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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Angelus about the treasure of heaven

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.

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

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Jesus' speech in parables, which includes seven parables listed in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew's gospel, concludes with the three comparisons mentioned today: the hidden treasure (Mt 13:44), the pearl of great price (Mt 13:45-46) and the fishing net (Mt 13:47-48).  I will focus on the first two which highlight the decision to sell everything else in order to obtain that which has been discovered.  In the first case, there is a farmer who casually discovers a hidden treasure in the field where he is working.  Since the field is not his own property, he has to purchase it is he wants to possess the treasure: and he decides to risk everything else that he has in order not to lose this truly exceptional opportunity.  In the second case, we find a precious pearl merchant; he who is a recognized expert has discovered a pearl of great price.  He too decides to invest everything he has to purchase that pearl, even if it means selling everything else he owns.

These comparisons demonstrate two characteristics about possessing the Kingdom of God: seeking it and sacrifice.  It is true that the Kingdom of God is offered to everyone - it is a gift, it is a present, it is a grace - but it is not offered on a silver plate, it requires dynamism: it's a matter of seeking, going after it, giving of self in order to find it.  The condition of seeking is an essential condition in order to find it; our hearts must necessarily be burning with a desire to possess this precious thing, the Kingdom of God which is present in the person of Jesus.  He is the hidden treasure, He is the pearl of great price.  He is the fundamental discovery, the point of a decisive discovery in our lives, the one who fills our lives with meaning.

Faced with this unexpected discovery, both the peasant and the merchant realize that they have before them a unique opportunity to not be left behind, so they sell everything that they possess.  Evaluating the inestimable value of the treasure leads them to a decision that also involves sacrifice, detachment and renunciation.  When the treasure and the pearl have been discovered, when we have discovered the Lord, we cannot allow this discovery to become sterile, we must be willing to sacrifice everything else for it.  It is not a matter of despising everything else but rather of subordinating its value to that of Jesus, keeping him in a place of primary importance.  The grace of first place.  Christ's disciples have not deprived themselves of something essential; they have found much more: they have found the full joy that only He can give.  It is the gospel joy of the sick who have been healed; sinners who have been forgiven; a thief to whom the door to paradise has been opened.

Gospel joy fills the hearts and the entire lives of those who have encountered Jesus.  Those who have allowed themselves to be saved by Him have been freed from sin, from sadness, from interior emptiness, from isolation.  With Jesus Christ, joy is constantly born and reborn (cf Evangelii gaudium, 1).  Today, we are encouraged to contemplate the joy of the peasant and a merchant in the gospel.  It is the joy that each one of us experiences when we discover the consoling closeness and presence of Jesus in our lives.  His is a presence that transforms the heart and opens us to the needs of others, the acceptance of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most in need.

Let us pray, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that each of us may know how to bear witness to the joy of having discovered the treasure of the Kingdom of God - the love that the Father has given us through the person of Jesus - with our everyday words and actions.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the World Day against human trafficking, organized by the United Nations.  Every year thousands of men, women and children become innocent victims to sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems that we are growing more and more used to seeing this as something normal.  This is terrible, it is cruel, it is criminal!  I would like to call on everyone's sense of commitment to fight against this aberrant plague, this modern form of slavery.  Let us pray together, asking the Virgin Mary to support the victims of human trafficking and to convert the hearts of those who are involved in trafficking the innocent.  Let us pray together:

Hail Mary ...

Now I thank all the pilgrims who have come from Italy and from other countries, especially the Murialdine Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Novices of the Sisters of Mary, Help of Christians, Ministers from other Italian parishes, and the Femenino Italian Hockey Club from Buenos Aires.

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

On April 10, 2014, Pope Francis addressed those who were participating in the Second International Conference on Combatting Human Trafficking.  His Holiness then referred to this horrific reality as a crime against humanity.
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