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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Angelus about waiting for the Kingdom

At noon today (local time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the usual Sunday appointment.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In today's gospel passage (Lk 12:32-48), Jesus speaks to his disciples about the attitude they should strive to take on in view of the final encounter with himself, and he explains how the expectation of this encounter should motivate them to live a life that is rich with good works.  Along with other things, he says: Sell what you possess and give alms; make for yourselves purses that will be ageless, a treasure that is assured in heaven, where no thief can enter and where no moth can consume it (Lk 12:33).  This is an invitation to give value to almsgiving as a work of mercy, and not to place their trust in things that will not endure, to use earthly things without becoming attached to them or being self-centred, but rather according to God's logic, the logic of paying attention to others, the logic of love.  We can become so attached to money, we can possess so many things, but in the end, we will not be able to take anything with us.  Remember that there are no pockets in a burial shroud.

Jesus' teaching continues with three short parables on the theme of vigilance.  This is important: vigilance, being attentive, being vigilant in life.  The first is the parable of the servants who await the return of their master at night.  Blessed are those servants who the master will find awake when he returns (Lk 12:37); this is the beatitude of faithfully waiting for the Lord, of being ready, waiting and ready to serve.  He comes to us every day, knocks at the door of our hearts.  And blessed are those who open their hearts to him, for they will receive a great reward: in fact, the Lord himself will become the servant of his servants - this is a wonderful reward - at the great banquet in his Kingdom, He himself will serve them.  With this parable, which takes place at night, Jesus proposes that life is a matter of watching and waiting, which is a prelude to the luminous day of eternity.  In order to get there, we have to be ready, awake and committed to serving others, in anticipation of the fact that there, it will not be us who serve God, but rather He himself who will welcome us to his table.   On second thought, this is already the case whenever we meet the Lord in prayer, or in serving the poor, or above all in the Eucharist, where He prepares a feast to feed us with his Word and his Body.

The second parable presents the image of a thief who comes at an unpredictable hour.  This requires us to be vigilant; in fact, Jesus says: Be ready, for at an hour you do not know, the Son of man is coming (Lk 12:40).  A disciple is one who is waiting for the Lord and for his Kingdom.  The gospel clarifies this perspective with the third parable: the manager of a household after the departure of its owner.  At first, the manger performs his duties faithfully and receives his reward, but then the administrator abuses his authority and begins to persecute the servants, so that when the master returns unexpectedly, the manager is punished.  This scene describes a situation that is frequently the case also in our times: there are many injustices, violence and daily evils that are born out of a sense that we can carry on as though we were the masters over the lives of others.  We have only one master, who does not like to be called a master, but rather a Father.  We are all servants, sinners and children: He is the only Father.

Today Jesus reminds us that waiting for blessed eternity does not dispense us from the necessity to make our world more just, more liveable.  In fact, our mere hope of possessing the Kingdom in eternity spurs us on to work toward improving the conditions of earthly life, especially for our brothers and sisters in need.  May the Virgin Mary help us to be people and communities that are not focused on the present moment, or worse, nostalgic for the past, but eager for God's future, for our encounter with Him who is our life and our hope.
(Original text in Italian)

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Unfortunately, we continue to receive news from Syria of civilian victims of war, especially in Aleppo.  It is unacceptable that so many helpless people - including many children - have to pay the price of conflict, the price of closed hearts and a lack of willingness for peace on the part of the powerful.  We are close to our brothers and sisters with our prayer and our solidarity, and we confide them to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.  Let us all pray for a moment in silence, then we will pray the Hail Mary.

I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims from various countries.  There are many flags flying!

Today, there are many groups of children and young people here.  I greet you all with great affection!  In particular, the group of young people from Verona; the youth from Padua, Sandrigo and Brembilla; and the group of boys from Fasta, all the way from Argentina.  These Argentinians make noise everywhere they go!  I also greet the adolescents from Campogalliano and San Matteo della Decima, who have come to Rome to carry out volunteer work in welcoming centres.

I also greet the faithful from Sforzatica, in the Diocese of Bergamo.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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