Sunday, June 24, 2018

Angelus for Saint John the Baptist

At noon today (6:00am EDT), 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, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.  His birth is the event that illuminates the lives of his parents Elizabeth and Zachariah, and involves relatives and friends in joy and amazement.  These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared for this day, but now they no longer expected it: they had felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed because they had no children.  When he received the announcement of the birth of a son (cf Lk 1:13), Zachariah was doubtful, because the natural laws did not allow it: they were old; as a result, the Lord made him silent for all the time of the pregnancy (Lk 1:20). This was a sign. But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities. We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate his work in humility and silence; God's work is revealed in history and so often exceeds our imagination.

And now, when the birth takes place, now that Elizabeth and Zechariah experience the truth that nothing is impossible for God (Lk 1:37), their joy is great. Today's Gospel passage (Lk 1:57-66.80) announces the birth and then focuses on the moment of choosing the name of the child. Elisabeth chooses a name that is foreign to the family tradition and says: He will be called John (Lk1:60), a free and by now unexpected gift, because John means God has given grace. And this child will be a herald, a witness of God's grace for the poor who wait with humble faith for his salvation. Zachariah unexpectedly confirms the choice of that name, writing it on a tablet - because he was dumb - and at once he opened his mouth and loosened his tongue, and spoke normally, blessing God (Lk 1:64).

The whole event of the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by a joyful sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. Amazement, surprise, gratitude. People are gripped by a holy fear of God and all these things were spoken of throughout the whole mountainous region of Judea (Lk 1:65). Brothers and sisters, the faithful people realize that something great has happened, even if still humble and hidden, and they ask: What will become of this child? (Lk 1:66). The faithful people of God are able to live their faith with joy, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. We see those people who chatted well about this wonderful thing, about this miracle of the birth of John, and they did it with joy, they were happy, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. And looking at this, let's ask ourselves: how is my faith? Is it a joyful faith, or is it always the same faith, a flat faith? Do I have a sense of amazement when I see the works of the Lord, when I hear about evangelization or the life of a saint, or when I see so many good people: do I feel grace inside, or does nothing move in my heart? Can I feel the consolations of the Spirit or am I closed? Let us ask ourselves, in an examination of conscience: How is my faith? Is it joyous? Is it open to God's surprises? Because our God is the God of surprises. Have I tasted that sense of the wonder that gives the presence of God in my soul, that sense of gratitude? Let us think about these words, which are the soul of faith: joy, a sense of amazement, a sense of surprise and gratitude.

May the Blessed Virgin help us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life. She who is the Mother of God and our Mother, makes us more and more aware that in the creation of a child the parents act as collaborators of God. This is a truly sublime mission that every birth of a child makes each family a sanctuary of life and awakens joy, amazement and gratitude.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, in Asunción (Paraguay), Maria Felicia of the Blessed Sacrament was proclaimed Blessed, Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverría, a nun belonging to the Order of Discalced Carmelites - called by her father, and also today by the Paraguayan people, the Chiquitunga - lived in the first half of the twentieth century, she enthusiastically joined Catholic Action and took care of the elderly, the sick and prisoners. This fruitful experience of this apostolate, supported by the daily Eucharist, resulted in her consecration to the Lord. She died at age 34, accepting her disease with serenity. The testimony of this young Blessed is an invitation for all young people, especially Paraguayans, to live life with generosity, meekness and joy. Let us salute Chiquitunga with applause, and all the Paraguayan people!

I offer my greetings to all of you, Romans and pilgrims! In particular, those from Hannover and Osnabrück, Germany, and those from Slovakia.

I greet the Romanian community in Italy; the faithful from Enna, Paternò, Rosolini and San Cataldo; and the Sesto San Giovanni group of cyclists.

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

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