(Vatican Radio) God is always faithful to His Covenant: He kept faith with Abraham and He is faithful to the salvation promised in His Son. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope called on those present to pause during the day to reflect on their own life story, in order to discover the beauty of the love of God, even in the midst of difficulties, which afflict everyone in this life.
Listen to Christopher Wells’ report:
Pope Francis’ homily revolved around the figure of Abraham, who is at the centre of the day’s liturgy. The first Reading narrates the story of the Covenant God made with Abraham; while in the Gospel, both Jesus and the Pharisees refer to “Father” Abraham, because he is the father of “this people that today is the Church.” Abraham trusted and obeyed when he was called to go to a new land that he would receive as an inheritance.
Abraham, a man of faith, knew by experience that God had not deceived him
A man of faith and of hope, Abraham believed when he was told that he would have a child although he was 100 years old, and his wife was sterile – “he believed against every hope.” “If anyone wanted to give a description of the life of Abraham, he could say, ‘This guy is a dreamer,’” the Pope said. He explained that Abraham had something of the dreamer in him, but it was “that dream of hope”; he wasn’t crazy:
“Put to the test, after having had a child, a boy, a young child, he was asked to offer him in sacrifice: he obeyed, and went forward against all hope. And this is our father Abraham, who goes forward, forward, forward; and when Jesus says Abraham saw his day, saw Jesus, he was full of joy. He saw Him in promise, he saw that joy of seeing the fullness of the promise of the covenant, the joy of seeing that God had not deceived him, that God – as we prayed in the responsorial psalm – is always faithful to His covenant.”
The psalm also invites us to call to mind the wonders God performs. For us, the descendants of Abraham, it’s like thinking of our father who has passed away, and yet we remember the good things about him and we think: “He was a great father!”
Abraham obeys and believes against all hope
The Covenant, on Abraham’s part, consists in having always obeyed, the Pope said. On God’s part, He has promised to make Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations.” “No longer shall you be called Abram, but Abraham,” the Lord says. And Abraham believed. Then, in another dialogue, God tells him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore. And today we are able to say, “I am one of those stars. I am a grain of sand.”
Looking to history: we are a people
Between Abraham and us, there is another Story, the Pope said, the story of the heavenly Father and of Jesus. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees that Abraham exulted in the hope of seeing “my day” – “he saw it, and was glad.” This is the great message; and the Church today invites us to pause and to look to “our roots,” “our father,” who “has made us a people, a heaven full of stars, a beach full of grains of sand”:
“Looking to history: I am not alone, I am a people. We go together. The Church is a people. But a people dreamed of by God, a people He has given a father on Earth who obeyed; and we have a Brother who has given His life for us, to make us a people. And so we are able to look upon the Father, to give thanks; to look upon Jesus, to give thanks; to look upon Abraham and ourselves, who are part of the journey.”
God is faithful: we should pause in order to discover, even amid the difficulties of this life, the beauty of the love of God
The Holy Father then invited us to make today “a day of memory,” pointing out that “in this great Story, in the framework of God and Jesus, there is the little story of each one of us”:
“I invite you today to take five minutes, ten minutes, to sit down – without the radio, without the television – to sit down and reflect on your own story: the blessings and the troubles, everything. The graces and the sins, everything. And to see there the faithfulness of that God who remained faithful to His Covenant, remained faithful to the promise He made to Abraham, remained faithful to the salvation He promised in His Son, Jesus. I’m certain that in the midst of all of the perhaps ugly things – because we all have them, so many ugly things in this life – if we do this today, we will discover the beauty of the love of God, the beauty of His mercy, the beauty of hope. And I am sure that we will all be full of joy.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will wash the feet of inmates at Paliano prison, south of Rome, during the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
The Vatican announced on Thursday that the pope will travel to the penitentiary on the afternoon of April 13th for a private visit and the celebration of Mass marking Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the day before his Crucifixion.
Pope Francis began the tradition of travelling to a prison for the traditional Last Supper Mass in March 2013, just a few days after the inauguration of his pontificate. On that occasion he travelled to Rome’s Casal del Marmo youth detention centre where he included, for the first time, women and Muslims among the inmates whose feet he washed.
The following year, he celebrated the Last Supper Mass at Rome’s Don Gnocchi centre for the disabled , again including women among those who had their feet washed in memory of Jesus’ gesture of humility and service.
In 2015 Pope Francis travelled to Rome’s Rebibbia prison for the Holy Thursday celebration, while last year he washed the feet of refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Coptic Orthodox men and women at a centre for asylum seekers in Castelnuovo di Porto , just north of Rome.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, Blasé J. Cupich, in support of local efforts to promote nonviolence.
The Chicago Archdiocese launched a campaign on nonviolence on 4 April to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event culminates with a march for peace on Good Friday.
In his letter, Pope Francis assured the people of Chicago of his support for the initiative and of his prayers for those who “have lost loved ones to violence”.
He wrote that he will remember the city in prayer as he leads the Way of the Cross in Rome that same day.
The Pope invited all not to exclude others based on their “ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds”.
“We must reject this exclusion and isolation, and not think of any group as ‘others,’ but rather as our own brothers and sisters. This openness of heart and mind must be taught and nurtured in the homes and in schools.”
He said, “Walking the path of peace is not always easy, but it is the only authentic response to violence.”
Pope Francis then quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Humanity ‘must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love’”.
He urged everyone “to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results.”
In conclusion, the Holy Father prayed that the “beautiful city” of Chicago “never lose hope” and that they “work together to become builders of peace, showing future generations the true power of love”.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s letter:
To Cardinal Blase J. Cupich Archbishop of Chicago
Please convey to the people of Chicago that they have been on my mind and in my prayers. I know that many families have lost loved ones to violence. I am close to them, I share in their grief, and pray that they may experience healing and reconciliation through God’s grace. I assure you of my support for the commitment you and many other local leaders are making to promote nonviolence as a way of life and a path to peace in Chicago. You are marking that effort by inviting people of goodwill to walk for peace on Good Friday in areas afflicted by violence. As I make my own Way of the Cross in Rome that day, I will accompany you in prayer, as well as all those who walk with you and who have suffered violence in the city. Sadly, as you have told me, people of different ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds suffer discrimination, indifference, injustice, and violence today. We must reject this exclusion and isolation, and not think of any group as “others,” but rather as our own brothers and sisters. This openness of heart and mind must be taught and nurtured in the homes and in schools. Walking the path of peace is not always easy, but it is the only authentic response to violence. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, humanity “must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love”. I urge all people, especially young men and women, to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results. The consistent practice of nonviolence has broken barriers, bound wounds, healed nations—and it can heal Chicago. I pray that the people of your beautiful city never lose hope, that they work together to become builders of peace, showing future generations the true power of love.
I ask you to pray for me too.
From the Vatican, 4 April 2017
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the José María Arancedo, Archbishop of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz and President of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, to express his closeness to the people of Argentina who have been hit by torrential rains which have battered the country in recent days.
In the correspondence the Holy Father said that he was spiritually near to the thousands of people who have been evacuated from their homes and who have lost everything; “the fruits of many years of sacrifice and work,” he added.
Pope Francis also wrote that he wished to accompany and offer words of encouragement to his brother bishops, priests and parishioners in this moment of need.
In conclusion, and imparting his Apostolic Blessing, he prayed that collaboration between authorities, institutions and volunteers, in a spirit of unity, would bring to all those affected a testimony of fraternal solidarity.
(from Vatican Radio)…