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Angelus Address: On the Parable of the Talents and the Importance of a True Idea of God

A “Mistaken Image of God” Makes Us “Live in Fear,” “Paralyzes Us” and Is “Self-Destructive”

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In this penultimate Sunday of the Liturgical Year, the Gospel presents the parable of the talents (Cf. Matthew 25:14-30). Before leaving on a journey, a man gave his servants talents, which at the time were coins of notable value: to one servant five talents, to another two, and to another one, according to each one’s ability. The servant that received five talents was entrepreneurial and made them yield, earning another five. The servant who received two behaved in the same way, and earned another two. Instead, the servant that received one dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s coin.
It’s this same servant that explained to his master, on his return, the reason for his gesture, saying: “Lord, I know you are a hard man, who reap where you have not sown and gather where you have not winnowed. I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground (vv. 24-25). This servant doesn’t have a relationship of trust with his master, but is afraid of him, and this blocks him. Fear always immobilizes and often makes one carry out mistaken choices.” Fear discourages one from taking initiatives; it induces one to take refuge in secure and guaranteed solutions, and thus one ends by not doing anything good. One must not be afraid; one must have trust to go forward and to grow in life’s journey.
This parable makes us understand how important it is to have a true idea of God. We must not think that He is a wicked master, hard and severe who wants to punish us. If this mistaken image of God is within us, then our life can’t be fecund, because we’ll live in fear and this won’t lead us to anything constructive, rather, fear paralizes us, it’s self-destructive. We are called to reflect to discover what is truly our idea of God. Already in the Old Testament He revealed Himself as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and a bounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). And Jesus always showed us that God isn’t a severe and intolerant master, but a Father full of love, of tenderness, a Father full of goodness. Therefore we can and must have immense trust in Him.
Jesus shows us the generosity and care of the Father in many ways: with His word, with His gestures, with His reception of all, especially of sinners, little ones and the poor – as the World Day of the Poor reminds us today –; but also with His admonitions, which reveal His interest so that we won’t waste our life uselessly. In fact, it’s a sign that God esteems us greatly: this awareness helps us to be responsible persons in all our actions. Therefore, the parable of the talents calls us to a personal responsibility and a fidelity that becomes also the capacity to set out continually on new paths, without burying our talent, namely, the gifts that God has entrusted to us, and of which He will ask us to account.
May the Holy Virgin intercede for us, so that we remain faithful to the Will of God, making the talents fructify with which He has gifted us. Thus we will be useful to others and, on the last day, the Lord will receive us, <and> will invite us to take part in His joy.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday Francis Solano, priest of the Friars Minor Capuchin, was proclaimed Blessed at Detroit, in the United States of America.  Humble and faithful disciple of Christ, he was distinguished for his tireless service to the poor. May his witness help priests, Religious and laity to live with joy the bond between the proclamation of the Gospel and love of the poor.
It’s what we wished to recall with today’s World Day of the Poor, which is expressed in Rome and in dioceses worldwide in many initiatives of prayer and sharing. I hope that the poor will be at the center of our communities and not only in moments such as this, but always, because they are at the heart of the Gospel; in them we encounter Jesus, who speaks to us and challenges us through their sufferings and their needs.
I wish to remember today in a particular way the populations that experience painful poverty caused by war and conflicts. Hence, I renew my heartfelt appeal to the International Community, to make every possible effort to foster peace, in particular, in the Middle East. A special thought goes to the dear Lebanese people and I pray for the country’s stability, so that it can continue to be a “message” of respect and coexistence for the whole Region and for the entire world.
I pray also for the persons of the crew of the Argentine military submarine, <all> traces <of which> have been lost.
Today is also the Day to remember road victims, instituted by the UN. I encourage public institutions in the commitment to prevention, and I exhort drivers to prudence and respect of the norms, as the first form of protection of oneself and others.
I greet all of you, families, parishes, Associations and individual faithful, who have come from Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrims of the Dominican Republic; the participants in the solidarity race from Kosice (Slovakia) to Rome; and the Ecuadorian community resident in Rome, which is celebrating the Virgin of Quinche. I greet the fraternities of the Italian Trinitarian Secular Order, the faithful of Civitanova Marche, Sanzeno, Termoli, Capua and Nola, and the young Confirmation candidates of Mestrino (Padua).
I wish you all a happy Sunday. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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