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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Angelus with reflections about walking on water

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, the gospel passage (Mt 14:22-33) describes the episode when Jesus, after having prayed all night long on the shores of the sea of Galilee, made his way toward his disciples' boat, walking on the water.  The boat was in the middle of the lake, stopped by strong winds that were against them.  Seeing Jesus coming toward them on the water, the disciples mistook him for a ghost and were afraid.  But he reassured them: Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid (Mt 14:27).  Peter, with his typical enthusiasm, called out: Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water; and Jesus called him: Come! (Mt 14:28-29).  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water, making his way toward Jesus, but because of the wind, he was unsteady and began to sink, so he cried out: Lord, save me!, and Jesus took his hand and grabbed on to him (Mt 14:30-31).

This gospel account contains some rich symbolism and allows us to reflect on our faith, both our personal faith and that of our Church community, including the faith of every one of us here in the Square.  Does this community, this ecclesial community have faith?  How fervent is the faith in each one of us in this community?  The boat is our personal life and also the life of the Church; the contrary winds represent the difficulties and trials we face.  Peter's invocation: Lord, command me to come to you! and his cry: Lord, save me! are not unlike many of our desires to know the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anxiety that are part of the experience of the most difficult moments in our lives and the life of our community, marked by interior frailty and external difficulties.

At that moment, Peter did not entirely trust in Jesus' words, which were like the lifeline thrown out to him so that he could cling to them while he faced the hostile and turbulent waters.  This can also happen to us.  When we do not cling to the Lord's words, but rather look for security in consultations with horoscopes and fortune tellers, we begin to sink.  That is to say that our faith is not so strong.  Today's gospel reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not guarantee us a journey where everything will be easy and peaceful; neither does it promise to remove us from the storms and trials of life.  Faith gives us the security of a Presence: the presence of Jesus who encourages us to overcome the trials of life, the certainty of a helping hand that takes hold of us and helps us to face every trial, pointing the way when we find ourselves in darkness.  In short, faith is not an escape from the problems of life, but a source of support for our journey that helps us to find meaning in our lives.

This incident is a wonderful image of the Church's reality throughout time: a boat that, at every crossroad, must face opposing winds and storms that threaten to overwhelm it.  What saves it is not the courage and the personal qualities of its members: our guarantee that we will not be shipwrecked is our faith in Christ and in his word.  This is the guarantee: faith in Jesus and in his word.  Aboard this boat, we are all safe, despite our sufferings and weaknesses, especially when we kneel and adore the Lord, as the disciples did, when in the end they prostrated themselves before him, saying: 'Truly, you are the Son of God' (Mt 14:33).  How beautiful it is to say these words to Jesus: Truly, you are the Son of God!  Can we say them together?  Truly, you are the Son of God!

The Virgin Mary helps us to remain firmly rooted in our faith in order to resist the storms of life, to stay in the boat that is the Church, resisting the temptation to climb out onto the waters and onto the smaller but more tempting boats of various ideologies, fads and slogans.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet you all most affectionately, Romans and pilgrims who are here: families, parishioners, associations and individual faithful.

Today, I also have the joy of greeting a few groups of young people: the scouts from Treviso and Vicenza, as well as participants taking part in the national convention of Franciscan Youth.  I also greet the Sisters of Most Holy and Suffering Mary from Naples and te group of pilgrims who have come on foot along the Via Francigena from Siena to Rome.

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