People can find Jesus if they “accept his ways and his challenges, without complaint, without suspicion, without criticism and long faces. In other words, Jesus asks you to accept him in the daily reality that you live; in the Church of today, as it is; in those who are close to you every day; in the reality of those in need”. The pontiff noted that the Lunar New Year, which begins this Tuesday, will provide many families with “opportunities to gather together and experience moments of love and joy!”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In today's Angelus Pope Francis spoke about the Gospel story in which Jesus is chased out of the Nazareth synagogue.
In his address, the pontiff said that “those who seek miracles” or “a faith made up of power and external signs” shall not find Jesus, who wants to be accepted “in the daily reality that you live; in the Church of today, as it is; in those who are close to you every day; in the reality of those in need”.
After the Marian prayer, Francis spoke to the 10,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square, noting that in early February, many countries in the Far East celebrate the Lunar New Year, an occasion for many families “to gather together and experience moments of love and joy.”
However, “Many [other] families, unfortunately, will not be able to get together this year because of the pandemic. I hope that we will soon be able to overcome this trial.” Indeed, “thanks to the good will of individuals and the solidarity of peoples, the entire human family will be able to achieve with renewed dynamism goals of material and spiritual prosperity.”
Before the Angelus, commenting on this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Francis said that for Jesus, the way in which his fellow villagers reacted “was not entirely unexpected".
“And, so, we might wonder: but if it was like this, if he foresaw a failure, why did he go to his hometown all the same? Why do good to people who are not willing to accept you? It is a question that we too often ask ourselves. But it is a question that helps us understand God better.
“Faced with our closures, he does not withdraw: he does not put brakes on his love. Faced with our closures, he goes forward. We see a reflection of this in parents who are aware of the ingratitude of their children, but do not cease to love them and do good to them for this. God is the same, but at a much higher level. And today he invites us too to believe in good, to leave no stone unturned in doing good.”
“[I]n what happens in Nazareth we also find something else. The hostility towards Jesus on the part of his people provokes us: they were not welcoming – but what about us? To verify this, let us look at the models of acceptance that Jesus proposes today, to us and to his fellow countrymen. They are two foreigners: a widow from Sarepta of Sidon and Naaman, the Syrian.”
Both Elijah the widow and Elisha the Syrian welcomed a prophet, showing “readiness and humility”. This is how faith expresses itself; this is the way of “welcoming God”.
“Jesus also goes the way of the prophets: he presents himself as we would not expect. He is not found by those who seek miracles – if we look for miracles, we will not find Jesus – by those who seek new sensations, intimate experiences, strange things; those who seek a faith made up of power and external signs. No, they will not find him.
“Instead, he is found only by those who accept his ways and his challenges, without complaint, without suspicion, without criticism and long faces. In other words, Jesus asks you to accept him in the daily reality that you live; in the Church of today, as it is; in those who are close to you every day; in the reality of those in need”.
“And us, are we welcoming or do we resemble his fellow countrymen, who believed they knew everything about him? ‘I studied theology; I took that course in catechesis… I know everything about Jesus!’ Yes, like a fool! Don’t be foolish, you don’t know Jesus. Perhaps, after many years as believers, we think we know the Lord well, with our ideas and our judgments, very often. The risk is that we get accustomed, we get used to Jesus.”
Thus, “how do we grow accustomed? We close ourselves off, we close ourselves off to his newness, to the moment in which he knocks on our door and asks you something new, and wants to enter into you. We must stop being fixed in our positions. And when a person has an open mind, a simple heart, he or she has the capacity to be surprised, to wonder. The Lord always surprises us: this is the beauty of the encounter with Jesus. Instead, the Lord asks us for an open mind and a simple heart. May Our Lady, model of humility and willingness, show us the way to welcome Jesus.”
Finally, Francis mentioned that today is World Leprosy Day. Expressing his “closeness to those who suffer from this disease”, he said he hoped that “there will be no lack of spiritual assistance and healthcare”.
For him, “It is necessary to work together towards the full integration of these people, overcoming every form of discrimination associated with a disease that unfortunately still afflicts many, especially in the most disadvantaged social contexts.” (FP)