Pope Francis          

28.07.13 Holy Mass  Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro 

28th World Youth Day   

Romans 10: 9     1 Corinthians 9: 16,19      

Jeremiah 1: 7,8,10      Matthew 28: 20     Psalm 95: 1 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? What is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “go, if you would like to, if you have the time”, but he said: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination, from the desire for power, but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and did not give us just a part of himself, but he gave us the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as people who are free , as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path for all of you to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, as we have just heard in the reading, when he was called by God to be a prophet. “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus never leaves anyone alone! He always accompanies us .

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! Certainly he has rejuvenated all of you. The young make everyone feel young. But this experience is only a stage on the journey. Please, continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And here I wish to thank from the heart the youth ministry teams from the movements and new communities that are accompanying the young people in their experience of being Church, in such a creative and bold way. Go forth and don’t be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. The life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives more joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Dear young friends, Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen.


Pope Francis       

02.07.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square  

13th Sunday  Year A   

Matthew 10: 37-42

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s liturgy presents to us the last lines of the missionary discourse in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. 10:37-42), by which Jesus instructs the 12 Apostles at the moment in which, for the first time, he sends them on mission to the villages of Galilee and Judea. In this final part, Jesus underscores two essential aspects for the life of a missionary disciple: the first, that his bond with Jesus is stronger than any other bond; the second, that the missionary brings not himself, but Jesus, and through Him the love of the heavenly Father. These two aspects are connected, because the more Jesus is at the centre of the heart and of the life of a disciple, the more this disciple is “transparent” to His presence. The two go hand in hand.

“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me...” (v. 37), Jesus says. A father’s affection, a mother’s tenderness, the gentle friendship among brothers and sisters, all this, even while being very good and valid, cannot be placed before Christ. Not because he wants us to be heartless and ungrateful, but rather, on the contrary, because the condition of a disciple demands a priority relationship with the teacher. Any disciple, whether a layman or laywoman, a priest or a bishop: an all-absorbing relationship. Perhaps the first question that we must ask a Christian is: “Do you meet with Jesus? Do you pray to Jesus?”. The relationship. One could almost paraphrase the Book of Genesis: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to Jesus and the two shall become one (cf. Gen 2:24).

Those who allow themselves to be drawn into this bond of love and of life with the Lord Jesus become his representatives, his “ambassadors”, above all in the way of being, of living. To the point that Jesus himself, in sending his disciples on mission, says to them: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Mt 10:40). It is important that the people be able to perceive that for that disciple Jesus is truly “the Lord”; He is truly the centre of his or her life, the everything of life.

It does not matter then if, as for every human being, he or she has limitations and even makes mistakes — as long as he or she has the humility to recognize them; the important thing is that they not have a duplicitous heart — and this is dangerous. I am a Christian; I am a disciple of Jesus; I am a priest; I am a bishop, but I have a duplicitous heart. No, this is not okay. One must not have a duplicitous heart, but a simple, cohesive heart; [one must] not keep one foot in two shoes, but be honest with oneself and with others. Duplicity is not Christian. This is why Jesus prays to the Father so that the disciples may not fall prey to the worldly spirit. You are either with Jesus, with the spirit of Jesus, or you are with the spirit of the world.

Here our experience as priests teaches us something very beautiful, something very important: it is precisely this welcoming of the holy, faithful People of God; it is precisely that “cup of cold water” (v. 42) that the Lord speaks of today in the Gospel, given with affectionate faith, which helps you to be a good priest! There is a reciprocity in mission too: if you leave everything for Jesus, the people recognize the Lord in you; but at the same time it helps you to convert each day to him, so as to renew and purify yourself from compromises and to overcome temptations. The closer a priest is to the People of God, the closer will he feel to Jesus, and the closer a priest is to Jesus, the closer will he feel to the People of God.

The Virgin Mary felt in the first person what it means to love Jesus by separating herself from him, giving new meaning to family ties, beginning with faith in him. With her maternal intercession, may she help us to be free and happy missionaries of the Gospel.


Pope Francis       

03.02.19 Angelus, St Peter's Square   

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C  

Luke 4: 21-31

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Last Sunday the liturgy proposed to us the episode of the Synagogue of Nazareth, where Jesus reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah and in the end reveals that those words are fulfilled “today”, in Him. Jesus presents himself as the one on whom the Spirit of the Lord has rested, the Holy Spirit who consecrated him and sent him to carry out the mission of salvation for the benefit of humanity. Today’s Gospel (cf. Lk 4:21-30) is the continuation of that narrative and shows us the astonishment of his fellow citizens in seeing that someone from their country, “Joseph’s son” (v. 22), claims to be the Christ, the Father’s envoy.

Jesus, with his ability to penetrate minds and hearts, immediately understands what his fellow countrymen think. They believe that, since he is one of them, he must demonstrate his strange “claim” by working miracles there, in Nazareth, as he did in neighbouring countries (cf. v. 23). But Jesus does not want and cannot accept this logic, because it does not correspond to God’s plan: God wants faith, they want miracles, signs; God wants to save everyone, and they want a Messiah for their own benefit. And to explain the logic of God, Jesus gives the example of two great ancient prophets: Elijah and Elisha, whom God had sent to heal and save non-Hebrew people, and other peoples, but who had trusted in his word.

Faced with this invitation to open their hearts to the gratuitousness and universality of salvation, the citizens of Nazareth rebelled, and even assumed an aggressive attitude, which degenerated to the point that “they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill [...], that they might throw him down” (v. 29). The initial admiration turned into aggression, a rebellion against him.

And this Gospel passage shows us that Jesus’ public ministry begins with a rejection and with a death threat, paradoxically precisely on the part of his fellow citizens. Jesus, in living the mission entrusted to him by the Father, knows well that he must face fatigue, rejection, persecution and defeat. A price that, yesterday as today, authentic prophecy is called to pay. The harsh rejection, however, does not discourage Jesus, nor does it stop the journey and the fruitfulness of his prophetic action. He goes ahead on his way (cf. v. 30), trusting in the Father’s love.

Today too, the world needs to see prophets in the Lord’s disciples, that is, people who are courageous and persevere in responding to the Christian vocation. People who follow the “drive” of the Holy Spirit, who sends them to proclaim hope and salvation to the poor and the excluded; people who follow the logic of faith and not of miracalism; people dedicated to the service of all, without privileges and exclusion. In short: people who are ready to welcome the Father’s will within them and undertake to witness to it faithfully to others.

Let us pray to Mary Most Holy, that we may grow and walk with the same apostolic zeal for the Kingdom of God that inspired Jesus’ mission.


Pope Francis          

01.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) 

Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II 

John 8: 31-42    

In these days, the Church has us listen to the eighth chapter of John: there is a strong discussion between Jesus and the doctors of the Law. And above all, He is trying to reveal His true identity: John wants to bring us close to that argument to reveal the identity of Jesus through the doctors of the law. Jesus puts them in a corner by showing them their own contradictions. And they, in the end, find no other way out than insult: it's one of the saddest pages, it's blasphemy. They insult Our Lady.

But speaking of His identity, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, he advised them: "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples." He returns to that word so dear to the Lord that He will repeat it so many times, and then at the Last Supper: remain. "Stay in me." Remain in the Lord. He doesn't say, "Study well, learn the arguments well": that is taken for granted. But He goes to the most important thing, the one that is most dangerous in life, if you do not do it: remain. "Remain in my word." And those who remain in the word of Jesus have their own Christian identity. And what is it? "You will truly be my disciples." Christian identity is not a card that says "I am a Christian", an identity card: no. It's discipleship. If you remain in the Lord, in the Word of the Lord, in the life of the Lord, you will be a disciple. If you do not remain you will be someone who sympathizes with doctrine, who follows Jesus as a man who does so much charity, is so good, that He has just values, but discipleship is precisely the true identity of the Christian.

And it will be discipleship that will give us freedom: the disciple is a someone who is free because they remain in the Lord. And "remain in the Lord," what does it mean? To allow the Holy Spirit guide you. The disciple allows himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, for this reason the disciple is always someone of tradition and but can embrace novelty, he is a free man. Free. Never subject to ideologies, to doctrines within Christian life, doctrines that can be discussed. He remains in the Lord, it is the Spirit who inspires them. When we sing to the Holy Spirit, we tell him that he is a guest of the soul, that he dwells in us. But this is true, only if we remain in the Lord.

I ask the Lord the grace to let us know this wisdom to remain in Him and to let us know familiarity with the Spirit: the Holy Spirit gives us freedom. And this is an anointing. Those who remain in the Lord are disciples, and the disciple is anointed, an anointment of the Spirit, someone who has received the anointment of the Spirit carries it forward and allows it to bear fruit. This is the path that Jesus shows us for freedom and also for life. And the discipleship is the anointing that those who remain in the Lord receive.

May the Lord help us understand this, it's not easy: because the doctors did not understand it, it is not understood only with the head; we understand with our minds and hearts, this wisdom of the anointing of the Holy Spirit which makes us disciples. 


Pope Francis

28.06.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square      

13th Sunday Year A      

Matthew 10: 37-42  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday, the Gospel (cf. Mt 10:37-42) forcefully echoes the invitation to live out our bond with the Lord fully and without hesitation. Jesus asks his disciples to take the demands of the Gospel seriously, even when that requires sacrifice and effort.

The first demanding request that he addresses to those who follow him is that of putting love for him above family affection. He says: “He who loves father or mother… son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (v. 37). Jesus certainly does not intend to undervalue love for parents and children, but he knows that if family bonds are put in first place, they can deviate from the true good. We see this: some forms of corruption in governments come about precisely because love for family is greater than love for country, and so they put family members in charge. It is the same with Jesus: when love [for family] is greater than [it is] for him, it is not good. All of us can give many examples in this regard, not to mention those situations in which family affections are intermingled with choices that are contrary to the Gospel. When, instead, love for parents and children is inspired and purified by love for the Lord, it then becomes wholly fruitful and produces good fruits within the family itself and well beyond it. Jesus says this phrase in this sense. Let us also remember how Jesus rebukes the doctors of the law who cause their parents to lack what is necessary to them on the pretext of offering it at the altar, of giving it to the Church (cf. Mk 7:8-13). He rebukes them! True love for Jesus requires a true love for parents and children, but if we seek out family interests first, this always leads to the wrong path.

Then, Jesus says to his disciples: “he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38). This means following him along the path that he himself trod, without looking for shortcuts. There is no true love without the cross, that is, without a personal price to pay. Many mothers, many fathers who sacrifice a great deal for their children, and bear true sacrifices, crosses, because they love them, say this. And the cross is not frightening when borne with Jesus, because he is always at our side to support us in the hour of the most difficult trial, to give us strength and courage. Nor is it helpful to get agitated to preserve one’s own life through fearful or egotistical behaviour. Jesus admonishes: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake” — that is, for love, for love of Jesus, love for one’s neighbour, for service towards others — “will find it” (v. 39). This is the Gospel paradox. But we have many, many examples of this too, thank God! We see it in these days. How many people, how many people, are bearing crosses to help others; they sacrifice themselves to help others who are in need in this pandemic. But, always with Jesus, it can be done. The fullness of life and of joy is found by giving oneself for the Gospel and for our brothers and sisters, with openness, welcoming and goodness.

In so doing, we can experience God’s generosity and gratitude. Jesus reminds us of this: “He who receives you receives me… And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water… shall not lose his reward” (vv. 40, 42). God’s generous gratitude takes into account even the smallest gesture of love and service given to our brothers and sisters. In these days, I heard from a priest who was moved because a child approached him in his parish and said, “Father, this is my savings; not very much. It is for the poor, for those who are in need today because of the pandemic”. A small thing, but a great thing. It is a contagious gratitude, which helps each of us to be grateful to those who take care of our needs. When someone offers us a service, we should not think that we deserve everything. No, many services are carried out freely. Think of volunteer work, which is one of the greatest things about Italian society. The volunteers… And how many of them have lost their lives in this pandemic. They do it out of love, simply to serve. Gratitude, appreciation is, first of all, good manners, but it is also a characteristic of a Christian. It is a simple but genuine sign of the Kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of gratuitous and grateful love.

May Mary Most Holy, who loved Jesus more than her own life and followed him even to the cross, help us to always put ourselves before God with willing hearts, allowing his Word to judge our behaviour and our choices.


Pope Francis

30.08.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square     

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A      

Romans 12: 1-2,      

Matthew 16: 21-27  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today's Gospel passage (cf. Mt 16:21-27) is linked to that of last Sunday (cf. Mt 16:13-20). After Peter, on behalf of the other disciples as well, has professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, Jesus Himself begins to speak to them about His Passion. Along the path to Jerusalem, He openly explains to His friends what awaits Him at the end in the Holy City: He foretells the mystery of His death and Resurrection, of His humiliation and glory. He says that He will have to “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). But His words are not understood, because the disciples have a faith that is still immature and too closely tied to the mentality of this world (cf. Rom 12:2). They think of too earthly a victory, and therefore they do not understand the language of the cross.

At the prospect that Jesus may fail and die on the cross, Peter himself resists and says to Him: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (v. 22). He believes in Jesus - Peter is like this, he has faith, he believes in Jesus, he believes - he wants to follow Him, but does not accept that His glory will pass through the Passion. For Peter and the other disciples – but for us too! - the cross is a stumbling block, a 'hindrance', whereas Jesus considers the 'hindrance' escaping the cross, which would mean avoiding the Father's will, the mission that the Father has entrusted to Him for our salvation. For this reason Jesus responds to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 23). Ten minutes earlier, Jesus praised Peter, He promised him he would be the base of His Church, its foundation; ten minutes later He says to him, “Satan”. How can this be understood? It happens to us all! In moments of devotion, of fervour, of good will, of closeness to our neighbour, we look at Jesus and we go forward; but in moments in which we approach the cross, we flee. The devil, Satan - as Jesus says to Peter - tempts us. It typical of the evil spirit, it is typical of the devil to make us stray from the cross, from the cross of Jesus.

Addressing everyone then, Jesus adds: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 24). In this way He indicates the way of the true disciple, showing two attitudes. The first is 'to renounce oneself', which does not mean a superficial change, but a conversion, a reversal of mentality and of values. The other attitude is that of taking up one's own cross. It is not just a matter of patiently enduring daily tribulations, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of toil, and that part of suffering that the struggle against evil entails. The life of Christians is always a struggle. The Bible says that the life of Christians is a military undertaking: fighting against the evil spirit, fighting against Evil.

Thus the task of “taking up the cross” becomes participating with Christ in the salvation of the world. Considering this, we allow the cross hanging on the wall at home, or that little one that we wear around our neck, to be a sign of our wish to be united with Christ in lovingly serving our brothers and sisters, especially the littlest and most fragile. The cross is the holy sign of God's Love, it is a sign of Jesus' Sacrifice, and is not to be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental necklace. Each time we fix our gaze on the image of Christ crucified, let us contemplate that He, as the true Servant of the Lord, has accomplished His mission, giving life, spilling His blood for the pardoning of sins. And let us not allow ourselves to be drawn to the other side, by the temptation of the Evil One. As a result, if we want to be his disciples, we are called to imitate him, expending our life unreservedly out of love of God and neighbour.

May the Virgin Mary, united to her Son unto Calvary, help us not to retreat in the face of the trials and suffering that witnessing to the Gospel entails. 


Pope Francis       

13.02.22 Angelus, St Peter's Square 

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C  

Luke 6: 17, 20-26

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

At the centre of the Gospel of today’s Liturgy are the Beatitudes (cf. Lk 6:20-23). It is interesting to note that Jesus, despite being surrounded by a great crowd, proclaims them by addressing them to “his disciples” (v. 20). He speaks to the disciples. Indeed, the Beatitudes define the identity of the disciple of Jesus. They may sound strange, almost incomprehensible to those who are not disciples; whereas, if we ask ourselves what a disciple of Jesus is like, the answer is precisely the Beatitudes. “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God” (v. 20). Blessed are you poor. Jesus says two things to his people: that they are blessed and they are poor; indeed, that they are blessed because they are poor.

In what sense? In the sense that disciples Jesus do not find their joy in money, power, or other material goods; but in the gifts they receive every day from God: life, creation, brothers and sisters, and so on. These are gifts of life. They are content to share even the goods they possess, because they live according to the logic of God. And what is the logic of God? Gratuitousness. The disciple has learned to live in gratuitousness. This poverty is also an attitude towards the meaning of life, because Jesus’ disciples do not think about possessing it, about already knowing everything, but rather they know they must learn every day. And this is poverty: the awareness of having to learn every day. The disciple of Jesus, since he or she has this attitude, is a humble, open person, far from prejudice and inflexibility.

There was a good example in last Sunday’s Gospel reading: Simon Peter, an expert fisherman, accepts Jesus’ invitation to cast his nets at an unusual hour, and then, full of wonder at the miraculous catch, leaves the boat and all his goods to follow the Lord. Peter shows himself to be docile by leaving everything, and in this way, he becomes a disciple. Instead, those who are too attached to their own ideas and their own securities, find it difficult to truly follow Jesus. They follow him a little, only in those things in which “I agree with him and he agrees with me”, but then, as far as the rest is concerned, it goes no further. And this is not a disciple. Perhaps they listen to him, but they do not follow him. And so, they fall into sadness. They become sad because the accounts do not add up, because reality escapes their mentality and they find they are dissatisfied. Disciples, on the other hand, know how to question themselves, how to humbly seek God every day, and this allows them to delve into reality, grasping its richness and complexity.

In other words, the disciple accepts the paradox of the Beatitudes: they declare that those who are poor, who lack many goods and recognize this, are blessed, that is, happy. Humanly speaking, we are inclined to think in another way: happy are those who are rich, with many goods, who receive plaudits and are the envy of many, who have all the certainties. But this is a worldly mindset, it is not the way of thinking of the Beatitudes! Jesus, on the contrary, declares worldly success to be a failure, since it is based on a selfishness that inflates and then leaves the heart empty. Faced with the paradox of the Beatitudes, disciples allow themselves to be challenged, aware that it is not God who must enter into our logic, but we into his. This requires a journey, sometimes wearisome, but always accompanied by joy. Because the disciple of Jesus is joyful, with the joy that comes from Jesus. Because, let us remember, the first word Jesus says is: blessed, beati, which gives us the name of the Beatitudes. This is the synonym of being disciples of Jesus. The Lord, by freeing us from the slavery of self-centredness, breaks our locks, dissolves our hardness, and opens up to us true happiness, which is often found where we do not expect it to be. It is he who guides our life, not us, with our preconceptions and our demands. Disciples, in the end, are those who let themselves be led by Jesus, who open their heart to Jesus, who listen to him and follow his path.

We might then ask ourselves: do I – each one of us – have the disciple’s readiness? Or do I behave with the rigidity of one who believes him- or herself to be right, who feels decent, who feels they have already arrived? Do I allow myself to be “inwardly unhinged” by the paradox of the Beatitudes, or do I stay within the confines of my own ideas? And then, with the logic of the Beatitudes, setting aside the hardships and difficulties, do I feel the joy of following Jesus? This is the decisive trait of the disciple: the joy of the heart. Let’s not forget – the joy of the heart. This is the touchstone for knowing if a person is a disciple: does he or she have joy in the heart? Do I have joy in my heart? This is the point.

May Our Lady, first disciple of the Lord, help us live as open and joyful disciples.


Pope Francis       

26.06.22 Angelus, St Peter's Square, 

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C 

Luke 9: 51-62

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

The Gospel for this Sunday’s Liturgy tells us about a turning point. This is what it says: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he made a resolute decision to set his face to go to Jerusalem” (cf. Lk 9:51). Thus he begins his “great journey” toward the Holy City which required a special decision because it was his last one. The disciples, filled with enthusiasm because they were still too worldly, dream that the Master is going to meet with triumph. Instead, Jesus knows that rejection and death await him in Jerusalem (cf. Lk 9:22, 43b-45); he knows he will have to suffer a great deal. This is what demands a resolute decision. And so, Jesus goes forward taking decisive steps toward Jerusalem. This is the same decision we must take if we want to be disciples of Jesus. What does this decision consist of? For we must be serious disciples of Jesus, truly decisively, not “rosewater Christians” as an old woman I knew used to say. No, no, no! Decisive Christians. And the episode the Evangelist Luke narrates right after this helps us understand.

They set out on their journey. A village of Samaritans, having learned that Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem – which was the city of their adversaries – does not welcome him. Outraged, the apostles James and John suggest to Jesus that he should punish those people by raining fire from heaven down on them. Not only does Jesus not accept this proposal, he also rebukes the two brothers. They want to involve Jesus in their desire for revenge and he will have none of it (cf. vv. 52-55). The “fire” that Jesus came to bring on the earth is something else (cf. Lk 12:49). It is the merciful Love of the Father. And it takes patience, constancy, and a penitential spirit to make this fire grow.

James and John, instead, allow themselves to be overcome by anger. This happens to us too when, even when we are doing something good, perhaps even with sacrifice, we find a closed door instead of being welcomed. So we get angry. We even try to involve God himself, threatening heavenly punishments. Jesus, instead, takes another route, not the path of anger, but that of a resolute decision to go forward, which, far from translating into harshness, implies calm, patience, longsuffering, not slackening the least bit in doing good. This way of being does not connote weakness, no, but, on the contrary, a tremendous interior strength. It is easy, it is instinctive, to allow ourselves to be overcome by anger when faced with opposition. What is difficult, instead, is to master oneself, doing as Jesus did who, as the Gospel says, “went on to another village” (v. 56). This means that when we meet with opposition, we must turn toward doing good elsewhere, without recrimination. This way, Jesus helps us to be people who are serene, who are happy with the good accomplished, and who do not seek human approval.

Now, we can ask ourselves: what point are we at? What point are we at? In the face of opposition, misunderstanding, do we turn to the Lord? Do we ask him for his steadfastness in doing good? Or do we rather seek confirmation through applause, ending up being bitter and resentful when we do not hear it? Many times, consciously or unconsciously, we seek applause, approval from others, and we do things for applause. No, that does not work. We must do good out of service, not seeking applause. Sometimes we think that our fervour is due to a sense of justice for a good cause. But in reality, most of the time it is nothing other than pride, united with weakness, sensitivity, and impatience. So, let us ask Jesus for the strength of being like him, of following him resolutely down the path of service, not to be vindictive, not to be intolerant when difficulties present themselves, when we spend ourselves in doing good and others do not understand this, or even when they disqualify us. No, silence and go ahead.

May the Virgin Mary help us make the resolute decision Jesus did to remain in love to the end.


Pope Francis       

04.09.22 Holy Mass and beatification, Saint Peter's Square  

of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul I   

23rd Sunday of Ordinary time - Year C 

Luke 14: 25-33

Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem, and today’s Gospel tells us that “large crowds were travelling with him” (Lk 24:25).  To travel with Jesus means to follow him, to become his disciples.  Yet, the Lord’s message to those people was not exactly appealing; in fact, it was quite demanding: whoever does not love him more than his or her own family, whoever does not carry the cross, whoever remains attached to earthly goods, cannot be his disciple (cf. vv. 26-27.33).  Why does Jesus say these things to the crowds?  What do these admonitions mean?  Let us try to answer these questions.

First, we see a great crowd of people following Jesus.  We can imagine that many were attracted by his words, astonished at the things he did, and saw him as a source of hope for the future.  What would any teacher of that time or, for that matter, what would any astute leader do, seeing that his or her words and charisma attract crowds and increase his or her popularity?  The same thing happens today, at times of personal or societal crisis, when we are especially prey to feelings of anger or we fear things that threaten our future.  We become more susceptible and thus, on the tide of emotion, we look to those who can shrewdly take advantage of the situation, profiting from society’s fears and promising to be the “saviour” who can solve all its problems, whereas in reality they are looking for wider approval and for greater power, based on the impression they make, their ability to have things in hand.

The Gospel tells us that this is not Jesus’ way. God’s style is different.  It is important to understand God’s style, how he acts.  God acts according to a style, and God’s style is different from that of certain people, since he does not exploit our needs or use our vulnerability for his own aggrandizement.  He does not want to seduce us with deceptive promises or to distribute cheap favours; he is not interested in huge crowds.  He is not obsessed with numbers; he does not seek approval; he does not idolize personal success.  On the contrary, he seems to be worried when people follow him with giddy excitement and enthusiasm.  As a result, instead of yielding to the allure of popularity – for popularity is alluring – he asks each person to discern carefully their reason for following him and the consequences that it will entail.  For many in those crowds might have been following Jesus because they hoped he would be a leader who could set them free from their enemies, someone who, once in power, could share that power with them, or someone who by performing miracles could make hunger and disease disappear.  We can follow the Lord for any number of reasons.  Some of these, it must be acknowledged, are worldly.  A perfect religious exterior can serve to hide the mere satisfaction of one’s own needs, the quest of personal prestige, the desire for a certain social status or to keep things under control, the thirst for power and privilege, the desire for recognition and so on.  This happens even nowadays among Christians.  Yet that is not the style of Jesus.  That cannot be the style of his disciples and of his Church.  If anyone follows Jesus with this kind of self-interest, he or she has taken the wrong path.

The Lord demands a different attitude.  To follow him does not mean to become part of a court or a triumphal procession, or even to receive a lifetime insurance policy.  On the contrary, it means “carrying one’s cross” (Lk 14:27): shouldering, like him, one’s own burdens and those of others, making one’s life a gift, not a possession, spending it in imitation of his own generous and merciful love for us.  These are decisions that engage the totality of our lives.  For this reason, Jesus desires that his disciples prefer nothing to this love, even their deepest affections and greatest treasures.

To do this, we need to look to him more than to ourselves, to learn how to love, and to learn this from the Crucified One.  In him, we see the love that bestows itself to the very end, without measure and without limits.  The measure of love is to love without measure.  In the words of Pope John Paul, “we are the objects of undying love on the part of God” (Angelus, 10 September 1978).  An undying love: it never sinks beneath the horizon of our lives; it shines upon us and illumines even our darkest nights.  When we gaze upon the Crucified Lord, we are called to the heights of that love, to be purified of our distorted ideas of God and of our self-absorption, and to love God and others, in Church and society, including those who do not see things as we do, to love even our enemies.

To love even at the cost of sacrifice, silence, misunderstanding, solitude, resistance and persecution.  To love in this way, even at this price, because, as Blessed John Paul I also said, if you want to kiss Jesus crucified, “you cannot help bending over the cross and letting yourself be pricked by a few thorns of the crown on the Lord’s head” (General Audience, 27 September 1978).  A love that perseveres to the end, thorns and all: no leaving things half done, no cutting corners, no fleeing difficulties.  If we fail to aim high, if we refuse to take risks, if we content ourselves with a watered-down faith, we are, as Jesus says, like those who want to build a tower but do not estimate the cost; they “lay the foundations”, but then are “not able to finish the work” (v. 29).  If the fear of losing ourselves makes us stop giving ourselves, we leave things undone: our relationships and work, our responsibilities and commitments, our dreams and even our faith.  And then we end up living life halfway – and how many people live life halfway, and we also frequently are tempted to live life halfway – without ever taking the decisive step – this is what it means to live life halfway – without ever taking flight, without ever taking risks for the good, and without ever truly committing ourselves to helping others.  Jesus asks us precisely this: live the Gospel and you will live your life, not halfway but to the full.  Live the Gospel, live life, with no compromises.

Dear brothers and sisters, our new Blessed lived that way: in the joy of the Gospel, without compromises, loving to the very end.  He embodied the poverty of the disciple, which is not only detachment from material goods, but also victory over the temptation to put oneself at the centre, to seek one’s own glory.  On the contrary, following the example of Jesus, he was a meek and humble pastor.  He thought of himself as dust on which God deigned to write (cf. A. LUCIANI/JOHN PAUL I, Opera Omnia, Padua, 1988, vol. II, 11).  That is why he could say: “The Lord recommended it so much: be humble.  Even if you have done great things, say: ‘We are useless servants’” (General Audience, 6 September 1978).

With a smile, Pope John Paul managed to communicate the goodness of the Lord.  How beautiful is a Church with a happy, serene and smiling face, a Church that never closes doors, never hardens hearts, never complains or harbours resentment, does not grow angry or impatient, does not look dour or suffer nostalgia for the past, falling into an attitude of going backwards.  Let us pray to him, our father and our brother, and ask him to obtain for us “the smile of the soul”, a transparent smile that does not deceive, the smile of the soul.  Let us pray, in his own words: “Lord take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings, but make me become what you want me to be” (General Audience, 13 September 1978).  Amen

04.09.22 m

Pope Francis       

14.01.24 Angelus  Saint Peter's Square,

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B  

John 1: 35-42

Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!

Today the Gospel presents Jesus’ encounter with the first disciples (cf. Jn 1:35-42). This scene invites us to remember our first encounter with Jesus. Each one of us has had the first encounter with Jesus, as a child, as an adolescent, as a young person, as an adult… When did I encounter Jesus for the first time? Try to remember this a bit. And after this thought, this memory, to renew the joy of following Him and to ask ourselves – following Jesus means being a disciple of Jesus – what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? According to today’s Gospel we can take three words: to seek Jesus, to stay with Jesus, and to proclaim Jesus. To seek, to stay, to proclaim.

First of all, to seek. Two disciples, thanks to the Baptist’s witness, start to follow Jesus; He “saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’” (v. 38). They are the first words Jesus addresses to them: first of all, He invites them to look within, to ask themselves about the desires they carry in their heart. “What are you seeking?”. The Lord does not want to make proselytes, He does not want to gain superficial followers; the Lord wants people who question themselves and let themselves be challenged by His Word. Therefore, to be disciples of Jesus, it is necessary first of all to seek Him, it is necessary to seek Him, then to have an open, searching heart, not a satiated or complacent heart.

What were the first disciples seeking through the second verb: to stay? They were not seeking news or information about God, or signs or miracles, but they wished to meet Jesus, to meet the Messiah, to talk with Him, to stay with Him, to listen to Him. What is the first question they ask? “Where are you staying?” (v. 38). And Christ invites them to stay with Him: “Come and see” (v. 39). To stay with Him, to remain with Him: this is the most important thing for the disciple of the Lord. In short, faith is not a theory, no; it is an encounter – it is an encounter. It is going to see where the Lord stays, and dwelling with Him. Encountering the Lord and staying with Him.

To seek, to stay, and finally, to proclaim. The disciples sought Jesus, then they went with Him and stayed the entire evening with Him. And now, to proclaim. Then, they return and they proclaim. To seek, to stay, to proclaim. Do I seek Jesus? Do I stay with Jesus? Do I have the courage to proclaim Jesus? The disciples’ first encounter with Jesus was such a powerful experience that the two disciples always remembered the time: “it was about the tenth hour” (v. 39). This lets us see the power of that encounter. And their hearts were so full of joy that straight away they felt the need to communicate the gift they had received. Indeed, one of the two, Andrew, hastens to share it with his brother.

Brothers and sisters, let us too recall today our first encounter with the Lord. Each one of us has had the first encounter, either within the family or outside… When did I encounter the Lord? When did the Lord touch my heart? And let us ask ourselves: are we still disciples, enamoured of the Lord, do we seek the Lord, or do we settle into a faith made up of habits? Do we stay with Him in prayer, do we know how to stay in silence with Him? Do I know how to stay in prayer with the Lord, to stay in silence with Him? And then, do we feel the desire to share, to proclaim this beauty of the encounter with the Lord?

May Mary Most Holy, first disciple of Jesus, give us the desire to seek Him, the desire to stay with Him, and the desire to proclaim Him.