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Letter #2, 2016: Crouching at the door...

[2016-01-03]
[Engleză]
January 3, 2016, Sunday -- Pope's First Sunday Noon Angelus of the New Year

"Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."—Pope Francis, in his noon Angelus today in Rome, cited a phrase from this portion of the Book of Genesis; precisely, the words "sin is crouching at the door" (he cited it as evil "lies in wait at our door")

"The Word is the light, and yet men have preferred the darkness; the Word came unto His own, but they did not receive Him (cfr. John vv. 9-10); they closed the door in the face of the Son of God."—Pope Francis, in the same Angelus message today

"It is the mystery of evil that insinuates [itself] into our lives, too, and that demands vigilance and care on our part so that it will not prevail." —Pope Francis, in the same message

"Drawing near to the Gospel, meditating on it and incarnating it in daily life is the best way to understand Jesus and bring Him to others."—Pope Francis, in the same message

"If we welcome Him, if we welcome Jesus, we will grow in understanding and in the love of the Lord, we will learn to be merciful as He is."—Pope Francis, the same message

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It was just a passing reference -- like a thin, swift cloud on a mostly clear day which can dart across the face of the sun and cast a brief shadow on the earth.

It came during the Pope's noon Angelus message today. (Here is a link to a video of the entire Angelus; the Pope appears at 1:30 into the video.)

The Pope's remarks were a reflection on the famous first lines of the Gospel of John -- the reading for today. Francis focused on the coming into the world of that "mystery of light" who is Christ; the appearance in our world of the very Logos (word, meaning, logic) of God.

"The liturgy of today, the second Sunday after Christmas, presents to us the Prologue of the Gospel of Saint John, in which is proclaimed that 'the Word' – that is, the creative Word of God – 'was made flesh, and dwelt among us' (John 1:14)," the Pope said. "That Word, which dwells in heaven, that is, in the dimension of God, came to earth so that we might listen and be able to know and touch with our hand the love of the Father."

In brief, Pope Francis is presenting here, following John, the essence of the Christian message, the essence of the Gospel: that what the human mind may have hoped, even believed through faith -- that there is an eternal God who loves mankind, that there is a reason and a meaning at the heart, and at the beginning, and at end, of the universe -- is actually, objectively true, because it has become visible (incarnate, "en-fleshed") in Christ.

It is no longer a matter of hope or of faith, but a matter of fact, of something seen in space and time, of something which can be borne witness to, proclaimed as having come to pass, not "in the dimension of God," but here on this green earth.

But then the Pope notes something that is also in the Gospel of John, in the middle of this soaring proclamation of the incarnation of the eternal Logos.

"The Evangelist," Francis says, "does not hide the dramatic nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God, emphasizing that the gift of the love of God is matched with the non-reception on the part of men."

There it is -- the shadow.

"The non-reception on the part of men."

The Pope then explores this for a moment, following John.

"The Word is the light," he says, "and yet men have preferred the darkness; the Word came unto His own, but they did not receive Him (cfr. John vv. 9-10); they closed the door in the face of the Son of God."

Again, the shadow. The door closing. Darkness. The Son of God left outside.

"It is the mystery of evil that insinuates [itself] into our lives," the Pope then says. This, he adds, is a mystery "that demands vigilance and care on our part so that it will not prevail."

And here the Pope cites, briefly, just in passing, that mysterious phrase from Genesis that is spoken by God in conversation with Cain. (This is just before Cain rises up and kills his brother Abel, committing the first murder, and, when God comes and asks Cain where Abel is, Cain replies "Am I my brother's keeper?")

Here is how Pope Francis refers to it: "The book of Genesis says – in a good phrase that makes us understand this – it says that evil 'lies in wait at our door' (cfr. Genesis 4:7)."

And Francis adds: "Woe to us if we allow it to enter; it would then close our door to anyone else."

And then, the cloud passes.

The Pope shifts his focus.

He centers his thought on Christ, and on receiving Christ, not on rejecting Him.

Rather than allowing evil to enter, "we are called to throw open the door of our heart to the Word of God, to Jesus, in order thus to become His children," the Pope says.

This, he says, "is the invitation of Holy Mother Church" -- that each of us "welcome this Word of salvation, this mystery of light."

And he urges: "If we welcome Him, if we welcome Jesus, we will grow in understanding and in the love of the Lord, we will learn to be merciful as He is."

He encourages the reading of the New Testament: "Drawing near to the Gospel, meditating on it and incarnating it in daily life, is the best way to understand Jesus and bring Him to others."

And yet, just before he concludes, there is, as it were, a second shadow that passes in front of the sun. He speaks of evil a second time.

"This is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person," Francis continues. "Showing Jesus and giving Him to others. But to do that we have to know Him and have Him within us, as the Lord of our life." And here he adds: "And He will defend us from evil, from the devil. He (the devil) is always lying in wait by our door, and wants to enter."

So, Francis interjects the devil into this meditation, which is otherwise focused and centered completely on Christ, the Logos of God.

There is a realism in these words, a realism drawn from the realism of the Gospels themselves. That realism which does not hide Peter's triple denial of Christ, nor the doubt of some of the apostles, nor the violent hatred of Saul toward the Christians, before he becomes Paul.

Realism. The Logos has truly come; Christ is born; the eternal has become incarnate in time. But the decision to accept Christ, to walk with Christ, to turn from "sin crouching at the door," remains also very actual, very real.

Pope Francis urges his listeners to experience the joy of knowing that the universe has a personal dimension, of knowing that eternity has condescended to enter into time and redeem time with an unfathomable love.

But, with John, he recognizes that some will choose to close the door to this joy. And that is the drama hidden in the moral choices each of us must make daily as we live in this world, as we seek to work out our salvation. The choices are real, the temptations are real, the sins are real, the consequences of the sins are also real (and tragic, bringing sorrow), and the salvation is also real, and the joy of that salvation is also real, and the Pope is pointing us toward that, with great realism.

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Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus Address: Overview

January 3, 2016

“The Church invites us to welcome the Word of salvation”

(Note: The Solemnity of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6 in Italy and at the Vatican.)

In St Peter's Square today, Pope Francis led the faithful in the recitation of the Angelus on the first Sunday of the new year.

Speaking on the day's Gospel, the Holy Father noted the dramatic contrast between God's gift of love in the Incarnation, and man's failure to receive Him.

The solemn opening of John's Gospel, which was already proclaimed on Christmas day and which is read again on this Sunday, "is the invitation of Holy Mother Church to welcome this Word of salvation, this mystery of light," the Pope said.

If we welcome Jesus into our hearts, he continued, "we will grow in understanding and in the love of the Lord, we will learn to be merciful as He is."

He added: "Especially in this Holy Year of Mercy, let us make sure that the Gospel becomes ever more incarnate in our own lives too."

Following the recitation of the Marian prayer, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims from Rome and around the world. Once again, he encouraged people to read a passage from the Gospel every day in order "to know Jesus better, and to open our hearts to Jesus."

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Pope Francis' Address for Today's Sunday Angelus

January 3, 2016

Sursa: www.InsideTheVatican.com


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