Sunday, January 24, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Monday, January 25, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
Lectionary: 519
Reading I
Acts 22:3-16
Paul addressed the people in these words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.

For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.
“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.’ 
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.
“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.’”
Acts 9:1-22
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his  journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” 
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. 
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”
But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.
He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
All who heard him were astounded and said, 
“Is not this the man who in Jerusalem
ravaged those who call upon this name,
and came here expressly to take them back in chains
to the chief priests?”
But Saul grew all the stronger
and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus,
proving that this is the Christ.
Responsorial Psalm
117:1bc, 2
R.    (Mark 16:15)  Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
    glorify him, all you peoples!
R.    Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
    and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever.
R.    Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
See Jn 15:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Mk 16:15-18
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion

At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint January 25 : Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles who Fell off his Horse and was Struck Blind as the Lord Spoke to Him

In the Acts of the Apostles there are three accounts of the conversion of St. Paul (9:1-19; 22:3-21; 26:9-23) presenting some slight differences. Jesus spoke to Paul : “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with the group of people Saul had been killing like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all.
Acts 9: 1-19 1And Saul, yet breathing out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting: [it is] hard for you to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will you have me to do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told to you what you must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought [him] into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. Ananias Baptizes Saul 10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I [am here], Lord. 11And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting [his] hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on your name. 15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou might receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 
Paul's faith in Christ which engendered the vision, whereas according to the concordant testimony of the Acts and the Epistles it was the actual vision of Christ which engendered faith. After his conversion, his baptism, and his miraculous cure Paul set about preaching to the Jews (Acts 9:19-20). He afterwards withdrew to Arabia — probably to the region south of Damascus (Galatians 1:17), doubtless less to preach than to meditate on the Scriptures. On his return to Damascus the intrigues of the Jews forced him to flee by night (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; Acts 9:23-25). He went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Galatians 1:18), but remained only fifteen days, for the snares of the Greeks threatened his life. He then left for Tarsus and is lost to sight for five or six years (Acts 9:29-30; Galatians 1:21). Barnabas went in search of him and brought him to Antioch where for a year they worked together and their apostolate was most fruitful (Acts 11:25-26). Together also they were sent to Jerusalem to carry alms to the brethren on the occasion of the famine predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:27-30). They do not seem to have found the Apostles there; these had been scattered by the persecution of Herod. Apostolic career of Paul This period of twelve years (45-57) was the most active and fruitful of his life. It comprises three great Apostolic expeditions of which Antioch was in each instance the starting-point and which invariably ended in a visit to Jerusalem.

Novena to St. Paul for Conversion - Powerful Prayers to SHARE -

Powerful Prayers to St. Francis de Sales the Patron of Writers, Deaf, Journalists, Educators with Novena and Litany

NOVENA TO SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES O Blessed Francis de Sales, who in your mortal life did excel in all virtues, especially in love of God and of neighbor, I earnestly entreat you to take me under your immediate protection, to obtain from God my perfect conversion, and that of all sinners, especially of (the names of persons for whom you wish to pray should be mentioned here). Teach me, O Father, to fix my eyes on heaven, that I may generously trample under foot every obstacle that presents itself in my way, and attain that degree of glory which You in Your mercy hold out to me. Obtain also that particular favor for which I now pray. (mention intention) Assist us, O Lord, we beseech You, through the merits of St. Francis de Sales.
 That what our endeavors cannot obtain may be given us by his intercession. Let us pray: O God, who for the salvation of souls, did will that St. Francis de Sales, Your confessor and bishop, should become all things to all men and women, mercifully grant that we, infused with the gentleness of his charity, guided by his teachings, and sharing in his merits, may obtain eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 Litany of St. Francis de Sales
  Lord, have mercy on us.  
Christ, have mercy on us.
 Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
 O God, the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us. O God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us. 
O God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us O Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us. *
 St. Francis de Sales, *
 St. Francis, miracle of the most august Trinity, * 
St. Francis, faithful imitator of Jesus Christ, * 
St. Francis, attached to the the service of the Blessed Virgin, * 
St. Francis, practicing the virtues of the Saints, * 
St. Francis, most devote to Jesus crucified, * 
St. Francis, august tabernacle of true religion, * 
St. Francis, most humble in prosperity, *
 St. Francis, most patient in adversity, * 
St. Francis, true portrait of the meekness of Christ, *
 St. Francis, simple as the dove, * 
St. Francis, example of angelic modesty, * 
St. Francis, exact observer of evangelic poverty, * 
St. Francis, excellent example of the purity of angels, * 
St. Francis, ever obedient to the Apostolic See, * 
St. Francis, generously despising the world, * 
St. Francis, powerful vanquisher of demons, *
 St. Francis, invincible triumpher over the flesh, * 
St. Francis, inflamed with the love of God, * 
St. Francis, abounding in virtues, *
 St. Francis, all to all for the salvation of souls, * 
St. Francis, most dear to God, and beloved by men, * 
St. Francis, unwearied apostle of Geneva and its territory, * which thou didst so laboriously reunite to the one true Church of God, * 
St. Francis, most fervent pastor, ever careful to lead thy flock to the fold of Jesus the Good Shepherd, *
 St. Francis, most renowned for thy miracles, * 
St. Francis, greatest of all thy miracles, * 
St. Francis, patriarch of the Visitation, * 
St. Francis, continual martyr to thy love of God, * 
St. Francis, father of many Saints, by the holy rules which thou hast left for every state, * 
St. Francis, powerful protector to obtain of God that mildness which preserves the peace of the heart, * 
St. Francis, amiable patron of those who invoke thee, * 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,  Spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,  Hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,  Have mercy on us, O Lord. 
O Blessed Francis, like the fruitful olive-tree in the house of God, radiant in miracles, make us partakers of thy sanctity and of the light which thou enjoyest. V. Pray for us, Blessed Francis of Sales. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray:

O God, by whose gracious will the Blessed Francis, thy confessor and bishop, became all things unto all men, for the saving of their souls, mercifully grant that, being filled with the sweetness of thy love, we may, through the guidance of his counsels, and by the aid of his merits, attain unto the joys of life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Prayer in Special Need to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Say not, merciful Virgin, that you cannot help me; for your beloved Son has given you all power in heaven and on earth. Say not that you ought not assist me, for you are the mother of all the poor children of Adam, and mine in particular. Since then, merciful Virgin, you are my mother and you are all-powerful, what excuse can you offer if you do not lend your assistance? See. my mother, see, you are obliged to grant me what I ask, and to yield to my entreaties. 
(St. Francis De Sales) 

RIP Fr. Rodrigue Sanon - Lifeless Body of Missing Catholic Priest Found in Burkina Faso - Bishops Worry about Religious Violence


AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - The body of the missing priest has been found.

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - "It is with deep sorrow that I bring to everyone's knowledge that the lifeless body of Fr. Rodrigue Sanon was found on 21 January in the forest of Toumousseni about twenty kilometers from Banfora". This is how His Exc. Mgr. Lucas Kalfa Sanou, Bishop of Banfora announced the death of the parish priest of Notre Dame de la Paix in Soubakanyedougou, in the south-west of Burkina Faso, who disappeared on January 19 (see Fides, 21/1/2021).

Pending further information on the circumstances of his death, Mgr. Lucas invited the faithful "to pray intensely for his soul, and remain confident in the merciful love of the Lord".

Fr. Rodrigue Sanon, parish priest of Soubaganyedougou (diocese of Banfora) had disappeared on Tuesday 19 January, while going to Banfora where he never arrived for a meeting of priests with Mgr. Lucas Kalfa Sanon.

The research carried out led to the discovery of his car on the Soubaganyedougou-Banfora road, near Toumousséni, about twenty kilometers from his destination.

The announcement of the priest's death aroused amazement and questions within the diocese and especially among the parishioners of whom he had been parish priest since 2018, Church sources report to Agenzia Fides. One wonders in particular "whether Fr. Sanon was the victim of bandits or fell into the hands of terrorists, given the context of insecurity in Burkina Faso". Questions that bring to mind the kidnapping of another priest, Father Joël Yougbaré, on March 17, 2019 in the diocese of Dori (of whom we still have no news, see Fides 20/3/2019) and the murder of Fr. Simeon Yampa and 5 faithful on 13 May 2019 (see Fides, 13/5/2019 ).

On several occasions the Bishops have denounced the insecurity in which the populations of increasingly large areas of Burkina Faso live (see Fides, 13/7/2020 and 9/11/2020). According to the UN, Burkina Faso is the country with the fastest growth rate in the number of displaced persons, with more than one million people displaced due to outbreaks of violence. (L.M.) (Source: Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2021)

Pope Francis explains "...Every moment, every instant of our existence is precious time to love God and to love our neighbour" FULL TEXT + Video at Angelus


Library of the Apostolic Palace
Sunday, 24 January 2021

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,


This Sunday's Gospel passage (cf. Mk 1:14-20) shows us, so to speak, the “passing of the baton” from John the Baptist to Jesus.


 John was His precursor; he prepared the terrain for Him and prepared the way for Him: now Jesus can begin his mission and announce the salvation by now present; He was salvation. His preaching is summarized in these words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (v. 15). Simply. Jesus did not mince words. It is a message that invites us to reflect on two essential themes: time and conversion.

 In this text of Mark the Evangelist, time is to be understood as the duration of the history of salvation worked by God; therefore, the time “fulfilled” is that in which this salvific action reaches its pinnacle,  full realization: it is the historical moment in which God sent his Son into the world and his Kingdom is rendered more “close” than ever. The time of salvation is fulfilled because Jesus has arrived. However, salvation is not automatic; salvation is a gift of love and as such offered to human freedom. Always, when we speak of love, we speak of freedom: a love without freedom is not love; it may be interest, it may be fear, many things, but love is always free, and being free it calls for a freely given response: it calls for our conversion. Thus, it means to change mentality – this is conversion, to change mentality – and to change life: to no longer follow the examples of the world but those of God, who is Jesus; to follow Jesus, as Jesus had done, and as Jesus taught us. It is a decisive change of view and attitude. In fact, sin – above all the sin of worldliness which is like air, it permeates everything – brought about a mentality that tends toward the affirmation of oneself against others and against God. This is curious.... What is your identity? And so often we hear that one's identity is expressed in terms of “opposition”. It is difficult to express one's identity in the worldly spirit in positive terms and those of salvation: it is against oneself, against others and against God. And for this purpose it does not hesitate – the mentality of sin, the worldly mentality – to use deceit and violence. Deceit and violence. We see what happens with deceit and violence: greed, desire for power and not to serve, war, exploitation of people.... This is the mentality of deceit that definitely has its origins in the father of deceit, the great pretender, the devil. He is the father of lies, as Jesus defines him.

All this is opposed by the message of Jesus, who invites us to recognize ourselves as in need of God and his grace; to have a balanced attitude with regard to earthly goods; to be welcoming and humble toward others; to know and fulfil ourselves in the encounter with and service of others. For each one of us the time in which we are able to receive redemption is brief: it is the duration of our life in this world. It is brief. Perhaps it seems long.... I remember that I went to administer the Sacraments, the Anointing of the Sick to a very good elderly man, very good, and in that moment, before receiving the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick, he told me this phrase: “My life flew by”. This is how we, the elderly, feel, that life has passed away. It passes away. And life is a gift of God's infinite love, but is also the time to prove our our love for Him. For this reason every moment, every instant of our existence is precious time to love God and to love our neighbour, and thereby enter into eternal life.

The history of our life has two rhythms: one, measurable, made of hours, days, years; the other, composed of the seasons of our development: birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, old age, death. Every period, every phase has its own value, and can be a privileged moment of encounter with the Lord. Faith helps us to discover the spiritual significance of these periods: each one of them contains a particular call of the Lord, to which we can offer a positive or negative response. In the Gospel we see how Simon, Andrew, James and John responded: they were mature men; they had their work as fishermen, they had their family life.... Yet, when Jesus passed and called to them, “immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mk 1:18).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us stay attentive and not let Jesus pass by without welcoming him. Saint Augustine said “I am afraid of God when he passes by”. Afraid of what? Of not recognizing Him, of not seeing Him, not welcoming Him.

May the Virgin Mary help us to live each day, each moment as the time of salvation, in which the Lord passes and calls us to follow him, every second of our life. And may she help us to convert from the mentality of the world, that of worldly reveries which are fireworks, to that of love and service.


After the Angelus the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters, this Sunday is dedicated to the Word of God. One of the great gifts of our time is the rediscovery of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church at all levels. Never as today has the Bible been accessible to everyone: in all languages and now even in audiovisual and digital formats. Saint Jerome, the 16th centenary of whose death I recently recalled, says that those who ignore Scripture ignore Christ; those who ignore Scripture ignore Christ (cf. In Isaiam Prol.). And vice versa is Jesus, the Word made Flesh, dead and risen, who opens our mind to understanding the Scriptures (cf. Lk 24:45). This happens in particular in the Ligurgy, but also when we pray alone or as a group, especially with the Gospel and with  the Psalms. I thank and encourage the parishes for their steadfast commitment to educate to listening and to the Word of God. May we never lack the joy to sow the Gospel. And I repeat once again: may we have the habit, may you have the habit of always carrying a small Gospel in in your pocket, in your bag, to be able to read it during the day, at least three, four verses. The Gospel always with us.

This past 20 January, a few metres from Saint Peter's Square, a homeless 46-year-old Nigerian man named Edwin was found dead due to the cold. His incident is added to that of so many other homeless people who have recent died in Rome in the same tragic circumstances. Let us pray for Edwin. Let us be admonished by what was said by Saint Gregory the Great, who before the death of a mendicant due to the cold, stated that that day Mass would not be celebrated because it was like Good Friday. Let us think of Edwin. Let us think of what this man, 46 years old, felt, in the cold, ignored by everyone, abandoned, even by us. Let us pray for  him.

Tomorrow afternoon, in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Wall, we will celebrate Vespers for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, together with representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities. I invite you spiritually join in our prayer.

Today is also the memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Patron of journalists. Yesterday the Message for World Day of Social Communications, entitled “Come and see, was disseminated. Communicating by encountering people where and as they are”. I encourage all journalists and communicators to “go and see”, even where no one wants to go, and witness to the truth.

I greet all of you who are linked via media. A reminder and a prayer goes to the families who are struggling more in this period. Take courage, let us go forth! Let us pray for these families, and to the extent possible let us be their neighbours. And I wish a happy Sunday to all. Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!

Pope Francis says "..Let us ask the Lord for the strength to turn off the television and open the Bible, to turn off our cell phone and open the Gospel." FULL TEXT Homily on Sunday of the Word of God



St. Peter’s Basilica
Sunday, 24 January 2021


[Archbishop Rino Fisichella read the homily Pope Francis had prepared for the occasion who was unable to preside due to his Sciatica]

On this Sunday of the Word, let us listen to Jesus as he proclaims the Kingdom of God. Let us consider what he says and to whom he says it.

What does he say? Jesus begins his preaching with these words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15).


 God is near, that is the first message. His kingdom has come down to earth. God is not, as we are often tempted to think, distant, up in heaven, detached from the human condition.  No, he is in our midst. The time of his distance ended when, in Jesus, he became man. Ever since then, God has been very close to us; he will never retire from our human condition or tire of it. This closeness is the very first message of the Gospel; today’s reading tells us that Jesus “was saying” (v. 15) those words: he kept repeating them. “God is near” was the leitmotif of his preaching, the heart of his message. If this was the opening theme and the refrain of all Jesus’ preaching, it must necessarily be the one constant of the Christian life and message. Before all else, we must believe and proclaim that God has drawn near to us, that we have been forgiven and shown mercy. Prior to every word of ours about God, there is his word to us, his Word who continues to tell us: “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I am at your side and I will always be there”.

The word of God enables us to touch this closeness, since – as the Book of Deuteronomy tells us – it is not far from us, it is near to our hearts (cf. 30:14). It is the antidote to our fear of having to face life alone.  Indeed, by his word the Lord consoles us, that is, he stands “with” (con-) those who are “alone” (soli). In speaking to us, he reminds us that he has taken us to heart, that we are precious in his eyes, and that he holds us in the palm of his hand. God’s word infuses this peace, but it does not leave us in peace. It is a word of consolation but also a call to conversion.  “Repent”, says Jesus, immediately after proclaiming God’s closeness. For, thanks to his closeness, we can no longer distance ourselves from God and from others.  The time when we could live thinking only of ourselves is now over. To do so is not Christian, for those who experience God’s closeness cannot ignore their neighbours or treat them with indifference. Those who hear God’s word are constantly reminded that life is not about shielding ourselves from others, but about encountering them in the name of God who is near. The word sown in the soil of our hearts, leads us in turn to sow hope through closeness to others.  Even as God has done with us.

Let us now consider to whom Jesus speaks. His first words are to Galilean fishermen, simple folk who lived by harsh manual labour, by day and night. They were no experts in Scripture or people of great knowledge and culture. They lived in a region made up of various peoples, ethnic groups and cults: one that could not have been further from the religious purity of Jerusalem, the heart of the country. Yet that is where Jesus began, not from the centre but from the periphery, and he did so in order to tell us too that no one is far from God’s heart. Everyone can receive his word and encounter him in person. The Gospel offers a nice detail in this regard, when it tells us that Jesus’ preaching came “after” that of John (Mk 1:14). That word after is decisive: it points to a difference.  John received people in the desert, where only those able to leave their homes could go. Jesus, on the other hand, speaks of God in the heart of society, to everyone, wherever they find themselves. He does not speak at fixed times or places, but “walking along the shore”, to fishermen who were “casting their nets” (v. 16). He speaks to people in the most ordinary times and places. Here we see the universal power of the word of God to reach everyone and every area of life.

Yet the word of God also has particular power, that is, it can touch each person directly. The disciples would never forget the words they heard that day on the shore of the lake, by their boats, in the company of their family members and fellow workers: words that marked their lives forever. Jesus said to them: “Follow me, I will make you become fishers of men” (v. 17). He did not appeal to them using lofty words and ideas, but spoke to their lives.  He told fishermen that they were to be fishers of men. If he had told them: “Follow me, I will make you Apostles, you will be sent into the world to preach the Gospel in the power of the Spirit; you will be killed, but you will become saints”, we can be sure that Peter and Andrew would have answered: “Thanks, but we’ll stick to our nets and our boats!” But Jesus spoke to them in terms of their own livelihood: “You are fishermen, and you will become fishers of men”. Struck by those words, they come to realize that lowering their nets for fish was too little, whereas putting out into the deep in response to the word of Jesus was the secret of true joy. The Lord does the same with us: he looks for us where we are, he loves us as we are, and he patiently walks by our side. As he did with those fishermen, he waits for us on the shore of our life. With his word, he wants to change us, to invite us to live fuller lives and to put out into the deep together with him.

So dear brothers and sisters, let us not ignore God’s word. It is a love letter, written to us by the One who knows us best.  In reading it, we again hear his voice, see his face and receive his Spirit. That word brings us close to God.  Let us not keep it at arm’s length, but carry it with us always, in our pocket, on our phone.  Let us give it a worthy place in our homes. Let us set the Gospel in a place where we can remember to open it daily, perhaps at the beginning and at the end of the day, so that amid all those words that ring in our ears, there may also be a few verses of the word of God that can touch our hearts. To be able to do this, let us ask the Lord for the strength to turn off the television and open the Bible, to turn off our cell phone and open the Gospel. During this liturgical year, we are reading Saint Mark, the simplest and the shortest of the Gospels. Why not read it at home too, even a brief passage each day.  It will make us feel God’s closeness to us and fill us with courage as we make our way through life.


Homeless Man, named Edwin, from Nigeria Dies from the Cold Near St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican - Pope Francis Prays for him

Pope Francis prayed for Nigerian homeless man found dead near St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope prayed for the man from Nigeria who died just a few meters from St. Peter’s Square. After praying the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis paused for a moment to pray for Edwin, a Nigerian homeless man who died alone on a cold. “On 20 January, just a few meters from St. Peter’s Square, a Nigerian homeless man named Edwin was found dead from the cold,” said the Pope. “His plight is similar to that of many other homeless people who have died recently in Rome under the same dramatic circumstances.” The Pope then invited everyone to pray for Edwin, and paused for a few seconds in prayer. He said 46-year-old Edwin was ignored by all. “He was abandoned, by us as well,” said Pope Francis. “Let us pray for him.” The Pope then told the story from the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great. He witnessed the death of a beggar in the cold, the 6th century Pope ordered that all Masses be suspended for a whole day, “because it was as Good Friday.”
Edited from
Image Source: Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata from Pexels

Pope Francis has Painful Sciatica and is Unable to Preside at some Events but Continues with the Angelus Prayer

The Holy See Press Office announced that Pope Francis was be unable to preside over a series of appointments on Sunday and Monday, due to a recurrence of sciatica. He did however lead the Angelus prayer in the Library of the Apostolic Palace on Sunday at noon, as scheduled.

Statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, 23.01.2021

Due to the recurrence of sciatica, the celebration tomorrow morning at the Altar of the Chair of the Vatican Basilica will not be presided over by the Holy Father, but by His Excellency Mons. Rino Fisichella. The meeting with the Diplomatic Corps on Monday 25 January is postponed, while Vespers for the conclusion of the week of prayer for Christian unity in the Basilica of St. Paul will be presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch. However, Pope Francis will lead the Angelus prayer in the Library of the Apostolic Palace tomorrow at 12.00, as scheduled.