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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Angelus about the gift of poverty

At noon today, 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.

Present today, among others were young boys and girls who are members of Catholic Action in the Diocese of Rome who have concluded the month of January which they have traditionally dedicated to peace with a Caravan of Peace.  At the conclusion of the Angelus, two young people who had been invited to the Papal apartment, read a message in the name of Catholic Action Rome.

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

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday's liturgy allows us to meditate upon the Beatitudes (cf Mt 5:1-12a), which begin the great speech called the sermon on the mount, the magna carta of the New Testament.  Jesus shows God's willingness to lead all men to happiness.  This message was already present in the preaching of the prophets: God is close to the poor and the oppressed and frees them from their mistreatments.  But in this preaching of Jesus, he follows a particular path: beginning with the term blessed,  which means happy: continuing with the indication of conditions for this blessedness; and concluding by making a promise.  The reason for blessedness, for happiness, is not in some required conditions - for example: poverty of spirit, affliction, hunger for justice, persecution ... - but in the promise that follows, a promise of acceptance in faith as a gift from God.  It begins with the uncomfortable situation of being open to the gift of god and entering into the new world, the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus.  This is not an automatic mechanism, but a life journey following in the footsteps of the Lord, so that the reality of hardships and affliction are seen in a new perspective and experienced as the conversion that it brings about.  We cannot be blessed if we do not change our hearts, so that we can appreciate and experience God's gifts.

I want to focus on the first Beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:4).  The poor in spirit are those who have taken upon themselves the sentiments and attitudes of the poor, who accept their condition, do not rebel, but rather are humble, docile, open to God's grace.  The happiness of poverty - of spiritual poverty - has a double dimension: in respect to possessions and in respect to God.  Regarding possessions, material possessions, this poverty of spirit is sobering: not necessarily an act of surrender, but the ability to taste the essential, to share; the capacity to renew every day a sense of wonder for the goodness of things, without the added weight of voracious desire to possess them.  The more I have, the more I want; the more I have, the more I want: this is voracious consumerism, and it kills the soul.  Men and women who do this, who have this attitude - the more I have, the more I want - are not happy and do not manage to find happiness.  Regarding our relationship with God, we should praise him and recognize that the world is a blessing and that at its origin there was the creating love of the Father, but we should also be open to Him, docile to his Lordship: and He, the Lord, is the Great One; I am not great simply because I have so many possessions!  He is great: He who wanted to create the world for all mankind, and wanted to do this so that mankind would be happy.

Someone who is poor in spirit is a Christian who does not rely on himself, on material riches, one who does not insist on his own opinions, but listens with respect and willingly defers to the decisions of others.  If in our community, we all were a bit more poor in spirit, there would be less division, disagreement and controversy!  Humility, like charity, is a virtue that is essential for people to live together in Christian community.  In this evangelical sense, the poor are those who keep the goal of the Kingdom of heaven alive, allowing us to glimpse what we can look forward to at the heart of the community which favours the sharing of all possessions.  I want to repeat this: favours the sharing of possessions.  Always having hearts and hands open (he opens his hands), not closed (he closes his hands together).  When the heart is closed (he holds his hands closed over his heart), it is restricted: it doesn't know how to love.  When a heart is open (he opens his hands), it continues along the path of love.

May the Virgin Mary, model of and the first fruits of the poor in spirit, who always remained docile to the will of the Lord, help us to abandon ourselves to God who is rich in mercy, so that He may fill us with His gifts, especially abandonment to his forgiveness.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

As you can see, the invaders have arrived ... they're here!  Today, we celebrate the World Day of those who suffer from leprosy.  This illness, although it is declining in incidence, is still present among the most feared and affects the poorest of the poor and those who are marginalized.  It is important that we continue to fight against this disease but also against the discrimination that is affiliated with it.  I encourage all those who are engaged in helping victims of Hansen's disease to reintegrate into society, for whom we all continue to pray.

I affectionately greet all of you who have come from various parishes throughout Italy and other countries, as well as associations and groups.  In particular, I greet the students from Murcia and Badajoz, the young people from Bilbao and the faithful from Castell√≥n.  I greet the pilgrims from Reggio Calabria, Castelliri and the Sicilian group from the National Association of Parents.  I also want to renew my closeness to the people of Central Italy who are still suffering the consequences of the earthquake and the difficult atmospheric conditions.  We must continue to support our brothers and sisters with the constant help of our institutions and solidarity.  And please, may they never have to wait or continue to suffer because of any kind of bureaucracy!

Now, I want to speak with you, young boys and girls of Catholic Action, from parishes and Catholic schools throughout Rome.  This year, along with the Cardinal Vicar, you have come to the end of your Caravan of Peace, whose slogan is Surrounded by Peace: it's a beautiful slogan.  Thank you for your presence and your generous commitment to building a society of peace.  Now, let us all listen to the message that your friends, here beside me, are about to read.

(reading of the message)

And now comes the release of the doves, the symbols of peace.  Symbols of peace ...

I wish you all a good Sunday, I wish you peace, humility, sharing in your families.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!
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