01/26/2018, 17.05
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For pope, preaching is like a slap, bearing witness to transmit the faith

"Faith is transmitted in a mother’s womb, the womb of the Church, because the Church is a mother, the Church is female". A nun was in prison in Albania during the dictatorship, but the guards allowed her out a little and she used to go to the riverbank. What could the poor thing do, they thought. Instead, other women, knowing when she came out, brought their children to her and she secretly baptised them with the river water.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke about the transmission of faith in his homily in the Mass he celebrated this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

Inspired by the Second Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to Timothy, the pontiff noted that faith is transmitted through preaching, which strikes like a slap, by bearing witness, and “in a mother’s womb, the womb of the Church, because the Church is a mother, the Church is female".

The pope focused on three words that, in the Epistle, show how faith should be transmitted. They are “child", which is how Paul called Timothy, "mother" and "grandmother," and finally "witness".

Paul is a father because he generated Timothy with the "foolishness of preaching and this is his fatherhood". The reading also mentions tears because Paul did not sweeten his announcement with half truths. He spoke with courage. This made Paul Timothy’s father.

Preaching, the pope said, "cannot be lukewarm". For the pontiff, “Preaching always – allow me to say it – smacks; it is a slap, a slap that moves and takes one forward. As Paul himself out it: 'The foolishness of preaching'. It's foolishness, because to say that God became man and was crucified and then rose again . . . What did the inhabitants of Athens say to Paul? 'But, the day after tomorrow we'll hear you.' [. . .]. In preaching the faith there is always a 'bit of foolishness. And the temptation is a false common sense, that of mediocrity: 'But, no, we're not joking, it's not a lot . . .', lukewarm faith".

The second word is witness. Faith must be transmitted by bearing witness, which empowers the word. "Today, in certain parishes [. . .] one goes, hears what so and so says of others, of this person, of that . . . Instead of saying how they love each other, one feels like saying: ‘Look at how they are at each other’s throat . . . Language is wielded like a knife used against each other! How can one transmit the faith when the air is so fouled by chatter, slander? No. Bear witness. 'Look, this guy never speaks ill of others; this one does work of charity; this other person visits the sick. Why do they do it? Out of curiosity: Why does this person live like that? And with bearing witness comes the question of why faith is transmitted here: because he has faith, because she follows in the footsteps of Jesus."

Mother, grandmother: motherhood is the third word. "Faith is transmitted in a mother’s womb, the womb of the Church,” Francis said, “because the Church is a mother, the Church is female. The motherhood of the Church extends through the motherhood of mothers, of women."

In speaking about this, the pontiff remembered meeting a nun in Albania who was in prison during the dictatorship, but who was allowed out occasionally and went to the riverbank. In any event, what could the poor thing do, thought the guards. Instead, Francis noted, she was clever, and other women, knowing when she would be coming out, brought their children to her and she secretly baptised them with the river water.

This is a great example. "But I wonder: Are mothers, grandmothers, like the two Paul spoke about – 'Even your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice who transmitted the faith, the sincere faith? A little ... ‘You know, they will learn when they attend catechism'. But I tell you, it makes me sad when I see children who cannot cross themselves. Instead of crossing themselves properly, they know they have to do something and do something like this . . . because they don’t have a mother or a grandmother to teach them how. How many times do I think about what is taught in preparation for marriage, to the bride, who will become a mother: Has she been taught to transmit the faith?”

In concluding, the Holy Father said, "Let us ask the Lord to teach us, as witnesses and preachers, and [teach] women, as mothers, to transmit the faith."

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