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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Angelus about good grain and weeds

At noon today (Rome 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.

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

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's gospel passage proposes three parables with which Jesus speaks to the crowds about the Kingdom of God.  I want to focus on the first one: the story of the good grain and the weeds, which illustrates the problem of evil in the world and demonstrates God's patience (cf Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).  God is so patient!  Any one of us can say the same thing: How patient God is with me!  The gospel account takes place in a field with two opposing figures.  On one hand, there is the owner of the field who represents God and who sows good seed; on the other hand, there is the enemy who represents Satan and sows weeds.

With the passage of time, these weeds grow along with and amongst the good grain, and faced with this problem, the owner of the field and his servants have differing attitudes.  The servants want to intercede, to pull out the weeds; but the owner, who is concerned above all about saving the grain, is opposed to their plan.  He says: It may happen that while you pull the weeds, the good grain may be uprooted with it (Mt 13:29).  With this image, Jesus tells us that in this world, good and evil are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate one from the other and remove all the evil.  Only God can do that, and he will do it at the time of the final judgement.  With its ambiguity and complex character, the present situation is a field of freedom, a field of Christian freedom in which the difficult task of discerning between good and evil is carried out.

In this field, it is a question of combining two attitudes which appear to be opposed (decisiveness and patience) with great trust in God and in his providence.  The decision we must make is to want to be good grain - we all want this - and to work toward this with all our strengths, while keeping our distance from evil and temptation.  Patience signifies a preference for a Church that is yeast in the dough, not afraid to dirty her hands while she washes the hands of her children, rather than a Church that is pure, that pretends to pronounce judgement ahead of time about who belongs in the Kingdom of God and who doesn't.

The Lord who is Wisdom incarnate, helps us today to understand that good and evil cannot be identified with differing territories or be the determining factors for groups of people: These ones are good and those ones are not.  He tells us that the defining limit between good and evil passes through the heart of every person, passes through the heart of every one of us: We are all sinners.  I want to ask you: Who among us is not a sinner, raise your hands.  No one!  We all are, we are all sinners.  Jesus Christ has freed us from slavery to sin and given us the grace to walk in a newness of life through his death on the cross and his resurrection; but along with Baptism, he has also given us Confession, because we always need to be forgiven for our sins.  If we are only watching out for the evil that exists outside of us, it means that we do not want to recognize the sin that is also within us.

Jesus teaches us a different way to look at the field that is the world, to observe reality.  We are called to learn God's ways - which are not our ways - and also to look at the world like God does: thanks to the beneficial influence of his infinite patience, even that which was a weed, or seemed to be a weed ca become something good.  This is the reality of conversion, the prospect of hope!

May the Virgin Mary help us to understand this reality that surrounds us: not only that which is dirty and evil but also that which is good and beautiful; may she help us to expose the work of Satan, but above all to entrust ourselves to the will of God who enriches our lived history.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am following with much concern the serious tensions and violence occurring these days in Jerusalem.  I feel the need to express a heartfelt call for moderation and dialogue.  I invite you all to be one with me in offering our prayers, that the Lord may inspire us all to undertake the work of reconciliation and peace.

I greet all of you, the faithful of rome and pilgrims who have come from various parts of the world: families, parish groups and associations.  In particular, I greet the faithful from Munster (Ireland); the Franciscan Sisters of Elizabeth Bigie; the symphonic choir from Enna; and the children from Casamassima who have been volunteering here in Rome.

My thoughts and my encouragement go out to the boys who are participating in the Hombre Mundo workshop, they are committed to bearing witness to the joy of the gospel in the most disadvantaged peripheries on various continents.

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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