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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
This Sunday’s Gospel reports one of Jesus’ most incisive statements: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24).
Here there is a synthesis of Christ’s message and it is expressed with a very effective paradox, which informs us of his way of speaking, it almost makes us hear his voice…
But what does it mean “to lose your life for Jesus’ sake”? This can happen in 2 ways: explicitly confessing the faith or implicitly defending the truth. The martyrs are the supreme example of losing one’s life for Christ. In two thousand years there has been a great multitude of men and women who have sacrificed their life to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world there are many, many – more than in previous centuries – many martyrs, who give their life for Christ, who are put to death for not rejecting Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the previous centuries! But there is also daily martyrdom, which does not bring death but is also a “losing one’s life” for Christ, duty your duty with love, following the logic of Jesus, the logic of the gift, of sacrifice. Let us think of how many fathers and mothers put their faith in practice by concretely offering their life for the good of the family! Think about these people! How many priests, brothers, sisters carry out their service for the kingdom of God with generosity! How many young people renounce their own interests to care for children, the disabled, the elderly… They too are martyrs! Daily martyrs, martyrs of daily life!
And then there are many people, Christians and non-Christians, who “lose their life” for truth. And Christ said, “I am the truth,” so whoever serves the truth serves Christ.
One of these people, who gave his life for the truth, is John the Baptist. In fact,tomorrow, June 24, is his great feast, the solemnity of his birth. John was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus, and he pointed him out to the people of Israel as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29). John consecrated himself entirely to God and to the one he sent, Jesus. But in the end, what happened? He died for the sake of truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth! How many just men prefer to go against the current so as not to reject the voice of conscience, the voice of truth! Just persons, who are not afraid to go against the current! And we, we must not have fear to go against the current, when they want to steel our hope, when they propose these rotten values, values that are like food that has gone bad and when food has gone bad, it makes us sick; these values make us sick. We must go against the current! And you young people, you must be the first: Go against the current and be proud to go against the current. Forward, be courageous and go against the current! Be proud to do it!
Dear friends, let us welcome these words of Jesus. It is a rule of life proposed to everyone. And St. John the Baptist helps us to put them into practice.
On this path we are, as always, preceded by our Mother, Mary Most Holy: she lost her life for Jesus, going to the cross, and she received it [back] in fullness, with all the light and beauty of the Resurrection. May Mary help us always make the logic of the Gospel our own.[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father spoke these words to those who were present:]
Remember this well: do not be afraid to go against the current! Be courageous! And just as we do not want to eat spoiled food, we must not have these rotten values that ruin life and take away hope. Forward!
I greet with affection the families, the parish groups, the associations, the schools. I greet the students of the diocesan high school of Vipàva in Slovenia; the Polish community of Ascoli Piceno (Italy); the UNITALSI (National Italian Transport Union of Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) of Ischia di Castro (Italy); the young people of the Oratory of Urgnano (Italy) – I see their banner here: Great, you are great! – the faithful of Pordenone (Italy); the sisters and workers of Miulli Hospital of Acquaviva delle Fonti (Italy); a group of union members from the Region of Veneto (Italy).
I wish everyone a good Sunday!
Pray for me and have a good lunch![Translation by Joseph Trabbic]