St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 8 July 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel page (cf. Mk 6: 1-6) presents Jesus who returns to Nazareth and on Saturday begins to teach in the synagogue. Since he had left and had begun to preach for the nearby villages and villages, he had never set foot in his homeland. Is back. Therefore, there will have been the whole country to listen to this son of the people, whose fame as a wise master and powerful healer was now spreading through Galilee and beyond. But what could be considered a success, turned into a resounding rejection, to the point that Jesus could not operate there any prodigy, but only a few healings (see verse 5). The dynamics of that day is reconstructed in detail by the evangelist Mark: the people of Nazareth first listen, and remain amazed; then he wonders perplexed: "where do these things come from", this wisdom ?; and in the end he is scandalized, recognizing in him the carpenter, the son of Mary, whom they saw growing (verses 2-3). Therefore Jesus concludes with the expression that has become proverbial: "A prophet is not despised except in his homeland" (v. 4).
We ask ourselves: how come Jesus's fellow citizens go from wonder to unbelief? They make a comparison between the humble origin of Jesus 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 to speak through such a simple man! It 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 have washed the feet of the Lord, but the Lord who has 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.
The reversal made 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 - that went to the streets to take the dying to have 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. It is an example of our days. God does not conform to prejudices. We must strive to open the heart and mind, 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 live as if Christ did not exist: the gestures and signs of faith are repeated, but they do not correspond to a real adhesion 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 witness it with a coherent conduct of life, whose guiding thread will always be charity.
We ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, 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 .
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
Yesterday, in Bari, with the Patriarchs of the Churches of the Middle East and their representatives we lived 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 saw the enthusiastic participation of the people of God. I thank the Brother Heads of Churches and those who have represented them; I was truly edified by their attitude and their testimonies. I thank the Archbishop of Bari, humble brother and servant, the collaborators and all the faithful who have accompanied and supported us with prayer and joyful presence.
Today is the "Sunday of the Sea", dedicated to seafarers and fishermen. I pray for them and for their families, as well as for the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostolate of the Sea. A special memory for those who live in situations of unworthy work at sea; as well as for those who are committed to freeing the seas from pollution.
I extend a cordial greeting to all of you, Romans and pilgrims! I greet the faithful who came from Poland with a special thoughts for the participants in the annual great pilgrimage of the Radio Maria family to the Shrine of Częstochowa. I greet the ministrants of the Philippines with their families; the young people of Padua, the group of students and teachers from Brescia and the scouts from Pont-Saint-Martin, Val d'Aosta. And I see Brazilian flags ... I greet the Brazilians and courage! Another time there will be! I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.