FULL TEXT Homily - Pope Francis says "Pray to transform the world in which we are immersed" on 400th Anniversary of Canonizations + VIDEO
HOLY MASS IN THE IGNAZIAN YEAR AND ON THE OCCASION OF THE IV CENTENARY OF THE CANONIZATION
OF S. IGNAZIUS OF LOYOLA, S. FRANCIS XAVIER, S. TERESA OF JESÙS, S. ISIDORE FARMER AND S. PHILIP NERI
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Church of the Gesù in Rome
Saturday, 12 March 2022
Pope Francis attended and gave the homily at Mass at the Jesuit Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, known as "the Gesù," in Rome, on the 400th anniversary of the canonizations of St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier, St Teresa of Jesus, St Isidore the Farmer, and St Philip Neri
The Gospel of the Transfiguration that we have heard reports four actions of Jesus. It will do us good to follow what the Lord does, to find in his gestures the indications for our journey.
The first verb - the first of these actions of Jesus - is to take with himself : Jesus, the text says, " took with him Peter, James and John" ( Lk 9:28). It is he who takes the disciples, and it is he who has taken us beside him: he has loved, chosen and called us.
At the beginning there is the mystery of a grace, of an election. It was not first of all we who made a decision, but it was He who called us, without our merits. Before being those who have made life a gift, we are those who have received a free gift: the gift of the gratuitousness of God's love. Our journey, brothers and sisters, needs to start again every day from here, from grace . original. Jesus did with us as with Peter, James and John: he called us by name and took us with him. He took us by the hand. To take us where? To his holy mountain, where already now he sees us forever with him, transfigured by his love for him. Grace leads us there, this primal, primal grace. So, when we feel bitterness and disappointment, when we feel belittled or misunderstood, let's not get lost in regrets and nostalgia. They are temptations that paralyze the path, paths that lead nowhere. Instead, let us take our life in hand starting from grace, from the call. And we welcome the gift of living every day as a stretch of road to the goal.
He took Peter, James and John with him : the Lord takes the disciples together, he takes them as a community. Our call is rooted in communion. To start afresh every day, in addition to the mystery of our election, it is necessary to revive the grace of having been taken into the Church , our holy hierarchical Mother, and for the Church , our spouse. We are of Jesus, and we are as a Company. Let us not tire of asking for the strength to build and safeguard communion, to be the leaven of fraternity for the Church and for the world. We are not soloists in search of listening, but brothers arranged in chorus. Let's hear with the Church, we reject the temptation to pursue personal successes and to make ropes. Let us not allow ourselves to be sucked into the clericalism that stiffens and the ideologies that divide. The Saints we remember today were pillars of communion . They remind us that in Heaven, despite our diversity of characters and views, we are called to be together. And if we will be forever united up there, why not start now down here? We welcome the beauty of having been taken together by Jesus, called together by Jesus. This is the first verb: taken .
The second verb: to go up . Jesus "went up the mountain" (v. 28). The path of Jesus is not downhill, it is an ascent. The light of the transfiguration does not arrive on the plain, but after a tiring journey. To follow Jesus it is therefore necessary to leave the plains of mediocrity and the slopes of comfort; one has to leave one's reassuring habits to make a movement of exodus . In fact, having gone up the mountain, Jesus speaks to Moses and Elijah precisely "about his exodus, which was about to take place in Jerusalem" (v. 31). Moses and Elijah had gone up to Sinai or Oreb after two exodus in the desert (cf. Ex 19; 1 Kings19); now they speak with Jesus of the definitive exodus, that of his Passover. Brothers and sisters, only the ascent of the cross leads to the goal of glory. This is the way: from the cross to glory. The worldly temptation is to seek glory without going through the cross. We would like known, straight and level paths, but to find the light of Jesus one must continually go out of oneself and climb up behind him. The Lord who, as we have heard, from the beginning "led out" Abraham ( Gen 15: 5) , also invites us to go out and get on.
For us Jesuits, the exit and the ascent follow a specific path, which the mountain symbolizes well. In Scripture the top of the mountains represents the extremity, the limit, the boundary between earth and sky. And we are called to go out to go right there, on the borders between earth and heaven , where man "faces" God with difficulty; to share her uncomfortable search and religious doubt about him. We have to be there and to do that we need to get out and up. While the enemy of human nature wants to convince us to always go back on the same steps, those of sterile repetitiveness, of comfort, of the already seen, the Spirit suggests openings, gives peace without ever leaving peace, sends disciples to the extreme borders. Let's think of Francesco Saverio.
And it occurs to me that to take this path, this path, one must fight . Let us think of poor old Abraham: there, with the sacrifice, fighting against the vultures who wanted to eat the offering (cf. Gen 15: 7-11). And he, with his stick, chased them away. The poor old man. Let's look at this: to fight to defend this path, this path, our consecration to the Lord.
The disciple of every hour finds himself at this crossroads. And he can do as Peter, who while Jesus speaks of the exodus, says: "It is good to be here" (v. 33). There is always the danger of a static, "parked" faith. I'm afraid of "parked" faiths. The risk is to consider themselves "decent" disciples, who in reality do not follow Jesus but remain stationary, passive and, like the three of the Gospel, without realizing they doze off and sleep. Even in Gethsemane, these same disciples will sleep. Let us think, brothers and sisters, that for those who follow Jesus it is not time to sleep, to let their souls be drugged, to be anesthetized by today's consumerist and individualistic climate, so life is okay if it's okay with me; for which we speak and theorize, but we lose sight of the flesh of the brothers, the concreteness of the Gospel. A drama of our time is closing our eyes to reality and turning away. Saint Teresa help us to go out of ourselves and to climb the mountain with Jesus, to realize that He also reveals Himself through the wounds of our brothers, the efforts of humanity, the signs of the times. Do not be afraid to touch the wounds: they are the Lord's wounds.
Jesus went up the mountain, says the Gospel, "to pray" (v. 28). Here is the third verb, to pray . And "while he was praying - continues the text - his face changed its appearance" (v. 29). The transfiguration comes from prayer. Let us ask ourselves, perhaps after so many years of ministry, what it is for us today, what it is for me today, to pray. Perhaps the force of habit and a certain ritual led us to believe that prayer does not transform man and history. Instead, praying is transforming reality. It is an active mission, a continuous intercession. It is not distance from the world, but change of the world. To pray is to bring the heartbeat of the news to God so that his gaze will open wide on history. What is it for us to pray?
And it will do us good today to ask ourselves if prayer immerses us in this transformation; if it sheds a new light on people and transfigures situations. Because if prayer is alive, it "unhinges within", rekindles the fire of the mission, rekindles joy, continually provokes us to be disturbed by the suffering cry of the world. Let us ask ourselves: how are we bringing the ongoing war into prayer? And let us think of the prayer of St. Philip Neri, who expanded his heart and made him open the doors to street children. Or to Sant'Isidoro, who prayed in the fields and brought agricultural work into prayer.
Take our personal call and our community history in hand every day; ascend towards the boundaries indicated by God by going out of ourselves; pray to transform the world in which we are immersed. Finally, there is the fourth verb, which appears in the last verse of today's Gospel: « He stayedJesus alone "(v. 36). He remained, while everything had passed and only the "testament" of the Father echoed: "Listen to him" (v. 35). The Gospel ends by bringing us back to the essential. We are often tempted, in the Church and in the world, in spirituality as in society, to make so many secondary needs primary. It is an everyday temptation to make so many secondary needs primary. In other words, we risk concentrating on customs, habits and traditions that fix the heart on what passes and make us forget what remains. How important it is to work on the heart, so that it knows how to distinguish what is according to God, and remains, from what is according to the world, and passes!
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Father Ignatius help us to safeguard discernment, our precious inheritance, an ever-present treasure to be poured out on the Church and on the world. It allows us to "see all things new in Christ". It is essential, for ourselves and for the Church, because, as Pietro Favre wrote, "all the good that can be achieved, thought or organized, be done with a good spirit and not with a bad one" ( Memorial , Paris 1959, n. 51). So be it.