Romans

Chapter 4

 Chapter 4

18



Pope Francis  

        

19.03.13 Mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate  

St Peter's Square


Matthew 1:   16-24,       Romans 4: 18


In the Gospel we heard that "Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife" (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: "Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ's upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model" (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God's presence and receptive to God's plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a "protector" because he is able to hear God's voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God's call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a "protector", however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God's gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are "Herods" who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be "protectors" of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be "protectors", we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus' three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, "hoping against hope, believed"( Romans 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

19.03.13

Chapter 5

 Chapter 5

1-5



Pope Francis          

26.05.13 Eucharistic Celebration

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity with First Communicants, 

Roman Parish of Sts Elizabeth and Zachariah   

Luke 1: 39   Proverbs 8: 22-31   Romans 5: 1-5   John 16: 12-15 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In his greeting the Parish Priest reminded me of something beautiful about Our Lady. Our Lady, as soon as she had heard the news that she was to be the Mother of Jesus and the announcement that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting a child — the Gospel says — she went to her in haste, she did not wait. She did not say: “But now I am with child I must take care of my health. My cousin is bound to have friends who can care for her”. Something stirred her and she “went with haste” to Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39). It is beautiful to think this of Our Lady, of our Mother, that she hastens, because she intends to help. She goes to help, she doesn't go to boast and tell her cousin: “listen, I’m in charge now, because I am the Mother of God!”. No, she did not do that. She went to help! And Our Lady is always like this. She is our Mother who always hurries to us whenever we are in need.

It would be beautiful to add to the Litany of Our Lady something like this: “O Lady who goes in haste, pray for us!”. It is lovely, isn’t? For she always goes in haste, she does not forget her children. And when her children are in difficulty, when they need something and call on her, she hurries to them. This gives us a security, the security of always having our Mother next to us, beside us. We move forward, we journey more easily in life when our mother is near. Let us think of this grace of Our Lady, this grace that she gives us: of being close to us, but without making us wait for her. Always! She — lets us trust in this — she lives to help us. Our Lady who always hastens, for our sake.

Our Lady also helps us to understand God and Jesus well, to understand Jesus’ life well and God’s life, and to understand properly what the Lord is, what the Lord is like and, God is. I ask you children: “Who knows who God is?”. Raise your hand. Tell me? There! Creator of the earth. And how many Gods are there? One? But I have been told that there are three: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! How can this be explained? Is there one or are there three? One? One? And how is it possible to explain that one is the Father, another the Son and the other the Holy Spirit? Louder, Louder! That girl is right. They are three in one, three Persons in one.

And what does the Father do? The Father is the beginning, the Father who created all things, who created us. What does the Son do? What does Jesus do? Who can tell me what Jesus does? Does he love us? And then? He brings the word of God! Jesus comes to teach us the word of God. This is excellent! And what then? What did Jesus do on earth? He saved us! And Jesus came to give his life for us. The Father creates the world; Jesus saves us.

And what does the Holy Spirit do? He loves us! He gives you love! All the children together: the Father creates all, he creates the world; Jesus saves us; and the Holy Spirit? He loves us! And this is Christian life: talking to the Father, talking to the Son and talking to the Holy Spirit. Jesus has saved us, but he also walks beside us in life. Is this true? And how does he walk? What does he do when he walks beside us in life? This is hard. Anyone who knows this wins the Derby! What does Jesus do when he walks with us? Louder! First: he helps us. He leads us! Very good. He walks with us, he helps us, he leads us and he teaches us to journey on.

And Jesus also gives us the strength to work. Doesn’t he? He sustains us! Good! In difficulty, doesn’t he? And also in our school tasks! He supports us, he helps us, he leads us, he sustains us. That’s it! Jesus always goes with us. Good. But listen, Jesus gives us strength. How does Jesus give us strength? You know this, you know that he gives us strength! Louder, I can’t hear you! In Communion he gives us strength, he really helps us with strength. He comes to us. But when you say, “he gives us Communion”, does a piece of bread make you so strong? Isn’t it bread? Is it bread? This is bread, but is what is on the altar bread? Or isn’t it bread? It seems to be bread. It is not really bread. What is it? It is the Body of Jesus. Jesus comes into our heart.

So let us all think about this: the Father has given us life; Jesus has given us salvation, he accompanies us, he leads us, he supports us, he teaches us; and the Holy Spirit? What does he give us? He loves us! He gives us love. Let us think of God in this way and ask Our Lady, Our Lady our Mother, who always hurries to our aid, to teach us to understand properly what God is like: what the Father is like, what the Son is like, and what the Holy Spirit is like. Amen.

26.05.13

 Chapter 5

1-5

cont.



Pope Francis       

16.06.19 Holy Mass, Camerino  

Visit to the Earthquake affected areas 

Trinity Sunday Year C  

Psalm 8: 4-9

Romans 5: 1-5

John 16: 12-15      

“What is man that thou art mindful of him” we prayed during the Psalm (8:4). These words came to mind as I was thinking of you. Before what you have seen and suffered, before the crumbled houses and buildings reduced to ruins, this question comes to mind: What is man?. What is he if what he raises can crumble down in an instant? What is he if his hope can crumble to dust? What is man? The answer seems to lie in the continuation of the sentence: what is man that thou art mindful of him? God remembers us just as we are with all our frailties. In the uncertainty that we feel within and on the outside, the Lord gives us one certainty: He remembers us. He is re-mindful of us, that is, he returns to us with his heart because he cares for us. And while here on earth many things are quickly forgotten, God does not leave us in oblivion. No one is despicable in his eyes. Each of us has an infinite value for him: we are small beneath the sky and powerless when the earth trembles but to God we are more precious than any thing else.

Memory is a keyword for life. Let us ask for the grace to remember each day that we are not forgotten by God, that we are his beloved, unique and irreplaceable children. Remembering this gives us the strength not to surrender before life’s setbacks. Let us remember our worth when we are faced with the temptation to feel sad and to continue dredging up the worst, which seems to be never-ending. Bad memories also appear when we are not thinking of them. But they dole out pain: they leave behind only melancholy and nostalgia. But how difficult it is to free oneself from bad memories! That adage — according to which it was easier for God to take Israel out of Egypt than Egypt out of of Israel’s heart — has merit.

In order to free the heart from a past that keeps returning, from negative memories that imprison, from paralyzing regrets, we need someone to help us carry the burden we have within. Indeed, today Jesus says there are “many things that we cannot bear” (cf. Jn 16:12). And what does he do in the face of our weakness? He does not remove our burdens as we would like, we who are always seeking quick and superficial solutions; no, the Lord gives us the Holy Spirit. We need him because he is the Comforter, that is, the one who does not leave us on our own under life’s burdens. He is the One who transforms our enslaved memory into free memory, past wounds into memories of salvation. He accomplishes in us what he did through Jesus: his wounds — those terrible lesions hollowed out by evil — by the power of the Holy Spirit have become channels of mercy, luminous wounds in which God’s love shines, a love that is uplifting, that enables us to rise again. This is what the Holy Spirit does when we invite him into our wounds. He anoints the bad memories with the balm of hope because the Holy Spirit is the builder of hope.

Hope. What hope is this? It is not a passing hope. Earthly hopes are fleeting. They always have an expiration date. They are made with earthly ingredients which sooner or later spoil. The hope of the Holy Spirit has a long shelf life. It does not expire because it is based on God’s fidelity. The Holy Spirit’s hope is not even optimism. It is born deeper; deep in our heart it rekindles the certainty that we are precious because we are loved. It instils the trust that we are not alone. It is a hope that leaves peace and joy within, irrespective of what happens outside. It is a hope that has strong roots that none of life’s storms can uproot. It is a hope, Saint Paul says today, that “does not disappoint us” (Rm 5:5) — hope does not disappoint! —, that gives us the strength to bear every trial (cf. Rm 5:2-3). When we are suffering or wounded — and you know well what it means to be suffering, wounded — we are led to ‘build a nest’ around our sorrows and our fears. But the Spirit releases us from our nests, helps us take flight, reveals to us the marvellous destiny for which we are born. The Spirit nurtures us with living hope. Let us invite him. Let us ask him to come into us and be close to us. Come, Spirit Comforter! Come to give us some light, to give us the meaning of this tragedy, to give us the hope that does not disappoint. Come, Holy Spirit!

Closeness is the third and final word that I would like to share with you. Today we are celebrating the Most Holy Trinity. The Trinity is not a theological riddle, but rather the splendid mystery of God’s closeness. The Trinity tells us that we do not have a solitary God above in heaven, distant and indifferent; no, he is Father who gave us his Son, who became man like us, and who, in order to be even closer to us, to help us bear the burdens of life, sends us his very Spirit. He, who is Spirit, enters our spirit and thus comforts us from within, bringing God’s tenderness into our heart. With God the burdens of life do not rest on our shoulders: the Spirit, whom we name each time we make the sign of the Cross precisely as we touch our shoulders, comes to give us strength, to encourage us, to bear the burdens. Indeed, he is an expert in resuscitation, in raising up again, in rebuilding. It takes more strength to repair than to build, to recommence than to start from scratch, to reconcile than to just get along. This is the strength that God gives us. Therefore those who draw near to God do not lose heart, but go forward: they recommence, try again, rebuild. They also suffer, but manage to start over, to try again, to rebuild.

Dear brothers and sisters, I have come here today simply to be close to you; I am here with you to pray to the God who is mindful of us, so that no one forget those who are in difficulty. I pray to the God of hope that what is unstable on earth not cause our inner certainty to waver. I pray to the God-with-us, that he inspire concrete gestures of closeness. Nearly three years have passed and the risk is that, after the initial emotional media response, attention may subside and promises be forgotten, increasing the frustration of those who see the territory becoming increasingly less populated. But the Lord urges us to remember, to repair, to rebuild, and to do so together, while never forgetting those who are suffering.

What is man that thou art mindful of him? God who remembers us, God who heals our wounded memories, anointing them with hope, God who is close to us so as to raise us up again from within: may this God help us to be builders of good, comforters of hearts. Each one can do some good, without expecting others to begin. ‘I will begin; I will begin; I will begin’: each one must say this. Each one can comfort someone, without expecting his troubles to be resolved. Also by carrying my cross, I try to approach others to comfort them. What is man? He is your great dream, Lord, of whom you are always mindful. Man is your great dream, Lord, whom you always remember. It is not easy to understand it in these circumstances, Lord. Men and women forget about us; they do not remember this tragedy. But you, Lord, do not forget. Man is your great dream, Lord, of whom you are always mindful. Lord, enable us too to remember that we are in the world in order to give hope and closeness, because we are you children: “God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

16.06.19

Jesus wanted to show us his heart as the heart that loved so deeply. This is why we have this commemoration today, especially of God’s love. God loved us, he loved us with such great love. I am thinking of what St Ignatius told us.... He pointed out two criteria on love. The first: love is expressed more clearly in actions than in words. The second: there is greater love in giving than in receiving.

These two criteria are like the pillars of true love: deeds, and the gift of self. The shepherd close to his flock, to his sheep that he knows one by one. The Lord loves us tenderly. The Lord knows the beautiful science of caresses — God’s tenderness. He does not love us with words. He approaches us, and in being close to us gives us his love with the deepest possible tenderness.

More difficult than loving God is letting ourselves be loved by him. Lord, I want to love you but teach me the difficult science, the difficult habit of letting myself be loved by you.... Perhaps this is what we should pray for at Mass.


07.06.13

 Chapter 5

5-11

cont.



Pope Francis          

02.11.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square  

All Souls  -  Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Wisdom 3: 1-9,        Psalm 23: 1-6,       

Romans 5: 5-11,        John 6: 37-40 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today the liturgy invites us to commemorate the faithful departed. These two recurrences are intimately linked to each other, just as joy and tears find a synthesis in Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of our faith and our hope. On the one hand, in fact, the Church, a pilgrim in history, rejoices through the intercession of the Saints and the Blessed who support her in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel; on the other, she, like Jesus, shares the tears of those who suffer separation from loved ones, and like Him and through Him echoes the thanksgiving to the Father who has delivered us from the dominion of sin and death.

Yesterday and today, many have been visiting cemeteries, which, as the word itself implies, is the “place of rest”, as we wait for the final awakening. It is lovely to think that it will be Jesus himself to awaken us. Jesus himself revealed that the death of the body is like a sleep from which He awakens us. With this faith we pause — even spiritually — at the graves of our loved ones, of those who loved us and did us good. But today we are called to remember everyone, even those who no one remembers. We remember the victims of war and violence; the many “little ones” of the world, crushed by hunger and poverty; we remember the anonymous who rest in the communal ossuary. We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they were Christian; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left us during the past year.

Church Tradition has always urged prayer for the deceased, in particular by offering the Eucharistic Celebration for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to those who are the most forsaken. The foundation of prayer in suffrage lies in the communion of the Mystical Body.

As the Second Vatican Council repeats, “fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead” (Lumen Gentium, n. 50).

Remembering the dead, caring for their graves and prayers of suffrage, are the testimony of confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death does not have the last word on human existence, for man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfilment in God. Let us raise this prayer to God: “God of infinite mercy, we entrust to your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you wait for all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ your Son, who died as a ransom for our sins. Look not, O Lord, on our poverty, our suffering, our human weakness, when we appear before you to be judged for joy or for condemnation. Look upon us with mercy, born of the tenderness of your heart, and help us to walk in the ways of complete purification. Let none of your children be lost in the eternal fire, where there can be no repentance. We entrust to you, O Lord, the souls of our beloved dead, of those who have died without the comfort of the sacraments, or who have not had an opportunity to repent, even at the end of their lives. May none of them be afraid to meet You, after their earthly pilgrimage, but may they always hope to be welcomed in the embrace of your infinite mercy. May our Sister, corporal death find us always vigilant in prayer and filled with the goodness done in the course of our short or long lives. Lord, may no earthly thing ever separate us from You, but may everyone and everything support us with a burning desire to rest peacefully and eternally in You. Amen” (Fr Antonio Rungi, Passionist, Prayer for the Dead).

With this faith in man’s supreme destiny, we now turn to Our Lady, who suffered the tragedy of Christ’s death beneath the Cross and took part in the joy of his Resurrection. May She, the Gate of Heaven, help us to understand more and more the value of prayer in suffrage for the souls of the dead. They are close to us! May She support us on our daily pilgrimage on earth and help us to never lose sight of life’s ultimate goal which is Heaven. And may we go forth with this hope that never disappoints! 

02.11.14

 


Chapter 5

5-11

cont.




Pope Francis          

02.11.17  Holy Mass, American Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy

Commemoration of the Fallen         

All Souls - Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed 

Job 19: 25          

Romans 5: 5-11   

We have all gathered here today in hope. Each one of us, in his or her heart, can repeat Job’s words that we heard in the first Reading: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth”(Job 19:25). The hope of re-encountering God, of all of us meeting again, as brothers and sisters: and this hope does not disappoint. Paul’s expression in the second Reading was powerful: “Hope does not disappoint”.

But so often hope is born and sets its roots in many human wounds, in so much human affliction. That moment of pain, of grief, of suffering makes us look to Heaven and say: “I believe that my Redeemer lives. But stop, Lord”. This is the prayer that perhaps rises from us all, when we look at this cemetery. “I am certain, Lord, that these brothers and sisters of ours are with you. I am certain”. We say this. “But please, Lord, stop. No more. No more war. No more of this ‘senseless slaughter’”, as Benedict xv said. Better to hope without this destruction: young people ... thousands, thousands, thousands, thousands ... shattered hopes. “No more, Lord”. We must say this today, as we pray for all the departed, but in this place let us pray in a special way for these young people; today as the world is once more at war and is preparing to engage more aggressively in war. “No more, Lord. No more”. With war all is lost.

What comes to mind is that elderly woman who — looking at the ruins of Hiroshima, with wise but very painful resignation, with that mournful resignation that women are able to experience, because it is their charism — said: “Men do everything possible to declare and wage war, and in the end they destroy themselves”.

02.11.17  a (a-c)

This is war: our own self-destruction. Surely that woman, that elderly woman, had lost children and grandchildren there; all she had left was heartache and tears. And if today is a day of hope, today is also a day of tears. Tears as those felt and wept by women when the mail arrived: “Madame, you have the honour to have had a husband who was a hero for the Homeland; that your sons are heroes for the Homeland”. They are tears that today humanity must not forget. This pride of this humankind that has not learned its lesson and that seems unwilling to learn it!

02.11.17 b

When so many times in history men think of waging a war, they are convinced they are bringing about a new world; they are convinced they are creating a “springtime”. And it ends in a dreadful, cruel winter, with the reign of terror and death. Today let us pray for all the departed, all of them, but in a special way for these young people, at a moment in which so many die in the daily battles of this piecemeal war. Let us also pray for today’s dead, the victims of war, also children, innocents. This is the result of war: death. May the Lord grant us the grace to weep.  

02.11.17 c

 


Chapter 5

5-11

cont.




Pope Francis       

02.11.20  Holy Mass, Chapel in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery 

All Souls - Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed 

Job 19: 23-27,       Romans 5: 5-11,      

John 6: 37-40 

Job is defeated, indeed his life is ended, by illness, with his skin torn away, almost on the verge of dying, almost without flesh, Job is certain of one thing and says: "I know that my Redeemer lives and that, in the end, He will stand on Earth(Job 19:25). When Job is sunk, at his worst, there is a embrace of light and warmth that assures him : I will see the Redeemer. With these eyes I will see him. "I will see him myself, my eyes will gaze on him and not another"(Job 19:27).

This certainty, very near to the final moment of life, is Christian hope. A hope that is a gift: we cannot have it ourselves. It is a gift that we must ask for: "Lord, give me hope". There are so many bad things that lead us to despair, to believe that everything is over, that there will be a final defeat, that after death there is nothing... And Job's voice returns, it returns: "I know that my Redeemer is alive and that he ,the last, will take his stand on earth! I will see him, myself, " with my eyes.

"Hope does not disappoint"(Rm 5:5), Paul told us. Hope attracts us and makes sense of our lives. I cannot see the afterlife, but hope is God's gift that draws us to life, to eternal joy. Hope is an anchor that we have on the other side, and we, clinging to the rope, are sustained (cf. Heb 6:18-20). "I know my Redeemer lives and I will see him." We need to repeat this in moments of joy and bad moments, in moments of death, let's put it that way.

This certainty is a gift from God, because we can never have hope with our own strength. We have to ask for it. Hope is a free gift that we never deserve: it is given, it is given. It's grace.

And then the Lord confirms this, this hope that does not disappoint: "Everything that the Father gives me, will come to me"(Jn 6:37). This is the purpose of hope: to go to Jesus. And "he who comes to me, I will not turn him away because I have descended from heaven not to do my will, but the will of the one who sent me"(Jn 6:37-38). The Lord receives us there, where the anchor is. Life in hope is living like this: clinging, with the rope in your hand, strongly, knowing that the anchor is up there. And this anchor does not disappoint, it does not disappoint.

Today, thinking of so many brothers and sisters who have passed away, it will be good for us to visit cemeteries and look up. And repeat, as Job: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and I will see him, myself, my eyes will gaze upon him and not another." And this is the strength that gives us hope, this free gift that is the virtue of hope. May the Lord give it to each one of us. 

02.11.20

Chapter 5

5-11

cont.



Pope Francis       

02.11.21 Holy Mass, French Military Cemetery in Rome

Commemoration of all the faithful departed  - All Souls Day

Job 19: 1, 23-27,  

Romans 5: 5-11

John 6: 37-40

I am reminded of a writing, at the door of a small cemetery, in the north: "You who pass, think of your steps, and of your steps think of the last step".

You who pass. Life is a journey, all of us are on a journey. All of us, if we want to do something in life, are on a journey. That is not a walk, not even a labyrinth, no, it is a journey. On the way, we pass so many historical moments, before so many difficult situations. And also in front of cemeteries. The advice of this cemetery is: "You who pass, stop and think, of your steps, at the last step". We will all have one last step. Someone can say to me: "Father, do not be so mournful, do not be tragic." But it is the truth. The important thing is that that last step finds us on the journey, not turning on the journey; but on the journey of life and not in an endless labyrinth. To be on the road so that the last step will find us on the journey. This is the first thought that I would like to say and that comes from my heart.

The second thought is the tombs. These people – good people – died in war, they died because they were called to defend their country, to defend values, to defend ideals and, many other times, to defend sad and lamentable political situations. And they are the victims, the victims of war, who consume the children of the homeland. And I think of Anzio, of Redipuglia; I think of the Piave in 1914 – so many have died there –; I think of the beach of Normandy: forty thousand, in that landing! But it doesn't matter, they fell...

I stopped in front of a tomb, there: "Unknown. Died for France. 1944". Not even the name. In God's heart is the name of all of us, but this is the tragedy of war. I am sure that all those who have gone in good will, called from the homeland to defend it, are with the Lord. But do we, who are on the journey, fight enough so that there are no wars? Why are the economies of countries fortified by the arms industry? Today the sermon should be to look at the graves: "Died for France"; some have the name, a few others do not. But these tombs are a message of peace: "Stop, brothers and sisters, stop! Stop, weapons makers, stop!"

These two thoughts I leave you. "You who pass, think, of your steps, at the last step": may it be in peace, in peace of your heart, all in peace. The second thought: these tombs speak, shout, cry out to us, cry out: "Peace!".

May the Lord help us to sow and keep these two thoughts in our hearts.

02.11.21

Chapter 6

 Chapter 6

19-23


For Paul, the only thing that counted was Christ. He left behind the man “of before”, and became a new man whose sole objective was “to gain Christ”.

What inspired Paul's passion? It was the fire of love with which Christ shed his blood in his Passion, and the desire he has to recreate us in his blood. “What Christ accomplished in us is a recreation. The blood of Christ has recreated us, it is a second creation. And if before our lives, our bodies, our souls and our habits followed the way of sin and iniquity, after this recreation, we must make every effort to walk on the way of justice and sanctification”.

At the moment of our baptism, our parents made the act of faith on our behalf: I believe in Jesus Christ who has forgiven our sins. We must make this faith our own and carry it forward by our way of life. And living as a Christian means carrying forward this faith in Christ, this recreation. Carrying forward the works that are born of this faith... Here we are then: the first sanctification accomplished by Christ, the first sanctification we received in baptism, must grow, it must advance”.

However, in reality “we are weak and we often fall”. Does this mean that we are not on the road of sanctification? “Yes and no”. If you grow accustomed to a life that is so-so, and you say: “I believe in Jesus Christ, but I live as I want”, then “this does not sanctify you, it is not all right, it is absurd. However, if you say 'yes, I am a sinner; I am weak' and you continually turn to the Lord and say to him: 'Lord, you have the power, increase my faith; you can heal me', then through the sacrament of reconciliation even our imperfections are taken up into this way of sanctification.

In short, we need to enter into the “the logic of before and after” in order not to become “lukewarm” or “wishy-washy” Christians.

Leaving everything behind for Christ was Paul's passion, and it must be the passion of every Christian: “to suffer the loss of everything that draws us away from Christ, the Lord; to suffer the loss of all that draws us away from our act of faith in him, from our act of faith in the recreation he has accomplished by his blood. He makes all things new. Everything is made new in Christ. Everything is new”.

Is this goal possible? “Yes”. Paul did it. So many Christians have done it and are doing it. Not only the saints whom we know but also the anonymous saints, those who seriously live out their Christian lives. Perhaps the question we can ask ourselves today is: Do I want to live out my Christian life in a serious way? Do I believe that I have been recreated through the blood of Christ and do I want to pursue this recreation until that day when we shall see the new city, the new creation?.

Let us ask St Paul, who speaks to us today about the logic of the before and after, to grant us the grace to live seriously as Christians and to truly believe that we have been sanctified in the blood of Jesus Christ. 

24.10.13

Chapter 7

 Chapter 7

18-25


Pope Francis       

25.10.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       

Romans 7: 18-25 

Yesterday Paul was proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ through faith. But today he is telling his brothers in Rome about the battle he is waging within. I know that nothing good dwells within me, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.

When I want to do the good, evil is right beside me. In fact, I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of the mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. We do not always have the courage to speaks about this battle as Paul speaks. We always seek to justify ourselves: 'But yes, we are all sinners' we say.

It is against this disposition that we must battle. Indeed, if we do not recognize this we cannot obtain God's forgiveness, because if being a sinner is only a word or a way of speaking, then we do not need God's forgiveness. But if it is a reality that enslaves us, then we truly need the interior freedom and strength of the Lord. Paul shows us the way out of this attitude: Confess your sin and your tendency to sin to the community, do not hide it. This is the disposition which the Church asks of all of us, which Jesus asks of all of us: humbly to confess our sins.

The Church in her wisdom points to the sacrament of confession. “Let us go to our brother, to our brother the priest, and let us make this interior confession: the same confession that Paul himself makes: 'I want the good, I would like to be better, but as you know, I sometimes experience this battle within, sometimes, there is this, that and the other …

Those who refuse to speak with a priest under the pretence that they confess directly to God. “It's easy. It's like confessing by email … God is there, far away; I say things and there is no face to face, there is not face to face encounter. But Paul confessed his weakness to his brothers face to face.

In the alleluia we said: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden the mysteries of the kingdom from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes. Little ones have a certain wisdom. When a child comes to make his confession, he never speaks in generalities. He says: 'Father, I did this, and I did this to my aunt, I did this to someone else, and to someone else I said this word', and they say the word. They are real, they possess the simplicity of truth. And we always tend to hide the reality of our weakness and poverty.

But if there is one thing that is beautiful, it is when we confess our sins in the presence of God just as they are. We always feel the grace of being ashamed. To feel ashamed before God is a grace. It is a grace to say: 'I am ashamed'. Let us think about St Peter after Jesus' miracle on the lake: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinner”. He was ashamed of his sin in the presence of Jesus Christ. 

Going to confession, is “going to an encounter with the Lord who forgives us, who loves us. And our shame is what we offer him: 'Lord, I am a sinner, but I am not so bad, I am capable of feeling ashamed'.

Let us ask for the grace to live in the truth without hiding anything from the Lord and without hiding anything from ourselves.

25.10.13

 


Chapter 7

18-25

cont.





Pope Francis       

25.10.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Romans 7: 18-25A,     

Luke 12: 54-59 

In the First Reading (Romans 7: 18-25A) St. Paul speaks to the Romans about the continuous inner struggle inside him between the desire to do good and not being able to do it.

Some might think that by carrying out the "evil he does not want" St. Paul might be in hell or defeated. Yet, he is a saint because even saints experience this war within themselves. It is "a law for all", "an everyday war".

It is a struggle between good and evil; but not an abstract good and an abstract evil but between the good that the Holy Spirit inspires and the bad of the evil spirit. It's a fight for all of us. If any of us says " But I do not feel this, I am blessed, I live peacefully, I do not feel ..." I would say: "You're not blessed: you are anesthetized. You’re someone who doesn't understand what’s happening".

In this daily struggle, we win today; tomorrow there will be another and the next day, until the end. The martyrs had to fight to the end to maintain their faith. It’s the same for the saints, like Therese of the Child Jesus, for whom "the hardest struggle was the final moment", on her deathbed, because she felt that "the bad spirit" wanted to snatch her from the Lord.

In daily life there are "extraordinary moments of struggle" as well as "ordinary moments". That is why in today’s Gospel (Luke 12: 54-59), Jesus tells the crowd: "You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"

We Christians are often busy with many things, including good things, but what is going on inside you? Who leads you to them ? What is your spiritual inclination to do them? Who brings you to do them? Our life is like life in the street. We go down the road of life... when we go out on the street, we only look at the things that interest us; we don't look at other things.

There is always the struggle between grace and sin, between the Lord who wants to save and pull us out of this temptation and the bad spirit that always throws us down in order to win us. Let us ask ourselves whether each of us is a street person who comes and goes without realizing what is happening and whether our decisions come from the Lord or are dictated by our selfishness, by the devil. 

It's important to know what's going on inside of us. It's important to live a little inside and to not let our souls be a street where everyone goes. "And how do you do that Father?" Before the end of the day take two to three minutes: what happened today important inside of me? Oh, yes, I had a little hate there and I talked there; I did that charity work... Who helped you do these things, both the bad and good? And ask ourselves these questions to know what is going on inside of us. Sometimes with that chatty soul that we all have, we know what's going on in the neighbourhood, what's going on in the neighbour's house, but we don't know what's going on inside us.

25.10.19

Chapter 8

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

The biblical Readings we have heard make us think. They have made me think deeply. I have conceived of a sort of meditation for us bishops, first for me, a bishop like you, and I share it with you.

It is important — and I am particularly glad — that our first meeting should take place here, on the site that guards not only Peter’s tomb but also the living memory of his witness of faith, his service to the Truth, and his gift of himself to the point of martyrdom for the Gospel and for the Church.

This evening this Altar of the Confession thus becomes for us the Sea of Tiberias, on whose shores we listen once again to the marvellous conversation between Jesus and Peter with the question addressed to the Apostle, but which must also resonate in our own hearts, as Bishops.

“Do you love me?”. “Are you my friend?” (cf. Jn 21, 15ff.).

The question is addressed to a man who, despite his solemn declarations, let himself be gripped by fear and so had denied.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The question is addressed to me and to each one of us, to all of us: if we take care not to respond too hastily and superficially it impels us to look within ourselves, to re-enter ourselves.

“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”.

The One who scrutinizes hearts (cf. Rom 8:27), makes himself a beggar of love and questions us on the one truly essential issue, a premiss and condition for feeding his sheep, his lambs, his Church. May every ministry be based on this intimacy with the Lord; living from him is the measure of our ecclesial service which is expressed in the readiness to obey, to humble ourselves, as we heard in the Letter to the Philippians, and for the total gift of self (cf. 2:6-11).

Moreover, the consequence of loving the Lord is giving everything — truly everything, even our life — for him. This is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry; it is the litmus test that tells us how deeply we have embraced the gift received in responding to Jesus’ call, and how closely bound we are to the individuals and communities that have been entrusted to our care. We are not the expression of a structure or of an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord; thus to build up the community in brotherly love.

Not that this should be taken for granted: even the greatest love, in fact, when it is not constantly nourished, weakens and fades away. Not for nothing did the Apostle Paul recommend: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own Son's blood” (cf. Acts 20:28).

A lack of vigilance — as we know — makes the Pastor tepid; it makes him absentminded, forgetful and even impatient. It tantalizes him with the prospect of a career, the enticement of money and with compromises with a mundane spirit; it makes him lazy, turning him into an official, a state functionary concerned with himself, with organization and structures, rather than with the true good of the People of God. Then one runs the risk of denying the Lord as did the Apostle Peter, even if he formally presents him and speaks in his name; one obscures the holiness of the hierarchical Mother Church making her less fruitful.

Who are we, Brothers, before God? What are our trials? We have so many; each one of us has his own. What is God saying to us through them? What are we relying on in order to surmount them?

Just as it did Peter, Jesus' insistent and heartfelt question can leave us pained and more aware of the weakness of our freedom, threatened as it is by thousands of interior and exterior forms of conditioning that all too often give rise to bewilderment, frustration, and even disbelief.

These are not of course the sentiments and attitudes that the Lord wants to inspire; rather, the Enemy, the Devil, takes advantage of them to isolate us in bitterness, complaint and despair.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not humiliate or abandon people to remorse. Through him the tenderness of the Father, who consoles and revitalizes, speaks; it is he who brings us from the disintegration of shame — because shame truly breaks us up — to the fabric of trust; he restores courage, re-entrusts responsibility, and sends us out on mission.

Peter, purified in the crucible of forgiveness could say humbly, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). I am sure that we can all say this with heartfelt feeling. And Peter, purified, urges us in his First Letter to tend “the flock of God... not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3).

Yes, being Pastors means believing every day in the grace and strength that come to us from the Lord despite our weakness, and wholly assuming the responsibility for walking before the flock, relieved of the burdens that obstruct healthy apostolic promptness, hesitant leadership, so as to make our voice recognizable both to those who have embraced the faith and to those who “are not [yet] of this fold” (Jn 10:16). We are called to make our own the dream of God, whose house knows no exclusion of people or peoples, as Isaiah prophetically foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 2:2-5).

For this reason being Pastors also means being prepared to walk among and behind the flock; being capable of listening to the silent tale of those who are suffering and of sustaining the steps of those who fear they may not make it; attentive to raising, to reassuring and to instilling hope. Our faith emerges strengthened from sharing with the lowly. Let us therefore set aside every form of arrogance, to bend down to all whom the Lord has entrusted to our care. Among them let us keep a special, very special, place for our priests. Especially for them may our heart, our hand and our door stay open in every circumstance. They are the first faithful that we bishops have: our priests. Let us love them! Let us love them with all our heart! They are our sons and our brothers!

Dear brothers, the profession of faith we are now renewing together is not a formal act. Rather, it means renewing our response to the “Follow me” with which John’s Gospel ends (21:19). It leads to living our life in accordance with God’s plan, committing our whole self to the Lord Jesus. The discernment that knows and takes on the thoughts, expectations and needs of the people of our time stems from this.

In this spirit, I warmly thank each one of you for your service, for your love for the Church.

And the Mother is here! I place you, and myself, under the mantle of Mary, Our Lady.

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,

Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.

Purify the eyes of Pastors with the eye-wash of memory:

Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,

Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.

Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole; let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.

Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,

Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong.

Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the Truth of love.

Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom. Amen.


23.05.13

 Chapter 8

8-17




Pope Francis          

06.04.14  Holy Mass, Roman Parish of San Gregorio Magno

5th Sunday of Lent Year A    

Ezekiel 37: 12-14,    Romans 8: 8-11,    

John 11: 1-45  

Today’s Three Readings speak to us about the Resurrection, they speak to us about life. This beautiful promise from the Lord: “Behold I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves” (Ez 37:12), is the promise of the Lord who possesses life and has the power to give life, that those who are dead might regain life. The Second Reading tells us that we are under the Holy Spirit and that Christ in us, his Spirit, will raise us. And in the Third Reading of the Gospel, we saw how Jesus gave life to Lazarus. Lazarus, who was dead, has returned to life.

I would simply like to say something very briefly. We all have within us some areas, some parts of our heart that are not alive, that are a little dead; and some of us have many dead places in our hearts, a true spiritual necrosis! And when we are in this situation, we know it, we want to get out but we can’t. Only the power of Jesus, the power of Jesus can help us come out of these atrophied zones of the heart, these tombs of sin, which we all have. We are all sinners! But if we become very attached to these tombs and guard them within us and do not will that our whole heart rise again to life, we become corrupted and our soul begins to give off, as Martha says, an “odour” (Jn 11:39), the stench of a person who is attached to sin. And Lent is something to do with this. Because all of us, who are sinners, do not end up attached to sin, but that we can hear what Jesus said to Lazarus: “He cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come out’” (Jn 11:43).

Today I invite you to think for a moment, in silence, here: where is my interior necrosis? Where is the dead part of my soul? Where is my tomb? Think, for a short moment, all of you in silence. Let us think: what part of the heart can be corrupted because of my attachment to sin, one sin or another? And to remove the stone, to take away the stone of shame and allow the Lord to say to us, as he said to Lazarus: “Come out!”. That all our soul might be healed, might be raised by the love of Jesus, by the power of Jesus. He is capable of forgiving us. We all need it! All of us. We are all sinners, but we must be careful not to become corrupt! Sinners we may be, but He forgives us. Let us hear that voice of Jesus who, by the power of God, says to us: “Come out! Leave that tomb you have within you. Come out. I give you life, I give you happiness, I bless you, I want you for myself”.

May the Lord today, on this Sunday, which speaks so much about the Resurrection, give us all the grace to rise from our sins, to come out of our tombs; with the voice of Jesus, calling us to go out, to go to Him.

And another thing: on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, those who are preparing for Baptism in the Church, used to receive the Word of God. In this community today, I will make the same gesture. And I would like to give you the Gospel, which you can take home. This Gospel is a pocket-size Gospel you can carry with you always, to read a short passage at a time; to open it like this and read a part of the Gospel, when I have to queue or when I am on the bus... but only when I am comfortable on the bus, because if I am not then I must guard my pockets! To read a little passage of the Gospel at a time. It will do us so much good, so much good! A little every day. It is a gift, which I brought for your entire community, so that, today, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, you might receive the Word of God and that, thus, you too might hear the voice of Jesus say to you: “Come forth! Come! Come out!”, and so prepare for the Easter Vigil.


06.04.14

 


Chapter 8

8-17

cont.




“I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18).

The central purpose of Jesus mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship, which enables us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:14-15). Here we see our relationship renewed: the paternity of God is re-established in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation”, in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as “brothers” and “sisters”, since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.

Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.

“I will not leave you orphans”. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.

The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood. 

15.05.16

 Chapter 8

8-17

cont.




Pentecost arrived, for the disciples, after fifty days of uncertainty. True, Jesus had risen. Overjoyed, they had seen him, listened to his words and even shared a meal with him. Yet they had not overcome their doubts and fears: they met behind closed doors (cf. Jn 20:19.26), uncertain about the future and not ready to proclaim the risen Lord. Then the Holy Spirit comes and their worries disappear. Now the apostles show themselves fearless, even before those sent to arrest them. Previously, they had been worried about saving their lives; now they are unafraid of dying. Earlier, they had huddled in the Upper Room; now they go forth to preach to every nation. Before the ascension of Jesus, they waited for God’s kingdom to come to them (cf. Acts 1:6); now they are filled with zeal to travel to unknown lands. Before, they had almost never spoken in public, and when they did, they had often blundered, as when Peter denied Jesus; now they speak with parrhesia to everyone. The disciples’ journey seemed to have reached the end of the line, when suddenly they were rejuvenated by the Spirit. Overwhelmed with uncertainty, when they thought everything was over, they were transformed by a joy that gave them a new birth. The Holy Spirit did this. The Spirit is far from being an abstract reality: he is the Person who is most concrete and close, the one who changes our lives. How does he do this? Let us consider the Apostles. The Holy Spirit did not make things easier for them, he didn’t work spectacular miracles, he didn’t take away their difficulties and their opponents. Rather, the Spirit brought into the lives of the disciples a harmony that had been lacking, his own harmony, for he is harmony.

Harmony within human beings. Deep down, in their hearts, the disciples needed to be changed. Their story teaches us that even seeing the Risen Lord is not enough, unless we welcome him into our hearts. It is no use knowing that the Risen One is alive, unless we too live as risen ones. It is the Spirit who makes Jesus live within us; he raises us up from within. That is why when Jesus appears to his disciples, he repeats the words, “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19.21), and bestows the Spirit. That is what peace really is, the peace bestowed on the Apostles. That peace does not have to do with resolving outward problems – God does not spare his disciples from tribulation and persecution. Rather, it has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit. The peace bestowed on the apostles, the peace that does not bring freedom from problems but in problems, is offered to each of us. Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves. It is a harmony so profound that it can even turn persecutions into blessings. Yet how often we choose to remain on the surface! Rather than seeking the Spirit, we try to keep afloat, thinking that everything will improve once this or that problem is over, once I no longer see that person, once things get better. But to do so is to stay on the surface: when one problem goes away, another arrives, and once more we grow anxious and ill at ease. Avoiding those who do not think as we do will not bring serenity. Resolving momentary problems will not bring peace. What makes a difference is the peace of Jesus, the harmony of the Spirit.

At today’s frenzied pace of life, harmony seems swept aside. Pulled in a thousand directions, we run the risk of nervous exhaustion and so we react badly to everything. Then we look for the quick fix, popping one pill after another to keep going, one thrill after another to feel alive. But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: he brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope. As Saint Paul tells us today, the Spirit keeps us from falling back into fear, for he makes us realize that we are beloved children (cf. Rom 8:15). He is the Consoler, who brings us the tender love of God. Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together. Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.

The Holy Spirit does not bring only harmony within us but also among us. He makes us Church, building different parts into one harmonious edifice. Saint Paul explains this well when, speaking of the Church, he often repeats a single word, “variety”: varieties of gifts, varieties of services, varieties of activities” (1 Cor 12:4-6). We differ in the variety of our qualities and gifts. The Holy Spirit distributes them creatively, so that they are not all identical. On the basis of this variety, he builds unity. From the beginning of creation, he has done this. Because he is a specialist in changing chaos into cosmos, in creating harmony. He is a specialist in creating diversity, enrichment, individuality. He is the creator of this diversity and, at the same time, the one who brings harmony and gives unity to diversity. He alone can do these two things.

In today’s world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born. In the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family. May he regenerate us! There is always a temptation to build “nests”, to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect, even within the Church. How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something! The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. He blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness. He looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions. The Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These nouns come before any adjectives. Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults. It could be said that we are living in a culture of adjectives that forgets about the nouns that name the reality of things. But also a culture of the insult as the first reaction to any opinion that I do not share. Later we come to realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life. Those who live by the Spirit, however, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.

To be spiritual, to savour the harmony of the Spirit, we need to adopt his way of seeing things. Then everything changes: with the Spirit, the Church is the holy People of God, mission is not proselytism but the spread of joy, as others become our brothers and sisters, all loved by the same Father. Without the Spirit, though, the Church becomes an organization, her mission becomes propaganda, her communion an exertion. Many Churches spend time making pastoral plans, discussing any number of things. That seems to be the road to unity, but it is not the way of the Spirit; it is the road to division. The Spirit is the first and last need of the Church (cf. Saint Paul VI, General Audience, 29 November 1972). He “comes where he is loved, where he is invited, where he is expected” (Saint Bonaventure, Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Easter).

Brothers and sisters, let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit. Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centredness into self-gift, come to us. Grant us the joy of the resurrection and perennially young hearts. Holy Spirit, our harmony, you who make of us one body, pour forth your peace upon the Church and our world. Holy Spirit, make us builders of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.

09.06.19

 


Chapter 8

8-17

cont.


Pope Francis       

03.03.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       

Catechesis on prayer - 25. Prayer and the Trinity. 1         

Romans 8: 14-15, 26-27      

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In our journey of catechesis on prayer, today and next week we will see how, thanks to Jesus Christ, prayer opens us up to the Trinityto the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - to the immense sea of God who is Love. It is Jesus who opened up Heaven to us and projected us into a relationship with God. It was he who did this: he opened up to us this relationship with the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is what the Apostle John affirms at the conclusion of the prologue of his Gospel: “No one has ever seen God: the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made Him known” (Jn 1:18). Jesus revealed the identity to us, this identity of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. We really did not know how to pray: what words, what feelings and what language were appropriate for God. In that request the disciples addressed to the Master, which we have often recalled in the course of these catecheses, there is all of humanity’s fumbling, repeated attempts, often unsuccessful, to address the Creator: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1).

Not all prayers are equal, and not all are convenient: the Bible itself attests to the negative outcome of many prayers, which are rejected. Perhaps God at times is not content with our prayers and we are not even aware of this. God looks at the hands of those who pray: to make them pure it is not necessary to wash them; if anything, one must refrain from evil acts. Saint Francis prayed: «Nullu homo ène dignu te mentovare», that is, “no man is worthy of naming you” (Canticle of the Sun).

But perhaps the most moving acknowledgment of the poverty of our prayer came from the lips of the Roman centurion who one day begged Jesus to heal his sick servant (cf. Mt 8:5-13). He felt totally inadequate: he was not a Jew, he was an officer in the detested occupying army. But his concern for his servant emboldens him, and he says: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 8). It is the phrase we also repeat in every Eucharistic liturgy. To dialogue with God is a grace: we are not worthy of it, we have no rights to claim, we “limp” with every word and every thought... But Jesus is the door that opens us to this dialogue with God.

Why should humanity be loved by God? There are no obvious reasons, there is no proportion… So much so that most mythologies do not contemplate the possibility of a god who cares about human affairs; on the contrary, they are considered bothersome and boring, entirely negligible. Remember God’s phrase to his people, repeated in Deuteronomy: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us?” This closeness of God is the revelation! Some philosophers say that God can only think of himself. If anything, it is we humans who try to convince the deity and be pleasing to his eyes. Hence the duty of “religion”, with the procession of sacrifices and devotions to be offered again and again to ingratiate ourselves with a mute God, an indifferent God. There is no dialogue. It was only Jesus, it was only the revelation of God to Moses before Jesus, when God presented himself; it was only the Bible that opened us up to dialogue with God. Remember: “What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as ours?”. This is God’s closeness, that opens us up to dialogue with him.

A God who loves humanity: we would never have had the courage to believe in him, had we not known Jesus. The knowledge of Jesus made us understand this, it let this be revealed to us. It is the scandal – it is a scandal! - that we find inscribed in the parable of the merciful father, or in that of the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep (cf. Lk 15). We would not have been able to conceive or even comprehend such stories if we had not met Jesus. What kind of God is prepared to die for people? Which one? What kind of God loves always and patiently, without demanding to be loved in return? What God accepts the tremendous lack of gratitude of a son who asks for his inheritance in advance and leaves home, squandering everything? (cf. Lk 15:12-13).

It is Jesus who reveals God’s heart. Thus Jesus tells us through his life the extent to which God is a Father. Tam Pater nemo: No one is Father like he is. The paternity that is closeness, compassion and tenderness. Do not forget these three words, that are God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness. It is his way of expressing his paternity towards us. It is difficult for us to imagine from afar the love with which the Holy Trinity is filled, and the depth of the reciprocal benevolence that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Eastern icons offer us a glimpse of this mystery that is the origin and joy of the whole universe.

Above all, it was beyond us to believe that this divine love would expand, landing on our human shore: we are the recipients of a love that has no equal on earth. The Catechism explains: “The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father” (no. 2664). And this is the grace of our faith. We really could not have hoped for a higher vocation: the humanity of Jesus – God who came close to us in Jesus - made available to us the very life of the Trinity, and threw wide open this door of the mystery of the love of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

03.03.21



 Chapter 8

8-17

cont.




Pope Francis       

05.06.22 Holy Mass, St Peter's Basilica  

Solemnity of Pentecost   Year C  

Romans 8: 8-17

John 14: 15-16, 23b-26

In the final words of the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus says something that can offer us hope and make us think. He tells his disciples: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you (Jn 14:26). “Everything”, “all” – these words are striking; they make us wonder: how does the Spirit give this new and full understanding to those who receive him? It is not about quantity, or an academic question: God does not want to make us encyclopaedias or polymaths. No. It is a question of quality, perspective, perception. The Spirit makes us see everything in a new way, with the eyes of Jesus. I would put it this way: in the great journey of life, the Spirit teaches us where to begin, what paths to take, and how to walk.

First, where to begin. The Spirit points out to us the starting point of the spiritual life. What is it? Jesus speaks of it in the first verse of the Gospel, when he says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v. 15). If you love me, you will keep…. This is the “logic” of the Spirit. We tend to think the exact opposite: if we keep the commandments, we will love Jesus. We tend to think that love comes from our keeping, our fidelity and our devotion. Yet the Spirit reminds us that without love as our basis, all the rest is in vain. And that love comes not so much from our abilities, but as his gift. He teaches us to love and we have to ask for this gift. The Spirit of love pours love into our hearts, he makes us feel loved and he teaches us how to love. He is the “motor” of our spiritual lives. He set it in motion within us. But if we do not begin from the Spirit, or with the Spirit or through the Spirit, we will get nowhere.

The Spirit himself reminds us of this, because he is the memory of God, the one who brings to our minds all that Jesus has said (cf. v. 26). The Holy Spirit is an active memory; he constantly rekindles the love of God in our hearts. We have experienced his presence in the forgiveness of our sins, in moments when we are filled with his peace, his freedom and his consolation. It is essential to cherish this spiritual memory. We always remember the things that go wrong; we listen to the voice within us that reminds us of our failures and failings, the voice that keeps saying: “Look, yet another failure, yet another disappointment. You will never succeed; you cannot do it”. This is a terrible thing to be told. Yet the Holy Spirit tells us something completely different. He reminds us: “Have you fallen? You are a son or daughter of God. You are a unique, elect, precious and beloved child. Even when you lose confidence in yourself, God has confidence in you!” This is the “memory” of the Spirit, what the Spirit constantly reminds us: God knows you. You may forget about God, but he does not forget about you. He remembers you always.

You, however, may well object: these are nice words, but I have problems, hurts and worries that cannot be removed by facile words of comfort! Yet that is precisely where the Holy Spirit asks you to let him in. Because he, the Consoler, is the Spirit of healing, of resurrection, who can transform the hurts burning within you. He teaches us not to harbour the memory of all those people and situations that have hurt us, but to let him purify those memories by his presence. That is what he did with the apostles and their failures. They had deserted Jesus before the Passion; Peter had denied him; Paul had persecuted Christians. We too think of our own mistakes. How many of them, and so much guilt! Left to themselves, they had no way out. Left to themselves, no. But with the Comforter, yes. Because the Spirit heals memories. How? By putting at the top of the list the thing that really matters: the memory of God’s love, his loving gaze. In this way, he sets our lives in order. He teaches us to accept one another, to forgive one another and to forgive ourselves; he teaches us to be reconciled with the past. And to set out anew.

In addition to reminding us where to begin, the Spirit teaches us what paths to take. We see this in the second reading, where Saint Paul explains that those “led by the Spirit of God” (Rom 8:14) “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4). The Spirit, at every crossroads in our lives, suggests to us the best path to follow. It is important, then, to be able to distinguish his voice from the voice of the spirit of evil. Both speak to us: we need to learn to distinguish the voice of the Spirit, to be able to recognize that voice and follow its lead, to follow the things he tells us.

Let us consider some examples. The Holy Spirit will never tell you that on your journey everything is going just fine. He will never tell you this, because it isn’t true. No, he corrects you; he makes you weep for your sins; he pushes you to change, to fight against your lies and deceptions, even when that calls for hard work, interior struggle and sacrifice. The evil spirit, on the contrary, pushes you to do always what you want, what you find pleasing. He makes you think that you have the right to use your freedom any way you want. Then, once you are left feeling empty inside – and how many of us have known that terrible feeling of emptiness! – then he blames you and casts you down.  The evil spirit blames you, he becomes the accuser. He casts you down and destroys you. The Holy Spirit, correcting you along the way, never leaves you lying on the ground: He takes you by the hand, comforts you and constantly encourages you.

Then again, whenever you feel troubled by bitterness, pessimism and negativity – how many times have we fallen into this! – then it is good to remember that these things never come from the Holy Spirit. Bitterness, pessimism, sad thoughts, these never come from the Holy Spirit. They come from evil, which is at home with negativity. It often uses this strategy: it stokes impatience and self-pity, and with self-pity the need to blame others for all our problems. It makes us edgy, suspicious, querulous. Complaining is the language of the evil spirit; he wants to make you complain, to be gloomy, to put on a funeral face. The Holy Spirit on the other hand urges us never to lose heart and always to start over again. He always encourages you to get up. He takes you by the hand and says: “Get up!” How do we do that? By jumping right in, without waiting for someone else. And by spreading hope and joy, not complaints; never envying others. Never! Envy is the door through which the evil spirit enters. The Bible tells us this: by the envy of the devil, evil entered the world. So never be envious! The Holy Spirit brings you goodness; he leads you to rejoice in the success of others.

The Holy Spirit is practical, he is not an idealist. He wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the time and place in which we find ourselves are themselves grace-filled. These are they concrete times and places of grace, here and now. That is where the Holy Spirit is leading us. The spirit of evil, however, would pull us away from the here and now, and put us somewhere else. Often he anchors us to the past: to our regrets, our nostalgia, our disappointments. Or else he points us to the future, fueling our fears, illusions and false hopes . But not the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to love, concretely, here and now, not an ideal world or an ideal Church, an ideal religious congregation, but the real ones, as they are, seen in broad light of day, with transparency and simplicity. How very different from the evil one, who instigates gossip and idle chatter. Idle chatter is a nasty habit; it destroys a person’s identity.

The Holy Spirit wants us to be together; he makes us Church and today – here is the third and final aspect – he teaches the Church how to walk. The disciples were cowering in the Upper Room; the Spirit then came down and made them go forth. Without the Spirit, they were alone, by themselves, huddled together. With the Spirit, they were open to all. In every age, the Spirit overturns our preconceived notions and opens us to his newness. God, the Spirit, is always new! He constantly teaches the Church the vital importance of going forth, impelled to proclaim the Gospel. The importance of our being, not a secure sheepfold, but an open pasture where all can graze on God’s beauty. He teaches us to be an open house without walls of division. The worldly spirit drives us to concentrate on our own problems and interests, on our need to appear relevant, on our strenuous defence of the nation or group to which we belong. That is not the way of the Holy Spirit. He invites to forget ourselves and to open our hearts to all. In that way, he makes the Church grow young. We need to remember this: the Spirit rejuvenates the Church. Not us and our efforts to dress her up a bit. For the Church cannot be “programmed” and every effort at “modernization” is not enough. The Spirit liberates us from obsession with emergencies. He beckons us to walk his paths, ever ancient and ever new, the paths of witness, poverty and mission, and in this way, he sets us free from ourselves and sends us forth into the world.

And finally, oddly, the Holy Spirit is the author of division, of ruckus, of a certain disorder. Think of the morning of Pentecost: he is the author… he creates division of languages and attitudes… it was a ruckus, that! Yet at the same time, he is the author of harmony. He divides with the variety of charisms, but it is a false division, because true division is part of harmony. He creates division with charisms and he creates harmony with all this division. This is the richness of the Church.

Brothers and sisters, let us sit at the school of the Holy Spirit, so that he can teach us all things. Let us invoke him each day, so that he can remind us to make God’s gaze upon us our starting point, to make decisions by listening to his voice, and to journey together as Church, docile to him and open to the world. Amen.

05.06.22

 


Chapter 8

18-25



Pope Francis       

29.10.19   Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Romans 8: 18-25,  

Luke 13: 18-21 

In the First Reading of today's Liturgy, taken from St Paul's letter to the Romans (Rom 8:18-25) the Apostle sings a hymn to hope. Certainly some of the Romans have come to complain and Paul exhorts us to look ahead. "I believe that the sufferings of the present time are not comparable to the future glory that will be revealed in us," he says, speaking also of Creation as "awaiting with eager expectation for the revelation of the children of God". There may be suffering and problems but this is tomorrow, while today you have the security of the promise that it is the Holy Spirit who awaits us and works already from this moment.

Hope is in fact like throwing an anchor to the other shore and clinging to the rope. But not only we, but of all Creation in hope will be freed, will enter into the glory of the children of God. And we too, who possess the first fruits of the Spirit, the security deposit, groan inwardly waiting for adoption.

Hope is this living in tension, always; knowing that we cannot make a nest here: the life of the Christian is in ongoing tension. If a Christian loses this perspective, his life becomes static and things that do not move are corroded. Let's think of water: when the water is still, it doesn't run, it doesn't move, it stagnates. A Christian who is not capable of being stretched, of being in tension, is missing something: he will end up stagnant. For him, the Christian life will be a philosophical doctrine, he will live it like that, he will say that it is faith but without hope it is not.

It is difficult to understand hope. If we speak of faith, we refer to faith in God who created us, in Jesus who redeemed us; and to reciting the Creed and to knowing concrete things about faith. If we speak of charity, it concerns doing good to one's neighbour, to others, many works of charity that are done to others. But hope is difficult to understand: it is the most humble of virtues that only the poor can have.

If we want to be men and women of hope, we must be poor, poor, not attached to anything. Poor. And open. Hope is humble, and it is a virtue that we work at - so to speak - every day: every day we have to take it back, every day we have to take the rope and see that the anchor is fixed there and I hold it in my hand; every day we have to remember that we have the security, that it is the Spirit who works in us with small things.

In today's Gospel (Lk 13:18-21) Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the mustard seed planted in the garden. Let's wait for it to grow. We don't go every day to see how it goes, because otherwise it will never grow, because, as Paul says, "hope needs patience". It is the patience of knowing that we sow, but it is God who gives growt". Hope is artisanal, small, it is sowing a grain and letting the earth give growth.

To talk about hope, Jesus, in today's Gospel, also uses the image of the yeast that a woman took and mixed in three portions of flour. Yeast not kept in the fridge but kneaded in life, just as the grain is buried underground.

For this reason, hope is a virtue that cannot be seen: it works from below; it makes us go and look from below. It is not easy to live in hope, but I would say that it should be the air that a Christian breathes, an air of hope; on the other hand, he cannot walk, he cannot go on because he does not know where to go. Hope - yes, it's true - gives us security: hope does not disappoint. Never. If you hope, you will not be disappointed. We must be open to that promise of the Lord, leaning towards that promise, but knowing that there is the Spirit that works in us.

May the Lord give us, to all of us, this grace of living in tension, in tension but not through nerves, problems, no: in tension through the Holy Spirit who throws us to the other shore and keeps us in hope.

29.10.19


Chapter 8

18-25

cont.


Pope Francis       

24.08.22 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall  

Catechesis on Old Age - 18. The labour pains of creation. The story of the creature as a mystery of gestation  

Romans 8: 22-24

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

We recently celebrated the Assumption into heaven of the Mother of Jesus. This mystery illuminates the fulfilment of the grace that shaped Mary's destiny, and it also illuminates our destination, doesn’t it? The destination is heaven. With this image of the Virgin assumed into heaven, I would like to conclude the cycle of catecheses on old age. In the West, we contemplate her lifted up, enveloped in glorious light; in the East she is depicted reclining, sleeping, surrounded by the Apostles in prayer, while the Risen Lord holds her in his hands like a child.

Theology has always reflected on the relationship of this singular ‘assumption’ with death, which the dogma does not define. I think it would be even more important to make explicit the relationship of this mystery with the resurrection of the Son, which opens the way for the generation of life for us all. In the divine act of reuniting Mary with the Risen Christ, the normal bodily corruption of human death, and not only this, is not simply transcended, the bodily assumption of the life of God is anticipated. In fact, the destiny of the resurrection that pertains to us is anticipated: because, according to Christian faith, the Risen One is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. The Risen Lord is the one who went first, first, who rose first, in the first place; then we will go, but this is our destiny: to rise again.

We could say — following Jesus' words to Nicodemus — that it is a little like a second birth (cf. Jn 3:3-8). If the first was a birth on earth, this second is a birth in heaven. It is no coincidence that the Apostle Paul, in the text that was read at the beginning, speaks of the pains of childbirth (cf. Rom 8:22). Just as, in the moment we come out of our mother's womb, we are still ourselves, the same human being that was in the womb; so, after death, we are born to heaven, to God's space, and we are still ourselves, who walked on this earth. It is analogous to what happened to Jesus: the Risen One is still Jesus: he does not lose his humanity, his experience, or even his corporality, no, because without it he would no longer be himself, he would not be Jesus: that is, with his humanity, with his lived experience.

The experience of the disciples, to whom he appears for forty days after his resurrection, tells us this. The Lord shows them the wounds that sealed his sacrifice; but they are no longer the ugliness of the painfully suffered disgrace, they are now the indelible proof of his faithful love to the very end. The risen Jesus with his body lives in the Trinitarian intimacy of God! And in it he does not lose his memory, he does not abandon his history, he does not dissolve the relationships he lived on earth. To his friends he promised: ‘And if I go and prepare a place for you – He left to prepare a place for us, for all of us – and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’ (Jn 14:3). And he will come, not only will he come at the end for everyone, he will come each time for each one of us. He will come to seek us out to bring us to him. In this sense, death is a kind of step toward the encounter with Jesus who is waiting for me to bring me to him.

The Risen One lives in God’s world, where there is a place for everyone, where a new earth is being formed, and the heavenly city, man’s final dwelling place, is being built. We cannot imagine this transfiguration of our mortal corporality, but we are certain that it will keep our faces recognizable and allow us to remain human in God’s heaven. It will allow us to participate, with sublime emotion, in the infinite and blissful exuberance of God's creative act, whose endless adventures we will experience first-hand.

When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he describes it as a wedding feast; as a party, that is, like a party, a party with friends awaits us; as the work that makes the house perfect, and the surprise that makes the harvest richer than the sowing. Taking seriously the Gospel words about the Kingdom enables our sensitivities to enjoy God’s working and creative love, and puts us in tune with the unprecedented destination of the life we sow. In our old age, my dear contemporaries – and I speak to the old men and old women – in our old age, the importance of the many ‘details’ of which life is made — a caress, a smile, a gesture, an appreciated effort, an unexpected surprise, a hospitable cheerfulness, a faithful bond — becomes more acute. The essentials of life, which we hold most dear as we approach our farewell, become definitively clear to us. See: this wisdom of old age is the place of our gestation, which illuminates the lives of children, of young people, of adults, of the entire community. We, the elderly should be this for others: light for others. Our whole life appears like a seed that will have to be buried so that its flower and its fruit can be born. It will be born, along with everything else in the world. Not without labour pains, not without pain, but it will be born (cf. Jn 16:21-23). And the life of the risen body will be a hundred and a thousand times more alive than we have tasted it on this earth (cf. Mk 10:28-31).

Dear brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord, not by chance, while waiting for the Apostles by the lake, roasts some fish (cf. Jn 21:9) and then offers it to them. This gesture of caring love gives us a glimpse of what awaits us as we cross to the other shore. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, especially you elderly, the best of life is yet to come. ‘But we are old, what more is yet to come?’ The best, because the best of life is yet to come. Let us hope, let us hope for this fulness of life that awaits us all, when the Lord calls us. May the Mother of the Lord and our Mother, who has preceded us to heaven, restore to us the eager anticipation of expectation, because it is not an anaesthetized expectation, it is not a bored expectation, no, it is an expectation with eager anticipation, it is an expectation: ‘When will my Lord come? When will I be able to go there?’ A little bit of fear, because I don’t know what this passage means, and passing through that door causes a little fear – but there is always the hand of the Lord that carries us forward, and beyond the door there is the party.

Let us be attentive, dear old people, contemporaries, let us be attentive. He is expecting us. Just one passage, and then the party.

Thank you.

24.08.22



Chapter 8

18-25

cont.



Pope Francis       

08.05.24 General Audience, Saint Peter's Square 

Cycle of Catechesis. Vices and Virtues. 18. Hope 

Romans 8: 18, 23-24

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the last catechesis we began to reflect on the theological virtues. There are three of them: faith, hope and charity. Last time, we reflected on faith. Now it is the turn of hope. “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1817). These words confirm to us that hope is the answer offered to our heart, when the absolute question arises in us: “What will become of me? What is the purpose of the journey? What is the destiny of the world?”.

We all realize that a negative answer to these questions produces sadness. If there is no meaning to the journey of life, if at the beginning and the end there is nothing, then we ask ourselves why we should walk: hence man’s desperation, the sensation of the pointlessness of everything, is born. And many may rebel: “I have striven to be virtuous, to be prudent, just, strong, temperate. I have also been a man or woman of faith.... What was the use of my fight, if it all ends here?”. If hope is missing, all the other virtues risk crumbling and ending up as ashes. If no reliable tomorrow, no bright horizon, were to exist, one would only have to conclude that virtue is a futile effort. “Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well” said Benedict XVI (Encyclical Letter Spe salvi, 2).

Christians have hope not through their own merit. If they believe in the future, it is because Christ died and rose again and gave us His Spirit. “Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present” (ibid., 1). In this sense, once again, we say that hope is a theological virtue: it does not emanate from us, it is not an obstinacy we want to convince ourselves of, but it is a gift that comes directly from God.

To many doubting Christians, who had not been completely born again to hope, the Apostle Paul sets before them the new logic of the Christian experience, and he says: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:17-19). It is as if he said: if you believe in the resurrection of Christ, then you know with certainty that no defeat and no death is forever. But if you do not believe in the resurrection of Christ, then everything becomes hollow, even the preaching of the Apostles.

Hope is a virtue against which we sin often: in our bad nostalgia, in our melancholy, when we think that the happiness of the past is buried forever. We sin against hope when we become despondent over our sins, forgetting that God is merciful and greater than our heart. And let us not forget this, brothers and sisters: God forgives everything, God forgives always. We are the ones who tire of asking for forgiveness. But let us not forget this truth: God forgives everything, God forgives always. We sin against hope when we become despondent over our sins; we sin against hope when the autumn in us cancels out the spring; when God's love ceases to be an eternal fire and we do not have the courage to make decisions that commit us for a lifetime.

The world today is in great need of this Christian virtue! The world needs hope, just as it needs patience, a virtue that walks in close contact with hope. Patient men are weavers of goodness. They stubbornly desire peace, and even if some of them are hasty and would like everything, and straight away, patience is capable of waiting. Even when around us many have succumbed to disillusionment, those who are inspired by hope and are patient are able to get through the darkest of nights. Hope and patience go together.

Hope is the virtue of those who are young at heart; and here age does not count. Because there are also the elderly with eyes full of light, who live permanently striving towards the future. Think of the two great elderly people of the Gospel, Simeon and Anna: they never tired of waiting and they saw the last stretch of their earthly journey blessed by the encounter with the Messiah, whom they recognized in Jesus, brought to the Temple by His parents. What grace if it were like that for all of us! If after a long pilgrimage, setting down our saddlebags and staff, our heart were filled with a joy never before felt, and we too could exclaim: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace / according to thy word; / for mine eyes have seen thy salvation / which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, / a light for revelation to the Gentiles, / and for glory to thy people Israel” (Lk 2:29-32).

Brothers and sisters, let us go ahead and ask for the grace to have hope, hope with patience. Always look towards that definitive encounter; always look to see that the Lord is always near us, that death will never, never be victorious. Let us go ahead and ask the Lord to give us this great virtue of hope, accompanied by patience. Thank you.

08.04.24

 


Chapter 8

31-39



Pope Francis       


04.11.13  Mass, Vatican Basilica


for the repose of souls of the Cardinals and Bishops   


Romans 8: 38-39



In the spiritual atmosphere of the month of November, which is marked by the remembrance of the faithful departed, we remember our brother Cardinals and Bishops from around the world who have

returned to the Father’s house during this last year. As we offer this Holy Eucharist for each one of them, let us ask the Lord to grant them the heavenly reward promised to his good and faithful servants.

We have listened to the words of St Paul: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

The Apostle presents the love of God as the deepest and most compelling reason for Christian trust and hope. He lists the opposing and mysterious forces that can threaten the journey of faith. But immediately he states with confidence that even if our entire life is surrounded by threats, nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love which Christ himself has obtained for us by his total self-gift. Even the demonic powers