Trusting in God means letting go of what we want, Pope says

On Wednesday Pope Francis said having total faith and trust in God means recognizing that he always knows and wants what is best for us, even if it’s hard to accept because it doesn’t align with our own plans.

Wednesday, Pope Francis talked about what it means to have total faith and trust in God, acknowledging that he knows what is best, and always wants what is best for us, even if it is often difficult to accept.

“Trusting in God means to enter into his designs without demanding anything, even accepting that his salvation and his help should come to us in a different way from our expectations,” he said Jan. 25.

The Pope’s catechesis for the general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall centered on the story of Judith in the Old Testament, a woman who was “a great heroine,” he said, and an excellent example of the virtues of faith, hope and trust.

In the story, Nebuchadnezzar’s army, under the leadership of General Holofernes, is laying siege to a city in Judea, cutting off the water supply and thus “sapping the resistance of the population,” the Pope said.

“The situation is dramatic,” to the point that the people in the town are giving up, wanting to surrender to the enemy, he said. Faced with such despair, a leader of the people suggests that they wait only five more days. If God has not saved them by then, they will surrender.

But then Judith comes onto the scene, “a woman of great beauty and wisdom, she speaks to the people with the language of faith,” Francis said.

“You want to test the Lord Almighty,” the Pope said, quoting the words of Judith, who cautioned the people not to “provoke the wrath of the Lord, our God.” The Lord, she said, “has full power to defend us in the days he wants or even to destroy us by our enemies.”

Referencing the passage, Pope Francis told pilgrims that “we never put conditions on God and give up…instead hope conquers our fears.”

“He is a Father, he can save us,” he said. In this way, “a woman full of faith and courage gives new strength to his people in mortal danger and leads them on the path of hope, revealing this also to us.”

Judith shows us the path to trust, to “wait in peace, prayer and obedience,” Francis said, noting that this sort of resignation is not easy. We must do everything in our power, but “always remaining in the furrow of the Lord’s will.”

In off-the-cuff comments, the Pope said Judith was brave to trust in God as she did, adding that “this is my opinion: women are more courageous than men.”

We can and should ask the Lord for life, health, happiness, he said, but always “in the awareness that God is able to bring life even from death” and that we can experience “peace even in disease, serenity even in solitude, (and) bliss even in tears.”

“We are not the ones who can teach God what to do, what we need,” he said. “He knows better than we do, and we have to trust, because his ways and his thoughts are different from ours.”


By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | Link

Pope Francis: ‘never lose faith in God’s providential care

Pope Francis has invited believers to trust in God’s providential care while doing everything in their power to respond to the challenges that come their way.
He was addressing pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Resuming his ongoing catechesis on Christian hope Pope Francis recalled the courageous figure of Judith, and of how, during the siege of the city of Bethulia by the Assyrian general Holofernes, she urged the despairing population to reinforce its wavering hope in the Lord and ended up proposing a plan that led to victory over the enemy.
The example of this woman of great wisdom and courage, the Pope said, teaches us to trust in the Lord’s providential care, but also, in prayer and obedience, to discern his will and to do everything in our power to respond to the challenges that come our way.
“How often have we felt our trust in God waver? How many times has each of us, perhaps in desperation, been tempted to lose faith and expect the worst?” he said.
Judith’s faith, Pope Francis continued, inspires us to commend ourselves to the Father with trust and obedience.
And remarking on Judith’s courage, the Pope mentioned that in his opinion, women are often more courageous than men…
“Dear brothers and sisters, never impose your conditions on God, but allow Christian hope to defeat your fear. To trust in God means to be unconditionally part of his plan accepting the fact that we are given salvation and His help in ways that are different from what we expect” he said.
God, the Pope continued, knows exactly what it is we are in need of and we must trust Him because his paths and his actions are different to ours.
Judith, a woman full of faith and courage gave strength to her people who were in mortal danger and conducted them on the path of trust. We too, the Pope said, must heed the wise and courageous words of humble women…
“The wise words of grandmothers who often know what to say and how to give encouragement because they have the experience of life; they have suffered, they have trusted in God, and the Lord gives them this gift of showing us how to keep on having faith” he said.
Let us commend ourselves to the Father, Pope Francis concluded, with the same obedience that led Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray: “Not my will, but yours be done”.
(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: Get moving if you want to follow Jesus

 

Commenting on the Gospel account of the paralytic who is lowered from the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching, the Pope said people follow Jesus out of self interest or because they are looking for a comforting word. Even if no intention is totally pure or perfect, he said, the important thing is to follow Jesus. People were drawn to Him because of the “things He said and the way he said them. They understood Him. He healed them and many people followed Him to be healed”.

There were times, said Pope Francis, when Jesus admonished people who were more interested in their own well-being than in the Word of God.

Don’t be Christians to look at life from the balcony and judge others

There were other times, continued the Pope, when people wanted to make Jesus King, thinking He was “the perfect politician!”. But they were wrong and Jesus “went away and hid”. Even so, the Lord let anyone follow Him because He knew that we are all sinners.

The bigger problem, confirmed the Pope, “was not with those who followed Jesus”, but with those who stayed where they were.

“Those who didn’t move…and watched. They were sitting down…watching from the balcony. Their life was not a journey: their life was a balcony! From there they never took risks. They just judged. They were pure and wouldn’t get involved. But their judgements were severe. In their hearts they said: What ignorant people! What superstitious people! How often, when we see the piety of simple people, are we too subject to that clericalism that hurts the Church so much”.

Reflecting on those who don’t move in their lives, Pope Francis referenced the man who “sat beside the pool for 38 years, without moving, embittered by life, without hope…someone else who failed to follow Jesus and had no hope”.

Encountering Jesus means taking risks

But those who did follow Jesus, continued the Pope, were ready to risk in order to meet Him, in order to “find what they wanted”. Going back to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis said “the men who made a hole in the roof took a risk”. They risked the owner of the house suing them and taking them to court to pay for the damages.

They were ready to risk because “they wanted to go to Jesus”.

The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked: because she wanted to be cured, “she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman: women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that”.

Following Jesus, the Pope went on, “isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! And it’s always a risk”. There are times, he said, when we risk “being ridiculous”. But we achieve what counts: “our sins are forgiven”. Beneath whatever request we are making, whether it be for good health or for a solution to a problem, “there’s the desire to be healed in spirit, to be forgiven”. All of us know we are sinners, said Pope Francis, “and that’s why we follow Jesus: to meet Him. So we take risks”.

Beware of a soul that is static, closed and without hope

Let’s ask ourselves, concluded Pope Francis: “Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?” Because “that’s not the way to follow Jesus. That way you don’t move, like those who judge”.

Do we follow Jesus because we need something, or do we follow Him because we are ready to risk? “This is faith: trusting in Jesus, having faith in Jesus. And with this faith in Him, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher down in front of Jesus so he could cure the sick man”. “Do I put my faith in Jesus?”, asked the Pope. “Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?” Am I watching life with a soul that is static, “with a soul that is closed with bitterness and lack of hope? We should each be asking ourselves these questions today”.

Link: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/13/pope_francis_get_moving_if_you_want_to_follow_jesus/1285450

The Pope’s homily on the feast of the Epiphany

Pope Francis presided over Mass for the feast of the Epiphany which was celebrated on Friday in St Peter’s Basilica.

Below is an English translation of the Pope’s homily.

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  For we have observed his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (Mt 2:2).

With these words, the Magi, come from afar, tell us the reason for their long journey: they came to worship the newborn King.  To see and to worship.  These two actions stand out in the Gospel account.  We saw a star and we want to worship.

These men saw a star that made them set out.  The discovery of something unusual in the heavens sparked a whole series of events.  The star did not shine just for them, nor did they have special DNA to be able to see it.  As one of the Church Fathers rightly noted, the Magi did not set out because they had seen the star, but they saw the star because they had already set out (cf. Saint John Chrysostom).  Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness.  They were open to something new.

The Magi thus personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland.  They reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts become anesthetized.

A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present.  A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life.  A holy longing for God is the memory of faith, which rebels before all prophets of doom.  That longing keeps hope alive in the community of believers, which from week to week continues to plead: “Come, Lord Jesus”.

This same longing led the elderly Simeon to go up each day to the Temple, certain that his life would not end before he had held the Saviour in his arms.  This longing led the Prodigal Son to abandon his self-destructive lifestyle and to seek his father’s embrace.  This was the longing felt by the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in order to seek out the one that was lost.  Mary Magdalen experienced the same longing on that Sunday morning when she ran to the tomb and met her risen Master.  Longing for God draws us out of our iron-clad isolation, which makes us think that nothing can change.  Longing for God shatters our dreary routines and impels us to make the changes we want and need.   Longing for God has its roots in the past yet does not remain there: it reaches out to the future.  Believers who feel this longing are led by faith to seek God, as the Magi did, in the most distant corners of history, for they know that there the Lord awaits them.  They go to the peripheries, to the frontiers, to places not yet evangelized, to encounter their Lord.  Nor do they do this out of a sense of superiority, but rather as beggars who cannot ignore the eyes of those who for whom the Good News is still uncharted territory.

An entirely different attitude reigned in the palace of Herod, a short distance from Bethlehem, where no one realized what was taking place.  As the Magi made their way, Jerusalem slept.  It slept in collusion with a Herod who, rather than seeking, also slept.  He slept, anesthetized by a cauterized conscience.  He was bewildered, afraid.  It is the bewilderment which, when faced with the newness that revolutionizes history, closes in on itself and its own achievements, its knowledge, its successes.  The bewilderment of one who sits atop his wealth yet cannot see beyond it.  The bewilderment lodged in the hearts of those who want to control everything and everyone.  The bewilderment of those immersed in the culture of winning at any cost, in that culture where there is only room for “winners”, whatever the price.  A bewilderment born of fear and foreboding before anything that challenges us, calls into question our certainties and our truths, our ways of clinging to the world and this life.  Herod was afraid, and that fear led him to seek security in crime: “You kill the little ones in their bodies, because fear is killing you in your heart” (SAINT QUODVULTDEUS, Sermon 2 on the Creed: PL 40, 655).

We want to worship.  Those men came from the East to worship, and they came to do so in the place befitting a king: a palace.  Their quest led them there, for it was fitting that a king should be born in a palace, amid a court and all his subjects.  For that is a sign of power, success, a life of achievement.  One might well expect a king to be venerated, feared and adulated.  True, but not necessarily loved.  For those are worldly categories, the paltry idols to which we pay homage: the cult of power, outward appearances and superiority.  Idols that promise only sorrow and enslavement.

It was there, in that place, that those men, come from afar, would embark upon their longest journey.  There they set out boldly on a more arduous and complicated journey.  They had to discover that what they sought was not in a palace, but elsewhere, both existentially and geographically.  There, in the palace, they did not see the star guiding them to discover a God who wants to be loved.  For only under the banner of freedom, not tyranny, is it possible to realize that the gaze of this unknown but desired king does not abase, enslave, or imprison us.  To realize that the gaze of God lifts up, forgives and heals.  To realize that God wanted to be born where we least expected, or perhaps desired, in a place where we so often refuse him.  To realize that in God’s eyes there is always room for those who are wounded, weary, mistreated and abandoned.  That his strength and his power are called mercy.  For some of us, how far Jerusalem is from Bethlehem!

Herod is unable to worship because he could not or would not change his own way of looking at things.  He did not want to stop worshiping himself, believing that everything revolved around him.  He was unable to worship, because his aim was to make others worship him.  Nor could the priests worship, because although they had great knowledge, and knew the prophecies, they were not ready to make the journey or to change their ways.

The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare.  They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day.  But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuitousness.  There something new was taking place.  The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out.  And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.

Link:

http://www.news.va/en/news/the-popes-homily-on-the-feast-of-the-epiphany

Pope Francis: Want to see God this Christmas? Be humble

On Christmas Eve, Pope Francis noted how the coming of Jesus as an infant is paradoxical to the images of grandeur that had accompanied the prophesies on the coming of the Messiah, saying this should challenges us to go beyond the ephemeral and focus on what really counts.

“If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the fragile simplicity of a small newborn, the meekness of where he lies, the tender affection of the swaddling clothes. God is there,” the Pope said Dec. 24.

This is the “enduring sign to find Jesus,” he said. “Not just then, but also today.”

He noted how the day’s Gospel reading revealed “a paradox,” speaking of the emperor and mighty people of those times, yet God doesn’t manifest himself there.

Jesus “does not appear in the grand hall of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable; not in pomp and show, but in the simplicity of life; not in power, but in a smallness which surprises,” Francis said.

So if we want to find him, “we need to go there, where he is: we need to bow down, humble ourselves, make ourselves small.”

Pope Francis spoke to attendees of his Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. During this year’s procession, a Vatican police officer and firefighter were chosen to carry the statue of the baby Jesus as a sign of gratitude for the 200th anniversary of the Gendarmerie, as well as the help the firefighters offered to those affected by the earthquakes in Central Italy earlier this fall.

In his homily, the Pope said the Child Jesus “challenges us” by inviting us “to leave behind fleeting illusions and go to the essence, to renounce our insatiable claims, to abandon our endless dissatisfaction and sadness for something we will never have” and rediscover “peace, joy and the meaning of life.”

The infant in the manger is a challenge, but Francis also urged attendees to allow themselves to be challenged by the children of today, “who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father, but rather suffer the squalid mangers that devour dignity.”

Many children today hide underground to escape bombs or are forced to sleep either on the streets of large cities or at the bottom boats overflowing with immigrants, he said, noting that this reality should also challenge us.

“Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.”

Christmas is both a mystery of hope and of sadness, he said, noting how the arrival of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem points us to the indifference of many in the face of those who are discarded.

The same indifference is present modern society “when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized,” he said.

However, Christmas is also a sign of hope, because despite the darkness in our lives, God’s light “shines out.” His gentle light doesn’t make us fearful, but rather, “God who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, born poor and fragile among us, as one of us.”

Pope Francis closed his homily encouraging everyone to let themselves be challenged by Jesus, and walk toward him with trust from the part of us in which we ourselves feel marginalized and limited.

He told them to take time to pause and look at the crib where Jesus was born, imagining the “light, peace, utmost poverty and rejection” that accompanied his birth.

“Let us enter into the real Nativity with the shepherds, taking to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds. Then, in Jesus we will enjoy the flavor of the true spirit of Christmas: the beauty of being loved by God.”

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-want-to-see-god-this-christmas-be-humble-29445/

 

Pope’s Morning Homily: ‘Never Converse With the Devil

Never converse with the devil, who seduces and ruins lives.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, drawing from today’s readings, which continued reflecting on the end of the world, as discussed in the Book of Revelations.

Seducer, Liar, Trickster

The Pontiff noted how in today’s reading the angel seizes the serpent, chains it up and throws it into the abyss, which is then locked and sealed, and stressed that the serpent or devil is thrown into the abyss “so that it would no longer lead the nations astray” because it is the seducer.

“He is a liar and what’s more is the father of lies, he generates lies and is a trickster. He makes you believe that if you eat this apple you will be like a God. He sells it to you like this and you buy it and in the end he tricks you, deceives you and ruins your life.

“‘But father, what can we do to avoid being deceived by the devil?’ Jesus teaches us: never converse with the devil. One does not converse with him. What did Jesus do with the devil?  He chased him away, he asked his name but did not hold a dialogue with him.”

How to Defend Oneself

Pope Francis went on to explain how when Jesus was in the wilderness, he defended himself when replying to the devil by using the Word of God and the Word of the Bible.

Thus, the Argentine Pope stressed, we must never converse with this liar and trickster who seeks our ruin and who for this reason will be thrown into the abyss.

The Holy Father also described how today’s reading shows how the Lord will judge the great and the lowly “according to their deeds,” with the damned being thrown into the pool of fire. Francis described this as the “second death.”

Not a Torture Chamber

“Eternal damnation is not a torture chamber,” he said. “That’s a description of this second death: it is a death. And those who will not be received in the Kingdom of God, it’s because they have not drawn close to the Lord. These are the people who journeyed along their own path, distancing themselves from the Lord and passing in front of the Lord but then choosing to walk away from Him.”

What eternal damnation is, he explained, is “continually distancing oneself from God.”

“It is the worst pain, an unsatisfied heart, a heart that was created to find God but which, out of arrogance and self-confidence, distances itself from God.”

Distancing oneself from God Who gives happiness and Who loves us so much, the Pontiff admonished, is the “fire,” and the road to eternal damnation.

Pointing out how the reading’s final image ends with a vision of hope, Francis noted that if with humility, we open our hearts, we will have joy, salvation, and will receive Jesus’ forgiveness.

“Hope is what opens our hearts to the encounter with Jesus. This is what awaits us: the encounter with Jesus. It’s beautiful, very beautiful,” Pope Francis said, concluding, “He asks us only to be humble and say ‘Lord.’ It’s enough to say that word and He will do the rest.”

https://zenit.org/articles/popes-morning-homily-never-converse-with-the-devil/