Monday, May 18, 2020

Pope Francis' Mass for 18 May 2020

At 7:00am local time this morning (1:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis celebrated Mass inside the Basilica of Saint Peter, at the Altar of Saint John Paul II, who was born on this day in 1920.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass celebrated in memory of
Saint John Paul II

The Lord loves his people (Psalm 149: 4), we sang. This was the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm. And this was also a truth that the people of Israel repeated, one that they liked to repeat: The Lord loves his people. And in bad times, at all times, the Lord loves; one has to wait to discover how this love will manifest itself. When the Lord sent - for love of his people - a prophet, a man of God, the reaction of the people was: The Lord has visited his people (cf Ex 4: 31), because he loves them, he has visited them. And the same was said by the crowd that followed Jesus, seeing the things Jesus did: The Lord has visited his people (cf Lk 7:16).

And today we can say here: a hundred years ago the Lord visited his people. He sent a man, prepared him to be a bishop and to lead the Church. Recalling Saint John Paul II, we take up these very words: The Lord loves his people, the Lord has visited his people; the Lord sent us a pastor.

And what are, let's say, the footprints of a good shepherd that we can find in Saint John Paul II? So many! But let's just speak about three. Since they say that Jesuits always say things to threes, let's speak about three: prayer, closeness to the people, love of justice. Saint John Paul II was a man of God because he prayed, and he prayed a lot. But how come a man who has so much to do, so much work to guide the Church ..., has so much time for prayer? He knew well that the first task of a bishop is to pray. And Vatican II did not say this, Saint Peter said it, when the first deacons were chosen, they said: And to us bishops, prayer and the proclamation of the Word (cf Acts 6: 4). The first task of a bishop is to pray, and he knew it, he did it. A model of a bishop who prays, the first task. And he taught us that when a bishop does the examination of conscience in the evening he must ask himself: how many hours today have I prayed? He was a man of prayer.

The second footprint, he was a man of closeness. He was not a man detached from the people, on the contrary he went to find the people; and he traveled the whole world, finding his people, looking for his people, getting close. And closeness is one of the traits of God with his people. Remember that the Lord says to the people of Israel: Look, what people have had their gods as close as I am with you? (cf Dt 4: 7). A closeness of God to his people which then becomes narrowed in Jesus, becomes stronger in Jesus. A shepherd is close to his people, on the contrary, if he is not he is not a shepherd, he is a hierarch, he is an administrator, perhaps this is good, but he is not a shepherd. Proximity to the people. And Saint John Paul II gave us the example of this closeness: close to people big and small, to those who were near and far, always close, he made himself close.

The third footprint: love for justice. But full justice! A man who wanted justice, social justice, justice for people, justice that chases wars away. But full justice! This is why Saint John Paul II was the man of mercy, because justice and mercy go together, they cannot be distinguished in the sense of separating; they are together: justice is justice, mercy is mercy, but one without the other cannot exist. And speaking of the man of justice and mercy, we think what Saint John Paul II did to make people understand the mercy of God. We think about how he carried out devotion to Saint Faustina Kowalska whose liturgical memory will always be for the whole Church. Saint John Paul II had heard that God's righteousness had this face of mercy, this attitude of mercy. And this is a gift that he left us: justice-mercy and right mercy.

Let us pray to him today to give all of us, especially the pastors of the Church but to all of us, the grace of prayer, the grace of closeness and the grace of justice-mercy, mercy-justice.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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