Before the Angelus
After the Angelus
At midday today, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.
The following is the Pope’s introduction to the Marian prayer:
Before the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today’s Gospel reading (see Lk 12, 13-21) begins with the scene of a man who stands up in the crowd and asks Jesus to settle a legal question regarding the inheritance of a family. But in His answer, He does not address the question, and urges the man to keep his distance from covetousness, that is, from the desire to possess. To distract His listeners from this tireless search for wealth, Jesus recounts the parable of the rich fool who believes he is happy because he has had the good fortune of an exceptional year and feels secure for the goods he has accumulated. It is useful if you read it today; it is in the twelfth chapter of Saint Luke, verse 13. It is a beautiful parable that teaches a lot. The story comes to life when there emerges the contrast between what the rich man plans for himself and what God on the other hand foresees for him.
The rich man places before his soul, that is himself, three considerations: the many goods he has amassed, the many years that these goods seem to guarantee him and third, tranquillity and boundless wellbeing. But the word that God addresses to him cancels out these plans of his. Instead of “many years”, God indicates the immediacy of “this night; tonight you will die”; instead of the “enjoyment of life”, He presents him “rendering life; you will render your life to God”, with the consequent judgement. With regard to the reality of the many goods accumulated on which the rich man was to base everything, this is covered by the sarcasm of the question, “Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (20). Let us think of the battles over inheritances, many quarrels in the family. And many people, we all know of some story, who from the time of death start to come: nephews, grandchildren, come to see: “But what is due to me?”, and they take away everything. It is in this juxtaposition that the name “fool”, with which God addresses this man, is justified – because he things of things that he believes to be concrete but they are a fantasy. He is a fool because in practice he has denied God, he has not settled his accounts with Him.
The conclusion of the parable, formulated by the evangelist, is uniquely effective. “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (21). It is a warning that reveals the horizon towards which we are all called to look. Material goods are necessary – they are goods! – but they are a means for living honestly and in sharing with those most in need. Jesus today invites us to consider that wealth can enchain the heart and distract it from the true treasure that is in heaven. Saint Paul also reminds us of this in today’s second reading. He says “Set your hearts on things above … Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3: 1-2).
This – it is understood – does not mean alienating oneself from reality, but seeking things with true value: justice, solidarity, acceptance, fraternity, peace, all things that constitute the true dignity of man. It is about tending towards a life realized not in a worldly style, but rather following the style of the Gospel: loving God with all our being, and loving our neighbour as Jesus loved him, that is in service and in the gift of self. Greed for goods, the desire to have goods, does not satiate the heart; rather, it provokes more hunger! Greed is like those good sweets: you take one and say, “Ah, how good it is!”, and then you take another; one leads to another. Greed is like this: it never satiates. Beware! Love understood and lived in this way is the wellspring of true happiness, while the endless search for material goods and wealth is often the source of restlessless, adversity, prevarications, wars. Many wars begin because of greed.
May the Virgin Mary help us not to let ourselves be fascinated by passing sureties, but every day to be credible witnesses to the eternal values of the Gospel.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am spiritually close to the victims of the episodes of violence that have caused bloodshed in Texas, California and Ohio, in the United States, harming defenceless people. I invite you to join in my prayer for those who have lost their life, for the injured and for their families.
One hundred and sixty years ago today, the holy Curé of Ars died. He was a model of goodness and charity to all priests. On this significant anniversary, I wished to send a letter to priests all over the world, to encourage them in their fidelity to the mission to which the Lord has called them. May the witness of this humble parish priest, totally dedicated to his people, help us to rediscover the beauty and the importance of the priestly ministry in contemporary society.
I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims from various countries: families, associations, individual faithful.
Today there are several groups of children and young people present. I greet you with great affection! Where there are young people, there is noise, and this is a grace. In particular, I greet the female basketball teams from the American universities of New Mexico and Nebraska; the youth pastoral group from Verona; the young people of Brenta, Entratico and Cerese; and the seminarians from the minor seminary of Bergamo.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch, and goodbye.