POPE FRANCIS ON THE 13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 2 July 2023
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward” (Mt 10:41). The word “prophet” appears three times. But what type of prophet? There are some who imagine a prophet to be some type of magician who foretells the future. But this is a superstitious idea and a Christian does not believe in superstitions, such as magic, tarot cards, horoscopes and other similar things. In parentheses, many, many Christians go to have the palms read…. Please…. Others depict a prophet as a character from the past only, who existed before Christ to foretell his coming. And yet, Jesus himself speaks today of the need to welcome prophets. Therefore, they still exist. But who are they? What is a prophet?
Each one of us, brothers and sisters, is a prophet. In fact, with Baptism, all of us received the gift of the prophetic mission (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1268). A prophet is the one who, by virtue of Baptism, helps others read the present under the action of the Holy Spirit. This is very important: to read the present not like news, no… to read it as enlightened and under the action of the Holy Spirit, who helps to understand God’s plans and correspond to them. In other words, the prophet is the one who points Jesus out to others, who bears witness to him, who helps live today and to build the future according to his designs. So we are all prophets, witnesses of Jesus, so “that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in daily social and family life” (Lumen Gentium, 35). A prophet is a living sign who points God out to others. A prophet is a reflection of Christ’s light on the path of the brothers and sisters. And so, we can ask ourselves: Do I, — each one of us – Do I, who am “a prophet by election” through Baptism, do I speak, and above all, do I live as a witness of Jesus? Do I bring a little bit of his light into the life of another person? Do I evaluate myself on this? I ask myself: What is my bearing witness like, what is my prophecy like?
In the Gospel, the Lord also asks to welcome the prophets. So it is important to welcome each other as such, as bearers of God’s message, each one according to his state and vocation, and to do it right where we live – that is, in the family, in the parish, in the religious community, in other places in the Church and in society. The Spirit has distributed gifts of prophecy in the holy People of God. This is why it is good to listen to everyone. For example, when an important decision needs to be made – let us think about this – it is good to pray first of all, to call on the Spirit, but then to listen and dialogue trusting that each person, even the littlest, because they have something important to say, a prophetic gift to share. Thus, the truth is sought and the climate is spread of listening to God and our brothers and sisters where people do not feel welcome because they say what I like, but they feel accepted and valued as the gifts they are.
Let us reflect on how many conflicts could be avoided and resolved in this way, listening to others with the sincere desire to understand each other! So, finally, let us ask ourselves: Do I know how to welcome my brothers and sisters as prophetic gifts? Do I believe that I need them? Do I listen to them respectfully, with the desire to learn? Because each of us needs to learn from others. Each of us needs to learn from others.
May Mary, Queen of Prophets, help us see and welcome the good that the Spirit has sown in others.
Saint Peter’s Square
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 28 June 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday, the Gospel (cf. Mt 10:37-42) forcefully echoes the invitation to live out our bond with the Lord fully and without hesitation. Jesus asks his disciples to take the demands of the Gospel seriously, even when that requires sacrifice and effort.
The first demanding request that he addresses to those who follow him is that of putting love for him above family affection. He says: “He who loves father or mother… son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (v. 37). Jesus certainly does not intend to undervalue love for parents and children, but he knows that if family bonds are put in first place, they can deviate from the true good. We see this: some forms of corruption in governments come about precisely because love for family is greater than love for country, and so they put family members in charge. It is the same with Jesus: when love [for family] is greater than [it is] for him, it is not good. All of us can give many examples in this regard, not to mention those situations in which family affections are intermingled with choices that are contrary to the Gospel. When, instead, love for parents and children is inspired and purified by love for the Lord, it then becomes wholly fruitful and produces good fruits within the family itself and well beyond it. Jesus says this phrase in this sense. Let us also remember how Jesus rebukes the doctors of the law who cause their parents to lack what is necessary to them on the pretext of offering it at the altar, of giving it to the Church (cf. Mk 7:8-13). He rebukes them! True love for Jesus requires a true love for parents and children, but if we seek out family interests first, this always leads to the wrong path.
Then, Jesus says to his disciples: “he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38). This means following him along the path that he himself trod, without looking for shortcuts. There is no true love without the cross, that is, without a personal price to pay. Many mothers, many fathers who sacrifice a great deal for their children, and bear true sacrifices, crosses, because they love them, say this. And the cross is not frightening when borne with Jesus, because he is always at our side to support us in the hour of the most difficult trial, to give us strength and courage. Nor is it helpful to get agitated to preserve one’s own life through fearful or egotistical behaviour. Jesus admonishes: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake” — that is, for love, for love of Jesus, love for one’s neighbour, for service towards others — “will find it” (v. 39). This is the Gospel paradox. But we have many, many examples of this too, thank God! We see it in these days. How many people, how many people, are bearing crosses to help others; they sacrifice themselves to help others who are in need in this pandemic. But, always with Jesus, it can be done. The fullness of life and of joy is found by giving oneself for the Gospel and for our brothers and sisters, with openness, welcoming and goodness.
In so doing, we can experience God’s generosity and gratitude. Jesus reminds us of this: “He who receives you receives me… And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water… shall not lose his reward” (vv. 40, 42). God’s generous gratitude takes into account even the smallest gesture of love and service given to our brothers and sisters. In these days, I heard from a priest who was moved because a child approached him in his parish and said, “Father, this is my savings; not very much. It is for the poor, for those who are in need today because of the pandemic”. A small thing, but a great thing. It is a contagious gratitude, which helps each of us to be grateful to those who take care of our needs. When someone offers us a service, we should not think that we deserve everything. No, many services are carried out freely. Think of volunteer work, which is one of the greatest things about Italian society. The volunteers… And how many of them have lost their lives in this pandemic. They do it out of love, simply to serve. Gratitude, appreciation is, first of all, good manners, but it is also a characteristic of a Christian. It is a simple but genuine sign of the Kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of gratuitous and grateful love.
May Mary Most Holy, who loved Jesus more than her own life and followed him even to the cross, help us to always put ourselves before God with willing hearts, allowing his Word to judge our behaviour and our choices.
Saint Peter’s Square
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 2 July 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s liturgy presents to us the last lines of the missionary discourse in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. 10:37-42), by which Jesus instructs the 12 Apostles at the moment in which, for the first time, he sends them on mission to the villages of Galilee and Judea. In this final part, Jesus underscores two essential aspects for the life of a missionary disciple: the first, that his bond with Jesus is stronger than any other bond; the second, that the missionary brings not himself, but Jesus, and through Him the love of the heavenly Father. These two aspects are connected, because the more Jesus is at the centre of the heart and of the life of a disciple, the more this disciple is “transparent” to His presence. The two go hand in hand.
“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” (v. 37), Jesus says. A father’s affection, a mother’s tenderness, the gentle friendship among brothers and sisters, all this, even while being very good and valid, cannot be placed before Christ. Not because he wants us to be heartless and ungrateful, but rather, on the contrary, because the condition of a disciple demands a priority relationship with the teacher. Any disciple, whether a layman or laywoman, a priest or a bishop: an all-absorbing relationship. Perhaps the first question that we must ask a Christian is: “Do you meet with Jesus? Do you pray to Jesus?”. The relationship. One could almost paraphrase the Book of Genesis: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to Jesus and the two shall become one (cf. Gen 2:24).
Those who allow themselves to be drawn into this bond of love and of life with the Lord Jesus become his representatives, his “ambassadors”, above all in the way of being, of living. To the point that Jesus himself, in sending his disciples on mission, says to them: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Mt 10:40). It is important that the people be able to perceive that for that disciple Jesus is truly “the Lord”; He is truly the centre of his or her life, the everything of life.
It does not matter then if, as for every human being, he or she has limitations and even makes mistakes — as long as he or she has the humility to recognize them; the important thing is that they not have a duplicitous heart — and this is dangerous. I am a Christian; I am a disciple of Jesus; I am a priest; I am a bishop, but I have a duplicitous heart. No, this is not okay. One must not have a duplicitous heart, but a simple, cohesive heart; [one must] not keep one foot in two shoes, but be honest with oneself and with others. Duplicity is not Christian. This is why Jesus prays to the Father so that the disciples may not fall prey to the worldly spirit. You are either with Jesus, with the spirit of Jesus, or you are with the spirit of the world.
Here our experience as priests teaches us something very beautiful, something very important: it is precisely this welcoming of the holy, faithful People of God; it is precisely that “cup of cold water” (v. 42) that the Lord speaks of today in the Gospel, given with affectionate faith, which helps you to be a good priest! There is a reciprocity in mission too: if you leave everything for Jesus, the people recognize the Lord in you; but at the same time it helps you to convert each day to him, so as to renew and purify yourself from compromises and to overcome temptations. The closer a priest is to the People of God, the closer will he feel to Jesus, and the closer a priest is to Jesus, the closer will he feel to the People of God.
The Virgin Mary felt in the first person what it means to love Jesus by separating herself from him, giving new meaning to family ties, beginning with faith in him. With her maternal intercession, may she help us to be free and happy missionaries of the Gospel.
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