09/19/2021, 14.03
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Pope: ‘The more we serve, the more we are aware of God’s presence’

In today’s Angelus, Francis noted that the word “service” might appear nowadays “a bit hackneyed, worn out by use;” however, “it has a precise and concrete meaning in the Gospel.” The pontiff also urged the faithful to pray for the “people who have been unjustly detained in foreign countries,” that they “might return as soon as possible to their homeland.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis addressed the faithful in the weekly Angelus in St Peter's Square by focusing on service. Noting that the word appears "hackneyed” nowadays, he explained that the Gospel teaches us instead that “The more we serve, the more we are aware of God’s presence.”

Speaking about the Gospel of today’s liturgy, about the disciples discussing who among them was the greatest (Mk 9:30-37), Francis noted that Jesus “inaugurates a reversal: he overturns the criteria about what truly matters. The value of a person does not depend any more on the role they have, the work they do, the money they have in the bank. No, no, no, it does not depend on this. Greatness and success in God’s eyes are measured differently: they are measured by service.”

For Francis, the word “service” today “appears a bit hackneyed, worn out by use.” But in the Gospel, “it has a precise and concrete meaning in the Gospel. To serve is not a courteous expression: it means to act like Jesus, who, summing up his life in a few words, said he had come ‘not to be served, but to serve’. [. . .] and we know this often costs, because ‘it tastes like a cross’.”

Yet, “as our care and availability toward others grow, we become freer inside, more like Jesus. The more we serve, the more we are aware of God’s presence. Above all, when we serve those who cannot give anything in return, the poor, embracing their difficulties and needs with tender compassion: and we in turn discover God’s love and embrace there.”

Jesus expresses this with a gesture: he takes a child and places him among the disciples, in the most important place. “In the Gospel,” the pontiff said, “the child does not symbolize innocence so much as littleness. For like children, the little ones depend on others, on adults, they need to receive. [. . .] The ones who are to be served above all are: those in need of receiving who cannot give anything in return.”

As we serve those who are little, those who are poor, so “we also receive God’s tender embrace.” Hence, each of us should ask themselves: “Am I, who follow Jesus, interested in the one who is neglected? Or am I rather seeking personal gratification, like the disciples that day? Do I understand life in terms of competing to make room for myself at others’ expense, or do I believe that being first means serving? And, concretely: do I dedicate time to a “little one”, to a person who has no means to pay me back? Am I concerned about someone who cannot give me anything in return, or only with my relatives and friends?”

Francis ended turning to Our Lady. “May the Virgin Mary, the humble servant of the Lord, help us understand that to serve does not belittle us, but helps us grow. And that there is more joy in giving than in receiving.”

After the Angelus, Francis offered his prayers for "people who have been unjustly detained in foreign countries: unfortunately, there are several cases, for different, and sometimes, complex causes. I hope that, in the due fulfilment of justice, these people might return as soon as possible to their homeland.”

He also expressed closeness to the victims of floods in the Mexican State of Hidalgo, and urged everyone to place their trust in “God’s mercy” as he mentioned the 175th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady, in tears, to two boys at La Salette (France).

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