Francis Homilies - HOLY MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI Basilica of St John Lateran Thursday, 30 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Gospel we have listened to, Jesus says something that I always find striking: “you give them something to eat” (Lc 9,13). Starting with this sentence I am letting myself be guided by three words; following [sequela], communion, sharing.
1. First of all: who are those who must be given something to eat? We find the answer at the beginning of the Gospel passage: it is the crowd, the multitude. Jesus is in the midst of the people, he welcomes them, he speaks to them, he heals them, he shows them God’s mercy; it is from among them that he chooses the Twelve Apostles to be with him and, like him, to immerse themselves in the practical situations of the world. Furthermore the people follow him and listen to him, because Jesus is speaking and behaving in a new way, with the authority of someone who is authentic and consistent, someone who speaks and acts with truth, someone who gives the hope that comes from God, someone who is a revelation of the Face of a God who is love. And the people joyfully bless God.
This evening we are the crowd of the Gospel, we too seek to follow Jesus in order to listen to him, to enter into communion with him in the Eucharist, to accompany him and in order that he accompany us. Let us ask ourselves: how do I follow Jesus? Jesus speaks in silence in the Mystery of the Eucharist. He reminds us every time that following him means going out of ourselves and not making our life a possession of our own, but rather a gift to him and to others.
2. Let us take another step. What does Jesus’ request to the disciples, that they themselves give food to the multitude, come from? It comes from two two things: first of all from the crowd, who in following Jesus find themselves in the open air, far from any inhabited areas, while evening is falling; and then from the concern of the disciples who ask Jesus to send the crowd away so that they can go to the neighbouring villages to find provisions and somewhere to stay (cf. Lc 9,12).
Faced with the needs of the crowd the disciples’ solution was this: let each one think of himself — send the crowd away! How often do we Christians have this temptation! We do not take upon ourselves the needs of others, but dismiss them with a pious: “God help you”, or with a not so pious “good luck”, and if I never see you again…. But Jesus’ solution goes in another direction, a direction that astonishes the disciples: “You give them something to eat”. Yet how could we be the ones to give a multitude something to eat? “We have no more than five loaves and two fish — unless we are to go and buy food for all these people” (Lc 9,13). However Jesus does not despair. He asks the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50 people. He looks up to heaven, recites the blessing, breaks the bread and fish into pieces and gives them to the disciples to distribute (cf. Lc 9,16). It is a moment of deepcommunion: the crowd is satisfied by the word of the Lord and is now nourished by his bread of life. And they were all satisfied, the Evangelist notes (cf. Lc 9,17).
This evening we too are gathered round the table of the Lord, the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in which he once again gives us his Body and makes present the one sacrifice of the Cross. It is in listening to his word, in nourishing ourselves with his Body and his Blood that he moves us on from being a multitude to being a community, from anonymity to communion. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion that brings us out of individualism so that we may follow him together, living out our faith in him. Therefore we should all ask ourselves before the Lord: how do I live the Eucharist? Do I live it anonymously or as a moment of true communion with the Lord, and also with all the brothers and sisters who share this same banquet? What are our Eucharistic celebrations like?
3. A final element: where does the multiplication of the loaves come from? The answer lies in Jesus’ request to the disciples: “You give them…”, “to give”, to share. What do the disciples share? The little they have: five loaves and two fish. However it is those very loaves and fish in the Lord's hands that feed the entire crowd. And it is the disciples themselves, bewildered as they face the insufficiency of their means, the poverty of what they are able to make available, who get the people to sit down and who — trusting in Jesus’ words — distribute the loaves and fish that satisfy the crowd. And this tells us that in the Church, but also in society, a key word of which we must not be frightened is “solidarity”, that is, the ability to make what we have, our humble capacities, available to God, for only in sharing, in giving, will our life be fruitful. Solidarity is a word seen badly by the spirit of the world!
This evening, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread that is his Body, he makes himself a gift; and we too experience “God’s solidarity” with man, a solidarity that is never depleted, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God makes himself close to us, in the sacrifice of the Cross he humbles himself, entering the darkness of death to give us his life which overcomes evil, selfishness and death. Jesus, this evening too, gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares in our journey, indeed he makes himself food, the true food that sustains our life also in moments when the road becomes hard-going and obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist the Lord makes us walk on his road, that of service, of sharing, of giving; and if it is shared, that little we have, that little we are, becomes riches, for the power of God — which is the power of love — comes down into our poverty to transform it.
So let us ask ourselves this evening, in adoring Christ who is really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to going out ever more from my little enclosure, in order to give, to share, to love him and others?
Brothers and sisters, following, communion, sharing. Let us pray that participation in the Eucharist may always be an incentive: to follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion and to share what we are with him and with our neighbour. Our life will then be truly fruitful. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This celebration has a very beautiful name: the Gospel of Life. In this Eucharist, in the Year of Faith, let us thank the Lord for the gift of life in all its forms, and at the same time let us proclaim the Gospel of Life.
On the basis of the word of God which we have heard, I would like to offer you three simple points of meditation for our faith: first, the Bible reveals to us the Living God, the God who is life and the source of life; second, Jesus Christ bestows life and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and third, following God’s way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death.
1. The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. King David’s adultery is one example of this. Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. We heard how the prophet says to David: “Why have you done evil in the Lord’s sight? (cf. 2S 12,9). The King is forced to face his deeds of death; what he has done is truly a deed of death, not life! He recognizes what he has done and he begs forgiveness: “I have sinned against the Lord!” (2S 12,13). The God of mercy, who desires life and always forgives us, now forgives David and restores him to life. The prophet tells him: “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die”.
What is the image we have of God? Perhaps he appears to us as a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth; he breathes in his nostrils the breath of life, and man becomes a living being (cf. Gn 2,7). God is the source of life; thanks to his breath, man has life. God’s breath sustains the entire journey of our life on earth. I also think of the calling of Moses, where the Lord says that he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of the living. When he sends Moses to Pharaoh to set his people free, he reveals his name: “I am who I am”, the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions – you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great “Yes!”: a yes to God, to Love, to life. Dear friends, our lives are fulfilled in God alone, because only he is the Living One!
2. Today’s Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lc 7,47). Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid so many deeds of death, amid sin, selfishness and self-absorption. Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. This was the experience of the woman who anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment: she felt understood, loved, and she responded by a gesture of love: she let herself be touched by God’s mercy, she obtained forgiveness and she started a new life. God, the Living One, is merciful. Do you agree? Let’s say it together: God, the Living One, is merciful! All together now: God, the Living One, is merciful. Once again: God, the Living One is merciful!
This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Ga 2,20). What is this life? It is God’s own life. And who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. The Spirit leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are we open to the Holy Spirit? Do we let ourselves be guided by him? Christians are “spiritual”. This does not mean that we are people who live “in the clouds”, far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.
3. God is the Living One, the Merciful One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love – a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death. The wisdom of the Psalmist says: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps 19,8). Let us always remember: the Lord is the Living One, he is merciful. The Lord is the Living One, he is merciful.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say “Yes” to love and not selfishness. Let us say “Yes” to life and not death. Let us say “Yes” to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say “Yes” to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints (cf. 1Jn 4,8 1Jn 11,2 1Jn 8,32); let us say “Yes” to the God who is the Living One and the Merciful One. Only faith in the Living God saves us: in the God who in Jesus Christ has given us his own life by the gift of the Holy Spirit and has made it possible to live as true sons and daughters of God through his mercy. This faith brings us freedom and happiness. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the “Gospel of Life”. Amen.
Your Eminence, Metropolitan Ioannis,
My Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters
We are celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, principal patrons of the Church of Rome: a celebration made all the more joyful by the presence of bishops from throughout the world. A great wealth, which makes us in some sense relive the event of Pentecost. Today, as then, the faith of the Church speaks in every tongue and desire to unite all peoples in one family.
I offer a heartfelt and grateful greeting to the Delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis. I thank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I for this renewed gesture of fraternity. I greet the distinguished ambassadors and civil authorities. And in a special way I thank the Choir of the Thomaskirche of Leipzig – Bach’s own church – which is contributing to today’s liturgical celebration and represents an additional ecumenical presence.
I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word “confirm”. What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm?
1. First, to confirm in faith. The Gospel speaks of the confession of Peter: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16), a confession which does not come from him but from our Father in heaven. Because of this confession, Jesus replies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16,18). The role, the ecclesial service of Peter, is founded upon his confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of the living God, made possible by a grace granted from on high. In the second part of today’s Gospel we see the peril of thinking in worldly terms. When Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, of the path of God which does not correspond to the human path of power, flesh and blood re-emerge in Peter: “He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him ... This must never happen to you” (Mt 16,22). Jesus’ response is harsh: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (Mt 16,23). Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks. Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the Church!
2. To confirm in love. In the second reading we heard the moving words of Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2Tm 4,7). But what is this fight? It is not one of those fights fought with human weapons which sadly continue to cause bloodshed throughout the world; rather, it is the fight of martyrdom. Saint Paul has but one weapon: the message of Christ and the gift of his entire life for Christ and for others. It is precisely this readiness to lay himself open, personally, to be consumed for the sake of the Gospel, to make himself all things to all people, unstintingly, that gives him credibility and builds up the Church. The Bishop of Rome is called himself to live and to confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers. And not only the Bishop of Rome: each of you, new archbishops and bishops, have the same task: to let yourselves be consumed by the Gospel, to become all things to everyone. It is your task to hold nothing back, to go outside of yourselves in the service of the faithful and holy people of God.
3. To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (Lumen Gentium LG 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., LG 19). To confirm in unity: the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the primate. Let us go forward on the path of synodality, and grow in harmony with the service of the primacy. And the Council continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., LG 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: there is no other Catholic way to be united. This is the Catholic spirit, the Christian spirit: to be united in our differences. This is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, with the Synod of Bishops, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.
To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity. These, dear brother bishops, are the tasks which the holy apostles Peter and Paul entrust to each of us, so that they can be lived by every Christian. May the holy Mother of God guide us and acompany us always with her intercession. Queen of Apostles, pray for us! Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting you, and today our joy is even greater, because we have gathered for the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery, assessment, formation. And it is a very beautiful season, in which foundations are laid for the future. Thank you for coming!
Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. Where does mission originate? The answer is simple: it originates from a call, the Lord’s call, and when he calls people, he does so with a view to sending them out. How is the one sent out meant to live? What are the reference points of Christian mission? The readings we have heard suggest three: the joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer.
1. The first element: the joy of consolation. The prophet Isaiah is addressing a people that has been through a dark period of exile, a very difficult trial. But now the time of consolation has come for Jerusalem; sadness and fear must give way to joy: “Rejoice ... be glad ... rejoice with her in joy,” says the prophet (Is 66,10). It is a great invitation to joy. Why? What is the reason for this invitation to joy? Because the Lord is going to pour out over the Holy City and its inhabitants a “cascade” of consolation, a veritable overflow of consolation – such that it will be overcome – a cascade of maternal tenderness: “You shall be carried upon her hip and dandled upon her knees” (Is 66,12). As when a mother takes her child upon her knee and caresses him or her: so the Lord will do and does with us. This is the cascade of tenderness which gives us much consolation. “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Is 66,13). Every Christian, and especially you and I, is called to be a bearer of this message of hope that gives serenity and joy: God’s consolation, his tenderness towards all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others! I have occasionally met consecrated persons who are afraid of the consolations of God, and … the poor things, they were tormented, because they are of this divine tenderness. But be not afraid. Do not be afraid, because the Lord is the Lord of consolation, he is the Lord of tenderness. The Lord is a Father and he says that he will be for us like a mother with her baby, with a mother’s tenderness. Do not be afraid of the consolations of the Lord. Isaiah’s invitation must resound in our hearts: “Comfort, comfort my people” (Is 40,1) and this must lead to mission. We must find the Lord who consoles us and go to console the people of God. This is the mission. People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!
2. The second reference point of mission is the Cross of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Galatians, says: “Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ga 6,14). And he speaks of the “marks of Jesus”, that is, the wounds of the crucified Lord, as a countersign, as the distinctive mark of his life as an Apostle of the Gospel. In his ministry Paul experienced suffering, weakness and defeat, but also joy and consolation. This is the Paschal mystery of Jesus: the mystery of death and resurrection. And it was precisely by letting himself be conformed to the death of Jesus that Saint Paul became a sharer in his resurrection, in his victory. In the hour of darkness, in the hour of trial, the dawn of light and salvation is already present and operative. The Paschal mystery is the beating heart of the Church’s mission! And if we remain within this mystery, we are sheltered both from a worldly and triumphalistic view of mission and from the discouragement that can result from trials and failures. Pastoral fruitfulness, the fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by becoming conformed to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and spending oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross – always the Cross that is present with Christ, because at times we are offered the Cross without Christ: this has not purpose! – it is the Cross, and always the Cross with Christ, which guarantees the fruitfulness of our mission. And it is from the Cross, the supreme act of mercy and love, that we are reborn as a “new creation” (Ga 6,15).
3. Finally the third element: prayer. In the Gospel we heard: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lc 10,2). The labourers for the harvest are not chosen through advertising campaigns or appeals of service and generosity, but they are “chosen” and “sent” by God. It is he who chooses, it is he who sends, it is Lord who sends, it is he who gives the mission. For this, prayer is important. The Church, as Benedict XVI has often reiterated, is not ours, but God’s; and how many times do we, consecrated men and women, think that the Church is ours! We make of it… something that we invent in our minds. But it is not ours!, it is God’s. The field to be cultivated is his. The mission is grace. And if the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength of his action. Our mission ceases to bear fruit, indeed, it is extinguished the moment the link with its source, with the Lord, is interrupted.
Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations. One of you, one of your formators, said to me the other days, “evangeliser, on le fait à genoux” “evangelization is done on one’s knees”. Listen well: “evangelization is done on one’s knees”. Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. But for what do you work? As a tailor, a cook a priest, is your job being a priest, being a sister? No. It is not a job, but rather something else. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of pastoral fruitfulness, of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!
Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lc 10,4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.
Dear friends, with great confidence I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear. May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation, without being afraid of joy, she will help you to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross, to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord in prayer. Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.
"Arena" sports camp, Salina Quarter
Immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death. That is how the headlines put it. When I first heard of this tragedy a few weeks ago, and realized that it happens all too frequently, it has constantly come back to me like a painful thorn in my heart. So I felt that I had to come here today, to pray and to offer a sign of my closeness, but also to challenge our consciences lest this tragedy be repeated. Please, let it not be repeated! First, however, I want to say a word of heartfelt gratitude and encouragement to you, the people of Lampedusa and Linosa, and to the various associations, volunteers and security personnel who continue to attend to the needs of people journeying towards a better future. You are so few, and yet you offer an example of solidarity! Thank you! I also thank Archbishop Francesco Montenegro for all his help, his efforts and his close pastoral care. I offer a cordial greeting to Mayor Giusi Nicolini: thank you so much for what you have done and are doing. I also think with affection of those Muslim immigrants who this evening begin the fast of Ramadan, which I trust will bear abundant spiritual fruit. The Church is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families. To all of you: o’scià!
This morning, in the light of God’s word which has just been proclaimed, I wish to offer some thoughts meant to challenge people’s consciences and lead them to reflection and a concrete change of heart.
"Adam, where are you?" This is the first question which God asks man after his sin. "Adam, where are you?" Adam lost his bearings, his place in creation, because he thought he could be powerful, able to control everything, to be God. Harmony was lost; man erred and this error occurs over and over again also in relationships with others. "The other" is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply someone who disturbs my life and my comfort. God asks a second question: "Cain, where is your brother?" The illusion of being powerful, of being as great as God, even of being God himself, leads to a whole series of errors, a chain of death, even to the spilling of a brother’s blood!
God’s two questions echo even today, as forcefully as ever! How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another! And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.
"Where is your brother?" His blood cries out to me, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they were looking for a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found death. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance, fail to find solidarity. And their cry rises up to God! Once again I thank you, the people of Lampedusa, for your solidarity. I recently listened to one of these brothers of ours. Before arriving here, he and the others were at the mercy of traffickers, people who exploit the poverty of others, people who live off the misery of others. How much these people have suffered! Some of them never made it here.
"Where is your brother?" Who is responsible for this blood? In Spanish literature we have a comedy of Lope de Vega which tells how the people of the town of Fuente Ovejuna kill their governor because he is a tyrant. They do it in such a way that no one knows who the actual killer is. So when the royal judge asks: "Who killed the governor?", they all reply: "Fuente Ovejuna, sir". Everybody and nobody! Today too, the question has to be asked: Who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters of ours? Nobody! That is our answer: It isn’t me; I don’t have anything to do with it; it must be someone else, but certainly not me. Yet God is asking each of us: "Where is the blood of your brother which cries out to me?" Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves: "poor soul…!", and then go on our way. It’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!
Here we can think of Manzoni’s character – "the Unnamed". The globalization of indifference makes us all "unnamed", responsible, yet nameless and faceless.
"Adam, where are you?" "Where is your brother?" These are the two questions which God asks at the dawn of human history, and which he also asks each man and woman in our own day, which he also asks us. But I would like us to ask a third question: "Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?" Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion – "suffering with" others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the crying, the wailing, the great lamentation: "Rachel weeps for her children… because they are no more". Herod sowed death to protect his own comfort, his own soap bubble. And so it continues… Let us ask the Lord to remove the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts; let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this. "Has any one wept?" Today has anyone wept in our world?
Lord, in this liturgy, a penitential liturgy, we beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!
Today too, Lord, we hear you asking: "Adam, where are you?" "Where is the blood of your brother?"
At the end of Mass, the Pope said the following words :
Before imparting my blessing to you I want to thank you once again; you people of Lampedusa, for the example of love, charity and hospitality that you have set us and are still setting us. The Bishop said that Lampedusa is a beacon. May this example be a beacon that shines throughout the world, so that people will have the courage to welcome those in search of a better life. Thank you for bearing this witness! And I also want to thank you for your tenderness which I have felt in Fr Stefano himself. He told me on the boat what he and the parochial vicar do. I thank you all, and I thank you, Fr Stefano.
Francis Homilies - HOLY MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI Basilica of St John Lateran Thursday, 30 May 2013