Genesis

Chapter 1

 Chapter 1

1-19


Pope Francis          

Genesis 1: 1-19,         

In Psalm 104, “we praised the Lord”, saying: “You are very great, O Lord, my God! You are great indeed!”. This Psalm, is a song of praise: we praise the Lord for the things we heard in both readings, for creation, so great; and in the second reading, for the re-creation, the even more wondrous creation that Jesus makes. The Father labours and thus, Jesus says: ‘My Father labours and I too labour”. It is a way of saying ‘labour’, ad instar laborantis, as one who labours, as Saint Ignatius defines in the Exercises (cf. Spiritual Exercises, n. 236).

In this way, the Father labours to make this wonder of creation, and with the Son to make this wonder of re-creation; to make that passing from chaos to cosmos, from disorder to order, from sin to grace. And, this is the Father’s labour and for this reason we praised the Father, the Father who labours.

But, “why did God want to create the world?”. This is one of the difficult questions. Once, a boy put me in difficulty because he asked me this question: ‘tell me, Father, what did God do before he created the world;  was he bored?”. Surely, children know how to ask questions, and they ask the right questions that put you in difficulty.

To answer that child, the Lord helped me and I told the truth: God loved; in his fullness, he loved, among the three Persons, he loved and needed nothing more. The answer, gave rise to another question: if God “needed nothing more, why did he create the world? This is a question, not posed in a childlike manner but as the first theologians did, the great theologians, the first. Thus, why did God “create the world?”. The response to give is this: “Simply to share his fullness, to have someone whom to give and with whom to share his fullness”. In a word, “to give”.

We can ask “the same question, in regard to re-creation: “why did he send his Son for this work of re-creation?”. He did so “in order to share, to re-organize”. And in the first creation, as in the second, he makes out of chaos a cosmos, out of ugliness something beautiful, out of a mistake a truth, out of bad something good. This is precisely the labour of creation that is God, and one he does by hand. And, in Jesus we clearly see: with his body he gives life completely. Thus, “when Jesus says: ‘The Father labours always, and I too labour always ’, the doctors of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him because they did not know how to receive the things of God as a gift, but “only as justice”; and so they even came to think: the commandments are few: let’s make more!

Thus, instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid; they sought refuge in the rigidity of the commandments, which they had increased up to 500 or more: they did not know how to receive the gift. The gift, is only received with freedom, but these rigid men were afraid of God-given freedom; they were afraid of love. For this reason, they wanted to kill Jesus, because He said the Father had done this wonder as a gift: receive the gift of the Father!

You are great, Lord, I love you, because you have given me this gift, you have saved me, you created me: this, is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the cheerfulness of Christian life. It is not that closed, sad prayer of people who are never able to receive a gift because they are afraid of the freedom that a gift always brings. Thus, in the end, they know only duty, but a closed duty: slaves to duty, but not to love. But, when you become a slave to love you are free: it is a beautiful slavery, but they did not understand this.

Therefore, these are the two wonders of the Lord: the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, of re-creation; that of the beginning of the world and that, after the fall of man, of restoring the world and this is why he sent the Son: it is beautiful. Of course, we can ask ourselves how I receive these wonders, how I receive this creation God has given me as a gift. And, if I receive it as a gift, I love creation, I safeguard creation because it was a gift.

In this light, we should ask ourselves: how I receive redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, making me a son or daughter with his Son, with love, with tenderness, with freedom. We must never hide in the rigidity of closed commandments that are always, always more ‘certain’ — in quotation marks — but which give you no joy because they do not make you free. Each one of us, can ask ourselves how we can live these two wonders: the wonder of creation and the even greater wonder of re-creation. We must do so with the hope that the Lord will help us understand this great thing and help us understand what he did before creating the world: he loved. May he help us understand his love for us and may we say — as we have said today — ‘You are very great, O Lord. Thank you, thank you!’”. And let us go forth in this way.

06.02.17

 Chapter 1

1-19

cont.


Pope Francis       

29.05.24 General Audience, Saint Peter's Square  

Cycle of Catechesis. The Spirit and the Bride. The Holy Spirit guides. the people of God towards Jesus our hope. 1. The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters  

Genesis 1: 1-2

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, with this catechesis we begin a cycle of reflections with the theme ‘The Holy Spirit and the Bride” – the bride is the Church – “The Holy Spirit guides God's people towards Jesus our hope’. We will make this journey through the three great stages of salvation history: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the time of the Church. Always keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus, Who is our hope.

In these first catecheses on the Spirit in the Old Testament, we will not do ‘biblical archaeology’. Instead, we will discover that what is given as a promise in the Old Testament has been fully realised in Christ. It will be like following the path of the sun from dawn to noon.

Let us begin with the first two verses of the entire Bible. The first two verses of the Bible read: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ (Gen 1:1-2). The Spirit of God appears to us here as the mysterious power that moves the world from its initial formless, deserted, and gloomy state to its ordered and harmonious state. Because the Spirit makes harmony, harmony in life, harmony in the world. In other words, it is He who makes the world pass from chaos to the cosmos, that is, from confusion to something beautiful and ordered. This, in fact, is the meaning of the Greek word kosmos, as well as the Latin word mundus, that is, something beautiful, something ordered, clean, harmonious, because the Spirit is harmony.

This still vague hint of the Holy Spirit’s action in creation becomes more precise in the following revelation. In a psalm we read: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host’ (Ps 33:6); and again: ‘You send forth Your spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth’ (Ps 104:30).

This line of development becomes very clear in the New Testament, which describes the intervention of the Holy Spirit in the new creation, using precisely the images that one reads about in connection with the origin of the world: the dove that hovers over the waters of the Jordan at Jesus’ baptism (cf. Mt 3:16); Jesus who, in the Upper Room, breathes on the disciples and says: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (Jn 20:22), just as in the beginning God breathed His breath on Adam (cf. Gen 2:7).

The Apostle Paul introduces a new element into this relationship between the Holy Spirit and creation. He speaks of a universe that ‘groans and suffers as in labour pains’ (cf. Rom 8:22). It suffers because of man who has subjected it to the ‘bondage of corruption’ (cf. vv. 20-21). It is a reality that concerns us closely and concerns us dramatically. The Apostle sees the cause of the suffering of creation in the corruption and sin of humanity that has dragged it into its alienation from God. This remains as true today as it was then. We see the havoc that has been done, and that continues to be wrought upon creation by humanity, especially that part of it that has greater capacity to exploit its resources.

St Francis of Assisi shows us a way out, a beautiful way, a way out to return to the harmony of the Spirit: the way of contemplation and praise. He wanted a canticle of praise to the Creator to be raised from the creatures. We recall, ‘Laudato sí, mi Signore...’ the canticle of Francis of Assisi.

One of the psalms (18:2 [19:1]) says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’, but men and women are needed to give voice to this mute cry of theirs. And in the ‘Sanctus’ of the Mass we repeat each time: ‘Heaven and earth are full of your glory’. They are, so to speak, ‘pregnant’ with it, but they need the hands of a good midwife to give birth to this praise of theirs. Our vocation in the world, Paul again reminds us, is to be ‘praise of His glory’ (Eph 1:12). It is to put the joy of contemplating ahead of the joy of possessing. And no one has rejoiced in creatures more than Francis of Assisi, who did not want to possess any of them.

Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit, Who in the beginning transformed chaos into cosmos, is at work to bring about this transformation in every person. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises: ‘I will give you a new heart, and a new Spirit I will put within you… I will put my Spirit within you’ (Ez 36:26-27). For our heart resembles that deserted, dark abyss of the first verses of Genesis. Opposed feelings and desires stir within it: those of the flesh and those of the spirit. We are all, in a sense, that ‘kingdom divided against itself’ that Jesus talks about in the Gospel (cf. Mk 3:24). Within ourselves we can say that there is an external chaos – social choas, political chaos. We think about wars, we think about so many boys and girls who don’t have enough to heat, about so many social injustices. This is the external chaos. But there is also an internal chaos: internal to each of us. The former cannot be healed unless we begin to heal the latter! Brothers and sisters, let us do a good job of making our internal confusion a clarity of the Holy Spirit. It is the power of God that does this, and we open our hearts so that He can do it.

May this reflection arouse in us the desire to experience the Creator Spirit. For more than a millennium, the Church has put on our lips the cry to ask: ‘Veni creator Spiritus! ‘Come, O Creator Spirit! Visit our minds. Fill with heavenly grace the hearts you have created.’ Let us ask the Holy Spirit to come to us and make us new persons, with the newness of the Spirit. Thank you.

29.05.24

 Chapter 1

22-31

to 

Chapter 2

1-3

Pope Francis          

01.05.13 Holy Mass  Santa Marta  

Feast of St Joseph the Worker

Genesis 1:26-31     Genesis 2: 1-3,     

Mathew 13: 54-58 

Today, we bless St Joseph as a worker, but recalling St Joseph the Worker reminds us of God the Worker and Jesus the Worker. And the theme of work is very, very, very evangelical.


Even Jesus, worked a lot on earth, in St Joseph's workshop. He worked until the Cross. He did what the Father had commanded him to do. This makes me think of the many people today who work and have this dignity...Thanks be to God. We know that dignity does not give us power, money or culture. No! It is work that gives us dignity, even if society does not allow for all to work.


Social, political and economic systems that in various places around the world are based on exploitation. Thus, they choose to “not pay the just” and to strive to make maximum profit at any cost, taking advantage of other's work without worrying the least bit about about their dignity”. This “goes against God!”. There are dramatic situations which keep happening in the world, which we have also “read many times in L'Osservatore Romano ”. Sunday, 28 April, article about the garment factory collapse in Dhaka which killed hundreds of workers who were being exploited and who worked without the proper safety preoccupations. It is a title, which struck me the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh: 'How to die for 38 euros a month'”. 'Slave labour' exploits “the most beautiful gift which God gave man: the ability to create, work and to discover one's own dignity. How many of our brothers and sisters in the world are in this situation at the hands of these economic, social and political attitudes. 

01.05.13

 

Chapter 1

22-31

cont.

Chapter 2

1-3

cont.


Pope Francis          

25.11.19  Holy Mass, Tokyo Dome             

Genesis 1: 1, 26-31b        

Matthew 6: 24-34   

The Gospel we have heard is part of Jesus’ first great sermon. We know it as the Sermon on the Mount, and it describes for us the beauty of the path we are called to take. In the Bible, the mountain is the place where God reveals himself and makes himself known. “Come up to me”, God says to Moses (cf. Ex 24:1). A mountain whose summit is not reached by willpower or social climbing, but only by attentive, patient and sensitive listening to the Master at every crossroads of life’s journey. The summit presents us with an ever new perspective on all around us, centred on the compassion of the Father. In Jesus, we encounter the summit of what it means to be human; he shows us the way that leads to a fulfilment exceeding all our hopes and expectations. In him, we encounter a new life, where we come to know the freedom of knowing that we are God’s beloved children.

Yet all of us know that along the way, the freedom of being God’s children can be repressed and weakened if we are enclosed in a vicious circle of anxiety and competition. Or if we focus all our attention and energy on the frenetic pursuit of productivity and consumerism as the sole criterion for measuring and validating our choices, or defining who we are or what we are worth. This way of measuring things slowly makes us grow impervious or insensible to the really important things, making us instead pant after things that are superfluous or ephemeral. How greatly does the eagerness to believe that everything can be produced, acquired or controlled oppress and shackle the soul!

Here in Japan, in a society with a highly developed economy, the young people I met this morning spoke to me about the many people who are socially isolated. They remain on the margins, unable to grasp the meaning of life and their own existence. Increasingly, the home, school and community, which are meant to be places where we support and help one another, are being eroded by excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency. Many people feel confused and anxious; they are overwhelmed by so many demands and worries that take away their peace and stability.

The Lord’s words act as a refreshing balm, when he tells us not to be troubled but to trust. Three times he insists: “Do not be anxious about your life… about tomorrow” (cf. Mt 6:25.31.34). This is not an encouragement to ignore what happens around us or to be irresponsible about our daily duties and responsibilities. Instead, it is an invitation to set our priorities against a broader horizon of meaning and thus find the freedom to see things his way: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:33).

The Lord is not telling us that basic necessities like food and clothing are unimportant. Rather, he invites us to re-evaluate our daily decisions and not to become trapped or isolated in the pursuit of success at any cost, including the cost of our very lives. Worldly attitudes that look only to one’s own profit or gain in this world, and a selfishness that pursues only individual happiness, in reality leave us profoundly unhappy and enslaved, and hinder the authentic development of a truly harmonious and humane society.

The opposite of an isolated, enclosed and even asphyxiated “I” can only be a “we” that is shared, celebrated and communicated (cf. General Audience, 13 February 2019). The Lord’s call reminds us that “we need to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 55). In today’s first reading, the Bible tells us how our world, teeming with life and beauty, is above all a precious gift of the Creator: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). God offers us this beauty and goodness so that we can share it and offer it to others, not as masters or owners, but as sharers in God’s same creative dream. “Genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (Laudato Si’, 70).

Given this reality, we are invited as a Christian community to protect all life and testify with wisdom and courage to a way of living marked by gratitude and compassion, generosity and simple listening. One capable of embracing and accepting life as it is, “with all its fragility, its simplicity, and often enough too, with its conflicts and annoyances” (Address at the Vigil of World Youth Day, Panama, 26 January 2019). We are called to be a community that can learn and teach the importance of accepting “things that are not perfect, pure or ‘distilled’, yet no less worthy of love. Is a disabled or frail person not worthy of love? Someone who happens to be a foreigner, someone who made a mistake, someone ill or in prison: is that person not worthy of love? We know what Jesus did: he embraced the leper, the blind man, the paralytic, the Pharisee and the sinner. He embraced the thief on the cross and even embraced and forgave those who crucified him” (ibid.).

The proclamation of the Gospel of Life urgently requires that we as a community become a field hospital, ready to heal wounds and to offer always a path of reconciliation and forgiveness. For the Christian, the only possible measure by which we can judge each person and situation is that of the Father’s compassion for all his children.

United to the Lord, in constant cooperation and dialogue with men and women of good will, including those of other religious convictions, we can become the prophetic leaven of a society that increasingly protects and cares for all life. 

25.11.19

 Chapter 1

22-31

to 

Chapter 2

1-3

cont.

Pope Francis          

01.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Friday of the Third Week of Easter     

Today, which is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, also the day of workers, we pray for all workers. For all of us. So that no one lacks work and that everyone is justly paid and can enjoy the dignity of work and the beauty of rest.

God created. (Gen 1:27). A Creator. He created the world, created man, and gave man a mission: to manage, to work, to carry on creation. And the word "work" is the one that the Bible uses to describe this activity of God: "He completed the work he had been doing and rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done," (Gen 2:2), and he gave this activity to man: "You must do this, watch over this, that other, you must work with me to create this world – it is as if he said it – for it to continue." So much so that the work is only the continuation of God's work: human work is the vocation of man received from God at the end of the creation of the universe.

And work is what makes man like God, because with work man is creator, he is able to create, to create so many things, even to create a family to move forward. Man is a creator and creates with work. This is the vocation. And the Bible says that "God looked at everything he had made and found it very good." (Gen 1:31). That is, work has within itself a goodness and creates the harmony of things – beauty, goodness – and involves man in everything: in his thought, in his act, everything. Man is involved in working. It is man's first vocation: to work. And this gives dignity to man. The dignity that makes him like God. The dignity of work.

Once, in a Caritas centre, an employee of Caritas said to a man who had no job and went to look for something for the family, : "At least he can bring bread home" – "But this is not enough for me, it is not enough", was the answer: "I want to earn bread to bring it home". He lacked the dignity, the dignity of "making" the bread his, with his work, and bringing him home. The dignity of work, which is so trampled on, unfortunately. In history we read the brutality that they did with slaves: they brought them from Africa to America – I think of that story that touches my land – and we say "how barbaric" ... But even today there are many slaves, so many men and women who are not free to work: they are forced to work, to survive, nothing more. They are slaves: forced labour . They are forced, unjust, unpaid and poorly paid jobs that lead man to live with trampled dignity. There are many, many in the world. Many. In the papers a few months ago we read, in that country of Asia, how a gentleman had beaten his employee who was earning less than half a dollar a day, because he had hurt one thing. 

Today's slavery is our "in-dignity", because it takes away dignity from men and women, and all of us. "No, I work, I have my dignity": yes, but your brothers, don't. "Yes, Father, it is true, but this, as it is so far away, it is difficult for me to understand it. But here among us ...": also here, with us. Here, with us. Think of the workers, the day-to-day people, that work for a minimum wage and not eight, but twelve, fourteen hours a day: this happens today, here. All over the world, but also here. Think of the domestic worker who does not have a just wage, who has no social security care, who has no pension: this is not only the case in Asia. It is here.

Every injustice that is done to a working person is to trample on human dignity, even on the dignity of the one who does the injustice: the level is lowered and we end up in that tension between a dictator and a slave. Instead, the vocation that God gives us is so beautiful: to create, to re-create, to work. But this can only be done when the conditions are just and the dignity of the person is respected.

Today we join many men and women, believers and non-believers, who commemorate Worker's Day, Labour Day, for those who fight for justice at work, for those – good entrepreneurs – who manage work with justice, even if they themselves lose. Two months ago I heard a businessman on the phone, here in Italy, asking me to pray for him because he didn't want to fire anyone and said, "Because firing one of them is like firing myself." 

This conscience of so many good employers, who take care of workers as if they were their children. Let us pray for them. And we ask St. Joseph - with this beautiful image with the tools of work in hand - to help us fight for the dignity of work, so that there is work for all and that it is dignified work. Not slave labour. May this be our prayer today.

01.05.20

 

Chapter 1

22-31


Chapter 2

15


Pope Francis       

12.08.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace 

Catechesis: To Heal the World - 2. Faith and Human Dignity     

Genesis 1: 27, 28 2: 15 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is. If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least, with those who are most impacted, including creation, we cannot heal the world.

Commendable is the effort of so many people who have been offering evidence of human and Christian love for neighbour, dedicating themselves to the sick even at the risk of their own health. They are heroes! However, the coronavirus is not the only disease to be fought, but rather, the pandemic has shed light on broader social ills. One of these is a distorted view of the person, a perspective that ignores the dignity and relationship of the person. (la sua refers to person, not his or her) At times we look at others as objects, to be used and discarded. In reality this type of perspective blinds and fosters an individualistic and aggressive throw-away culture, which transforms the human being into a consumer good (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 53; Encyclical Laudato Si’, [LS], 22).

In the light of faith we know, instead, that God looks at a man and a woman in another manner. He created us not as objects but as people loved and capable of loving; He has created us in His image and likeness (see Gen 1:27). In this way He has given us a unique dignity, calling us to live in communion with Him, in communion with our sisters and our brothers, with respect for all creation. In communion, in harmony, we might say. Creation is the harmony in which we are called to live. And in this communion, in this harmony that is communion, God gives us the ability to procreate and safeguard life (see Gen 1:28-29), to till and keep the land (see Gen 2:15; LS, 67). It is clear that one cannot procreate and safeguard life without harmony; it will be destroyed.

We have an example of that individualistic perspective, that which is not harmony, in the Gospels, in the request made to Jesus by the mother of the disciples James and John (cf. Mt 20:20-38). She wanted her sons to sit at the right and the left of the new king. But Jesus proposes another type of vision: that of service and of giving one’s life for others, and He confirms it by immediately restoring sight to two blind men and making them His disciples (see Mt 20:29-34). Seeking to climb in life, to be superior to others, destroys harmony. It is the logic of dominion, of dominating others. Harmony is something else: it is service.

Therefore, let us ask the Lord to give us eyes attentive to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering. As Jesus’s disciples we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic. These are the two unpleasant attitudes that run counter to harmony. Indifferent: I look the other way. Individualist: looking out only for one’s own interest. The harmony created by God asks that we look at others, the needs of others, the problems of others, in communion. We want to recognise the human dignity in every person, whatever his or her race, language or condition might be. Harmony leads you to recognise human dignity, that harmony created by God, with humanity at the centre.

The Second Vatican Council emphasises that this dignity is inalienable, because it “was created ‘to the image of God’” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 12). It lies at the foundation of all social life and determines its operative principles. In modern culture, the closest reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Saint John Paul II defined as a “milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race”, [1] and as “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience”. [2] Rights are not only individual, but also social; they are of peoples, nations. [3] The human being, indeed, in his or her personal dignity, is a social being, created in the image of God, One and Triune. We are social beings; we need to live in this social harmony, but when there is selfishness, our outlook does not reach others, the community, but focuses on ourselves, and this makes us ugly, nasty and selfish, destroying harmony.

This renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being has serious social, economic and political implications. Looking at our brother and sister and the whole of creation as a gift received from the love of the Father inspires attentive behaviour, care and wonder. In this way the believer, contemplating his or her neighbour as a brother or sister, and not as a stranger, looks at him or her compassionately and empathetically, not contemptuously or with hostility. Contemplating the world in the light of faith, with the help of grace, we strive to develop our creativity and enthusiasm in order to resolve the ordeals of the past. We understand and develop our abilities as responsibilities that arise from this faith,[4] as gifts from God to be placed at the service of humanity and of creation.

While we all work for a cure for a virus that strikes everyone without distinction, faith exhorts us to commit ourselves seriously and actively to combat indifference in the face of violations of human dignity. This culture of indifference that accompanies the throwaway culture: things that do not affect me, do not interest me. Faith always requires that we let ourselves be healed and converted from our individualism, whether personal or collective; party individualism, for example.

May the Lord “restore our sight” so as to rediscover what it means to be members of the human family. And may this sight be translated into concrete actions of compassion and respect for every person and of care and safeguarding of our common home.

[1] Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (2 October 1979).

[2] Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (5 October 1995).

[3] Cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 157.

[4] Ibid. 

12.08.20

 


Chapter 1

22-28

2: 1-3

cont.



Pope Francis          

02.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace

Catechesis on Prayer - 17. The Blessing    

Ephesians 1: 3-6,       

Genesis 1: 22,28, 2: 3 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we will reflect on an essential dimension of prayer: blessing. We are continuing the reflections on prayer. In the creation accounts (see Gn 1-2), God continually blesses life, always. He blesses the animals (1:22), He blesses the man and the woman (1:28), finally, He blesses the Sabbath, the day of rest and the enjoyment of all of creation (2:3). It is God who blesses. On the first pages of the Bible, there is a continual repetition of blessings. God blesses, but men give blessings as well, and soon they discover that the blessing possesses a special power that accompanies the person who receives it throughout his or her entire life, and disposes the person’s heart to allow God to change it (see Second Vatican Council Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 61).

At the world’s beginning, therefore, there is a God who “speaks well”[1], who blesses. He sees that every work of His hands is good and beautiful, and when He creates man, and creation is complete, He recognizes that he is “very good” (Gn 1:31). Shortly thereafter, the beauty that God had imprinted within His work will be altered, and the human being will become a degenerate creature, capable of spreading evil and death in the world; but nothing will ever take away God’s original imprint of goodness that God placed in the world, in human nature, in all of us: the capacity of blessing and of being blessed. God did not make a mistake with creation nor with the creation of man. The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good[2], He is the first, as the poet Péguy said,[3] to continue to hope for our good.

God’s greatest blessing is Jesus Christ; His Son is God’s greatest. He is a blessing for all of humanity, He is the blessing that saved us all. He is the eternal Word with which the Father blessed us “while we were yet sinners” (Rm 5:8), St Paul says: the Word made flesh and offered for us on the cross.

St Paul proclaims with emotion God’s plan of love. And he says it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:3-6). There is no sin that can completely erase the image of Christ present in each one of us. No sin can erase that image that God has given us – the image of Christ. Sin can disfigure it, but not remove it from God’s mercy. A sinner can remain in error for a long time, but God is patient till the end, hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change. God is like a good father, He is a Father, and like a good mother, He is a good mother as well: they never stop loving their child, no matter what he or she may have done wrong, always. What comes to my mind is the many times that I have seen people in line to go into a prison, how many mothers are there in line to see their imprisoned child. They do not cease to love their child and they know that the people passing by on the bus are thinking: “Ah, that is the mother of a prisoner…”. They are not embarrassed about this. Yes, they are embarrassed but they go ahead. Just as their child is more important than their embarrassment, so we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit. Because He is a Father, He is a Mother, He is pure love, He has blessed us forever. And He will never cease blessing us.

What an impressive experience it is to read these biblical texts of blessing in a prison, or in a rehabilitation group. To allow these people to hear that they are still blessed, notwithstanding their grave errors, that the heavenly Father continues to desire their good and to hope that they will open themselves in the end to the good. Even if their closest relatives have abandoned them – many abandon them, they are not like those mothers who wait in life to see them, they are not important, they abandon them – they have abandoned them since they by now judge them to be irredeemable, they are always children to God. God cannot erase in us the image of sons and daughters, each one of us is His son, His daughter. At times we see miracles happen: men and women who are reborn because they find this blessing that has anointed them as children. For God’s grace changes lives: He takes us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are.

Let us think about what Jesus did with Zacchaeus (see Lk 19:1-10), for example. Everyone saw evil in him; instead, Jesus spots a glimmer of good, and from that – from his curiosity to see Jesus – He allows the mercy that saves to pass through. Thus, first Zaccaeus’s heart was changed, and then his life. Jesus sees the indelible blessing of the Father in the people who are rejected and repudiated. He was a public sinner, he had done so many awful things, but Jesus saw that indelible sign of the Father’s blessing and because of that, He had compassion. That phrase that is repeated often in the Gospel, “He was moved with compassion”, and that compassion leads Him to help him and to change his heart. What’s more, Jesus came to identify Himself with every person in need (see Mt 25:31-46). In the passage about the final protocol on which all of us will be judged, Matthew 25, Jesus says: “I was there, I was hungry, I was naked, I was in prison, I was in hospital, I was there”.

To the God who blesses we, too, respond by blessing – God has taught us how to bless and we must bless – through the prayer of praise, of adoration, of thanksgiving. The Catechism writes: “The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing” (n. 2626). Prayer is joy and thanksgiving. God did not wait for us to convert ourselves before beginning to love us, but He loved us a long time before, when we were still in sin.

We cannot but bless this God who blesses us; we must bless everyone in Him, all people, to bless God and to bless our brothers and sisters, to bless the world – and this is the root of Christian meekness, the ability of feeling blessed and the ability to bless. If all of us were to do this, wars would surely not exist. This world needs blessings, and we can give blessings and receive blessings. The Father loves us. The only thing that remains for us is the joy of blessing Him, and the joy of thanking Him, and of learning from Him not to curse, but to bless. Here, just one word for the people who have the habit of cursing, people who always have a bad word, a curse, on their lips and in their hearts. Each one of us can think: Do I have this habit of cursing like this? And ask the Lord the grace to change this habit because we have a blessed heart and curses cannot come out of a heart that has been blessed. May the Lord teach us never to curse, but to bless.

[1]Translator’s note: the Italian word for bless is benedire: bene (well or good), dire (to speak), which literally corresponds with the English word benediction .

[2]Translator’s note: literal translation of the Italian expression volere bene: volere (to desire or wish), bene (well); this expression is used often in Italian to say “I love you”

[3] The Portico of the Mystery of the Second Virtue; first edition, Le porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, published in 1911. 

02.12.20

Chapter 2

 Chapter 2

4-7




Pope Francis          


22.04.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace


Catechesis on the occasion of the 50th Earth Day     


Genesis 2: 4-7     Psalm 104: 30


Care for our common home


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we celebrate the 50th Earth Day. It is an opportunity to renew our commitment to love and care for our common home and the weakest members of our family. Just as the tragic coronavirus pandemic is showing us, only together and by embracing the most vulnerable, can we overcome global challenges. The Laudato Si Encyclical Letter has just this subtitle: "on the care for our common home". Today we will reflect a little together on this responsibility that characterizes "our passage on this earth" (LS, 160). We must grow in our awareness of the care for our common home.

We are made of earthly matter, and the fruits of the earth sustain our lives. But, as the book of Genesis reminds us, we are not simply "earthly": we also carry in us the vital breath that comes from God (cf. Gen 2:4-7). We therefore live in this common home as one human family and in biodiversity with the other creatures of God. As an imago Dei, the image of God, we are called to care of and respect all creatures and to nurture love and compassion for our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest, in imitation of God's love for us, manifested in his Son Jesus, who became a man to share this situation with us and save us.

Because of selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility as custodians and stewards of the earth. "But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair"(ibid., 61). We polluted it, we plundered it, endangering our own lives. For this reason, various international and local movements have been formed to awaken our consciences. I sincerely appreciate these initiatives, and it will still be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us what is obvious, namely that there is no future for us if we destroy the environment that sustains us.

We have failed to care for the earth, our garden home, and in caring for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours and, ultimately, against the Creator, the good Father who provides for everyone and wants us to live together in communion and prosperity. And how does the earth react? There is a Spanish saying that is very clear in this, and says thus: "God always forgives; we men and women forgive sometimes and sometimes we don't; the earth never forgives." The earth does not forgive: if we have made the earth deteriorate, the response will be very ugly.

How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship ... So often we lose the vision of harmony: harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even in our common home, on the earth, also in our relationship with the people, with our neighbours, with the poorest, how can we restore this harmony? We need a new way of looking at our common home. Let's understand each other, it is not a store house of resources to be exploited. For us believers, the natural world is the "Gospel of Creation", which expresses God's creative power in shaping human life and making the world exist along with what it contains to support humanity. The biblical account of creation concludes: "God saw all that he had made, and saw that it was very good." When we see these natural tragedies that are the earth's response to our mistreatment, I think, "If I ask the Lord now what he thinks, I don't think he will tell me it's a very good thing." We ruined the Lord's work!

In celebrating Earth Day today, we are called to rediscover a sense of sacred respect for the earth, because it is not only our home, but also God's home. This should make us aware of being on holy ground!

Dear brothers and sisters, "Let us awaken the aesthetic and contemplative sense that God has placed in us" (Esort. ap. postsin. Exultation Amazonia, 56). The prophetic gift of contemplation is something we especially learn from indigenous peoples, who teach us that we cannot heal the earth unless we love it and respect it. They have that wisdom of "living well", not in the sense of getting through life well, no: but of living in harmony with the earth. They call this harmony "living well."

At the same time, we need an ecological conversion that is expressed in concrete action. As a single, interdependent family, we need a shared plan to ward off threats against our common home. "Interdependence obliges us to think of one world, with a common plan" (LS, 164). We are aware of the importance of working together as an international community to protect our common home. I urge those with authority to guide the preparations for two major international conferences: COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming(China) and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow (United Kingdom). These two meetings are very important.

I would like to encourage concerted interventions at national and local level as well. It is good to come together from all levels of society and also to create a popular movement "from below". The same Earth Day, which we celebrate today, was itself born just like that. Each of us can make our own small contribution: "We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread" (LS, 212).

In this Easter time of renewal, let us commit ourselves to love and appreciate the magnificent gift of the earth, our common home, and to take care of all members of the human family. As brothers and sisters as we are, let us together plead with our Heavenly Father: "Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth" (cf. Psalm 104:30).

22.04.20

 Chapter 2

8-15




Pope Francis          

05.06.13  General Audience  St Peter's Square  

World Environment Day        

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!


Today I would like to reflect on the issue of the environment, as I have already had an opportunity to do on various occasions. I was also prompted to think about this because of today’s World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which is launching a pressing appeal for the need to eliminate waste and the destruction of food.


When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts go to the first pages of the Bible, to the Book of Genesis, where it says that God puts men and women on the earth to till it and keep it (cf. 2:15). And these questions occur to me: What does cultivating and preserving the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb “cultivate” reminds me of the care a farmer takes to ensure that his land will be productive and that his produce will be shared.


What great attention, enthusiasm and dedication! Cultivating and caring for creation is an instruction of God which he gave not only at the beginning of history, but has also given to each one of us; it is part of his plan; it means making the world increase with responsibility, transforming it so that it may be a garden, an inhabitable place for us all. Moreover on various occasions Benedict XVI has recalled that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the pace and the logic of creation. Instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating and exploiting; we do not “preserve” the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after.


We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret in it what Benedict XVI calls “the rhythm of the love-story between God and man”. Why does this happen? Why do we think and live horizontally, we have drifted away from God, we no longer read his signs.


However “cultivating and caring” do not only entail the relationship between us and the environment, between man and creation. They also concern human relations. The popes have spoken of a human ecology, closely connected with environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis; we see it in the environment, but above all we see it in men and women. The human person is in danger: this much is certain — the human person is in danger today, hence the urgent need for human ecology! And the peril is grave, because the cause of the problem is not superficial but deeply rooted. It is not merely a question of economics but of ethics and anthropology. The Church has frequently stressed this; and many are saying: yes, it is right, it is true... but the system continues unchanged since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money, money, cash commands. And God our Father gave us the task of protecting the earth — not for money, but for ourselves: for men and women. We have this task! Nevertheless men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the “culture of waste”. If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal. If on a winter's night, here on the Via Ottaviano — for example — someone dies, that is not news. If there are children in so many parts of the world who have nothing to eat, that is not news, it seems normal. It cannot be so! And yet these things enter into normality: that some homeless people should freeze to death on the street — this doesn’t make news. On the contrary, when the stock market drops 10 points in some cities, it constitutes a tragedy. Someone who dies is not news, but lowering income by 10 points is a tragedy! In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash.


This “culture of waste” tends to become a common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person, are no longer seen as a primary value to be respected and safeguarded, especially if they are poor or disabled, if they are not yet useful — like the unborn child — or are no longer of any use — like the elderly person. This culture of waste has also made us insensitive to wasting and throwing out excess foodstuffs, which is especially condemnable when, in every part of the world, unfortunately, many people and families suffer hunger and malnutrition. There was a time when our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any left over food. Consumerism has induced us to be accustomed to excess and to the daily waste of food, whose value, which goes far beyond mere financial parameters, we are no longer able to judge correctly.


Let us remember well, however, that whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry! I ask everyone to reflect on the problem of the loss and waste of food, to identify ways and approaches which, by seriously dealing with this problem, convey solidarity and sharing with the underprivileged.


A few days ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read the account of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish. And the end of this passage is important: “and all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces (Lk 9:17). Jesus asked the disciples to ensure that nothing was wasted: nothing thrown out! And there is this fact of 12 baskets: why 12? What does it mean? Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel, it represents symbolically the whole people. And this tells us that when the food was shared fairly, with solidarity, no one was deprived of what he needed, every community could meet the needs of its poorest members. Human and environmental ecology go hand in hand.


I would therefore like us all to make the serious commitment to respect and care for creation, to pay attention to every person, to combat the culture of waste and of throwing out so as to foster a culture of solidarity and encounter. Thank you. 

05.06.13

 Chapter 2

8-15

cont.




Pope Francis       



16.09.20 General Audience, San Damaso courtyard


Catechesis “Healing the world”: 7. Care of the common home and contemplative dimension



Genesis 2: 8,9,15



Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

To emerge from a pandemic, we need to look after and care for each other. To look after and care for each other. And we must support those who care for the weakest, the sick and the elderly. Ah, there is the tendency to cast the elderly aside, to abandon them. And this is bad. These people - well defined by the Spanish term "cuidadores" (caretakers), those who take care of the sick - play an essential role in today's society, even if they often do not receive the recognition and recompense they deserve. Caring is a golden rule of our nature as human beings, and brings with it health and hope (cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’ [LS], 70). Taking care of those who are sick, of those who are in need, of those who are cast aside: this is a human, and also Christian, wealth.

We must also extend this care to our common home: to the earth and to every creature. All forms of life are interconnected (see ibid., 137-138), and our health depends on that of the ecosystems that God created and entrusted to us to care for (see Gen 2:15). Abusing them, on the other hand, is a grave sin that damages us, and harms us, and makes us sick (cf. LS, 8; 66). The best antidote against this misuse of our common home is contemplation (see ibid., 85, 214). But how come? Isn’t there a vaccine for this, for the care of the common home, so as not to set it aside? What is the antidote against the sickness of not taking care of our common home? It is contemplation. “If someone has not learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple" (ibid., 215). Also in terms of using things and discarding them. However, our common home, creation, is not a mere "resource". Creatures have a value in and of themselves and each one "reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 339). This value and this ray of divine light must be discovered and, in order to discover it, we need to be silent, we need to listen, and we need to contemplate. Contemplation also heals the soul.

Without contemplation, it is easy to fall prey to an unbalanced and arrogant anthropocentrism, the “I” at the centre of everything, which gives excessive importance to our role as human beings, positioning us as absolute rulers of all other creatures. A distorted interpretation of biblical texts on creation has contributed to this misinterpretation, which leads to the exploitation of the earth to the point of suffocating it. Exploiting creation: this is the sin. We believe that we are at the centre, claiming to occupy God's place and so we ruin the harmony of creation, the harmony of God’s plan. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as custodians of life. Of course, we can and must work the earth so as to live and to develop. But work is not synonymous with exploitation, and it is always accompanied by care: ploughing and protecting, working and caring... This is our mission (cf. Gen 2:15). We cannot expect to continue to grow on a material level, without taking care of the common home that welcomes us. Our poorest brothers and sisters and our mother earth lament for the damage and injustice we have caused, and demand we take another course. It demands of us a conversion, a change of path; taking care of the earth too, of creation.

Therefore, it is important to recover the contemplative dimension, that is, looking at the earth, creation as a gift, not as something to exploit for profit: no. When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something much greater than their usefulness. Here is the heart of the issue: contemplating is going beyond the usefulness of something. Contemplating the beautiful does not mean exploiting it, no: contemplating. It is free. We discover the intrinsic value of things given to them by God. As many spiritual masters have taught us, heaven, earth, sea, and every creature have this iconic capacity, or this mystical capacity to bring us back to the Creator and to communion with creation. For example, St. Ignatius of Loyola, at the end of his Spiritual Exercises, invites us to carry out "Contemplation to come to love", that is, to consider how God looks at His creatures and to rejoice with them; to discover God's presence in His creatures and, with freedom and grace, to love and care for them.

Contemplation, which leads us to an attitude of care, is not a question of looking at nature from the outside, as if we were not immersed in it. But we are inside nature, we are part of nature. Rather, it is done from within, recognising us as part of creation, making us protagonists and not mere spectators of an amorphous reality that is only to be exploited. Those who contemplate in this way experience wonder not only at what they see, but also because they feel they are an integral part of this beauty; and they also feel called to guard it and to protect it. And there is one thing we must not forget: those who cannot contemplate nature and creation, cannot contemplate people in their true wealth. And those who live to exploit nature end up exploiting people and treating them like slaves. This is a universal law. If you cannot contemplate nature, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate people, the beauty of people, your brother, your sister. All of us.

Those who know how to contemplate will more easily set to work to change what produces degradation and damage to health. They will strive to educate and promote new production and consumption habits, to contribute to a new model of economic growth that guarantees respect for our common home and respect for people. The contemplative in action: this is good! Each one of us should be a guardian of the environment, of the purity of the environment, seeking to combine ancestral knowledge of millennia-long cultures with new technical knowledge, so that our lifestyle may always be sustainable.

Finally, contemplating and caring: these are two attitudes that show the way to correct and rebalance our relationship as human beings with creation.

Oftentimes, our relationship with creation seems to be a relationship between enemies: destroying creation for our benefit. Exploiting creation for our profit. Let us not forget that this will be paid for dearly; let us not forget that Spanish saying: “God always forgives; we forgive sometimes; nature never forgives”. Today I was reading in the newspaper about those two great glaciers in Antarctica, near the Amundsen Sea: they are about to fall. It will be terrible, because the sea level will rise and this will bring many, many difficulties and cause so much harm. And why? Because of global warming, not caring for the environment, not caring for the common home. On the other hand, when we have this relationship - let me say the word - “fraternal": it is a figure of speech; a "fraternal" relationship with creation, we will become guardians of the common home, guardians of life and guardians of hope. We will guard the heritage that God has entrusted to us so that future generations may enjoy it. And some may say: "But, I can get by like this". But the problem is not how you are going to manage today - this was said by a German theologian, a Protestant, a good man: Bonhoeffer - the problem is not how you are managing today; the problem is: what will be the legacy, life for future generations? Let us think of our children, our grandchildren: what will we leave if we exploit creation? Let us protect this path of the "guardians" of our common home, guardians of life and also guardians of hope. They safeguard the heritage that God has entrusted to us (people, all people) so that future generations may enjoy it. I think especially of the indigenous peoples, to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude - also of penance, to repair the evil we have done to them. But I am also thinking of those movements, associations, popular groups, which are committed to protecting their territory with its natural and cultural values. These social realities are not always appreciated, and at times they are even obstructed; because they do not earn money; but in reality they contribute to a peaceful revolution, that we might call the “revolution of care”. Contemplating so as to care, contemplating to protect, to protect ourselves, creation, our children, and our grandchildren, and to protect the future. Contemplating to care for and to protect, and to leave a legacy to the future generation.

And this must not be delegated to others: this is the task of every human being. Each one of us can and must be a “guardian of the common home”, capable of praising God for His creatures, and of contemplating creatures, and protecting them. Thank you.

16.09.20

 Chapter 2

8-15

cont.




Pope Francis       

28.07.22 Holy Mass for Reconciliation,  

the National Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré, Quebec, Canada 

Genesis 2: 8-15, 20-21,  

Luke 24: 13-35

The journey of the disciples to Emmaus, at the conclusion of Luke’s Gospel, is an icon of our own personal journey and that of the Church. On the path of life and faith, as we seek to achieve the dreams, plans, hopes and expectations deep in our hearts, we also come up against our own frailties and weaknesses; we experience setbacks and disappointments, and often we can remain imprisoned by a paralyzing sense of failure. Yet the Gospel tells us that at those very moments we are not alone, for the Lord comes to meet us and stands at our side. He accompanies us on our way with the discretion of a gentle fellow-traveller who wants to open our eyes and make our hearts once more burn within us. Whenever our failures lead to an encounter with the Lord, life and hope are reborn and we are able to be reconciled: with ourselves, with our brothers and sisters, and with God.

So let us follow the itinerary of this journey. We can call it a journey from failure to hope.

First, there is the sense of failure haunting the hearts of the two disciples after the death of Jesus. They had enthusiastically pursued a dream and pinned all their hopes and desires on Jesus. Now, after his scandalous death on the cross, they were leaving Jerusalem and going back to their former life. They were on a return trip, as a way perhaps of leaving behind the experience that had so dismayed them and the memory of the Messiah executed on the cross, like a common criminal. They were making their way home despondently, “looking sad” (Lk 24:17). Their cherished expectations had come to nought; the hopes they had put their trust in had been dashed, the dreams they dreamed had given way to disappointment and sorrow.

That experience also marks our own lives, and our spiritual journey, at those times when we are forced to recalibrate expectations and to cope with our failings and the ambiguities and confusions of life. When our high ideals come up against life’s disappointments and we abandon our goals due to our weaknesses and inadequacies. When we embark on great projects, but then find that we cannot carry them out (cf. Rom 7:18). When, sooner or later, all of us, in our daily lives and relationships, experience a setback, a mistake, a failure or fall, and see what we had believed in, or committed ourselves to, come to nought. When we feel crushed by our sins and by feelings of remorse.

This was the case with Adam and Eve, as we heard in the first reading: their sin alienated them from God, but also from each other. Now they can only accuse each other. And we see it in the disciples from Emmaus, whose distress at seeing Jesus’ plan come to nought led only to a dispirited conversation. We can also see it in the life of the Church, the community of the Lord’s disciples, as represented by those two from Emmaus. Even though we are the community of the Risen Lord, we can find ourselves confused and disappointed before the scandal of evil and the violence that led to Calvary. At those times, we can do little more than cling to our sense of failure and ask: What happened? Why did it happen? How could it happen?

Brothers and sisters, these are our own questions, and they are the burning questions that this pilgrim Church in Canada is asking, with heartfelt sorrow, on its difficult and demanding journey of healing and reconciliation. In confronting the scandal of evil and the Body of Christ wounded in the flesh of our indigenous brothers and sisters, we too have experienced deep dismay; we too feel the burden of failure. Allow me, then, to join in spirit the many pilgrims who in this place ascend the “holy staircase” that evokes Jesus’ ascent to Pilate’s praetorium. Allow me to accompany you as a Church in pondering these questions that arise from hearts filled with pain: Why did all this happen? How could this happen in the community of those who follow Jesus?

At such times, however, we must be attentive to the temptation to flee, which we see in the two disciples of the Gospel: the temptation to flee, to go back, to abandon the place where it all happened, to try to block it all out and seek a “refuge” like Emmaus, where we do not have to think about it anymore. When confronted with failure in life, nothing could be worse than fleeing in order to avoid it. It is a temptation that comes from the enemy, who threatens our spiritual journey and that of the Church, for he wants us to think that all our failures are now irreversible. He wants to paralyze us with grief and remorse, to convince us that nothing else can be done, that it is hopeless to try to find a way to start over.

The Gospel shows us, however, that it is in precisely such situations of disappointment and grief – when we are appalled by the violence of evil and shame for our sins, when the living waters of our lives are dried up by sin and failure, when we are stripped of everything and seem to have nothing left – that the Lord comes to meet us and walks at our side. On the way to Emmaus, Jesus gently drew near and accompanied the disconsolate footsteps of those sad disciples. And what does he do? He does not offer generic words of encouragement, simplistic and facile words of consolation but instead, by revealing the mystery of his death and resurrection foretold in the Scriptures, he sheds new light on their lives and the events they experienced. In this way, he opens their eyes to see everything anew. We who share in the Eucharist in this Basilica can also take a new look at many of the events of our own history. In this very place, three earlier churches stood; there were always people who refused to flee in the face of difficulties, who continued to dream, despite their own errors and those of others. They did not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the devastating fire of a century ago, and, with courage and creativity, built this church. And those who share in our Eucharist on the nearby Plains of Abraham can also think of the fortitude shown by those who refused to let themselves be held hostage by hatred, war, destruction and pain, but set about building anew a city and a country.

Finally, in the presence of the disciples of Emmaus, Jesus broke bread, opened their eyes and once more revealed himself as the God of love who lays down his life for his friends. In this way, he helped them to resume their journey with joy, to start over, to pass from failure to hope. Brothers and sisters, the Lord also wants to do the same with each of us and with his Church. How can our eyes be opened? How can our hearts burn within us once more for the Gospel? What are we to do, as we endure spiritual and material trials, as we seek the path to a more just and fraternal society, as we strive to recover from our disappointments and weariness, as we hope to be healed of past wounds and to be reconciled with God and with one another?

There is but one path, a sole way: it is the way of Jesus, the way that is Jesus (cf. Jn 14:6). Let us believe that Jesus draws near to us on our journey. Let us go out to meet him. Let us allow his word to interpret the history we are making as individuals and as a community, and show us the way to healing and reconciliation. In faith, let us break together the Eucharistic Bread, so that around the table we can see ourselves once again as beloved children of the Father, called to be brothers and sisters all.

Breaking the bread, Jesus confirmed the message brought by women, a testimony that the disciples had already heard, but were unable to believe: that he was risen! In this Basilica, where we commemorate the mother of the Virgin Mary, with its crypt dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, how can we not think of the role that God wished to give to women in his plan of salvation. Saint Anne, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the women of Easter morning show us a new path to reconciliation. The tender maternal love of so many women can accompany us – as Church – towards new and fruitful times, leaving behind so much barrenness and death, and putting the crucified and risen Jesus back at the centre.

Truly, we must not put ourselves at the centre of our questions, our inner struggles or of the pastoral life of the Church. Instead, we must put him, the Lord Jesus. Let us make his word central to everything we do, for it sheds light on all that happens and restores our vision. It enables us to see the operative presence of God’s love and the potential for good even in apparently hopeless situations. Let us put at the centre the Bread of the Eucharist, which Jesus today once again breaks for us, so that he can share his life with us, embrace our weakness, sustain our weary steps and heal our hearts. Reconciled with God, with others and with ourselves, may we ourselves become instruments of reconciliation and peace within our societies.

Lord Jesus, our way, our strength and consolation, like the disciples of Emmaus, we plead with you: “Stay with us, because it is almost evening” (Lk 24:29). Stay with us, Lord Jesus, when hope fades and the night of disappointment falls. Stay with us, for with you our journey presses on and from the blind alleys of mistrust the amazement of joy is reborn. Stay with us, Lord, because with you the night of pain turns into the radiant dawn of life. Let us say, in all simplicity: Stay with us, Lord! For if you walk at our side, failure gives way to the hope of new life. Amen.

28.07.22 m

 Chapter 2

18-24


Pope Francis          

04.10.15   Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica   

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B      

Genesis 2: 18-24,    

1 John 4: 12,   Mark 10: 2-16 

“If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration.

The readings centre on three themes:     solitude,      love between man and woman,     and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden. He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them. Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20). He was lonely.

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture.

Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom… The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as the Psalm proclaimed today says (cf. Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self. It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question – probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact – Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense.

For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.

Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.

To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously.

The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 3).

And the Church is called to carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II, Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide his Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse. 

04.10.15

Chapter 3


Chapter 3

1


Pope Francis       

27.12.23 General Audience  Paul VI Audience Hall

Catechesis. Vices and Virtues. 1. Introduction: safeguarding the heart  

Mark 7: 14,15,21  

Genesis 3: 1

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to introduce a cycle of catechesis – a new cycle – on the theme of vices and virtues. And we can start right from the beginning of the Bible, where the Book of Genesis, through the account of the progenitors, presents the dynamic of evil and temptation. Let’s consider the earthly Paradise. In the idyllic picture represented by the garden of Eden, a character appears who will be the symbol of temptation: the serpent, this character who seduces. The snake is an insidious animal: it moves slowly, slithering along the ground, and sometimes you do not even notice its presence – it is silent – because it manages to camouflage itself well in its environment, and above all, this is dangerous.

When it begins to converse with Adam and Eve, it shows that it is also a refined dialectician. It begins as one does with wicked gossip, with a malicious question. He says, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’” (Gen 3:1). The phrase is false: in reality, God offered man and woman all the fruits of the garden, apart from those of a specific tree: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This prohibition is not intended to forbid man the use of reason, as is sometimes misinterpreted, but is a measure of wisdom. As if to say: recognize your limit, do not feel you are the master of everything, because pride is the beginning of all evil. And so, the story tells us that God establishes the progenitors as lords and guardians of creation, but wants to preserve them from the presumption of omnipotence, of making themselves masters of good and evil, which is a temptation – a bad temptation, even now. This is the most dangerous pitfall for the human heart.

As we know, Adam and Eve do not manage to resist the temptation of the serpent. The idea of a God who is not so good, who wanted to keep them in subjection, who wanted to keep them in his submission, insinuated itself into their minds: hence the collapse of everything.

With these accounts, the Bible explains to us that evil does not begin in man in a clamorous way, when an act is already manifest, but the evil begins much earlier, when one begins to fantasize about it, to nurse it in the imagination, thoughts, and ends up being ensnared by its enticements. The murder of Able did not begin with a thrown stone, but with the grudge that Cain wickedly held, turning it into a monster within him. In this case too, God’s recommendations are worthless.

One must never dialogue, brothers and sisters, with the devil. Never! You should never argue. Jesus never dialogued with the devil; He cast him out. And when in the wilderness, with the temptations, He did not respond with dialogue; He simply responded with the words of Holy Scripture, with the Word of God. Be careful: the devil is a seducer. Never dialogue with him, because he is smarter than all of us and he will make us pay for it. When temptation comes, never dialogue. Close the door, close the window, close your heart. And so, we defend ourselves against this seduction, because the devil is astute, intelligent. He tried to tempt Jesus with quotes from the Bible! He was a great theologian there. With the devil you do not dialogue. Do you understand this? Be careful. We must not converse with the devil, and we must not entertain ourselves with temptation. There is no dialogue. Temptation comes, we close the door. We guard our heart.

And that is why we do not converse with the devil. This is the recommendation – guard the heart – that we find in various fathers, saints: guard the heart. Guard the heart. And we must ask for this grace of learning to guard the heart. It is a form of wisdom, how to guard the heart. May the Lord help us [in] this work. But he who guards his heart, guards a treasure. Brothers and sisters, let us learn to guard the heart. Thank you.

27.12.23

Chapter 4

 

Chapter 4

1-25



Pope Francis       


18.02.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta     


Genesis 4: 1-15,25 


“Where is your brother?” This is the question that God asks each one of us in our hearts regarding our brother who is sick, in prison or hungry.

Mankind, like Cain, often attempts to reply to God’s uncomfortable and embarrassing questions with regard to our neighbours. “What have I got to do with my brother's life? Am I his keeper? I wash my hands of him….” Cain, who killed his brother, tries to escape the gaze of God.

Jesus also asked such uncomfortable questions. He asked Peter three times whether he loved Him. He asked his disciples what people said about Him and what they themselves thought about Him.

Today the Lord asks each one of us some personal questions such as these:

"Where is your brother who is hungry?" the Lord asks us. And to save our skin, we answer, “Surely he is at lunch with the parish Caritas group that is feeding him.”  

“What about the other, the sick…?" “Oh well, he is in the hospital!" "But there's no place in the hospital! And did you give him any medicine? " "But, that’s his business, I cannot meddle in the life of others ... and besides, he will have relatives who give him medicine ". And so I wash my hands of him.

"Where is your brother, the prisoner?" "Ah, he deserves and is paying for it.  We are tired of seeing so many criminals on the street."

Perhaps you never hear such answers from the Lord. “Where is your brother, your exploited brother, the one who works illegally, nine months a year… with no security, no holiday ...?"

Each one of us should put a name to each one of those that the Lord mentions in Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel - the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, without clothes, the little one who cannot go to school, the drug addict, the prisoner ... where is he?

Questions are constantly being asked of us. “Where is your brother in your heart? Is there room for these people in our hearts? Or do we try to calm our conscience by giving some alms?” 

We are accustomed to giving compromising answers in order to escape from the problem, not to see the problem, not to touch the problem.

Unless we put names to the list in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 25, we will create “a dark life” for us with sin crouching at our door, waiting to enter and destroy us.

When God asked Adam in the Book of Genesis, “Adam, where are you?" - Adam hid himself out of shame. Perhaps we don’t notice these things, these sufferings, these pains. Let us as Christians not hide from reality but answer openly, faithfully and joyfully to the questions that the Lord asks us about our brothers.

18.02.19

Chapter 5

 


Chapter 5

1-5



Pope Francis       

02.03.22 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall  

Catechesis on Old Age - 2. Longevity: symbol and opportunity

Genesis 5: 1-5

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the Bible account of the genealogies, one is immediately struck by their tremendous longevity: we are talking about centuries! When does old age begin here, we wonder? And what is the significance of the fact that these ancient fathers live so long after fathering their children? Fathers and sons live together for centuries! This passage of time in terms of centuries, narrated in a ritual style, confers a strong, very strong symbolic meaning to the relationship between longevity and genealogy.

It is as though the transmission of human life, so new in the created universe, demanded a slow and prolonged initiation. Everything is new, at the beginnings of the history of a creature who is spirit and life, conscience and freedom, sensibility and responsibility. The new life – human life – immersed in the tension between its origin “in the image and semblance” of God, and the fragility of his mortal condition, represents a novelty to be discovered. And it requires a long initiation period, in which mutual support among generations is indispensable in order to decipher experiences and confront the enigmas of life. During this long time, the spiritual quality of man is also slowly cultivated.

In a certain sense, every passing epoch in human history offers this feeling again: it is as if we had to start over calmly from the beginning with our questions on the meaning of life, when the scenario of the human condition appears crowded with new experiences and hitherto unasked questions. Certainly, the accumulation of cultural memory increases the familiarity necessary to face new passages. The times of transmission are reduced, but the times of assimilation always require patience. The excess of speed, which by now obsesses every stage of our life, makes every experience more superficial and less “nourishing”. Young people are unconscious victims of this split between the time on the clock, that needs to be rushed, and the times of life, that require a proper “leavening”. A long life enables these long times, and the damages of haste, to be experienced.

Old age certainly imposes a slower pace: but they are not merely times of inertia. Indeed, the measure of these rhythms opens up, for all, spaces of meaning of life unknown to the obsession with speed. Losing contact with the slower rhythms of old age closes up these spaces to everyone. It is from this perspective that I wished to establish the feast of grandparents, on the last Sunday of July. The alliance between the two extreme generations of life – children and the elderly – also helps the other two – young people and adults – to bond with each other so as to make everyone’s existence richer in humanity.

There is a need for dialogue between the generations: if there is no dialogue between young people and the elderly, if there is no dialogue, each generation remains isolated and cannot transmit the message. Think: a young person who is not bonded to his or her roots, which are the grandparents, does not receive the strength, like the tree, the strength of the roots, and grows up badly, grows up ailing, grows up without points of reference. Therefore, it is necessary to seek, as a human need, dialogue between generations. And this dialogue is important between grandparents and grandchildren, who are the two extremes.

Let us imagine a city in which the co-existence of the different ages forms an integral part of the overall plan of its habitat. Let us think about the formation of affectionate relations between old age and youth that irradiate out onto the overall style of relations. The overlapping of the generations would become a source of energy for a truly visible and livable humanism. The modern city tends to be hostile to the elderly and, not by chance, also to children. This society, that has this spirit of rejection: it rejects so many unwanted children and it rejects the elderly. It casts them aside – they are no use – to rest homes, hospitals, there… The excess of speed puts us in a centrifuge that sweeps us away like confetti. One completely loses sight of the bigger picture. Each person holds on to his or her own piece, that floats on the currents of the city-market, for which slower pace means losses and speed is money. The excess of speed pulverizes life: it does not make it more intense. And wisdom… it takes to waste time. When you return home and see your son, your daughter, and you “waste time”, but in this conversation that is fundamental for society, you “waste time” with children; and when you come home and there is the grandfather or grandmother who is perhaps no longer lucid or, I don’t know, has lost something of the ability to speak, and you stay with him or with her, you “waste time”, but this “waste of time” strengthens the human family. It is necessary to spend time, time that is not lucrative, with children and with the elderly, because they give us another ability to see life.

The pandemic, in which we are still forced to live, has imposed – very painfully, unfortunately – a halt to the obtuse cult of speed. And in this period, grandparents have acted as a barrier to the affective “dehydration” of the youngest. The visible alliance of the generations, that harmonizes pace and rhythms, restores to use the hope of not living life in vain. And it restores to each of us the love for our vulnerable lives, blocking the way to the obsession with speed, which simply consumes it. The key word here – to each one of you, I ask: do you know how to waste time, or are you always in a hurry? “No, I’m in a rush, I can’t…”. Do you know how to waste time with grandparents, with the elderly? Do you know how to spend time playing with your children, with children? This is the touchstone. Think about it. And this restores to each person the love for our vulnerable life, blocking the road of the obsession with speed, which simply consumes it. The rhythms of old age are an indispensable resource for grasping the meaning of life marked by time. The elderly have their rhythms, but they are rhythms that help us. Thanks to this mediation, the destination of life to the encounter with God becomes more credible: a design that is hidden in the creation of the human being “in his image and likeness” and is sealed in the Son of God becoming man. 

Today there is a greater longevity of human life. This gives us the opportunity to increase the covenant between all times of life. So much longevity, but we must make more alliance. And this also helps us to increase with the meaning of life in its entirety. The meaning of life is not only in adulthood, say, from 25 to 60 years – no. The meaning of life is all of it, from birth to death, and you should be able to interact with everyone, and also to have emotional relationships with everyone, so that your maturity will be richer and stronger. And it also offers us this meaning of life, which is everything. May the Spirit grant us the intelligence and strength for this reform: a reform is needed. The arrogance of the time of the clock must be converted into the beauty of the rhythms of life. This is the reform we must make in our hearts, in the family and in society. I repeat: what must we reform? The arrogance of the time of the clock must be converted into the beauty of the rhythms of life. The alliance of the generations is indispensable. A society in which the elderly do not speak with the young, the young do not speak with the elderly, is a sterile society, without a future, a society that does not look to the horizon but rather looks at itself. And it becomes lonely. May God help us to find the right music for this harmonization of the various ages: the little ones, the elderly, adults, everyone together: a beautiful symphony of dialogue. Thank you.

02.03.22

Chapter 6

 


Chapter 6

5-10



Pope Francis          

19.02.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta      

Genesis 6: 5-8, 7: 1-5,10  

There is a golden thread running through the story of the flood and modern-day conflicts. We must ask God for the grace to cry and lament when faced with the world’s calamities and the victims of war, many of whom are starving children, orphans, and the poor who pay the highest price.

Faced with these realities let us to have a heart like God’s – capable of anger, pain, and closeness to others – one that is both human and divine.

God suffers when He sees the evil of men and women, and God regretted having created people so much that He decided to erase us from the face of the earth.

This is a God with feelings, who is not abstract and who suffers,  this is the mystery of the Lord.

These are the feelings of God, God the Father who loves us – and love is a relationship. He is able to get angry and to feel rage. It is Jesus who comes and gives us the path, with the suffering of the heart, everything… But our God has feelings. Our God loves us with the heart; He doesn’t love us with ideas but loves us with the heart. And when He caresses us, He caresses us with His heart, and when He disciplines us, like a good father, He disciplines us with His heart, suffering more than we do.

Our relationship with God is one of heart to heart, of son to Father who opens Himself, and if He is capable of feeling pain in His heart, then we, too, will be able to feel pain before Him. This is not sentimentalism, but the truth.

Our times are not so different from those of the flood. There are problems and calamities, poor, hungry, persecuted, and tortured people. People who die in war because others throw bombs as if they were candy.

I don’t think our times are better than those of the flood; I don’t think so. Calamities are more or less the same; the victims are more or less the same. Let’s think about the example of the weakest: children. The many hungry children and children without education cannot grow in peace. Many are without parents because they have been massacred in war… child soldiers… Let us just think about those children.

We need to ask for the grace to have a heart like the heart of God – one made in the likeness of God that feels pain when witnessing others suffer.

There is the great calamity of the flood; there is the great calamity of today’s wars, where the price of the party is paid by the weak, the poor, children, and those who have no resources to carry on. Let us consider that the Lord is pained in His heart, and let us draw near to the Lord and speak to Him, saying: ‘Lord, observe these things; I understand you.’ Let us console the Lord: ‘I understand you, and I am with you. I accompany you in prayer and intercede for all of these calamities which are the fruit of the devil who wants to destroy the work of God. 

19.02.19

 


Chapter 6

5-10

cont.



Pope Francis       

16.03.22 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall 

Catechesis on old age - 3. Old age, a resource for carefree youth   

Genesis 6: 5-8

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The bible narrative – with the symbolic language of the time in which it was written – tells us something shocking. God was so embittered by the widespread wickedness of humans, which had become a normal style of life, that he thought he had made a mistake in creating them and decided to eliminate them. A radical solution. It might even have a paradoxical twist of mercy. No more humans, no more history, no more judgment, no more condemnation. And many predestined victims of corruption, violence, injustice would be spared forever.

Does it not happen to us as times as well – overwhelmed by the sense of powerlessness against evil or demoralized by the “prophets of doom” – that we think it would be better if we had not been born? Should we give credit to some recent theories, which denounce the human race as an evolutionary detriment to life on our planet? All negative? No.

Indeed, we are under pressure, exposed to opposing stresses that confuse us. On the one hand, we have the optimism of an eternal youth, kindled by the extraordinary progress of technology, that depicts a future full of machines that are more efficient and more intelligent than us, that will cure our ills and devise for us the best solutions so as not to die: the world of robots. On the other hand, our imagination appears increasingly concentrated on the representation of a final catastrophe that will extinguish us. What happens with an eventual nuclear war. The “day after” this – if there will still be days and human beings – will have to start again from scratch. Destroying everything to start again from scratch. I do not want to trivialize the idea of progress, naturally. But it seems that the symbol of the flood is gaining ground in our subconscious. Besides, the current pandemic puts a heavy weight on our carefree representation of the things that matter, for life and its destiny.

In the bible story, when it comes to saving life on earth from corruption and from the flood, God entrusts the task to the fidelity of the eldest of all, the “righteous” Noah. Will old age save the world, I wonder? In what sense? And how will old age save the world? And what is the prospect? Life after death or just survival until the flood?

A word of Jesus, that evokes “the days of Noah”, will help us to explore more deeply the meaning of the bible passage we have heard. Jesus, speaking about the end times, says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Lk 17:26-27). Indeed, eating and drinking, taking a husband or wife, are very normal things and do not seem to be examples of corruption. Where is the corruption? Where is the corruption there? In reality, Jesus stresses the fact that human beings, when they limit themselves to enjoying life, lose even the perception of corruption, which mortifies their dignity and poisons meaning. When the perception of corruption is lost, and corruption becomes something normal: everything has its price, everything! Opinions, acts of justice, are bought and sold. This is common in the world of business, in the world of many professions. And corruption is even experienced in a carefree way, as if it were part of the normality of human wellbeing. When you go to do something, and it is slow, that process of doing things is a bit slow, how often do you hear: “Yes, but if you give me a tip, I will speed it up”. Very often. “Give me something and I will take it further”. We are well aware of this, all of us. The world of corruption seems to be part of the normality of the human being, and this is bad. This morning I spoke with a woman who told me about this problem in her homeland. The goods of life are consumed and enjoyed without concern for the spiritual quality of life, without care for the habitat of the common home. Everything is exploited, without concerning themselves with the mortification and disheartenment of which many suffer, nor with the evil that poisons the community. As long as normal life can be filled with “wellbeing”, we do not want to think about what makes it empty of justice and love. “But I am fine! Why should I think about problems, about wars, about human suffering, all that poverty, all that evil? No, I am fine. I don’t care about others”. This is the subconscious thought that leads us towards living in a state of corruption.

Can corruption become normal, I wonder? Brothers and sisters, unfortunately, yes. We can breathe the air of corruption just as we breath oxygen. “But it is normal; if you want me to do this faster, what will you give me?” It is normal! It is normal, but it is a bad thing, it is not good! What paves the way for this? One thing: the carefreeness that turns only to self-care: this is the gateway to the corruption that sinks the lives of all of us. Corruption benefits greatly from this ungodly carefreeness. When everything is going well for someone, and others do not matter to him or her: this thoughtlessness it weakens our defences, it dulls our consciences and it turns us – even involuntarily – into accomplices. Because corruption is not solitary: a person always has accomplices. And corruption always spreads, it spreads.

Old age is in a good position to grasp the deception of this normalization of a life obsessed with enjoyment and empty of interiority: life without thought, without sacrifice, without beauty, without truth, without justice, without love: this is all corruption. The special sensibility of us old people, of old age for the attention, thoughts and affections that make us human, should once again become the vocation of many. And it will be a choice of the love of the elderly towards the new generations. We will be the ones to sound the alarm, the alert: “Be aware, this is corruption, it will bring you nothing”. There is a great need today for the wisdom of the elderly to counteract corruption. The new generations expect of us, the elderly, a word that is prophecy, that opens the doors to new perspectives outside that carefree world of corruption, of the habit of corrupt things. God’s blessing chooses old age, for this charism that is so human and humanizing. What is the meaning of my old age? Each one of us elderly people can ask ourselves this. The meaning is this: being a prophet of corruption and saying to others: “Stop, I have taken this road and it does not lead you anywhere! Now I will tell you about my experience”. We, the elderly, should be prophets against corruption, just as Noah was the prophet against the corruption of his time, because he was the only one in whom God trusted. I ask you all – and I also ask myself: is my heart open to being a prophet against corruption today? It is a bad thing, when seniors do not mature, and become old people with the same corrupt habits of the young. Think of the bible story of the judges of Susanna: they are the example of a corrupt old age. And we, with this type of old age, would not be capable of being prophets for the young generations.

And Noah is the example of this generative old age: it is not corrupt, it is generative. Noah does not preach, he does not complain, he does not recriminate, but rather he takes care of the future of the generation that is in danger. We seniors must take care of the young, of children who are in danger. He builds the ark of acceptance and lets people and animals enter it. In his care for life, in all its forms, Noah obeys God’s commandment, repeating the tender and generous gesture of creation, which in reality is the very thought that inspires the command of God: a new blessing, a new creation (cf. Gen 8: 15-9,17). Noah’s vocation remains ever relevant. The holy patriarch must once again intercede for us. And we, women and men of a certain age – so as not to say elderly, as some will be offended – let us not forget that we have the possibility of wisdom, of saying to others: “Look, this path of corruption leads nowhere”. We must be like the good wine that, once aged, can give a good message, not a bad one.

I appeal today to all those people who are of a certain age, so as not to say elderly. Be careful: you have the responsibility to denounce the human corruption in which we live and in which this way of living of relativism goes on, totally relative, as if everything were legitimate. Let us move forward. The world needs strong young people, who move forward, and wise elders. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of wisdom.

16.03.22

Chapter 11

 Chapter 11

1-9



Pope Francis          

08.06.19  St Peter's Square, Rome  

Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Year C     

Genesis  11: 1-9,    Exodus 3: 1-15,    

Joel 3: 1-5 

Once again tonight, the eve of the last day of Easter, the feast of Pentecost, Jesus is among us and proclaiming out loud, "if anyone thirsts, come to me and drink. As Scripture says: "rivers of living water will flow from him who believes in me "(Jn 7: -38 ).

He is the river of living water of the Holy Spirit that flows from Jesus's heart; from His side pierced by the spear (cf. Jn 19.36), which cleanses and makes the Church fruitful, the mystical spouse represented by Mary, the new Eve, at the foot of the cross.

The Holy Spirit pours forth from the heart of mercy of the risen Jesus, and fills our hearts with a good measure, pressed down, filled and to overflowing with mercy "(cf. Lk 6.38) and transforms us into the Church - with a womb filled with mercy, that is into a mother with an open heart for everyone! I wish the people who live in Rome would recognize the Church, recognize us because of this being more merciful – not because they have more things – for this being more filled with humanity and tenderness, of which there is much need! That they would feel at home, in the maternal home where there is always welcome and where they can always return. That they would feel always welcome, listened to, understood, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the Kingdom of God ... As a mother knows how, even when the children have grown up.

This thought about the maternity of the church reminds me that 75 years ago, on 11 June 1944, Pope Pius XII carried out a special act of thanksgiving and supplication of the Virgin, for the protection of the city of Rome. He did this in the church of St Ignatius, where the venerated image of the divine Madonna had been brought. Divine love is the Holy Spirit that springs from the heart of Christ. It is He that is the spiritual rock that accompanied the people of God in the desert, so that they might draw water from it to quench their thirst along their journey (cf. 1 Cor 10.4). In the burning bush that is not consumed, an image of Mary, Virgin and mother, is the risen Christ who speaks to us, gives us the fire of the Holy Spirit, inviting us to descend in the midst of the people to hear their cry, inviting us to open the paths of freedom that lead to the land promised by God.

We know: there is even today, as in every age, people who seek to build a city and a tower that reaches to heaven "(cf. Gen 11.4). These are human projects, even our projects, done at the service of an ' I ' always greater, toward a heaven where there is no longer room for God. God lets us do that for a while, so that we might experience to what point of evil and sadness we are capable of arriving without him. But the spirit of Christ, the Lord of history, can't wait to knock it all down, to make us start over! We are always a bit narrow both in sight and heart; left to ourselves we end up losing the horizon; We arrive and convince ourselves as having understood everything, we have taken into account all the variables, of having foreseen what will happen and how it will happen... these are all of our own constructions that give us the illusion of touching heaven. Instead the spirit explodes into the world from on high, from the womb of God, where the son was created, and makes all things new.

What are we celebrating today, all together, in our city of Rome? We are celebrating the primacy of the spirit that makes us fall silent before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then fills us with joy: so it was this that God bore in his womb for us!: this journey as Church, this passage, this Exodus, this arrival in the promised land, at the city of Jerusalem of the doors that are always open for everyone, where the various languages spoken by man are composed in the harmony of the spirit, because the spirit is harmony.

And if we have in mind the pains of giving birth, we understand that our cry, that of the people who live in this city and the cry of creation as a whole is none other than the cry of the Spirit: it is the birth of a new world. God is the father and the mother, God is the midwife, God is the cry, God is the Son generated in the world and we, the Church, we are at the service of this birth. We are not at the service of ourselves, we are not at the service of our ambitions and all these dreams of power, no: we are at the service of God, at the marvels of God.

If the pride and presumed moral superiority do not dull our hearing, we realize that behind the cry of so many people there is none other than the authentic cry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who pushes us once again not to be content, to seek to put ourselves back on the road; It is the Spirit who will save us from every diocesan re-organisation (address to the Diocesan Convention, 9 may 2019). This is a danger, this desire to confuse the newness of the Spirit with a method of re-organising everything down. No, that is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God upsets everything and makes us start not all over again, but as a new beginning.

Let us then allow the Spirit to take us by the hand and bring us to the heart of the city to hear its cry, the groan. God says to Moses that this hidden cry of the people has reached even up to him: He has heard, He has seen their oppression and sufferings ... And He has decided to take action by sending Moses to arose and nourish the dream of freedom in the Israelites and to reveal to them that this dream is His will: to make of Israel a free people, His people, bound to him by a Covenant of love, called to witness the faithfulness of the Lord before all the people.

But for Moses to be able to fulfil his mission, God instead wants him to descend with him in the midst of the Israelites. Moses heart must become God's, attentive and sensitive to the suffering and dreams of men and women, to those who cry in secret when they raise their hands towards heaven, because they have nothing else to hold onto on Earth. It is the groaning of the Spirit, and Moses must listen not with his ears but with his heart. Today we can ask ourselves, Christians, to learn how to listen with our heart. The one who teaches how to listen this way is the Spirit. He is the one who teaches us to listen with the heart. To open it.

And to listen to the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us go down, descend from our locations, among the brothers and sisters who live in our city, to hear their need for Salvation, the cry that goes up to Him, that we usually do not hear. It is not about explaining ideas, ideologies. I love it when I see a church who wants to update itself and then finds only functional ways to improve. These ways don't come from the Spirit of God. This church does not know how to descend, and if it does not know how to descend it is not the Holy Spirit that is commanding. It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all the heart, listening with your heart. Then we will truly be on the way. Then we will feel the fire of Pentecost within ourselves which pushes us to cry out to the men and women of this city that their slavery is over and that it is Christ who is the way that leads to the city of heaven. And this needs faith, brothers and sisters. Let us ask today the gift of faith in order to take that path.

08.06.19

Chapter 12

 


Chapter 12

1-24

15: 5-6




Pope Francis          

10.03.21  General Audience Library of the Apostolic Palace        

Catechesis on the Apostolic Journey to Iraq         

Genesis 12: 1,4, 15: 5,6 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the past few days, the Lord allowed me to visit Iraq, carrying out a project of Saint John Paul II. Never before has a Pope been in the land of Abraham. Providence willed that this should happen now, as a sign of hope, after years of war and terrorism, and during a severe pandemic.

After this Visit, my soul is filled with gratitude – gratitude to God and to all those who made it possible: to the President of the Republic and the Government of Iraq; to the country’s Patriarchs and Bishops, together to all the ministers and members of the faithful of the respective Churches; to the religious Authorities, beginning with the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani, with whom I had an unforgettable meeting in his residence in Najaf.

I strongly felt a penitential sense regarding this pilgrimage: I could not draw near to that tortured people, to that martyr-Church, without taking upon myself, in the name of the Catholic Church, the cross they have been carrying for years; a huge cross, like the one placed at the entrance of Qaraqosh. I felt it particularly seeing the wounds still open from the destruction, and even more so when meeting and hearing the testimony of those who survived the violence, persecution, exile… And at the same time, I saw around me the joy of welcoming Christ’s messenger; I saw the hope of being open to a horizon of peace and fraternity, summed up in Jesus’s words that were the motto of the Visit: “You are all brothers” (Mt 23:8). I found this hope in the discourse of the President of the Republic. I discovered it again in the many greetings and testimonies, in the hymns and gestures of the people. I read it on the luminous faces of the young people and in the vivacious eyes of the elderly. People stood waiting for the Pope for 5 hours, even women with children in their arms. They waited and there was hope in their eyes.

The Iraqi people have the right to live in peace; they have the right to rediscover the dignity that belongs to them. Their religious and cultural roots go back thousands of years: Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization. Historically, Baghdad is a city of primary importance. For centuries, it housed the richest library in the world. And what destroyed it? War. War is always that monster that transforms itself with the change of epochs and continues to devour humanity. But the response to war is not another war; the response to weapons is not other weapons. And I asked myself: who was selling the weapons to the terrorists? Who sells weapons today to the terrorists – which are causing massacres in other areas, let’s think of Africa, for example? It is a question that I would like someone to answer.