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Angelus Address: On the Beginning of Jesus’ Public Ministry

Today’s Gospel ‘Shows Us that Jesus’ Public Ministry Begins with Rejection, with a Death Threat . . . A Price that Yesterday as Today a Genuine Prophecy Is Called to Pay’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave February 3, 2019, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Present today, among others, were the youngsters of Catholic Action of the Diocese of Rome, who were concluding their “Caravan of Peace” — the month of January, dedicated traditionally by them to the theme of peace –, whose slogan this year was “Peace is Served.” At the end of the prayer of the Angelus, two youngsters belonging to two different Roman parishes — invited to the papal apartment –, read a message in the name of Catholic Action of Rome, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its birth.
* * *
Before the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last Sunday the liturgy proposed to us the episode of the Synagogue of Nazareth, where Jesus read a passage of the prophet Isaiah, and at the end revealed that those words were fulfilled “today” in Him. Jesus presents Himself as the one on whom the Spirit of the Lord rested, who consecrated Him and sent Him to carry out the mission of salvation in favor of humanity.
Today’s Gospel  (Cf. Luke 4:21-30) is the continuation of that story and it shows us the amazement of His fellow citizens on seeing that one of their country — “Joseph’s son” (v. 22) –, pretends to be the Christ, the one sent by the Father. With His ability to penetrate minds and hearts, Jesus understands immediately what His countrymen think. They hold that, He being one of them, must demonstrate His strange “claim,” doing miracles there, at Nazareth, as He did in neighboring countries (Cf. v. 23). However, Jesus doesn’t want and can’t accept this logic, because it doesn’t correspond to God’s plan: God wants faith; they want miracles, signs; God wants to save all, and they want a Messiah for their own advantage. And, to explain God’s logic, Jesus gives the example of two great ancient prophets: Elijah and Elisha, whom God had sent to heal and save non-Hebrew persons, of other peoples, but who had trusted in His word.
In face of this invitation to open their hearts to the gratuitousness and universality of salvation, the citizens of Nazareth rebel, and, in fact, assume an aggressive attitude, which degenerates to the point that “they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill [. . . ] that they might throw Him down headlong” (v. 29). The admiration of the first instant changed into aggression, a rebellion against Him.
And this Gospel shows us that Jesus’ public ministry begins with a rejection, with a death threat, paradoxically in fact on the part of His fellow citizens. In living the mission entrusted to Him by the Father, Jesus knows well that He must face toil, rejection, persecution, and defeat. A price that, yesterday as today, genuine prophecy is called to pay. However, the harsh rejection doesn’t discourage Jesus or halt the path and fruitfulness of His prophetic action. He goes forward on His way (Cf. v. 30), trusting in the Father’s love.
Today also, the world is in need of seeing prophets in the Lord’s disciples, namely, courageous and persevering persons in responding to the Christian vocation. Persons that follow the “thrust” of the Holy Spirit, who sends them to proclaim hope and salvation to the poor and the excluded; persons that follow the logic of faith and not of utopianism; persons dedicated to the service of all, without privileges or exclusions. In a few words, persons that open themselves to accept in themselves the will of God and who commit themselves to witness it faithfully to others.
Let us pray to Mary Most Holy so that we can grow and walk in the same apostolic ardor for the Kingdom of God That animated Jesus’ mission.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I follow with great concern the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The population is exhausted from the long conflict and many children suffer hunger, but it’s not possible to access the food deposits. Brothers and sisters, the cry of these children and of their parents rises in the presence of God. I make an appeal to the interested parties and to the International Community to foster urgently the observance of the agreements reached, to ensure the distribution of food and to work for the good of the population. I invite all to pray for our brothers of Yemen.  “Hail Mary . . . “ Let us pray intensely because they are children who are hungry; who are thirsty; who have no medicines and are in danger of death. Let us take this thought home with us.
Being observed today in Italy is Pro-Life Day, whose theme is “It’s life, It’s Future.” I associate myself to the Bishops’’ Message and I express my encouragement to the ecclesial communities that promote and support life in so many ways. A concrete commitment is ever more necessary to foster births, which involves institutions and the various cultural and social realities, recognizing the family as society’s generative womb.
This coming February 5, in the Far East and in various parts of the world, millions of men and women will celebrate the end of the lunar year. I wish to greet all cordially, hoping that in their families the virtues are practiced that help to live in peace with oneself, with others, and with Creation. I invite you to pray for the gift of peace, to receive and cultivate it with each one’s contribution.
I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims, in particular, the faithful from Croatia and Poland; those of Lecce, Potenza, Cerignola, San Benedetto del Tronto and Castelliri.
I greet the Pious Sisters Disciples of the Divine Master and the parish choir of Claut (Pordenone). I greet affectionately the boys and girls of Catholic Action of the Diocese of Rome. Dear youngsters, I’m happy to receive you, together with the Cardinal Vicar, the assistant priests, your parents, and educators, at the end of the ”Caravan of Peace.” With this initiative, you open the celebrations for the 150 years of the foundation of Catholic Action of Rome, and the 50 years of the birth of the ACR. I hope you will be joyful witnesses of peace and fraternity. Now we listen together to the message that your friends, next to me here, will read to us.
[Reading of the Message] And now the balloons will go up to the sky, symbol of our prayers for peace in the world.
[Launching of the balloons] In less than an hour, I will leave for a brief but important trip to the United Arab Emirates. Please, accompany me with prayer.
A happy Sunday to all. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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Virginia Forrester

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