18 August 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s liturgy we listen to
these words from the Letter to the
Hebrews: “Let us run with
perseverance the race that is set
before us, looking to Jesus the
pioneer and perfecter of our faith”
(Heb 12:1-2). We must give special
emphasis to this affirmation in this
Year of Faith. Let us too,
throughout this Year, keep our gaze
fixed on Jesus because faith, which
is our “yes” to the filial
relationship with God, comes from
him, comes from Jesus. He is the
only mediator of this relationship
between us and our Father who is in
heaven. Jesus is the Son and we are
sons in him.
This Sunday, however, the word of
God also contains a word of Jesus
which alarms us and must be
explained, for otherwise it could
give rise to misunderstanding. Jesus
says to his disciples: “Do you think
that I have come to give peace on
earth? No, I tell you, but rather
division” (Lk 12:51). What does this
mean? It means that faith is not a
decorative or ornamental element;
living faith does not mean
decorating life with a little
religion, as if it were a cake and
we were decorating it with cream.
No, this is not faith. Faith means
choosing God as the criterion and
basis of life, and God is not empty,
God is not neutral, God is always
positive, God is love, and love is
positive! After Jesus has come into
the world it is impossible to act as
if we do not know God, or as if he
were something that is abstract,
empty, a purely nominal reference.
No, God has a real face, he has a
name: God is mercy, God is
faithfulness, he is life which is
given to us all. For this reason
Jesus says “I came to bring division”.
It is not that Jesus wishes to split
people up. On the contrary Jesus is
our peace, he is our reconciliation!
But this peace is not the peace of
the tomb, it is not neutrality,
Jesus does not bring neutrality,
this peace is not a compromise at
all costs. Following Jesus entails
giving up evil and selfishness and
choosing good, truth and justice,
even when this demands sacrifice and
the renunciation of our own
interests. And this indeed divides;
as we know, it even cuts the closest
ties. However, be careful: it is not
Jesus who creates division! He
establishes the criterion: whether
to live for ourselves or to live for
God and for others; to be served or
to serve; to obey one’s own ego or
to obey God. It is in this sense
that Jesus is a “sign that is spoken
against” (Lk 2:34).
This word of the Gospel does not
therefore authorize the use of force
to spread the faith. It is exactly
the opposite: the Christian’s real
force is the force of truth and of
love, which involves renouncing all
forms of violence. Faith and
violence are incompatible! Instead,
faith and strength go together.
Christians are not violent; they are
strong. And with what kind of
strength? That of meekness, the
strength of meekness, the strength
Dear friends, even among Jesus’
relatives there were some who at a
certain point did not share his way
of life and preaching, as the Gospel
tells us (cf. Mk 3:20-21). His
Mother, however, always followed him
faithfully, keeping the eyes of her
heart fixed on Jesus, the Son of the
Most High, and on his mystery. And
in the end, thanks to Mary’s faith,
Jesus’ relatives became part of the
first Christian community (cf. Acts
1:14). Let us ask Mary to help us
too to keep our gaze firmly fixed on
Jesus and to follow him always, even
when it costs what it may.
After the Angelus
Remember this: following Jesus is
not neutral, following Jesus means
being involved, because faith is not
a superficial decoration, it is a
strength of the soul!
Dear brothers and sisters, I
greet you all with affection, Romans
and pilgrims: families, parish
groups, young people....
I would like to ask you for a
prayer for the victims of the ferry
that sank in the Philippines, and
also for the families... what great
Let us also continue to pray for
peace in Egypt. All together: Mary,
Queen of Peace, pray for us!
Everyone (he repeats with the
people): Mary, Queen of Peace,
pray for us!
I greet the Polish folk group who
have come from Edmonton, Canada.
I address a special greeting to
the youth from Brembilla — I see you!
I can see you well! — near Bergamo,
and I bless the torch that you will
carry from Rome on foot to your town.
And I also greet the young people
I wish you all a good Sunday and
a good lunch! Goodbye!