Pope: Let us keep our gaze fixed on Jesus

During Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God – the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Pope Francis conferred the new ministry of Catechist on five men and three women from various parts of the world.

By Christopher Wells

“Everything started with the word that God spoke to us,” said Pope Francis in his homily during the Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God. So “let us keep our gaze fixed on Jesus… and let us embrace His word.”

Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God
Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God

The word reveals God

The Holy Father highlighted two aspects of the day’s readings: The word of God reveals God; and His word leads us to man. The Pope noted that in the Gospel, Jesus reveals that He came “to liberate the poor and the oppressed,” showing that God is not detached or indifferent to humanity, but is close to human beings and wants to care for them. He does so, the Pope said, precisely through His word, “rekindling hope amid the ashes of your fears, helping you rediscover joy in the labyrinths of your sorrows, filling your feelings of solitude with hope.”

Pope Francis said, ““The word of God nurtures and renews faith: let us put it back at the centre of our prayer and our spiritual life!”

Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God
Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God

The word leads to man

This revelation of God leads us to the human race: When we discover God, “we overcome the temptation to shut ourselves up in a religiosity reduced to external worship, one that fails to touch and transform our lives.” Instead, “God’s word impels us to go forth from ourselves and to encounter our brothers and sisters solely with the quiet power of God’s liberating love.”

In particular, Jesus, when preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, said that He had been sent to the poor to set them free. “In this way,” the Pope said, “He shows us the worship most pleasing to God: caring for our neighbour.”

Pope Francis denounced the temptation to rigidity in the Church, which he described as a "perversion" and an "idol," a kind of modern "pelagianism" that does not change us. The word of God, he explained, does change us; it challenges and disturbs us, so that we will not remain indifferent to the sufferings of this world, which fall disproportionately on the poor. It “urges us to act, to combine worship of God and care for men and women.”

He also spoke out against a kind of "angelic spirituality" as another temptation the Church faces today -- a temptation to a certain "gnosticism" that proposes a word of God that is out of touch with reality. Instead, the word of God is meant to become flesh in Christians, in the concrete circumstances of everyday life, so that Christians might no longer be indifferent, but creative and prophetic in their outreach to their brothers and sisters.

Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God
Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God

Our mission

Pope Francis insisted, “The Word wishes to take flesh today.” Noting the conferral of the ministries during the liturgy, the Pope explained, “They are called to the important work of serving the Gospel of Jesus, of proclaiming Him, so that His consolation, His joy, and His liberation can reach everyone.”

This is also the mission of all Christians, he said: “To be credible messengers, prophets of God’s word in the world.” He called on the faithful to “grow passionate about sacred scripture,” exhorting them “to put the word of God at the centre of the Church’s life and pastoral activity,” and “to listen to that word, pray with it, and put it into practice.” In this way, he said, "we will be freed from every rigid pelagianism, for any rigidity, and will be freed from a the illusion of spirituality that leaves us 'in orbit,' without caring for our brothers and sisters."

So, he concluded, "Let us listen, let us pray, let us put [the word of God] into practice."

Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God
Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God

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23 January 2022, 09:14