Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pope Francis at Mass in Geneva "Every time we make the sign of the cross at the start of the day or before any other important activity..." Homily FULL Official TEXT + Video

Palexpo (Geneva)
Thursday, 21 June 2018

Father, bread, forgiveness.  Three words that the Gospel offers us today.  Three words that take us to the very heart of our faith.
“Father”.  The prayer begins with this.  We can continue with other words, but we cannot forget this first one, for the word “Father” is the key to opening God’s heart.  Simply by saying Father, we are already praying in the language of Christianity.  As Christians, we do not pray to some generic deity, but to God who is, before all else, our Father.  Jesus told us to say “Our Father, who are in heaven”, not “God of heaven, who are Father”.  Before all else, even before his being infinite and eternal, God is Father.
All fatherhood and motherhood are derived from him (cf. Eph 3:15).  In him is the origin of all goodness and life itself.  The words “Our Father” reveal our identity, our life’s meaning: we are God’s beloved sons and daughters.  Those words solve the problem of our isolation, our sense of being orphans.  They show us what we have to do: love God, our Father, and others, our brothers and sisters.  The “Our Father” is the prayer of us, of the Church.  It says nothing about me and mine; everything is caught up in the youof God (“your name”, “your kingdom”, “your will”).  It speaks in the first person plural.  “Our Father”: these two simple words offer us a roadmap for the spiritual life. 
Every time we make the sign of the cross at the start of the day or before any other important activity, every time we say “Our Father”, we reclaim our roots.  We need those roots in our often rootless societies.  The “Our Father” strengthens our roots.  Where the Father is present, no one is excluded; fear and uncertainty cannot gain the upper hand.  Suddenly we remember all the good things, because in the Father’s heart we are not strangers but his beloved sons and daughters.  He does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family.
Let us never tire of saying “Our Father”.  It will remind us that just as there are no sons or daughters without a Father, so none of us is ever alone in this world.  It will also remind us that there is no Father without sons or daughters, so none of us is an only child.  Each of us must care for our brothers and sisters in the one human family.  When we say “Our Father”, we are saying that every human being is part of us, and that, in the face of all the wrongs that offend our Father, we, as his sons and daughters, are called to react as brothers and sisters.  We are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference towards our brothers or sisters, towards any of our brothers or sisters.  This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast.  This is what the Father asks us, indeed commands us, to do: to love one another from the heart, as sons and daughters in the midst of their brothers and sisters.
Bread.  Jesus tells to ask our Father for bread each day.  Nothing else: just bread, in other words, what is essential for life.  Before all else, bread is what we need this day to be healthy and to do our work; tragically, so many of our brothers and sisters do not have it.  Here I would say: Woe to those who speculate on bread!  The basic food that people need for their daily lives must be accessible to everyone. 
To ask for our daily bread is also to say: “Father, help me lead a simpler life”.  Life has become so complicated.  Nowadays many people seem “pumped up”, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts, with no time to see other people’s faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems.  We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles.  One that goes against the tide, like that of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast we celebrate today.  It would involve giving up all those things that fill our lives but empty our hearts.  Brothers and sisters, let us choose simplicity, the simplicity of bread and so rediscover the courage of silence and of prayer, the leaven of a truly human life.  Let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual, relationships may flourish.  Let us learn once more to love the familiar smell of life all around us.  When I was a child at home, if a piece of bread fell from the table, we were taught to pick it up and kiss it.  Let us value the simple things of everyday life: not using them and throwing them away, but appreciating them and caring for them. 
Our “daily bread”, we must not forget, is Jesus himself.  Without him, we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5).  He is our regular diet for healthy living.  Sometimes, however, we treat Jesus as a side dish.  Yet if he is not our daily bread, the centre of our days, the very air we breathe, then everything else is meaningless, everything else is secondary.  Each day, when we pray for our daily bread, let us ask the Father, and keep reminding ourselves: simplicity of life, care for what is all around us, Jesus in everything and before everything.
Forgiveness.  It is not easy to forgive.  We always retain a dram of bitterness or resentment, and whenever those we have forgiven annoy us, it rises to the surface once again.  Yet the Lord wants our forgiveness to be gift.  It is significant that the only really original commentary on the Our Father is Jesus’ own.  He tells us simply: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15).  That’s the only commentary the Lord makes! Forgiveness is the catch phrase of the Our Father.  God frees our hearts of all sin, God forgives every last thing.  Yet he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving.  He wants every one us to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others.  We should take a good x-ray of our heart, to find out if there are blockages within us, obstacles to forgiveness, stones needing to be removed.  Then we can say to the Father: “You see this stone?  I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it”.
Forgiveness renews, forgiveness works miracles.  Peter experienced Jesus’ forgiveness and became the shepherd of his flock.  Saul became Paul after the forgiveness he received from Stephen.  Forgiven by our Father, each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters.  Only then do we bring true newness to our world, for there is no greater novelty than forgiveness; this is the forgiveness that turns evil into good.  We see it in the history of Christianity.  Forgiving one another, rediscovering after centuries of disagreements and conflicts that we are brothers and sisters, how much good this has done us and continues to do!  The Father is pleased when we love one another and we forgive each other from the heart (cf. Mt 18:35).  Then, he gives us his Spirit.  Let us ask for the grace not to be entrenched and hard of heart, constantly demanding things of others.  Instead, let us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete charity.  In this way, we will be more like the Father, who loves without counting the cost.  And he will pour out upon us the Spirit of unity.

Brief Acknowledgements of the Holy Father
Conclusion of Mass at Palexpo
I wholeheartedly thank Bishop Morerod and the diocesan community of Lausanne-Geneva-Fribourg.  I thank you for your welcome, your preparations and your prayers, which I ask you please to continue.  I will also pray for you, that the Lord will accompany you at every step, particularly on the journey of ecumenism.  I also greet with gratitude the Swiss bishops and all the other bishops present, as well as the faithful coming from various parts of Switzerland and France, and from other countries.
I likewise greet the citizens of this lovely city, where exactly six hundred years ago Pope Martin V stayed, and which serves as headquarters for important international institutions, including the International Labour Organization, now celebrating the hundredth anniversary of its establishment.
I am deeply grateful to the Government of the Swiss Federation for its kind invitation and unfailing help and cooperation. Thank you!
Please, do not forget to pray for me. Until we meet again!

#BreakingNews Cardinal McCarrick of Archdiocese of Washington Removed by Pope Francis on Abuse Accusation - FULL TEXT Statements

FULL TEXT Letter by Cardinal Wuerl 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I think we were all shocked and saddened when we learned this past week when Cardinal Theodore McCarrick issued a public statement that a decades-old but credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor had been made against him in the Archdiocese of New York when he served there as a priest.
While the Archdiocese of New York investigated this claim, at the same time, I requested that a similar review be made of all Archdiocese of Washington’s records.  Based on that review, I can report that no claim – credible or otherwise – has been made against Cardinal McCarrick during his time here in Washington.
We must now wait for a final determination of this case to be made in Rome.  In matters such as this our first priority as a Church is to continue to offer spiritual and pastoral support for the survivors of abuse and their families, and to provide assistance to help them heal and find peace. The abuse of children is a terrible tragedy, and the Church, even as we offer profound apologies, can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition.
At the same time, it is also important that we encourage survivors of abuse to come forward.  The Archdiocese of Washington and its Office of Child and Youth Protection offer resources and confidential support to any who have suffered from abuse and who seek our help.  We work diligently to ensure that our parishes, schools and youth programs remain safe and secure for the young people that are entrusted to our care.
I encourage all of the members of our Archdiocesan Church to join me in prayer for everyone involved in this matter, including the survivor who stepped forward, for all those who have been victimized by abuse, and for our Church, that everyone may experience the healing power of God’s grace.
FULL TEXT STATEMENT On Public Ministry Removal by Vatican from Archdiocese
Sometime ago, an allegation that falls under the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was made against Cardinal McCarrick when he served as a priest in the Archdiocese of New York.
The Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal, delegated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to investigate the allegation, engaging the review board of the Archdiocese of New York.
In the end the review board found the allegations credible and substantiated.
The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is to refrain from any public ministry or activity until a definite decision is made.
Cardinal McCarrick, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision.
While saddened and shocked, this archdiocese awaits the final outcome of the canonical process and in the meantime asks for prayers for all involved.
At the same time, we renew our commitment to care for the victims who have suffered abuse, to prevent abuse before it occurs, and to identify and report child abuse once it has happened.
FULL TEXT Statement by Cardinal McCarrick from Archdiocese Site
Some months ago, I was advised by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, that an allegation of sexual abuse of a teenager from almost fifty-years ago had been made against me. At that time I was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency, and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York. I fully cooperated in the process.
My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated.
In obedience I accept the decision of The Holy See, that I no longer exercise any public ministry.
I realize this painful development will shock my many friends, family members, and people I have been honored to serve in my sixty-years as a priest.
While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people.
FULL TEXT Source: Archdiocese of Washington

Pope Francis in Geneva "Prayer is the oxygen of ecumenism. Without prayer, communion becomes...." FULL Official Text + Video at Ecumenical Meeting

WCC Ecumenical Centre
Thursday, 21 June 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to meet you and I thank you for your warm welcome. In particular, I express my gratitude to the General Secretary, the Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, and the Moderator, Dr. Agnes Abuom, for their kind words and for their invitation on this seventieth anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches.
In the Bible, seventy years represents a significant span of time, a sign of God’s blessing. But seventy is also a number that reminds us of two important passages in the Gospel. In the first, the Lord commands us to forgive one another not only seven times, but “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22). That number, of course, does not serve as a limit, but opens up a vast horizon; it does not quantify justice, but serves as the measure of a charity capable of infinite forgiveness. After centuries of conflict, that charity now allows us to come together as brothers and sisters, at peace and full of gratitude to God our Father.

If we are here today, it is also thanks to all those who went before us, choosing the path of forgiveness and sparing no effort to respond to the Lord’s will “that all may be one” (cf. Jn 17:21). Out of heartfelt love for Jesus, they did not allow themselves to be mired in disagreements, but instead looked courageously to the future, believing in unity and breaking down barriers of suspicion and of fear. As an ancient Father in the faith rightly observed: “When love has entirely cast out fear, and fear has been transformed into love, then the unity brought us by our Saviour will be fully realized” (SAINT GREGORY OF NYSSA, Homily XV on the Song of Songs). We are heirs to the faith, charity and hope of all those who, by the nonviolent power of the Gospel, found the courage to change the course of history, a history that had led us to mutual distrust and estrangement, and thus contributed to the infernal spiral of continual fragmentation. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, who inspires and guides the journey of ecumenism, the direction has changed and a path both old and new has been irrevocably paved: the path of a reconciled communion aimed at the visible manifestation of the fraternity that even now unites believers.
The number seventy reminds us of yet another Gospel passage. It recalls those disciples whom Jesus, during his public ministry, sent out on mission (cf. Lk 10:1), and who are commemorated in some Churches of the Christian East. The number of those disciples reflects the number of the world’s peoples found on the first pages of the Bible (cf. Gen 10). What does this suggest to us, if not that mission is directed to all nations and that every disciple, in order to be such, must become an apostle, a missionary. The World Council of Churches was born in service to the ecumenical movement, which itself originated in a powerful summons to mission: for how can Christians proclaim the Gospel if they are divided among themselves? This pressing concern still guides our journey and is grounded in the Lord’s prayer that all may be one, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
Dear brothers and sisters, allow me to thank you for your commitment to unity, but also to express a concern. It comes from an impression that ecumenism and mission are no longer as closely intertwined as they were at the beginning. Yet the missionary mandate, which is more than diakonia and the promotion of human development, cannot be neglected nor emptied of its content. It determines our very identity. The preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the earth is part of our very being as Christians. The way in which the mission is carried out will, of course, vary in different times and places. In the face of the recurring temptation to tailor it to worldly ways of thinking, we must constantly remind ourselves that Christ’s Church grows by attraction.
But what makes for this power of attraction? Certainly not our own ideas, strategies or programmes. Faith in Jesus Christ is not the fruit of consensus, nor can the People of God be reduced to a non-governmental organization. No, the power of attraction consists completely in the sublime gift that so amazed the Apostle Paul: “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings” (Phil 3:10). This is our only boast: “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6), granted us by the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life. This is the treasure that we, though earthen vessels (cf. v. 7), must offer to our world, so beloved yet so deeply troubled. We would not be faithful to the mission entrusted to us, were we to debase this treasure to a purely immanent humanism, adapted to the fashion of the moment. Nor would we be good guardians if we tried only to preserve it, burying it for fear of the world and its challenges (cf. Mt 25:25).
What is really needed is a new evangelical outreach. We are called to be a people that experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel, praises the Lord and serves our brothers and sisters with hearts burning with a desire to open up horizons of goodness and beauty unimaginable to those who have not been blessed truly to know Jesus. I am convinced that an increased missionary impulse will lead us to greater unity. Just as in the early days, preaching marked the springtime of the Church, so evangelization will mark the flowering of a new ecumenical spring. As in those days, let us gather in fellowship around the Master, not without a certain embarrassment about our constant vacillations, and, together with Peter, let us say to him: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life (Jn 6:68).
Dear brothers and sisters, I wanted to take part personally in the celebrations marking this anniversary of the World Council, not least to reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church to the cause of ecumenism and to encourage cooperation with the member churches and with our ecumenical partners. In this regard, I would like to reflect briefly on the motto chosen for this day: Walking, Praying and Working Together.
Walking. Yes, but where? From all that has been said, I would suggest a two-fold movement: in and out. In, so as to move constantly to the centre, to acknowledge that we are branches grafted onto the one vine who is Jesus (cf. Jn 15:1-8). We will not bear fruit unless we help one another to remain united to him. Out, towards the many existential peripheries of today’s world, in order to join in bringing the healing grace of the Gospel to our suffering brothers and sisters. We might ask ourselves whether we are walking in truth or simply in words, whether we present our brothers and sisters to the Lord out of true concern for them, or if they are removed from our real interests. We might ask ourselves too, whether we keep walking in our own footsteps, or are setting out with conviction to bring the Lord to our world.
Praying. In prayer too, like walking, we cannot move forward by ourselves because God’s grace is not so much tailored to fit each individual as spread harmoniously among believers who love one another. Whenever we say “Our Father”, we feel an echo within us of our being sons and daughters, but also of our being brothers and sisters. Prayer is the oxygen of ecumenism. Without prayer, communion becomes stifling and makes no progress, because we prevent the wind of the Spirit from driving us forward. Let us ask ourselves: How much do we pray for one another? The Lord prayed that we would be one: do we imitate him in this regard?
Working together. Here I would like to reaffirm that the Catholic Church acknowledges the special importance of the work carried out by the Faith and Order Commission and desires to keep contributing to that work through the participation of highly qualified theologians. The quest of Faith and Order for a common vision of the Church, together with its work of studying moral and ethical issues, touch areas crucial for the future of ecumenism. I would also mention the active presence of the Church in the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; collaboration with the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, most recently on the important theme of education for peace; and the joint preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. These and various other forms of working together are fundamental elements in a sound and time-tested cooperation. I also value the essential role played by the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in the training of future pastoral and academic leaders in many Christian Churches and Confessions worldwide. The Catholic Church has long participated in this educational project through the presence of a Catholic professor on the faculty, and each year I have the joy of greeting the group of students who visit Rome. I would likewise mention, as a good sign of “ecumenical team spirit”, the growing participation in the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
I would also note that the work of our Christian communities is rightly defined by the word diakonia. It is our way of following the Master who came “not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45). The broad gamut of services provided by the member churches of the World Council finds emblematic expression in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. The credibility of the Gospel is put to the test by the way Christians respond to the cry of all those, in every part of the world, who suffer unjustly from the baleful spread of an exclusion that, by generating poverty, foments conflicts. The more vulnerable are increasingly marginalized, lacking their daily bread, employment and a future, while the rich are fewer and ever more wealthy. Let us be challenged to compassion by the cry of those who suffer: “the programme of the Christian is a heart that sees” (BENEDICT XVIDeus Caritas Est, 31). Let us see what we can do concretely, rather than grow discouraged about what we cannot. Let us also look to our many brothers and sisters in various parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, who suffer because they are Christians. Let us draw close to them. May we never forget that our ecumenical journey is preceded and accompanied by an ecumenism already realized, the ecumenism of blood, which urges us to go forward.
Let us encourage one another to overcome the temptation to absolutize certain cultural paradigms and get caught up in partisan interests. Let us help men and women of good will to grow in concern for events and situations that affect a great part of humanity but seldom make it to the front page. We cannot look the other way. It is problematic when Christians appear indifferent towards those in need. Even more troubling is the conviction on the part of some, who consider their own blessings clear signs of God’s predilection rather than a summons to responsible service of the human family and the protection of creation. The Lord, the Good Samaritan of mankind (cf. Lk 10:29-37), will examine us on our love for our neighbour, for each of our neighbours (cf. Mt 25:31-46). So let us ask ourselves: What can we do together? If a particular form of service is possible, why not plan and carry it out together, and thus start to experience a more intense fraternity in the exercise of concrete charity?
Dear brothers and sisters, I renew to you my cordial thanks. Let us help one another to walk, pray and work together, so that, with God’s help, unity may grow and the world may believe. Thank you.

#BreakingNews Canadian Bishops Release Statement on Attack of Religious Freedom by Supreme Court of Canada

CCCB comment on the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the appeal cases involving Trinity Western University Law School

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is deeply concerned about the implications of the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada published 15 June 2018. In its two parallel 7-2 rulings, the Court has decided that the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario can refuse to accredit any eventual graduates of the Trinity Western University (TWU) Law School, should TWU proceed with its plan to establish such a school and if TWU maintains its current Community Covenant.
The Community Covenant is an agreement signed by all TWU students, staff and faculty "to embody attitudes and to practise actions identified in the Bible as virtues, and to avoid those portrayed as destructive." Among actions identified as virtues are to "treat all persons with respect and dignity, and uphold their God-given worth from conception to death," and to "reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage." Among those actions from which to abstain are "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
The Court ruled that the Covenant would deter LGBTQ students from attending the proposed law school, and held that those who did attend would be at risk of significant harm. At the same time, it said the public interest of the law profession included promoting equality by ensuring equal access, supporting diversity within the bar and preventing harm to LGBTQ students. It described the Community Covenant as a preference and not otherwise necessary for prospective TWU law students, and thus as not essential to the TWU mission.
The CCCB and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver were among those intervening before the Supreme Court in the two related appeal cases. In its arguments, the Conference observed that the Court's eventual decision "will not only have a profound impact on TWU, but on Catholic and other faith-based religious education, as well as Catholic health care and other faith-based care facilities across the country." Catholic moral principles and values which are to characterize and guide all Catholic institutions, and as taught for example in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, are in many ways similar to those in the TWU Community Covenant.
The CCCB intervention before the Supreme Court also drew attention to problems involving the "intolerance of those who believe in the religious institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman" and ignoring the protection afforded to religious communities as provided by the Civil Marriage Act. Furthermore, it pointed out the risk of establishing "a hierarchy of rights" in which "the equality rights of the LGBTQ community, considered in the abstract, will trump the right to religious freedom and so undermine all Charter protections."
The decision by the Court effectively means that provincial law societies can discriminate against lawyers on the basis of their religious affiliation and moral values. Furthermore, any organization is now at risk for its views on equality, diversity and inclusion if it depends on a regulatory body with a mandate to act in the "public interest". This means that the Court's interpretation of "public interest", in a way that precludes the accreditation of the TWU Law School as governed by the Community Covenant, has serious implications for all private faith-based educational institutions, and could have negative repercussions for religious charities and other organizations. In their minority opinion, the two dissenting judges on the Supreme Court offered a more encompassing view of the public interest. They wrote that "Accommodating religious diversity is in 'the public interest,' broadly understood, and approving the proposed law school does not condone discrimination against LGBTQ persons."
The Archbishop of Vancouver, the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., noted in his statement that the Court's decision has the potential "to undermine freedom of religion, conscience, and association in Canada." Moreover, he observed, "perhaps more disturbing is that the Court has undermined rights actually written in the Charter in favour of unwritten charter values." SOURCE Release by

Judgments released 15 June 2018 by the Supreme Court of Canada on the Trinity Western University Law School -- and 
Statement by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. – 

Pope Francis in Geneva at Ecumenical Service "The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all too many divisions..." FULL Official Text + Video

WCC Ecumenical Centre (Geneva)
Thursday, 21 June 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have heard the words addressed by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, who were experiencing conflict and division. Groups were fighting and hurling accusations at one another. It is in this context that the Apostle, twice in the space of a few verses, invites us to “walk in the Spirit” (cf. Gal 5:16.25).
Walking. We human beings are constantly on the move. Throughout our lives, we are called to set out and keep walking: from our mother’s womb and at every stage of life, from when we first leave home to the day we depart from this earthly existence. The metaphor of walking reveals the real meaning of our life, a life that is not self-sufficient but always in search of something greater. Our hearts spur us to keep walking, to pursue a goal.
Walking is a discipline; it takes effort. It requires patience and exercise, day after day. We have to forego many other paths in order to choose the one that leads to the goal. We have to keep that goal constantly before us, lest we go astray. Remembering the goal. Walking also demands the humility to be prepared at times, when necessary, to retrace our steps. It also involves being concerned for our travelling companions, since only in company do we make good progress. Walking, in a word, demands constant conversion. That is why so many people refuse to do it. They prefer to remain in the quiet of their home, where it is easy to manage their affairs without facing the risks of travel. But that is to cling to a momentary security, incapable of bestowing the peace and joy for which our hearts yearn. That joy and peace can only be found by going out from ourselves.
That is what God has called us to do from the beginning. Abraham was told to leave his native land and to set out on a journey, equipped only with trust in God (cf. Gen 12). So too Moses, Peter and Paul, and all the Lord’s friends were constantly on the move. But Jesus himself set us the greatest example. He is himself the Way (cf. Jn 14:6). He left his divine state (cf. Phil 2:6-7) and came down to walk among us. Our Lord and Master, he became a wayfarer and a guest in our midst. When he returned to the Father, he granted us his Spirit, so that we too might have the strength to walk towards him. As Paul tells us: to walk in the Spirit.
In the Spirit. If we human beings are constantly on the move, and by closing our hearts to others we deny our very vocation, this is even more true of us Christians. For as Paul emphasizes, the Christian life involves an unavoidable decision. We can either walk in the Spirit along the path opened up by our baptism or else we can “gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). What does this last expression mean? It means thinking that the way to fulfilment is by acquiring possessions, selfishly attempting to store up here and now everything we desire. Rather than letting ourselves quietly be led where God would have us, we go our own way. It is easy to see the result of this tragic loss of direction. The thirst for material things blinds us to our companions along the way, and indifference prevails in the streets of today’s world. Driven by our instincts, we become slaves to unbridled consumerism, and God’s voice is gradually silenced. Other people, especially those who cannot walk on their own, like children and the elderly, then become nuisances to be cast aside. Creation then comes to have no other purpose than to supply our needs.
Dear brothers and sisters, today more than ever the words of the Apostle Paul challenge us. Walking in the Spirit means rejecting worldliness. It means opting for a mindset of service and growing in forgiveness. It means playing our part in history but in God’s good time, not letting ourselves be caught up in the whirlwind of corruption but advancing calmly on the way whose signpost is the “one commandment: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (v. 14). The path of the Spirit is marked by the milestones that Paul sets forth: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (v. 22).
We are called, together, to walk along this path. This calls for constant conversion and the renewal of our way of thinking, so that it can conform to that of the Holy Spirit. In the course of history, divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root, in the life of communities, a worldly mindset has seeped in. First, self-concern took priority over concern for Christ. Once this happened, the Enemy of God and man had no difficulty in separating us, because the direction we were taking was that of the flesh, not of the Spirit. Even some past attempts to end those divisions failed miserably because they were chiefly inspired by a worldly way of thinking. Yet the ecumenical movement, to which the World Council of Churches has made so great a contribution, came about as a grace of the Holy Spirit (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 1). Ecumenism made us set out in accordance with Christ’s will, and it will be able to progress if, following the lead of the Spirit, it constantly refuses to withdraw into itself.
It might be objected that to walk in this way is to operate at a loss, since it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether “conservative” or “progressive”. To choose to belong to Jesus before belonging to Apollos or Cephas (cf. 1 Cor 1:12); to belong to Christ before being “Jew or Greek” (cf. Gal 3:28); to belong to the Lord before identifying with right or left; to choose, in the name of the Gospel, our brother or our sister over ourselves… In the eyes of the world, this often means operating at a loss. Let us not be afraid to operate at a loss! Ecumenism is “a great enterprise operating at a loss”. But the loss is evangelical, reflecting the words of Jesus: “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Lk 9:24). To save only what is ours is to walk according to the flesh; to lose everything in the footsteps of Jesus is to walk in the Spirit. Only in this way does the Lord’s vineyard bear fruit. As Jesus himself teaches, those who store up riches for themselves bear no fruit in the Lord’s vineyard, only those who, by serving others, imitate the “mindset” of God, who never stops giving, even to the gift of his very self (cf. Mt 21:33-42). Such is the mindset of Easter, which alone truly bears fruit.
Looking at our own journey, we can see a reflection of ourselves in some of the experiences of the early communities of Galatia. How difficult it is to overcome hard feelings and to foster communion! How hard it is to leave behind centuries-old disagreements and mutual recriminations! It is even more formidable to withstand the subtle temptation to join others, to walk together, but for the sake of satisfying some partisan interest. This is not the “mindset” of the Apostle, but that of Judas, who walked with Jesus but for his own purposes. There is only one way to shore up our wavering footsteps: to walk in the Spirit, purifying our hearts of evil, choosing with holy tenacity the way of the Gospel and rejecting the shortcuts offered by this world.
After so many years of ecumenical commitment, on this seventieth anniversary of the World Council, let us ask the Spirit to strengthen our steps. All too easily we halt before our continuing differences; all too often we are blocked from the outset by a certain weariness and lack of enthusiasm. Our differences must not be excuses. Even now we can walk in the Spirit: we can pray, evangelize and serve together. This is possible and it is pleasing to God! Walking, praying and working together: this is the great path that we are called to follow today.
And this path has a clear aim, that of unity. The opposite path, that of division, leads to conflict and breakup. We need but open our history books. The Lord bids us set out ever anew on the path of communion that leads to peace. Our lack of unity is in fact “openly contrary to the will of Christ, but is also a scandal to the world and harms the most holy of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1). The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all too many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity.
Dear brothers and sisters, I have desired to come here, a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace. I thank God because here I have found you, brothers and sisters already making this same journey. For us as Christians, walking together is not a ploy to strengthen our own positions, but an act of obedience to the Lord and love for our world. Obedience to God and love for our world, the true love that saves. Let us ask the Father to help us walk together all the more resolutely in the ways of the Spirit. May the Cross guide our steps, because there, in Jesus, the walls of separation have already been torn down and all enmity overcome (cf. Eph 2:14). In him, we will come to see that, for all our failings, nothing will ever separate us from his love (cf. Rom 8:35-39). Thank you.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday June 21, 2018 - #Eucharist

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Lectionary: 368

Reading 1SIR 48:1-14

Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord's word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You brought a dead man back to life
from the nether world, by the will of the LORD.
You sent kings down to destruction,
and easily broke their power into pieces.
You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness.
You heard threats at Sinai,
at Horeb avenging judgments.
You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance,
and a prophet as your successor.
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
And who falls asleep in your friendship.
For we live only in our life,
but after death our name will not be such.
O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!

Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit,
wrought many marvels by his mere word.
During his lifetime he feared no one,
nor was any man able to intimidate his will.
Nothing was beyond his power;
beneath him flesh was brought back into life.
In life he performed wonders,
and after death, marvelous deeds.

Responsorial PsalmPS 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7

R. (12a) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes round about.
His lightnings illumine the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
All who worship graven things are put to shame,
who glory in the things of nought;
all gods are prostrate before him.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

AlleluiaROM 8:15BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This is how you are to pray:

'Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'

"If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."