PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH OF SAINT CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
First Sunday of Advent, 1 December 2013
In the First Reading we heard the Prophet Isaiah speak to us about a journey, and he says that in the latter days, at the end of the journey, the mountain of the Lord’s Temple shall be established as the highest mountain. He says this to tell us that our life is a journey: we must go on this journey to arrive at the mountain of the Lord, to encounter Jesus. The most important thing that can happen to a person is to meet Jesus: this encounter with Jesus who loves us, who has saved us, who has given his life for us. Encounter Jesus. And we are journeying in order to meet Jesus.
We could ask ourselves this question: But when do I meet Jesus? Only at the end? No, no! We meet him every day. How? In prayer, when you pray, you meet Jesus. When you receive Communion, you meet Jesus in the Sacraments. When you bring your child to be baptized, you meet Jesus, you find Jesus. And today, you who are receiving Confirmation, you too will encounter Jesus; then you will meet him in Communion. “And then, Father, after Confirmation, goodbye?”, because they say that Confirmation is called “the sacrament of goodbye”. Is this true or not? After Confirmation you never go back to Church: true or false? … so, so! However, after Confirmation even, our whole life is an encounter with Jesus: in prayer, when we go to Mass, and when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help the poor, when we think of others, when we are not selfish, when we are loving... in these things we always meet Jesus. And the journey of life is precisely this: journeying in order to meet Jesus.
And today, it is also a joy for me to come and visit you, because today in the Mass we shall all meet Jesus, and we will walk a portion of the journey together.
Always remember this: life is a journey. It is a path, a journey to meet Jesus. At the end, and forever. A journey in which we do not encounter Jesus is not a Christian journey. It is for the Christian to continually encounter Jesus, to watch him, to let himself be watched over by Jesus, because Jesus watches us with love; he loves us so much, he loves us so much and he is always watching over us. To encounter Jesus also means allowing oneself to be gazed upon by him. “But, Father, you know,” one of you might say to me, “you know that this journey is horrible for me, I am such a sinner, I have committed many sins... how can I encounter Jesus?”. And you know that the people whom Jesus most sought out were the greatest sinners; and they reproached him for this, and the people — those who believed themselves righteous — would say: this is no true prophet, look what lovely company he keeps! He was with sinners... And he said: I came for those in need of salvation, in need of healing. Jesus heals our sins. And along the way Jesus comes and forgives us — all of us sinners, we are all sinners — even when we make a mistake, when we commit a sin, when we sin. And this forgiveness that we receive in Confession is an encounter with Jesus. We always encounter Jesus.
So let us go forward in life like this, as the Prophet says, to the mountain, until the day when we shall attain the final encounter, when we will be able to look upon the beautiful gaze of Jesus, it is so beautiful. This is the Christian life: to walk, to go forward, united as brothers and sisters, loving one another. Encounter Jesus. Do you agree, the nine of you? Do you want to meet Jesus in your lives? Yes? This is important in the Christian life. Today, with the seal of the Holy Spirit, you will have greater strength for the journey, for the encounter with Jesus. Take courage, do not be afraid! Life is this journey. And the most beautiful gift is to meet Jesus. Go forward, be brave!
And now, let us proceed with the Sacrament of Confirmation.
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.
Extracted from the prophet Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from his roots.
2 On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh:
3 his inspiration will lie in fearing Yahweh. His judgement will not be by appearances. his verdict not given on hearsay.
4 He will judge the weak with integrity and give fair sentence for the humblest in the land. He will strike the country with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips bring death to the wicked.
5 Uprightness will be the belt around his waist, and constancy the belt about his hips.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the panther lie down with the kid, calf, lion and fat-stock beast together, with a little boy to lead them.
7 The cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like the ox.
8 The infant will play over the den of the adder; the baby will put his hand into the viper's lair.
9 No hurt, no harm will be done on all my holy mountain, for the country will be full of knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea.
10 That day, the root of Jesse, standing as a signal for the peoples, will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.
Psalm 72: In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son of the king with your own saving justice,
2 that he may rule your people with justice, and your poor with fair judgement.
3 Mountains and hills, bring peace to the people! With justice
4 he will judge the poor of the people, he will save the children of the needy and crush their oppressors.
5 In the sight of the sun and the moon he will endure, age after age.
6 He will come down like rain on mown grass, like showers moistening the land.
7 In his days uprightness shall flourish, and peace in plenty till the moon is no more.
8 His empire shall stretch from sea to sea, from the river to the limits of the earth.
9 The Beast will cower before him, his enemies lick the dust;
10 the kings of Tarshish and the islands will pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts;
11 all kings will do him homage, all nations become his servants.
12 For he rescues the needy who calls to him, and the poor who has no one to help.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the needy from death.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their lives, their blood is precious in his sight.
15 (Long may he live; may the gold of Sheba be given him!) Prayer will be offered for him constantly, and blessings invoked on him all day.
16 May wheat abound in the land, waving on the heights of the hills, like Lebanon with its fruits and flowers at their best, like the grasses of the earth.
17 May his name be blessed for ever, and endure in the sight of the sun. In him shall be blessed every race in the world, and all nations call him blessed.
18 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders;
19 blessed for ever his glorious name. May the whole world be filled with his glory! Amen! Amen!
20 End of the prayers of David, son of Jesse.
Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 15: 4-9
4 And all these things which were written so long ago were written so that we, learning perseverance and the encouragement which the scriptures give, should have hope.
5 Now the God of perseverance and encouragement give you all the same purpose, following the example of Christ Jesus,
6 so that you may together give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one heart.
7 Accept one another, then, for the sake of God's glory, as Christ accepted you.
8 I tell you that Christ's work was to serve the circumcised, fulfilling the truthfulness of God by carrying out the promises made to the fathers,
9 and his work was also for the gentiles, so that they should give glory to God for his faithful love; as scripture says: For this I shall praise you among the nations and sing praise to your name.
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 3:1-12
1 In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea,
2 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'
3 This was the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: A voice of one that cries in the desert, 'Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.'
4 This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather loin-cloth round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him,
6 and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.
7 But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, 'Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution?
8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance,
9 and do not presume to tell yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones.
10 Even now the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, so that any tree failing to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire.
11 I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who comes after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
12 His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.'
15 December 2013