St. Peter's Square
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In today's Gospel (see Lk 9: 51-62), St. Luke begins the story of Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem, which will end at chapter 19. It is a long march not only geographical and spatial, but spiritual and theological towards the fulfillment of the mission of the Messiah. Jesus' decision is radical and total, and those who follow him are called to measure themselves against it. Today the Evangelist presents us with three characters - three cases of vocation, we could say - that highlight what is required of those who want to follow Jesus fully, totally.
The first character promises to him: "I will follow you wherever you go" (v. 57). Generous! But Jesus replies that the Son of man, unlike the foxes that have the dens and the birds that have nests, "has nowhere to lay his head" (v. 58). The absolute poverty of Jesus. Jesus, in fact, left the paternal home and renounced all security to announce the Kingdom of God to the lost sheep of his people. Thus Jesus indicated to us his disciples that our mission in the world cannot be static, but is itinerant. The Christian is an itinerant. The Church by its nature is in movement, it is not sedentary and tranquil in its own enclosure. It is open to the widest horizons, sent - the Church is sent! - to bring the Gospel to the streets and reach the human and existential suburbs. This is the first character.
The second character that Jesus meets receives the call directly from him, but he replies: "Lord, let me go first to bury my father" (v. 59). It is a legitimate request, founded on the commandment to honor the father and mother (see Ex 20,12). However, Jesus replies: "Let the dead bury their dead" (v. 60). With these deliberately provocative words, he intends to affirm the primacy of following and announcing the Kingdom of God, even on the most important realities, such as the family. The urgency to communicate the Gospel, which breaks the chain of death and inaugurates eternal life, does not admit delays, but requires readiness and availability. Therefore, the Church is itinerant, and here the Church is decisive, it acts quickly, at the moment, without waiting.
The third character also wants to follow Jesus but on one condition: he will do so after going to take leave of relatives. And this is said by the Master: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and then turns back is suitable for the kingdom of God" (v. 62). The following of Jesus excludes regrets and looks backwards, but requires the virtue of decision.
The Church, in order to follow Jesus, is itinerant, acts immediately, in a hurry, and resolutely. The value of these conditions set by Jesus - itinerancy, readiness and decision - does not lie in a series of "no" sayings to good and important things in life. The accent, rather, should be placed on the main objective: to become a disciple of Christ! A free and conscious choice, made out of love, to reciprocate the priceless grace of God, and not made as a way to promote oneself. This is sad! Woe to those who think they are following Jesus to promote themselves, that is, to make a career, to feel important or to acquire a place of prestige. Jesus wants us passionate about Him and the Gospel. A passion of the heart that translates into concrete gestures of closeness, of closeness to the brothers most in need of welcome and care. Just like he himself lived.
May the Virgin Mary, icon of the Church on the way, help us to follow the Lord Jesus with joy and to announce to the brothers, with renewed love, the Good News of salvation.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
In recent hours we have witnessed a good example of meeting culture in Korea. I greet the protagonists, with the prayer that this significant gesture constitutes a further step on the path of peace, not only on that peninsula but in favor of the whole world.
On the last day of June, I wish all workers a rest period during the summer, which will benefit them and their families.
I pray for those who in these days have suffered the most from the consequences of the heat: the sick, the elderly, people who have to work outdoors, on construction sites ... No one is abandoned or exploited.
And now I address my cordial greeting to all of you, Romans and pilgrims: families, church groups, associations.
In particular I greet the group of Sisters of Saint Elizabeth and the pilgrims who came by bicycle from Sartirana Lomellina. I see that there are so many Poles ... I greet the Poles. Bravi!
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.