On Divine Providence

A heart that is preoccupied with the desire to possess is a heart that is full of this desire to possess, but it lacks God

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 1888 hits

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

At the center of this Sunday’s liturgy we find one of the most comforting truths: divine providence. The prophet Isaiah presents it as an image of maternal love full of tenderness, and says this: “Could a woman forget her child, be without tenderness for the offspring of her womb?” (49:15). How beautiful this is! God does not forget us, each one of us! He does not forget about each of us with a first and last name. He loves us and does not forget us. What a beautiful thought... This invitation to confidence in God has a parallel in the passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “Look at the birds of the sky,” says Jesus, “they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them ... Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them” (Matthew 6:26, 28-29).

But considering the many people who live in precarious conditions, or in a misery that offends their dignity, these words of Jesus might seem abstract, if not illusory. But in reality they are more actual than ever! They remind us that you cannot serve 2 masters: God and wealth. So long as everyone is out to get whatever he can for himself, there will never be justice. We must understand this well! So long as everyone is out to get whatever he can for himself, there will never be justice. If, however, trusting in God’s providence, we seek his kingdom together, then no one will lack what they need to live with dignity.

A heart that is preoccupied with the desire to possess is a heart that is full of this desire to possess, but it lacks God. For this reason Jesus often admonished the rich, because the temptation to place their trust in the goods of this world is strong, and security, true security, is in God. In a heart possessed by riches, there is no longer much room for faith: everything is concerned with riches, there is no room for faith. If, however, God is given the place that belongs to him, that is, the first place, then his love will lead us to share our riches too, to put them in the service of projects of solidarity and development, as we see in so many examples, even recent ones, in the history of the Church. And in this way God’s providence passes through our service to others, our sharing with others. If each of us were to accumulate wealth not only for ourselves but to put at the service of others, in this case God’s providence would manifest itself in this gesture of solidarity. If, however, someone acquires things only for himself, what will happen to him when he is called by God? He cannot bring his riches with him, because, as you know, there are no pockets in the burial shroud! It is better to share because we only bring to heaven what we shared with others.

The path that Jesus points to might seem very unrealistic from the perspective of a common mentality and the economic crisis; but if we think about it carefully, it leads us to the right hierarchy of values. Jesus says: “Is life not worth more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). To ensure that no one lacks bread, water, clothing, housing, work, health we need to recognize each other as children of the heavenly Father and so as brothers to each other, and conduct ourselves accordingly. I proposed this in my Message for Peace on January 1: brotherhood is the way to peace, this going forward together, sharing things together.

In the light of the Word of God this Sunday we invoke the Virgin Mary as Mother of Divine Providence. We entrust our existence to her, the path of the Church and of humanity. In particular we ask for her intercession so that we can all make an effort to live in a simple and sober way, with our eyes open to the needs of our brothers who most require our help most.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father spoke again to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I ask you to continue to pray for Ukraine, which finds itself in a delicate situation. While it is my wish that the citizens of the country strive to overcome misunderstandings and to build the future of the nation together, I make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to support every initiative on behalf of dialogue and concord.

I address a cordial greeting to the families, parish groups, associations and all of the pilgrims who have come from Italy and other countries.

I greet the Spanish faithful who have come from the dioceses of Valladolid and Ibiza as well as the Italian faithful from Amantea, Brescia, Cremona, Terni, Lonate  and Ferno, and the choir from Tassullo.

I greet the many groups of young people from the dioceses of Como, Vicenza, Padova, Lodi, Cuneo and Cremona. Dear young people, some of you have received Confirmation a short time ago or are preparing to receive it, others will make the profession of faith, and you are active in your oratories. Dear young people, may your connection with Jesus become stronger and deeper, so that it bears much fruit! Forward, dear young people!

This week we start Lent, which is the journey of the people of God toward Easter, a journey of conversion, of struggle against evil with the weapons of prayer, of fasting, of mercy. Humanity needs justice, reconciliation, peace and can have these things only if it returns with all of its heart to God, who is their source. We too need God’s forgiveness. Let us enter into Lent in the spirit of worship of God and fraternal solidarity with those who, in these times, are most affected by poverty and violent conflicts.

I wish all of you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]