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Pope condemns “inhuman violence” of recent terror attacks

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his sorrow for a series of deadly terror attacks in recent days and condemned the “inhuman violence” that spawned them. His remarks came after his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. 

Please see below a translation into English of the Pope’s remarks after the Angelus prayer:

“We carry in our hearts the pain over the terroristic attacks in recent days that have claimed numerous victims in Burkina Faso, in Spain and in Finland.” Let us pray for those who died, for the wounded and for their families and let us implore the Lord, the God of mercy and of peace, to free the world from this inhuman violence.”

 

Earlier before the recitation of the Marian prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading where Jesus healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman, describing the mother as an example of perseverance and having a “courageous and unshakable faith.”

The Pope said this Gospel reading from Matthew gives us an unusual example of faith in Jesus coming from a Canaanite woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter saying she is “tormented by a devil.”

The (initial) apparent lack of response from Jesus, said the Pope, “does not discourage this courageous woman who persists in her plea.” He went on to explain that “the inner strength of this woman which enables her to overcome every obstacle” springs from “her maternal love and her faith that Jesus can grant her request.”

This account, the Pope continued, “makes me think about the strength of women” who “with their strength are able to obtain great things.”

Faced with her persistence, in the end Jesus is struck “by the faith of this pagan woman” said the Pope, and tells the mother her desire is granted and so her daughter is healed.

This Gospel reading, he continued, “helps us to understand that all of us need to grow in our faith and strengthen our faith in Jesus.”

“He can help us to rediscover the way when we have lost our bearings”, when the road forward appears uphill and "arduous" and when “it is difficult to remain faithful to our duties.”

Pope Francis concluded his reflections by stressing the importance of “nourishing our faith each day by listening carefully to the Word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments and with “our personal prayer like a ‘cry’ towards Him, and with concrete acts of charity towards our neighbour.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Apostolic Nuncio: 'Card Parolin to build bridges and dialogue in Russia'

(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin travels to Russia for a state visit on 21-24 August out of a desire to "build bridges and increase mutual understanding and dialogue" and to "multiply opportunities of encounter" with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, made that assessment of the Secretary of State's trip in an interview with Susy Hodges.

Listen to the full interview:

Archbishop Migliore said the Holy See "is following with attention and concern the various crises underway throughout the world."

Cardinal Parolin's four-day visit to Russia, he said, offers a way "to contribute to a peaceful resolution" to those crises, as he will call "for goodwill, opportunities, and understanding among the main actors on the international scene."

Turning to the relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Archbishop Migliore said Pope Francis' meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Havana in February 2016 "led to an important new stage in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church".

"It is now a question of walking together in the Gospel footsteps, multiplying opportunities for fraternal encounter, exchange of views and experiences, proclamation of the Gospel, and cooperation in the service to human society."

Archbishop Migliore said Cardinal Parolin was invited by "top Russian authorities" and that he would meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov.

He will also meet with Patriarch Kirill and the Catholic bishops and community.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin's visit to Russia is seen as a completion of the tour he has made of the region over the past few years.

Since his appointment as Secretary of State in 2013, Cardinal Parolin has visited Belarus, the Caucasus nations, the Baltic countries, and Ukraine.

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican releases logo, motto of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Peru

(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican has released the official logo and motto for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Peru, which takes place on 18-21 January 2018.

Listen to Devin Watkins' report:

“United for Hope” (Unidos por la esperanza) is the official motto for the Journey, signifying that the encounter will be “a great feast of hope to be received in unity”.

Logo

The logo expresses the Pope’s closeness to the Peruvian people and his accompaniment of their journey of faith.

Two outstretched hands under the motto and date of the visit evoke the colors of the Peruvian and Vatican flags: red and yellow, respectively.

They form the shape of wings as a sign of prayer, praise, and joy for the arrival of Pope Francis in Peru.

To the left, Pope Francis joyfully reaches out of a map of Peru in a sign of closeness to the country and of unity with it.

Third papal visit to Peru

Pope Francis becomes the second Pope to visit Peru, following Pope St. John Paul II’s two visits in 1985 and 1988.

Thirty years then since the last papal visit, Peru requested that Pope Francis journey there, in order to strengthen the bond between God and his Peruvian people and to aid in “a new missionary awakening” in the country.

(from Vatican Radio)

XX Sunday - August 20, 2017

Is 56: 1, 6-7 : Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32:  Mt 15: 21-28

Anecdote:Never give up!”:  Many years ago in Illinois, a young man with six months schooling to his credit ran for an office in the legislature. As might have been expected, he was beaten. Next, he entered business but failed in that too, and spent the next seventeen years paying the debts of his worthless partner. He fell in love with a charming lady, they became engaged – and she died. He had a nervous breakdown. He ran for Congress and was defeated. He then tried to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Land Office but didn’t succeed. He became a candidate for the Vice-Presidency and lost. Two years later he was defeated in a race for the Senate. He ran for President and finally was elected. That man was Abraham Lincoln.     Today’s Gospel episode of healing gives us the same message in a more powerful way.

 Introduction: All three readings today speak of the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” although salvation was offered first to the Jews Although God set the Hebrew people apart as His chosen race, He included all nations in His plan for salvation and blessed all families of the earth in Abraham (Gn 12:1-3). By declaring through the prophet Isaiah (the first reading), “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” God reveals the truth that in His eyes there is no distinction among human beings on the basis of race, caste or color.  Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) rejects all types of religious exclusivity: "Let all the peoples praise You, O God; …For You judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth, so that Your saving power may be known among all the nations." In the second reading, Paul explains that, although the Jews were the chosen people, God turned to the Gentiles who received mercy through their Faith in Jesus. In the Gospel story, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong Faith. Thus, Jesus shows that God's mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.

The first reading explained, (Is 56: 1, 6-7): The third part of the book of the prophet Isaiah (chapters 56-66), was written mainly for the Jews who were returning from the Babylonian exile to join their relatives who had been left behind in Judea. But today’s lesson is primarily addressed to those Jews who, after the Exile had officially ended, still chose to remain in Babylon as Jews among the Gentiles. In this passage, the Lord God not only pleaded with these people who preferred exile to the labor of returning to the Promised Land to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, but also tried to make them understand the role the Gentiles would have in their restored kingdom. Though in the past all who came to the God of Israel were required to accept the Law and the Covenant, God’s concern for those outside that Covenant led Him to a new and radical solution. “The foreigners,” the Lord God declared through Isaiah, “who join themselves to Yahweh, ministering to Him, loving the name of Yahweh and becoming His servants . . . them I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer . . . for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Thus Isaiah's prophecy consoled those Jews who had married Gentiles by assuring them that their God was equally interested in the people of other nations and in the descendants of Abraham. In short, the prophet reports, everyone has a part to play in God’s plan — even those who don’t belong to the “true religion.”

In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) the Psalmist sings God’s blessing on the people of Israel and calls on all nations and peoples to praise God. The Psalm is a response to Yahweh’s declaration in the first reading that the Gentiles will be accepted at the altar of Yahweh.

Second Reading (Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32) explained: In Romans 9 – 11, Paul asks how God could apparently go back on His promise  to Abraham that Abraham's descendants would always be God's chosen people. Paul answers his own question by explaining that it had been God's plan he should turn to the Gentiles and bring them into the Covenant. Frustrated by the slow pace of Jewish conversions, Paul devoted his preaching mission to the Gentiles.  Thus, God’s secret plan to invite all people into the Covenant would be revealed and completed. Paul was convinced that the Jewish nation would eventually accept Christ because God's ”irrevocable” call, given to them through Abraham, was a call to eternal salvation. Paul's failure to convert his fellow-Jews serves as a model for us who must accept failure in our own lives, especially when it concerns our loved ones who refuse what we judge to be to their advantage. 

Gospel exegesis: The significance of the miracle: The Gospels describe only two miraculous healings Jesus performed for Gentiles:  the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:10-12) in Capernaum, and the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman which we hear today. The encounter with the Canaanite woman took place outside Jewish territory in Tyre and Sidon, two coastal cities, twenty-five and fifty miles north of Galilee in present-day Lebanon.  The story of this miracle is told by Mark (7:24-30) as well as by Matthew (15:21-23).  Both miracles foreshadow the extension of the Gospel, the Good News, to the whole world.   The woman in the today’s miracle belonged to the old Canaanite stock of the Syro-Phoenician race.  The Canaanites were regarded as pagans and idolaters and, hence, as ritually unclean.  But this woman showed “a gallant and an audacious love which grew until it worshipped at the feet of the Divine, an indomitable persistence springing from an unconquerable hope, a cheerfulness which would not be dismayed” (Fr. James Rowland).  By granting the persistent request of the pagan woman, Jesus demonstrates that his mission is to break down the barriers and to remove the long-standing walls of division and mutual prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles. God does not discriminate but welcomes all who believe in Him, who ask for His mercy and who try to do His will.

Trustful persistence rewarded.  Jesus first ignores both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples to send the woman away. He then tries to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal, telling her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  But the woman is persistent in her request. She kneels before him and begs, "Lord, help me."  Now Jesus makes a seemingly harsh statement, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." The term "dogs" was a derogatory Jewish word for the Gentiles. Dogs were regarded by the Jews as unclean, because they would eat anything given to them, including pork. The woman noticed, however, that Jesus had used the word kunariois--the word for household pets – rather than the   ordinary Greek word for dogs - kuon.   She also observed that Jesus had used the word for dogs in a joking way – a sort of test of the woman's Faith.  So she immediately matched wits with Jesus. Her argument runs like this:  Pets are not outsiders but insiders.  They not only belong to the family, but are part of the family. While they do not have a seat at the table, they enjoy intimacy at the family's feet.  Hence, the woman replied: "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table" (v. 27), expressing her Faith that Jesus could and would heal her daughter.  Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and responded exuberantly, "Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish." We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he granted her request and finally, the fourth time, her persistence was rewarded and her plea was answered.  This Gospel episode is an account of a woman who got more from the Kingdom of God than she hoped for. The woman came to Jesus asking for one miracle and she got two. This is really a double miracle, for the daughter was exorcised of her demonic possession and received a new life, and the mother, through her experience with Christ, found a new life as well. The greatness of this woman's Faith consists in: a) her willingness to cross the barrier of racism; b) her refusal to be put off or ignored because of her position in life and c) her humility in admitting that she did not deserve the Master’s attention and time.

Life messages: #1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence.  Although the essential parts of prayer are adoration and thanksgiving, the prayer of petition plays a big part in most people’s daily life. We cannot provide, by our unaided selves, for our spiritual and temporal needs. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: "Ask and you shall receive." Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have the "great Faith” we need to be able to receive all that Christ wants to grant us in response to our requests. We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we need, what He wants for us and what is really best for us.  What we need most is to receive the peace and security that come from being in harmony with God's will for us.  As Christians, we also know that our particular requests may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our, or their, eternal harm. But if the prayer is sincere and persevering, we will always get an answer – one which is better than what we asked for. Hence let us trust that every time we pray for something, the answer is already on its way before we even asked God. We just need to trust God’s timetable and infinite wisdom that he will answer us according to His will and purpose.

#2) We need to pull down our walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love: Very often we set up walls which separate us from God and from one another. Today's Gospel reminds us that God's love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are. In other words, God’s care extends beyond the boundaries of race and nation to the hearts of all who live, and God’s House should become a House of prayer for all peoples. It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls which our pride, intolerance and prejudice have raised, may crumble. Next, we have to be grateful to God for all the blessings we enjoy. As baptized members of the Christian community, we have been given special privileges and easy access to God's love.  But we also have serious responsibilities arising from these gifts. One of these responsibilities is to make clear to others, with true humility and compassion, that God's love, mercy and healing are for them also because they too are the children of God.(Fr. Antony Kadavil)

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday.

The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto, is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat. “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.”

Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble.

God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility.

In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.”

And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace, “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Angelus: Listen to the Lord not horoscopes or fortune tellers

(Vatican Radio)"When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square.

He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report:

The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.”

Peter's invocation: "Lord, command me to come to you!" And his cry, "Lord, save me", the Holy Father noted  “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.”

Pope Francis explained, that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,   “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting  horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”.

The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.

But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)