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Liturgy of the Word: II Gospel & Homily

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Holy Mass
General Audience, Wednesday 7 February 2018 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Let us continue with the catecheses on the Holy Mass. We had reached the readings.

The dialogue between God and his people, developed in the Liturgy of the Word of the Mass, culminates in the proclamation of the Gospel. It precedes the chanting of the Alleluia — or, during Lent, another acclamation — with which “the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to it in the Gospel”.[1] As the mysteries of Christ illuminate the entire biblical revelation, likewise, in the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel constitutes the light for understanding the meaning of the biblical texts which precede it, both of the Old and the New Testaments. Indeed, “Christ himself is the centre and fullness of the whole of Scripture”.[2] Jesus Christ is always at the centre, always.

Therefore the liturgy itself distinguishes the Gospel from the other readings and surrounds it with particular honour and veneration.[3] Indeed, its reading is reserved to the ordained minister, who concludes by kissing the Book; it calls us to stand up to listen and to make the sign of the Cross on our forehead, our mouth and our breast; the candles and incense honour Christ, who, through the Gospel reading, makes his effective Word resonate. From these signs, the assembly recognizes the presence of Christ who gives them the “Good News” which converts and transforms. What occurs is a direct discourse, as attested by the acclamations with which we respond to the proclamation: “Glory to you, O Lord” and “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”. We stand up to listen to the Gospel: but it is Christ who is speaking to us, there. And this is why we are attentive, because it is a direct conversation. It is the Lord who is speaking to us.

Thus, in the Mass we do not read the Gospel in order to know how things happened, but rather, we listen to the Gospel in order to realize what Jesus once did and said; and that Word is living, the Word of Jesus that is in the Gospel is alive and touches my heart. Therefore, listening to the Gospel is very important, with an open heart, because it is the living Word. Saint Augustine writes: “The Gospel is the mouth of Christ. He is seated in heaven, but he has not stopped speaking on earth”.[4] If it is true that in the liturgy “Christ is still proclaiming His Gospel”,[5] it follows that, by participating in the Mass, we must give him a response. We listen to the Gospel and we must give a response in our life.

In order to get his message across, Christ also makes use of the words of the priest who, after the Gospel, gives the homily.[6] Strongly recommended by the Second Vatican Council as part of the liturgy itself,[7] the homily is not a trite discourse — nor a catechesis like the one I am giving now —, nor is it a conference nor a lesson. The homily is something else. What is the homily? It is taking up “once more the dialogue which the Lord has already established with his people”,[8] so it may find fulfilment in life. The authentic exegesis of the Gospel is our holy life! The Word of the Lord concludes its journey by becoming flesh in us, being translated into works, as happened in Mary and in the Saints. Remember what I told you last time: the Word of the Lord enters through the ears, goes to the heart and passes to the hands, to good deeds. And the homily also follows the Word of the Lord and also follows this path in order to help us so that the Word of the Lord may go to the hands, by passing through the heart.

I have already addressed the subject of the homily in the Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, where I recalled that the liturgical context “demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist”.[9]

The homilist — the one who preaches, the priest or the deacon or the bishop — must carry out his ministry well, by offering a real service to all those who participate in the Mass, but those who listen to it must also do their part. Firstly by paying proper attention, that is, assuming the right interior disposition, without subjective pretexts, knowing that every preacher has merits and limitations. If at times there is reason for boredom because a homily is long or unfocused or unintelligible, at other times, however, prejudice creates the obstacle. And the homilist must be aware that he is not doing something of his own, but is preaching, giving voice to Jesus; he is preaching the Word of Jesus. And the homily must be prepared well; it must be brief, short! A priest told me that once he had gone to another city where his parents lived, and his father told him: “You know, I am pleased, because my friends and I have found a church where they say Mass without a homily!”. And how often do we see that during the homily some fall asleep, others chat or go outside to smoke a cigarette.... For this reason, please, make the homily brief, but prepare it well. And how do we prepare a homily, dear priests, deacons, bishops? How should it be prepared? With prayer, by studying the Word of God and by making a clear and brief summary; it should not last more than 10 minutes, please. In conclusion we could say that in the Liturgy of the Word, through the Gospel and the homily, God dialogues with his people, who listen to him with attention and veneration and, at the same time, recognize he is present and acting. Hence, if we listen to the “Good News”, we will be converted and transformed by it, and therefore capable of changing ourselves and the world. Why? Because the Good News, the Word of God enters through the ears, goes to the heart and passes to the hands in order to do good deeds."


"Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones, en particulier les jeunes et les chefs d’établissements de l’Enseignement Catholique de Gironde accompagnés du Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard. Que la proclamation de l’Évangile et l’homélie puissent faire résonner dans nos cœurs la parole efficace du Christ qui convertit et transforme. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

Mit Freude heiße ich die Brüder und Schwestern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache willkommen. In der Liturgie verkündet Christus immer noch die Frohe Botschaft, und wir müssen durch unsere Teilnahme an der heiligen Messe ihm Antwort geben. Der Herr helfe uns, wie die Heiligen das gelebte Evangelium für unsere Mitmenschen zu sein. Gott segne und behüte euch.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en modo particular a los grupos provenientes de España y América Latina. Contemplando a la Virgen María, esforcémonos como Ella para escuchar la Palabra del Señor con un corazón dócil y sencillo, y así poder hacerla carne en nosotros traduciéndola en obras de amor y de santidad. Que el Señor los bendiga. Muchas gracias.

Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, em particular os seminaristas da Administração Apostólica São João Maria Vianney, acompanhados pelo seu Bispo. Queridos amigos, na vossa preparação para o Ministério Ordenado, de bom grado fazei da Bíblia o alimento diário do vosso diálogo com o Senhor, para que, quando fordes enviados a proclamar esta Palavra divina, as pessoas encontrem na vossa vida o testemunho mais eloquente da sua eficácia. Obrigado pela vossa visita e rezai por mim.

أرحبّ بمودّة بالحجّاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من مصر ومن الأراضي المقدسة. إن ‏المسيح بذاته ما زال يكلّمنا اليوم عبر إعلان الإنجيل والعظة في القدّاس الإلهي. لنصغِ إذا لكلامه هذا بقلوب ‏دومًا منفتحة على هذه النعمة التي تغيّر حياتنا وتقودنا إلى الفرح الحقيقي. ليبارككم الربّ ‏‏جميعًا ‏ويحرسكم من الشرير!‏‏

Witam serdecznie obecnych na tej audiencji Polaków. Uczestnicząc w mszalnej liturgii słowa, pamiętajmy zawsze o nakazie misyjnym, jaki Pan Jezus powierzył apostołom i każdemu z nas: „Idźcie na cały świat i głoście Ewangelię wszelkiemu stworzeniu!” (Mk 16, 15). Umocnieni Eucharystią i „Dobrą Nowiną”, bądźcie wiarygodnymi świadkami Chrystusa w waszych rodzinach, wspólnotach, w miejscach pracy, na uczelniach, w codziennych i wyjątkowych zdarzeniach życia. Z serca wam błogosławię."


Appello per la Giornata Mondiale di Preghiera e Riflessione contro la Tratta

"Domani, 8 febbraio, memoria liturgica di Santa Giuseppina Bakhita, ricorre la Giornata Mondiale di Preghiera e Riflessione contro la Tratta. Il tema di quest’anno è “Migrazione senza tratta. Sì alla libertà! No alla tratta!”. Avendo poche possibilità di canali regolari, molti migranti decidono di avventurarsi per altre vie, dove spesso li attendono abusi di ogni genere, sfruttamento e riduzione in schiavitù. Le organizzazioni criminali, dedite alla tratta di persone, usano queste rotte migratorie per nascondere le proprie vittime tra i migranti e i profughi. Invito pertanto tutti, cittadini e istituzioni, a unire le forze per prevenire la tratta e garantire protezione e assistenza alle vittime. Preghiamo, tutti, affinché il Signore converta il cuore dei trafficanti - è brutta parola questa, trafficanti di persone - e dia la speranza di riacquistare la libertà a quanti soffrono per questa piaga vergognosa."

Appello per le Olimpiadi Invernali di PyeongChang

"Dopodomani, venerdì 9 febbraio, si apriranno i XXIII Giochi Olimpici Invernali nella città di PyeongChang, in Corea del Sud, con la partecipazione di 92 Paesi.

La tradizionale tregua olimpica quest’anno acquista speciale importanza: delegazioni delle due Coree sfileranno insieme sotto un’unica bandiera e competeranno come un’unica squadra. Questo fatto fa sperare in un mondo in cui i conflitti si risolvono pacificamente con il dialogo e nel rispetto reciproco, come anche lo sport insegna a fare.

Rivolgo il mio saluto al Comitato Olimpico Internazionale, agli atleti e alle atlete che partecipano ai Giochi di PyeongChang, alle Autorità e al popolo della Penisola di Corea. Tutti accompagno con la preghiera, mentre rinnovo l’impegno della Santa Sede a sostenere ogni utile iniziativa a favore della pace e dell’incontro tra i popoli. Che queste Olimpiadi siano una grande festa dell’amicizia e dello sport! Che Dio vi benedica e vi custodisca!

* * *

Sono lieto di accogliere la Delegazione dell’Episcopato Lituano, presieduta da Monsignor Gintaras Grušas, Arcivescovo di Vilnius; i partecipanti alla settimana di studi per formatori di seminaristi, promosso dalla Pontificia Università della Santa Croce; le Religiose del Sacro Cuore di Gesù; le Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice e l’Istituto secolare Volontarie di Don Bosco. A tutti auguro che la visita alla Città Eterna stimoli ad approfondire la Parola di Dio per poter annunciare che Gesù è il Salvatore.

Saluto il Gruppo del Progetto “Porte aperte” di Guardiagrele, accompagnato da Monsignor Bruno Forte, Arcivescovo di Chieti-Vasto; i gruppi parrocchiali e i Dirigenti e gli Artisti del Circo “Medrano” e del Circo “Rony Rollert Circus”. Vorrei ringraziare anche voi per il vostro lavoro, un lavoro di bellezza; voi con la vostra arte, esprimete la bellezza e per la bellezza fate che tutti noi arriviamo più su, più vicino a Dio. Il vostro lavoro di bellezza ci fa bene a tutti, grazie tante!

Saluto i rappresentanti della Fondazione Banco Farmaceutico che sabato prossimo, nelle farmacie italiane, raccoglieranno farmaci per le persone indigenti.

Rivolgo un pensiero speciale ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Domenica prossima ricorrerà la memoria della Beata Vergine Maria di Lourdes, giorno in cui si celebrerà anche la Giornata Mondiale dell’ammalato. Cari giovani, disponetevi ad essere provvidenza per chi è nella sofferenza; cari ammalati, sentitevi sempre sostenuti dalla preghiera della Chiesa; e voi, cari sposi novelli, amate la vita che è sempre sacra, anche quando è segnata dalla fragilità e dalla malattia."

[1] Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano, 62.
[2] Introduzione al Lezionario, 5.
[3] Cfr Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano, 60 e 134.
[4] Sermone 85, 1: PL 38, 520; cf. anche Trattato sul vangelo di Giovanni, XXX, I: PL 35, 1632; CCL 36, 289.
[5] Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Cost. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 33.
[6] Cfr Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano, 65-66; Introduzione al Lezionario, 24-27.
[7] Cfr Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Cost. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 52.
[8] Esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 137.
[9] Ibid., 138.