Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Like on the Feast of the Epiphany and that of the Baptism of Jesus, today's Gospel also proposes the theme of the manifestation of the Lord. This time it is John the Baptist who points Him out to his disciples as "the Lamb of God", inviting them to follow Him.
And it is the same for us: He whom we have contemplated in the mystery of Christmas, is the One we are now called to follow in everyday life. Therefore, today's Gospel introduces us perfectly into ordinary liturgical time, a time that serves to animate and confirm our journey of faith in our everyday life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and discipleship, between manifestation and vocation.
The Gospel story indicates the essential characteristics of the journey of faith for disciples of all times, beginning with the question Jesus addresses to the two disciples who, urged by the Baptist, begin to follow him: "What are you looking for?". This is the same question the Risen Lord addresses to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning: "Woman, whom do you seek?". Each one of us, as a human being, is looking for something: we are searching for happiness, for love, for a good and full life. God the Father has given us all this in His Son Jesus.
In this search, the role of a real witness, of a person who first made the journey and met the Lord, is fundamental. In the Gospel, John the Baptist is this witness. This is why he can direct the disciples to Jesus, who then involves them in a new experience by saying: "Come and see". Those two disciples will never be able to forget the beauty of that encounter, to the point that the Evangelist even notes the time: "It was about four o'clock in the afternoon". Only a personal encounter with Jesus can generate a journey of faith and discipleship. We can have many experiences, accomplish many things, establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at the hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our lives and make our projects and efforts fruitful.
It is not enough to construct an image of God based on hearsay; we must go in search of the Divine Master and discover where He lives. The two disciples’ question to Jesus: "Where do you live?", has a strong spiritual sense: it expresses the desire to know where the Master resides, to be with Him. The life of faith consists in a burning desire to be with the Lord and, therefore, in a continuous search for the place where He lives. We are called to overcome a religious practice that is habitual and obvious, and to revive our encounter with Jesus in prayer, in meditation on the Word of God and in frequenting the Sacraments - to be with Him and bear fruit thanks to Him, to His help, His grace.
May the Virgin Mary support us in this regard to follow Jesus, to go and be where He lives, to listen to His Word of life, to be close to Him who takes away the sin of the world, to find hope and spiritual impulse in Him.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. This morning I celebrated Mass with a number of migrants and refugees residing in the Diocese of Rome. In my message for this Day, I stressed that migration today is a sign of the times. "Every stranger who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the foreigner who has been accepted or rejected in every age”.
In this regard, I would like to reaffirm that our common response could be articulated around four verbs founded on the principles of the Church's doctrine: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating ". From now on, for pastoral reasons, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on the second Sunday of September. The next, the one hundredth-fifth, will be Sunday, September 8, 2019.
Tomorrow I leave for Chile and Peru. I ask you to accompany me with your prayers on this Apostolic Journey.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims: families, parish groups, associations. I address a special greeting to the Latin American community of Santa Lucia in Rome, which celebrates 25 years since its foundation. On this joyful anniversary, I ask the Lord to fill you with His blessings, and I pray you may continue to give witness to your faith amid the difficulties, joys, sacrifices and hopes of your experience as migrants.
I wish everyone a pleasant Sunday. I ask you, please do not forget to pray for me.
Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!