06/24/2018, 13.36
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Pope on the Feast of John the Baptist: Human life remains a mystery

At the Angelus, Pope Francis emphasizes that "the life of a person is a gift from God", even if today "we are led to plan everything, even the characteristics of our children". Every family "a sanctuary of life". Applause for beatification of "la Chiquitunga", the discalzed Carmelite girl Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverrìa, yesterday in Asuncion (Paraguay).


Vatican City (AsiaNews) -  Pope Francis marked the Feast of St John the Baptist this Sunday with an Angelus reflection on God's action in our lives. The birth of John the Baptist was met with "amazement", "surprise" and "gratitude"by his parents, Elizabeth and Zacharias, sterile and elderly. "These elderly parents - Francis said - had dreamed and prepared that day [of the birth of a child], but now they no longer expected it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed. Faced with the announcement of the birth of a son (cf. Lk 1: 13), Zechariah was incredulous, because natural laws did not allow it; as a result, the Lord made him silent for all the time of gestation (see v. 20). But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities. We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate in humility and silence His work, which is revealed in history and which so often exceeds our imagination ".

And now that the event takes place, now that Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that “nothing is impossible to God” ( Lk 1:37), their joy is great. Today’s Gospel page ( Lk 1:57-66.80) announces the birth and then focuses on the imposition of the name on the child. Elizabeth chooses a name foreign to the family tradition and says: “He will be called John” (v. 60), a gratuitous and by now unexpected gift, because John (‘Giovanni’) means “God has been gracious.” And this child will be a herald, witness of God’s grace for the poor who wait with humble faith for His salvation. Zechariah unexpectedly confirms the choice of that name, writing it on a tablet – because he couldn’t speak – and “at once his mouth opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” (v. 64)

The whole event of the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by a joyful sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. Amazement, surprise, gratitude. People are gripped by a holy fear of God “and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea” (v. 65). Brothers and sisters, the faithful people realized that even if in a humble and hidden way, something great happened, and ask: “What, then, will this child be?” (V. 66). The faithful people of God are able to live the faith with joy, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. We look at those people who discussed this wonderful event, about this miracle of the birth of John, and they did so with joy, happily, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude.

"The Holy Virgin - he concludes - helps us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life. May she, Mother of God and our Mother, make us more and more aware that in the generation of a child, parents act as collaborators of God. A truly sublime mission that makes each family a sanctuary of life ".

After the Marian prayer, Pope Francis recalled that yesterday, in Asuncion (Paraguay), Blessed Maria Felicia of the Blessed Sacrament was proclaimed Blessed.  Formerly known as Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverria, she was a discalzed Carmelite, familiarly known as "la Chiquitunga". "She lived in the first half of the 20th century - he explained - and enthusiastically joined the Catholic Action and took care of the elderly, sick and prisoners. This fruitful experience of apostolate, supported by the daily Eucharist, resulted in consecration to the Lord. She died at age 34, accepting her illness  with serenity. The testimony of this young blessed is an invitation for all young people, especially Paraguayans, to live life with generosity, meekness and joy ". And he invited all those present to "applaud the Ciquitunga and the Paraguayan people".

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”