PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Sunday, 19 January 2014
This passage from the Gospel is beautiful. John was baptizing; and Jesus, who had been baptized prior to this — some days before — was coming towards him and came before John. And John felt the power of the Holy Spirit within him to bear witness to Jesus. Looking at him, and looking at the people around Him, he said: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. And he bore witness to Jesus: this is Jesus, this is the One who has come to save us; this is the One who will give us the power of hope.
Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them. “But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that..., I can’t even carry it with a truck...”. Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault.... He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin...”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints. Never, never! Listen carefully, young people, who are just beginning life now: Jesus never disappoints. Never. This is the testimony of John: Jesus, the good One, the meek One, will end as a lamb, who is slain. Without crying out. He came to save us, to take away sin. Mine, yours and that of the whole world: all of it, all of it.
And now I invite you to do something: let us close our eyes, let us imagine the scene on the banks of the river, John as he is baptizing and Jesus who is approaching. And let us listen to John’s voice: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Let us watch Jesus and in silence, each one of us, say something to Jesus from his heart. In silence. (Pause for silence).
May the Lord Jesus, who is meek, who is good — he is a lamb — who came to take away sin, accompany us on the path of our life. So be it.
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which was celebrated last Sunday, we entered in the liturgical season called “ordinary” time. On this Second Sunday, the Gospel presents us with the scene of the encounter between Jesus and John the Baptist at the River Jordan. The one who recounts it is the eyewitness, John the Evangelist, who before becoming a disciple of Jesus, was a disciple of the Baptist, together with his brother James, with Simon and Andrew, all from Galilee, all fishermen.
The Baptist then sees Jesus who is approaching amid the crowd and, inspired from on High, he recognizes in him the One sent by God; he therefore points him out with these words: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The verb that is translated as “take away” literally means “to lift up”, “to take upon oneself”. Jesus came into the world with a precise mission: to liberate it from the slavery of sin by taking on himself the sins of mankind. How? By loving. There is no other way to conquer evil and sin than by the love that leads to giving up one’s life for others. In the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus assumes the features of the Lord’s Suffering Servant, who “has borne our grief and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) unto death on the Cross. He is the true Paschal Lamb, who immerses himself in the river of our sin in order to purify us.
The Baptist sees before him a man who stands in line with sinners to be baptized, though he had no need of it. A man whom God sent into the world as a Lamb to be immolated. In the New Testament, the word “lamb” recurs many times and always in reference to Jesus. This image of the lamb might be surprising; indeed, an animal that is certainly not characterized by strength and robustness takes upon its shoulders such an oppressive weight. The huge mass of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature, a symbol of obedience, docility and defenseless love that ultimately offers itself in sacrifice. The lamb is not a ruler but docile, it is not aggressive but peaceful; it shows no claws or teeth in the face of any attack; rather, it bears it and is submissive. And so is Jesus! So is Jesus, like a lamb.
What does it mean for the Church, for us today, to be disciples of Jesus, the Lamb of God? It means replacing malice with innocence, replacing power with love, replacing pride with humility, replacing status with service. It is good work! We Christians must do this: replace malice with innocence, replace power with love, replace pride with humility, replace status with service. Being disciples of the Lamb means not living like a “besieged citadel”, but like a city placed on a hill, open, welcoming and supportive. It means not assuming closed attitudes but rather proposing the Gospel to everyone, bearing witness by our lives that following Jesus makes us freer and more joyous.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, today we are celebrating the World Day for Migrants and Refugees with the theme: Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World, which I developed in the message that was published some time ago. I extend a special greeting to the representatives of the various ethnic communities gathered here, especially the Catholic communities of Rome. Dear friends, you are close to the Church’s heart, because the Church is a people on a journey towards the Kingdom of God which Jesus Christ has brought into our midst. Do not lose the hope in a better world. My hope is that you might live in peace in the countries that welcome you, while preserving the values of the cultures of your homeland. I would like to thank those who work with migrants to welcome and accompany them in difficult moments, to defend them from those whom Blessed Scalabrini called “traffickers in human flesh”, who want to enslave migrants! In a particular way, I wish to thank the Congregation of Missionaries of St Charles, the Scalabrinian Fathers and Sisters who do so much good for the Church and who become migrants with the migrants.
At this time, we think of the many migrants, the many refugees, of their sufferings, their lives, many times without work, without documents, in such great sorrow; and we can all together say a pray for migrants and refugees who live in the most serious and difficult situations: Hail Mary…
I wish everyone a blessed Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies 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.
1st Reading: Extracted from the prophet Isaiah 8:23-9:3
23 In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations.
1 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on the inhabitants of a country in shadow dark as death light has blazed forth.
2 You have enlarged the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest time, as they exult when they are dividing the spoils.
3 For the yoke that weighed on it, the bar across its shoulders, the rod of its oppressor, these you have broken as on the day of Midian.
Responsorial: Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
The Lord is my light and my help.
1 [Of David] The Lord is my light and my help, whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, before whom should I shrink?
4 One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek: to dwell in the Lord's house all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of the Lord, to behold his temple.
13 This I believe: I shall see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living.
14 Put your hope in the Lord, be strong, let your heart be bold, put your hope in the Lord.
2nd Reading: Extracted from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
10 Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to have factions among yourselves but all to be in agreement in what you profess; so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements.
11 From what Chloe's people have been telling me about you, brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you.
12 What I mean is this: every one of you is declaring, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or 'I belong to Christ.'
13 Has Christ been split up? Was it Paul that was crucified for you, or was it in Paul's name that you were baptised?
17 After all, Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel; and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless.
Gospel Reading: Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 4:12-23
12 Hearing that John had been arrested Jesus withdrew to Galilee,
13 and leaving Nazara he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali.
14 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
15 Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea beyond Jordan. Galilee of the nations!
16 The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned.
17 From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen.
19 And he said to them, 'Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.'
20 And at once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.
22 And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
23 He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people.
It was the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time on 26 January 2014.
The Readings that were read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day are shown above.
We have extracted the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you, so that you could similarly be encouraged:
Please refer to next page.
2 February 2014