St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 3 February 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Last Sunday the liturgy had proposed to us the episode of the synagogue of Nazareth, where Jesus reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah and finally reveals that those words are fulfilled "today" in him. Jesus presents himself as the one on whom he laid himself. Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit who consecrated him and sent him to fulfill the mission of salvation for humanity. The Gospel of today (cf. Lk 4: 21-30) is the continuation of that story and shows us the amazement of his fellow citizens in seeing that one of their country, "the son of Joseph" (v.22), claims to be the Christ, the envoy of the Father.
Jesus, with his ability to penetrate minds and hearts, immediately understands what his fellow citizens think. They believe that, since he is one of them, he must demonstrate this strange "claim" by doing miracles there, in Nazareth, as he did in neighboring countries (see verse 23). But Jesus does not want and can not accept this logic, because it does not correspond to God's plan: God wants faith, they want miracles, signs; God wants to save everyone, and they want a Messiah to their advantage. And to explain the logic of God, Jesus brings the example of two great ancient prophets: Elijah and Elisha, whom God had sent to heal and save non-Jewish people, of other peoples, but who had trusted his word.
Faced with this invitation to open their hearts to the gratuitousness and universality of salvation, the citizens of Nazareth rebel, and even assume an aggressive attitude, which degenerates to the point that "they got up and drove him out of the city and led him on the edge of the mountain [...], to throw it down "(v. 29). The admiration of the first moment has changed into an aggression, a rebellion against Him.
And this Gospel shows us that the public ministry of Jesus begins with a rejection and with a threat of death, paradoxically on the part of his fellow citizens. Jesus, in living the mission entrusted to him by the Father, knows that he must face fatigue, rejection, persecution and defeat. A price that, yesterday like today, the authentic prophecy is called to pay. The harsh rejection, however, does not discourage Jesus, nor does it stop the path and fruitfulness of his prophetic action. He goes on his way (see verse 30), trusting in the love of the Father.
Even today, the world needs to see in the disciples of the Lord of the prophets, that is, of the courageous and persevering people in responding to the Christian vocation. People who follow the "push" of the Holy Spirit, who sends them to proclaim hope and salvation to the poor and excluded; people who follow the logic of faith and not of miraculousness; people dedicated to the service of all, without privileges and exclusions. In short: people who are open to accepting in themselves the will of the Father and are committed to witnessing it faithfully to others.
Let us pray to Mary Most Holy, so that we may grow and walk in the same apostolic zeal for the Kingdom of God that animated the mission of Jesus.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
with great concern I follow the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The population is exhausted by the long conflict and many children suffer from hunger, but it is not possible to access food stores. Brothers and sisters, the cry of these children and their parents rises before God. I appeal to the interested parties and to the international community to urgently encourage compliance with the agreements reached, to ensure the distribution of food and to work for the good of the population. I invite everyone to pray for our brothers in Yemen. "Ave or Maria, ...". We pray strongly, because they are children who are hungry, thirsty, have no medicines and are in danger of death. We bring this thought home with us.
Today is celebrated in Italy the Day for Life, which has as its theme "It's life, it's the future". I associate myself with the message of the Bishops and I express my encouragement to the ecclesial communities that in many ways promote and sustain life. It becomes increasingly necessary a concrete commitment to promote births, which involves the institutions and the various cultural and social realities, recognizing the family as the generative womb of society.
On February 5th, in the Far East and in various parts of the world, millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year. I would like to greet everyone warmly, hoping that in their families those virtues are practiced that help us to live in peace with ourselves, with others and with creation. Invitation to pray for the gift of peace, to welcome and nurture with the contribution of each one.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims. In particular, the faithful came from Croatia and Poland; those of Lecce, Potenza, Cerignola, San Benedetto del Tronto and Castelliri. I greet the Sisters Pious Disciples of the Divine Master and the parish choir of Claut (Pordenone).
With great affection I greet the boys and girls of the Catholic Action of the Diocese of Rome. Dear children, I am pleased to welcome you, together with the Cardinal Vicar, to assistant priests, to your parents and educators, at the end of the "Caravan of Peace". With this initiative, open the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Catholic Action in Rome and the 50th anniversary of the birth of the ACR. I wish you to be joyful witnesses of peace and fraternity. Now let's listen together to the message that your friends, here next to me, will read us.
[reading the message]
And now the balloons will rise to the sky, a symbol of our prayers for peace in the world.
[launch of the balloons]
In less than an hour I will leave for a short but important trip to the United Arab Emirates. Please, accompany me with prayer. Good Sunday everyone. Good lunch and goodbye!