Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the liturgy offers to us for reflection the words of the Prophet Isaiah: "And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him... these will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer... for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Isaiah 56: 6-7). In the Second Reading the Apostle Paul also refers to the universality of salvation, as does the Gospel passage that recounts the episode of the Canaanite woman, a foreigner for the Jews, whose wish was granted by Jesus because of her great faith. The Word of God thus gives us an opportunity to reflect on the universality of the mission of the Church which is made up of people of every race and culture. From precisely this stems the great responsibility of the ecclesial community which is called to be a hospitable home for all, a sign and instrument of communion for the entire human family.
How important it is, especially in our time, that every Christian community increasingly deepens its awareness of this in order also to help civil society overcome every possible temptation to give into racism, intolerance and exclusion and to make decisions that respect the dignity of every human being! One of humanity's great achievements is in fact its triumph over racism. However, unfortunately disturbing new forms of racism are being manifested in various Countries. They are often related to social and economic problems which can, however, never justify contempt and racial discrimination. Let us pray that respect for every person everywhere will increase, together with a responsible awareness that only in the reciprocal acceptance of one and all is it possible to build a world distinguished by authentic justice and true peace.
Today, I would like to suggest another prayer intention, given the current news of numerous serious road accidents - especially in this period. We must not resign ourselves to this sad reality! Human life is too precious a good and death or incapacitation by causes which in most cases could have been avoided is most unworthy of man. A greater sense of responsibility is certainly essential, first and foremost on the part of drivers since accidents are often due to excessive speed or rash conduct. Driving a vehicle on public roads demands a moral and a civic sense. To encourage the latter, the constant work of prevention, watchfulness and penalization by the authorities in charge is indispensable. On the other hand, we as Church feel directly challenged on the ethical level: Christians must first of all make a personal examination of conscience regarding their own behaviour as car-drivers. Furthermore, may communities teach every man and woman to consider driving as another area in which to defend life and put love of neighbour into practice.
Let us entrust the social problems I have mentioned to the motherly intercession of Mary, whom we shall now call upon together with the recitation of the Angelus.
After the Angelus:
I am continuing to follow the situation in Georgia with anxious attention and I feel especially close to the victims of the conflict. As I raise a special prayer of suffrage for the deceased and express heartfelt condolences to the bereaved, I am appealing for the generous relief of the serious hardships of the refugees, especially of women and children, who sometimes lack even the basic necessities for survival. I ask that humanitarian corridors be opened without further delay between the Region of Southern Ossetia and the rest of Georgia so that the fallen who are still abandoned may be given a dignified burial, the injured be adequately cared for and those who so desire be reunited with their loved ones. In addition, may the ethnic minorities involved in the conflict also be guaranteed safety and those fundamental rights which can never be violated. I also hope that the truce being observed, thanks to the contribution of the European Union, may be consolidated and become a peace that endures, while I invite the International Community to continue offering its support so that through dialogue and common good will a lasting solution may be found.
I heard with profound sorrow of the death yesterday evening of Bishop Wilhelm Egger of Bolzano-Bressanone at the age of 68. The loss of Bishop Egger profoundly distresses me, for only a week ago I was with him as his guest. May the Lord reward this Pastor's fidelity in proclaiming Christ's love for men and women and admit him to the Communion of Saints in Heaven. With deep distress I learned of the sudden death of Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger, of Bolzano-Bressanone. I had left him a few days earlier apparently in good health. There was nothing to suggest that he was so soon to depart. I join in the mourning of his relatives and of the whole diocese in which he was appreciated and loved for his hard work and dedication. As I raise a fervent prayer of suffrage to the Lord for this good and faithful servant, I send a special comforting Apostolic Blessing to his brother, a Capuchin religious, to his other relatives and to all the priests, men and women religious and faithful of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone.
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Sunday Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel Jesus invites us, after the example of the Canaanite woman, to profess our faith and our complete trust in God. He alone, through the power of his Word and his Holy Spirit, can touch our hearts and save us. May your stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome draw you nearer to Christ, and may God bless you all!
I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you for your presence and your faith.
Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday’s Gospel passage begins by indicating the district to which Jesus was going: Tyre and Sidon, to the north-west of Galilee, a pagan land. And it was here that he met a Canaanite woman who spoke to him, asking him to heal her daughter who was possessed by a demon (cf. Matthew 15:22).
In her supplication we can already discern the beginning of a journey of faith, which in her conversation with the divine Teacher grows and becomes stronger.
The woman was not afraid to cry to Jesus “Have mercy on me”, an expression that recurs in the Psalms (cf. 50:1), she calls him “Lord” and “Son of David” (cf. Matthew 15:22), thus showing a firm hope of being heard. What was the Lord’s attitude to this cry of anguish from a pagan woman?
Jesus’ silence may seem disconcerting, to the point that it prompted the disciples to intervene, but it was not a question of insensitivity to this woman’s sorrow. St Augustine rightly commented: “Christ showed himself indifferent to her, not in order to refuse her his mercy but rather to inflame her desire for it” (Sermo 77, 1: PL 38, 483).
The apparent aloofness of Jesus who said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 24), did not discourage the Canaanite woman who persisted: “Lord, help me” (v. 25). And she did not even desist when she received an answer that would seem to have extinguished any hope: “it is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (v. 26). She had no wish to take anything from anyone; in her simplicity and humility a little was enough for her, crumbs sufficed, no more than a look, a kind word from the Son of God. And Jesus was struck with admiration for an answer of such great faith and said to her: “Be it done for you as you desire” (v. 28).
Dear friends, we too are called to grow in faith, to open ourselves in order to welcome God’s gift freely, to have trust and also to cry to Jesus “give us faith, help us to find the way!”. This is the way that Jesus made his disciples take, as well as the Canaanite woman and men and women of every epoch and nation and each one of us.
Faith opens us to knowing and welcoming the real identity of Jesus, his newness and oneness, his word, as a source of life, in order to live a personal relationship with him. Knowledge of the faith grows, it grows with the desire to find the way and in the end it is a gift of God who does not reveal himself to us as an abstract thing without a face or a name, because faith responds to a Person who wants to enter into a relationship of deep love with us and to involve our whole life.
For this reason our heart must undergo the experience of conversion every day, every day it must see us changing from people withdrawn into themselves to people who are open to God’s action, spiritual people (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14), who let themselves be called into question by the Lord’s word and open their life to his Love.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us therefore nourish our faith every day with deep attention to the word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments, with personal prayer as a “cry” to him, and with charity to our neighbour.
Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom we shall contemplate tomorrow in her glorious Assumption into Heaven in body and soul, so that she may help us proclaim and witness with our lives to the joy of having encountered the Lord.
After the Angelus:
I greet the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today, our thoughts turn to the young people now gathering in Madrid for World Youth Day. As I prepare to join them, I ask you to accompany us with your prayers for the spiritual fruitfulness of this important event. May God bless all of you abundantly!
I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week and a good feast day tomorrow!
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.
CLOSING MASS FOR THE SIXTH ASIAN YOUTH DAY
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Dear Young Friends,
The glory of the martyrs shines upon you! These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all. Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ. He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives! The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant. With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.
The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation. The other part of this Day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up! – speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility. Let us consider for a moment each of these words.
First, the word “Asian”. You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia. Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love. The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!
As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions. Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death.
Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”. You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture. In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.
As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present! You are Church’s present! Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.
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7 September 2014