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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Angelus with thoughts about two different lifestyles

At noon today in Rome, 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!

Today, Jesus leads us to reflect on two opposed lifestyles: a worldly one and that of the gospel.  The spirit of the world is not the spirit of Jesus.  He does this by means of the parable of the unfaithful and corrupt steward, who is praised by Jesus despite his dishonesty (cf Lk 16:1-13).  We must immediately point out that this steward is not presented as a model that we should follow, but as an example of cunning.  This man is accused of mismanagement of the affairs of his master and, before he is sent away, he cleverly tries to curry the favour of his master's debtors, conceding to them a part of their debt in order to assure a future for himself.  Commenting on this behaviour, Jesus observes: The children of this world, in fact, are wiser among their peers than are the children of light (Lk 16:8).

Faced with such worldly cunning, we are called to respond with Christian cunning, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is a matter of departing from the spirit and the values of the world, which the devil enjoys very much, in order to live instead according to the gospel.  And how exactly is worldliness to be recognized?  Worldliness is seen in attitudes of corruption, deception, abuse of power and is the most mistaken path, the path of sin because one such act leads to another!  It's like a chain, even though - it's true - it may be the most convenient path to follow, in general.  On the other hand, the spirit of the gospel requires a serious lifestyle - serious but joyful, filled with joy! -, serious and challenging, marked by honesty, fairness, respect for others and for their dignity, and by a sense of duty.  This is Christian astuteness.

The path of life necessarily involves a choice between two roads: between honesty and dishonesty, between faithfulness and infidelity, between egoism and altruism, between good and evil.  We cannot oscillate between one and the other, because they operate according to different and contrasting systems of logic.  The prophet Elijah would say to the people of Israel who used to travel both paths: You limp with both feet! (cf 1 Kings 18:21).  This is a beautiful image.  It is important for us to decide which direction to take and then, once we have chosen the right one, to walk with energy and purpose, entrusting ourselves to the grace of the Lord and to the support of his Spirit.  The conclusion of this gospel passage is strong and categorical: No servant can serve two masters, either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other (Lk 16:13).

With this teaching, Jesus exhorts us today to make a clear choice between Him and the spirit of the world, between the logic of corruption, abuse of power and greed, and that of righteousness, meekness and sharing.  Someone who is corrupt behaves as though he is dealing with drugs: he thinks he can use them and stop whenever he wants.  It begins slowly: something goes missing here, a distraction there ... And between this and that, slowly he loses his freedom.  Corruption too produces addiction, and creates poverty, exploitation, suffering.  How many victims there are today throughout the world!  Many victims of this widespread corruption.  However, when we try to follow the logic of the gospel, the logic of integrity, of clarity of intentions and of behaviour, of fraternity, we become artisans of justice and open horizons of hope for humanity.  Through the grace and gift of ourselves, offered to our brothers and sisters, we serve the true master: God.

May the Virgin Mary help us to choose on every opportunity and at all costs, the right road, even to find the courage to go against the current, in order to follow Jesus and his gospel.

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary ...

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday in Codrongianos (Sassari) Elisabetta Sanna, the mother of a family was proclaimed Blessed.  She was a widow who devoted herself entirely to prayer and to the service of the sick and the poor.  Her witness is a model of evangelical charity animated by faith.

Today, in Genoa, the National Eucharistic Congress is concluding.  I send a special greeting to all the faithful who are gathered there, and I hope that this event of grace will revive in the Italian people, faith in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we adore Christ, the source of life and hope for all people.

Next Tuesday, I will travel to Assisi for the meeting of prayer for peace, thirty years afte the historical meeting convened by Saint John Paul II.  I invite all parishioners, ecclesial associations and individual faithful throughout the world to experience this day as a Day of prayer for peace.  Today, more than ever before, we need peace in this war that is everywhere in the world.  Let us pray for peace!  Following the example of Saint Francis, a man of fraternity and meekness, we are all called to offer the world a strong witness of our common commitment to peace and to reconciliation.  On Tuesday, let us be united in prayer: everyone take some time, whatever you can, to pray for peace.  The whole world will be united in prayer.

I affectionately greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims who have come from various countries.  In particular, the faithful from the Diocese of Colonia and those from Marianopoli.

And 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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