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.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The episode recounted by the Gospel of today shows us Jesus at the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, focused on observing how the guests at the meal made such an effort to choose the best places. It’s a scene we’ve seen many times: people looking for the best spots, even ‘elbowing’ each other out of the way.
In seeing this scene, he narrates two brief parables with which he offers two counsels: one refers to place, the other to reward.
The first parallel is set in a nuptial banquet. Jesus says: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man.’”
With this recommendation, Jesus is not giving norms for social etiquette, but rather a lesson on the value of humility. History teaches us that pride, ambition, vanity and ostentation are the cause of many evils. And Jesus helps us see the need we have to choose the last places, that is, to seek littleness and hiddenness: humility.
When we place ourselves before God in this humble way, then God exalts us, he reaches out to us to elevate us toward him: “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 11).
The words of Jesus underscore two attitudes that are completely different and opposed: The attitude of one who choses his own place and the attitude of one who allows his place to be assigned by God and awaits from him his reward.
Let’s not forget this: God pays a lot more than man! He gives us a place much more beautiful than any given us by man. The place given us by God is close to his heart and his reward is eternal life. “Blessed indeed will you be,” Jesus says, “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
This is what is described in the second parable, in which Jesus indicates the disinterested attitude that should characterize hospitality. He says, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.”
This is about choosing gratuitousness instead of opportunistic calculations which aim to obtain a reward, which seek interest and getting richer.
Indeed, the poor, the simple, those who count for nothing, never could repay an invitation to dinner. Thus Jesus shows his preference for the poor and excluded, who are the privileged of the Kingdom of God, and transmits the fundamental message of the Gospel, which is to serve our neighbor for love of God.
Today Jesus becomes the voice of the voiceless and directs to each of us a grief-filled call to open our hearts and make our own the suffering and the anguish of the poor, the hungry, the marginalized, the fugitive, those cast down by life, those rejected by society and the arrogance of the powerful. And these who are thrown away represent, in reality, the majority of the population.
At this time, I think with gratitude of the soup kitchens where so many volunteers offer their service, giving food to people who are alone, in difficulties, without work or without a home.
These soup kitchens and other works of mercy — such as visiting the sick or the imprisoned — are beacons of charity that spread the culture of gratuitousness, because those who work in them are moved by love of God and are enlightened by the wisdom of the Gospel. In this way, service to our brothers becomes a testimony of love, which makes credible and visible the love of Christ.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary to guide us each day on the path of humility. She has been humble her whole life; may she make us capable of actions given gratuitously, acts of welcome, of solidarity with the marginalized, so as to come to be worthy of the divine reward.[Angelus]
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish to renew my spiritual closeness to the inhabitants of Latium, the Marches and Umbria, hard hit by the earthquake in these past days.
I think in particular of the people of Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Norcia. Again I say to those dear people that the Church shares their suffering and their worries.
Let us pray for the dead and for the survivors.
The solicitude with which authorities, police, civil protection workers and volunteers are operating, shows how important solidarity is in order to overcome painful trials.
Dear brothers and sisters, as soon as it is possible, I hope to come to see you, to bring you in person the comfort of the Faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope.
Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, all together:[Hail Mary]
Yesterday in Santiago del Estero, in Argentina, Sister María Antonia de San José was beatified. She is known as Mama Antula. Her exemplary Christian testimony, especially her apostolate to promote the spiritual exercises, can nourish the desire to follow Christ and the Gospel ever more closely.
Next Thursday, Sept. 1, we will celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, together with our Orthodox brothers and other churches. It will be an occasion to reinforce our common efforts to protect life, respecting the environment and nature.
I now greet all the pilgrims from Italy and other countries, in particular the altar servers from Kleineraming, Austria, and the sailors of the Argentina navy school Fragata Libertad — I’ve said it in Spanish because, “la tierra tira” [the homeland exerts its influence]. To the faithful of Gonzaga, Spirano, Brembo, Cordenos and Daverio, the youth of Venaria, Val Liona, Angarano Moncalieri and Tombello.
I wish all of you a good Sunday and please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and arrivederci.[Translation by ZENIT]