11/10/2015, 00.00
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For pope in Florence, being close to the people "is the only way to open their hearts to listen to God"

More than 50,000 people filled Florence stadium to take part in Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. "Jesus’ disciples must never forget from where they were chosen, that is, from among the people, and they must never fall into the temptation to assume detached attitudes, as if what the people think and live does not concern them and is not important for them.”

Florence (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated an outdoor Mass today at Florence Stadium. Befitting the location, someone put up a banner calling on the Holy Father to ‘Score a goal in our hearts’. For Francis, this was his last event on a day dedicated to Saint Francis After. Earlier, he had met workers in Prato and participants in a conference of the Italian Church in Florence.

During his homily, the pope stressed that “The only way to be able to help, form and communicate with them [people] is to maintain a healthy contact with reality.” For him, “It is the only way to open their hearts to listen to God,” a God of mercy who gave himself to humanity “to the point of making Himself man to meet every person in his/her concrete situation.”

Speaking about Jesus’s question “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” he stressed the relationship between humanity and God. “[W]hen God wanted to speak with us He incarnated Himself. Jesus’ disciples must never forget from where they were chosen, that is, from among the people, and they must never fall into the temptation to assume detached attitudes, as if what the people think and experience does not concern them and is not important for them.”

“This is also true for us. The fact that today we are gathered to celebrate Holy Mass in a sports stadium reminds us of that. Like Jesus, the Church lives among the people and for the people. Therefore, in its entire history the Church has always carried in itself the same question: who is Jesus for the men and women of today?

“The holy pope, Leo the Great, a native of Tuscany, whose memory we celebrate today, also carried this question, this apostolic anxiety in his heart: that all might know Jesus, and to know Him for what He truly is, not a distorted image of him [created] by the philosophies and ideologies of the time.

“Hence, it is necessary to mature a personal faith in Him. Here, now, is the second question that Jesus asks his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt, 16:15). Such a question still resonates today in our conscience as His disciples, crucial for our identity and our mission. Only if we acknowledge Jesus in His truth will we be able to look at the truth of our human condition, and be able to make our contribution to the full humanisation of society.

“To keep and proclaim right faith in Jesus Christ is the heart of our Christian identity, because by recognising the mystery of the Son of God made man we will be able to penetrate the mystery of God and the mystery of man.

“Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (v. 16). Such a reply encapsulates Peter’s whole mission and summarises what for the Church will be the Petrine ministry, namely upholding and proclaiming the truth of the faith; defending and promoting the communion among all the Churches, keeping the discipline of the Church. In this mission, Pope Leo was and remains an exemplary model, be it in his luminous teachings, or his gestures full of meekness, of compassion and God’s strength.

“Even today, dear brothers and sisters, our joy is to share this faith and to respond together to the Lord Jesus: “For us you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Our joy is also to go against the flow and go beyond the prevailing opinion of the day, which, then as now, is unable to see in Jesus more than a prophet or a teacher. Our joy is to recognise in him God’s presence, the One sent by the Father, the Son who came to make Himself the instrument of salvation for humanity. Such a profession of faith, which Simon Peter proclaimed, also stays for us. It does not only represent the foundation of our salvation, but also the way through which it is accomplished and the aim towards which it is drawn.

“In fact, at the root of the mystery of salvation lies the will of a merciful God, who does not want to yield to man’s misunderstanding, guilt and misery, but who gives Himself to him to the point of becoming Himself man to meet every person in his/her concrete situation. Simon Peter recognises God’s merciful love on Jesus’ face. We tooare called to recognise the same face in the shapes the Lord has taken to be present among us: in his Word, which illumines the darkness of our mind and our heart; in his Sacraments, which breathes new life in us out  of every death of ours; in the fraternal communion that the Holy Spirit generates among his disciples; in the boundless love, which becomes generous and solicitous service to everyone; in the poor, who remind us how Jesus wanted the supreme revelation of Himself and of the Father to have the image of the humiliated crucified One.

"This truth of faith is the kind of truth that shocks because it calls for belief in Jesus, who, though God, emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, until he died on the cross. For this reason, God made him Lord of the universe (cf. Phil 2:6-11). It is a truth that still shocks those who cannot bear God’s mystery imprinted on Christ’s face. It is the truth that we cannot touch and embrace without, as Saint Paul says, enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ, and make his attitudes our own (cf. Phil 2:5). We can only understand, profess and live his truth from the Heart of Christ."

"In fact, our goal is the communion between the divine and the human, fully realised in Jesus, the culmination of human history according to the Father’s plan. It is the bliss of the meeting between our weakness and His greatness, between our smallness and His mercy, which will fill our limit. But such a goal is not only the horizon that illumines our journey but it is what attracts us with its gentle strength; it is what one begins to foretastes and live here, and what one builds day after day with what good we sow around us. These are the seeds that help create a new and renewed humanity where no one is marginalised or discarded, where the person who serves is the greatest and where the children and the poor are welcomed and helped.”

"God and man are not the two extremes of an opposition. They have always looked for each other because God recognises his own image and man recognises himself only by looking at God. This is true wisdom, which the Book of Sirach indicates as the trait of those who adhere to the sequela of Christ. It is the wisdom of Saint Leo the Great, which stems from the convergence of various elements: word, intelligence, prayer, teaching, and memory. But Saint Leo also reminds us that there can be no true wisdom other than in the connection with Christ and service to the Church. Such is the path on which we can meet humanity and encounter the spirit of the Good Samaritan."

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