Pope Francis is telling the bishops appointed under his watch to always stay close to their flock, digging deeper to see what "the Spirit continues to inspire in your Bride." The Holy Father said this this week when he received in audience the bishops appointed during the last year, who are participating in the congress organised by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Francis commented that he was happy to meet them and said that they were “the fruit of the arduous work and tireless prayer of the Church who, when she chooses her pastors, recalls that entire night the Lord spent on the mount, in the presence of the Father, before naming those He wanted to stay with him and to go forth into the world”. The Pope asked them now that they have overcome their initial fears and excitement of their consecration, never to take for granted the ministry entrusted to them, never to lose their wonder before God's plan nor the awe of walking aware of His presence and the presence of the Church who is, first and foremost, His. He also reminded them of “the inseparable bond between the stable presence of the bishop and the growth of the flock”. “When the pastor is missing or unavailable, pastoral care and the salvation of souls is at risk. In fact, in the pastors Christ gives to the Church, He shows His love for His bride and gives His life for her," the Pontiff said. He continued, “we do not need superficially happy bishops; it is necessary to dig deeper to discover what the Spirit continues to inspire in your Bride. You are not fixed-term bishops, who always need to change address, like medicines that lose their power to cure, or like those insipid foodstuffs that have to be thrown away because they have lost their usefulness. It is important not to block the curative force that springs from within the gift you have received, and this defends you from the temptation to come and go aimlessly, because no wind is favourable to he who does not know where he is going. And we have learned where we are going: we are always going towards Jesus”. He added, “in this way, your watch over your flock will never fail to encounter the flame of the Risen Christ”. “I also beg you not to fall prey to the temptation to change the people. Love the people that God has given you, even when they have committed grave sins, without tiring of turning to the Lord for forgiveness and a new beginning, even at the cost of having to cancel your false images of the divine face or the fantasies you have nurtured of how to ensure their communion with God”. The Church, he added, is to offer “welcome to all without discrimination, offering the firmness of the authority that enables growth and the gentleness of paternity that generates. Do not fall prey to the temptation to sacrifice your freedom by surrounding yourself with courts, networks or choirs of assent, as the Church and the world always have the right to hear from the lips of bishops the Gospel that sets them free”. Pope Francis advised the bishops to imitate Moses' patience in leading his people, as “nothing is more important than introducing people to God!”. He therefore urged them to begin with the young and the elderly, “because the first are our wings, and the second are our roots. Wings and roots without which we do not know what we are, much less where we are going”. He added that he saw the bishops as sentinels, able to awaken their Churches; men able to cultivate and ripen God's fields and pastors able to restore unity. “Do not waste energy in conflict and disagreement, but rather use it to build and to love”, he concluded, wishing them “fruitfulness, patience, humility and much prayer”.
Pope Francis focused on the Resurrection as the seal of Christian identity at Mass this morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. Drawing on the words of St Paul the Apostle from his Letter to the Corinthians, read today at Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the difficulty that some Christians – and others, who might otherwise be attracted to the Faith – have in understanding and living with the certain knowledge in faith that our bodies will be transformed and that we shall be restored to them. “[The Corinthians],” said Pope Francis, “had other ideas: ‘sure, the dead are justified, they shall not go to hell – good thing, too! – but they’ll go into the cosmos, into the air – just the soul before God’,” and so St. Paul had to offer a “difficult correction”: that of the Resurrection. Nor were the Christians of Corinth the only ones to have difficulty with the teaching. The Greeks at Athens, to whom St. Paul also preached – the wise philosophers – were even afraid of the notion: “[The Christian teaching on the bodily resurrection] is a scandal: they cannot understand it. This is why Paul offers the following line of reasoning, which is quite clear: ‘if Christ is risen, how can they say that there is not among yourselves resurrection from the dead, as well? If Christ is risen, the dead, too, shall rise’. There is resistance to the transformation, resistance to the work of the Spirit we received at Baptism, which is to transform us utterly, unto the Resurrection. When we speak of this, our language tlls us: ‘I want to go to heaven, I don’t want to go to hell’, but we stop there. None of us says: ‘I shall rise as Christ [did]’. No, even for us it is difficult to understand this.” Pope Francis went on to say that a sort of “cosmic pantheism” is easier to grasp, since there is this resistance to transformation – St Paul’s word – and, “in the Resurrection, we shall all be transformed.” “This is the future that awaits us and this is the fact that brings us to pose so much resistance: resistance to the transformation of our bodies. Also – resistance to Christian identity. I’ll say more: perhaps we are not so much afraid of the Apocalypse of the Evil One, of the Antichrist who must come first – perhaps we are not so afraid [of him]. Perhaps we are not so afraid of the voice of the Archangel or the sound of his trumpet – that shall sound the victory of the Lord. Fear of our resurrection, however, we have: we shall all be transformed. That transformation shall be the end of our Christian journey.” Pope Francis went on to say that the essence of Christian identity is, “being with the Lord, in body and soul.” He went on to say, Our Christian identity is completed, therefore, “with the resurrection of our bodies, with our resurrection.”: “That is the end, right there: [that point in which we are] satiated, by the image of the Lord. Christian identity is a way, a journey, on which we ‘are’ with the Lord, as those two disciples who ‘were with the Lord’ on that night. All our whole life is called to being with the Lord, in order – at the end – after the voice of the Archangel, after the sound of his trumpet, to remain with Him and abide with the Lord [forever].”
Having the courage to acknowledge that we are sinners enables us to receive Christ’s caress - His forgiveness, said Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass at Santa Marta. The day's liturgy presents the Gospel of the sinful woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and anoints them with perfume drying them with her hair. Jesus is invited to the house of a Pharisee, "a person of a certain level of culture", the Pope said, who "wanted to listen to Jesus", hear his doctrine, find out more. In his own mind, he judges both Jesus and the sinful woman, thinking if Jesus "truly were a prophet he would know want kind of woman is touching him”. The Pharisee “is not a bad man” he simply “cannot understand the woman’s actions”. "He cannot understand the simple gesture: the simple gestures of the people. Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother. In his theories, his thoughts, his life of government - because perhaps he was a councilor of the Pharisees – he had forgotten the simple gestures of life, the very first things that we all, as newborns, received from our parents". Pope Francis said that Jesus rebukes the Pharisee "with humility and tenderness", "his patience, his love, the desire to save everyone" leads him to explain the woman’s gesture to the Pharisee, and at the same time point to the Pharisee’s own lack of courtesy. And amid the shocked murmuring of the crowd, he says to the woman: "Your sins are forgiven". "Go in peace, your faith has saved you!" "He only says the word salvation - 'Your faith has saved you' – to the woman, who is a sinner. And he says it because she was able to weep for her sins, to confess her sins, to say 'I am a sinner', and admit it to herself. He doesn’t say the same to those people, who were not bad people: they simply did not believe themselves to be sinners. Other people were sinners: the tax collectors, prostitutes ... These were the sinners. Jesus says this word - 'You are saved, you are safe - only to those who open their hearts and acknowledge that they are sinners. Salvation only enters our hearts when we open them to the truth of our sins". "The privileged place to encounter Jesus Christ is in our sins". Pope Francis observed that this may seem like "heresy” but St. Paul also said as much when he said he would boast of only two things: his sins and the Risen Christ who saved him. "This is why the ability to acknowledge our own sins, to acknowledge our misery, to acknowledge what we are and what we are capable of doing or have done is the very door that opens us to the Lord’s caress, His forgiveness, to His Word 'Go in peace, your faith has saved you!', because you were brave, you were brave enough to open your heart to the only One who can save you". Jesus said to the hypocrites, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you". These are strong words, concluded the Pope, because those who feel themselves sinners "open their hearts in the confession of their sins, to encounter Jesus, who gave His blood for us all".
Underlining the universal and apostolic nature of the Church, Pope Francis has urged the faithful not to be closed in on themselves but to go forth and bring the message of the Gospel to everyone. Speaking on Wednesday during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, he explained that the word catholic means that she is universal, something that she shows by speaking all languages. ”The Church was born Catholic, “symphonic” from her origins, and cannot but be Catholic, pointing to evangelization and the encounter with all,” he said. Speaking off-the-cuff, he repeated his appeal that everyone carry with them a “pocket” Gospel and read a passage everyday. “This is good for us,” he said. The Pope also highlighted the missionary nature of the Church which is called to show the tenderness and power of God. “This also stems from the Pentecost event,” the Pope said. “It is for the Holy Spirit, in fact, to surmount every resistance, to overcome the temptation to be closed-in on oneself.” He then warned against Christians who believe themselves to be exclusively God’s elect. “They die in the end,” Francis said. “They die before, in their soul, then their body dies, because they have no life, they don’t have the capacity to generate life to other people … They are not apostolic.” The Pope then paid tribute to the “heroic lives” of the Church’s many missionaries. Again speaking off the cuff, he recalled a Brazilian cardinal who used to a visit cemeteries of cities he’d visit to honour the missionaries who were buried there. “These brothers and sisters could all be canonized now,” the cardinal told him. “Let us give thanks to the Lord because our Church has many missionaries, has had many missionaries, and needs yet more! We thank you Lord for this,” the Pope said. “Perhaps among many young people, boys and girls who are here, someone has the desire to become a missionary,” he added. “Go ahead! It’s a beautiful thing to bring the Gospel of Jesus. Be brave and courageous!”
Beautiful homilies are useless and mere vanity if you are not close to the people, if you do not suffer with the people and do not give hope.This was Pope Francis’ reflection Tuesday morning during Mass in Santa Marta, the day on which the Church remembers the Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, bishop martyrs. The Gospel of the day speaks of Jesus approaching a funeral procession: a widow of Nain lost her only son. The Pope said that not only does the Lord perform the miracle of bringing her son back to life, he does something more: he is close to her. "God – the people say - visited his people," the Pope said. When God visits "there is something more, there is something new", "it means that His presence is especially there". Jesus is close. "He was close to the people. A close God who is able to understand the hearts of the people, the heart of His people. Then he sees that procession, and the Lord drew near. God visits His people in the midst of his people, and draws near to them. Proximity. This is how God works. Then there is an expression that is often repeated in the Bible: 'The Lord was moved with great compassion'. The same compassion which, the Gospel says, that moved Him when he saw so many people like sheep without a shepherd. When God visits His people, He is close to them, He draws near to them and is moved by compassion: He is filled with compassion". "The Lord," Pope Francis continued, "is deeply moved, just as He was before the tomb of Lazarus". Just like the Father who was moved "when he saw his prodigal son come home". "Closeness and compassion: this is how the Lord visits His people. And when we want to proclaim the Gospel, to bring forth the word of Jesus, this is the path. The other path is that of the teachers, the preachers of the time: the doctors of the law, the scribes, the Pharisees [who] distanced themselves from the people, with their words ... well: they spoke well. They taught the law, well. But they were distant. And this was not a visit of the Lord: It was something else. The people did not feel this to be a grace, because it lacked that closeness, it lacked compassion, it lacked that essence of suffering with the people". Pope Francis continued: "And there's another word which is proper to when the Lord visits His people: 'The dead man sat up and began to speak, and He - Jesus - restored him to his mother'". "When God visits His people he restores hope to them. Always. You can preach the Word of God brilliantly. There have been many excellent preachers throughout history. But if these preachers have failed to sow hope, that sermon is useless. It is mere vanity". Looking at Jesus, who restored a living son to this mother, the Pope said "we can understand what God visiting His people means. And so we ask for the grace that our Christian witness be a witness that brings the closeness of God to His people, that closeness that sows hope
Pope Francis marked the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows during Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, with a reflection on how Mary learned, obeyed and suffered at the foot of the Cross. The Holy Father said that in the liturgy of the day first we are shown the glorious Cross, then the meek and humble Mother. In the Letter to the Hebrews, "Paul emphasizes three strong words": he says that Jesus "learned, obeyed and suffered". "It’s the opposite of what had happened to our father Adam, who did not want to learn what the Lord commanded, who did not want to suffer, or obey." Instead, even though Jesus is God, He "is annihilated, He humbled Himself and became a servant. This is the glory of the Cross of Jesus": "Jesus came into the world to learn how to be a man, and by being a man, walk with men. He came into the world to obey, and He obeyed. But he learned this obedience from suffering. Adam left Paradise with a promise, a promise that lasted for so many centuries. Today, through this obedience, this self-abnegation, this humiliation, through Jesus, that promise becomes hope. And the people of God walk with sure hope. Even the Mother, 'the New Eve', as Paul himself calls her, in order to participate in her Son’s journey, learned, suffered and obeyed. And thus she becomes Mother”. The Gospel shows us Mary at the foot of the Cross. Jesus says to John, "Behold your mother." Mary - the Pope said - "is anointed Mother" "And this is our hope. We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother and the Mother Church is anointed when it takes the same path of Jesus and Mary: the path of obedience, the path of suffering, and when she has that attitude of continually learning the path of the Lord. These two women - Mary and the Church - carry on the hope that is Christ, they give us Christ, they bring forth Christ in us. Without Mary, there would be no Jesus Christ; without the Church, we cannot go forward". "Two women and two mothers" - continued the Pope Francis - and next to them our soul, which in the words of Isaac, the abbot of Stella, is "feminine" and is like "Mary and the Church". "Today, looking at this woman by the Cross, steadfast in following her Son in His suffering to learn obedience, looking at her we see the Church and look at our Mother. And also, we look at our little soul that will never be lost, if it continues to be a woman close to these two great women who accompany us in life: Mary and the Church. And just as our fathers left Paradise with a promise, today we can go forward with a hope: the hope that our Mother Mary, steadfast at the Cross, and our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church, give us.”
Albany Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard is posting his reports from the Holy Land on the Internet daily regarding the Bishops’ Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace. Bishop Hubbard is among 17 U.S. Bishops travelling to Israel in this effort. Don Clemmer, USCCB interim director of media relations, is travelling with the delegation and provide assistance to media seeking interviews or other materials, itineraries and documentation from the trip. He also is sharing content at www.facebook.com/usccb, http://twitter.com/usccb and http://usccbmedia.blogspot.comIn an earlier statement before leaving for the Holy Land, Bishop Hubbard said, “We are fully aware of the complexities involved in this long standing conflict and we certainly have no magic wand solution to propose. However, in addition to visiting the many sites in the Holy Land sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, we will also be meeting with religious and governmental leaders both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We hope to learn more about their perspectives and desire to communicate a simple message: peace is possible and prayer is a pathway to peace.”
True fraternal reprimand is painful because it is done with love, in truth and humility. Moreover it is unchristian to take pleasure when reprimanding someone. This was the focus of Pope Francis homily Friday during Mass in Santa Marta, on the day when the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Holy Name of Mary. The Pope was reflecting on the Gospel passage where Jesus warns against noticing the splinter in our brother’s eye but failing to see the wooden beam in our own. This inspired him to return to the subject of fraternal reprimand. First, he said, the erring brother should be reprimanded with charity. "You cannot reprimand a person without love and charity. [Just like] you cannot perform surgery without anesthesia: you cannot, because the patient will die from the pain. And charity is like an anesthetic that helps you to receive treatment and accept reprimand. Take him to one side and talk to him, with gentleness, with love". Secondly, - he continued - we must speak the truth: "Do not say something that is not true. How often in our community are things said about another person that are not true: they are slander. Or if they are true, they destroy the person’s reputation". "Gossip - the Pope repeated - hurt; gossip are a slap in the face of a person’s reputation, they are an attack on the heart of a person. "Sure - he observed - "when they tell you the truth is not nice to hear, but if it is spoken with charity and love, it is easier to accept". Therefore, "we must speak of other people’s defects" with charity. Thirdly, we must reprimand with humility: "If you really need to reprimand a little flaw, stop and remember that you have many more and far bigger!" "Fraternal reprimand is an act that heals the Body of the Church. There's a tear, there, in the fabric of the Church that we must mend. And like mothers and grandmothers, who mend so gently, so delicately, we must do likewise when we want to reprimand our brother. If you're not able to do this with love, charity, truth and humility, you will offend, you will destroy the heart of that person, you will add to gossip, that hurts, and you will become a blind hypocrite, just as Jesus says. Hypocrite, first take the wooden beam out of your own eye. ...'. Hypocrite! Recognize that you are the more sinful than the other, but you, as a brother must help to reprimand the other". "A sign that perhaps can help us in this" - said the Pope - is when we feel "a certain delight" when "we see something wrong" and consider it our job to deliver a reprimand: you have to be "careful because that is not coming from the Lord". "The Cross, the difficulty of doing a good thing is ever present in the Lord; the love that leads us, the meekness is always of the Lord. Do not judge. We Christians tend to behave like doctors: stand on the sidelines of the game between sin and grace as if we were angels ... No! Paul says:' for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified '. And a Christian who, in the community, does not do things - even fraternal reprimand - in love, in truth and humility, is disqualified! He has failed to become a mature Christian. May the Lord help us in this fraternal service, which is as beautiful as it is painful, to help our brothers and sisters to be better and help us to always do it with love, in truth and humility".
In his homily this morning at Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence at the Vatican, Pope Francis said that loving one’s enemies is the “model of Christian life.”Reflecting on the Gospel reading from St. Luke (6:27-38), in which the Lord tells his disciples, “[L]ove your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” the Holy Father said that this is a model of Christian life – of unconditional love in action. “Do good,” he said, “lend without hoping to have back what you have lent – [act] without interest, and your reward will be great.” Pope Francis also recognized that this new way of the Gospel is one by which it is often difficult to live: “‘But Father’ [one might say], ‘I don’t feel like behaving that way’. ‘Well’, [one might reply], ‘if you don’t feel like it, that’s your problem, but that’s the Christian way.” This is that way that Jesus teaches us. ‘And what can I hope?’ [one might ask]. Go on Jesus’ way, which is the way of mercy. Be merciful as your father is merciful. Only with a merciful heart can we do all that, which the Lord counsels us to do – all the way. The Christian life is not a navel-gazing one. It is a life in which one gets out of oneself in order to give oneself to others. It is a gift, it is love – and love does not turn in on itself, it is not selfish, but self-giving.” The Lord asks us to be merciful. He asks us not to judge. Often, Pope Francis said, “it seems that we have been named judges of others: engaging in gossip, talking behind people’s backs, we judge everyone.” The Lord, however tells us not to judge, lest we be judged ourselves. “Do not condemn [others],” said Pope Francis, “and you will not be condemned.” The Lord asks us to forgive, that we might be forgiven. “We say it every day in the Our Father,” noted the Holy Father, “forgive us as we forgive others – and if I do not forgive, how can I ask the Father to forgive me?” “This is the Christian life. ‘But Father, this is folly!’ one might say. ‘Yes’, one might answer, ‘it is’. We have heard in these days, though, St Paul, who said the same: the foolishness of the Cross of Christ, which has nothing to do with the wisdom of the world. ‘But Father, to be Christian is to become some sort of fool?’ [one might ask]. ‘Yes’, [I would say], ‘in a certain sense, yes. It means renouncing the cunning of the world in order to do everything that Jesus tells us to do and that, if we do the sums, if we balance the ledger, seems to be against us.” The Holy Father went on to explain that the way the Lord teaches us is the way of magnanimity, of generosity, of self-giving without measure. “It was for this,” he said, “that Jesus came into the world,” not to judge, not to engage in idle gossip, not to pass judgments, but to give and to forgive. “Being Christian isn’t easy,” said Pope Francis, adding that we can become Christians only by the grace of God, and not by our own strength. “Here then arises the problem that we all must face daily: ‘Lord, give me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it on my own’. This is something quite frightening at first glance – quite frightening indeed. If, however, we take the Gospel and we read the 6th chapter of St. Luke – and reread it and reread it and reread it – and let us do so – and let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand what it is to be a Christian, to understand the grace He gives to us Christians, as well, because we cannot do it on our own."
Today at Mass we read that St. Paul encourages us to be the best person we can - the best version of ourselves - in whatever state in life we find ourselves. So I want to encourage you to encourage as many of our young adults as possible to think about becoming involved in Catholics On Call. This is an effort and an opportunity to discover who we are and what God is able to do with each one of us as we bring his message of joy to whomever we meet in our daily life. Go to: www.catholicsoncallinalbany.org for more information - and continue reading the invitation that Sister Rosemary Cuneo extends to all of us.
Dear Friends, Please join us in the campaign to reach out to our young adults who we know are serious about finding out the life God has invited them to live. This takes a bit of effort on each of our parts, to email, to call or to approach a young person who we know would benefit from Catholics on Call in Albany. Encouragement can go a long way when an invitation is extended to a young person we work with, guide or befriend. This is such a hopeful time in our Church! This is such a perfect time to call our young adults forth for such an excellent and life-enhancing experience! Thank you for reaching out to the young adults you know today. Thank you for encouraging them to register for the October 10-12, 2014 Catholics on Call in Albany. Should you have any insights to share or questions for me, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Jesus is not a professor who speaks from the professor’s chair but instead goes among the people and lets them touch Him so that they can be healed. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass this morning at Santa Marta. Commenting on the day’s Gospel, Pope Francis reflected on three moments in the life of Jesus. The first is prayer. Jesus “spent the night in prayer to God.” Jesus prays for us. “It seems a little strange,” the Pope said, “that He who came to give us salvation, who has the power, prays to the Father.” And He prayed often. “Jesus is the great intercessor”: “He stands before the Father in this moment, praying for us. And this should give us courage! Because in moments of difficulty or of need… [He] is praying: ‘But you are praying for me. Pray for me. Jesus, pray for me to the Father!’ It is His work today: praying for us, for His Church. We often forget this, that Jesus prays for us. This is our strength: to be able to say to the Father, ‘But if you, Father, will not consider us, consider your Son who prays for us.’ From the first moment Jesus prays: He prayed when He was on earth and He continues to pray now for each one of us, for the whole Church.” After praying, Jesus chooses the twelve Apostles. The Lord says clearly, “It was not you who chose Me; I chose you!” “This second moment,” the Pope said, “gives us courage: ‘I am chosen, I am chosen by the Lord! On the day of Baptism He chose me.’ And Paul, with this in mind, said: ‘He chose me, from my mother’s womb’.” So we Christians have been called. The Pope said: “These are things of love! Love does not consider whether someone has an ugly face or a beautiful face: it loves! And Jesus does the same: He loves and chooses with love. He chooses all. In His list, no one is ‘important’ – in inverted commas – according to the criteria of the world: it is the common people. But there is one thing, yes, one thing to emphasize about all of them: they are sinners. Jesus has chosen sinners. He chooses sinners. And this is the accusation made by the doctors of the law, the scribes: ‘This man goes to eat with sinners, he talks to prostitutes…’ Jesus calls everyone! Let us call to mind the parable of the wedding of the son. When those who were invited did not come, what did the master of the house do? The Gospel says he told his servants: ‘Go out and bring everyone to the house, good and bad.’ Jesus has chosen everyone.” Jesus, the Pope continued, even chose Judas Iscariot “who became the traitor… the greatest sinner toward Him. But he was chosen by Jesus.” Then there was the third moment: “Jesus near to the people.” They came in great multitudes “to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases… Everyone in the crowd sought to touch Him because power came forth from Him and healed them all.” Jesus is in the midst of His people: “He is not a professor, a teacher, a mystic who is far from the people and speaks from the professor’s chair. No! He is in the midst of the people, He lets them touch Him, He lets them ask of Him. That’s Jesus: close to the people. And this nearness is not something new for Him. He emphasizes it in His way of acting, but it is something that comes out of God’s first choice of His people. God says to His people, ‘Consider: What people has a God as close as I am to you?’ God’s closeness to His people is the closeness of Jesus amid the crowds.” “This is our Master, this is our Lord,” the Pope concluded. “One who prays, one who chooses the people, and one who is not ashamed to be close to the people. And this gives us confidence in Him. Let us trust in Him because He prays, because He has chosen us, and because He is close to us.”
On the day the Church celebrates the Nativity of Our Lady, Pope Francis dedicated his homily to Creation and God’s journey with us through history. He said when we read the Book of Genesis, "there is the danger of thinking that God was a magician" who did things "with a magic wand." But, he warned, "it was not so because, God made things and allowed them to proceed with internal, interior laws that He gave to each one, so that they could develop and arrive at fullness”. “The Lord gave autonomy but not independence to the things of the universe”. "For God is not a magician, He is the Creator! But when on the sixth day, of that story, He comes to create man, He gives him another autonomy, somewhat different, but not independent: an autonomy that is freedom. He tells the man to go forward in history, He makes man responsible for the creation, so that he would dominate creation, bring it forward and arrive at the fullness of time. And what was the fullness of time? What He had in his heart: the arrival of His Son. Because God – as we heard from Paul - has predestined us, all of us, to be conformed to the image of the Son". Pope Francis continued: “This is the path of humanity, it is mankind’s journey. God wanted us to be like His Son and His Son to be like us". The Pope spoke of the passage from today's Gospel that recounts the genealogy of Jesus. "There are saints and sinners too on this list, but history continues because God has willed that all men be free”. And even if it is true that when man “misused his freedom, God drove him out of Paradise" He also "made a promise, so man left Paradise with hope. A sinner, but with hope". "Mankind did not make this journey alone: God walks with us. Because God chose an option: he opted for time, not for the moment. He is the God of time, He is the God of history, He is the God who walks with His children". Until the "fullness of time" when His Son becomes man. God "walks with the righteous and the sinners." He walks "with everyone, to arrive at that encounter, the final encounter of man with Him". The Pope noted that the Gospel brings this century-long story to an end "in a tiny thing, in a small village" with Joseph and Mary. "The God of great history - he noted - is also in that little story there, because He wants to walk with everyone". Francis quoted from St. Thomas, who stated: "Do not fear the great things, but also have regard for the small, this is divine”. "And this is how God is, He is in the great things, but also in the small”. "He is the Lord who walks…and He is the Lord of patience. The patience of God. The patience he has had with all these generations. With all these people who have lived their story of grace and sin, God is patient. God walks with us, because He wants us all to come to be conformed to the image of His Son. And from the hour that He gave us the freedom in creation - not independence - until today, He continues to walk with us". And so, therefore, "we come to Mary". Today, the Pope said, "we are in the antechamber of this story: the birth of the Virgin Mary". “Let us ask in prayer that the Lord will give us the unity to walk together and peace of heart. This is today’s grace": "Today we can look at Our Lady, the small, holy child without sin, pure and predestined to become the Mother of God and also look at the story that lies behind her, so long, over centuries and ask: 'How do I journey in my story? Do I allow God walk with me? Do I allow Him walk with me or do I want to walk alone? Do I let Him caress me, help me, forgive me, carry me forward so that I may arrive at the encounter with Jesus Christ? This will be the end of our journey: an encounter with the Lord. It would do us all good to ask ourselves this question today. ‘Do I let God be patient with me?'. And so, looking at this great story, and even this small village, we can praise the Lord and humbly ask that He give us peace, that peace of heart that only He can give us, that He only gives us when we let Him walk with us".
In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis underlined the importance of fraternal correction, stressing that it be done in a spirit of gentleness, prudence and humility rather than judgment. Referring to today’s Gospel reading from Matthew in which Jesus teaches the disciples the steps needed to correct a brother in sin, the Holy Father stressed the goal is to “help the person realize what he has done, and that with his sin, he has offended not just one, but all.” Addressing pilgrims under sunny skies in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope explained the process of fraternal correction that Jesus taught: “I have to use charity towards him and, first of all, talk to him personally, explaining that what he has said or done is not good,” the Pope said. “And if the brother does not listen to me? Jesus suggests a progressive intervention: first, go back with two or three other people to make him more aware of the mistake he has made. “If, despite this, he does not accept the exhortation, I need to tell the community," Francis continued. "And if he won’t even listen to the community, I need to make him feel the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by failing in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith.” “The stages of this route show the effort the Lord asks of his community to accompany those who make mistakes, so they are not lost,” the Pope explained, adding that an attitude is needed “of gentleness, prudence, humility, and attention against those who have committed a crime, avoiding that words can hurt and kill the brother. “Because, you know, eh? Even words kill!,” the Pope said, departing from his notes. “When I make an unfair criticism, when I “curse” a brother with my tongue, this is killing the reputation of the other! Even words kill! Let’s be serious about this.” By carrying out fraternal correction as Jesus taught, the Pope continued, our hearts are freed of “anger and resentment.” Insults and personal attacks by Christians are “very bad,” he added. “It’s bad! Got it? No insults! Insulting is not Christian!” The Pope stressed all are in need of forgiveness, and that rather than say “have mercy on the person next to me,” we need to say “Have mercy on me!”. “Jesus told us not to judge,” the Francis said. “We must remember this before going to the brother to offer fraternal correction.”
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John