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Angelus Address: On the Fulfillment of the Messiah’s Mission

Jesus’ Decision to Go to Jerusalem ‘Is Radical and Total, and Those that Follow Him Are Called to Measure Themselves against It’

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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 today’s Gospel (Cf. Luke 9:51-62), Saint Luke begins the account of Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem, which will close in chapter 19. It’s a long walk, not only geographic and spatial but spiritual and theological, towards the fulfillment of the Messiah’s mission. Jesus’ decision is radical and total, and those that follow Him are called to measure themselves against it The evangelist presents three personages to us today — three cases of vocation, we could say — which bring to light what is required of one who wants to follow Jesus to the end — totally.
The first personage promises Him: “I will follow you wherever you go” (v. 57). He is generous! However, Jesus answers that, unlike the foxes that have holes, and the birds that have nests, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (v. 58) — Jesus’ absolute poverty.  Jesus, in fact, has left the paternal home and given up every security to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the lost sheep of His people. So Jesus has shown us, His disciples, that our mission in the world cannot be static but itinerant. A Christian is an itinerant. By her nature the Church is in movement, she isn’t sedentary and tranquil in her enclosure. She is open to the vastest horizons, sent — the Church is sent! — to take the Gospel on the roads and reach the human and existential peripheries. This is the first personage.
The second personage that Jesus encounters receives the call directly from Him, but he answers: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (v. 59). It’s a legitimate request, based on the Commandment to honor one’s father and mother (Cf. Exodus 20:12). However, Jesus replies: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead” (v. 60). With these words, willingly provocative, He intends to affirm the primacy of the following and of the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, even over the most important realities, such as the family. The urgency to communicate the Gospel, which breaks the chain of death and inaugurates eternal life, doesn’t admit delays but calls for promptness and availability. Therefore, the Church is itinerant, and here the Church is resolute; she acts in a hurry, at the moment, without waiting.
The third personage also wants to follow Jesus but he has a condition: he will do so after having gone to take leave of his parents. And he hears the Master say to him: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” (v. 62). The following of Jesus excludes regrets and looking back, but requires the virtue of decision.
To follow Jesus, the Church is itinerant, she acts immediately, in a hurry and resolute. The value of these conditions set by Jesus — itinerancy, promptness, and decision — doesn’t lie in a series of “no’s” said to good and important things of life. Rather, the accent is put on the main objective: to become a disciple of Christ! A free and conscious choice made out of love, to return God’s inestimable grace, and not made as a way of promoting oneself. This is sad! Woe to those that think of following Jesus to promote themselves, namely, to have a career, to feel important or to acquire a prestigious post. Jesus wants us to be passionate for Him and for the Gospel. A passion of the heart that is translated in concrete gestures of proximity, of closeness, of hospitality and care of <our> neediest brothers, exactly as He himself lived.
May the Virgin Mary, icon of the Church on the way, help us to follow the Lord Jesus with joy and, with renewed love, to proclaim to brothers the Good News of salvation.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester] © Libreria Editrice Vatican
After the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In the last hours, we have witnessed in Korea a good example of the culture of encounter. I greet the protagonists, with the prayer that such a significant gesture may constitute a further step on the path of peace, not only in the Peninsula but in favor of the whole world.
On this last day of June, I hope all workers will be able to have a period of rest during the summer, which is good for them and for their families.
I pray for all those that, in these days, have greatly suffered the consequences of the heat: the sick, the elderly, persons that have to work in the open air, in construction sites . . . May no one be abandoned or exploited.
And now I give my warm welcome to all of you, Romans and pilgrims: families, parish groups and Associations.
In particular, I greet the group of Sisters of Saint Elizabeth and the pilgrims who have come on bicycle from Sartirana Lomellina. I see there are so many Poles . . . I greet the Poles. Good!
I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester] © Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Virginia Forrester

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