‘The demands that Jesus sets before us cease to be burdensome as soon as we begin to taste the joy of the new life that he himself sets before us’
Pope Francis stressed this today, Sept. 8, 2019, to some one million faithful during the Mass he celebrated in the Soa Mandrakizay diocesan field in Antananarivo, Madagascar, during his second full day of his visit to the country, during his 31st Apostolic Trip.
Francis is traveling to the African nations of Mozambique, Madagascar and the island of Mauritius, Sept. 4-10, 2019.
Today, the Church also celebrates the Blessed Mother’s Nativity.
The Holy Father began by explaining three demands of Jesus, the first having to do with family relationships, the second having to do with not identifying Kingdom of God with our own agenda, and the third having to do with being grateful.
“With these demands, the Lord,” the Holy Father underscored, “asks us to lift our gaze, to adjust our priorities and, above all, to make room for God to be the center and axis of our life.”
When speaking about the second demand, Francis noted how we cannot follow Christ if we are attached “to an ideology that would abuse the name of God or of a religion to justify acts of violence, segregation and even murder, exile, terrorism and marginalization.”
The Pope noted that as we look around us, we must recognize how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need. “This is not part of God’s plan!”
We Christians, he stressed, “cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness.”
The Word of God today, Francis stressed, dares us to take a leap and adopt the wisdom of personal detachment as the basis for social justice and for our personal lives. Together, he said, we can resist all those forms of idolatry that make us think only of “the deceptive securities” of power, career, money and glory.
“The demands that Jesus sets before us cease to be burdensome as soon as we begin to taste the joy of the new life that he himself sets before us.”
This, he noted, is the joy “born of knowing that he is the first to seek us at the crossroads, even when we are lost like the sheep or the prodigal son.”
“May this humble realism,” the Pontiff prayed, “inspire us to take on great challenges and give you the desire to make your beautiful country a place where the Gospel becomes life, and where life is for the greater glory of God.”
Pope Francis concluded, encouraging: “Let us commit ourselves and let us make the Lord’s plans our own,” he said.
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