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A decisive message

Tuesday, 13 June 2017



The “Gospel message” does not permit “nuances” or uncertainties; one cannot hide behind a “perhaps” or either “yes or no”. “Yes” is the only word upon which the Christian message is based. And it is this strength that “leads to witness”, to being “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”, and to “glorifying God”. These “powerful” images and words were at the centre of Pope Francis’ homily at Santa Marta on Tuesday, 13 June.

The “powerful images”, the Pope stated, indicated “how overwhelming, thrilling, decisive the Gospel message is”. Thus, the Pope explained, we are not speaking about “those words, those nuances that are a little ‘yes-yes’, ‘no-no’, and that in the end leave us searching for artificial security, as, for example, in casuistry”. Instead let us consider the “powerful words: ‘yes’ and the like. Words which point to the power of the Gospel, the strength of the Christian message, that strength that enables us to bear witness and also to glorify God”.

Saint Paul, for example, in the second letter to the Corinthians (1:18-22), explains that this ‘yes’, includes “all the promises of God: which are fulfilled in Jesus. They are ‘yeses’”, because “he is the fullness of the promises. In him are fulfilled all that was promised and because of this he is the fullness, he is ‘yes’”. Indeed, Pope Francis continued: “in Jesus there are no ‘nos’: there is always ‘yes’, for the glory of the Father”. And the Pontiff added: “we too participate in this ‘yes’ of Jesus, because he has conferred the anointing upon us, he has imprinted the seal upon us , he has given us the Spirit’s ‘guaranty’”. Therefore “we participate because we are anointed, sealed and we have in our hand that security — that ‘guaranty’ of the Spirit”, of that Spirit “who takes us to the definitive ‘yes’”, to “our fullness”, and “who helps us to become light and salt”, that is, to bear “witness”.

On the other hand there are those, “who hide the light and produce a counter-witness: they are a little ‘yes’ and a little ‘no’. They have the light, but do not give it, do not let it be seen and in not letting it be seen do not glorify the Father who is in heaven”. In the same way, there are those who “have salt, but who keep it for themselves and do not give it, in order to avoid being corrupted.” The Lord, instead, has taught us “decisive words” and has said: “let your speech be this: yes, no. Anything else comes form the evil one”.

This “attitude of certainty and witness”, the Holy Father explained, has been entrusted by the Lord “to the Church and to all the baptized”, who are asked “trust in the fullness of the promises in Christ: in Christ it is completely fulfilled”, and is a “witness to others”. This, he added, “is to be Christian: to enlighten, to help keep the message and the people from becoming corrupted”, to do “as salt does”.

But if the “‘yeses’ in Jesus” and the “‘down payment’ of the Spirit” are not accepted, then the “witness will be weak”.

The “Christian proposal”, the Pope specified, is as “simple” as it is “decisive”, and it gives “so much hope”. So it is enough to ask ourselves: “am I light for others? Am I salt for others, which flavours life and protects it from corruption? Do I hold fast to Jesus Christ, who is the ‘yes’? Do I feel I am anointed, sealed? Do I know that I have this security that will be fulfilled in heaven, but at least is the ‘guaranty’ of it now, the Spirit?”.

To better understand the similarities between light and salt, Pope Francis has recalled that also “in everyday parlance, when in a person is full of light, we say: ‘this is a lighthearted person’”. Here, the Pope explained, we are facing the “the Father’s reflection in Jesus, in whom the promises are fulfilled”, and before the “reflection of the anointing of the Spirit which all of us have”.

But, Pope Francis concluded, what is the end of all this? Why, then “have we all received this?”. The response can be found in the day’s readings. In fact, Saint Paul says “we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God”, therefore, “to glorify God”. And in the Gospel of Matthew (5: 13-16), Jesus says to his disciples: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father”. Once again, “to glorify God”. Thus, the Pope suggested, “let us seek this grace: to hold fast, take root in the fullness of the promises in Christ Jesus, that it is ‘yes’, totally ‘yes’”, and to “bring forth this fullness with the salt and light of our witness to others in order to give glory to our Father who is in heaven”.

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