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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Angelus with some thoughts about murder, adultery and swearing an oath

At 12:00pm 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 His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's liturgy presents another page of the Sermon on the mount, which we find in the gospel of Matthew (cf Mt 5:17-37).  In this passage, Jesus wants to help his disciples to listen to and to understand a re-reading of the Mosaic law.    That which was said in the old covenant was true, but not complete: Jesus came in order to accomplish and to definitively promulgate God's law, in its fullness (cf Mt 5:18).  He points out the original purposes and fulfills the true aspects of the law, and he does all this through his preaching and even more with the offering of himself on the cross.  In this way, Jesus teaches us how to truly do the will of God; he uses this word (fulfill) with a justice that is superior to that of the scribes and the Pharisees (cf Mt 5:20).  His is a justice that is driven by love, by charity, by mercy and therefore it is capable of bringing about the substance of the Commandments while avoiding the risk of appearing formal.  Formality: what I can do, what I cannot do; to this point, I can but to not to that point. ... No, we need to do more.

Specifically, in today's gospel, Jesus examines three aspects, three commandments: murder, adultery and swearing an oath.

With regard to the commandment thou shall not kill, He says that not only does actual murder offend this command, but also any behaviour that offends the dignity of the human person, including insulting words (cf Mt 5:22).  Certainly, insulting words do not have the same level of gravity and culpability as killing does, but Jesus places them along the same line because they are the forerunners and reveal the same level of ill intent.  Jesus encourages us not to establish a list of offences but to consider them all as harmful, since they all demonstrate an intent to harm someone else.  And Jesus gives an example.  Insulting: we are accustomed to insulting others, as easily as we might say good morning.  And this is along the same line as killing.  Anyone who insults a brother, kills his brother in his heart.  Please, don't insult others!  It doesn't gain us anything.

Another aspect that is pointed out is the law of marriage.  Adultery was considered as a violation of the proprietary rights of a man over a woman.  Instead, Jesus goes to the root of this evil.  Just as we can move toward murder through insults, offences and insults, so we can move toward adultery through the intent to possess a woman who is not our wife.  Adultery, like theft, corruption and other sins, are first conceived of in our hearts and, once they exist in our hearts, they lead to wrong choices, and lead to concrete behaviour.  Jesus says: someone who looks at a woman who is not his wife with a spirit of possession is an adulterer in his heart, has already begun to walk down the path toward adultery.  Let us think a bit about this: about the bad thoughts that are along this line.

Then, Jesus tells his disciples not to swear an oath, because an oath is a sign of insecurity and of duplicity with which human relationships can be developed.  It uses the authority of God in order to give assurance to human affairs.  Rather, we are called to establish between us, in our families and in our communities a climate of clarity and mutual trust, so that we can be considered honest without having to resort to higher interventions in order to establish our credibility.  Mistrust and mutual suspicion always threaten our serenity!

May the Virgin Mary, woman of docile listening and of joyous obedience, help us to draw closer and closer to the gospel, in order to become more and more authentic Christians, not just window dressing but Christians of substance!  This is possible with the grace of the Holy Spirit, who helps us to do everything with love, and to fully accomplish the will of God.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all the pilgrims who are here, all the families, the parish groups and the associations.

In particular, I greet the alumni from the Carolina Coronado Institute from Almendralejo and the faithful from Tarragona (Spain); as well as the groups from Caltanissetta, Valgoglio, Anocona, Pesaro, Torino and Pisa, and the neocatechumenal community from San Francesco di Paola in Turin.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  And don't forget: don't insult; don't look at someone else with lust, with an intent to possess your neighbour's wife; don't swear an oath.  Three things that Jesus says.  They are so simple!  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!

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