Mass at Santa Marta – Salvation comes from little things

God’s salvation comes not from great things, not from power or money, no from clerical or political networks, but from little and simple things that sometimes even arise from disdain. Francis proposed this meditation during Mass at Santa Marta on Monday morning, 29 February.

“The Church prepares us for Easter and today makes us reflect on salvation: what do we think salvation is like”, Francis began, “the salvation that we all want?”. The story of “Naaman’s disease”, narrated in the Second Book of Kings (5:1-15), presents “the fact of death: and afterwards?”. Indeed, “when there is sickness, it always leads us back to that thought: salvation”. But, the Pontiff asked, “how does salvation come about? What is the path to salvation? What is God’s revelation to us Christians with regard to salvation?”.

In the Pope’s view, “the key word to understanding the Church’s message today is disdain”. When “Naaman, arriving at Elisha’s house, asked to be cured, Elisha sent a boy to tell him to wash in the Jordan seven times. A simple thing”. Perhaps for this reason “Naaman disdained”, exclaiming: “I have made such a journey, with so many gifts…”. Instead everything was resolved by simply bathing in the river. Moreover, Naaman continued, “our rivers are more beautiful than this one”.

Francis then pointed out, in reference to the Gospel passage taken from Luke (4:24-30), that “the inhabitants of Nazareth” similarly “disdained after hearing the reading of the prophet Isaiah, which Jesus did that Sabbath in the synagogue”, when he said “‘today this has happened’, speaking of the liberation, of how the people would be freed”. The people commented: “What do you think about this man? He is one of us, we saw him grow up from boyhood, he never studied”. And the people “disdained” and even “wanted to kill him”.

Again, the Pope continued, “later on Jesus felt this disdain on the part of the leaders, the doctors of the law who sought salvation in moral casuistry — ‘this can be done to this point, to that point…’ — and thus I don’t know how many commandments they had, and the poor people…”. This is why the people did not trust them. The same thing happened with “the Sadducees, who sought salvation in compromises with the powerful men of the world, with the emperor: some with clerical networks, others with political networks sought salvation in this way”. But “the people had an instinct and didn’t believe” in them. Instead, “they believed in Jesus because he spoke with authority”.

And so, the Pope asked, “why this disdain?”. It is because, he said, “in our imagination salvation must come from something great, from something majestic: only the powerful can save us, those who have strength, who have money, who have power, these people can save us”. Instead, “God’s plan is different”. Thus, “they feel disdain because they cannot understand that salvation comes only from little things, from the simplicity of the things of God”. And “when Jesus proposes the way of salvation, he never speaks of great things”, but only “little things”.

From this perspective Francis suggested a re-reading of the Gospel Beatitudes — “you will be saved if you do this” — and of Matthew, chapter 25. They are “the two pillars of the Gospel: ‘Come, come with me because you have done this”. It involves “simple things: you did not seek salvation or hope in power, in networks, in negotiations, no; you simply did this”. Yet actually, this gives rise to much disdain.

The Pope then proposed, “in preparation for Easter”, as he too intends to do, “reading the Beatitudes and reading Matthew 25, and thinking and seeing if something about this causes me disdain, takes peace away from me”. Because “disdain is a luxury that only the vain, the proud allow themselves”.

Here, “at the end of the Beatitudes”, Francis explained, Jesus says something powerful: “Blessed is he who is not shocked by me”, who “does not disdain this, who does not feel disdain”. Reflecting on the reasons for these words, the Pope repeated that “it will do us good to take a little time — today, tomorrow — and read the Beatitudes, read Matthew and pay attention to what is happening in our heart: whether there is something that causes disdain”. And “ask the Lord for the grace to understand that the only way to salvation is the folly of the cross, that is, the annihilation of the Son of God, of his becoming small”. In today’s liturgy, Pope Francis concluded, “the little thing” is “represented by bathing in the Jordan and by the little village of Nazareth”.

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Pope: we are not saved by political or clerical parties

(Vatican Radio) God’s salvation does not come from great things, from power or wealth, nor from clerical or political parties, but from the small and simple things of God. That was Pope Francis’ message on Monday during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

Salvation comes from the simplicity of the things of God, not from the powerful

The day’s readings spoke about contempt. In the first Reading, Naaman the Syrian, a leper, asked the prophet Elisha to heal him, but could not appreciate the simple means by which this healing would be accomplished. The Gospel spoke of the disdain the inhabitants of Nazareth felt at the words of Jesus, their fellow countryman. It was not “how we thought salvation should be, that salvation we all want.”

Jesus felt the “contempt of the doctors of the Law who sought salvation in moral casuistry,” and in a multitude of precepts. The people, though, did not have faith in them, “or in the Sadducees who sought salvation in compromises with the powers of the world, with the [Roman] Empire. Thus they sought after salvation: the one group, from clerical parties; the other from political parties. But the people did not have confidence in them, they didn’t believe them. Yes, they believed Jesus, He spoke ‘with authority.’ But why this contempt? Because in our imagination, salvation should come from something great, something majestic; only the powerful, those who have strength or money or power, can save us. These people can save us. And the plan of God is different! They felt contempt because they could not understand that salvation only comes from the small things, the simplicity of the things of God.”

The two pillars of the Gospel that people look down on

“When Jesus proposed the way of salvation,” the Pope continued, “He never spoke of great things,” but about “little things.” These are “the two pillars of the Gospel,” that we read about in Matthew: the Beatitudes, and in chapter 25, the final Judgment, where Jesus says, “Come, come with me because you have done these things, simple things.”

“You did not seek salvation or your hope in power, in political parties, in negotiations. No! You have simply done these things. And so many people look down on this! As a preparation for Easter, I invite you – I’ll do it too – to read the Beatitudes and to read Matthew 25, and to think and to see if there is something I look down on, if something disturbs my peace. Because contempt is a luxury that only the vain and the proud allow themselves. We should see if, at the end of the Beatitudes, Jesus says something” that makes us ask why He said that. “‘Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me,’ who does not look down on these things, who does not feel contempt.”

The folly of the Cross

Pope Francis concluded his homily:

“It would do us good to take some time – today, tomorrow – to read the Beatitudes, to read Matthew 25, and to pay attention to what happens in our heart: if there is some feeling of contempt. And seek grace from the Lord to understand the only path of salvation is ‘the folly of the Cross,’ that is, the Son of God ‘emptying Himself,’ making Himself small, represented here [in the Readings] in the cleansing in the Jordan, or in the small village of Nazareth.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis meets with Carabinieri serving Vatican area

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday expressed his appreciation for the members of the company of  “Carabinieri” which serves the Vatican area of Rome.

The Carabinieri are the military police of Italy, and serve both the military and civilian populations. It is one of the two main national police forces of the nation, the other being the “Polizia di Stato.”

Pope Francis thanked them for their “effective cooperation” with the competent bodies of the Holy See to ensure the “smooth progress” of the Holy Year, and noted their patience and professionalism in dealing with pilgrims and tourists, many of whom are elderly.

“The Holy Year of Mercy opens before all of us the possibility to be renewed, starting from an interior purification, which is reflected in the way we comport ourselves and carry out our daily duties,” Pope Francis said.

“This spiritual dimension of the Jubilee pushes each of us to ask ourselves about our genuine commitment in responding to the demand of being faithful to the Gospel, to which the Lord calls us according to our state in life,” he continued.

He reminded them, as they carry out their work, to use the teachings of Jesus as their guide, and to remember “every person is loved by God, is His creation and deserves acceptance and respect.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis to Ethiopian Patriarch: Martyrs seed of Christian unity

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged world leaders to “promote peaceful coexistence” in the face of “a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians” on Monday, when he received the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Pope Matthias I, in the Vatican.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which rejected the definitions of the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451.

In his address, Pope Francis told Pope Matthias I “what unites us is greater than what divides us,” and added that “shared sufferings have enabled Christians, otherwise divided in so many ways, to grow closer to one another.”

“Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity,” Pope Francis said. “The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity.”

Pope Francis noted that “from the beginning” the Ethiopian Church has been a Church of martyrs.

“Today too, you are witnessing a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa,” Pope Francis said. “We cannot fail, yet again, to implore those who govern the world’s political and economic life to promote a peaceful coexistence based on reciprocal respect and reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and solidarity.”

The full address by Pope Francis is below

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis

To His Holiness Pope Matthias I

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

Monday, 29 February 2016

Your Holiness,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

            It is a joy and a moment of grace to be able to welcome all of you here present.  I greet with affection His Holiness and the distinguished members of the Delegation.  I thank you for your words of friendship and spiritual closenesss.  Through you, I send cordial greetings to the bishops, clergy and the entire family of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church throughout the world.  The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

            Your Holiness’s visit strengthens the fraternal bonds already uniting our Churches.  We recall with gratitude the visit of Patriarch Abuna Paulos to Saint John Paul II in 1993.  On 26 June 2009, Abuna Paulos returned to meet Benedict XVI, who invited him to return in October of that same year as a special guest, to address  the second Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on the situation in Africa and the challenges facing its peoples.  In the early Church, it was common practice that one Church would send representatives to the synods of other Churches.  This sense of ecclesial sharing was evident also in 2012, on the occasion of the funeral of His Holiness Abuna Paulos, at which a delegation of the Holy See was present.

            From 2004 on, the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches have worked together to deepen their communion through the theological dialogue advanced by the Joint International Commission.  We are happy to note the increasing participation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in this dialogue.  Over the years, the Commission has examined the fundamental concept of the Church as communion, understood as participation in the communion between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  In this way, we have come to see that we have almost everything in common: one faith, one Baptism, one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We are united by virtue of our Baptism, which has made us members of the one Body of Christ.  We are also united by the various common elements of our rich monastic traditions and liturgical practices.  We are brothers and sisters in Christ.  As has often been observed, what unites us is greater than what divides us.

            We truly feel that the words of the Apostle Paul apply to us: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26).  Shared sufferings have enabled Christians, otherwise divided in so many ways, to grow closer to one another.  Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity.  The martyrs and saints of all the ecclesial traditions are already one in Christ.  Their names are inscribed in the one martyrologium of the Church of God.  The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity.

            From the beginning, yours has been a Church of martyrs.  Today too, you are witnessing a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa.  We cannot fail, yet again, to implore those who govern the world’s political and economic life to promote a peaceful coexistence based on reciprocal respect and reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and solidarity.

            Your country is making great strides to improve the living conditions of its people and to build an ever more just society, based on the rule of law and respect for the role of women.  I think in particular of the problem of access to water, with its grave social and economic repercussions.  There is great room for cooperation between the Churches in the service of the common good and the protection of creation.  I am certain of the readiness of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia to work together with the Orthodox Tewahedo Church over which Your Holiness presides.

            Your Holiness, dear brothers and sisters, it is my fervent hope that this meeting will mark a new chapter of fraternal friendship between our Churches.  We are conscious that history has left us with a burden of painful misunderstandings and mistrust, and for this we seek God’s pardon and healing.  Let us pray for one another, invoking the protection of the martyrs and saints upon all the faithful entrusted to our pastoral care.  May the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten us and guide our steps towards harmony and peace.  May he nourish in us the hope that one day, with God’s help, we will be united around the altar of Christ’s sacrifice in the fullness of Eucharistic communion.  I pray to Mary, Mother of Mercy, for each of you, with words drawn from your own beautiful and rich liturgical tradition: “O Virgin, wellspring of the fountain of wisdom, bathe me in the streams of the Gospel of Christ your Son.  Defend me by his Cross.  Cover me with his mercy, gird me with his clemency, renew me with his unction and surround me with his fruits.  Amen”.

            Your Holiness, may Almighty God abundantly bless your ministry in the service of the beloved people of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

(from Vatican Radio)

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St Peter’s medical facility for homeless a great sign of hope

(Vatican Radio) The Italian association Solidarity Medicine has thanked Pope Francis for the new facility in the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square which provides medical care to people who are homeless and in need.

The director of the association, Lucia Ercoli said “we are grateful to Pope Francis for wanting to, once again, give a concrete sign of mercy in St. Peter’s Square to the homeless or distressed. Our doctors along with those of FAS and the Policlinico Tor Vergata have accepted with great passion this new challenge that ideally combines the work done in recent years in the suburbs with the heart of Christianity. “

The director said, “there still much work to be done especially in the suburbs of our city, but I think this new clinic in St Peter’s is a sign of great hope “.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Angelus: Jesus calls us to change our heart

(Vatican Radio) Speaking before the recitation of the Marian prayer and drawing inspiration from Sunday’s Gospel, the Pope said that “even today, in the face of certain misfortunes and tragic events, we can be tempted to ‘discharge’ the responsibility on the victims, or even God himself. But the Gospel, he said, invites us to reflect on what is our idea of ​​God? “Do we believe that God is that way, or is it our own projection, a god made ‘in our image and likeness’?”

The Holy Father stressed, that Jesus calls upon us to draw from painful events a warning that concerns everyone, because we are all sinners. He says to those who asked him, ‘if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did”.

Jesus, Pope Francis explained, calls us to change our heart, and make a radical change in the our journey of life, by abandoning compromises with evil and by being less hypocritical because he noted, nearly everyone has “a little piece of hypocrisy.”

“Unfortunately”, said Pope Francis, “each of us looks a lot like a tree that has shown to be sterile for many years. Fortunately for us, Jesus is like the peasant who, with limitless patience, gets again an extension for the barren fig tree…”

Concluding his address he urged people has to take advantage of  “A ‘year’ of grace, this Year of Mercy which is offered to us as an opportunity for repentance and salvation, a time for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Seoul: Holy Doors open at Korean Martyrs shrines

The Archdiocese of Seoul has opened three Holy Doors in as many shrines dedicated to the early martyrs of the Korean Catholic Church to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the brutal anti-Christian persecution known as Byeong-in.

The decision is part of the year dedicated to memory of the martyrs proclaimed by the capital’s archbishop, Card Andrew Yeom Soo-jung. “Compared to the Catholics of 150 years ago, our faith today seems weaker,” said the prelate in his homily on Tuesday, the first day of the special year. “May the Lord help us follow the example of the martyrs.”

The great Byeong-in persecution began on 23 February 1866 when, alarmed by the Christian message, which preaches equality among men and contradicts Confucian teachings, Korea’s rulers ordered a nationwide crackdown on Catholics. About 9,000 people, roughly half of the Catholic community at the time, died a violent death by order of the king.

On the same day, 150 years later, the Holy Doors in the three Archdiocesan shrines dedicated to the memory of the martyrs were opened: the Jeoldusan mausoleum (pictured), Saenamteo shrine, and the Catholic church of Yakhyeon. According to the Archdiocese’s Communications Office, about 2,000 faithful took part in the opening ceremony at each site.

For his part, Archbishop Yeom opened the year dedicated to the martyrs’ memory at Myeongdong Cathedral, in the heart of the capital.“Compared to the Catholics of 150 years ago,” he said, “our faith today seems weaker despite all the religious freedom we have. This is why we must remember our ancestors of faith, who kept their beliefs even in the worst and most painful situations.”

For the prelate, “We cannot keep moving forward without reflecting on our past. May the Lord help us follow the example of the martyrs, and live a life of service to others.”

(Source:AsiaNews) 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Angelus: Prayers for refugees, Syria and Fiji

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for refugees fleeing wars and what he called “other inhuman situations.” In particular, he drew attention to the migrant crisis in Greece and in other countries that are on the front line in offering aid to those in need which he added, required the cooperation of all nations.

The Holy Father said that a united response was most effective in order to distribute the burden evenly, continuing that, “ for this we need to focus firmly and unreservedly on negotiations.”

The Pope made the comments following the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square where he also welcomed the news about the cessation of hostilities in Syria. He invited everyone to pray so that this window of opportunity would give relief to the suffering people, and open the way to dialogue and much desired peace.

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the people of the Fiji Islands, hit hard by a devastating cyclone adding that he was praying for the victims and for those engaged in relief operations.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Msgr. Paul Tighe, of the Council for Culture, consecrated a bishop

(Vatican Radio) Long-time Vatican official Msgr. Paul Tighe was consecrated a bishop on Saturday afternoon in a ceremony presided over by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The new bishop was in December named the Adjunct Secretary for the Pontifical Council of Culture. He had previously served as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications since 2007.

Among those concelebrating the Mass was the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

Archbishop Martin said Bishop Tighe, who served as Director of the Communications Office of Dublin Diocese from 2004-2007, “was a person of kindness and integrity, whose contribution to life of the Universal Church, particularly in social communications, was widely respected.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, sent congratulations to Rome on behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

“Bishop Tighe possesses many gifts including a strong pastoral outlook, a fine theological mind and is a communicator par excellence,” the Armagh Archbishop said. “I am confident that he will do excellent work in his new role as Adjunct Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture. I wish Bishop Tighe every blessing in the years to come and assure him of my prayerful support.”

Bishop Tighe was given the titular see of Drivastrum.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis meets with Minister-President of Thüringen

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with Bodo Ramelow, the Minister-President of the German state of Thüringen.

Ramelow is the first politician from the Left Party – which is descended from East Germany’s Communist party – to govern a German state.

After the meeting, Ramelow told Vatican Radio’s German Programme he invited the Holy Father to visit Thüringen to mark the anniversary of the Reformation, although he admitted it was unlikely to happen, given the Pope’s schedule.

“I explained to him that we have created a new programme called Achawa, which is the Hebrew word for brotherhood,” said Ramelow, a practicing Protestant. “This has brought together Catholics, Protestants, and many representatives of civil society… We think about the issues of the Reformation as a common theme, and encourage people to think about faith.”

The two men also spoke about the German response to the current refugee crisis. Ramelow said the first step was “to invite the people to have courage, not fear.”

“We want to talk to them about the fears they have,” he added.  “But we do not want to give room to those who would stoke those fears, and certainly we cannot provide a stage to the preachers of hate.”

Ramelow told Vatican Radio he was pleased with his meeting with the Pope, adding “this key term ‘mercy,’ the central element of this pontificate, is truly lived by [Pope Francis]”

During the meeting, Ramelow gave the Pope a replica of a 1534 Bible and a bronze statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

(from Vatican Radio)

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