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Monday, June 17, 2013


Vatican City, 16 June 2013 (VIS) – At 10:30 this morning in a crowded St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis presided at the Mass for the Day in the Year of Faith dedicated to Evangelium Vitae. Before celebrating the Eucharist, the Bishop of Rome was driven down the Via della Conciliazione in the open popemobile to greet the tens of thousands of persons who had come from all over the world to participate.

Following are ample excerpts from the Pope's homily, which focused on three main points: the Bible reveals the living God to us; Jesus Christ gives life; and the Holy Spirit keeps us in that new life. Following God's path brings life while following idols leads to death.

The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. ... Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. ... The King is forced to face his deeds of death ... He recognizes what he has done and he begs forgiveness... The God of mercy, who desires life and always forgives us, now forgives David and restores him to life.”

The Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the One who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth ... thanks to his breath, man has life. … the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions ... on the contrary, they are a great “Yes!”: a yes to God, to Love, to life.”

Today’s Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: 'Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little'. Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God ... Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. ... God, the Living One, is merciful.”

This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: 'The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.' … Who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit … who leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. ... Christians are 'spiritual'. This does not mean that we are people who live 'in the clouds', far removed from real life ... No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit ... And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.”

God is the Living One, the Merciful One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love – a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

Let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say 'Yes' to love and not selfishness. Let us say 'Yes' to life and not death. Let us say 'Yes' to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say 'Yes' to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints; let us say 'Yes' to the God who is the Living One and the Merciful One.”

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