After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 23 July, the third World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, Pope Francis invited a grandmother and her grandson to join him at the window. Earlier, at the end of Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, a group of grandparents had symbolically handed World Youth Day crosses to several young people who will be in Lisbon for the event from 1 to 6 August. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Gospel offers us the parable of the wheat and the weeds (cf. Mt 13:24-43). A farmer, who has sown good seed in his field, discovers that an enemy by night has sown weeds in it, a plant that looks very similar to wheat, but is invasive.
In this way, Jesus talks about our world, which in effect is like a large field, where God sows wheat and the evil one sows weeds, and therefore good and bad grow together. Good and bad grow together. We see this in the news, in society, and even in the family and the Church. And when, along with the good wheat, we see bad weeds, we want to tear them up immediately, to make a “clean sweep”. But today the Lord warns us that to do this is a temptation: one cannot create a perfect world, and one cannot do good by hastily destroying what is bad, because this results in even worse effects: one ends up, as we say, “throwing the baby away with the bathwater”.
There is, however, a second field where we can clean up: it is the field of our heart, the only one where we can intervene directly. There, too, there are wheat and weeds. Indeed, it is precisely from there that both expand into the great field of the world. Brothers and sisters, our heart, in fact, is a field of freedom: it is not a sterile laboratory, but rather an open and therefore vulnerable space. To cultivate it properly, it is necessary on the one hand to take constant care of the delicate shoots of goodness, and on the other, to identify and uproot the weeds, at the right time. So let us look within a bit and examine what is happening, what is growing within me, what grows in me that is good and evil. There is a good method for this: it is called an examination of conscience, which is seeing what happened today in my life, what struck my heart and which decisions I made. And this is precisely to verify, in the light of God, where the bad weeds and the good seed are.
After the field of the world, and the field of the heart, there is a third field. We can call it the neighbour’s field. They are the people we associate with every day, and whom we often judge. How easy it is to recognize their weeds, how we like to “flay” others! And how difficult it is, instead, to know how to see the good grain that is growing! Let us remember, though, that if we want to cultivate the fields of life, it is important to seek first and foremost the work of God: to learn to see the beauty of what the Lord has sown, the sun-kissed wheat with its golden ears, in others, in the world and in ourselves. Brothers and sisters, let us ask for the grace to be able to see it in ourselves, but also in others, starting from those who are close to us. It is not a naïve perspective; it is the perspective of one who believes, because God, the farmer of the great field of the world, loves to see goodness and to make it grow to make the harvest a feast!
So today too, we can ask ourselves some questions. Thinking of the field of the world: Do I know how to resist the temptation to generalize, to sweep others aside with my judgments? Then, thinking of the field of the heart: Am I honest in seeking out the bad weeds in myself, and decisive in throwing them into the fire of God’s mercy? And, thinking of the neighbour’s field: Do I have the wisdom to see what is good without being discouraged by the limitations and sluggishness of others?
May the Virgin Mary help us to cultivate patiently what the Lord sows in the field of life, in my field, in the neighbour’s, in everyone’s field.
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, today, while many young people are preparing to depart for World Youth Day, we are celebrating World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. This is why I have next to me a young person and a grandmother: grandson and grandmother. A round of applause for both of them! May the proximity of the two Days be an invitation to promote an alliance between the generations, of which we are in great need because the future is built together in sharing experiences and in reciprocal care between the young and the elderly. Let us not forget them. And let us applaud all grandfathers and grandmothers! Louder!
Here, and in many countries, we are experiencing extreme climatic events: on the one hand, various regions are affected by anomalous heatwaves and struck by devastating fires; on the other, in a number of places there are storms and floods, like those that have swept across South Korea in recent days. I am close to those who suffer and those who are assisting the victims and the displaced. And please, I reiterate my appeal to the leaders of Nations, that something more tangible be done to limit polluting emissions: it is an urgent challenge and cannot be postponed; it affects everyone. Let us protect our common home!
And now I would like to draw attention to the ordeal that continues to unfold for migrants in the northern part of Africa. Thousands of them, amid unspeakable suffering, have been trapped and abandoned in desert areas for weeks. I appeal in particular to European and African heads of State to provide urgent relief and aid to these brothers and sisters. Let the Mediterranean no longer be a theatre of death and inhumanity. May the Lord enlighten the minds and hearts of all, inspiring sentiments of fraternity, solidarity and hospitality.
And let us continue to pray for peace, especially for dear Ukraine, which continues to suffer death and destruction, as unfortunately occurred also last night in Odessa.
I greet you all, people of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and many countries, in particular those from Brazil, Poland, Uruguay… there are many of you! Also, the students from Buenos Aires and the faithful of the Diocese of Legnica, Poland. I also greet the “Quarant’anni dopo” cycling tour group from Cogorno, participants in the “Pedalar pela Paz”, and the children welcomed by several communities in Lazio.
I wish you all a happy Sunday, and please, do not forget to pray for me. And let us also pray for this grandmother, this grandson, and with all grandparents and grandchildren.
Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!