The central message, however, concerns the spirit of responsibility with which to receive God's Kingdom: a responsibility to God and to humanity. This attitude of the heart is embodied perfectly in the Virgin Mary who, on receiving the most precious gift of all, Jesus himself, offered him to the world with immense love. Let us ask her to help us to be "good and faithful servants" so that we may one day enter "into the joy of our Lord".
After the Angelus:
Next Friday, 21 November, the liturgical memorial of the Presentation of Mary Most Holy in the Temple, is Pro Orantibus Day for cloistered religious communities. Let us thank the Lord for the sisters and brothers who have embraced this mission, dedicating themselves entirely to prayer and living on what they receive from Providence. Let us pray in our turn for them and for new vocations, and let us work to support monasteries in their material needs. Dear sisters and dear brothers, your presence in the Church and in the world is indispensable. I am near to you and bless you with great affection!
I extend warm greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus. May your time in Rome be filled with divine blessings of joy and peace.
On this third Sunday of November, we remember in a special way all those who have died as a result of traffic accidents. We pray for their eternal rest and for the consolation of their families who grieve their loss. Dear brothers and sisters, I implore everyone drivers, passengers and pedestrians to heed carefully the words of St Paul in the Liturgy of the Word today: "stay sober and alert". Our behaviour on the roads should be characterized by responsibility, consideration and respect for others. May the Virgin Mary lead us safely along streets and highways throughout the world.
St. Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The word of God of this Sunday — the second to last Sunday of the liturgical year — warns us of the transience of our earthly existence and invites us to live it as a pilgrimage, keeping our gaze fixed on the destination for which God has created us. Moreover, since he made us for himself (cf. St Augustine, Confessions 1, 1), he is our ultimate destination and the meaning of our existence.
Death, followed by the Last Judgement, is an obligatory stage to pass through in order to reach this definitive reality. The Apostle Paul says: “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2), that is, without warning. May knowledge of the glorious return of the Lord Jesus spur us to live in an attitude of watchfulness, waiting for his manifestation and in constant remembrance of his first Coming.
In the well known Parable of the Talents — recounted by the Evangelist Matthew (cf. 25: 14-30) — Jesus tells the story of three servants to whom their master entrusted his property, before setting out on a long journey. Two of them behaved impeccably, doubling the value of what they had received. On the contrary, the third buried the money he had received in a hole. On his return, the master asked his servants to account for what he had entrusted to them and while he was pleased with the first two he was disappointed with the third.
Indeed, the servant who had hidden his talent and failed to make it increase in worth, had calculated badly. He behaved as if his master were never to return, as if there would never be a day on which he would be asked to account for his actions. With this parable Jesus wanted to teach his disciples to make good use of his gifts: God calls every person and offers talents to all, at the same time entrusting each one with a mission to carry out. It would be foolish to presume that these gifts are an entitlement, just as failing to use them would mean failing to achieve our purpose in life.
In commenting on this Gospel passage St Gregory the Great noted that the Lord does not let anyone lack the gift of his charity, of his love. He wrote: “brothers, it is necessary that you pay the utmost attention to preserving love in everything you must do” (Homilies on the Gospel, 9, 6). After explaining that true charity consists in loving enemies as well as friends, he added: “if someone lacks this virtue, he loses every good he possesses, he is deprived of the talent he received and is cast out into the darkness” (ibid.).
Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation to be watchful, of which the Scriptures frequently remind us! This is the attitude of those who know that the Lord will return and that he will wish to see the fruits of his love in us. Charity is the fundamental good that no one can fail to bring to fruition and without which every other good is worthless (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3). If Jesus loved us to the point of giving his life for us (cf. 1 John 3:16), how can we not love God with the whole of ourselves and love one another with real warmth? (cf. 1 John 4:11). It is only by practising charity that we too will be able to share in the joy of Our Lord. May the Virgin Mary teach us active and joyful watchfulness on our journey towards the encounter with God.
After the Angelus:
Today is the World Day of Diabetes, a chronic disease that afflicts many, even young people. I pray for all these brothers and sisters and for all who, every day, share in their daily trials; as well as for health-care workers and for the volunteers who help them.
Today the Church in Italy is celebrating Thanksgiving Day. In looking at the fruits of the earth which the Lord has given to us this year too, let us acknowledge that human work would be fruitless if he did not make it fertile. “Only with God is there a future in the land”. While we give thanks, let us engage to respect the earth that God has entrusted to our keeping.
Dear French-speaking pilgrims, today the Lord asks us to recognize the gifts he has made to us. He entrusts to each one the responsibility for making them fruitful, so that he or she may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These words of Christ guided the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. I hope to impart them to all when I go to Benin to strengthen the faith and hope of the Christians of Africa and of the adjacent Islands. I entrust to your prayers this journey and the inhabitants of the beloved continent of Africa, especially those who are experiencing violence and the lack of security. May Our Lady of Africa accompany and sustain the efforts of all who are working for reconciliation, justice and peace with my blessing!
I welcome the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, especially the large group of Filipino pilgrims! In today’s Gospel, the Parable of the Talents, Jesus invites us to reflect with gratitude on the gifts we have received and to use them wisely for the growth of God’s Kingdom. May his words summon us to an ever deeper conversion of mind and heart, and a more effective solidarity in the service of all our brothers and sisters. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s Blessings of wisdom, joy and peace!
To the German-speaking faithful the Holy Father spoke of the beatification that afternoon at Dornbirn, Austria, of the priest-martyr, Karl Lampert, who was killed in hatred of the faith on 13 November 1944.
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
The Gospel this Sunday is the Parable of the Talents. The passage from St Matthew (25:14-30) tells of a man who, before setting off on a journey, calls his servants and entrusts his assets to them in talents, extremely valuable ancient coins. That master entrusts five talents to the first servant, two to the second, and one to the third. During the master’s absence, the three servants must earn a profit from this patrimony. The first and second servants each double the initial value of the capital. The third, however, for fear of losing it all, buries the talent he received in a hole. Upon the master’s return, the first two receive praise and rewards, while the third, who returned only the coin he had received, is reproached and punished.
The meaning of this is clear. The man in the parable represents Jesus, we are the servants, and the talents are the inheritance that the Lord entrusts to us. What is the inheritance? His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the Heavenly Father, his forgiveness..., in other words, so many things, his most precious treasures. This is the inheritance that He entrusts to us, not only to safeguard, but to make fruitful! While in common usage the term “talent” indicates a pronounced individual quality, for example talent in music, in sport, and so on, in the parable, talent represent the riches of the Lord, which He entrusts to us so that we make them bear fruit. The hole dug into the soil by the “wicked and slothful servant” (v. 26) points to the fear of risk which blocks creativity and the fruitfulness of love, because the fear of the risks of love stop us. Jesus does not ask us to store his grace in a safe! Jesus does not ask us for this, but He wants us to use it to benefit others. All the goods that we have received are to give to others, and thus they increase, as if He were to tell us: “Here is my mercy, my tenderness, my forgiveness: take them and make ample use of them”. And what have we done with them? Whom have we “infected” with our faith? How many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbour? These are questions that will do us good to ask ourselves. Any environment, even the furthest and most impractical, can become a place where our talents can bear fruit. There are no situations or places precluded from the Christian presence and witness. The witness which Jesus asks of us is not closed, but is open, it is in our hands.
This parable urges us not to conceal our faith and our belonging to Christ, not to bury the Word of the Gospel, but to let it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in concrete situations, as a strength which galvanizes, which purifies, which renews. Similarly, the forgiveness, which the Lord grants us particularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: let us not keep it closed within ourselves, but let us allow it to emit its power, which brings down the walls that our egoism has raised, which enables us to take the first step in strained relationships, to resume the dialogue where there is no longer communication.... And so forth. Allow these talents, these gifts, these presents that the Lord has given us, to be, to grow, to bear fruit for others, with our witness.
I think it would be a fine gesture for each of you to pick up the Gospel at home today, the Gospel of St Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 14 to 30, Matthew 25:14-30, and read this, and meditate a bit: “The talents, the treasures, all that God has given me, all things spiritual, all goodness, the Word of God, how do I make this grow in others? Or do I merely store it in a safe?”.
Moreover, the Lord does not give the same things to everyone in the same way: He knows us personally and entrusts us with what is right for us; but in everyone, in all, there is something equal: the same, immense trust. God trusts us, God has hope in us! And this is the same for everyone. Let us not disappoint Him! Let us not be misled by fear, but let us reciprocate trust with trust! The Virgin Mary embodied this attitude in the fullest and most beautiful way. She received and welcomed the most sublime gift, Jesus himself, and in turn she offered Him to mankind with a generous heart. Let us ask Her to help us to be “good and faithful servants” in order to participate “in the joy of our Lord”.
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14 December 2014