POPE FRANCIS ON THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME C
Saint Peter’s Square
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time C, 16 October 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
The Gospel from today’s Liturgy concludes with a troubling question posed by Jesus: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8) It’s almost like he was saying, “When I come again at the end of time” – or we could also think, even now, at this time of life – “will I find a bit of faith in you, in your world?” This is a serious question. Let us imagine that the Lord came today on earth. Unfortunately, he would see many wars, much poverty and many inequalities. At the same time, he would see tremendous technical conquests, modern means, and people who are always running, who never stop. But would he find someone who dedicates time and affection to him, someone who would put him in first place? Above all, let us ask ourselves, “What would he find in me, if the Lord were to come today, what would he find in me, in my life, in my heart? What priorities would he see in my life?”
We often focus on so many urgent but unnecessary things. We occupy and preoccupy ourselves with so many secondary realities. And perhaps without even recognizing it, we neglect what counts the most and we allow our love for God to grow cold, to grow cold bit by bit. Today, Jesus offers us the remedy to rekindle a tepid faith. And what is the remedy? Prayer. Yes, prayer is the medicine for faith, it is the restorative of the soul. It needs to be constant prayer, however. If we must undergo treatment to get better, it is important to follow the treatment plan well, to take the medicine faithfully and regularly in the right way and at the right times. This is necessary in all of life. Let us think of a houseplant: we need to water it consistently every day. We cannot soak it and then leave it without giving it water for a week! Even more so with prayer. We cannot live only on strong moments of prayer or occasional intense encounters, and then “go into hibernation”. Our faith would dry up. We need the daily water of prayer, we need time dedicated to God, so that he can enter into our time, into our lives; we need consistent moments in which we open our hearts to him so that he can daily pour out on us love, peace, joy, strength, hope, thus nourishing our faith.
This is why Jesus tells his disciples – to everyone, not only to some! – “that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (v. 1). Now someone might object: “But, how can I do that? I don’t live in a convent. I don’t have much time to pray!” Perhaps a wise spiritual practice for this real difficulty that the elderly, especially our grandparents, know well can come to our aid, which is a bit forgotten today. These are so-called aspirations. The name is a bit outdated, but the substance is good. What are they? They are very short, easy to memorize prayers that can be repeated often throughout the day, in the course of various activities, to remain “in tune” with the Lord. For example, as soon as we awaken, we can say: “Lord, I thank you and I offer this day to you”. This is a short prayer. Then, before an activity, we can repeat, “Come, Holy Spirit”. Between one thing and another, we can pray thus, “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I love you”. Really short prayers that help us stay in contact with the Lord. How often we send instant messages to the people we love! Let’s do this with the Lord as well so that our hearts remain connected to him. And let’s not forget to read his responses. The Lord always responds. Where do we find them? In the Gospel which should always be kept at hand and should be opened several times every day, to receive a Word of life directed to us.
And let’s go back to the advice I have given many times – carry a pocket-size Gospel in your pocket in your purse. And when you have a minute, open it and read something, and the Lord will respond.
May the Virgin Mary, faithful listener, teach us the art of praying always, without losing heart.
Saint Peter’s Square
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time C, 20 October 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The second reading of today’s liturgy offers us the exhortation that the Apostle Paul addresses to his faithful collaborator Timothy: “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). The tone is fervent: Timothy must feel he is in charge of proclaiming the Word.
World Missionary Day, which is being celebrated today, is a propitious occasion for every baptized person to be even more conscious of the need to cooperate in proclaiming the Word, in proclaiming the Kingdom of God with a renewed commitment. One hundred years ago, Pope Benedict XV promulgated the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud in order to give new impetus to the missionary responsibility of the entire Church. He cautioned about the need to evangelically re-qualify mission in the world, so that it would be cleansed of any colonial incrustation and freed from the conditioning of the expansionist policies of the European nations.
In today’s changed context, Benedict XV’s message is still timely and spurs us to overcome the temptation of all forms of self-referential withdrawal and of all forms of pastoral pessimism, in order to open ourselves up to the joyful newness of the Gospel. In our time, marked by a globalization that should be supportive and respectful of the particularities of peoples, and instead still suffers from homogenization and from age-old conflicts for power that fuel wars and destroy the planet, believers are called to take everywhere, with renewed passion, the Good News that in Jesus mercy conquers sin, hope conquers fear, fraternity conquers hostility. Christ is our peace and in him every division is overcome; in him alone lies the salvation of every person and every people.
To live mission in full there is an indispensable condition: prayer, fervent and unceasing prayer, according to Jesus’ teaching, also proclaimed in today’s Gospel, in which he recounted a parable on the need “always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1). Prayer is the first support of the People of God for missionaries, rich in affection and gratitude for their difficult task of proclaiming and offering the light and grace of the Gospel to those who have not yet received it. It is also a fine occasion to ask ourselves today: do I pray for missionaries? Do I pray for those who go afar to bear the Word of God through witness? Let us think about this.
May Mary, Mother of all people, accompany and protect the missionaries of the Gospel each day.
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
St Peter’s Square
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time C, 16 October 2016
At the start of today’s celebration, we addressed this prayer to the Lord: “Create in us a generous and steadfast heart, so that we may always serve you with fidelity and purity of spirit” (Collect).
By our own efforts, we cannot give ourselves such a heart. Only God can do this, and so in the prayer we ask him to give it to us as his “creation”. In this way, we come to the theme of prayer, which is central to this Sunday’s scriptural readings and challenges all of us who are gathered here for the canonization of new Saints. The Saints attained the goal. Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart. They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious.
So pray! Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer. We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised. From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people. So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won.
This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace!
There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another. Weariness is inevitable. Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work.
Saint Paul writes to Timothy, his disciple and co-worker, and urges him to hold fast to what he has learned and believed (cf. 2 Tim 3:14). But Timothy could not do this by his own efforts: the “battle” of perseverance cannot be won without prayer. Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Pray always, without ever losing heart” (Lk 18:1). This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony. Here once again we may hear a voice within us, saying: “But Lord, how can we not grow weary? We are human… even Moses grew weary…!” True, each of us grows weary. Yet we are not alone; we are part of a Body! We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, whose arms are raised day and night to heaven, thanks to the presence of the Risen Christ and his Holy Spirit. Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.
We have heard the promise Jesus makes in the Gospel: “God will grant justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night” (cf. Lk 18:7). This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised. This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit. To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm. On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us. For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray. He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.
The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them. They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers. That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart. Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer. May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart. May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.
Saint Peter’s Square
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time C, 20 October 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable on the need to pray always, never wearying. The main character is a widow whose insistent pleading with a dishonest judge succeeds in obtaining justice from him. Jesus concludes: if the widow succeeded in convincing that judge, do you think that God will not listen to us if we pray to him with insistence? Jesus’ words are very strong: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7).
“Crying day and night” to God! This image of prayer is striking, but let us ask ourselves: Why does God want this? Doesn’t he already know what we need? What does it mean to “insist” with God?
This is a good question that makes us examine an important aspect of the faith: God invites us to pray insistently not because he is unaware of our needs or because he is not listening to us. On the contrary, he is always listening and he knows everything about us lovingly. On our daily journey, especially in times of difficulty, in the battle against the evil that is outside and within us, the Lord is not far away, he is by our side. We battle with him beside us, and our weapon is prayer which makes us feel his presence beside us, his mercy and also his help. But the battle against evil is a long and hard one; it requires patience and endurance, like Moses who had to keep his arms outstretched for the people to prevail (cf Ex 17:8-13). This is how it is: there is a battle to be waged each day, but God is our ally, faith in him is our strength and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore Jesus assures us of the victory, but at the end he asks: “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). If faith is snuffed out, prayer is snuffed out, and we walk in the dark. We become lost on the path of life.
Therefore, let us learn from the widow of the Gospel to pray always without growing weary. This widow was very good! She knew how to battle for her children! I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray and never grow weary. Today let us all remember these women who by their attitude provide us with a true witness of faith and courage, and a model of prayer. Our thoughts go out to them!
Pray always, but not in order to convince the Lord by dint of words! He knows our needs better than we do! Indeed persevering prayer is the expression of faith in a God who calls us to fight with him every day and at every moment in order to conquer evil with good.
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