The Gospel we heard shows us a figure that stands out for her faith and courage. It is the woman that Jesus cured from her loss of blood (cf. Matthew 9:20-22). Passing in the midst of the crowd behind Jesus to touch the fringe of his garment, “she said to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I shall be saved” (v. 21). How much faith! How much faith this woman had! She reasons thus, because she is animated by much faith and much hope and, with a touch of shrewdness, she does what she has in her heart. The desire to be cured by Jesus is such, as to make her go beyond the prescriptions established by the Law of Moses. For many years, in fact, this poor woman was not simply ill but was regarded as impure because she was suffering from a hemorrhage (cf. Leviticus 15:19-30). Therefore, she is excluded from the liturgies, from conjugal life, and from normal relations with her neighbor. The evangelist Mark adds that she had consulted many doctors, spent all her means to pay them and endured painful cures, but she only got worse. She was a woman discarded by the society. It is important to consider this condition — of being discarded — to understand her state of mind: she feels that Jesus can free her from the ailment and from the state of marginalization and indignity in which she has found herself for years. In a word: she knows, she feels that Jesus can save her.
This case makes one reflect on how woman is often perceived and represented. We are all put on guard, including Christian communities, from views of femininity suffused with damaging prejudices and suspicions of her intangible dignity. In this connection, it is precisely the Gospels that restore the truth and leads back to a liberating point of view. Jesus admired the faith of this woman whom all avoided and transformed her hope in salvation. We do not know her name, but the few lines with which the Gospels describe her encounter with Jesus, delineate an itinerary of faith capable of re-establishing the truth and the grandeur of the dignity of every person. It is in the encounter with Christ that the way of liberation and salvation opens for all, men and women of every place and every time.
Matthew’s Gospel says that when the woman touched Jesus’ garment, He “turned” and “saw her” (v. 22), and then He addressed her. As we were saying, because of her state of exclusion, the woman acted in a hidden way, behind Jesus, she was a bit afraid, so as not to be seen, because she was a discarded one. Instead, Jesus sees her and His look is not one of reproach, He does not say: “Go away, you are a discarded one!” as if He said: “You are a leper, go away!” No, He does not reproach her but Jesus’ look is one of mercy and tenderness. He knows what happened and seeks a personal encounter with her, which deep down the woman desired. This means that, not only does Jesus receive her but He regards her as worthy of such an encounter to the point of gifting her with His word and His attention.
In the central part of the account, the term salvation is repeated three times. “If I only touch His garment, I shall be saved!” Jesus turned around, saw her and said: “take heart, daughter, your faith has saved you!” And from that instant the woman was saved” (vv. 21-22). This “take heart, daughter” expresses all God’s mercy for that person. – and for every discarded person. How many times we feel interiorly discarded because of our sins, we have committed so many, we have committed so many … And the Lord says to us: “Take heart! Come! I do not consider you a discarded one. Take heart, daughter. You are a son, a daughter.” And this is the moment of grace, it is the moment of forgiveness, it is the moment of inclusion in Jesus’ life, in the life of the Church. It is the moment of mercy. Today to all of us, sinners, whether we are great or little sinners – but we all are <sinners> to all of us the Lord says: “Take heart, come! You are no longer discarded: I forgive you, I embrace you.” Thus is God’s mercy. We must have courage and go to Him, ask forgiveness for our sins and go forward – with courage, as this woman did. Then “salvation” assumes many connotations: first of all, it restores health to the woman; then it frees us from social and religious discriminations; in addition, it fulfils the hope that she bore in her heart, banishing her fears and discomfort. Finally, it restores her to the community, liberating her from the need to act in a hidden way. And this last thing is important: a discarded person always acts in a hidden way, sometimes or <during> his whole life: we think of the lepers of those times, of today’s homeless …; we think of sinners, of us sinners: we always do something in a hidden way; we have the need to do something in a hidden way, because we are ashamed of what we are … And He frees us from this, Jesus frees us and makes us stand: “Arise, come, stand up!” As God has created us: God created us upright, not humiliated — upright. What Jesus gives is total salvation, which reintegrates the woman’s life in the sphere of God’s love and, at the same time, re-establishes her in her full dignity.
In the end, it is not the garment the woman touched that gave her salvation, but the word of Jesus, received in faith, capable of consoling her, healing her and re-establishing her in her relation with God and with her people. Jesus is the only source of blessing from which salvations flows for all men, and faith is the fundamental disposition to receive it. Once again Jesus, with His behavior full of mercy, indicates to the Church the course to follow to encounter every person, so that each one can be healed in body and spirit and recover the dignity of children of God.
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]
I give a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I am happy to receive the faithful of the Archdiocese of Genoa, accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco; and of the Diocese of Melfi-Rapolla-Venosa, with the Bishop, Monsignor Gianfranco Todisco. I wish you a Jubilee pilgrimage rich in spiritual fruits for your good and that of your ecclesial communities.
I greet the seminarians of Milan; the parish groups, especially the faithful of Pogliano Milanese, Inveruno, Pieve del Cairo and Polla, as well as the “cyclists of mercy” of Teggiano.
A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. May the heroic martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, which we remembered on Monday, solicit you, dear young people, to plan your future without compromises with the Gospel; may it help you, dear sick, to be courageous, finding serenity and comfort in Christ crucified; may it lead you, dear newlyweds, to a profound love for God and for each other, to experience every day the consoling joy that flows from the mutual gift of self.
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has created a new Dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve.
The new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano.
The dicastery will come into effect as from 1 January 2017 and will be especially “competent in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.
On that same date, four Pontifical Councils dedicated to charity and to the promotion of human development will cease to exist and effectively be incorporated into the new institution.
The Pope has appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson as Prefect of the new dicastery. Turkson is the current President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace – one of those destined to be disbanded.
As Pope Francis highlights in the Motu Proprio: ‘the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel’, thus the Successor of Peter must ‘continuously adapt the institutions which collaborate with him.’
One of the sections of the new dicastery is an expression of the Pope’s particular concern for refugees and migrants and of his deep belief that in today’s world integral human development cannot be promoted without special attention for the phenomenon of migration. For this reason, this particular section is placed ad tempus beneath the direct jurisdiction of the Pope.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio:
Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio by the Supreme Pontiff Francis instituting the DICASTERY FOR PROMOTING INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
In all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel. This development takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation. The Successor of the Apostle Peter, in his work of affirming these values, is continuously adapting the institutions which collaborate with him, so that they may better meet the needs of the men and women whom they are called to serve.
So that the Holy See may be solicitous in these areas, as well as in those regarding health and charitable works, I institute the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. This Dicastery will be competent particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.
In the new Dicastery, governed by the Statutes that today I approve ad experimentum, the competences of the following Pontifical Councils will be merged, as of 1 January 2017: the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. On that date these four Dicasteries will cease exercising their functions and will be suppressed, and articles 142-153 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus will be abrogated.
I decree that what has been set out in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio have the force of law, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, therefore published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, entering into force on 1 January 2017.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 17 August 2016, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Fourth Year of my Pontificate.
Wednesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 433
Reading 11 COR 3:1-9
Brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now, for you are still of the flesh. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and walking according to the manner of man? Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?
What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Responsorial PsalmPS 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21
R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he has chosen for his own inheritance. From heaven the LORD looks down; he sees all mankind. R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. From his fixed throne he beholds all who dwell on the earth, He who fashioned the heart of each, he who knows all their works. R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield, For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.
At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.
At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.