Angelus Address: The Response to God's Invitation "The Gospel, rejected by some, finds a surprising welcome in so many hearts"
Vatican City, (Zenit.org). Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Dear brothers and sisters.
In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus speaks to us of the answer given to God's invitation to participate in a wedding banquet; God is represented by a king.
The invitation has three fundamental characteristics: Gratuitousness, amplitude, and universality. There are many who are invited, but something surprising happens. None of those chosen decides to go to the celebration. They have other things to do. Moreover, some show indifference and even annoyance.
God is good to us. He freely offers us his friendship. He offers his joy, salvation. But so often we don't welcome his gifts. We put our material preoccupations, our own interests, in first place.
Some of those invited even mistreat and kill the servants who bring the invitation. But despite the lack of response from those called, God's project is not impeded. Faced with rejection from those called first, he is not discouraged. He does not cancel the celebration but rather re-extends the invitation, expanding it beyond any reasonable limits, and sends his servants to the plazas and the crossroads to gather up everyone they encounter.
We're talking about common people, the poor, the abandoned, the disinherited, even "good ones and bad ones." Even the evil are invited, without distinction. And the banquet hall is filled with these "excluded ones." The Gospel, rejected by some, finds a surprising welcome in so many hearts.
The goodness of God does not have limits and does not discriminate against anyone. That's why the banquet of the gifts of the Lord is universal, universal for everyone. He gives everyone the possibility of responding to his invitation, to his call, to his path. No one has the right to feel privileged or to claim exclusivity.
All of this moves us to overcome the habit of placing ourselves comfortably at the center, as the leaders of the priests and pharisees did. This shouldn't be done. We have to open ourselves to the peripheries, recognizing as well that the one at the margins, even the one rejected and despised by society, is the object of God's generosity. All of us are called to avoid reducing the Kingdom of God to within the limits of our "little church," our "tiny little church." That doesn't work. But rather to expand the Church to the dimensions of the Kingdom of God.
Within this there is a condition: to put on the wedding garment. That is, to give concrete testimony of concrete charity to God and to neighbor.
We entrust to the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin the turmoils and the hopes of so many of our brothers and sisters, excluded, weak, rejected, despised. Also those who are persecuted because of their faith. We invoke her protection over the work of the synod of bishops gathered these days in the Vatican.
[After praying the Angelus:]
Dear brothers and sisters, this morning in the city of Sassari, Father Francesco Zirano of the Conventual Franciscans, was beatified. He chose to be assassinated rather than to deny his faith. We give thanks to God for this priest-martyr, a heroic witness of the Gospel.
His courageous fidelity to Christ was an act of great eloquence, especially for these times of brutal persecution against Christians.
In this moment, our thoughts go to the city of Genoa, once again hit hard by floods. I promise my prayer for the victim and for all those who have suffered damages. May the Madonna della Guardia sustain the beloved people of Genoa in the work of solidarity, so they can rise above this difficult challenge.
Let us pray all together to the Madonna della Guardia: [Hail Mary] Mother Mary, della Guardia, protect Genoa.
I greet the pilgrims, especially the family and parish groups.
In particular, I want to warmly greet the groups of Canadian pilgrims, who've come to Rome because of the canonization of Saints François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation. May the new saints enkindle apostolic fervor in the hearts of young Canadians.
I greet the group from the "Office Chrétien des personnes handicapées," which has come from France; the families from the Colegio Reinado del Corazón de Jesus, of Madrid; the faithful of Segovia; the Polish here present; and those who have promoted special works of charity on the occasion of the Day of the Pope.
I greet the numerous group from the "Associazione Amici di San Colombano per l’Europa," who have come on the occasion of the opening of the 14th centenary of the death of St. Colombano, great evangelizer of the European continent.
I greet the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, who are participating in their general chapter; the faithful of the parish of Santa Maria Immacolata di Carenno; the representatives of the Diocese of Lodi, gathered in Rome for the episcopal ordination of their pastor; the faithful of Bergamo and Marne.