I rejoice that this goal has been achieved and I am sure that it will encourage the gathering and the development of the family of believers in this district. The Church wishes to be present in every neighbourhood in which people live and work, with the Gospel witness of consistent and faithful Christians, but also with appropriate premises for prayer gatherings and for the sacraments, Christian formation and the beginning of friendships and brotherhood, helping children, young people, families and the elderly grow in the spirit of community which Christ taught us and of which the Church stands in such great need.
Just as the parish premises were built, my Visit is intended to encourage you to build ever better the Church of living stones which you are. We heard in the Second Reading “You are God’s field, God’s building”, St Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:9) and to us. And he urges us to build on the one true foundation which is Jesus Christ (3:11).
For this reason, I also urge you to make your new church the place where one learns how to listen to the word of God, the permanent “school” of Christian prayer from which stems every activity of this young and committed parish.
The text from the Book of Nehemiah, presented in the First Reading, is enlightening in this respect. There it can be clearly seen that Israel is the people convoked to listen to the word of God, written in the book of the Law. This book is read solemnly by the ministers and explained to the people who, standing, raise their hands to Heaven then kneel and prostrate themselves, face to the ground, in a sign of adoration. It is a true liturgy enlivened by faith in God who speaks, by repentance for infidelity to the Lord’s Law, and especially by joy — for the proclamation of his word is a sign that he has not abandoned his People, that he is close. May you too, dear brothers and sisters, in gathering to listen to the word of God with faith and perseverance, become, from one Sunday to the next, a Church of God, inwardly formed and fashioned by his Word. What a great gift this is! May you always be grateful for it.
Yours is a young community, consisting largely of newly married couples who have come to live in the neighbourhood; there are many children and young people. I know the dedication and attention that are given to families and to the guidance of young couples: may you be able to start a pastoral service for families, marked by open and cordial hospitality to the new family nuclei, which will be able to foster reciprocal knowledge, so that the parish community may always be, increasingly, a “family of families” able to share with them, alongside the joys, the inevitable initial difficulties.
I also know that various groups of the faithful meet to pray, learning at the school of the Gospel, to participate in the Sacraments and to live that essential dimension for Christian life which is charity. I am thinking of all those who with the Parish Caritas seek to meet the many needs in the area, especially by responding to the expectations of the poorest and neediest people.
I rejoice in all you do to prepare children and young people for the sacraments of Christian life, and I urge you to to take an increasing interest in their parents too, especially those who have small children; the Parish is striving to propose to them too, at convenient times and in suitable ways, prayer and formation meetings, especially for the parents of children who must receive Baptism and the other sacraments of Christian initiation.
May you also treat with special care and attention families in difficulty or in an irregular or precarious condition. Do not leave them on their own, but be lovingly close to them, helping them to understand God’s authentic plan for marriage and the family.
The Pope wishes to address a special word of affection and friendship also to you, dear children and young people who are listening to me, and to your peers who live in this parish. The present and the future of the ecclesial and civil community are entrusted in a special way to you. The Church expects much from your enthusiasm, from your ability to look ahead and from your wish for firm in the choices in life.
Dear friends of San Corbiniano! The Lord Jesus Christ who led the Apostles to the mountain to pray and showed them his glory, has invited us to this new church today. Here we can listen to him, we can recognize his presence in the breaking of the Eucharist Bread; and in this way become a living Church, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a sign of God’s love in the world.
Go home with your hearts full of this gratitude and joy, because you are part of this great spiritual building which is the Church. Let us entrust our Lenten journey, and that of the entire Church to the Virgin Mary. May Our Lady, who followed her Son Jesus to the Cross, help us to be faithful disciples of Christ, so that we may be able to take part together with her in the joy of Easter.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies 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.
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Second Sunday of Lent, 16 March 2014
In the prayer at the beginning of the Mass we asked the Lord for two graces: “To listen to Your beloved Son”, so that our faith might be nourished by the Word of God, and another grace — “to purify the eyes of our spirit, so that we might one day enjoy the vision of glory”. To listen, the grace to listen, and the grace to purify our eyes. This is directly related to the Gospel we heard. When the Lord is transfigured before Peter, James and John, they hear the voice of God the Father say: “This is my beloved Son! listen to him!”. The grace to listen to Jesus. Why? To nourish our faith with the Word of God. And this is the duty of the Christian. What are the duties of the Christian? Perhaps you will say to me: to go to Mass on Sundays; to fast and abstain during Holy Week; to do this.... Yet the first duty of the Christian is to listen to the Word of God, to listen to Jesus, because he speaks to us and he saves us by his word. And by this word he makes our faith even stronger and more robust. Listen to Jesus! “But, Father, I do listen to Jesus, I listen a lot!”. “Yes? What do you listen to?”. “I listen to the radio, I listen to the television, I listen to people gossip”. We listen to so many things throughout the day, so many things.... But I ask you a question: do we take a little time each day to listen to Jesus, to listen to Jesus’ word? Do we have the Gospels at home? And do we listen to Jesus each day in the Gospel, do we read a passage from the Gospel? Or are we afraid of this, or unaccustomed to reading it? To listen to Jesus’ word in order to nourish ourselves! This means that Jesus’ word is the most nourishing food for the soul: it nourishes our souls, it nourishes our faith! I suggest that each day you take a few minutes and read a nice passage of the Gospel and hear what happens there. Hearing Jesus, and each day Jesus’ word enters our hearts and makes us stronger in faith. I also suggest that you have a little Gospel, very little, to carry in your pocket, in your purse, and when we have a little time, perhaps on the bus ... when it’s possible on the bus, because on the bus it’s often a bit difficult to keep our balance and guard our pockets, isn’t it?.... But when you are seated, here or there, you can also read during the day. Take the Gospel and read two little words. Having the Gospel with us always! It was said that several of the early martyrs — St Cecilia for example — always carried the Gospel with them: they carried the Gospel; she, Cecilia, carried the Gospel. Because it is truly our basic meal, it is Jesus’ word, which nourishes our faith.
And then the second grace we requested was the grace of purifying our eyes, the eyes of our spirit, to prepare the eyes of the spirit for eternal life. Purifying the eyes! I am invited to listen to Jesus, and Jesus manifests himself, and by his Transfiguration he invites us to gaze at him. And looking at Jesus purifies our eyes and prepares them for eternal life, for the vision of heaven. Perhaps our eyes are a little sick because we see so many things that are not of Jesus, things that are even against Jesus: worldly things, things that do not benefit the light of the soul. And in this way, this light is slowly extinguished, and without knowing it, we end up in interior darkness, in spiritual darkness, in a darkened faith: darkness, because we are unaccustomed to looking and imagining the things of Jesus.
This is what we asked today of the Father, who teaches us to listen to Jesus and to gaze at Jesus. To listen to his word, and think about what I was telling you about the Gospel: it is very important! And to see, when I read the Gospel imagining and looking at what Jesus was like, how he did things. And thus our minds, our hearts go forward on the journey of hope on which the Lord places us, as we heard he did to our father Abraham. Always remember: to listen to Jesus, to make our faith stronger; to gaze at Jesus, to prepare our eyes for the beautiful vision of his Face, where we all — may the Lord grant us the grace — will be at a Mass without end. So be it.
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.
Responsorial: Psalm 95:1-2,6-9
O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’
Come, ring out our joy to the Lord; hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks, with songs let us hail the Lord.
Come in; let us bow and bend low; let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’
6 April 2014
First reading: Extracted from the book of Exodus 17:3-7
Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’
Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’
the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’
This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel.
The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’