Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 20 January 2019
Dear Bothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Last Sunday, with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we began the journey in the liturgical time called “Ordinary”; the time to follow Jesus in his public life, in the mission for which the Father sent him into the world. In today’s Gospel (cf. Jn 2:1-11) we find the narrative of Jesus’ first miracle. The first of these prodigious signs takes place in the village of Cana, in Galilee, during a marriage celebration. It is not by chance that there is a wedding at the beginning of Jesus’ public life, because in him, God espoused humanity: this is the Good News, even though those who invited him do not yet know that the Son of God is seated at their table and that he is the true bridegroom. Indeed all the mystery of the sign of Cana is based on the presence of this divine bridegroom, Jesus, who begins to reveal himself. Jesus manifests himself as the bridegroom of the People of God, announced by the prophets, and he reveals to us the depth of the relationship which unites us to him: it is a New Covenant of love.
In the context of the Covenant, the symbol of wine, which is at the heart of this miracle, is fully understood. Just as the feast is culminating, the wine runs out. Our Lady notices this and says to Jesus: “They have no wine” (v. 3). Because it would have been bad to continue the feast with water! An embarrassment for those people. Our Lady notices and, as she is a mother, she immediately turns to Jesus. The Scriptures, especially Prophets, point to wine as a typical element of the messianic banquet (Am 9:13-14; Joel 2:24; Is 25:6). Water is necessary to live but wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the celebration. A feast without wine? I don’t know.... By transforming into wine the water from the stone jars used “for the Jewish rites of purification” (v. 6) — it was customary: to purify oneself before entering a home — Jesus effects an eloquent sign. He transforms the Law of Moses into Gospel, bearer of joy.
And then, let us turn to Mary. The words that Mary addresses to the servants crown the spousal picture of Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:6). Today too, Our Lady tells all of us to “Do whatever he tells you”. These words are a precious legacy that our Mother left us. And indeed, the servants in Cana obey: “Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the steward of the feast.’ So they took it” (vv. 7-8). Truly, a New Covenant is pledged at this wedding. And a new mission is entrusted to the servants of the Lord, namely, the entire Church: “Do whatever he tells you”. To serve the Lord means to listen and to put his Word into practice. It is the simple, essential recommendation of Jesus’ Mother. It is the programme for a Christian’s life.
I would like to highlight an experience which many of us have certainly had in life. When we are in difficult situations, when problems arise that we do not know how to resolve, when we feel a lot of anxiety and distress, when we lack joy, go to Our Lady and say: “We have no wine. The wine has run out: Look at the state I am in, look at my heart, look at my soul”. Say it to the Mother. And she will go to Jesus to say: Look at this one: he or she has no wine. And then, she will come back to us and say: “Do whatever he tells you”.
For each of us, drawing from the jar is tantamount to entrusting ourselves to the Word and to the Sacraments in order to experience God’s grace in our lives. Then we too, as the steward who tasted the water that had become wine, can say: “you have kept the good wine until now” (v. 10). Jesus always surprises us. Let us speak to the Mother so that she may speak to her Son and he will surprise us.
May she, the Holy Virgin, help us to follow his invitation: “Do whatever he tells you”, so that we can fully open up to Jesus, recognizing in everyday life the signs of his vitalizing presence.
After the Angelus, Pope Francis continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, today I have a twofold heartache: Colombia and the Mediterranean.
I wish to ensure my closeness to the Colombian people, after last Thursday’s serious terrorist attack on a national police academy. I pray for the victims and for their relatives, and I continue to pray for Colombia’s journey to peace.
I think of the 170 victims, shipwrecked in the Mediterranean. They were seeking a future for their lives. Victims, perhaps, of human traffickers. Let us pray for them and for those who bear responsibility for what occurred.
In a few days, I will leave for Panama — [responding to shouts from the square] you too? —, where World Youth Day will take place from 22-27 January. I ask you to pray for this very beautiful and important event in the journey of the Church.
This week the Message for World Communications Day will be published, which this year contains a reflection on network communities and human communities. The Internet and social media are resources of our time; an opportunity to be in contact with others, to share values and plans, and to express the desire to be a community. Networking can help us to pray in community, to pray together.
This is why Fr Fornos is here with me: he is the international director of the Apostleship of Prayer. I would like to introduce to you the official platform of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network: Click to Pray. Here I will include prayer intentions and requests for the mission of the Church.
I invite especially you young people to download the Click to Pray app, continuing to pray the Rosary for Peace with me, particularly during World Youth Day in Panama.
On 24 January, we will also celebrate the first International Day of Education, established by the United Nations to highlight and promote the essential role of education in human and social development. In this context, I encourage unesco’s efforts to help peace grow in the world through education, and I pray that this will be accessible to all and that it be integral, free from ideological colonization. A prayer and a wish to all those educators. Best of luck with your work!
I greet you all, dear pilgrims and faithful of Rome! In particular I greet the parish groups from Barcelona and Poland. I see many Polish flags here. The students and professors from Badajoz, Spain and the many young women from Panama — you have come to collect me!
I greet the faithful from Noreto and Formia, those from Saints Fabiano and Venanzio in Rome and the youth from San Giuseppe della Pace in Milan. I extend a special greeting to the Italian Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau and to those suffering from Hansen’s Disease and those who are close to them in their journey toward a cure and human and social redemption.
I wish everyone a Happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!
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