Pope: God does not set limits, he wants what is better for us, and does not ask us for incentives
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated from 18 to 25 January, centred this year on the theme: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him”. In Cana, “the first sign Jesus accomplished was not an extraordinary healing or something prodigious in the temple of Jerusalem, but an action that responded to a simple and concrete need of common people, a domestic gesture. Let us put it this way – a miracle done on tip toes”.
VATICAN CITY (AsiaNews) – In today’s Angelus Pope Francis said that God is “disinterested”, that he “wants what is better for us, he wants us to be happy”. When he does something, he does not set any limits, and does things “on tip toes”.
Speaking about the Gospel story of the wedding at Cana, Francis calls on us “to rummage through our memories, looking for the signs the Lord has accomplished in my life. [. . .] the signs he has done to show that he loves us? Let us think about that difficult moment in which God allowed me to experience his love…”
Speaking to the 20,000 gathered in St Peter's Square for the recitation of the Marian prayer, Francis noted that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated from 18 to 25 January. This year’s theme is: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him (Mt 2:2)”, which was chosen by the Council of Churches of the Middle East in order to “mirror the experience of the Magi”.
“We Christians,” he added, “are also pilgrims on the way toward full unity, and we will draw near our goal to the extent that we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our only Lord. During the Week of Prayer, let us offer our difficulties and sufferings for the unity of Christians.”
Earlier, speaking about the Gospel passage concerning the wedding at Cana as told by John, Francis underlined the concluding words: “‘This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him’ (Jn 2:11).
“We notice that the evangelist John does not speak of a miracle, that is, of a powerful and extraordinary deed that provokes wonder. He writes that a sign took place at Cana, a sign that sparked the faith of his disciples. We can, then, ask ourselves: What is a ‘sign’ according to the Gospel?
“It is a sign that gives a clue that reveals God’s love, that does not call attention to the power of the action, but to the love that caused it. It teaches us something about God’s love that is always near, tender and compassionate. Jesus’ first sign took place when a couple faced a difficulty on the most important day of their lives.
“Right in the middle of the feast, an essential element for a feast, the wine, is missing and their joy risked being snuffed out due to the criticism and dissatisfaction of the guests. Imagine how a wedding feast could go ahead only with water. How terrible! What a bad impression the couple would make.
“Our Lady who became aware of the problem and discretely brought it to Jesus’ attention. And he intervened without fanfare, almost without making it obvious. Everything took place reservedly, everything took place ‘behind the scenes’ – Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water, then it became wine.
“This is how God acts, near to us and discretely. Jesus’ disciples understood this: they saw that, thanks to him, the wedding banquet became even more beautiful. And they saw the way Jesus acted as well – the way he served hiddenly (this is Jesus – he helps us, he serves us hiddenly) in that moment so much so that it was the groom who was complimented for the good wine. Nobody was aware of it, only the servants. This is how the seed of faith began to develop within them – that is, they believed that God, God’s love, was present in Jesus.
“How beautiful it is to think that the first sign Jesus accomplished was not an extraordinary healing or something prodigious in the temple of Jerusalem, but an action that responded to a simple and concrete need of common people, a domestic gesture. Let us put it this way – a miracle done on tip toes”.
“But there is another distinctive characteristic about the sign at Cana. Generally, the wine provided at the end of the feast was not as good – this is still done today. At that point, people don’t distinguish as well if it is good wine or wine that’s been diluted a little. Jesus, instead, acts in such a way that the feast ends with better wine. Symbolically, this tells us that God wants what is better for us, he wants us to be happy. He does not set limits and he does not ask us for incentives. There is no place for ulterior motives or demands placed on the couple. No, the joy Jesus brought to their hearts was complete and disinterested joy, a joy that was not diluted, no!
“So, I want to suggest an exercise to you that would be very good for us. Today, let us try to rummage through our memories, looking for the signs the Lord has accomplished in my life. Let each of us say: in my life, what are the signs the Lord has accomplished? What are the hints of his presence, the signs he has done to show that he loves us? Let us think about that difficult moment in which God allowed me to experience his love…
“And let us ask ourselves: what are the discrete and loving signs through which he has allowed me to feel his tenderness? When have I felt the Lord nearer to me? When have I felt his tenderness and his compassion more? Every one of us has these moments in our personal history. Let us go in search of these signs, let us remember them. How have I discovered his nearness and how did it fill my heart with great joy? Let us relive the moments in which we have experienced his presence and Mary’s intercession. May she, the Mother who is always attentive as at Cana, help us treasure the signs of God’s presence in our lives.”
“Francis finally expressed his closeness to the people in Brazil affected by heavy rains last week. “I express my nearness to the people hit by strong rain and flooding in various regions of Brazil during these past weeks. I am especially praying for the victims and their families, and for those who have lost their homes. May God sustain the efforts of those who are providing relief.”