After the Angelus:
Tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical Feast of the Presentation of the Jesus in the Temple. Forty days after Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem, complying with the prescriptions of Mosaic Law. In fact, every first-born child according to Scripture belonged to the Lord and therefore had to be ransomed with a sacrifice. In this event the consecration of Jesus to God the Father was manifest and, linked to it, that of the Virgin Mary. For this my beloved Predecessor John Paul II desired that this anniversary on which numerous consecrated people make or renew their vows become the World Day for Consecrated Life. Tomorrow afternoon, therefore, at the end of Holy Mass presided by the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, I shall meet the consecrated men and women present in Rome in St Peter's Basilica. I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the precious gift of these Brothers and Sisters and to ask him, through the intercession of Our Lady, for many new vocations within the Church's ample variety of charisms.
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus reveals his divine authority in his teaching and his work of healing. Let us ask the Lord to open our minds ever more fully to his saving truth, and our hearts to his merciful and gracious love. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!
St. Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) presents to us Jesus, who was preaching on the Sabbath in the Synagogue of Capernaum, the little town on the Sea of Galilee where Peter and his brother Andrew lived. His teaching, which gave rise to wonder among the people, was followed by the deliverance of “a man with an unclean spirit” (v. 23), who recognized Jesus as “the Holy One of God”, that is, the Messiah. In a short time his fame spread across the region which he passed through proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing the sick of every kind: words and action. St John Chrysostom pointed out that the Lord “varies the mode of profiting his hearers, after miracles entering on words, and again from the instruction by his words passing to miracles” (Hom. in Matthćum 25, 1: PG 57, 328).
The words Jesus addresses to the people immediately give access to the will of the Father and to the truth about themselves. This was not the case for the scribes who instead had to make an effort to interpret the Sacred Scriptures with countless reflections. Moreover Jesus united the efficacy of the word with the efficacy of the signs of deliverance from evil. St Athanasius notes that “for his charging evil spirits and their being driven forth, this deed is not of man, but of God”; indeed the Lord “drove away from men all diseases and infirmities”.... Those “who saw his power... will no longer doubt whether this be the Son and Wisdom and Power of God?” (Oratio de Incarnatione Verbi 18,19: PG 25, 128 BC. 129 B).
The divine authority is not a force of nature. It is the power of the love of God that creates the universe and, becoming incarnate in the Only-Begotten Son, descending into our humanity, heals the world corrupted by sin. Romano Guardini wrote: “Jesus’ entire existence is the translation of power into humility... here is the sovereignty which lowers itself into the form of a servant” (Il Potere, Brescia 1999, 141-142).
Authority, for human beings, often means possession, power, dominion and success. Instead for God authority means service, humility and love; it means entering into the logic of Jesus who stoops to wash his disciples’ feet (cf. John 13:5), who seeks man’s true good, who heals wounds, who is capable of a love so great that he gives his life, because he is Love. In one of her Letters St. Catherine of Siena wrote: “It is necessary for us to see and know, in truth, with the light of the faith, that God is supreme and eternal Love and cannot want anything but our good” (Ep. 13 in: Le Lettere, vol. 3, Bologna 1999, 206).
Dear friends, next Thursday, 2 February, we shall celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the World Day of Consecrated Life. Let us invoke Mary Most Holy with trust so that she may guide our hearts to draw always from divine mercy, which frees and guarantees our humanity, filling it with every grace and benevolence and with the power of love.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, today Hildegard Burjan is being beatified in Vienna. She was a lay woman, the mother of a family who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Foundress of the Society of the Sisters of Caritas Socialis. Let us praise the Lord for this beautiful Gospel witness!
This Sunday is the World Leprosy Day. In greeting the Italian Association of the Friends of Raoul Follereau, I would like my encouragement to reach all the people affected by this disease, as well as those who assist them and are working in various ways to eliminate poverty and marginalization, the true causes of the continuance of the contagion.
I also remember the International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land. In profound communion with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custos of the Holy Land, let us invoke the gift of peace for that Land blessed by God.
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear how the unclean spirit recognizes Jesus as the “Holy One of God”. Let us pray that, despite the distractions of life and the apparent progress of evil, we may continue to put our faith in the Lord Jesus, who is “the way, the truth and the life”. I wish all of you a good Sunday. May God bless you!
And I greet with affection the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular the faithful from Taranto, Bari and Civitavecchia and the many children of Catholic Action of Rome, together with their teachers and families. Dear children, this year too you have given life to the “Caravan of Peace”. I thank you and I encourage you to take the peace of Jesus everywhere. Beside me are two of you. Let us now listen to the message read by Noemi. (The message is read.)
Thank you, Noemi, you did very well! And now let us release the doves that the children have brought as a sign of peace for the City of Rome and for the whole world. (The doves are released but fly back.)
They want to stay in the Pope’s house!
A good Sunday to you all! Have a good Sunday!
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
This Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mark 1:21-28) presents Jesus who, with his small community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived and which was the largest city in Galilee at that time. Jesus goes to that city.
The Evangelist Mark, recounts that, since it was the Sabbath, Jesus went straight to the Synagogue and began to teach (cf. v. 21). This reminds us of the primacy of the Word of God, the Word to be listened to, the Word to be received, the Word to be proclaimed. Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not delay proclaiming the Gospel, does not think first about the necessary logistics of his small community, does not tarry over the organization. His primary concern is to communicate the Word of God with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the people in the Synagogue were astonished, because Jesus “taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (v. 22).
What does “with authority” mean? It means that in the human words of Jesus, the power of the Word of God could be felt, the authority of God, who is the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that He does what He says. For the Word of God corresponds to his will. We, on the other hand, often speak empty, shallow words, or superfluous words, words that do not coincide with the truth. Instead, the Word of God corresponds to the truth, it is united to his will and fulfills what He says. Indeed, Jesus, after preaching, immediately demonstrates his authority by freeing a man, in the Synagogue, who was possessed by a demon, (cf. Mk 1:23-36). The very divine authority of Christ provoked the reaction of Satan, hidden in that man; Jesus, in his turn, immediately recognized the voice of the evil one and “rebuked him:.... ‘Be silent, and come out of him’” (v. 25). With the power of his word alone, Jesus frees the person from the evil one. And once again those present were amazed: “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27). The Word of God arouses amazement in us. It has the power to astonish us.
The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are slaves to the many evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, attachment to money, pride, sensuality.... The Gospel changes the heart, changes life, transforms evil inclinations into good intentions. The Gospel is capable of changing people! Therefore it is the task of Christians to spread the redeeming power throughout the world, becoming missionaries and heralds of the Word of God. This is also suggested by today’s passage which closes with a missionary perspective, saying: “his fame” — the fame of Jesus — “spread everywhere, throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee” (v. 28). The new doctrine, taught by Jesus with authority, is what the Church takes to the world, along with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God become words of salvation and gestures expressing the love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change lives! Do not forget this. It is the Good News, which transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. That is why I always ask you to have daily contact with the Gospel, to read it every day: a verse, a passage, to meditate on it and even to take it with you everywhere: in your pocket, in your bag.... In other words to nourish yourself every day with this inexhaustible source of salvation. Do not forget! Read a passage of the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, that transforms us: it changes life, it changes the heart.
Let us invoke the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, she who received the Word and conceived Him for the world, for all mankind. She teaches us to be assiduous listeners and authoritative proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus.
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6 March 2015