One more observation on the Second Reading: it is taken from the First Letter of Peter, near whose tomb we find ourselves and to whose intercession I would especially like to entrust you. I make my own and consign to you with affection his words: "Venerate the Lord, that is, Christ, in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply (3: 15). Worship Christ the Lord in your hearts: cultivate a personal relationship of love with him, your first and greatest love, one and totalizing, in which to live, purify, illumine and sanctify all your other relationships. The "hope that is in you" is linked to this "adoration", to this love of Christ, who through the Spirit, as we said, dwells within us. Our hope, your hope is God, in Jesus and in the Spirit. It is a hope which from today becomes in you a "priestly hope", that of Jesus the Good Shepherd who dwells within you and gives shape to your desires in accordance with his divine Heart: a hope of life and forgiveness for the people who will be entrusted to your pastoral care; a hope of holiness and apostolic fruitfulness for yourselves and for all the Church; a hope of openness to faith and to the encounter with God for those who support you in their quest for the truth; a hope of peace and comfort for the suffering and for those wounded by life.
Dear friends, this is my wish on this day which is so important for you: that hope rooted in faith may become more and more your own! And may you, who are wise and generous, gentle and strong, always be respectful and convinced witnesses and dispensers of it. May the Virgin Mary, whom I urge you to welcome anew, as did the Apostle John beneath the Cross, accompany you on this mission and protect you always, as the Mother and Star of your life and your priesthood. Amen!
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The celebration during which I ordained 29 new priests just concluded in St Peter's Basilica. Every year this is a moment of special grace and great festivity: renewed energy is infused into the network of both the ecclesial and civil community. If the presence of priests is indispensable for the Church's life, it is, however, precious for all. In the Acts of the Apostles one reads that the deacon Philip brought the Gospel to a city of Samaria; the people enthusiastically adhered to his teaching, also seeing the wondrous signs that he worked for the sick: "So there was much joy in that city" (8: 8). As I reminded the newly ordained during the Eucharistic celebration, this is the sense of the Church's mission and in particular of priests: to sow the joy of the Gospel in the world! Where Christ is preached with the power of the Holy Spirit and he is accepted with an open heart, society, although full of many problems, becomes a "city of joy" - as heard in the title of a famous book that refers to the work of Mother Teresa at Calcutta. This is therefore the wish that I make to the new priests, for whom I ask you all to pray: may they spread, there where they will be destined, the joy and hope that springs from the Gospel.
Actually, this is also the message that I brought in the past days to the United States of America, with an Apostolic Journey that had these words for a motto: "Christ our Hope". I thank God because he has generously blessed this, my unique missionary experience, and has allowed me to be an instrument of Christ's hope for that Church and that Country. At the same time, I thank him because I myself have been confirmed in hope by American Catholics. In fact, I found great vitality and the determination to live and witness the faith in Jesus. This Wednesday during the General Audience, I plan on pausing more amply on this, my Apostolic Visit in America.
Today, many Eastern Churches celebrate, according to the Julian calendar, the great Solemnity of Easter. I desire to express my fraternal, spiritual closeness to these brothers and sisters of ours. I cordially greet them, praying to the one and trine God to confirm them in the faith, to fill them with the resplendent light that flows from the Lord's Resurrection and to comfort them in the difficult situations in which they must often live and witness the Gospel. I invite all to unite themselves to me by invoking the Mother of God, so that the path of dialogue and collaboration embarked on long ago may quickly bring a more complete communion among all Christ's disciples, so that they may be an ever more luminous sign of hope for the whole of humanity.
After the Regina Caeli:
News that arrives from some African countries continues to be a cause of profound suffering and real worry. I ask you not to forget these tragic occurrences and our brothers and sisters who are involved! I ask you to pray for them and to be their voice!
In Somalia, especially at Mogadishu, bitter armed conflicts make the humanitarian situation of that dear population ever more dramatic, oppressed for so many years under the weight of brutality and misery.
Darfur, notwithstanding some momentary glimmers, remains an endless tragedy for hundreds of thousands of defenceless people abandoned to themselves.
Lastly, Burundi. After the bombardments of recent days that struck and terrorized the inhabitants of the Capital of Bujumbura and also reached the Seat of the Apostolic Nunciature, and faced with the risk of a new civil war, I invite all parties involved to begin without delay the way of dialogue and reconciliation.
I trust that the local political Authorities, those responsible for the international community and every person of goodwill will not withhold efforts to make the violence cease and to honour the commitments made in order to build solid foundations for peace and development.
We entrust our intentions to Mary, Queen of Africa.
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Regina Caeli. In today’s Gospel Our Lord speaks to us of the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May we always remain faithful to this divine communion by living the commandments that he has given us. God’s blessings of joy and peace be with you all!
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The book of the Acts of the Apostles states that after a first violent persecution, the Christian community of Jerusalem, except for the Apostles, spread to the surrounding areas. Philip, one of the deacons, arrived in a city of Samaria. There he preached the Risen Christ, and his proclamation was supported by numerous healings, so that the outcome of the episode was very positive: “there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).
We are repeatedly impressed in a profound way by this expression, which in essence communicates a sense of hope, as if saying: It is possible! It is possible for humanity to know true joy, because wherever the Gospel comes, life flourishes, just as arid ground, irrigated by rain, immediately turns back to green.
With the strength of the Holy Spirit, Philip and the other disciples accomplished in the villages of Palestine what Jesus had done: They preached the Good News and worked miraculous signs. It was the Lord who acted through them. As Jesus proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, so the disciples proclaimed the Risen Jesus, professing that he is the Christ, the Son of God, baptizing in his name and driving out every illness of body and spirit.
“There was much joy in that city”. Reading this passage, one thinks spontaneously of the healing power of the Gospel, which throughout the centuries has “watered” so many populations, like a beneficent river. Several great men and women saints brought hope and peace to entire cities — we think of Charles Borromeo in Milan at the time of the plague, of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and of so many missionaries, whose names are known by God, who have given their lives to bring the proclamation of Christ and make profound joy flower among men. While the powers of this world sought to conquer new territories for political and economic interests, Christ’s messengers went everywhere with the aim of bringing Christ to men and men to Christ, knowing that he alone can give true freedom and eternal life. Today too the Church’s vocation is evangelization: whether it be to populations which have not yet been “irrigated” by the living water of the Gospel, or to those that, though having ancient Christian roots, are in need of new nourishment to bear new fruit and rediscover the beauty and joy of the faith.
Dear friends, Bl. John Paul II was a great missionary, as an exhibition open now in Rome also documents. He re-launched the mission ad gentes and, at the same time, promoted the new evangelization. Let us entrust both to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. May Christ’s Mother accompany the proclamation of the Gospel always and everywhere, so that the places where men rediscover the joy of living as children of God will multiply and spread in the world.
After the Regina Caeli:
I address my greeting to all the Poles. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Primate of the Millennium. Invoking the gift of his Beatification, let us learn from him total abandonment to the Mother of God. May his trust, expressed in the words, “I have put everything in Mary”, be a particular example for us. We recall this at the end of the month of May which is dedicated in a particular way to Our Lady. I bless you from my heart.
I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims at today’s Regina Caeli, especially those from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In the Gospel today, our Lord declares: “I will not leave you orphans”, promising that the gift of the Holy Spirit will make us adopted children of God. Let us pray that we may be faithful to that gift and live fully the new life that Christ offers us. May God bless you all!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Manger Square (Bethlehem)
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
What a great grace it is to celebrate the Eucharist in the place where Jesus was born! I thank God and I thank all of you who have welcomed me on my pilgrimage: President Mahmoud Abbas and the other civil authorities; Patriarch Fouad Twal and the other bishops and ordinaries of the Holy Land, the priests, the good Franciscans, the consecrated persons and all those who labour to keep faith, hope and love alive in these lands; the faithful who have come from Gaza and Galilee, and the immigrants from Asia and Africa. Thank you for your welcome!
The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the sign given by God to those who awaited salvation, and he remains forever the sign of God’s tenderness and presence in our world. The angel announces to the shepherds: “This will be a sign for you: you will find a child…”.
Today too, children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world. Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human. Here we can think of the work carried out by the Ephpheta Paul VI institute for hearing and speech impaired Palestinian children: it is a very real sign of God’s goodness. It is a clear sign that society is healthier.
To us, the men and women of the twenty-first century, God today also says: “This will be a sign for you”, look to the child…
The Child of Bethlehem is frail, like all new-born children. He cannot speak and yet he is the Word made flesh who came to transform the hearts and lives of all men and women. This Child, like every other child, is vulnerable; he needs to be accepted and protected. Today too, children need to be welcomed and defended, from the moment of their conception.
Sadly, in this world, with all its highly developed technology, great numbers of children continue to live in inhuman situations, on the fringes of society, in the peripheries of great cities and in the countryside. All too many children continue to be exploited, maltreated, enslaved, prey to violence and illicit trafficking. Still too many children live in exile, as refugees, at times lost at sea, particularly in the waters of the Mediterranean. Today, in acknowledging this, we feel shame before God, before God who became a child.
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1 June 2014