6."I will extol you, O my God and King" (Psalm 144,1). The exclamation of the responsorial psalm reflects the life of Mother María Pilar Izquierdo, foundress of the Missionary Work of Jesus and Mary: praise God and in everything accomplish His will. One can sum up her short life: she died when she was 39 years old, noting that she wanted to praise God by offering him her love and her sacrifice. Her life bore the mark of constant, and not just physical, suffering while she was busy doing all for the love of Him who first loved us and suffered for our salvation. The love for God, for the Cross of Jesus, for her neighbour in need were the great concerns of the life of the new Blessed. She was aware of the need to catechize with the Gospel the outlying districts [of Madrid] and to give to eat to the hungry, in order to become more conformed to Christ through the works of mercy. Her fundamental inspiration is today wherever the Missionary Work of Jesus is present, performing the works of mercy in accord with her spirit. May the example of her life of self-denial and generosity renew in us a deep commitment to the service of the needy so that the present world may become the witness of the renewing force of the Gospel of Christ.
7. At the beginning of this Eucharist, we heard again from the Book of Wisdom the great message of the eternal and unconditional love of God for every human being: "You love everything you created and you despise nothing of what you have made" (Wisdom 11,24). The new Blesseds are the sign of the primary love of God. By their example and their powerful intercession they announce the salvation that God offers to humanity in Christ. Let us learn from their witness so that we may serve God in a "praiseworthy way", walking without obstacles toward the promised goods (cf. collect, 31st Sunday). Amen!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the liturgy presents for our meditation the well-known Gospel episode of Jesus' meeting with Zacchaeus in the city of Jericho. Who was Zacchaeus? A rich man who was a "publican" by profession, that is, a tax collector for the Roman authorities, hence, viewed as a public sinner. Having heard that Jesus would be passing through Jericho, the man was consumed by a great desire to see him, and because he was small of stature, he climbed up into a tree. Jesus stopped exactly under that tree and addressed him by name: "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today" (Luke 19: 5). What a message this simple sentence contains! "Zacchaeus": Jesus called by name a man despised by all. "Today": yes, this very moment was the moment of his salvation. "I must stay": why "I must"? Because the Father, rich in mercy, wants Jesus "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19: 10). The grace of that unexpected meeting was such that it completely changed Zacchaeus' life: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold" (Luke 19: 8). Once again, the Gospel tells us that love, born in God's heart and working through man's heart, is the power that renews the world.
This truth shines out in a special way in the testimony of the Saint whose Memorial is celebrated today: Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. His figure stands out in the 16th century as a model of an exemplary Pastor because of his charity, doctrine, apostolic zeal and above all, his prayer. "Souls are won", he said, "on one's knees". Charles Borromeo was consecrated a Bishop when he was only 25 years old. He enforced the teaching of the Council of Trent that obliged Pastors to reside in their respective dioceses, and gave himself heart and soul to the Ambrosian Church. He travelled up and down his Diocese three times; he convoked six provincial and 11 diocesan synods; he founded seminaries to train a new generation of priests; he built hospitals and earmarked his family riches for the service of the poor; he renewed religious life and founded a new congregation of secular priests, the Oblates. In 1576, when the plague was raging in Milan, he visited, comforted and spent all his money on the sick. His motto consisted in one word: "Humilitas". It was humility that motivated him, like the Lord Jesus, to renounce himself in order to make himself the servant of all.
Recalling my venerable Predecessor John Paul II who bore his name with devotion - today is his name day - let us entrust to St Charles' intercession all the Bishops of the world, for whom we invoke as always the heavenly protection of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church.
After the Angelus:
The news of these past few days concerning events in the border region between Turkey and Iraq are a source of worry to me and to everyone. I would therefore like to encourage every effort to reach a peaceful solution to the problems that have recently arisen between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.
I cannot forget that numerous peoples have sought refuge in this region, fleeing from the insecurity of terrorism which in recent years has made life in Iraq difficult. Taking into consideration the good of these peoples, which also includes many Christians, I strongly hope that all parties will do their utmost to encourage peaceful solutions.
I also hope that relations will develop between the migrant and local populations in the spirit of that lofty moral civility which is a fruit of the spiritual and cultural values proper to every people and country. May those in charge of security and the reception of migrants make good use of suitable means in order to guarantee the rights and duties at the root of all true coexistence and encounters between peoples.
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I happily greet all the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus. In today's liturgy, the Book of Wisdom tells us that the Lord has "mercy on all" because he is a "lover of souls" (Wisdom 11: 23, 26). My dear friends, may God's Word and your visit to this holy city inspire you to share Jesus' love and mercy with everyone you meet. I wish a joyous Sunday to all!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The page of Luke’s Gospel chosen for this Sunday shows us Jesus who, on his way to Jerusalem, enters the city of Jericho. This is the final stage of a journey that sums up the meaning of the whole of Jesus’ life, which was dedicated to searching and saving the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the more the journey comes to a close, the more hostility envelops Jesus.
Yet one of the most joyful events recounted by St Luke happens in Jericho: the conversion of Zacchaeus. This man is a lost sheep, he is despised and “excommunicated” because he is a tax collector, indeed he is the head of the tax collectors of the city, a friend of the hated Roman occupants; he is a thief and an exploiter.
Being short in stature and prevented from approaching Jesus, most likely because of his bad reputation, Zacchaeus climbs a tree to be able to see the Teacher who is passing by. This exterior action, which is a bit ridiculous, expresses the interior act of a man seeking to bring himself above the crowd in order to be near Jesus. Zacchaeus himself does not realize the deep meaning of his action; he doesn’t understand why he does it, but he does. Nor does he dare to hope that the distance which separates him from the Lord may be overcome; he resigns himself to seeing him only as he passes by. But when Jesus comes close to the tree he calls him by name: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). The man of small stature, rejected by everyone and far from Jesus, is lost in anonymity; but Jesus calls him. And the name “Zacchaeus” in the language of the time has a beautiful meaning, full of allusion. “Zacchaeus” in fact, means “God remembers”.
So Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’ house, drawing criticism from all the people of Jericho (even in those days there was a lot of gossip!), who said: How can this be? With all the good people in the city, how can he go stay with a tax collector? Yes, because he was lost. Jesus said: “Today salvation has come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9). From that day forward in Zacchaeus’ house joy entered, peace entered, salvation entered and Jesus entered.
There is no profession or social condition, no sin or crime of any kind that can erase from the memory and the heart of God even one of his children. “God remembers”, always, he never forgets those who he created. He is the Father, who watchfully and lovingly waits to see the desire to return home be reborn in the hearts of his children. And when he sees this desire, even simply hinted at and so often almost unconsciously, immediately he is there, and by his forgiveness he lightens the path of conversion and return. Let us look at Zacchaeus today in the tree: his is a ridiculous act but it is an act of salvation. And I say to you: if your conscience is weighed down, if you are ashamed of many things that you have done, stop for a moment, do not be afraid. Think about the fact that someone is waiting for you because he has never ceased to remember you; and this someone is your Father, it is God who is waiting for you! Climb up, as Zacchaeus did, climb the tree of desire for forgiveness. I assure you that you will not be disappointed. Jesus is merciful and never grows tired of forgiving! Remember that this is the way Jesus is.
Brothers and sisters, let Jesus also call us by name! In the depths of our hearts, let us listen to his voice which says: “Today I must stop at your house”; that is, in your heart, in your life. And let us welcome him with joy. He can change us, he can transform our stony hearts into hearts of flesh, he can free us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love. Jesus can do this; let Jesus turn his gaze to you!
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet with affection all the Romans and pilgrims who are present, in particular families, parishes, and the groups from many countries all over the world.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Francis I, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
10 November 2013