Readings from the first Book of Samuel (15:16-23) ...

 

 

2014-01-20 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Monday morning, 20 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's Readings from the first Book of Samuel (15:16-23) and the Gospel of St Mark (2:18-22). The Holy Father began by noting that both readings help us “to reflect on the word of God” and “on our attitude towards God's word”. Citing Hebrews, the Pope said that the word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword … discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12-13). Indeed, he said, “the word of God visits us and illumines the state of our heart, of our soul”; it “discerns”.

Pope Francis noted that the two readings “speak to us about about the disposition we should have in the presence of the word of God”; i.e.,“docility”. “Docile to the word of God. The word of God is living. And therefore it comes and says what it wants to say: not what I expect it to say or what I hope it will say or what I want it to say”. The word of God “is free” and it comes as “a surprise, since our God is the God of surprises: he comes and always does new things. He is newness. The Gospel is newness. Revelation is newness”.

“Our God,” the Pope continued, “is a God who always does new things. And he asks from us docility to this newness”. In the Gospel passage, Pope Francis said, “Jesus is clear about this, he is very clear: new wine in fresh wine skins”. Thus, “God must be received with openness to what is new”. And this disposition “is called docility”.

The Pontiff therefore invited those present to ask themselves these questions: “Am I docile to the word of God, or do I always do what I believe the word of God is? Or do I make the word of God pass through an alembic and in the end it is something quite other than what God wants?”. “If I do this,” the Pope warned citing the Gospel, “I am like a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment”. “And the tear is made worse: if I do this, I become worse”.

Yet, as the Holy Father explained, “adapting oneself to the word of God to be able to receive it” requires “an ascetic attitude”. He gave the example of an electric appliance. If it doesn't work, one sometimes needs an adaptor. The same is true for us: we always need to adapt ourselves, to adjust ourselves to the newness of God's word”. Essentially, he said, we need “to be open to new things”.

In his reflection, the Pope then turned to the passage from the first Book of Samuel. “Saul, God's elect, God's anointed, had forgotten that God is surprise and newness. He had forgotten it. He was enclosed in his thoughts and plans. And so he reasoned in a human way. The Lord said to him: utterly destroy all that they have”. However, as the Pope explained, the custom “whenever anyone conquered, was to take the spoils” to divide them; “and a part of the spoils was used to offer sacrifice”. Saul had therefore selected several beautiful animals for the Lord: “he reasoned according to his own thoughts, according to his heart, enclosed in his habits. And God, our God, is not a God of habits, he is a God of surprises”.

Thus, Saul “did not obey God's word, he was not docile to God's word”. We read in the Scripture that Samuel “reproved him” for this, saying: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” Samuel “makes him feel that he hasn't obeyed: he has not been a servant, he has been lord. He has set himself up as master of God's word. Indeed, Samuel then also says: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”.

“The word of God continues forward through Samuel,” the Pope added: “rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness the sin of idolatry” (v. 23).

Samuel's words “make us think about the nature of Christian freedom, about the nature of Christian obedience”. “Christian freedom and Christian obedience consist in being docile to the word of God; in having the courage to become fresh skins for this new wine … the courage to discern always, to discern … what the spirit is doing in my heart, what the spirit wants in my heart, where the spirit is leading me in my heart. And to obey.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by repeating the two key words of the day: “to discern and to obey”. And he prayed: “Let us ask for the grace of docility to God's word, to this word that is living and active, that discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 17, 2014 THE POPE'S MASS AT SANTA MARTA

In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 17 January, Pope Francis commented on the first Reading from the first Book of Samuel (8:4-7,10-22). Continuing ...

2014-01-17 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 17 January, Pope Francis commented on the first Reading from the first Book of Samuel (8:4-7,10-22). Continuing the reflection he began in recent days, the Pope said: “We have seen how the people had distanced themselves from God, they had lost their knowledge of the word of God; they did not listen to it, they did not meditate on it,” adding, “when the word of God is absent, its place is taken by another word: by one's own word, the word of one's egoism, the word of one's desires, and also the word of the world”.

“We saw how the people, who were far from God's word, suffered defeat” which left many “widows and orphans”. Distancing oneself from God leads to taking a path that inevitably “leads to what we heard about today: the people reject God. Not only do they not listen to the word of God, but they reject it” and eventually say “we can govern ourselves, are free and we want to go down this road”.

Samuel “suffers because of this and goes to the Lord. And the Lord with good sense says to Samuel: 'Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them'”.

Essentially, the Pope explained, “the Lord lets the people continue to distance themselves from him”, and he allows them to “experience” what this departure means. “Samuel tries to convince them and he he says all the things we have heard, what they king would do with them, with their sons, with their daughters”. And yet, despite all these warnings, “the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel” and they asked to have “a king as judge”.

Here, the Pope said, we come to “the interpretative key” to understanding the question. They people respond to Samuel: “We also will be like all the nations”. And so they demand: give us “a king who 'may judge us', like the rest of the peoples”.

Their request, the Pope continued, was motivated by the fact that they had “forgotten that they were a chosen people, a people of the Lord, a people chosen in love and led forth by the hand” of God, as “a father leads his child”. They “forgot this love” and desired to become like the other peoples.

This desire, Pope Francis explained, “will return as a temptation in the history of the chosen people. We remember the time of Maccabees, when they negotiated their being a chosen people in order to be like the other nations. It is a true insurrection. The people rebel against the Lord”. And this, he said, “is the door that opens into worldliness: to do as everyone does” and not “as you who have chosen me have told me to do”. The practical consequence is that “they reject the Lord of love, they reject their election, and they seek the path of worldliness”.

Of course, the Pope explained, “it is true that a Christian should be normal, as people are normal. The Letter to Diognetus stated this in the early days of the Church. However, there are values that a Christian cannot adopt for himself”. Instead, he “must keep before him the word of God which tells him: you are my son, you are chosen, I am with you, I walk with you”and “normalcy of life demands a Christian's faithfulness to his election”. His must never “sell it off to move towards a worldly uniformity: this was the people's temptation and it is also our own”.

Pope Francis warned those present against forgetting “the word of God, and what the Lord tells us” to chase after “the word that's in style”. He said: “The word of the soap operas is in style! Let's take it: it's more entertaining!”, adding: his attitude of “worldliness is more subtle and dangerous” than the sin of 'apostasy', i.e., “the sin of breaking with the Lord”, since we more readily see it for what it is.

The Pope also added that to say that “we will be like all the other nations” reveals the fact that they “felt a certain inferiority complex for not being a normal people”.

“Temptation hardens the heart. And when the heart is hardened, when the heart is not open, the word of God cannot enter”. Jesus' words to “to those at Emmaus: O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe; because their hearts were hardened, they could not hear the word of God”.

“Worldliness softens the heart” but it “harms” is, Pope Francis continued. “A soft heart is never good. What is good is a heart opened to the word of God, a heart that receives it. Like Our Lady who pondered all these things in her heart, the Gospel says”.

Pope Francis suggested to those present that we we ask the Lord for the grace “to overcome our egoism” and for the “grace of spiritual docility, i.e., to open one's heart to the word of God” in order “not to do as our brothers did who closed their hearts because they distanced themselves from God and for a long time had not listened to or understood God's word”. Then he concluded, saying: “may the Lord give us the grace of a heart open to receive God's word”, in order to “meditate upon it always” and “to take the truth path”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 16, 2014 POPE FRANCIS: SCANDALS HAPPEN WHEN THERE IS NO TRUE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

(Vatican Radio) Scandals in the Church happen because there is no living relationship with God and His Word. Thus, corrupt priests, instead of giving the ...

Vatican Radio) Scandals in the Church happen because there is no living relationship with God and His Word. Thus, corrupt priests, instead of giving the Bread of Life, give a poisoned meal to the holy people of God: that’s what Pope Francis affirmed in his homily Thursday morning during the Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta guesthouse.
Commenting on the day 's reading and responsorial Psalm which recount the crushing defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, the Pope notes that the people of God at that time had forsaken the Lord . It was said that the Word of God was "uncommon" at that time . The old priest Eli was "lukewarm" and his sons "corrupt; they frightened the people and beat them with sticks." In their battle against the Philistines, the Israelites brought with them the Ark of the Covenant, but as something “magical,” "something external ." And they are defeated : the Ark is taken from them by their enemies. There is no true faith in God, in His real presence in life:

"This passage of Scripture,” the Pope says, “makes us think about what sort of relationship we have with God, with the Word of God: is it a formal relationship? Is it a distant relationship? The Word of God enters into our hearts, changes our hearts. Does it have this power or not? Is it a formal relationship? But the heart is closed to that Word! It leads us to think of the so many defeats of the Church, so many defeats of God's people simply because they do not hear the Lord, do not seek the Lord, do not allow themselves to be sought by the Lord! And then after a tragedy, the prayer, this one: ' But, Lord , what happened ? You have made ​​us the scorn of our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us the laughing stock (it: favola) among nations! All the nations shake their heads about us. '"
And of the scandals in the Church, Pope Francis said:

"But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money.... The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity? Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! 'But, I wear a medal,' ‘I carry the Cross ' ... Yes, just as those bore the Ark! Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those for whom scandals come ... And here the scandal hit: bringing decay (it: decadenza) to the people of God, including (it: fino alla) the weakness and corruption of the priests."
Francis Pope concluded his homily, turning his thoughts to the people of God, saying:

"Poor people! We do not give the Bread of Life to eat; we do give – in those cases - the bread of Truth! And many times, we even offer a poisoned meal! ‘Awaken! Why do you sleep, Lord?' Let this be our prayer! ‘Awaken! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?' We ask the Lord that we never forget the Word of God, which is alive, so that it enters into our hearts and never to forget the holy people faithful to God who ask us to nourish and strengthen them. "

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 16, 2014 AN EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday, 16 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's first Reading (1 Samuel 4:1-11), which recounts Israel's crushing ...

 

Vatican Radio Scandals in the Church happen because there is no living relationship with God and His Word. Thus, corrupt priests, instead of giving the Bread of Life, give a poisoned meal to the holy people of God: that’s what Pope Francis affirmed in his homily Thursday morning during the Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta guesthouse.

Commenting on the day 's reading and responsorial Psalm which recount the crushing defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, the Pope notes that the people of God at that time had forsaken the Lord . It was said that the Word of God was "uncommon" at that time . The old priest Eli was "lukewarm" and his sons "corrupt; they frightened the people and beat them with sticks." In their battle against the Philistines, the Israelites brought with them the Ark of the Covenant, but as something “magical,” "something external ." And they are defeated : the Ark is taken from them by their enemies. There is no true faith in God, in His real presence in life:

"This passage of Scripture,” the Pope says, “makes us think about what sort of relationship we have with God, with the Word of God: is it a formal relationship? Is it a distant relationship? The Word of God enters into our hearts, changes our hearts. Does it have this power or not? Is it a formal relationship? But the heart is closed to that Word! It leads us to think of the so many defeats of the Church, so many defeats of God's people simply because they do not hear the Lord, do not seek the Lord, do not allow themselves to be sought by the Lord! And then after a tragedy, the prayer, this one: ' But, Lord , what happened ? You have made ​​us the scorn of our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us the laughing stock (it: favola) among nations! All the nations shake their heads about us. '"
And of the scandals in the Church, Pope Francis said:

"But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money.... The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity? Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! 'But, I wear a medal,' ‘I carry the Cross ' ... Yes, just as those bore the Ark! Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those for whom scandals come ... And here the scandal hit: bringing decay (it: decadenza) to the people of God, including (it: fino alla) the weakness and corruption of the priests."
Francis Pope concluded his homily, turning his thoughts to the people of God, saying:

"Poor people! We do not give the Bread of Life to eat; we do give – in those cases - the bread of Truth! And many times, we even offer a poisoned meal! ‘Awaken! Why do you sleep, Lord?' Let this be our prayer! ‘Awaken! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?' We ask the Lord that we never forget the Word of God, which is alive, so that it enters into our hearts and never to forget the holy people faithful to God who ask us to nourish and strengthen them. "

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 14, 2014 FOUR MODELS

In his homily at Mass on Tuesday, 14 January, Pope Francis commented on the the readings of the day taken from the first Book of ...

2014-01-14 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Mass on Tuesday, 14 January, Pope Francis commented on the the readings of the day taken from the first Book of Samuel (1:9-20) and from the Gospel of Mark (1:21b-28). The Pope noted that the readings contain “four models of preachers: Jesus, the scribes, Eli the priest and behind him … and the two sons of Eli who were priests”.

The scribes taught and preached by placing great burdens on the shoulders of the people. “And the poor people,” the Pope said, “could not go forward”. Jesus reproves them for not moving a finger to help the people. And he says to the people: “Practice and observer whatever they tell you, but not what they do”. The Pope described the scribes as inconsistent people who acted as though “they were cudgelling the people”. Jesus admonished them, the Pope said, telling them: “you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in”. “And how many there are who believe this is what faith is,” the Pope lamented.

Pope Francis then reflected on Eli. “He was a poor, old man” he said, “but I have a certain affection for him. He was not truly a good man: he was a poor priest, weak, lukewarm and he let things go, he wasn't strong. He let his sons get away with many unpleasant things”. The Pope noted Eli's mistaking Hannah for a drunken woman, as she was praying in silence, only moving her lips as she asked the Lord for the gift of a child. “She was praying as humble people do, simply, from the heart, with anguish and moving her lips. Many good women pray in our churches and shrines in this way. And this is how she was praying, asking for a miracle. And the aged Eli, poor old man, had nothing to do. He observed her, thinking: this is a drunken woman. And he looked down on her. He was the representative of the faith “who should have taught the faith, but “he looked down on this woman” the Pope said. “He tells her: go away, drunken woman!”.

How many times do God's people feel unloved by those who should bear witness to the faith, by Christians, by lay Christians, by priests, by bishops!”. Returning to Eli, Pope Francis explained why he has a certain sympathy for him: “because in his heart he still had the anointing. When the woman explains her situation to him, Eli tells her: 'Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him'. His priestly anointing comes forth. Poor man, he had it hidden under his laziness. He was lukewarm, and it ends badly. Poor man!”

The Pope then turned reflected on Eli's sons. His sons are not seen, the Pope observed, but they were charged with managing the temple. “They were brigands. They were priests, but they were brigands. They went after power and money; they exploited the people, they profited from alms and gifts. The Bible says they took the best pieces of the sacrifices for themselves to eat. They were exploiters. The Lord severely punished these two!”

Pope Francis likened the sons of Eli to “the corrupt Christian, the corrupt layperson, the corrupt priest, the corrupt bishop. They take advantage of the situation, of the privilege of faith, of being Christians. And their hearts become corrupt. We think of Judas: perhaps he began through jealousy and envy to put his hand in the purse” and “thus his heart began to become corrupted. John – the good Apostle who loved the whole world, who preached love – says of Judas: he is a thief. Full stop. It's clear: he was corrupt. And from a corrupt heart betrayal also comes. He betrays Jesus”.

Lastly, Pope Francis commented on Jesus' way of preaching. What was so special about his preaching? For the Gospel says that the people “were astonished by his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes”. Jesus, the Pope said, taught the Law, he taught Moses and the Prophets. So what was so new? He had power, the power of holiness, for unclean spirits flee from him. He is close to sinners, he dines with Matthew, a robber, a traitor to the homeland; he forgives the adulterous woman whom the law would have published; he talks about theology with the Samaritan who was no “angel”, she had her story”. Jesus “looked into people's hearts, Jesus drew near to people's wounded hearts. Jesus was only interested in the person and in God. And he sought to bring God close to people and people close to God”.

The Pope continued: “Jesus is like the Good Samaritan who heals the wounds of life. Jesus is the intercessor who goes away alone to pray on the mountain for people, and he gives his life for people. Jesus wants the people to draw close and he seeks them out; and he is moved when he sees them like sheep without a shepherd. And all of this is what the people describe as a new attitude. No, it is not a new teaching, it is a way of making it new. Evangelical transparency”.

“Let us ask the Lord ,” Pope Francis concluded, “that these two readings may help us in our Christian lives not to become corrupt like the sons of Eli; not to be lukewarm like Eli; but to be like Jesus, with that zeal to seek out people, to heal people, to love people”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 13, 2014 POPE FRANCIS AT MONDAY MASS

(Vatican Radio) God’s love is good beyond comprehension: it repairs the damage caused by our sins and errors; it makes whole our personal stories after ...

 

Vatican Radio) God’s love is good beyond comprehension: it repairs the damage caused by our sins and errors; it makes whole our personal stories after they have been broken by sin; it heals all of history. This was the focus of Pope Francis in his homily at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.
The Holy Father concentrated his comments on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from the Gospel according to St Mark (1:14-20), and which tells of Christ’s calling of the disciples, Andrew, Simon (who would be called Peter), James and John.

“It seems [in this passage] that Simon, Andrew , James and John are chosen once-and-for-all: [and] yes , they were chosen! At this moment [in the story], however, they had not been faithful to the last. After being chosen, they went on to make mistakes. They proposed un-Christian things to the Lord. They denied the Lord – Peter most glaringly, and the others out of fear: they were afraid and they ran away. They abandoned the Lord. The Lord prepares – and then, after the Resurrection – the Lord needed to continue this journey of preparation, up until the day of Pentecost. Even after Pentecost, some of [the disciples] – Peter, for example – made mistakes, and Paul had to correct him – but the Lord prepares .”
Pope Francis went on to explain that the Lord prepares His faithful over the course of generations:
“When things are not going well, He gets Himself involved in history, he sorts the situation, and goes forward with us. Think of the genealogy of Jesus Christ , of that list: this one begets that one, and that one begets this one, and so on… In that story there are men and women who are sinners. How did the Lord [work it all out]? He stepped in, He straightened the path, He put things right. Think of the great David, a great sinner , and then a great saint. The Lord knows. When the Lord tells us, ‘With eternal love, I have loved you,’ He is referring to this. The Lord has been thinking of us for many generations – of each and every one of us.”
Pope Francis went on to say that the Lord awaits us in history and lovingly accompanies us through history. He said that this is the love of God, who “loves us forever, and never forsake us.” We pray to the Lord, that we might know this tenderness of His heart.”This, he notes, is “an act of faith,” – it is not easy to believe this:
“Because our rationalism says, ‘How is it that the Lord, who has so many people to think about, should think of me?’ However, he has really prepared the way for me. With our mothers , our grandmothers , our fathers , our grandparents and great-grandparents ... That’s what the Lord does. This is His love: real, eternal, and also ‘customized’ [It. artigianale]. We pray, asking for the grace to understand the love of God, but God’s love can never be fully grasped! We can feel it, we [can even] weep for it, but [in this life] it cannot be understood. This also tells us how great this love is. The Lord has been preparing us for some time, He walks with us, preparing others. He is always with us! Let us ask for the grace heartily to understand this great love.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 13, 2014 VATICAN – POPE FRANCIS' HOMILY AT MASS AT SANTA MARTA

In his homily on Monday morning, 13 January, at the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel from St Mark (1:14-20). ...

 

2014-01-13 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily on Monday morning, 13 January, at the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel from St Mark (1:14-20). In it the evangelist recounts that Jesus goes to Galilee following John's arrest, thus giving the impression that he wishes to begin another stage of the journey. And, as Pope Francis noted, “he proclaims the Gospel with the same words as John: the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent. The same thing that John had said, Jesus says. John had prepared the way for Jesus. And Jesus follows it”.

“Preparing the way, also preparing our lives, is truly of God, it is proper to God's love for each one of us,” the Holy Father explained. “He does not make us Christians through spontaneous generation. He prepares our path, he prepares our lives over time”. Again citing the Gospel, he added: “It seems that Simon, Andrew, James and John were definitively chosen”, but that does not mean that from that moment, on they were “definitively faithful”. In reality, they made mistakes;in fact they denied him. And Peter more than the others. They became afraid, the Pontiff explained, and “they left, they abandoned the Lord”.

God carried out this work of preparation over the course of many generations. As an example, Pope Francis pointed to Hannah, the second wife of Elkanah, who is described in today's first Reading from the Book of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:8). Hannah, who was “sterile, wept” while the other wife, Penninah, who had children, derided her. Yet Hannah's weeping was part of the preparation for the birth of the great Samuel. “The Lord prepares us over many generations,” the Pope said. “And when things do not go well, he involves it in the story” and sets things aright. “In Jesus' own genealogy, there are men and women who were sinners,” the Pontiff recalled. “But what did the Lord do? He entered into their affairs, he corrected the road; he set things aright. We think of the great David, a great sinner and then a great saint. The Lord knows. When the Lord tells us: with eternal love have I loved you, he is referring to this. For many generations the Lord thought “in us”. The Pope explained: “he accompanies us, experiencing our sentiments as one is approaching marriage, as one is expecting a child: in every moment of our history “he waits for us and accompanies us”.

“This is the Lord's eternal love,” the Holy Father repeated. “Eternal and yet concrete. His love is in art, he goes along making history and preparing the way for each one of us. And this is God's love”.

The Pope then turned to a group of priests who were con-celebrating the Mass on the occasion of their 60th anniversary of Ordination. He said to them: “you are thinking about your 60 years of saying Mass. How many things have happened. How many things. The Lord was there also to prepare the way for others, which we do not know, but he knows”. He is “the Lord of the preparation, who has always loved us and never abandons us”. Perhaps, he said, “the act of faith to believe this is not easy, it is true. Because our rationalism tells us: why would the Lord, with all the people he has to deal with, think about me? And yet he has prepared the way for me, by our mothers, our grandmothers, our fathers, our grandfathers, and by our great grandparents, everyone: this is what the Lord does. And this is his love: concrete, eternal and also an art”.

“Let us pray,” Pope Francis concluded, “asking for the grace to understand God's love. But we never truly understand it, eh! We feel it, we weep over it, but to understand it, we cannot understand. This too tells us how great a love this is”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 11, 2014 WHAT A PRIEST SHOULD BE

In his homily at Holy Mass on Saturday, 11 January, at the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the first Letter ...

 

 

2014-01-11 L’Osservatore Romano

 In his homily at Holy Mass on Saturday, 11 January, at the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the first Letter of John, in which the the Apostle says: “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13).

Pope Francis began by noting that St John is expounding on the verse proclaimed in the liturgy yesterday: “And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (5:4). “Our faith is the victory against the spirit of the world,” he said. “Our faith is this victory which enables us to go forward in the name of the Son of God, in the name of Jesus”.

The Holy Father then posed this question: What is our relationship with Jesus like? This is a fundamental question, he said, since “our relationship with Jesus strengthens our victory”. To priests who were present at the Mass, he added that this question is especially important “for us as priests: what is my relationship with Jesus Christ like?”

“The strength of a priest is rooted in this relationship,” the Pontiff added, commenting on the day’s Gospel “when Jesus’ popularity increased, he went to the Father”. As St Juke recounts: “He withdrew to the wilderness and prayed” (cf. 5:12-16). Thus, Pope Francis noted, “as there was more and more talk about Jesus and large crowds were coming to him to listen to him and be healed, afterwards he went to the Father”. Thus, he said, Jesus’ attitude “is a rock of comparison for us who are preists: do we or do we not go to Jesus?”.

A series of questions priests might ask themselves flow from this, the Pope said. “What place does Jesus Christ have in my life as a priest? Is it a living relationship, disciple to Master, brother to brother, poor man to God? Or is it a bit artificial, like a relationship that doesn’t come from the heart?”.

“We are united through the Spirit and when a priest distances himself from Jesus Christ, instead of being annointed [unto], he ends up becoming unctuous [untuoso]”. “How much unctuous priests harm the Church! Those who place importance and power in artificial things, in vanities”, those who have an affected attitude and way of speaking”. How many times, he added “do we hear with dismay: but this is a priest?”; he seems more like a “butterfly” because “he is always fluttering about vanities” and “he does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ: he has lost the annointing; he is unctuous”.

Yet with all of our limitations, the Pope continued, “we are good priests if we go to Jesus Christ, if we seek the Lord in prayer: the prayer of intercession, the prayer of adoration”. If instead “we distance ourselves from Jesus Christ, we have to compensate for this with other worldly attitudes”. But the priest, the Pope forcefully stated, “adores Jesus Christ, the priest speaks with Jesus Christ, the priest seeks Jesus Christ and allows himself to be sought by Jesus Christ. This is the centre of our lives. If we do not have this, we lose everthing! And then what shall we give to the people?”

The Pope then repeated the Collect prayer from the liturgy and said: “We have asked that the mysetery which we celebrate, the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ among us, might increase each day. We asked for this grace: that our relationship with Jesus Christ ... might grow in us”.

“It is beautiful to find priests who have given their lives as priests”. Priests of whom the people say: “But yes, he has a bit of a temper, he’s got this and that, but he is a priest! And the people have a nose about these things!” Instead, “when the people see ‘idolatrous’ priests, to say it in a word, who instead of having Jesus have their little idols - some are devotees of the god of Narcissus - they say: poor things!” “It is a relationship with Jesus Christ” that saves us “from worldliness and from the idolatry that makes us unctuous” since this relationship enables us to remain “in the annointing”.

Addressing himself directly to those who were present - among them a group of priests from Genoa accompanied by their Cardinal Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco - Pope Francis concluded his homily: “To you who have so kindly come to concelebrate here with me, my hope for you is this: lose everything in life but do not lose this relationship with Jesus Christ. This is your victory. Onward with this!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 11, 2014 POPE FRANCIS: THE TRUE PRIEST AND HIS RELATION TO CHRIST

(Vatican Radio) At his daily Mass on Saturday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke about the priesthood. A true priest, he said, ...

 

Vatican Radio) At his daily Mass on Saturday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke about the priesthood. A true priest, he said, anointed by God for His people, has a close relationship with Jesus. When that relationship is missing, the priest becomes “smarmy,” [unctuous, It: unctuoso] an idolater, a worshiper of the “god Narcissus.”
Pope Francis’ homily was entirely dedicated to the priesthood. Commenting on the passage from first letter of St. John, where the Apostle says that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of Jesus, the Pope asks about the relationship of priests with Jesus, because “the strength of a priest is in this relationship.” When Jesus was growing in popularity, the Pope said, “He went to the Father,” He retreated “to a deserted place to pray.” This is a kind of “touchstone for priests” he said: whether or not we seek to find Jesus. “What is the place of Jesus Christ in my priestly life? Is it a living relationship, from the disciple to the Master, from brother to brother, from the poor man to God, or is it a somewhat artificial relationship... that does not come from the heart?”
“We are anointed by the Spirit, and when a priest is far from Jesus Christ he can lose this unction. In his life, no: essentially he has it... but he loses it. And instead of being anointed he ends up being smarmy. And how damaging to the Church are smarmy priests! Those who put their strength in artificial things, in vanity, in an attitude... in a cutesy language... But how often do we hear it said with sorrow: ‘This is a butterfly-priest,’ because they are always vain... [This kind of priest] does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ! He has lost the unction: he is smarmy.”
Pope Francis continued:
“We priests have so many limits. We are sinners, all. But if we go to Jesus Christ, if we seek the Lord in prayer – prayer of intercession, prayer of adoration – we are good priests, even though we are sinners. But if we are far from Jesus Christ, we necessarily compensate for this with other, worldly attitudes. And so [we see] all these figures... priest-wheeler dealers, priest-tycoons... But the priest who adores Jesus Christ, the priest who talks with Jesus Christ, the priest who seeks Jesus Christ and who is allowed to seek Jesus Christ: this is the centre of our life. If that is not there, we lose everything. And what will we give to the people?”

“Our relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship of anointing for the people,” Pope Francis said, “grows in us priests” more and more each day:
“But it is good to find priests who have given their lives as priests, truly, of whom the people say: “Yes, he’s difficult, he’s this or that... But he is a priest! And people know! On the other hand, when people see priest idolaters, so to speak, priests who instead of having Jesus have little idols... worshippers of the god Narcissus... When people see [priests like this] they say ‘poor guy!’ The relationship with Jesus Christ saves us from worldliness and idolatry that makes us smarmy, preserves us in the anointing [we have received]. And today, this is my hope for you who have been kind enough to come here to concelebrate with me: Even if you lose everything in life, don’t lose this relationship with Jesus Christ! This is your victory. Go forward with this!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 10, 2014 POPE FRANCIS: FRIDAY MASS AT CASA SANTA MARTA

(Vatican Radio) “Faith makes all things possible,” but we must place our trust completely in God. This was the central focus of Pope Francis’ remarks ...

Vatican Radio) “Faith makes all things possible,” but we must place our trust completely in God. This was the central focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Friday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.
Pope Francis concentrated especially on the 1st Letter of St John, in which he speaks of the faithful Christian as the one who is truly victor over the world. Pope Francis explained that genuine faith must be total and complete, not partial, and must express itself as an abiding in the Lord, abiding in Love:
“Whoever abides in God, whoever is begotten by God, whoever abides in love, has victory over the world – and this victory is our faith – on our part, it is the faith. On God’s part, [it is] the Holy Spirit who makes this [abiding, this victory] possible through faith. For our part, faith: it is powerful! The strength of faith has overcome the world! Our faith can do everything! It is victory! It would be beautiful to repeat this, even to ourselves, because we are often [as] Christians defeated. The Church is full of defeated Christians who do not believe in this, that faith is the victory - who do not live this faith, because if you do not live this faith, there is defeat, the world wins, the prince of this world.”
Pope Francis went on to recall the great praise that Our Lord had for the faith of the haemmoragic woman, the Caananite woman, or the man who was blind from birth – saying that faith as large as a mustard seed could move mountains. “This faith,” he said, “affirms and requires of us two attitudes: confessing and trusting.
“Faith,” Said Pope Francis, “means confessing God – the God who revealed Himself to us, from the time of our fathers down to the present: the God of history. This we recite each day in the Creed – but it is one thing to recite the Creed heartily, and another [merely] to parrot it, no? I believe, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe – but do I believe what I am saying? Is this a true confession of faith or is it something I says somehow by rote, because it is [the thing to say]? Do I believe only halfway? Confess the Faith! All of it, not part of it! Safeguard this faith, as it came to us, by way of tradition: the whole Faith! And how may I know that I confess the Faith well? There is a sign: he, who confesses the faith well – the whole Faith – has the capacity to worship God.”
The other attitude is that of trusting:
“The man or woman who has faith relies on God: entrusts himself or herself to Him! Paul, in a dark time in his life, said, ‘I know well to whom I have entrusted myself.’ To God! To the Lord Jesus! Trusting [in God] is what leads us to hope. Just as the confession of faith leads us to the worship and praise of God, so trust in God leads us to an attitude of hope. There are many Christians with a hope too watered down, not strong: a faint hope. Why? Because they do not have the strength and the courage to trust in the Lord. But if we Christians believe confessing the faith, and safeguarding it, taking custody of the faith, and, entrusting ourselves to God, to the Lord, we shall be Christian victors- and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 9, 2014 LOVE IS NOT A SOAP OPERA

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday, 9 January, Pope Francis commented on the first Reading from the Letter of St John (4:11-18), wherein ...

 

2014-01-09 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday, 9 January, Pope Francis commented on the first Reading from the Letter of St John (4:11-18), wherein the word “abide” recurs almost as a refrain. The Apostle John “tells us many times that we should abide in the Lord,” the Pope said. “And he also tells us that the Lord abides in us”. Essentially, he said, St John sums up the Christian life as an “abiding”, as a mutual indwelling – we in God and God in us. “Do not abide in the spirit of the world, do not abide in superficiality, do not abide in idolatry, do not abide in vanity. No, abide in the Lord!” the Holy Father said. And the Lord, he added, “reciprocates this” so that “he remains in us”. Indeed, “he first remains in us” even though “many times we turn him away”. Yet if we do, “we cannot remain in him”.

“He who abides in love abides in God and God in him,” St John writes further on. In practice, the Pope said, the Apostle tells us how “this abiding is the same as abiding in love”. And he added that “it is beautiful to hear this said about love”. Yet he warned that “the love of which John speaks is not the love of which soap operas are made! No, it is something else!”.

In fact, the Holy Father continued: “Christian love always possesses one quality: concreteness. Christian love is concrete. Jesus himself, when he speaks of love, tells us concrete things: feed the hungry, visit the sick”. They are all “concrete things” for indeed “love is concrete”.

Pope Francis then warned: “When this concreteness is lacking” we end up “living a Christianity of illusions, for we do not understand the heart of Jesus' message”. Love that is not concrete, he said, becomes “an illusory love”. Citing the day's Gospel from St Mark (6:45-52), he explained that the disciples had this sort of love when they looked at Jesus and believed they were seeing a ghost” and “an illusory love that is not concrete does not do us good”.

“But when does this occur?” the Pope asked. The Gospel, he said, could not be clearer. When the disciples believed they are seeing a ghost, the Holy Father said quoting the Gospel text, “they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened”. And “if your heart is hardened, you cannot love. You think that to love is to imagine things. No, love is concrete!”.

There is a basic criteria for truly living in love, he continued. “The criteria is to abide in the Lord and the Lord in us, and the criteria of Christian concreteness is the same, always: The Word came in the flesh”. The criteria is “the Incarnation of the Word, God made Man” and “Christianity without this foundation is not true Christianity. The key to Christian life is faith in Jesus Christ, the Word of God made Man”.

Pope Francis also suggested a way to “get to know” the style of concrete love. He explained that “there are several consequences of this criteria”. He proposed two. The first is that “love is found more in deeds than words. Jesus himself said: it is not those who call me 'Lord, Lord', who talk much, who shall enter the Kingdom of heaven; but those who do the will of God”. The invitation set before us, then, is to be “concrete” by doing “the deeds of God”.

There is a question we must each ask ourselves: “If I abide in in Jesus, if I abide in the Lord, if I abide in love, what do I do for God – not what do I think or what do I say – and what do I do for others?”. Therefore, he said “the first criteria is to love with deeds, not with words”. “The wind carries away our words: today they are here and tomorrow they are gone”.

The “second criteria for concreteness,” the Pope continued, is that “in love it is more important to give than to receive”. The person “who loves, gives, gives things, gives life, gives himself to God and to others”. Instead, the person “who does not love and who is selfish always seeks to receive. He seeks always to have things, to have the advantage”. Hence the spiritual counsel “to abide with an open heart, and not like the disciples whose hearts were closed” and who therefore did not understand. Pope Francis repeated: “it is a matter of abiding in God” and of “God abiding in us. It is a matter of abiding in love”.

The sole “criteria of abiding in our faith in Jesus Christ the Word of God made flesh is the very mystery that we celebrate in this season”. And he reaffirmed that “the two practical consequences of this Christian concreteness, of this criteria, are that love is found more in deeds than words, and that in love it is more important to give than to receive”.

“As we gaze on the Child in these final three days of the Christmas Season”, Pope Francis concluded, “let us renew our faith in Jesus Christ, who is true God and true Man. And let us ask for the grace to be granted this concreteness of Christian love so that we might always abide in love” and that “he might abide in us”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 9, 2014 POPE FRANCIS: CHRISTIAN LOVE IS CONCRETE

(Vatican Radio) Christian love is always “concrete,” Pope Francis said in his homily at the morning Mass celebrated at the Casa Santa Marta. Love, then, ...

 

Vatican Radio) Christian love is always “concrete,” Pope Francis said in his homily at the morning Mass celebrated at the Casa Santa Marta. Love, then, consists “more in actions than in words, more in giving than in receiving.”
Love is not a kind of romanticism: either it is a selfless and solicitous love which rolls up its sleeves and looks to the poor, preferring to give rather than to receive; or it has nothing to do with Christian love.
Pope Francis took as the starting point for his reflection the words of the First Letter of John, in which the Apostle insists: “if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” The experience of faith, the Pope said, is found in this double “remaining”:
“We are in God and God is in us: this is the Christian life. Not remaining in the spirit of the world, not remaining in superficiality, not remaining in idolatry, not remaining in vanity. No, no, remaining in the Lord. And He reciprocates: He abides in us. But He remains in us first. Many times we push Him out and we cannot remain in Him. It is the Spirit that remains.”
Having clarified the dynamics of the spirit that prompts the love of Christians, Pope Francis goes on to examine the application. “Remaining in the love of God,” he says, is not so much an ecstasy of the heart, a nice thing to feel:
“You see that the love John speaks of is not the love of soap operas! No, it is something else. Christian love has a particular quality: concreteness. Christian love is concrete. Jesus Himself, when He speaks of love, speaks to us about concrete things: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and many concrete things. Love is concrete. . . . And when this concreteness is not there, you can live a Christianity of illusions, because you don’t understand where the centre of Jesus' message is. This love does not arrive at concrete being: it is a love of illusions, like the illusions the disciples had when, looking at Jesus, they thought He was a ghost.”
The “ghost,” in fact, (from the story in today's Gospel) is what the disciples, astonished and fearful, see coming toward them, walking on the sea. But their astonishment arises from a hardness of heart, because, as the Gospel says, “they had not understood” the multiplication of the loaves which had taken place shortly before. “If you have a hardened heart,” Pope Francis said, you cannot love, and you think that love is to imagine things. No, love is concrete.” And this concreteness, he adds, is based on two criteria:
“The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are taken away by the wind! They are here today, tomorrow they are not. The second criterion of concreteness is: in love it is more important to give than to receive. The one who loves, gives. . . . Gives things, gives life, gives oneself to God and to others. On the other hand, [is] the one who does not love, who is selfish, always seeks to receive, always seeks to have things, to have advantages. Stay with an open heart, not like that of the disciples, which was closed, which did not understand anything: remaining in God and God remaining in us; remaining in love.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 7, 2014 POPE FRANCIS: TEST THE SPIRITS

(Vatican Radio) The Christian knows to guard his heart in order to distinguish what comes from God and what comes from the false prophets. That ...

 

Vatican Radio) The Christian knows to guard his heart in order to distinguish what comes from God and what comes from the false prophets. That was the message of Pope Francis in the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the first after the holiday season. The Pope said the way of Jesus is that of service and humility, a path that all Christians are called to follow.
Pope Francis took the words “Remain in the Lord,” from the first Reading from the Apostle John, as the starting point for his homily. It is a “counsel for life,” the Pope said, that John repeats “almost obsessively.” The Apostle shows “one of the attitudes of the Christian who wants to remain in the Lord: to understand what’s happening in one’s own heart.” For this reason he warns us, “Do not to trust every spirit, but test the spirits.” It is necessary, the Pope said, to know “the discernment of spirits,” to discern whether something helps us “remain in the Lord or takes us away from Him.” “Our heart,” he added, “always has desires, has cravings, has thoughts.” But “are these from the Lord or do some of these things take us away from the Lord?” That’s why the Apostle John exhorts us to “test” what we think and desire:
“If this goes along the line of the Lord, it will go well, but if not… Test the spirits to see if they really come from God, because many false prophets have come into the world. Prophets or prophecies or suggestions: ‘I want to do this!’ But this does not bring you to the Lord, it leads you away from Him. That’s why vigilance is necessary. The Christian is a man or a woman who knows to keep watch over his or her heart. And many times our heart, and with so many things that come and go, seems a local market: everything, you can find everything there… No! We need to test things - this is from the Lord, and this is not – in order to remain in the Lord.”

What, then, is the criterion to determine if something comes from Christ or from the antichrist? St. John, the Pope said, has a clear “simple” idea: “Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.” But what does it mean, “to recognize that the Word is come in the flesh?” It means “recognizing the path of Jesus Christ,” recognising the He, “being God, He emptied Himself, He humbled Himself” even to “death on the Cross”:
“That is the path of Jesus Christ: abasement, humility, humiliation as well. If a thought, if a desire takes you along the road of humility and abasement, of service to others, is from Jesus. But if it brings you to the road of sufficiency, of vanity, of pride, along the path of an abstract thought, it is not from Jesus. We think of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness: all three proposals the demon makes to Jesus are proposals that intended to take Him away from this path, the path of service, of humility, of humiliation, of charity. But the charity accomplished with His life, no? To the three temptations Jesus says no: ‘No, this is not my path!”

The Pope then invited everyone to think about what happens in their own hearts. What do we think and feel, what do we desire, do I examine the spirits? “Do I test what I think, what I want, what I desire - he asked - or do I accept it all” without discernment?
“So many times, our heart is a road, everything passes there… Put it to the test! And do I always choose the things that come from God? Do I know which are the things that come from God? Do I know the true criterion by which to discern my thoughts, my desires? Let us think of this, and let us not forget that the criterion is the Incarnation of the Word. The Word is come in the flesh: this is Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ who was made man, God made man, who lowered Himself, humbled Himself for love, in order to serve all of us. And may the Apostle John grant us this grace to know what is happening in our hearts, and to have the wisdom to discern what is of God and what is not of God.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan. 7, 2014 IF OUR HEART IS LIKE THE LOCAL MARKET

In his homily at Holy Mass on Tuesday morning, 7 January, Pope Francis commented on the first Reading from the Letter of St John (3:22-4:6) ...

 

 

2014-01-07 L’Osservatore Romano

In his homily at Holy Mass on Tuesday morning, 7 January, Pope Francis commented on the first Reading from the Letter of St John (3:22-4:6) in which the Apostle, he said, “seems almost obsessive” in repeating various counsels, particularly the counsel: “abide in the Lord”.

“Abide in the Lord,” the Holy Father repeated, and he added: “the Christian, man or woman, is one who abides in the Lord”. But what does this mean? Many things, the Holy Father said. And yet, he explained, the passage from the Letter of John emphasizes a particular attitude that a Christian must adopt if he wishes to remain in the Lord, i.e. the full awareness of “what is happening in his heart”.

 

 

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