There was a great festive atmosphere this morning in crowded Saint Peter’s Square for the proclamation of ten new saints. Pope Francis: “their lives have been a reflection of God in history, vocations enthusiastically welcomed and dedicated to giving themselves generously to all”
Patricia Ynestroza, Vatican City
On a sunny morning in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic celebration and the rite of canonization of ten blessed. Of each, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented a brief hagiography. They are: Titus Brandsma, Lázaro dit Devasahayam, César de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Justin Maria Russolillo, Carlos de Foucauld, Marie Rivier, María Francisca de Jesús Rubatto, Maria di Gesù Santocanale and Maria Domenica Mantovani.
“AThe sea is to serve and to give one’s life, Francis said in his homily, to serve is not to put one’s own interests first, to detoxify oneself from the poisons of greed and competition, to fight the cancer of the indifference and the decay of self-reference… life is to get out of selfishness to make existence a gift. The Lord has a project of love for each of us, each must follow this path of holiness”.
To serve, – the Pope also indicated – means not putting one’s own interests first, detoxifying oneself from the poisons of greed and competition, fighting the cancer of indifference and the rottenness of self-reference, sharing charisms and the gifts God has given us. Let us ask ourselves, precisely, “what am I doing for others?” and live the ordinary things of each day with a spirit of service, with love and in silence, without claiming anything. Giving life is also touching and looking, touching the flesh of Christ in our brothers.
Moreover, the Pope said that holiness is not made of a few heroic acts, but of a lot of daily love. Each of us can love the other as Christ loved us. The path to holiness is so simple.
The Pontiff expressed it, it is we who complicate it. The Lord, he says, has a project of love for each of us, he has a dream for our lives.
“As I loved you, you love yourself too”
In his homily, Pope Francis, recalling today’s Gospel, said that Jesus gave “his own before passing from this world to the Father, words that express what it means to be a Christian: “As I have loved, love one another” (jn 13.34)”.
It is the testament that Christ left us, the Pope said, the fundamental criterion for discerning whether we are truly his disciples or not: the commandment of love: “Let us consider two essential elements of this commandment: love of Jesus for us —how i liked them— and the love He asks us to live —love each other”.
And returning to these words of Jesus who said:how I loved them”, the Pope recalls that Jesus did not love “to the extreme, to the point of giving himself totally. It is shocking to see that he utters these words on a dark night, when the atmosphere of the cenacle is charged with emotion and concern”:
“Emotion because the Master is about to say goodbye to his disciples. Worry because he announces that one of them is going to betray him. One can imagine what pain Jesus would have in his soul, what darkness was accumulating in the hearts of the apostles, and what bitterness to see Judas who, after having received from the Master the piece dipped in his plate, left the room to enter into betrayal night And, just at the time of the betrayal, Jesus confirmed his love for his own. Because in the darkness and in the storms of life, the main thing is that God loves us.
God loves us
It is the central proclamation in the profession and in the expressions of our faith, the Pope affirmed, and “it does not consist in the fact that we loved God, but in the fact that he first loved us”. (1 day 4.10). Let us never forget, he assured, it is a love “that we have not deserved”, yet “we are loved”, it is our value: we are loved:
“It is not our talents and our merits that are at the center, but the unconditional and free love of God, which we have not deserved. At the origin of our Christian being, it is not doctrines and works, but the astonishment of discovering ourselves loved, before any answer that we can give”.
The world often wants to convince us that we are only worthwhile if we produce results, continues his homily, the Gospel reminds us of the truth of life: we are loved. After mentioning H. Nouwen, spiritual master of our time who wrote: “Before any human being saw us, we were looked at by the loving eyes of God. Before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we were heard by our God, who is all ears to us. Before anyone in this world spoke to us, the voice of eternal love was already speaking to us.
The Pope affirmed that this truth requires us to convert in relation to the idea that we often have of holiness. Sometimes, he says, by overemphasizing our efforts to do good deeds, we have erected an ideal of holiness based excessively on ourselves, on personal heroism, on the ability to give up, to sacrifice to gain a price. It is sometimes too Pelagian a vision of life, of holiness, he said.
“God loved us first, he waited for us, he loves us. He continues to love us, it is our identity: loved by God. It is our strength: loved by God.”
Holiness is not separate from everyday life
In this way, Francisco pointed out that “we made holiness an unattainable goal, we separated it from daily life, instead of seeking it and embracing it in daily life, in the dust of the road , in the labors of life concrete”, and affirmed that to be disciples of Jesus is to walk the path of holiness and, above all, to allow oneself to be transfigured by the power of God’s love:
“The love we receive from the Lord is the force that transforms our lives, expands our hearts and predisposes us to love. This is why Jesus says – and here is the second aspect – “So how I loved them, love each other too“. East So This is not only an invitation to imitate the love of Jesus, it means that we can only love because he loved us, because he gives his own Spirit to our hearts, the Spirit of holiness, a love that heals and transforms us”. Thus, we can love, in all situations and with each brother and sister we meet, because we are loved and we have the strength to love. As I am loved, I can love. Always, the love that I give united with that of Jesus for me: as he loves me, I can love. the Christian life is simple, it is simple! we complicate it, with so many things, but it’s simple. Let us not forget the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works. And sometimes we give more weight, more importance to self, to the flesh than to works. No: the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.”
How to live this love: to serve and to give life
The Pope questions us, and he asks us how we live this love, what it means to live this love, and he recalls that before this command, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; and after having pronounced it, he gave himself up on the wood of the cross, therefore:
“Love means this: to serve Yes to give life”
To serveFrancis said that means not putting your own interests first, detoxifying yourself from the poisons of greed and competition, fighting the cancer of indifference and the rot of self-reference, sharing the charisms and gifts that God gave us. Let us ask ourselves, precisely, “what am I doing for others?” and live the ordinary things of each day with a spirit of service, with love and in silence, without claiming anything.
To give life, which is not only to offer something, like giving others a little of one’s goods, but to give oneself, he affirmed, is to come out of selfishness to make existence a gift, to be attentive to the needs of those who walk alongside us, to spend ourselves for those who need, perhaps also to be heard, of our time, of a call.
“I like to ask people who ask me for advice: Tell me, do you give alms? – yes Father, I give alms to the poor
And when you give alms, do you touch the person’s hand? Or do you throw away alms and do this to cleanse yourself?… When you give alms, do you look the person you are helping in the eye or do you look the other way? and blushing they say: No, I don’t touch it. No, I don’t watch it.
Touch and look, touch and observe the suffering flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters. Its very important. It’s giving life.”
Holiness is made of daily love
“Holiness is not made up of a few heroic acts, but of a great deal of daily love. “Are you consecrated or consecrated? Be holy, living with joy your devotion. You are married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ did with the Church. Are you a worker? Be a saint by honorably and competently fulfilling your work in the service of your brothers, by fighting for the justice of your colleagues, so that they do not lose their jobs, so that they always have a fair salary… Are you you father, grandmother or grandfather? Be holy by patiently teaching children to follow Jesus. Do you have authority? Be holy by fighting for the common good and by renouncing your personal interests” (Exhortation ap. Gaudete and exultate14)”.
This is the path to holiness, it is so simple! he said, but always look at Jesus in others. This is how we are all called to serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters and to offer our own lives selflessly, without seeking any worldly glory. Finally, remembering the new saints, the Pontiff emphasized that they thus lived holiness: they exhausted themselves for the Gospel by enthusiastically embracing their vocation — as priest, consecrated, lay person — they discovered an unparalleled joy and became luminous reflections of the Lord in history. Let us try it too, he affirmed, because we are all called to holiness, to a unique and irreplaceable holiness. Yes, the Lord has a project of love for each of us, he has a dream for our lives.