What is a powerful healer



St. Peter's Square
Sunday, July 8, 2018




Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

Today's passage from the Gospel (cf. Mk 6: 1-6) shows Jesus returning to Nazareth and teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He had not set foot in his home since he left and began preaching in the nearby towns and villages. He is back. Hence the whole village will have been gathered to listen to this son of the people, for his fame as a wise master and powerful healer had now spread to Galilee and beyond. But what could have turned out to be a success turned into a blatant rejection, which went so far that Jesus could not do any miracles there, but could only bring about a few healings (cf. v. 5). The dynamics of this day are reconstructed in detail by the evangelist Mark: The people of Nazareth first listen and are amazed. Then, perplexed, they ask themselves: "Where did he get all this from," this wisdom? And in the end they take offense and recognize in him the carpenter, the son of Mary, whom they had seen growing up (vv. 2-3). That is why Jesus closes with the expression that has become proverbial: "Nowhere does a prophet have so little respect as in his homeland" (cf. v. 4).

We ask ourselves: Why do the people of Jesus' hometown go from amazement to disbelief? They make a comparison between Jesus' humble origins and his present abilities: he is a carpenter, he has not studied, but he preaches better than the scribes and works miracles. And instead of opening up to reality, they take offense. According to the people of Nazareth, God is too great to condescend and speak through such a simple man!

This is the incarnation scandal: the strange occurrence of an incarnate God who thinks with a human mind, works and acts with human hands, who loves with a human heart, a God who toil, eats and sleeps like one of us. The Son of God reverses every human scheme: it is not the disciples who washed the Lord's feet, but the Lord who washed the disciples' feet (cf. Joh 13: 1-20). This is a cause for indignation and disbelief, not only in this time, in every age, including today. The reversal undertaken by Jesus obliges his disciples yesterday and today to a personal and communal examination. In our time it can actually happen that prejudices are stoked that prevent us from grasping reality.

But the Lord invites us to an attitude of humble listening and docile expectation because the grace of God often presents itself to us in surprising ways that do not meet our expectations. Take, for example, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. A simple little sister - no one would have bet ten lire on her - who walked the streets picking up the dying so that they might die in dignity. This little nun has worked miracles with prayer and her work! The smallness of a woman has revolutionized charity in the Church.

This is an example from our day. God does not conform to prejudice. We must strive to open our hearts and minds to accept the divine reality that comes to meet us. It's about having faith because lack of faith is an obstacle to God's grace. Many of the baptized live as if Christ did not exist. The gestures and signs of faith are repeated, but they do not correspond to genuine adherence to the person of Jesus and his gospel. Every Christian - all of us, each of us - is called to deepen this fundamental belonging by trying to witness it with a coherent lifestyle, the guideline of which will always be charity.

Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to dissolve the hardness of hearts and the narrowness of the spirit, so that we may be open to his grace, his truth and his mission of goodness and mercy, addressed to all without exception.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Bari we spent a special day of prayer and reflection on peace in this region with the Patriarchs of the Churches of the Middle East and their representatives. I thank God for this meeting, which was an eloquent sign of Christian unity and the enthusiastic participation of God's people. I thank again my brothers and leaders of the churches and those who represented them; I was really pleased with her demeanor and testimony. I thank the Archbishop of Bari, a humble brother and servant, the staff and all the faithful who have accompanied and supported us with prayer and their joyful presence.

Today is "Sunday of the Sea", dedicated to sailors and fishermen. I pray for them and for their families as well as for the pastors and volunteers of the Apostolate of the Sea. We especially remember those who have to live under degrading working conditions at sea, as well as all those who work to rid the seas of pollution.

I greet you all warmly, the Romans and the pilgrims! I greet the believers who have come from Poland with a special thought to the participants in the annual great pilgrimage of the Radio Maria family to the shrine of Czestochowa. I greet the acolytes from the Philippines with their families, the young people from Padua, the group of students and teachers from Brescia and the scouts from Pont-Saint-Martin, Val d’Aosta. And I see Brazilian flags ... I greet the Brazilians and: Cheer up! Another time it will work! I wish everyone a good sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Have a good meal and goodbye!