Feb. 20, 2014
Pope Francis: To know Jesus, we must follow Him
2014-02-20 Vatican Radio
Jesus is known more by following Him than by studying Him. That was the message of Pope Francis at his homily during the Mass celebrated Thursday morning at Casa Santa Marta. Every day, he explained, Christ asks “who” He is for us, but it is only possible to answer by living as disciples.
It is the life of a disciple, more than a life of study, that allows a Christian to really know who Jesus is for him. A journey in the footsteps of the Master, where clear witness and even betrayals, falls and new impulses, can intersect. But it is not only an intellectual approach. Pope Francis took the example of Peter, who in the Gospel of the day portrays at the same time both as a “courageous” witness — who responded to Jesus’ question to the Apostles, “Who do you say I am for you?” by saying, “You are the Christ” — and immediately afterwards as an adversary, when he feels he has to reproach Jesus, who had just announced that he had to suffer and die, and then to rise. “Many times,” the Pope said, “Jesus turns to us and asks us: “But who am I for you?” and getting “the same response that Peter gave, the one we learned in the catechism.” But that is not enough:
“It seems that to respond to that question that we have heard in our hearts — ‘Who is Jesus for us?’ — what we have learned, what we have studied is not enough. It is important to study and to understand, but it is not enough. To know Jesus it is necessary to take the journey that Peter took: after that humiliation, Peter went forward with Jesus, he saw the miracles Jesus did, he saw his power. Then he paid the tax as Jesus had told him, he caught a fish, removed a coin, he saw many miracles like that. But, at a certain point, Peter denied Jesus, he betrayed Jesus, and he learned that most difficult knowledge — more than knowledge, wisdom — of tears, of weeping.”
Peter, Pope Francis continued, asks forgiveness from Jesus — and yet, after the Resurrection, he is questioned three times by Jesus on the beach of Tiberias: “Do you love me?” Probably, the Pope said, in his reaffirming his total love for his Master, he wept, and was ashamed at the memory of his triple denial:
“This first question for Peter — ‘Who am I for you?’ — can only be understood along a path, after a long path, a path of grace and of sin, a path of a disciple. Jesus did not say to Peter and to His Apostles “Know me”; He said, “Follow me!” And this following of Jesus makes us know Jesus. Following Jesus with our strength, but also with our sins, but always following Jesus. It is not a study of things that is necessary, but a life of a disciple.”
It takes “a daily encounter with the Lord, every day, with our triumphs and our weaknesses.” But, the Pope added, it is “a journey that we can’t make on our own.” The intervention of the Holy Spirit is necessary:
“To know Jesus is a gift of the Father; it is He who makes us know Jesus. It is a work of the Holy Spirit, who is a great worker. Not a trade unionist — He is a great worker and He works in us always. He does this work of explaining the mystery of Jesus, and of giving us this sense of Jesus. We look at Jesus, Peter, the Apostles, and we hear in our hearts the question: ‘Who am I for you?’ And as disciples let us ask the Father that He would grant to us to know Christ in the Holy Spirit, that He would explain this mystery
Feb. 18, 2014
Pope Francis: resist temptation by listening to Jesus' Word
2014-02-18 Vatican Radio
Resisting the seduction of temptation is possible only “when listening to the Word of Jesus.” Those were the words of Pope Francis in his homily at the Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. Despite our weaknesses, the Pope repeated, Christ always gives us “confidence” and opens to us a horizon wider than our limitations.
Temptation manifests itself as a harmless attraction and ends up turning into a cage. Rather than trying to escape, more often we try to minimize the slavery, being deaf to the Word of God. In his homily, Pope Francis reaffirms a truth and a sequence described by St. James in the day’s reading. The truth is that man is tempted not by God, but by his passions. The sequence is produced by the same passions, which, the Apostle says, “conceive and produce sin. And sin, once committed, brings forth death”:
“Where does temptation come from? How does it work in us? The Apostle tells us that it is not from God, but from our passions, our inner weaknesses, from the wounds left in us by original sin: that’s where temptations come from, from these passions. It’s curious... temptation has three characteristics: it grows, is contagious and is justified. It grows: it begins with a tranquil air, and grows ... Jesus himself said this when He spoke about the parable of the wheat and the tares. The wheat grew, but so did the weeds sown by the enemy. And the temptation grows: it grows, it grows... And if one does not stop it, it fills everything.”
Further, Pope Francis continued, the temptation “looks for another to keep it company, it is contagious” and “in growing, in being contagious, the temptation closes us in in an environment where you can’t get out easily.” This is the experience of the Apostles related in the Gospel of the day, where the Twelve blame each other under the eyes of the Master for not having brought bread on board the boat. Jesus, the Pope said, perhaps smiling at the quarrel, invites them to watch out for “the leaven of the Pharisees, of Herod.” But the Apostles, who, not listening to Him, continued to argue, were “so closed in on the issue of who was to blame for not having brought the bread, that they did not have space, the time, the light for the Word of God”:
"And so, when we are tempted, we do not hear the Word of God, we don’t hear. We don’t understand. And Jesus had to remind them of the multiplication of the loaves to get them out of that environment, because temptation closes us in, it takes away any ability to see ahead, it closes every horizon, and so leads us to sin. When we are tempted, only the Word of God, the Word of Jesus saves us, hearing that Word that opens the horizon... He is always willing to teach us how to escape from temptation. And Jesus is great because He not only brings us out of temptation, but gives us more confidence.”
This confidence, the Pope says, is “a great strength when we are tempted: the Lord waits for us... trusts us who are so tempted, who are sinners... He always opens horizons.” On the other hand, Pope Francis said, the devil, “ with temptation, closes, closes, closes” and makes an environment similar to the boat of the Apostles. And not to be “imprisoned” by this type of environment, he concluded, is possible only “when listening to the Word of Jesus”:
“Let us ask the Lord, who always — as He did with the disciples, with his patience — when we are tempted, tells us: ‘Stop, don’t worry. Remember what I did with you at that moment, at that time: remember. Lift up your eyes, look at the horizon, do not be closed, do not close in on yourself, go forward.’ And this Word will save us from falling into sin in the moment of temptation."
Feb. 17, 2014
17 L’Osservatore Romano
There are people who know how to suffer with a smile and keep “the joy of faith” despite trials and illnesses. These are the people who “carry the Church forward with their every day sanctity”, becoming true reference points “in our parishes and in our institutions”. Pope Francis reflected on the exemplary patience of the people of God at Mass in the Chapel of Santa Marta on Monday morning, 17 February. His words were echoes from Sunday afternoon's encounter with the parish community of Infernetto on the outskirts of Rome.
“When we go to the parishes”, the Pope said, “we find people who are suffering, who have problems, who have disabled children, or have diseases, but carry on in life with patience”. They are people who do not ask for “a miracle” but live with “God's patience”, reading “the signs of the times”. The “world is unworthy” of these holy people, the Pope said, citing Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews and affirming that “these are the ones – the ones who are suffering, greatly suffering many things but do not lose the smile of the faith, who have the joy of faith – we can say that the world is not worthy of them! The spirit of the world is not worthy of these people”.
The value of patience was the starting point of the Pope's relection on the day's Liturgy: a passage from the Letter of James (1:1-11), and the Gospel of Mark (8:11-13).
“Consider pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of all kinds”, he said, commenting on the words from the First Reading, the Pope noted that “what James the Apostle tells us seems a bit strange”. It almost seems to be “an invitation to become a fakir”. The Pope posed the question: “Can undergoing a trial bring us joy?”. He referred to the letter from St James: “Know that your faith, with many trials, produces patience. And patience will have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, without lacking anything”.
What this suggests, he explained, is “to bring life into this rhythm of patience”. But “patience”, he warned, “is not resignation, it is something quite different”. Patience means to bear “life on your shoulders, the things that are not good, the bad things, the things that we do not want. It will be this patience that causes our lives to mature. Those who have no patience instead “want everything at once, all in a hurry”. Those “who do not know the wisdom of this patience are whimsical people”, who end up behaving “like naughty children” who say: “I want this, I want that, I do not like this”, and are never satisfied with anything.
When responding to the Pharisees in the Gospel of Mark, the Lord asks: “Why does this generation seek a sign?”. As if to say, that “this generation is like children that do not dance when they hear joyful music and do not cry when they hear sorrowful music. Nothing is right!” the Pope said. In fact, he continued, “the person who has no patience is a person who will not grow, who remains with the whims of children, not knowing how to take life as it comes”, and can only say “either this or nothing!”.
When there is no patience, “there is the temptation to become capricious” as children. Another temptation, of those “who have no patience, is omnipotence” which causes one to say: “I want things right away!”. The Lord is referring precisely to this when the Pharisees ask him for “a sign from heaven”. The Pope asked, “what did they want? They wanted a show, a miracle”. Ultimately it is the same temptation that the devil offers Jesus in the desert, asking him to do “something – that we all will believe and this stone will become bread” – or to show his power by throwing himself from the temple.
In asking Jesus for a sign, however, the Pharisees' confuse God's way of acting with the way of a sorcerer”. The Holy Father explained that “God does not act as a sorcerer. God has his way of going forward: his patience”. “Every time we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation we sing a hymn to God's patience. The Lord carries us on his shoulders, with a lot of patience”.
“The Christian life”, the Pope said, “has to be carried out with this music of patience, because it was the music of our fathers: the people of God”. The music of “those who believed in the Word of God, who followed the commandment which the Lord had given to our father Abraham: Walk before me and be blameless”.
Again referring to Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews, the Pope said that the people of God “suffered a lot: they were persecuted, murdered, and had to hide in caverns, in caves. They had the joy, the happiness – as St James says – to welcome the promises from afar”. It is precisely this “patience that we must have amidst trials”. The “the patience of an adult, and the patience of God that leads us, supports us on his shoulders; and the patience of our people”, the Holy Father noted, exclaiming: “How patient our people is even now!”.
The Pope said that there are many suffering people who are able to “bring life forward with patience. They do not ask for a sign”, as the Pharisees did, “but they instead know how to read the signs of the times”. “They know that when figs grow on a tree it is springtime”. Instead the “impatient” people presented in the Gospel, “wanted a sign” but “did not know how to read the signs of the times. For this reason they did not recognize Jesus”.
The Holy Father pointed out that in the Letter to the Hebrews it says clearly that “the world was unworthy of God's people”. But today “we cannot say the same of those of our people who suffer, who suffer many, many things, but do not lose the smile of faith, which has the joy of faith”. Yes, “the world is not worthy” of any of them. These are the “people, our people, in our parishes, in our institutions”, who carry “the Church forward with their every day sanctity”.
In conclusion, the Pope re-read the passage from St James that he had repeated at the beginning of his homily. He asked that the Lord give “each of us patience: the joyful patience, the patience of labour, of peace”; “the patience of God” and “the patience of our faithful people who are so exemplary”.
Feb. 14, 2014
Pope Francis: walk joyfully as lamb of the Lord
2014-02-14 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) A true Christian is someone who walks joyfully through the world as a lamb of the Lord. These were the words of Pope Francis at Mass on Friday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.
Commenting on the day’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of Christian identity, noting that a Christian is first of all someone who is “sent”: the Lord sends his disciples out into the world to proclaim the Gospel, so a Christian is a disciple “who walks, who always moves forward”. A Christian who stands still “is sick”, the Pope said, because the first marker of Christian identity is the capacity “to walk even where there are difficulties, to go beyond those difficulties”.
A second feature of Christian identity, the Pope continued, is that a Christian “is a lamb, and must retain this identity”: the Lord sends us out “as lambs among wolves”. Some would suggest using strength against those wolves, the Pope continued, but we must remember David when he fought the Philistine: “they wanted to dress him up in all of Saul’s armour and he couldn’t move, he wasn’t himself, he wasn’t humble”, so in the end he took his catapult and he won the battle. Sometimes temptation leads us to think: “This is difficult, these wolves are smart and I’ll be smarter than them”. But as long as you’re a lamb, the Lord will defend you, while if you’re a wolf, He won’t defend you, He will leave you alone.
A third feature of Christian identity, Pope Francis went on, is the “Christian style”, which is joy. Christians, he said, “are people who exult because they know the Lord and they bring the Lord”. It is not possible, the Pope said, to walk as Christians without joy, to walk as lambs without joy. Even in the face of challenges, in the face of difficulties, in the face of our own mistakes and sins, “there is the joy of Jesus, which always forgives and helps”. Those Christians whose “tempo” of life is “adagio-complaining” are not helping the Lord or the Church, the Pope said: that is not the style of the disciple.
On the feast of the two Christian disciples, Cyrill and Methodius, we must reflect on the nature of Christian identity, Pope Francis concluded: a Christian is a man or a woman who never stands still, who always walks, who walks as a lamb, and walks with joy. Through the intercession of these Saints, Patrons of Europe, may the Lord grant us the grace to live as Christians who walk as lambs, with joy.
Feb. 13, 2014
The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta The king and the woman
2014-02-13 L’Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis spoke about the risk of corruption at the Mass he celebrated on Thursday morning, 13 February, in the Chapel of Santa Marta. He pointed to two emblematic figures from Scripture: King Solomon, and the woman who asks Jesus to heal her possessed daughter. The Pope wanted to encourage the path of those who, quietly, every day, set out in search of the Lord, passing from idolatry to the true faith.
The “two figures” the Pope chose for his sermon were taken from the day's readings. He referenced the first Book of Kings (11:4-13) to speak about Solomon, and the Gospel of Mark (7:24-30) to present the image of the woman “who spoke Greek and was Syro-Phoenician”, and who begged Jesus “to drive out the demon from her daughter”. The Pope explained how Solomon and the woman take two opposite paths. “Today the Church invites us to reflect on the journey from paganism and idolatry to the living God, and also on the journey from the living God to idolatry”.
The Gospel tells us that, turning to Jesus, the woman is “brave”, as any “desperate mother” who would do anything “for the health of their child”. “She had been told that there was a good man, a prophet”, the Pope said, and so she went to look for Jesus, even though she “did not believe in the God of Israel”. For the sake of her daughter “she was not ashamed of how she might look before the apostles”, who might say amongst themselves “what is this pagan doing here?”. She had come close to Jesus to beg him to help her daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. But Jesus responds to her request saying “I came first for the sheep of the house of Israel”. He “speaks with harsh words”, saying: “Let the children help themselves first, because it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs”.
The woman — who “certainly had never attended university” the Holy Father said — did not respond to Jesus “with intelligence, but instead with a mother's gut, with love”. She said: “Even the dogs under the table will eat the children’s crumbs”, as if to say: “Give these crumbs to me!”. Moved by her faith, “the Lord worked a miracle”. She “returned home, found her daughter lying on her bed, and the demon was gone”.
Essentially, it is the story of a mother who “risked making a fool of herself, but still insisted” out of love for her daughter. She left “paganism and idolatry, and found health for her daughter”, and for herself she “found the living God”. The Pope explained that hers is “the way of a person of good will, who seeks God and finds him”. For her faith, “the Lord blesses her”. This is also the story of so many people who still “make this journey”. “The Lord waits for” these people, who are moved by the Holy Spirit. “There are people who make this journey every day in the Church of God, silently seeking the Lord”, because they “let themselves be carried forward by the Holy Spirit”.
However, the Pope warned, there is also “the opposite path”, which is represented by the figure of Solomon, “the wisest man on earth, who had received many great blessings; he had inherited a united country, the union that his father David had made”. King Solomon had “universal fame”, he had “complete power”. He was also “a believer in God”. So why did he lose his faith? The answer lies in the biblical passage: “His women made him divert his heart to follow other gods, and his heart did not remain with the Lord, his God, as the heart of David his father did”.
The Pope said that Solomon “liked women. He had many concubines and would travel with them here and there: each with her own god, her own idol”. “These women slowly weakened Solomon’s heart”. He, therefore, “lost the integrity” of the faith. When “one woman would ask him for a small temple” for “her god”, he would build it “on a mountain”. And when another woman would ask him for incense to burn for an idol, he would buy it. In doing so “his heart was weakened and he lost his faith”.
“The wisest man in the world” lost his faith this way, the Holy Father said. Solomon allowed himself to become corrupt because of “an indiscreet love, without discretion, because of his passions”. Yet, the Pope said, you might say: “But, father, Solomon did not lose his faith, he still believed in God, he could recite the Bible” from memory. To this objection the Pope replied: “having faith does not mean being able to recite the Creed: you can still recite the Creed after having lost your faith!”.
Solomon, the Pope continued, “was a sinner in the beginning like his father David. But then he continued living as a sinner” and became “corrupt: his heart was corrupted by idolatry”. His father David “was a sinner, but the Lord had forgiven all of sins because he was humble and asked for forgiveness”. Instead, Solomon’s “vanity and passions led” him to “corruption”. For, the Pope explained, “the heart is precisely the place where you can lose your faith”.
The king, therefore, takes the opposite “path than that of the Syro-Phoenician woman: she leaves the idolatry of paganism and comes to find the living God”, while Solomon instead “left the living God and finds idolatry: what a poor man! She was a sinner, sure, just as we all are. But he was corrupt”.
Referring to a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews, the Pope expressed his hope that “no evil seed will grow” in the human heart. It was “the seed of evil passions, growing in Solomon’s heart” that “led him to idolatry”. To prevent this seed from developing, Pope Francis indicated “the good counsel” that was suggested in the Gospel reading of the day: “Receive with meekness the Word that has been planted in you and it can lead you to salvation”. With this knowledge, the Pope concluded, “we follow the path of the Canaanite woman, the pagan woman, accepting the Word of God, which was planted in us and will lead us to salvation”. The Word of God is “powerful, and it will safeguard us on the path and prevent us from the destruction of corruption and all that leads to idolatry”.
Feb. 10, 2014
Pope Francis: rediscover a 'sense of the sacred'
(Vatican Radio) To rediscover the sense of the sacred, the mystery of the Real Presence of God in the Mass: that was Pope Francis’ invitation during the Eucharistic celebration this morning at Casa Santa Marta.
The first Reading of the day speaks about the “theophany” of God in the time of Solomon the king. The Lord came down like a cloud upon the temple, which was filled with the glory of God. The Lord, the Pope said, speaks to His people in many ways: through the prophets, the priests, the Sacred Scriptures. But with the theophanies, He speaks in another way, “different from the Word: it is another presence, closer, without mediation, near. It is His presence.” This, he explained, happens in the liturgical celebration. The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of the faithful to pray together. It is something else. In the liturgy, God is present,” but it is a closer presence. In the Mass, in fact, “the presence of the Lord is real, truly real.”
“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation. It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself. It is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. We hear or we say, ‘But, I can’t now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass.’ The Mass is not ‘heard’, it is participated in, and it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.”
Nativity scenes, the Way of the Cross... these are representations. The Mass, on the other hand, “is a real commemoration, that is, it is a theophany: God approaches and is with us, and we participate in the mystery of the Redemption.” Unfortunately, too often we look at the clock during Mass, “counting the minutes.” This, the Pope said, is not the attitude the liturgy requires of us: the liturgy is God’s time, God’s space, and we must place ourselves there, in God’s time, in God’s space, and not look at the clock”:
“The liturgy is to really enter into the mystery of God, to allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery. For example, I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery; however, someone might say: ‘Ah, I have to go to Mass at Santa Marta, because on the sight-seeing tour of Rome, each morning there is a chance to visit the Pope at Santa Marta: it’s a tourist stop, right?’ All of you here, we are gathered her to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is the cloud of God that surrounds all of us.”
The pope recalled that, as a child, during the preparation for First Communion, there was a song that spoke about how the altar was guarded by angels to give “a sense of the glory of God, of God’s space, of God’s time.” And when, during the practice, they brought the hosts, they told the children: “Look, these are not the ones you will receive: these count for nothing,” because they have to be consecrated. So, the Pope concluded, “to celebrate the liturgy is to have this availability to enter into the mystery of God,” to enter into His space, His time, to entrust ourselves to this mystery:
“We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us this ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible... The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power... He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.”
Feb. 7, 2014
Pope Francis focused his homily on “the image of a disciple” at the Mass he celebrated on Friday morning, 7 February, in the Chapel of ...
Pope Francis focused his homily on “the image of a disciple” at the Mass he celebrated on Friday morning, 7 February, in the Chapel of Santa Marta. Inspired by the story of John the Baptist’s ministry and death, as told in the Gospel of Mark (6:14-29), the Pope said that John was “a man who had a short life, a short time to announce the Word of God”. He was “the man who God sent to prepare the way for his Son”.
But “John’s death is brutal”; he was beheaded at the order of Herod. He became “the price of a show for the royal court gathered at a banquet”. “Where the court was concerned many things were acceptable: corruption, vices, and crimes. The courts favoured these things”, the Pope said.
The Pope then described the figure of St John the Baptist, pointing to three fundamental characteristics. “What did John do? Before all else”, the Pope said, “he announced the Lord. He announced that the Savior, the Lord, was coming; that the Kingdom of God was near”. He proclaimed this “forcefully: baptizing and leading people to repentance”. John “was a strong man who announced Jesus Christ: he was the prophet who was closest to Jesus Christ. So close that he himself pointed others to him”. In fact, when he saw Jesus he exclaimed: “It is him!”.
The second characteristic of John, the Pope explained, “is that he did not allow himself to become possessed by his own moral authority”, even when “the opportunity to say ‘I am the Messiah’ was offered him on a platter”. John had “a great moral authority! All the people came to him. The Gospel says that the scribes would “approach him to ask ‘what should we do?’”, as did the people and even soldiers. “Repent!” was John’s reply, and “do not steal!”.
“The Pharisees and doctors” also noticed the “strength” of John, and could see that he was “a righteous man. Because of this they went to him and asked: are you the Messiah?”. To John, this was a “moment of temptation and vanity”. He could have responded: “I cannot speak about this ...”, and in this way he would be “leaving the question open. Or he could respond: I do not know... with false humility”. Instead, John “was clear” and said: “No, I am not! After me comes One who is mightier than I, and I am not even worthy to bend over and untie the thong of his sandals”.
John did not fall into the temptation of stealing “the title, he did not master that trade”. He clearly proclaimed “I am a voice, and nothing more. The Word will come next. I am only a voice!”. This is the second point, that John “did not steal dignity”. He was a “man of truth”.
“The third characteristic of John”, the Pope continued “was that he imitated Christ, he imitated Jesus. He did this to the point that, in those times, the Pharisees and the doctors believed that he was the Messiah”. Even “Herod, who had him killed, believed that Jesus was John”. This very fact shows the extent to which the John had “followed the way of Jesus, especially in humility”. “John was humiliated, and humbled himself even to the end, to his death”. He went to meet the “same shameful death” as the Lord, “Jesus punished as a robber, a thief, a criminal on a cross”. John was the victim of “a weak and lustful man” who was pushed by “the hatred of an adulteress, by the whim of a dancer”. John and Jesus suffered humiliating deaths.
Like Jesus, “John too had his Garden of Gethsemane, his anguish in prison, when he questioned whether or not he was wrong”. He “sent his disciples to ask Jesus: Tell me, are you the Messiah or is it someone else and I am wrong?”. What he experienced was the “darkness of the soul”, the “darkness that purifies”. “Jesus responded to John in the same way that the Father responded to Jesus: he comforted him”.
Reflecting on this darkness, the Pope Francis recalled the witness of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. This was a woman who was praised all around the world, even receiving the Nobel Prize! But she knew that for a long period of her life, there was only darkness within her”. “John too had to experience this darkness”, and through “proclaiming Jesus Christ, and not taking advantage of the prophesy”, he become “an imitator of Jesus Christ”.
In John, therefore we see the “image” and “the vocation of a disciple”. The “source of the disciple’s behaviour ‘can be seen in the Gospel when Mary visits Elizabeth, when “John danced for joy in his mother’s womb”. Jesus and John were indeed “cousins” and “perhaps they later found each other”, but that first “encounter filled John’s heart with joy, so much joy. This turned him into a disciple”, a “man who proclaims Jesus Christ, who does not put himself in Christ’s place, but instead, follows Christ’s path”.
Pope Francis concluded by suggesting that we examine our consciences, focusing “on our discipleship” through some questions: “Do we proclaim Jesus Christ? Do we profit from our condition as Christians, as if it were a privilege, or not?”. It is important in this regard to look at the example of John who “did not take advantage of the prophecy”.
“Do we choose the path of Jesus Christ, the way of humiliation, of humility, of abasing ourselves at his service?”. The Pope said that if we realize it is not the case, then it is good “to ask ourselves: when was my encounter with Jesus Christ, that encounter that filled me with joy?”. It is a way to spiritually return to that first encounter with the Lord, “to return to the first Galilee encounter: we all have one!”. The secret, the Pope said, is to “go there: meeting the Lord again and to continue down this beautiful path, on which he must increase and we must decrea
Feb. 6, 2014
To live our whole life within the Church, as sinners but not as corrupt traitors, and with an attitude of hope that allows us to ...
2014-02-04 L’Osservatore Romano
To live our whole life within the Church, as sinners but not as corrupt traitors, and with an attitude of hope that allows us to leave a legacy, not of material wealth, but of a witness to holiness. Pope Francis reflected on these “great graces” at the Mass he celebrated on Thursday morning, 6 February, in the Chapel of Santa Marta.
The Holy Father focused his homily on the mystery of death, referring to the First Reading (Kings 2:1-4,10-12) in which he said, “we hear the story of David’s death”. “We remember the beginning of his life, when he was chosen and anointed by the Lord”, when he was just “a little boy”. “After only a few years he began to reign”, but he was still only “a boy, at 22 or 23 years of age”.
David’s whole life was “a path, a journey he had made at the service of his people”. And “it ended just as it had began”. It is the same with our lives, said the Pope. In our lives too we “begin, walk, go forward and finish”. Thinking of David’s death “from the heart”, the Pope offered three points of reflection. First, he pointed out that “David died in the bosom of the Church, in the bosom of his people. Death did not find him outside of his people” but “within”. In this way he lives “belonging to the people of God”. It is true that David “had sinned: he called himself a sinner”. But “he never left the People of God: he was a sinner, yes, but not a traitor”. This, the Pope said, “is a grace”. The grace to “remain in the People of God till the end” and “to die in the bosom of the Church, right in the midst of the People of God”.
Highlighting this aspect, the Pope invited everyone “to ask for the grace of dying at home: dying at home, within the Church”. He remarked that “this is a grace” that you “cannot buy” because “it is a gift from God”. We “ought to ask: Lord, grant me the gift of dying at home, within the Church”. Even if we are “all sinners”, we must never be “traitors” nor “corrupt”.
The Church, the Pope explained, “is a mother and wants it to be so”, even if “at many times dirty”. For it is she who “cleanses us: she is our mother, and she knows how to do so”. But it is up to us to “ask for this grace of dying at home”.
Pope Francis then proposed his second thought about David’s death. “In this story”, he noted “you can see that David is quiet, peaceful, and serene”. To the point where he “calls upon his son and says: I want to go the way of every man on earth”. In other words, David acknowledges: “now it is my turn!”. We then read in Scripture that “David slept with his fathers”. The king, the Pope explained, “accepted his death with hope, in peace”. And “this is another grace: the grace to die with hope”, with the “awareness that this is only a step” and that “we are awaited on the other side”. Indeed, even after death there will be “home, there will be family, I will not be alone!”. It is a grace to be sought especially “in the last moments of life, because we know that life is a struggle and that the evil spirit takes the spoils”.
The Holy Father also recalled the testimony of St Therese of the Child Jesus, who “said that, at the end of her life, there was a struggle in her soul, and when she thought about the future, about what awaited her after death, in heaven, she felt as if a voice was saying: but no, don’t be silly, darkness awaits you, only the darkness of nothing is awaiting you”. That, the Pope said, “was the devil who did not want her to trust in God”.
Therefore it is importance to “ask for the grace to die with hope, trusting in God”. But “trusting in God”, the Pope said, “must begin now, in life’s little things, and also in the big problems: we must always rely on the Lord. In this way, trusting the Lord becomes a habit and hope springs forth”. Therefore “to die at home and to die with hope” are “two things that we can learn from David’s death”.
The third reflection Pope Francis shared was that of “the problem of legacy”. In this regard, “the Bible”, he explained, “tells us that when David died, all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren came to ask for their inheritance!”. There are often “many scandals concerning inheritance, scandals that divide families”. But the inheritance that David leaves behind is not wealth. We read in the Scriptures: “And his kingdom grew strengthened”. David had “left a legacy of 40 years of government to his people and the people were strengthened”.
The Holy Father recalled “a popular saying” which says that “every man should have a child, plant a tree and write a book, so as to leave the best legacy”. The Pope invited everyone to ask themselves: “What legacy will I leave to those who come after me? Will I leave a legacy with my life? Have I done so much good that people want me as a father or mother?”. Perhaps I have not “planted a tree” or “written a book”, “but have I provided wisdom in life?”. The real “legacy is that of David” who on the verge of death told his son Solomon: “You are a strong and capable man. Obey the law of the Lord, your God, proceeding in his ways and executing his laws”.
David's words help us to understand that the real “legacy is the witness we leave to others as Christians”. There are indeed some people who “leave great legacies: we think of the saints who lived the Gospel with such force ... leaving us a way of life, a way of living life as a legacy”.
In conclusion the Pope summarized his three points and turned them into a prayer to St David, that he “grant us these three graces: to ask for the grace to die at home, within the Church; to ask for the grace to die with hope, with hope; and to ask for the grace to leave behind a beautiful legacy, a human legacy, a legacy made from the witness of our Christian life”.
Vatican Radio) Speaking at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, Pope Francis reflected on the mystery of death, inviting us to ask God for the grace to die in hope, in the heart of the Church and in the knowledge that we have left a legacy of Christian witness behind us.
Pope Francis based his homily on the first reading of the day which tells the story of the death of King David. Though he is a sinner, the Pope noted, he is not a traitor and he remains to the end in the heart of his people, the people of God. We too, Pope Francis continued, should ask God for the grace to die in our spiritual “home”, within the heart of the Church. We are all sinners, he said, but the Church is like a mother who takes us just as we are, even with our stains, and makes us clean.
The second observation the Pope made is that David dies in peace, certain that after death he will be with his ancestors. This is another grace we can ask for, to die in hope that in the afterlife our home and our family will be there waiting for us. Pope Francis recalled St Therese of Lisieux who, when she was approaching death, experienced the struggle between good and evil and heard the devil telling her there was nothing but darkness waiting for her. The devil did not want her to trust in God. but we too know that life is a struggle and must ask God for the grace to die in hope. To do this, the Pope said, we must start by trusting God in the big and small daily difficulties we encounter, so that our hope grows and we become accustomed to trusting in the Lord.
Thirdly, the Pope reflected on the legacy that King David left after 40 years of governing and strengthening his people. He left this legacy to his son, telling him to keep the law of the Lord, following his ways and observing his commands. Pope Francis recalled a popular proverb which says the best legacy for every person is to leave a child, plant a tree and write a book. What legacy will we leave behind, the Pope asked? Have we brought life, wisdom, and planted a tree? Have we done so much good that people want us as a father or a mother? Our legacy, he said, is the Christian witness we give to others, just as the Saints boldly lived out the Gospel and have left us a path to follow in our own lives.
Feb. 4, 2014
MASS AT SANTA MARTA-WHEN GOD CRIES
Pope Francis spoke on the theme of fatherhood in his homily at the Mass he celebrated on Tuesday morning, 4 February, in the Chapel at ...
2014-02-04 L’Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis spoke on the theme of fatherhood in his homily at the Mass he celebrated on Tuesday morning, 4 February, in the Chapel at Santa Marta. Commenting on the Readings of the day, the Pope connected the theme of fatherhood to the two main figures described in the passage from Mark's Gospel (5:21-43) and the second Book of Samuel (18:9-10; 14:24-25,30;19:1-4): Jairus, one of the synagogue's leaders during the time of Jesus, “who goes to ask for his daughter to be restored to health”, and David, “who suffers over the war raised by his son”. The Pope said that these two events show how every father “receives a kind of unction from his child: he cannot understand himself without his son”.
The Pope first focused on the king of Israel, recalling that even though his son Absalom had become his enemy, David “waited for news of the war. He sat between the two gates of the palace and watched”. Everyone thought that he was waiting for “news of a great victory”, but instead “he was waiting for something else: he was waiting for his child. He was concerned for his child. He was king, he was the leader of the country, but” first and foremost “he was a father”. And so “when the news came of his son's death”, David “was shaken by a tremor, went up to the floor above the door and cried: “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”.
This, the Pope said, “is the heart of a father who never disowns his son”, even if “he is a thief or an enemy”, he cries for him. The Pope then pointed out how David weeps for his children on two occasion in Scripture: on this occasion and that of when death was coming to the son who had been conceived in adultery: in that instance too he fasted and did penance in order to save his son's life”, because “he was his father”.
Returning to the Gospel passage of the day, the Holy Father shed light on another element of the scene: silence. “The soldiers have returned from battle to the city in silence”, he said, whereas when David was young and returned to the city after killing the Philistine, women came out from their homes “to praise him, rejoicing; this is how soldiers returned after a victory”. Instead, on the occasion of Absalom's death, “victory was not visible, because the king was crying”. More than David was “a king and a victor”, he was “a grieving father”.
As for the figure in the Gospel passage, the leader of the synagogue, Pope Francis said that he was an “important person”, but that “when faced with his daughter's illness” he was not ashamed to throw himself at Jesus's feet and beg him: “My daughter is dying, come and lay your hands upon her that she might be saved and live!”. The man does not reflect on the consequences of what he is doing. He does not stop to wonder whether Christ “is a sorcerer rather than a prophet”, and he risks appearing as a fool. Being a father, the Pope explained, “he does not reflect, he risks, he throws himself before Jesus and pleads”. In this scene the figures enter the house to find crying and screaming. “There were people shouting loudly because that was their job: their job was to go and cry in the homes of the dead”. But theirs “were not the cries of a father”.
The Pope then made a connection between the two father figures. Their priorities were their children. This “brings to mind the first thing we say about God in the Creed: 'I believe in God the Father'. It brings to mind God's paternity, that this is how God is with us”. Some might say: “But father, God does not cry!”. Pope Francis said that he would respond to this by saying: “But of course he does! We remember how Jesus cried as he looked at Jerusalem: 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how many times I wished to gather your children!', as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”. Therefore “God does cry; Jesus wept for us”. And in his weeping we see the cries of a father, “who wants everyone to be with him in times of difficulty”.
The Pope also recalled how in the Bible there are at least “two unpleasant instances in which the father responds” to the cries of his child. The first is the story of Isaac, who is led by Abraham to his death, to be a burnt offering. Abraham realizes that “he was bringing the wood and the fire, but not the sheep for the sacrifice”. And so “he had anguish in his heart. And what did he say? 'Father'. To which immediately came the reply: 'I am here, son'”. The second instance was that of "Jesus in the Garden of Olives. With anguish in his heart he said: 'Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me'. And the angels came to give it strength. This is how our God is: he is a father”.
The image of David, sitting there between the two gates of the palace, awaiting the news, brings to mind a parable in Chapter 15 of St Luke's Gospel, the parable of the father awaiting the prodigal son who had “fled with all of his money, all of his inheritance. And yet still the father waited for him?” the Pope asked. Scripture tells us that “he saw him from afar, because he had been waiting every day” for his son to return. In that merciful father, we see “our God”, who “is our father”. From this springs the hope that the fathers of families and spiritual father, religious, priests, and bishops, can increasingly be like the two characters in the Readings: “the two men, who are fathers”.
In conclusion, the Pope invited everyone to meditate on these two “images”: David who wept and the leader of the synagogue who without shame of fear of ridicule threw himself before Jesus, because “his child was at stake”. The Holy Father asked the faithful to renew their profession of faith, saying “I believe in God the Father”. He said that we should ask the Holy Spirit to teach us how to say “Abba, Father”, because “it is a grace to call God 'Father' from the heart”.
Feb. 4, 2014
POPE FRANCIS: GOD TOO WEEPS, LIKE A FATHER WHO NEVER DISOWNS HIS CHILDREN
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God too weeps, just like a loving father who never disowns his children even if they are rebellious. This was ...
Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God too weeps, just like a loving father who never disowns his children even if they are rebellious. This was the message stressed during his homily on Tuesday morning at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.
Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:
In his homily Pope Francis takes the day’s reading which portrays the figure of two fathers, King David who mourns the death of his rebel son Absalom and Jairus, the head of the Synagogue, who implores Jesus to heal his daughter. The Pope explains David’s weeping on hearing of the killing of his son, even though this son was fighting against him to conquer his kingdom. David’s army had won but he wasn’t interested in the victory, he was waiting for his son. He was only interested in his son! David was a king, the head of a nation but he was also a father. And therefore, when he heard the news about the death of his son, he shuddered, and went to an upper room and wept.
“Whilst he was walking away, he was saying: ‘My son, Absalom. My son! My son, Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! Absalom, my son! My son!’ This is the heart of a father, who never disowns his own son. ‘He’s a bandit, he’s an enemy. But he is my son!’ and David does not disown his fatherhood: he weeps.. David weeps twice for his children: On this occasion and another time when the son from his adultery was about to die. On that occasion too, he fasted and did penance in order to save the life of the son. He was a father!”
The other father is the head of the Synagogue. The Pope said Jairus is an important person but faced with the illness of his daughter, he is not ashamed to throw himself at Jesus’ feet: “My little daughter is dying, please come and lay your hands on her so she can be saved and live.” He is not ashamed and doesn’t care what the others may say, because he is a father. David and Jairus are two fathers:
“For them, the most important thing is their son, their daughter! There is nothing else. This is the only important thing! This makes us think about the first thing that we say to God in the Creed: “I believe in God the Father..” This makes us think about the fatherhood of God. But God is like this. God is like this with us! ‘But, Father, God doesn’t weep!’ But yes, he does! Remember Jesus how he wept when looking at Jerusalem. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How many times have I wished to gather your children, like the hen who gathers her chicks under her wings’. God weeps! Jesus has wept for us! And that weeping of Jesus is exactly that of a Father who weeps, who wants everybody with him”.
Pope Francis stressed how in moments of difficulty, “Our Father responds. We remember Isaac, when he goes with Abraham to do the sacrifice: Isaac was not stupid, he realized that he was carrying the wood, the fire, but not the sheep for the sacrifice. He was stricken with anguish in his heart! And what does he say? ‘Father!’. And immediately the father replies “Here I am my son!’.
In the same way, Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, said “with that anguish in his heart: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by!’ And the angels came to give him strength. That’s how our Father is: He is a Father and a Father like this!” A Father like the one who was waiting for the prodigal son who left with all his money, all his inheritance. But the father was waiting for him every day and he “saw him from far away”. “This is our God!” the Pope said, and “our fatherhood” - that of fathers of families as well as the spiritual fatherhood of bishops and priests – must be like this. The Father has like an anointing that comes from the son: he can’t understand himself without his child! And for this reason he needs his child, he is waiting for him, he loves him, he looks for him, he forgives him, he wants him close to him, just as close as the hen who wants her chicks”:
“Let’s go home today with these two icons: David who mourns and the other, Jairus, the head of the Synagogue, who throws himself in front of Jesus, without being afraid or ashamed to become the laughing stock of others. It was their children, the son and the daughter who mattered. And with these two icons let’s say: ‘I believe in God the Father…’. And let’s ask the Holy Spirit – because it’s only He, the Holy Spirit – who teaches us to say “Abba, Father!’ It’s a grace! - to be able to say to God ‘Father’ with our hearts is a grace of the Holy Spirit. Let’s ask him for this”.
Feb. 3, 2014
WHEN FACED WITH DARKNESS MASS AT SANTA MARTA
In his homily at Mass on Monday morning, 3 February, in the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis revived the testimony of King David, “a ..
In his homily at Mass on Monday morning, 3 February, in the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis revived the testimony of King David, “a saint and a sinner” in his “dark moment” of fleeing Jerusalem after his son Absalom betrayed him. Then at the end of the Mass, on the liturgical feast day of St Blaise, two priests gave to the Pope, and then to all those present, the traditional blessing of placing two candles on the throat in the form of a cross.
In his reflection, the Pope made reference to the First Reading from the second Book of Samuel (15:13-14,30; 16:5-13). “We have heard”, said the Holy Father, “the story of that very sad time for David, when he was forced to flee because his son had betrayed him”. David's speaks eloquently about his son Absalom. “A great betrayal” is put before us and even the majority of the people side “with the son and against the king”. Indeed, we read in the Scriptures that: “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom”. David feels “as if this child was dead."
What does David do when faced with his son's betrayal? The Holy Father indicated his “three attitudes”. Firstly, he explained, “David, a man of government, takes the situation as it is. He knows that this war will be very hard, he knows that many people will die”, because “the people are divided against each other”. And realistically he makes “the choice not to kill his people”. Certainly he could “fight in Jerusalem against the forces of his son. But he said: No, I do not want Jerusalem to be destroyed!”. He also opposed those who wanted to take away the Ark, ordering them to leave it in its place: “The ark of God remains in the city!”. All of this shows David's “first attitude”, which was “to defend himself; he uses neither God nor his people", because he has a “great love” for both.
“In the difficult moments of life”, the Pope said, “it may happen that, perhaps in desperation, one tries to defend himself however he can”, even “using God and people”. David instead shows us, in his “first attitude”, precisely to “not use God nor his people”.
The second is a “penitential attitude”, which David assumes while fleeing from Jerusalem. We read in the passage from the Book of Samuel, that he went to the mountain “weeping” and walked “barefoot and with his head covered”. The Pope said to “think of what it means to climb the mountain barefoot”. And the people who were with him did the same: “He had his head covered, and going up he cried”.
It was “a penitential journey”. Perhaps, the Pope continued, at that time David thought about the many bad things “in his heart”, and about the “many sins he had committed”. And he probably said to himself: “I am not innocent! It is not fair that my son did this to me, but I am not a saint!”. It is in this spirit that David “chooses penance, and cries”. His “ascent up the mountain”, the Pope said, “makes us think Jesus' ascent. He too, barefoot and grieving, went up the mountain with his Cross”.
David, therefore, portrays a “penitential attitude”. And when “something happens in our lives, we always seek justice – it is an instinct that we have”. Instead “David does not seek justice. He is realistic. He seeks to save the Ark of God, his people. And he does penance” climbing the mountain. For this reason “he is a great: a great sinner and a great saint”. “How these two things go together”, the Holy Father added, only “God knows. But this is the truth”.
Along his journey the king meets a man named Shimei, who “throws stones” at him and at those who were accompanying him. He was “an enemy” who cursed and “said bad things” to David. Abishai, “one of David's friends”, proposes to capture and kill the man. “This is a dead dog”, a phrase of the time Abishai uses to show how Shimei was “a bad person”. But David stops him and “instead of choosing revenge in the face of many insults, chooses to rely on God”. We read in the Bible passage: “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look upon my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today”. Here is the third attitude: David “relies on the Lord”.
It is indeed “these three attitudes that David has in that time of darkness, in that time of trial, that can help all of us” when we find ourselves in difficult situations. You should not “negotiate our identity”. The Pope emphasized again that we must “accept our penance”, and understand the reasons why we “need to do penance”, and know how to “cry over our mistakes, our sins”. Ultimately, we must not seek justice with our own hands but we must “rely on God”.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited all to call upon David, who we “venerate as a saint”, and to ask him to teach us how to live “these attitudes in the difficult moments of life”, that we may be people “who love God, love his people and do not use them, who know that they themselves are sinners and do penance, people who are sure of their God and rely on him”.
Feb. 3, 2014
POPE: SEEK PENANCE, TRUST IN GOD IN TIMES OF TROUBLE
(Vatican Radio) Do not use God nor use others to defend yourself in times of trouble . That’s what Pope Francis warned in his homily ...
Vatican Radio) Do not use God nor use others to defend yourself in times of trouble . That’s what Pope Francis warned in his homily Monday during mass at the Santa Marta guesthouse here in the Vatican.
Listen to our report:
In his homily, Pope Francis continued his reflections on King David, who in today’s reading, flees because his son Absalom betrays him . Speaking of the story taken from the Second Book of Samuel, the Pope says David is sad because "even the people" supported his son against their king. And David feels “as if his child were dead."
So how does David react to this great betrayal? First of all, David, whom the Pope describes as "a man of government,” is realistic and knows that any war to quell the uprising would be very difficult, and many would die. So, instead of fighting his son’s forces in Jerusalem, David decides to ensure the safety of the people and the city.
As we know, the Pope says, David is a sinner but, in the moment of truth, his love for his God and for his people come first. It may happen, says the Pope, that in life’s difficult moments, a desperate person may try to defend him or herself by either using God or using people. But David’s reaction is different. He chooses to flee.
His second reaction, the Pope notes, is "repentance." He climbs the mountain barefoot and crying. David acknowledges that he is no saint: he has committed many sins. When such a thing happens to us, the Pope mused, we try to justify our actions; it is “an instinct we have.” But, David repents instead.
On their way, David and his servants meet another man who insults them and throws stones at them. One of the King’s friends threatens to kill the man but David stops him, saying “instead of choosing revenge…choose faith in God.”
David, the Pope says, shows here the third kind of reaction: trust in the Lord. This attitude can help us too because “all of us” pass through dark moments and trials.
David, he concludes, is a man who loves God, and loves his people – they are not negotiable. David recognizes his sins and repents; he is sure of his God and entrusts himself to Him. We venerate David “as a saint,” the Pope says, “We call on him to teach us these reactions in life’s bad moments.”
Feb. 1, 2014
MASS AT SANTA MARTA-THE MARTYRS OF OUR SINS
In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 31 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel from St Mark (4:26-34), which he said “speaks ...
2014-02-01 L’Osservatore Romano
In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 31 January, Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel from St Mark (4:26-34), which he said “speaks to us about the kingdom of God” and how it grows. In fact, he began, we read in the Gospel that “not even the sowers knows” how this growth occurs. Elsewhere however, he explained, Jesus says that it is God himself who makes his kingdom grow in us. “And this growth is a gift we must ask for,” he said. And we ask God every day for this gift when we recite “the Our Father: thy kingdom come!”. For this invocation means: “May your kingdom grow in us, in society. May God's kingdom increase”.
However, Pope Francis warned, “just as it grows, so too can it also be diminished”. “That is what the first Reading from 2 Samuel speaks to us” (11:1-4a, 5-10a., 13-17), he said, which recounts the temptation of David. Pope referred back to yesterday's reading in order to explain today's Reading, and particularly to “David's beautiful prayer to the Lord: his prayer for the people”. He is “the king who prays for his people, his is the prayer of a saint”. Yet “the following year … what we just heard about occurs”. “David is serene … he is leading a normal life” but one day “after lunch he takes a rest; then he arises from his couch, takes a walk, and temptation befalls him, and David falls into temptation” when he sees Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.
“This can happen to any of us” because “we are all sinners and we are all tempted,” the Pope said. “Temptation is our daily bread”. So much so, he said, that “were one of us to say: I have never been tempted” the right response would be, “either you're a cherub, or you're a little stupid” [o sei un cherubino o se un po' scemo!]. In fact, he said “struggle and battle are normal in life: the devil doesn't stay still and he wants his victory”.
“The most serious problem in this passage is not the temptation or sin against the ninth commandment but rather the way David acts”. For he loses his awareness of sin and speaks simply about “a problem” that needs to be resolved. His attitude is “a sign”; “when the kingdom of God is diminishing, one of the signs is the loss of the sense of sin”. David, the Pope explained, commits “a grave sin”, and yet “he doesn't feel it” to be so. For him, it is only “a problem”. Therefore, “it doesn't occur to him to ask for forgiveness”. He is concerned only with solving the problem – after having relations with Bathsheba she conceives – and David asks himself; “How can I cover up the act of adultery?”.
He therefore devises a strategy and carries it out, to make Uriah believe that the child Bathsheba is carrying is actually his. Uriah, the Pontiff explained, “was a good Israelite, he was thinking of his companions and didn't want to celebrate while Israel's army was in battle”. But David, after having tried to persuade him “with a banquet and with wine,” as “a man, a man of government, takes the decision” and writes a letter to Joab, the captain of the army, ordering him to send Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting so that he might be struck down. “And so it happened”, the Pontiff said. “Uriah falls, and he falls because he was put there to fall”. It was “murder”.
And yet, “when King David learned came to know of it, he remained calm and continued on with his life”. Why? Because David “had lost the sense of sin, and from that moment on the kingdom of God began to fall” from his horizon. David “did not turn to God; he did not say: 'Lord, look what I have done: what do we do?'”. Instead, he assumed a “worldly” attitude, an “omnipotent outlook that says: I can do anything!”.
The same thing “can happen to us when we lose the sense of the kingdom of God and as a consequence also lose the sense of sin,” the Pope said. Here the Pope Francis recalled the words of Pius XII, who identified “the evil of this civilization” with “the loss of the sense of sin: we can do anything, we will resolve everything! The power of man substituted for the glory of God!”
This way of thinking “is our daily bread,” the Pope said. That is why “daily we pray to God: Thy kingdom come! May thy kingdom grow!” For, he continued, “salvation will not come from our cleverness, from our astuteness, from our intelligence in taking care of our affairs”. No, he said, “salvation will come through the grace of God and from the daily training we receive through cooperating with this grace”, that is, through “the Christian life”.
Pope Francis then named the many people spoken of in the Scripture passage: David, Bathsheba, Joab, but also the “courtiers” who surrounded David and “who knew everything: it was a true scandal but they were not scandalized, because they too had lost the sense of sin”. And then there was “poor Uriah, who paid the bill for the banquet”.
Pope Francis then reflected on the figure of Uriah and he said to those present: “I confess that when I see this injustice, this human pride” or “when I become aware of the danger, that I myself” risk “of losing the sense of sin, I think that it is good to think about the many Uriah's that history has known, of the many Uriahs who also today suffer because of our mediocrity as Christians”. This mediocrity prevails “when we lose the sense of sin and allow the kingdom of God to diminish and fall”.
People like Uriah, Pope Francis said, “are the unsung martyrs of our sins”. Therefore, he said, “it will do us well today to pray for ourselves, that the Lord might always grant us the grace not to lose the sense of sin, and that the kingdom of God might never be diminished in us”. Pope Francis concluded his homily by inviting those present “to carry a spiritual bouquet to the tombs of the modern day Uriahs, who pay the bill for the banquet of Christians who are too self-assured, and who willingly or not, murder their neighbour”.
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