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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Angelus with wisdom from Capharnaum

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.

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

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's gospel passage (cf Mt 4:12-23) narrates the beginning of Jesus' preaching in Galilee.  He leaves Nazareth, a village in the mountains, and moves to Capharnaum, an important centre located on the banks of the lake, inhabited for the most part by pagans, at the crossroads between the Mediteranian and the Mesopotamian hinterland.  This choice indicates that those who received his preaching were not only his own fellow citizens but many others arrived from the surrounding areas - Galilee of the Gentiles (Mt 4:15; cf Is 8:23) as it was known.  Seen from Jerusalem - the capital - this land was geographically on the peripheries and religiously impure because it was filled with pagans, a mixing of those who did not belong to Israel.  Throughout the history of salvation, nothing had ever been expected to come from Galilee.  However - from that very place - the light which has been the subject of our reflection over the past few Sundays rose: the light of Christ.  It began and spread from the periphery.

Jesus' message continues that of the Baptist, proclaiming the kingdom of heaven (Mt 4:17).  This kingdom does not involve the establishment of a new political power, but the accomplishment of the covenant between God and his people which begins a period of peace and justice.  In order to sharpen this covenant with God, every person is called to change, to be transformed in his way of thinking and living.  This is important: conversion is not only a matter of changing the way we live, but also the way we think.  It is a transformation in our thoughts.  It is not a matter of changing clothes, but of changing our habits!  The thing that differentiated Jesus from John the Baptist was his style and his method.  Jesus chose to be an itinerant prophet.  He did not wait for people to come to him; instead he went out to them. Jesus is always on the road!  His first missionary encounters took place on the banks of the sea of Galilee, where he was in contact with the crowds, especially with the fishermen.  There, Jesus didn't only proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, he also sought out companions to share in the mission of salvation.  In this same place, he encountered two sets of brothers: Simon and Andrew as well as James and John; he called them, saying to them: Come follow me, I will make you fishers of men (Mt 4:19).  His call reaches them in the midst of their everyday activities: the Lord reveals himself to us not in extraordinary or surprising ways, but in the everyday activities of our lives.  It is there that we find the Lord, and there that He is revealed, he allows us to encounter the love that is in his heart; and there - through dialogue with Him in the midst of our daily lives - he changes our hearts.  The response of the four fishermen was immediate: At once, they left their nets and followed him (Mt 4:20).  In fact, we know that these had also been disciples of the Baptist and that, as a result of his witness, they had already begun to believe in Jesus as the Messiah (cf Jn 1:35-42).

Today, we Christians have the joy of proclaiming and bearing witness to our faith because of that first proclamation, because of those humble and courageous men who responded so generously to Jesus' call.  On the banks of the lake, in an unthinkable place, the first community of Christ's disciples was born.  Awareness of these beginnings can inspire within us a desire to proclaim the words, the love and the tenderness of Jesus in every context, even those that are the most impervious and resistant.  Proclaiming the Word to every periphery!  Every place where mankind lives is a place where we can sow the seeds of the gospel, so that it can bear the fruit of salvation.

May the Virgin Mary help us with her maternal intercession to joyfully respond to Jesus' call, to place ourselves at the service of the Kingdom of God.

At the conclusion of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are beginning the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  This year, the theme for the week is an expression taken from Saint Paul, who points out the road that we must follow.  He says: The love of Christ compels us toward reconciliation (cf 2 Cor 5:14).  On Wednesday of this week, we will conclude the Week of Prayer with a celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls, including the participation of brothers and sisters from other Churches and Christian communities present in Rome.  I invite you to persevere in prayer, that Jesus desire will be accomplished: That they all may be one (Jn 17:21).

In recent days, an earthquake and heavy snow have once again placed a strain on many of our brothers and sisters in central Italy, especially in the regions of Abruzzo, Marche and Lazio.  I am close to all the families who count victims among their loved ones with my prayer and my affection.  I encourage all those who are committed with great generosity to relief efforts and to providing assistance; as well as the local Churches, who are working diligently to alleviate the sufferings of so many who are in difficulty.  Thank you very much for your closeness, for your work and for the concrete assistance that you are providing.  Thank you!  I invite you all to pray with me, asking Our Lady to watch over the victims and all those who, with great generosity are committed to helping those who are in need.

Recitation of the Hail Mary

In the Far East and in various other parts of the world, millions of men and women are preparing to celebrate the lunar New Year on January 28.  My cordial greetings go out to all of them and their families, with a wish that families will become more and more schools in which people can learn to respect one another, to communicate and to take care of one another in an unselfish way.  May the joy of such love spread throughout families and radiate throughout all of society.

I greet all of you, faithful of Rome and pilgrims from various other countries, especially the group of young adults from Panama and the students from the Diego S├ínchez Institute in Talavera la Real (Spain).

I greet the Catholic Teachers' Union members, executives, teachers and trainers who have now completed their 25th National Congress, and I wish for them much fruitfulness in their work of education, in collaboration with families.  Always in collaboration with families!

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