Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 1 September 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First of all, I have to apologize for my delay but there was a mishap: I was detained in the elevator for 25 minutes! There was a drop in tension and the lift stopped. Thank God the firefighters came — I thank them very much! — and after working for 25 minutes they were able to get it going. A round of applause for the firefighters!
This Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Lk 14:7-14) shows us Jesus participating in a feast in the house of one of the head Pharisees. Jesus watches and observes how the guests run, make haste to get the best seats. It is rather common behaviour in our time too, and not only when we are invited to lunch: one frequently seeks a place of honour in order to assert a presumed superiority over others. In reality this race to the forefront harms both civil and ecclesial communities because it destroys fraternity. We all know these people: social climbers who always clamber upwards in order to move up, up.... They harm fraternity, they damage fraternity. Faced with this scene, Jesus recounts two short parables.
The first parable is addressed to one who is invited to a feast and Jesus exhorts him not to “sit down in a place of honour, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come, and say to you, ‘Please, move back, give place to this man’”. An embarrassment! And “then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place” (cf. vv. 8-9). Jesus instead teaches us to behave in the opposite way: “when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’” (v. 10). Thus, we should not seek the attention and regard of others on our own initiative but, if anything, let others offer them to us. Jesus always shows us the way of humility — we must learn the way of humility! — because it is the most authentic way, which also allows one to enjoy authentic relationships. True humility, not false humility, the kind they call in Piedmont, mugna quacia. No, not that kind. True humility.
In the second parable, Jesus addresses the one who invites and, referring to the method of selecting guests, says to him: “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (vv. 13-14). Here too, Jesus goes completely against the tide, manifesting as always, the logic of God the Father. And he also adds the key by which to interpret this discourse of his. And what is the key? A promise: if you do this, you “will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (v. 14). This means that those who behave in this way will receive divine compensation, far superior to human repayment: I do this favour for you expecting you to do one for me. No, this is not Christian. Humble generosity is Christian. Indeed, human repayment usually distorts relationships, making them “commercial” by bringing personal interest into a relationship that should be generous and free. Instead, Jesus encourages selfless generosity, to pave our way toward a much greater joy, the joy of partaking in the very love of God who awaits us, all of us, at the heavenly banquet.
May the Virgin Mary, “humble beyond all creatures and more exalted” (Dante, Paradiso, xxxiii, 2), help us to recognize ourselves as we are, that is, small; and to give joyfully, without repayment.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, today, 1 September, is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, an ecumenical prayer that raises our awareness and commitment to caring for our common home, starting with a more sustainable personal and family lifestyle. From today until 4 October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, it is a favourable time to praise God for all his creatures and to assume responsibility before the cry of the Earth.
I greet all of you who have come from Italy and from various parts of the world. I greet in particular the Ukrainian pilgrims — Slava Jisusu Khristu! — who have come from various countries for the occasion of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which will take place in Rome in the coming days. I greet the Sisters of the Institute of Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo and the young people in formation — thank you! Thank you for your witness! Thank you for what you do and for what you teach us; onward, keep going!; the cyclists from Cunardo and the faithful from Cerro di Bottanuco; the Catholic Action group of Lecce and the young people from San Matteo della Decima, Gallo Farnese and Capriate San Gervasio.
On Wednesday, God willing, I will depart for an Apostolic Journey to Africa to visit the peoples of Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius. I ask you to accompany me with your prayers so that this pastoral visit may bear the desired fruits.
On 5 October I will hold a Consistory to appoint 10 new cardinals. Their nationalities express the missionary vocation of the Church that continues to proclaim God’s merciful love to all the men and women of the world. These are the names of the new cardinals:
Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, mccj, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Archbishop José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church; Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta; Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez of San Cristóbal de la Habana; Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, ofm cap. of Kinshasa; Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, sj, of Luxembourg; Bishop Álvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri of Huehuetenango; Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna; Archbishop Cristóbal López Romero, sdb, of Rabat; Fr Michael Czerny, sj, Undersecretary of the Section for Migrants of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Along with them, I will also add to the College of Cardinals two Archbishops and a Bishop who have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church: Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, m. afr. Archbishop of Nepte; Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevičius, sj, Archbishop emeritus of Kaunas, and Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso, psdp, Bishop emeritus of Benguela.
Let us pray for the new cardinals, that in confirming their adherence to Christ, they may help me in my ministry as the Bishop of Rome for the good of all the holy faithful People of God.
And I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch! Arrivederci!
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