Pope Francis       

17.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   

Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time Year A    

Mark 2: 1-12 

Today's reading, taken from the Gospel according to Mark, presents an episode of Jesus' healing of a paralytic. Jesus is in Capernaum and the crowd gathers around him. Through an opening made in the roof of the house four men lowered a paralytic man lying on a mat. The hope is that Jesus will heal the paralytic, but He dismays everyone by saying to him, "Your sins are forgiven". Only then does He order him to get up, take his mat and go home. With His words Jesus allows us to go to the essentials. Jesus, a man of God, heals but He is not a medical man. He taught but was more than a teacher and in this episode He focuses on what is essential.

He looks at the paralytic and says, "Your sins are forgiven". Physical healing is a gift, physical health is a gift that we must guard. But the Lord teaches us that the health of the heart, the spiritual health must also be safeguarded.

Jesus also goes to the essentials with the sinful woman, of whom the Gospel speaks, when before her tears he says to her: 'Your sins are forgiven.' But those present are scandalized when Jesus goes to the essentials, they are scandalized, because there is prophecy, there is strength. Likewise, 'Go, but don't sin anymore,' Jesus says to the sick man by the pool who never gets into the water in time to be healed. To the Samaritan woman who asks him so many questions, -she was a bit of a theologian, Jesus asks about her husband. He goes to the essentials in life and the essential is your relationship with God. And we forget this so many times as if we are afraid to go right there where there is the encounter with the Lord, with God. We do so much for our physical health, we advice ourselves about doctors and medicines, and it's a good thing, but do we think about the health of the heart?

The words here of Jesus will perhaps help us: "Child, sins are forgiven." Are we used to thinking of this medicine as the forgiveness of our sins, of our mistakes? We ask ourselves, "Do I have to ask God for forgiveness for something?" "Yes, yes, yes, in general, we are all sinners", and so it is watered down and loses the strength, this force of prophecy that Jesus has when He focuses on the essentials. And today Jesus, to each of us, says: "I want to forgive you the sins."

Perhaps someone does not find sins in himself to confess because there is a lack of the consciousness of sins. Concrete sins, diseases of the soul that must be healed and the medicine to heal them is forgiveness.

It is a simple thing that Jesus teaches us when he goes to the essentials. The essential is health, of both the body and soul. We care well for the body, but also for the soul. And let's go to that Doctor who can heal us, who can forgive sins. Jesus came for this, gave His life for this.


Pope Francis       

12.11.23 Angelus, Saint Peter's Square   

32nd  Sunday Year A  

Matthew 25: 1-13

Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!

Today’s Gospel offers us a story regarding the meaning of life of each person. It is the parable of the ten virgins, called to go out to meet the bridegroom (cf. Mt 25:1-13). Living is this: a grand preparation for the day when we will be called to go to Jesus! However, in the parable of the ten virgins, five are wise and five foolish. Let us see what constitutes wisdom and foolishness. Wisdom in life, and foolishness in life.

All those bridesmaids are there to welcome the bridegroom, that is, they want to meet him, just as we too desire a happy fulfilment of life: the difference between wisdom and foolishness is therefore not in goodwill. Nor does it lie in the punctuality with which they arrive at the meeting: they were all there. The difference between the wise and the foolish is another: preparation. The text says: the wise "took flasks of oil with their lamps” (v. 4); the foolish, on the other hand, did not. Here is the difference: the oil. And what is one of the characteristics of the oil? That it cannot be seen: it is inside the lamps, it is not conspicuous, but without it the lamps have no light.

Let us look at ourselves, and we will see that our life runs the same risk: many times, we are very careful about our appearance – the important thing is to take good care of one’s image, to make a good impression in front of others. But Jesus says that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but which is more important, taking care of the heart. Nurturing the inner life. This means knowing how to stop and listen to one’s heart, to keep watch over one’s own thoughts and feelings. How many times are we unaware of what has happened in our heart in that day? What happens within each one of us? Wisdom means knowing how to make room for silence, so as to be capable of listening to ourselves and others. It means knowing how to give up some of the time passed in front of the telephone screen to look at the light in the eyes of others, in one’s own heart, in God’s gaze upon us. It means not falling into the trap of activism, but devoting time to the Lord, to listening to His Word.

And the Gospel gives us the right advice so not to neglect the oil of inner life, the “oil of the soul”: it tells us that it is important to prepare it. And in the account, we see, in fact, that the virgins already possess the lamps, but they must prepare the oil: they must go to the sellers, buy it, put it in the lamps… (cf. vv. 7-9). It is the same for us: the inner life cannot be improvised, it is not a matter of a moment, of once in a while, of once and for all; the inner life must be prepared by dedicating a little time every day, with constancy, as one does for every important thing.

So, we can ask ourselves: what am I preparing at this moment in life? Within myself, what am I preparing? Perhaps I am trying to put aside some savings, I am thinking about a house or a new car, concrete plans… They are good things; they are not bad things. They are good things. But am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life? In short, how is the oil of my soul? Each one of us, let us ask ourselves this: how is the oil of my soul? Do I nourish it, do I keep it well?

May Our Lady help us to cherish the oil of inner life.