3. He came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for all. In Christ's footsteps, the gift of self to all men and women represents a fundamental imperative for the Church as well as an indication of the method for her mission.
Self-giving means above all recognizing the other's value and his needs. "The missionary attitude always begins with a feeling of deep esteem for "what is in man', for what man has himself worked out in the depths of his spirit concerning the most profound and important problems. It is a question of respecting everything that has been brought about in him by the Spirit, which "blows where it wills'" (Redemptor hominis, n. 12).
As Jesus revealed God's solidarity with the human person by totally assuming his condition, except for sin, so the Church wishes to be in solidarity with "the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted in any way" (Gaudium et spes, n. 1). She approaches the human person with the discretion and respect of one who has a service to perform and believes that the first and greatest service is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, to make the Saviour known, the one who revealed the Father and, at the same time, revealed man to himself.
4. The Church wants to proclaim Jesus, the Christ, the son of Mary, by following the way that Christ himself did: service, poverty, humility, the cross. Therefore, she must forcefully resist the temptations that today's Gospel allows us to glimpse in the behaviour of the two brothers who wanted to sit "one at the right and one at the left" of the Master, but also of the other disciples who showed that they were not indifferent to the spirit of rivalry and competition. Christ's words draw a clear dividing line between the spirit of domination and that of service. For one of Christ's disciples, being first means being "the servant of all".
It is an inversion of values, which can be understood only by looking at the Son of man "despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53: 3). These are words which the Holy Spirit will enable the Church to understand in relation to the mystery of Christ. Only at Pentecost will the Apostles receive the ability to believe in the "power of weakness" revealed in the Cross.
At this point my thoughts turn to the many missionaries who, day after day, in silence and without the support of any human power, proclaim and, even before, bear witness to their love for Jesus, often to the point of giving their lives, as has recently happened. What a sight opens before our heart's eye! How many brothers and sisters generously spend their energies on the far frontiers of God's kingdom! They are Bishops, priests, religious and lay people who are a living image of Christ for us, showing him concretely as the Lord who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life out of love for the Father and for his brethren. My appreciation goes to them all, along with my warm encouragement to persevere with confidence. Courage, my brothers and sisters! Christ is with you.
But the entire People of God must be at the side of those who labour in the front lines of the mission "ad gentes", with each one making his contribution, as the founders of the Pontifical Mission Societies understood and stressed so well: everyone can and should participate in evangelization: even the young, even the sick, even the poor with their mite, just like the widow whom Jesus held up as an example (cf. Luke 21: 1-4). Mission is the work of all God's People, each one in the vocation to which Providence has called him.
5. Jesus' words about service are also a prophetic message about a new style of relationships to be fostered not only in the Christian community but also in society. We must never lose hope of creating a more fraternal world. Unregulated competition, the desire to dominate others at any cost, the discrimination caused by those who believe themselves superior to others, the unbridled pursuit of wealth are at the origin of injustices, violence and wars.
Jesus' words then become an invitation to pray for peace. Mission is the proclamation of God who is Father, of Jesus who is our older brother, of the Spirit who is love. Mission is humble but impassioned collaboration in the plan of God, who wants humanity to be saved and reconciled. At the summit of human history according to God there is a project of communion. Mission must contribute to this project.
Let us ask the Queen of Peace, Queen of the Missions and Star of Evangelization, for the gift of peace. Let us invoke her maternal protection on all who generously work to spread the name and message of Jesus. May she obtain for us such a living and ardent faith that the proclamation of the truth of Christ, the only Saviour of the world, may be heard with renewed force by the men and women of our time.
Lastly, I would like to recall the words I spoke 22 years ago in this square: "Do not be afraid! Open the doors to Christ!".
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
22 October 2012
26 October 2012
Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians 2:12-22
Do not forget that you had no Christ and were excluded from membership of Israel, aliens with no part in the covenants with their Promise; you were immersed in this world, without hope and without God.
But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ.
For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law.
This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single Body and reconcile them with God: in his own person he killed the hostility.
Later he came to bring the good news of peace, peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near at hand.
Through him, both of us have in the one Spirit our way to come to the Father.
So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household.
You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone.
As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.
What’s the use of this cornerstone in a masonry structure?
The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure (see picture above).
According to Saint Paul, with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone, we are probably the bricks, rafters, tiles, facade panels, doors & windows etc. that made up the structure. The apostles and prophets are the foundation (not shown) supporting the entire structure - sitting on firm Rock Stratum (Jesus Christ, cf. Isaiah 26:1-6, Encouragements-57) to avoid possible settlement or movement of the structure. 8-)
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Luke 12:36-38
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit.
Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks.
Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.
I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them.
It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.’
Mass Readings on 23 October 2012:
1st Reading: Ephesians 2:12-22 (see above);
Psalm 85:9-14 (see Encouragements-26) &
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:36-38 (see above)
After the aforesaid Readings, a wise and elderly Priest had given a short sermon, we have summarized to share with you:
In the aforesaid Gospel Reading, Jesus is telling us to be vigilant.
All of us need to sleep and rest to be re-charged, but the devil doesn’t sleep at all; if we are not careful, he would just enter the door and create all sorts of chaos in our lives.
Then how to be vigilant? This wise Priest told us to live in the “Presence of God” i.e. to live as Saint Paul said:
“Whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians, Chapters 10:31) – See Encouragements-75.
26 October 2012