VATICAN CITY. Francis expresses his apprehension about “security on the European continent”. The Pope refers to the hostilities regarding Ukraine, which worry him a lot. Therefore he announces a “day of prayer for peace” to be held on Wednesday. He communicates this to today’s Angelus, during which he asks the priests not to give more homilies than generic ones that do not affect people’s lives: “When the faithful begin to look at the clock -” when will this end? ” – they put the soul to sleep. If you want to give lessons, conferences, do it, but somewhere else ».
The Bishop of Rome, looking out of the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Marian Prayer with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the usual Sunday appointment, points out that in today’s Gospel “we see Jesus inaugurating his preaching: it is the first sermon of Jesus. He goes to Nazareth, where he grew up, and participates in prayer in the synagogue. He gets up to read and, in the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, finds the passage concerning the Messiah, who proclaims a message of consolation and liberation for the poor and oppressed. After reading, “everyone’s eyes were fixed on him” ». And Jesus begins «by saying: ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled’». The Bishop of Rome invites us to dwell «on this today. It is the first word of Jesus’ preaching reported by the Gospel of Luke. Pronounced by the Lord, it indicates a “today” that crosses every age and remains always valid ». The Word of God is always “today”. A “today” begins: when you read the Word of God, a “today” begins in your soul, if you understand it correctly. Today. Isaiah’s prophecy dated back centuries, but Jesus, “with the power of the Spirit”, makes it current and, above all, brings it to completion and indicates the way to receive the Word of God: today ». Not as an “ancient story, no: today.” Today speak to your heart ».
Pope Francis observes: «Jesus’ fellow villagers are struck by his word. Even if, clouded by prejudices, they do not believe him, they realize that his teaching is different from that of other teachers: they intuit that there is more in Jesus ”. What? There is “the anointing of the Holy Spirit”. At this point Jorge Mario Bergoglio observes and says: “Sometimes, it happens that our sermons and our teachings remain generic, abstract, they do not touch the soul and life of the people”. And why? «Because they lack the strength of this today, what Jesus” fills with meaning “with the power of the Spirit is today. Today he is talking to you. Yes, sometimes you hear impeccable lectures, well-constructed speeches, which however do not move the heart and so everything remains as before. Many homilies too – I say this with respect but with pain – are abstract, and instead of waking the soul they put it to sleep. When the faithful start looking at the clock – “when will this end?” – they put the soul to sleep ». According to the Pontiff, preaching runs this risk: «Without the anointing of the Spirit it impoverishes the Word of God, it expires in moralism or in abstract concepts; presents the Gospel with detachment, as if it were out of time, far from reality. And this is not the way. But a word in which the strength of today does not pulsate is not worthy of Jesus and does not help the life of the people ». For this reason, the one who preaches, «please, is the first to have to experience the today of Jesus, so as to be able to communicate him in the today of others. And if he wants to give lessons, conferences, let him do it, but somewhere else, not at the moment of the homily, where he has to give the Word so that it shakes hearts ».
On this “Sunday of the Word of God, I would like to thank the preachers and heralds of the Gospel who remain faithful to the Word that shakes the heart, who remain faithful to ‘today’. Let us pray for them, so that they may live the today of Jesus, the sweet power of his Spirit which makes Scripture alive. The Word of God, in fact, is alive and effective, it changes us, enters our affairs, illuminates our daily life, consoles and brings order. Let us remember: the Word of God transforms any day into today in which God speaks to us ». So, here is the Pope’s encouragement: «Let us take up the Gospel, every day a small passage to read and reread. Carry the Gospel in your pocket or purse, to read it during the journey, at any time, and read it calmly. Over time we will discover that those words are made especially for us, for our life. They will help us to welcome each day with a better, more serene gaze, because, when the Gospel enters today, it fills it with God ”. The Bishop of Rome makes a proposal: «On the Sundays of this liturgical year, the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of mercy, is proclaimed. Why not read it personally, all of it, one small step every day? One small step. Let us familiarize ourselves with the Gospel, it will bring us the newness and joy of God! ».
The Word of the Lord is «also the beacon that guides the synodal path started in the whole Church. While we commit ourselves to listen to each other, with attention and discernment – because it is not an inquiry of opinions, no, but discerning the Word, there – we listen together to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. And may Our Lady obtain for us the constancy to nourish ourselves with the Gospel every day ».
After the Angelus, he recalls that yesterday in San Salvador “the Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande García and two lay companions were beatified, and the Franciscan priest Cosme Spessotto, martyrs of the faith. They stood by the side of the poor, bearing witness to the Gospel, truth and justice up to the shedding of blood. May their heroic example arouse in all the desire to be courageous agents of brotherhood and peace. An applause to the new blessed! ».
And then the Pope reveals that he is following “with concern the increase in tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to peace in Ukraine and question security on the European continent, with even wider repercussions”. He launches a “heartfelt appeal to all people of good will, to raise their prayers to Almighty God, so that every political action and initiative may be at the service of human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests. Whoever pursues his own goals to the detriment of others despises his own vocation as a man, because we have all been created brothers ”. For this reason and “with concern, given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26, be a day of prayer for peace”.
In the context of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “I accepted the proposal that came from various quarters and proclaimed Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Doctor of the Universal Church”. The doctrine of this Saint “pastor and teacher is like a bridge between East and West: this is why we refer to him as Doctor of Unity, Doctor Unitatis. May the Lord grant us, through his intercession, to work all together for the full unity of Christians “.
Francis addresses his greeting “to all of you, dear faithful of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and other countries. I greet in particular the spiritual family of the Servants of Suffering and the Agesci Scouts of Lazio. And I also see that there is a group of compatriots: I greet the Argentines present here. And also the children of the Immaculate Conception ».
Finally, he wishes «everyone a happy Sunday. And please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye ».