Jesus is not a professor who speaks from the professor’s chair; rather, He goes among the people and lets them touch Him so that they can be healed. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass this morning at Santa Marta.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
Commenting on the day’s Gospel, Pope Francis reflected on three moments in the life of Jesus. The first is prayer. Jesus “spent the night in prayer to God.” Jesus prays for us. “It seems a little strange,” the Pope said, “that He who came to give us salvation, who has the power, prays to the Father.” And He prayed often. “Jesus is the great intercessor”:
“He stands before the Father in this moment, praying for us. And this should give us courage! Because in moments of difficulty or of need… [He] is praying: ‘But you are praying for me. Pray for me. Jesus, pray for me to the Father!’ It is His work today: praying for us, for His Church. We often forget this, that Jesus prays for us. This is our strength: to be able to say to the Father, ‘But if you, Father, will not consider us, consider your Son who prays for us.’ From the first moment Jesus prays: He prayed when He was on earth and He continues to pray now for each one of us, for the whole Church.”
After praying, Jesus chooses the twelve Apostles. The Lord says clearly, “It was not you who chose Me; I chose you!” “This second moment,” the Pope said, “gives us courage: ‘I am chosen, I am chosen by the Lord! On the day of Baptism He chose me.’ And Paul, with this in mind, said: ‘He chose me, from my mother’s womb’.” So we Christians have been called:
“These are things of love! Love does not consider whether someone has an ugly face or a beautiful face: it loves! And Jesus does the same: He loves and chooses with love. He chooses all. In His list, no one is ‘important’ – in inverted commas – according to the criteria of the world: it is the common people. But there is one thing, yes, one thing to emphasize about all of them: they are sinners. Jesus has chosen sinners. He chooses sinners. And this is the accusation made by the doctors of the law, the scribes: ‘This man goes to eat with sinners, he talks to prostitutes…’ Jesus calls everyone! Let us call to mind the parable of the wedding of the son. When those who were invited did not come, what did the master of the house do? The Gospel says he told his servants: ‘Go out and bring everyone to the house, good and bad.’ Jesus has chosen everyone.”
Jesus, the Pope continued, even chose Judas Iscariot “who became the traitor… the greatest sinner toward Him. But he was chosen by Jesus.”
Then there was the third moment: “Jesus near to the people.” They came in great multitudes “to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases… Everyone in the crowd sought to touch Him because power came forth from Him and healed them all.” Jesus is in the midst of His people:
“He is not a professor, a teacher, a mystic who is far from the people and speaks from the professor’s chair [It: cattedra]. No! He is in the midst of the people, He lets them touch Him, He lets them ask of Him. That’s Jesus: close to the people. And this nearness is not something new for Him. He emphasizes it in His way of acting, but it is something that comes out of God’s first choice of His people. God says to His people, ‘Consider: What people has a God as close as I am to you?’ God’s closeness to His people is the closeness of Jesus amid the crowds.”
“This is our Master, this is our Lord,” the Pope concluded. “One who prays, one who chooses the people, and one who is not ashamed to be close to the people. And this gives us confidence in Him. Let us trust in Him because He prays, because He has chosen us, and because He is close to us.”
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the presentation by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, of the participants in the upcoming Synod in October 2014:
“Why are two full pages of names being published today in the Osservatore Romano? Because these names correspond to people from all over the world, who will take part in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (5-19 October) on the theme: “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. The aim of the meeting is to propose to today's world the beauty and the values of the family, which emerge from the proclamation of Jesus Christ Who disperses fear and supports hope.
Synodus – which means 'taking a path together' – is the expression that indicates the eccesial space in which we convene in order to meet and to reflect – in the dual faith in God and man – before today's challenges to the family. The list that follows is made up of representatives from the five continents, subdivided as follows: 114 presidents of Episcopal Conferences, 13 heads of the 'sui iuris' Eastern Catholic Churches, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, 9 members of the Ordinary Council of the Secretariat, the secretary general, the under-secretary, 3 nominees from the Union of Superior Generals, and 26 pontifical nominees. Other participants include 8 fraternal delegates, 38 auditors, including 13 married couples, and 16 experts. The total number of participants in the Synod Assembly is 253.
In the dynamic of the renewal of the Church ordered by Pope Francis, the updating of the institution of the Synod is explained in particular in the preparatory process and in the process of the Assemblies themselves. This project, initiated with the convocation of the Synod Assembly, is developing in a new and renewed way, with concrete actions. The criterion for renewal is that of first painting the picture and then adding the frame. The rules in force provide the track along which the train of renewal proceeds. As we go ahead, the steps necessary for changing the rules or eventually setting about a full reconstruction of the Synod as an entity will become evident.
The itinerary of the next Synod will be divided into two phases: the Extraordinary General Assembly of 2014 and the Ordinary General Assembly of 2015. A new working methodology will be applied, rendering the process more dynamic and participatory, with speeches and testimonials, always with a view to continuity towards the second stage, after which the Synod document will be published”.
(Vatican Radio) On the day the Church celebrates the Nativity of Our Lady, Pope Francis dedicated his homily to Creation and God’s journey with us through history. He said when we read the Book of Genesis, "there is the danger of thinking that God was a magician" who did things "with a magic wand." But, he warned, "it was not so because, God made things and allowed them to proceed with internal, interior laws that He gave to each one, so that they could develop and arrive at fullness”. “The Lord gave autonomy but not independence to the things of the universe”.
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"For God is not a magician, He is the Creator! But when on the sixth day, of that story, He comes to create man, He gives him another autonomy, somewhat different, but not independent: an autonomy that is freedom. He tells the man to go forward in history, He makes man responsible for the creation, so that he would dominate creation, bring it forward and arrive at the fullness of time. And what was the fullness of time? What He had in his heart: the arrival of His Son. Because God – as we heard from Paul - has predestined us, all of us, to be conformed to the image of the Son".
Pope Francis continued: “This is the path of humanity, it is mankind’s journey. God wanted us to be like His Son and His Son to be like us". The Pope spoke of the passage from today's Gospel that recounts the genealogy of Jesus. "There are saints and sinners too on this list, but history continues because God has willed that all men be free”. And even if it is true that when man “misused his freedom, God drove him out of Paradise" He also "made a promise, so man left Paradise with hope. A sinner, but with hope". "Mankind did not make this journey alone: God walks with us. Because God chose an option: he opted for time, not for the moment. He is the God of time, He is the God of history, He is the God who walks with His children". Until the "fullness of time" when His Son becomes man. God "walks with the righteous and the sinners." He walks "with everyone, to arrive at that encounter, the final encounter of man with Him".
The Pope noted that the Gospel brings this century-long story to an end "in a tiny thing, in a small village" with Joseph and Mary. "The God of great history - he noted - is also in that little story there, because He wants to walk with everyone". Francis quoted from St. Thomas, who stated: "Do not fear the great things, but also have regard for the small, this is divine”. "And this is how God is, He is in the great things, but also in the small”.
"He is the Lord who walks…and He is the Lord of patience. The patience of God. The patience he has had with all these generations. With all these people who have lived their story of grace and sin, God is patient. God walks with us, because He wants us all to come to be conformed to the image of His Son. And from the hour that He gave us the freedom in creation - not independence - until today, He continues to walk with us".
And so, therefore, "we come to Mary". Today, the Pope said, "we are in the antechamber of this story: the birth of the Virgin Mary". “Let us ask in prayer that the Lord will give us the unity to walk together and peace of heart. This is today’s grace":
"Today we can look at Our Lady, the small, holy child without sin, pure and predestined to become the Mother of God and also look at the story that lies behind her, so long, over centuries and ask: 'How do I journey in my story? Do I allow God walk with me? Do I allow Him walk with me or do I want to walk alone? Do I let Him caress me, help me, forgive me, carry me forward so that I may arrive at the encounter with Jesus Christ? 'This will be the end of our journey: an encounter with the Lord. It would do us all good to ask ourselves this question today. ‘Do I let God be patient with me?'. And so, looking at this great story, and even this small village, we can praise the Lord and humbly ask that He give us peace, that peace of heart that only He can give us, that He only gives us when we let Him walk with us".
(Vatican Radio) A solemen commemoration of the lives lost in World War I, Mass with the elderly, with Albania’s Catholic community and the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage with couples in St Peter’s basilica are just some of Pope Francis' liturgical appointments this September.
Wednesday morning the Office for Papal Liturgical Celebrations issued the month’s schedule confirming four main liturgies that will be presided by the Holy Father.
On Saturday September 13, Pope Francis travels to the Northern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia- Giulia. There he will visit the monumental World War I military cemetery in Redipuglia and pay homage to the 100 thousand soldiers buried there with a solemn Eucharistic celebration.
The next day, September14, Pope Francis will celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross with Mass in St. Peter’s basilica, during which he will witness the Sacrament of Marriage of 20 couples.
On September 21, during his one day Apostolic Visit to the Church in Albanian the Holy Father will preside at Sunday Mass.
The following Sunday, September 28, Pope Francis will close the month by celebrating Mass with a congregation of elderly people.
All of these liturgies will be streamed live with audio available in English on Vatican Radio’s Vatican Player.