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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
We find the answer in the same passage of the Book of Wisdom: “People were taught what pleases you” (Wis 9:18). In order to ascertain the call of God, we must ask ourselves and understand what pleases God. On many occasions the prophets proclaimed what was pleasing to God. Their message found a wonderful synthesis in the words “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13). God is pleased by every act of mercy, because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see (cf. Jn 1:18). Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help, and we visit the Son of God (cf. Mt 25:40). In a word, we touch the flesh of Christ.
We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18). The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need. If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots. The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at his service, so to grow each day in love.
We heard in the Gospel, “Large crowds were travelling with Jesus” (Lk 14:25). Today, this “large crowd” is seen in the great number of volunteers who have come together for the Jubilee of Mercy. You are that crowd who follows the Master and who makes visible his concrete love for each person. I repeat to you the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have indeed received much joy and comfort from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philem 1:7). How many hearts have been comforted by volunteers! How many hands they have held; how many tears they have wiped away; how much love has been poured out in hidden, humble and selfless service! This praiseworthy service gives voice to the faith – it gives voice to the faith! – and expresses the mercy of the Father, who draws near to those in need.
Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and those who are cast aside, and to give oneself in their service. In order to do so, volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense; rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love. And each one of us can say: “Just as the Lord has come to meet me and has stooped down to my level in my hour of need, so too do I go to meet him, bending low before those who have lost faith or who live as though God did not exist, before young people without values or ideals, before families in crisis, before the ill and the imprisoned, before refugees and immigrants, before the weak and defenceless in body and spirit, before abandoned children, before the elderly who are on their own. Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence – and the presence of the Church which sustains and offers hope – must be”. And I do this, keeping alive the memory of those times when the Lord’s hand reached out to me when I was in need.
Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.
Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor. Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness! I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her “Saint Teresa”: her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continual to spontaneously call her “Mother Teresa”. May this tireless worker of mercy help us increasingly to understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer. In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness.
2016 Holy Year of Mercy Pilgrimage
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has announced 2016 to be an Extraordinary Holy Year — a Jubilee of Mercy celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.
To find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, the Archdiocese of Newark has designated its triennial pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, a major Archdiocesan Jubilee of Mercy observance.
The one-day Archdiocesan Pilgrimage will take place on: Saturday, October 22, 2016.
Year of Mercy
December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.
Prayer of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ,
You have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
The opening to Pope Francis’ “The Face of Mercy”:
|St. Matthew – Feast Day September 21st
This Stained Glass Window is located in the Sanctuary.St. Matthew was an apostle and evangelist, a tax collector whom Jesus called to follow Him. As a tax collector, St. Matthew was a member of a hated and despised profession, known for unfairness and greed. By inviting St. Matthew to become an apostle, Jesus showed that God invites all people, even sinners and outcasts, to experience his healing friendship. St. Matthew eventually wrote down the stories and words of Jesus in Aramaic, the ancient language of Palestine. According to legend, St. Matthew spread the Good News in the East, where he was martyred in Ethiopia.
|St. Michael the Archangel – Feast Day September 29th
This window is on the lower level in the Christ the King transept.
St. Michael’s name means “Who is like God?” He is the archangel who is the great prince, the guardian of God’s people. In the Book of Revelation, St. Michael is the protector of the Church and the angel who escorts the souls of the departed to heaven. St. Michael is usually depicted in art as an angel in soldier’s armor.
|St. Gabriel the Archangel – Feast Day September 29th
This window is part of the Queen of the Universe window in the transept.
St. Gabriel is an Archangel and Messenger of God. One of the three angels mentioned by name in the Bible. Appeared to the prophet Daniel to explain the prophet’s visions relating to the Messiah. (Daniel 8:16-26; 9:21) Appeared to Zachariah in the temple to announce the coming of Zachariah son, John the Baptist, and to strike Zachariah mute for his disbelief. (Luke 1:11-20) Appeared to Mary to let her know she’d been selected to bear the Savior. (Luke 1:25-38)
|Saint Francis of Assisi – Feast Day October 4th
This window is part of the Christ the King window in the transept.
St. Francis Assisi if one of the most beloved Saints of all time. When he was young he was a wealthy soldier. Then he had a vision of Christ that radically changed his life. St. Francis was devoted to the poverty stricken and the care of the sick. He began religious orders of priests and brothers and with the help of St. Clare an order of nuns. St. Francis had a great love of earth and nature. He once said to a withering tree, “Sister tree, speak to me of God!” and the tree blossomed. Before he died St. Francis said, “Nothing comforts me so much to think of the life and passion of our Lord. Were I to live to the end of the world I would need no other book”.