The Gospel for the Feast of the Visitation features the encounter of four people with each other: Elizabeth and her son John the Baptist, and Mary and her Son Jesus Christ. Approaching the first anniversary […]
Vatican City, Jan 15, 2023 / 06:17 am (CNA).
In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to cultivate the virtue of knowing “how to step aside” in order to bear witness to Jesus, as St. John the Baptist did.
The pope also announced that an ecumenical prayer vigil will take place in St. Peter’s Square as part of the Church’s ongoing Synod on Synodality.
Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace on Jan. 15, the pope shared lessons from St. John the Baptist’s “spirit of service.”
Pope Francis said that St. John was “not interested in having a following for himself, in gaining prestige and success, but he bears witness and then steps back, so that many may have the joy of meeting Jesus.”
He reflected on St. John’s words after baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River: “‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.” (John 1: 29-30).
“This declaration, this testimony, reveals John’s spirit of service,” the pope said. “Humanly speaking, one would think that he would be given a ‘prize,’ a prominent place in Jesus’ public life. But no. John, having accomplished his mission, knows how to step aside, he withdraws from the scene to make way for Jesus.”
In this way, St. John the Baptist teaches “freedom from attachments” and “gratuitousness, taking care of others without benefit for oneself,” he said.
“Because it is easy to become attached to roles and positions, to the need to be esteemed, recognized and rewarded,” the pope reflected.
“It is good for us, too, to cultivate, like John, the virtue of setting ourselves aside at the right moment, bearing witness that the point of reference of life is Jesus.”
Pope Francis recommended self-reflection on the following questions: “Do we attract others to Jesus, or to ourselves? And furthermore, following the example of John: Do we know how to rejoice in the fact that people take their own path and follow their calling, even if this entails some detachment from us? Do we rejoice in their achievements with sincerity and without envy?”
At the end of his general audience, Pope Francis announced that an ecumenical prayer vigil will take place in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 30, 2023, as part of the Church’s ongoing Synod on Synodality.
The ecumenical prayer vigil, organized by the Taizé Community, will “entrust to God the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” set to take place in two sessions from Oct. 4 to 29, 2023, and in October 2024.
“Starting now, I invite our brothers and sisters of all Christian denominations to participate in this gathering of the People of God,” the pope said.
Pope Francis also highlighted the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will begin this week on Jan. 18, noting that the “path to Christian unity and the Church’s journey to synodal conversion are linked.”
“We thank the Lord who faithfully and patiently guides his people toward full communion, and we ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and sustain us with his gifts,” he said.
The pope urged people “not to forget the martyred people of Ukraine, who are suffering so much” and to remain close to them with aid and prayers.
He also greeted pilgrims who traveled to Rome from across the globe. “May your visit to St. Peter’s tomb strengthen your faith and your witness,” he said.
Pope Francis gives his Angelus address on Dec. 26, 2021. / Credit: Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Dec 4, 2022 / 06:15 am (CNA).
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In Advent and Christmas our thoughts turn, naturally, to the baby Jesus and his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Most people think this time of year is about the miraculous birth of Our Lord, Jesus […]
Some months, like August, seem to be populated by a very long procession of martyrs: The Holy Maccabees (1), Sixtus and his companions (7), Edith Stein (9), Lawrence (10), Pontian and Hippolytus (13), Maximilian Kolbe […]
Vatican City, Jun 23, 2022 / 02:30 am (CNA).
Cardinal Kevin Farrell said on Thursday that Saint John the Baptist is a witness to the sacredness of life from conception to natural death.
The Irish-American cardinal celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 23.
The Mass in English was part of the World Meeting of Families 2022, taking place in Rome from June 22-26 with families from around the world. Families are also encouraged to participate in the event from home via livestream.
Even before Saint John the Baptist was born, “at the moment of Mary’s greeting, [he] recognized the Lord Jesus and leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb,” Farrell said.
“A call from God reached him while he was still in the womb,” he noted. “It invested him with the great task of preparing the hearts of humankind to receive the Savior of the world.”
The cardinal, who leads the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, which organized the World Meeting of Families, said Saint John’s reaction to encountering the unborn Jesus points to an important aspect of family life.
“All of this helps us to understand another key dimension of the family vocation,” he said, “to be guardians of the sacredness of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death.”
Saint John the Baptist’s birth is ordinarily celebrated on June 24, but is moved to June 23 when it coincides with the Feast of Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as happened this year.
“The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name,” Farrell said, quoting Isaiah 49:1.
“The life of each child must be protected and defended precisely because God has great plans for that child’s goodness and holiness right from the beginning,” he said.
“God’s call has reached your children too,” he continued, “right from the beginning, so that all of them may be saints of tomorrow and will make our world a brighter place for all.”