· Vatican City ·

Gestures of tenderness towards grandparents

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On the memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the Pontiff’s invitation to young people

31 July 2020

At the end of the Angelus, the Pope speaks about the ceasefire in Donbass


At the Angelus on Sunday, 26 July, Pope Francis focused on the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value, explaining that those treasured items represent Jesus himself,  “who cannot but inspire joy, all the joy of the world: the joy of discovering a meaning for one’s life, the joy of feeling committed to the adventure of holiness”. After reciting the Marian prayer with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, he prayed that the ceasefire agreed upon for the Donbass area would include an “effective process of disarmament and mine clearance”, which “is the only way to rebuild confidence and lay the foundations for the reconciliation that is so necessary and so  awaited by the people”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s reflection, which he shared in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel Reading (cf.  Mt 13:44-52) consists of the final verses of the chapter Matthew devotes to the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven. The passage includes three parables that are very briefly outlined: that of the hidden treasure, that of the precious pearl, and that of the net cast into the sea.

    I will look at the first two in which the Kingdom of Heaven is compared to two different “precious” items, namely, the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great value. The reaction of the one who finds the pearl or the treasure is practically the same: the man and the merchant sell everything to buy what is now most dear to them. With these two similes, Jesus proposes to involve us in the building of the Kingdom of Heaven, presenting an essential characteristic of Christian life, of the life of the Kingdom of heaven: those who fully pledge themselves to the Kingdom are those who are willing to  stake everything, who are courageous. Indeed, both the man and the merchant in the two parables sell everything they have, thus renouncing their material security. From this it can be understood that the building of the Kingdom requires not only the grace of God, but also the active willingness of humanity. Everything is done by grace, everything! We need only have the willingness to receive it, not to resist grace: grace does everything but it takes ‘my’ responsibility, ‘my’ willingness.

    The gestures of that man and the merchant who go searching, depriving themselves of their goods in order to buy more precious treasures, are decisive gestures; they are radical gestures; I would say that they are only ‘one way’ gestures, not a ‘round trip’: they are ‘one way’ gestures. Moreover, they are  made with joy because both of them have found a treasure. We are called upon to assume the attitude of these two Gospel figures, so that we too may become healthily restless seekers of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a matter of abandoning the heavy burden of our worldly certainties that prevent us from seeking and building up the Kingdom: the desire for possession, the thirst for profit and power, and thinking only about ourselves.

    In our times, as we are all aware, the lives of some people can end up mediocre and dull because they probably do not go in search of a true treasure: they are content with attractive but fleeting things,  glittering flashes that prove illusory as they give way to darkness. Instead the light of the Kingdom is not like fireworks, it is light: fireworks last only an instant, whereas the light of the Kingdom accompanies us all our life.

    The Kingdom of Heaven is the opposite of the superfluous things that the world offers; it is the opposite of a dull life: it is a treasure that renews life every day and leads it to expand towards wider horizons. Indeed, those who have found this treasure have a creative and inquisitive heart, which does not repeat but rather invents, tracing and setting out on new paths which lead us to love God, to love others, and to truly love ourselves. The sign of those who walk this path of the Kingdom is creativity, always seeking more. And creativity is what takes life and gives life, and gives, and gives, and gives.... It always looks for many different ways to give life.

    Jesus, who is the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value, cannot but inspire joy, all the joy of the world: the joy of discovering a meaning for one’s life, the joy of feeling committed to the adventure of holiness.

    May the Blessed Virgin help us to search every day for the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven, so that the love God has given us through Jesus may be manifested in our words and gestures.

After the Angelus the Holy Father continued:

    Dear brothers and sisters, on the memorial of  Saints Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ ‘grandparents’, I would like to invite the young to perform a gesture of tenderness towards the elderly, especially the loneliest, in their homes and in residences, those who have not seen their loved ones for many months. Dear young people, each one of these elderly people is your grandparent! Do not leave them by themselves. Use the inventiveness of love, make telephone calls, video calls, send messages, listen to them and, where possible, in compliance with healthcare regulations, go to visit them too. Send them a hug. They are your roots. An uprooted tree cannot grow; it does not blossom or bear fruit. This is why the bond and connection with your roots is important. ‘The blossom of a tree comes from what it has underground’, says a poet from my homeland. Therefore I invite you to give a big round of applause for our grandparents, everyone!

    I understand that a new ceasefire concerning the Donbass area was recently decided in Minsk by members of the Trilateral Contact Group. While I thank them for this sign of goodwill aimed at bringing much-desired peace to that tormented region, I pray that what has been agreed will finally be put into practice, also through effective processes of disarmament and mine clearance. This is the only way to rebuild confidence and lay the foundations for the reconciliation that is so necessary and so  awaited by the people.

    I greet you all from my heart, people of Rome and pilgrims from various countries. In particular, I greet  the faithful from Franca, Brazil; there is the flag over there,  the young people from the Archdiocese of Modena-Nonantola, and those from the parish of Santi Fabiano e Venanzio of Rome. They are loud; they make themselves heard!

    I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!