St. Peter's Square
Sunday, September 30th 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
This Sunday's Gospel (cf. Mk 9: 38-43.45.47-48) presents us with one of those very instructive details of the life of Jesus with his disciples. They had seen that a man, who was not part of the group of followers of Jesus, cast out demons in the name of Jesus, and therefore they wanted to forbid him. Giovanni, with the zealous enthusiasm typical of the young, refers the thing to the Master seeking his support; but Jesus, on the contrary, replies: "Do not forbid him, because there is no one to do a miracle in my name and immediately speak ill of me: whoever is not against us is for us" (verses 39-40) ).
John and the other disciples manifest an attitude of closure before an event that does not fit into their schemes, in this case the action, though good, of an "external" person to the circle of followers. Instead Jesus appears very free, fully open to the freedom of the Spirit of God, who in his action is not limited by any boundary and by any enclosure. Jesus wants to educate his disciples, even today, to this interior freedom.
It is good for us to reflect on this episode, and to do some self-examination. The attitude of the disciples of Jesus is very human, very common, and we can find it in the Christian communities of all time, probably also in ourselves. In good faith, indeed, with zeal, one would like to protect the authenticity of a certain experience, protecting the founder or the leader from false imitators. But at the same time there is the fear of "competition" - and this is bad: the fear of competition - that someone can steal new followers, and then you can not appreciate the good that others do: not good because "it's not ours", they say. It is a form of self-referentiality. Indeed, here is the root of proselytism. And the Church - Pope Benedict said - does not grow by proselytism, grows by attraction, that is, grows by the witness given to others by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The great freedom of God in giving ourselves to us is a challenge and an exhortation to change our attitudes and our relationships. It is the invitation that Jesus addresses to us today. He calls us not to think according to the categories of "friend / enemy", "we / them", "who is inside / who is outside", "mine / yours", but to go further, to open the heart to recognize his presence and the action of God even in unusual and unpredictable areas and in people who are not part of our circle. It is a matter of being more attentive to the genuineness of the good, the beautiful and the true that is accomplished, than to the name and provenance of those who do it. And - as the rest of the Gospel of today suggests - instead of judging others, we must examine ourselves, and "cut" without compromise everything that can scandalize the weaker people in the faith.
The Virgin Mary, model of docile reception of the surprises of God, helps us to recognize the signs of the presence of the Lord in our midst, discovering Him wherever He manifests Himself, even in the most unthinkable and unusual situations. Teach us to love our community without jealousy and closures, always open to the vast horizon of the action of the Holy Spirit.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I express my closeness to the populations of the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, hit by a strong tsunami. I pray for the dead - unfortunately many - for the injured and for those who have lost their homes and jobs. May the Lord console them and support the efforts of those who are trying to bring relief. Let us pray together for our brothers on the island of Sulawesi: Ave, Maria ...
Today, in Marseilles, Blessed Jean-Baptiste Fouque, a diocesan priest, was proclaimed and remained vice-parish priest for a lifetime. Nice example for climbers! Lived between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, promoted numerous welfare and social works in favor of young people, the elderly, the poor and the sick. The example and intercession of this apostle of charity support us in the commitment to welcome and share with the weakest and most disadvantaged people. A round of applause to the new blessed Jean-Baptiste!
I greet with affection all of you, Romans and pilgrims from different countries. In particular, I greet the faithful of Calpe (Spain), the group of mayors and administrators of the Salzburg region, the international delegation of deaf people on the occasion of the World Day of the Deaf.
I greet the members of the Community of Sant'Egidio della Campania, the youths of the Shalom Movement of Fucecchio, the faithful of Foggia and those of Rapallo.
I wish everyone a good Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!