Sunday, July 8, 2018

Angelus when Jesus goes home

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

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's gospel passage (cf Mk 6:1-6) presents Jesus who has returned to Nazareth and sets out on a Saturday to teach in the synagogue. Since the time when he had left and had begun to preach in the nearby villages, he had never set foot in his homeland. Now he has come back. Therefore, people from the entire countryside were there to listen to this son of the people, whose fame as a wise master and powerful healer was now spreading throughout Galilee and beyond. But what could be considered a success, turned into a resounding rejection, to the point that Jesus could not perform any miracles there, but only a few healings (cf Mk 6:5). The dynamics of that day are retold in detail by the evangelist Mark: the people of Nazareth first listen, and are amazed; then they wonder, they are perplexed: where do these things come from, this wisdom ?; and in the end they are scandalized, recognizing in him the carpenter, the son of Mary, whom they saw growing up (Mk 6:2-3). Therefore Jesus concludes with the expression that has become proverbial: A prophet is not despised except in his homeland (Mk 6:4).

We can ask ourselves: why do Jesus's fellow citizens go from wonder to disbelief? They make a comparison between Jesus' humble origins and his current capacities: he is a carpenter, he has not studied, yet he preaches better than the scribes and works miracles. And instead of opening up to reality, they are scandalized. According to the inhabitants of Nazareth, God is too great to stoop down and speak through such a simple man! This is the scandal of incarnation: the disconcerting event of a God made flesh, who thinks with a human mind, works and acts with human hands, loves with a human heart, a God who struggles, eats and sleeps like one of us. The Son of God overturns every human scheme: it is not the disciples who washed the feet of the Lord, but the Lord who washed the feet of the disciples (cf Jn 13:1-20). This is a cause of scandal and disbelief not only in that era, in every age, even today.

This reversal by Jesus commits his disciples of yesterday and today to a personal and community verification. In our day, in fact, it may happen to feed prejudices that prevent us from grasping reality. But the Lord invites us to adopt an attitude of humble listening and docile waiting, because the grace of God often presents itself to us in surprising ways, which do not correspond to our expectations. Let's think together with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example. A tiny little girl - nobody gave ten lire for her - she went to the streets to hold the dying to give them a worthy death. This little nun with prayer and her work has done wonders! The smallness of a woman has revolutionized the work of charity in the Church. This is a modern-day example. God does not conform to prejudices. We must strive to open hearts and minds, to welcome the divine reality that comes to meet us. It is about having faith: the lack of faith is an obstacle to God's grace. Many baptized people live as if Christ did not exist: the gestures and signs of faith are repeated, but they do not correspond to a real commitment to the person of Jesus and to his Gospel. Every Christian - all of us, each of us - is called to deepen this fundamental belonging, trying to bear witness to it with coherent conduct of life, whose guiding thread will always be charity.

Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to to dissolve the hardness of hearts and the narrowness of minds, because we are open to his grace, to his truth and to his mission of goodness and mercy, which is addressed to all, without any exclusion.

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

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Bari, along with the Patriarchs of the Churches in the Middle East and their Representatives, I experienced a special day of prayer and reflection for peace in that region. I give thanks to God for this meeting, which was an eloquent sign of Christian unity, and witnessed the enthusiastic participation of the people of God. I thank my brother Church leaders and those who represented them; I was truly edified by their attitude and their testimonies. I thank the Archbishop of Bari, a humble brother and servant, the collaborators and all the faithful who accompanied and supported us with their prayer and their joyful presence.

Today is Sea Sunday, dedicated to sea farers and fishermen.  I am praying for them and for their families, as well as for Chaplains and volunteers who are part of the Apostleship of the Sea.  A special thought is also extended to those who experience situations of undignified work on the seas; as well as those who are committed to freeing the seas from pollution.

I offer a special greeting to all of you, Romans and pilgrims!  I greet the faithful who have come from Poland with a special thought for those who are participating in the large annual pilgrimage of families from Radio Maria at the Shrine of CzÄ™stochowa.  I greet the altar boys from the Philippines along with their family members; the young people from Padua, the group of students and teachers from Brescia and the Scouts from Pont-Saint-Martin, Val d'Aosta.  And I see the Brazilian flag ... Greetings to all the Brazilians; be brave!  Once more, you'll get there!

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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