The day’s Gospel tells how a leper approached Jesus, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean”. In his homily, Pope Francis said that the leper’s request is a simple prayer, “an act of confidence” — but at the same time, “a true challenge”. It is plea that comes from the depths of his heart, which also reveals something about Jesus and His compassion for us. Jesus, the Pope said, suffers “with and for us”, He takes the suffering of others upon Himself, comforting them and healing them in the name the love of the Father.
Reflecting on the “simple” story of the healing of the leper, Pope Francis said that the phrase, “If you will…” is a prayer that “gets God’s attention”. “It is a challenge”, he said, “but also an act of confidence: I know that He can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him”.
Pope Francis on Monday (Jan 13) repeated his support for celibacy after his predecessor pope Benedict XVI urged him not to open the Catholic priesthood up to married men, in a plea that stunned Vatican experts.
“Personally I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. Secondly, I don’t think optional celibacy should be allowed. No.” Pope said.
Francis is currently considering allowing it in remote locations, such as the Amazon, where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests, and is expected to publish his decision in the coming weeks.
Benedict, who was the first pontiff to resign in almost 600 years, at first withdrew to a life of quiet contemplation in the Vatican, but has increasingly begun to speak out on key Catholic issues.
Earlier this week, the president of the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, issued a statement about the “unprecedented” crisis facing the country. Like Pope Francis, he too called for prayer, noting that “A genuine Catholic response to a crisis of this magnitude must draw strength from prayer which inspires concrete and compassionate action”.
Archbishop Coleridge announced that the Bishops Conference is preparing a national response to the fires, including assistance to those affected by the fires, collaboration with aid agencies, and a special collection to be taken up this weekend.
“With broad and deep roots across the nation”, the Archbishop said, “the Church stands ready to walk alongside people throughout their journey of recovery”.
The pontiff was outside St. Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve, walking down the rope line, stopping to shake hands with the cheering crowd, and there was a woman crosses herself and folds her hands, as if in prayer, as the pope draws closer. She stares intently, but he has begun to turn away. She reaches out and grabs him, with one hand, then another. She yanks him backward and will not let go.
The Pope reacted sharply, exclaimed something and then slapped her hand so she would let him go. In his impromptu remarks on Wednesday, Francis said people often lose patience, including him.
“Love makes us patient,” he said, adding, after briefly choking up, “We often lose our patience; me, too, and I apologize for my bad example last night.”
From the womb of Mother Church, the incarnate Son of God is born anew this night. His name is Jesus, which means: “God saves”. The Father, eternal and infinite Love, has sent him into the world not to condemn the world but to save it (cf. Jn 3:17). The Father has given him to us with great mercy. He has given him to everyone. He has given him forever. The Son is born, like a small light flickering in the cold and darkness of the night… Jesus the light of the world.
This is why the prophet cries out: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1). There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still. There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ.
May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May he soften our often stony and self-centred hearts, and make them channels of his love. May he bring his smile, through our poor faces, to all the children of the world: to those who are abandoned and those who suffer violence. Through our frail hands, may he clothe those who have nothing to wear, give bread to the hungry and heal the sick. Through our friendship, such as it is, may he draw close to the elderly and the lonely, to migrants and the marginalized. On this joyful Christmas Day, may he bring his tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world.
Read the full version of His Holiness Pope’s message; http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/urbi/documents/papa-francesco_20191225_urbi-et-orbi-natale.html
The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves: what is it that I am waiting for in my life? What is the great desire of my heart? You too, with your songs, help awaken or reawaken this healthy human “yearning” in the hearts of many people. Deep down, it is God Himself who puts this desire, this “thirst” in our hearts. And He comes to meet us by this route. Certainly not in the vain compulsion to acquire possessions or to keep up appearances. It is not there that God comes; no one will meet on that route. But surely He comes wherever there is hunger and thirst for peace, hunger and thirst for justice, freedom and love.
In this act of humility, we find ourselves before a disconcerting mystery. God is unpredictable and constantly acts in unforeseeable ways. By taking us aback in this way, He constantly invites us not to grow proud but to grasp His disarming power in every little gesture of goodwill. This is all the more true for those who – like you – work closely with young people, and have a certain influence on their ways of thinking and acting. Speaking about your role, Saint Paul VI observed that the world “needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the heart of man; it is that precious fruit that resists the wear and tear of time, unites generations and makes them share in wonderment” (Address of Pope Paul VI to Artists, 8 December 1965).
Read more Holy Father Frances’s greeting the audience, in the Vatical Apostolic Palace last Saturday; http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2019/12/13/191213c.html
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we see how with the passage of time Paul’s missionary apostolate is increasingly marked by suffering. His return to Jerusalem exposes him to a fierce persecution. Accused of preaching against the Law and the Temple, he is arrested and put in chains. After being interrogated by the Sanhedrin, Paul is taken to Caesarea where the Governor Felix and King Agrippa hear his case. Finally, having appealed to the Emperor, he begins his journey to Rome. In all this, Saint Luke brings out the similarity between Paul and Jesus, and presents Paul’s sufferings as themselves an eloquent proclamation of the crucified and risen Lord. Indeed, his love for Christ made his chains of captivity an instrument for spreading the liberating power of the Gospel. May Paul’s example of perseverance amid trials, and his ability to view everything with the eyes of faith, strengthen us in fidelity, and confirm us in our vocation to be missionary disciples and witnesses to the joy of the Gospel.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. I pray that each of you, and your families, may experience a blessed Advent, in preparation for the coming of the newborn Saviour at Christmas. May God bless you!
Pope Francis’s General Audience on the Acts of the Apostles: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-12/pope-francis-general-audience-11-december-2019.html