07/04/2021, 13.40
VATICAN
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Pope calls on people to overcome prejudices and be open to God's surprises

Here is the scandal: The incarnation of God reveals his concreteness, his 'everydayness'. God became man, a fellow traveller, one of us. And he understands us, accompanies us and forgives us". From September 12 to 15 he will travel to Slovakia and on the 11 afternoon he will preside the concluding Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Before the Angelus this Sunday, Pope Francis spoke of how we need to overcome our prejudices, such as our disbelief that God’s immensity is incarnate in the "little" son of a carpenter or our preference for a distant God  who does not interfere or who requires "special effects" to the close, "everyday" God." He spoke of our need to be open to God's surprises commenting on the Sunday Gospel passage (Mk 6:1-6) that recounts the incredulity of the inhabitants of Nazareth in the face of Jesus preaching in the synagogue.

And after the recitation of the Marian prayer, he announced to the thousands of people present in St Peter's Square that he would be travelling to Slovakia from 12 to 15 September and that on the 11th afternoon he would preside over the concluding Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest. It will not, in short, be a trip to Hungary, according to what Francis said, rather the closing of the Eucharistic Congress.

Earlier, speaking about the attitude of Jesus' fellow countrymen, he noted that one could say "that they know Jesus, but do not recognise him. In fact, there is a difference between knowing and recognising: we can know various things about a person, form an idea, rely on what others say about him, maybe even meet him from time to time in the neighbourhood, but all this is not enough. It is a superficial knowledge, which does not recognise the uniqueness of that person. It's a risk we all run: we think we know a lot about a person, and the worst thing is that we label them and lock them up in our prejudices".

This is how it is for the inhabitants of Nazareth with regard to Jesus: "they have known him for thirty years and think they know everything", but "in reality, they have never realised who he really is. They stop at the exterior and reject the newness of Jesus".

"Here we get to the heart of the problem: when we allow the comfort of habit and the dictatorship of prejudices to prevail, it is difficult to be open to novelty and to be surprised. We often end up looking for confirmation of our ideas and patterns from life, from experiences and even from people, so that we never have to make the effort to change. And this can also happen with God, precisely to us believers, to us who think we know Jesus, that we already know so much about Him and that it is enough for us to repeat the same things as always. This is not enough with God. But without openness to the newness and surprises of God, without wonder, faith becomes a tired litany that slowly dies out and becomes a habit".

In the encounter with God, on the other hand, "we must find amazement".

In the end, why do Jesus' fellow countrymen not recognise him and believe in him? What is the reason? "We can say, in a few words, that they do not accept the scandal of the Incarnation. It is scandalous that the immensity of God should be revealed in the smallness of our flesh, that the Son of God should be the carpenter's son, that divinity should be hidden in humanity, that God should dwell in the face, in the words, in the gestures of a simple man. Here is the scandal: the incarnation of God, his concreteness, his 'everydayness'. God became man, a fellow traveller, one of us. And he understands us, accompanies us and forgives us".

"In reality, it is more comfortable to have an abstract and distant God, who does not meddle in situations and who accepts a faith that is distant from life, from problems, from society. Or we like to believe in a god 'with special effects', who only does exceptional things and always gives great emotions. Instead, God is incarnate: humble, tender, hidden, he becomes close to us by inhabiting the normality of our daily lives. And so, like Jesus' fellow countrymen, we risk not recognising him when he passes by. I return to the beautiful phrase of St Augustine: I am afraid of the Lord when he passes by. Fear of not recognising him".

In prayer, he concluded, "let us ask Our Lady, who welcomed the mystery of God in the everyday life of Nazareth, to have eyes and hearts free of prejudice and open to wonder, to God's surprises, to His humble and hidden presence in everyday life".

After the Marian prayer, Francis said he was concerned about the situation in southern Africa, and the tensions and violence in Swaziland, where protests have been going on for several weeks, asking for "an effort for dialogue and reconciliation".

On the subject of the trip to Slovakia, finally, the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni specified that "Pope Francis will be in Budapest on the occasion of the concluding Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress; subsequently, from 12 to 15 September 2021, he will travel to Slovakia, visiting the cities of Bratislava, Prešov, Košice and Šaštin. The programme of the trip will be published in due course".

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