From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Jul 13 10:49:02 2015
makes me think of the little family of Bethlehem. Your struggles have not taken
away your laughter, your joy and your hope. Struggles which have not lessened your sense of solidarity but if anything, have made it grow.
"I would like think for a moment about Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem", continue.
"They were forced to leave home, families and friends. They had to leave all that they had and to go somewhere else, to a place where they knew no one, a place where they had no house or family. That was when that young couple had Jesus. That was how they gave us Jesus. They were alone, in a strange land, just
the three of them. Then, all of a sudden, shepherds began to arrive. People just
like them who had to leave their homes to find better opportunities for their families. Their lives were affected by harsh weather but by other kinds of hardship too. When they heard that Jesus had been born, they went to see him. They became neighbours. In an instant, they became a family to Mary and Joseph.
The family of Jesus.
"That is what happens when Jesus comes into our lives. It is what happens with
faith. Faith brings us closer. It makes us neighbours. It draws us closer to the
lives of others. Faith awakens our commitment, our solidarity. The birth of Jesus changes our lives. A faith which does not draw us into solidarity is a faith which is dead.
"'I am very Catholic, I am a devout Catholic, I go to Mass every Sunday'" said
Francis. "But tell me, what goes on in the Banados? 'Ah, I don't know, yes, no,
I know that there are people there, but I don't know ...". For all those Sunday
Masses, if you do not have a fraternal heart, if you do not know what happens among your people, then your faith is very weak, it sickens, or it dies. It is faith without Christ. Faith without solidarity is faith without Christ, it is faith without God, it is faith without brothers. This saying comes to mind - I hope I remember it well - which illustrates this problem of faith without solidarity: 'A God without people, people without brothers, people without Jesus". This is faith without solidarity. And God places Himself in the midst of
the people He chose to accompany, and sends them His Son ... to save them and to
help them. God acted in solidarity with His people, and Jesus did not hesitate to condescend, to humble Himself unto death for each one of us, for this brotherly solidarity, the solidarity that is born of the His love for His Father
and His love for us".
"As I said, the first to be fraternal was the Lord, Who chose to live among us,
Who chose to live in our midst. And I come to you like those shepherds who were
in Bethlehem. I want to be your neighbour. I want to bless your faith, your hands and your community. I come to join you in giving thanks, because faith has
become hope, and hope in turn kindles love. The faith which Jesus awakens in us
is a faith which makes us able to dream of the future, and to work for it here and now. That is why I want to urge you to continue to be missionaries, to keep
spreading the faith in these streets and alleys. This faith that gives rise to solidarity between us, with our brother Jesus, and our Mother, the Virgin Mary.
Be neighbours above all to the young and the elderly. Be a support for young families and all families which are experiencing difficulty. Perhaps the strongest message you can give is that of solidarity in faith. The devil wants us to fight among ourselves, to divide us in order to defeat us and to rob us of
our faith. Solidarity among brothers to defend the faith! Solidarity among brothers to defend the faith! And may this fraternal faith be a message for all
"I wish to pray for your families, and to pray to the Holy Family so that its example and its witness may continue to offer light for your path, and encouragement in times of trouble. May the Holy Family always give us 'shepherds', priests and bishops able to accompany, support and encourage our families; capable of nurturing this fraternal faith that can never be defeated".
The Pope invited all those present to recite the Lord's Prayer together, the "prayer to our Father that makes us brothers, that leads us to our brother, His
Son Jesus, and that gives us a Mother who accompanies us". After blessing the inhabitants of Banado Norte, he exclaimed, "Do not let the devil divide you!".
Mass in Nu Guazu: learning Christian hospitality
Vatican City, 13 July 2015 (VIS) - Holy Mass in Nu Guazu, the shrine where St.
John Paul II canonised St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz and his companions in 1988, was the second stage of Pope Francis' Sunday in Paraguay. The Pope celebrated Mass in the large field of Nu Guazu in the presence of more than one
and a half million people who applauded as he toured to greet the faithful from
In his homily, Pope Francis commented first on the Psalm of the first reading in the liturgy, which tells us that "the Lord will shower down blessings, and our land will yield its increase". "We are invited to celebrate this mysterious
communion between God and his People, between God and us. The rain is a sign of
his presence, in the earth tilled by our hands. It reminds us that our communion
with God always brings forth fruit, always gives life. This confidence is born of faith, from knowing that we depend on grace, which will always transform and
nourish our land".
"It is a confidence which is learned, which is taught. A confidence nurtured within a community, in the life of a family. A confidence which radiates from the faces of all those people who encourage us to follow Jesus, to be disciples
of the One who can never deceive. A disciple knows that he or she is called to have this confidence; we feel Jesus' invitation to be his friend, to share his lot, his very life. 'No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you'. The
disciples are those who learn how to dwell in the confidence born of Jesus' friendship".
The Gospel speaks to us of this kind of discipleship, showing us "the identity
card of the Christian. Our calling card, our credentials. Jesus calls his disciples and sends them out, giving them clear and precise instructions. He challenges them to take on a whole range of attitudes and ways of acting. Sometimes these can strike us as exaggerated or even absurd. It would be easier
to interpret these attitudes symbolically or 'spiritually'. But Jesus is quite precise, very clear. He doesn't tell them simply to do whatever they think they
The Pope invited reflection on some of these attitudes: "'Take nothing for the
journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money...' 'When you enter a house,
stay there until you leave the place'.
"All this might seem quite unrealistic", he commented. "We could concentrate on
the words, 'bread', 'money', 'bag', 'staff', 'sandals' and 'tunic'. And this would be fine. But it strikes me that one key word can easily pass unnoticed. It
is a word at the heart of Christian spirituality, of our experience of discipleship: 'welcome'. Jesus as the good master, the good teacher, sends them
out to be welcomed, to experience hospitality. He says to them: 'Where you enter
a house, stay there'. He sends them out to learn one of the hallmarks of the community of believers. We might say that a Christian is someone who has learned
to welcome others, to show hospitality.
"Jesus does not send them out as men of influence, landlords, officials armed with rules and regulations. Instead, he makes them see that the Christian journey is about changing hearts. It is about learning to live differently, under a different law, with different rules. It is about turning from the path of selfishness, conflict, division and superiority, and taking instead the path
of life, generosity and love. It is about passing from a mentality which domineers, stifles and manipulates to a mentality which welcomes, accepts and cares. These are two contrasting mentalities, two ways of approaching our life and our mission.
"How many times do we see mission in terms of plans and programs", observed the
bishop of Rome. "How many times do we see evangelisation as involving any number
of strategies, tactics, manoeuvres, techniques, as if we could convert people on
the basis of our own arguments. Today the Lord says to us quite clearly: in the
mentality of the Gospel, you do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by learning how to welcome them".
"The Church is a mother with an open heart. She knows how to welcome and accept, especially those in need of greater care, those in greater difficulty. The Church is the home of hospitality. How much good we can do, if only we try to speak the language of hospitality, of welcome! How much pain can be soothed,
how much despair can be allayed in a place where we feel at home! Welcoming the
hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner, the leper
and the paralytic. Welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, of which our earth is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners.
"So often we forget that there is an evil underlying our sins. There is a bitter root which causes damage, great damage, and silently destroys so many lives. There is an evil which, bit by bit, finds a place in our hearts and eats
away at our life: it is isolation. Isolation which can have many roots, many causes. How much it destroys our life and how much harm it does us. It makes us
turn our back on others, God, the community. It makes us closed in on ourselves.
That is why the real work of the Church, our mother, is not mainly to manage works and projects, but to learn how to live in fraternity with others. A welcome-filled fraternity is the best witness that God is our Father, for "by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another".
In this way, "Jesus teaches us a new way of thinking. He opens before us a horizon brimming with life, beauty, truth and fulfilment. God never closes off horizons; he is never unconcerned about the lives and sufferings of his children. God never allows himself to be outdone in generosity. So he sends us his Son, he gives him to us, he hands him over, he shares him... so that we can
learn the way of fraternity, of self-giving. He opens up a new horizon; he is the new and definitive Word which sheds light on so many situations of exclusion, disintegration, loneliness and isolation. He is the Word which breaks
the silence of loneliness.
"And when we are weary or worn down by our efforts to evangelise, it is good to
remember that the life which Jesus holds out to us responds to the deepest needs
of people. 'We were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus
and love of our brothers and sisters'".
He remarked, "One thing is sure: we cannot force anyone to receive us, to welcome us; this is itself part of our poverty and freedom. But neither can anyone force us not to be welcoming, hospitable in the lives of our people. No one can tell us us not to accept and embrace the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who have lost hope and zest for life. How good it