I now address my cordial greeting to your Pastor, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, whom I thank for his invitation and for the courteous words of welcome with which he received me on behalf of you all. I would also like to express to him my sentiments of fervent good wishes on the 10th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. I address a special thought to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, titular of your Suburbicarian Diocese, who joins in our joy today. I greet the other Prelates present, the priests, the consecrated people, the young and the elderly, the families, the children and the sick, embracing with affection all the faithful of the diocesan community who are spiritually united here. I also extend a greeting to the Authorities who have honoured us with their presence, and in the first place to the Mayor of Albano, to whom I am also grateful for his courteous words at the beginning of holy Mass. Upon everyone I invoke the heavenly protection of St Pancratius from whom this cathedral takes its name, and of the Apostle Matthew, who is commemorated in today's liturgy.
In particular, I invoke the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this day, which crowns your efforts, sacrifices and hard work to endow the cathedral with a renewed space for the liturgy by means of the appropriate renovation of the episcopal throne, the ambo and the altar, may Our Lady obtain that you write another page of daily and popular holiness in our time, to add to those that have marked the life of the Church of Albano through the centuries. Of course, as your Pastor recalled, difficulties, challenges and problems are not lacking, but there are also great hopes and opportunities to proclaim and to witness to God's love. May the Spirit of the Risen Lord, who is the Spirit of Pentecost, open you to his horizons of hope and nourish within you a missionary impetus to the vast horizons of the new evangelization. Let us pray for this as we continue our Eucharistic celebration.
Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You may remember that when I addressed the crowd in St Peter's Square on the day of my election it came naturally to me to introduce myself as a labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. Well, in today's Gospel (cf. Matthew 20: 1-16), Jesus recounted the very same parable of the owner of the vineyard who at different hours of the day hires labourers to work in it. And in the evening he gives them all the same wages, one denarius, provoking protests from those who began work early. That denarius clearly represents eternal life, a gift that God reserves for all. Indeed those who are considered the "last", if they accept, become the "first", whereas the "first" can risk becoming the "last". The first message of this parable is inherent in the very fact that the landowner does not tolerate, as it were, unemployment: he wants everyone to be employed in his vineyard. Actually, being called is already the first reward: to be able to work in the Lord's vineyard, to put oneself at his service, to collaborate in his work, is in itself a priceless recompense that repays every effort. Yet only those who love the Lord and his Kingdom understand this: those who instead work only for the pay will never realize the value of this inestimable treasure.
It is St Matthew who recounts this parable, an apostle and an evangelist, whose liturgical feast day we are celebrating on this very day. I like to emphasize that Matthew lived this experience in the first person (cf. Matthew 9: 9). Indeed, before Jesus called him he worked as a tax collector and was therefore seen as a public sinner, excluded from "the Lord's vineyard". But everything changed when Jesus passed by his table, looked at him and said to him: "Follow me". Matthew rose and followed him. From a publican he immediately became a disciple of Christ. From being "last" he found himself "first", thanks to God's logic, which - for our good fortune! - is different from the logic of the world. "My thoughts are not your thoughts", the Lord says, speaking through the mouth of Isaiah, "neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55: 8). St Paul, for whom we are celebrating a special Jubilee Year, also experienced the joy of feeling called by the Lord to work in his vineyard. And what a lot of work he accomplished! Yet, as he himself confessed, it was God's grace which worked in him, that grace which from persecutor of the Church transformed him into an Apostle to the Gentiles, to the point of saying: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" However he immediately added: "If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell" (Philippians 1: 21-22). Paul clearly understood that working for the Lord is already a reward on this earth.
The Virgin Mary, whom I had the joy of venerating in Lourdes a week ago, is the perfect branch of the Lord's vine. In her germinated the blessed fruit of divine love: Jesus, our Saviour. May she help us to respond constantly and joyously to the Lord's call and to find our happiness in toiling for the Kingdom of Heaven.
After the Angelus:
Appeal for solidarity for the peoples of the Caribbean countries and the southern part of the United States:
In recent weeks the Caribbean countries - especially Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic - and the southern part of the United States of America - especially Texas - were hit hard by violent hurricanes. I would like once again to assure all those beloved peoples of their special remembrance in my prayers. I hope further that aid will quickly reach the worst damaged areas. The Lord desires that, at the least in these circumstances, solidarity and fraternity prevail above all else.
Appeal to world leaders
Next Thursday, 25 September, a high level meeting will be held in New York in the context of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly to ascertain the achievement of the goals established in the United Nations Millennium Declaration on 8 September 2000. On the occasion of this important meeting that will gather the leaders of all the countries in the world, I would like to renew my invitation to take and to apply courageously the necessary measures to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger, ignorance and the scourge of pandemics which harm the most vulnerable above all. Such a commitment, while requiring special sacrifices in this period of worldwide financial difficulty, will not fail to produce important benefits both for the development of the nations in need of help from abroad and for the peace and well-being of the entire planet.
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I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches that God is always generous in his dealings with us. The Kingdom of Heaven will come to us not as a reward for our good deeds, based on strict justice, but as a grace, a gift of God's mercy and abounding love. Let us ask the Lord to keep us always in his love! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome, and a blessed Sunday!
Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s liturgy begin with the Reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, namely to the members of the community that the Apostle himself founded in the city of Philippi, an important Roman colony in Macedonia, today northern Greece. Paul reached Philippi on his second missionary voyage, sailing across the Aegean Sea from Anatolia. This was the first time the Gospel arrived in Europe. It was in about the year 50, hence 20 years after Jesus' death and Resurrection. Yet, the Letter to the Philippians contains a hymn to Christ which presents a complete synthesis of his mystery: incarnation, kenosis, that is, self-emptying to the point of death on the cross, and glorification.
This same mystery became one with the life of the Apostle Paul, who wrote this Letter while he was in prison, awaiting a sentence of life or death. He declared: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This is a new meaning for life and of human existence, which consists in communion with the living Jesus Christ; not only with a historical figure, a teacher of wisdom, a religious leader, but with a man in whom God himself dwells. His death and Resurrection is the Good News, which, starting from Jerusalem, is destined to reach all men and all peoples, and to transform from within all cultures, opening them to the fundamental truth: God is love. He was made man in Jesus and with his sacrifice redeemed humanity from the slavery of evil, giving people a hope in which they could trust.
St Paul was a man who summed up three worlds in himself: the Jewish, the Greek, and the Roman. Not by chance did God entrust to him the mission to take the Gospel to Asia Minor, to Greece and later to Rome, building a bridge that would take Christianity to the very ends of the earth. Today we live in an era of new evangelization. Vast horizons are opening to the proclamation of the Gospel while regions with an ancient Christian tradition are called to rediscover the beauty of faith.
The leaders of this mission are men and women who, like St Paul, can say: “For me to live is Christ”. People, families, and communities who agree to work in the Lord’s vineyard, according to the image in this Sunday’s Gospel (cf. Matthew 20:1-16). Humble and gentle workers, who ask for no remuneration other than to share in the mission of Jesus and of his Church.
“If it is to be life in the flesh”, St Paul writes further, “that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell” (Philippians 1:22): full union with Christ beyond death, or service to his mystical body on this earth.
Dear friends, the Gospel has transformed the world and is still transforming it, like a river that irrigates a vast field. Let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, that priestly, religious and lay vocations may develop throughout the Church for the service of the new evangelization.
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, yesterday in Turin Mons. Francesco Paleari, of the Priestly Society of St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, was beatified. He was born into a humble peasant family in 1863 in Pogliano Milanese. He entered the seminary at a very young age and immediately after his ordination to the priesthood dedicated himself to the poor and the sick at the Little House of Divine Providence and also to teaching, distinguishing himself for his affability and patience. Let us praise God for this luminous witness of his love!
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer, including those from the Acton Institute and the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Jesus compare the Kingdom of Heaven to the actions of a landowner who is generous to all the workers in his vineyard. Perhaps at times we may feel envious of the success of others or feel that we have not been sufficiently thanked for our service. May we always strive to be humble servants of the Lord and rejoice when God bestows abundant graces on those around us. I wish you a good Sunday. May God bless all of you!
I am glad to greet the Sisters from different parts of the world who are attending Mater Ecclesiae Missionary College here in Castel Gandolfo.
Lastly I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, and in particular the large group of Coldiretti, whom I thank for their gift of the beehives, which have been set up in this Villa. Thank you for this gift!
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you. Have a pleasant Sunday!
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
Mother Teresa Square (Tirana)
The Gospel we have just heard tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 10:1-9, 17-20). He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity. To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission. The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”. It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace. Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country! Peace!
In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples. Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them. In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom. Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel. In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.
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12 October 2014