ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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We do not love in words but with facts

Reflections on Pope Francis’s Message on the World Day of the Poor.

On November 19th, in the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the first World Day of the Poor will be celebrated by the entire Catholic Church and by men of good will,  which Pope Francis had already announced at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. On that day as a sign of sharing, after having celebrated the Mass in St. Peter the Pope will invite 500 poor people to lunch in the Paul VI Hall, the audience hall bearing the name of the great pope of Populorum Progressio. The previous day (Saturday 18) there will be a Prayer Vigil in the Church of St. Lawrence outside the Walls, to remember the Roman martyr who recognized the poor as a true treasure in the church.

I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. “(Message for the World Day of the Poor to No. 6).

We do not love in words, but with facts” is the title of Pope Francis’s first message for this day. The Pope speaks of “a thousand faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.“(n. 5).

It is not surprising the fleeting attention, even within the Church, to the proclamation of this world day. Not surprising but bitter, and we are all called to react strongly to indifference to the poor.

Those who have a lot of money and a lot of security are likely to live like the “carefree of Zion” spoken by the prophet Amos, and a whole world is being built, and even if there are thousands of Lazarus at his door, he does not even realize. The rich man of our years sometimes finds out and then makes some alms for the poor, gives some old dress that no longer puts, even though it does not have the Lazarus disorder at its door.

In all the Catholic Church, the parable of rich man is often read but tomorrow Lazarus will be as it is today without any changes. Unfortunately, Jesus’ message has often been imprisoned in the system and we have made it a little harmless; the message doesn’t affects our real life. This is the abyss of which the Gospel speaks. We also all see that the abyss between the Lazarus and the rich man has widened and is widening to a great extent.

We have for centuries determined that we cannot allow the promiscuity between those who are inside and those who are out. Lazarus must be out of the system and from our cities, using the Bible expression, out from the camp. Lazarus then is not only excluded but must also be convinced that it is normal so and  that is right. Exclusion affects him in consciousness.

Our society, however, says that it is inspired by the great principles of Christianity, the Enlightenment, and the Democracy, and then it tries to accept (perhaps not truly)  Lazarus the excluded, but it fails, because it should review its own principles constituent. Immigrants are the Lazarus of the twenty-first century and we only know how to widen the moat.

Christians and all humanity do not forget that God is on the side of the Lazarus, indeed God in this world is Lazarus. Jesus went among the uncleanness to teach them to stop being unclean, and looking at our cities and our system Jesus explained that the real Lazarus, the real immoderate, is our system. This is the Christian Revolution. Jesus came to wake the conscience of the excluded because they ceased to be considered legally excluded, because they know that dignity is their inalienable right. The system then tried to tame Jesus by “promoting him” as a guardian of the order, failing because He went  against a system that excludes, rebellion against political, religious and economic power. For this reason he has been crucified as a Lazarus any: “As a criminal you have hung on a wood” says Peter in the first speech after Pentecost. The Beatitudes tell us that the Lazarus have already won in Christ their battle of dignity. They are meeting us now, and they are millions. They do not want to destroy, but tell us the Word of Salvation that was entrusted to them. Blessed the Poor because yours is the Kingdom of God will tell Jesus. Yours is the secret of life.

Riches are not an end, but an instrument in the hands of men. Often riches have become an iniquitous tool because man has used it to dominate other men and subjugate entire peoples to control some elites. We have arrived in history even to the planned and calculated extermination of the poor, as the prophet Amos recalls. Thanks to God, the cultural progress of peoples is favoring a growing awareness of the need for a fairer distribution of the riches of the planet. Some international organizations and some of the more developed nations are struggling for new social equilibrium, but the battle is still very long and difficult. Jesus invites his disciples to be “shrewd” in the use of riches. He asks for each of us a different relationship with riches both individually and in community. For this reason, the private gesture of alms no longer suffices; we need to act so that wealth can become an instrument of liberation and reconciliation among peoples; this is the concreteness of the gospel, which by its nature is a social fact. History teaches us that not a few have moved away from the Church and the faith because they have received a bad testimony in the use of money and wealth. We are witnessing these years as Christians and citizens of the world with two very important facts. Pope Francis is witnessing the concrete possibility of a poor Church for the poor, and it is an extraordinary gift from the Lord, an example that stimulates us for new conversion. Moreover, at the same time, we are witnessing the fact that many poor people are – we would say so-resuming the gospel, often hidden behind them, in words of circumstance and humiliating alms. The poor today are aware that the gospel is first and foremost for them, and are no longer willing to wait for their rights and dignity. We carefully read and meditate in this regard the prophetic words of Don Primo Mazzolari, a poor priest among the poor to whom Pope Francis will honor, praying on his grave in a few days:I have never counted the poor because the poor cannot count; the poor embrace, they do not count. Yet there are those who keep the statistics of the poor, and they are afraid; Fear of a patience that can also be tired, afraid of a silence that could become a scream, afraid of a lament that could become a song, afraid of their rags that could become a flag, fear of their tools that could be barricaded. ” This is already happening.

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Eucharist bread for all

 

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”

The earliest text on the Eucharist – the Letter to the Corinthians (53/57) – speaks to us about the fact that the Eucharist is in connection with the death of Jesus. The Lord is dead delivering himself and allowing himself to be taken from his enemies. Celebrate the Eucharist wants to teach us how to live. We hate to lives by giving ourself  as did Jesus and as also did the apostles. A Church that thinks to defend itself, is no longer a church.

It is the Gospel to live by delivery and it is the path to be fulfilled to have eternal life. We celebrate the Eucharist “as long as he comes”, waiting for him to return, believing that death has not defeated him, because those who live by giving for love have a stronger life than death.

The Eucharist is a way of life, not a rite. We are all very concerned at the risk of reducing the Eucharist to a private, intimate devotion, as if everything could be resolved in the exclusive relationship between myself and the Lord, closed to others and history. There are two current dangers in this regard.

In the book of Deuteronomy, we see the danger of nostalgia of other times: the people with the hard cervix resists the Spirit. Even today we have some people like that, resent the times of tranquility and of triumphant church, when the churches were full, and the lavish liturgies, the imposing ostensors to “suffocate” the fragility of the Sacred Ostia; Times which were, however, of injustice, of power, of money, of clericalism, where Christ was not there.

The danger of spiritualism And the bread that I will give is my flesh.God’s life is not outside of human reality. There can be no gift of the Spirit where there is also the gift of the flesh. Jesus specifically says in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John: “Whoever meats my flesh.” The chewing verb in Greek is very strong and means “shredding, shattering”. The Gospel is not an ideal, but the concordance of bread and flesh.

imageLuke’s Gospel in the tale of the multiplication of loaves and fish also offers us a very important indication

Everyone ate and satiated, and twelve baskets were carried out of their advanced parts.

There is no one who, coming to the banquet of the Messiah, is forced to return to fast. Indeed, there are loaves that are reserved to those who are left out of the canteen. We think, and pray, for all Christians living in a state of persecution, and can not celebrate the Eucharist; Pray for those who can not approach the sacraments and await the mercy of the Lord and the Church, not the hardness of the law; We pray for churches on mission land, where the priest arrives once a month; Pray for all those who have never met who the Lord, and also for those who have gone away for our fault and our contradictions. Let us pray because at the table to which Jesus wanted to sit, there really is a place for everyone, and no one is excluded, no one is missing; Perhaps then that will be the day he will return.

 


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The Spirit sends away the fears of the world

The Cenacle, which had seen the Apostles witnesses of the Lord’s Supper, is the place where they had been together to hear His Word many times and now the Cenacle becomes a refuge, a hiding place “for fear of the Jews” as the Evangelist John remembers. And the Acts say to us, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” (Acts 2: 1).

We have to remember that the Apostles in Jerusalem had few friends because they had been opposed to religious and political power, and they were considered  fanatical followers of one of the many messianic factions of the time. They threatened their lives to just preach that Jesus was the Son of God who was truly dead and truly resurrected. And in fact, the Acts tell us that soon the first martyr arrived: Stephen, who is stoned.

Today what are our fears, which make us lock in our groups? If we exclude the Church of the martyrs who, as we well know, still exists in many parts of the world today, we notice that there is also a strong temptation in the Church and among Christians to lock in an elite, often sectarian, excluding the world, seen as evil and an enemy of which to be afraid, and therefore tends to judge rather than love. It may happen that sometimes our faith, our Christian community, our ecclesial group, instead of being a space of fraternity and proclamation of the Gospel, turn into an impregnable fortress, where those in the interior judge the ones outside and also exclude them . “Outgoing Church” according to the teaching of Pope Francis also means not to be afraid and not to judge, but on the contrary be strong in the faith and widen the spaces of welcome.

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It is in this climate of fear and closure that breaks the Spirit. “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” (Acts 2: 1). In that cenacle that has become closed and frightened, the Spirit intervenes, acts and transforms it, changes the hearts of those deceived men and recreates a new fraternity extended to the ends of the earth. That is why everybody was talking in their native language, always remembering the Acts.

Even today the Spirit calls us to look forward, to open the spaces of our heart, to listen to the Word. The Gospel is not a script to be copied, the Church is not a museum to guard. The Christian community of the origins had the courage of the Spirit to welcome the un-circumcised, dared to write the Good News, and it was pilgrim to the boundaries of the known world. Today, it is our time to transmit ‘the Gospel that we have received’, without fear, shame, and wherever we go in this globalized world. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:26).

It is not a simple thing to witness the Church of Pentecost, because it is the Church of Joy (as the Blessed Pope Paul VI reminded us) but also of martyrdom. Nobody feels that we have not have to pay a price, even personal. On the contrary, living the gospel of sacred habits, locked in the sacristies, hidden behind the smell of incense is undoubtedly easier. The Spirit instead calls us to risk the paths of life, to walk the way (ódos), just as the Gospel is called in the Acts of the Apostles. The hardest language to speak is that of who we meet, who is facing us, who will be against us, perhaps believing they do well. The Spirit teaches us to talk about that too.


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A light on our weakness

Thoughts on the II Sunday of Lent 

The First Reading on the second Sunday of Lent  from the Book of Genesis talks about the vocation of Abraham, called upon to set out trusting solely in the Word of God.  We, too, like Abraham are called upon to leave our land. We are at an historic time when crossing the land from the old to the new world has become vital.  Our Western land, our Europe of the cathedrals, is under siege by millions of people seeking dignity and safety. It is not rhetoric to affirm that a new world is being formed.  A Church that still wanted to stay closed up in Noah’s Ark during the deluge, i.e. an Eurocentric Church strong only in its own certainties and traditions, would simply be out of step with the times.  Even worse it would be shut off from the pain of the world.  This pain of the world is illuminated by the light of Jesus which today in Chapter 17 of the Gospel according to Matthew  unveils, for an instant, His Glory.

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Following in Jesus’ footsteps, all Christians are called upon to share the faith in that common territory, among all the latitudes, among all believers and non-believers, that is suffering.  «Jesus alone» in the Transfiguration, which ends with the anticipation of Easter, is only a man among other men.  But it is in that “weak” Jesus, tempted just like us by everything, lives the Glory of God. In Jesus alone and abandoned by everybody, God reveals His Glory and tells men and women that weakness is the home of God.

This is why we must pursue our Lenten journey with trust and confidence in God; life’s hardships do not diminish our Easter momentum because the Lord lights them with His glory and asks us to always know how to recognize His saving presence both in and outside us.

“It is good”, says Peter to Jesus.  Let us start anew from goodness;  even if life is not always easy, it can always be happy if we live it with Jesus, if we know how to understand ourselves and others better with a compassionate eye.

The many things we have to do, preoccupations, the  “noises of the world” often prevent us from listening to the tiny whispering sound by which God makes his presence known. (1 Kings 19,12).

To live a good and aware Christian life requires us to listen to the voice of God within and among us.  God moves our lives, he takes care of us. Nobody is excluded, nobody is left out.


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There can be no feasting without our sons and brothers

Fr. Francesco Pesce

God showers His blessings on the honest and the dishonest alike, He causes rain to pour on both the just and the unjust. However, He has a predilection for lost sheep, the stone cast aside, the prodigal son. This we must never forget, as Christians, who realise that we are ever in need of a new conversion, and as the shepherds of God’s people.

The Lord Jesus bears witness to the fatherhood of God, Who has sent His Son to rebuild a world according to the measurements of love, where even the lost sheep, the stone cast aside, the prodigal son are the object of the Father’s care, attention and mercy. A Father Who wants us all to be saved – as Pope Francis answered to a child in the recent book edited by Father Spadaro, SJ.

The Gospel for this Sunday of Lent recounts the well-known story of the prodigal son. Conversion does not mean becoming prodigal sons: it means overcoming the antithesis between the two sons, between virtue and sin, between those within and those without, and to overcome it by means of a synthesis, which is the work of love, in which those who belong to the world of virtue go beyond themselves, towards the bewilderment of the son who left his father and squandered his possessions. St. Paul explains the situation well in the Second Reading: God has forgiven us by reconciling us with Him. Therefore, God expects us – and we too should expect it of ourselves – to forgive others. St. Paul even speaks of a “ministry” that God has entrusted to each of us.

Why this idea of conversion? Basically for three reasons. The first is that each one of us belongs, at one and the same time, to the world of both the sons of the Gospel story. No-oneshould live under the illusion that he or she dwells only in the house of virtue. The second reason lies in the fact of being sons, which is not a merit, but a fact, and we Christians also believe that it is a free gift of God. And we are all sons, by virtue of the gift of His mercy.

The third reason that should prompt us to go out towards the prodigal son, to those who have done wrong, is simply because Jesus did so. It is not a question of (purely formal) obedience to God (often viewed as a master) that makes a Christian, but but our likeness to Jesus, Which our merciful Father sent to save us; the Beatitudes, in fact, and not the Commandments, are specifically Christian.

We must learn to understand and accept those who become lost. And we must bravely search within our “virtues” for their often self-righteous and sectarian characteristics, in order to enter into another measure of human brotherhood, based on reconciliation, like St. Paul, a great sinner who later became the Apostle of the Gentiles, encourages us to do.

It is not sufficient to go and eat with sinners and then return to our homes; it is not enough to use the Gospel as a sort of unusual manual of good manners: this is hypocrisy. We must remove all the obstacles on the path of reconciliation and to transform the Father’s house into everyone’s home, where no one is cast aside.

The prodigal son must convert to virtue, the eldest son to mercy. The Father expects each one of us to undertake the never-ending journey of this double conversion. There can be no feasting, in heaven and on earth, if even only one of our sons and brothers is missing.

 


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The Spirit breaks in to dissipate the fear of the world

Fr. Francesco Pesce

The Cenacle, where the Apostles had witnessed of the Supper of the Lord, where on many occasions they had gathered together to listen to His Word, becomes now a refuge, a bolt-hole, “for fear of the Jews” – as the Evangelist John recalls. And as the Acts tells us: When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together” (Acts 2,1).

It is worth remembering that in Jerusalem, the Apostoles did not have many friends, they had challenged the religious and political power, they were considered by most as fanatics followers of one of the many messianic sects in existence in those days. They risked their own lives purely for preaching that Jesus was the Son of God who had truly died and resurrected. Indeed, the Acts soon recount of the first martyr, Stephen, stoned to death.

So what are today’s fears which shut in our groups? Leaving aside the Church of martyrs, which we well know exits and resists to date in many parts of the world, we notice that in the Church and among many Christians is strong the temptation to withdraw in an elitarian faith, often even sectarian, pushing out the world, which is considered as evil, as the enemy to be scared of and to judge rather than love. It sometimes happens that our faith, our Christian community, our ecclesial group, rather than being a place of friendship and announcement of the Gospel, transforms itself into an unbeatable fortress, where those inside judge those outside keeping them out. A “Church that goes forth” according to the teaching of Pope Francis means not to be afraid and not to judge, but quite the contrary be strong in faith and widen the borders of brotherhood.

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Image: Pentecost by He Qi

 

It is precisely in this climate of fear and closure that the Spirit breaks in. “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, 2 and it filled the entire house in which they were” (Acts 2,2) In that closed cenacle room filled with fear, the Spirit breaks in, acts and transforms it, changes the heart of those disillusioned men, and creates a new brotherhood as far out as to the edge of the earth. That is why everybody was able to hear others speak in their own native language – the Acts reminds us.

Even today the Spirit calls us to look forward, open the boundaries of our heart and listen to the Word. The Gospel is not a script to copy and the Church is not a museum to protect. In its origin, the Cristian community had the courage to welcome in its bosom the non-circumcised, by being inspired by the Holy Spirit. That Church also had the audacity to write down the Good News and had been a pilgrimage to the end of the known World. It is up to ourselves today to pass on in the same way “the Gospel we have received”, without fear, without shame, and everywhere we go in this globalised world. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you” (John 14,26).

It is not an easy task to bear witness to the Church of the Pentecost as it is the Church of joy (as the blessed Pope Paul VI reminded us) but also the Church of martyrdom. Do not be fooled in thinking you will not have to pay a price, even personal. Quite the opposite, living the Gospel of the “sacred gestures” locked in the sacristy or hidden behind the smoke of incense is undoubtedly easier. The Spirit instead calls us to embark onto the paths of life, and walk along the way (odos) as the Gospel is called in the Acts of the Apostles. The most difficult language will be that spoken by those we come across with, those we are dealing with, those who are against us, perhaps in the belief they are acting for the good. The Spirit will teach us also this language.

 


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Jesus is Risen! Alleluia!! Easter song as sung in a small town of India!

We are happy to publish the first blog post of Fr. Pinto, from India, another dearest friend of ours. He is such a wonderful person and very committed and always smiling priest. We often remember him and are grateful to him for great help he gave to us in our pastoral work. We miss him very much but we are happy to see that he is doing well in that great country of India. We are still in Easter time so that sharing this experience of him and his community is still relevant and meaningful.

Fr. Pinto Rockwin

For Christians, Holy Week, starting on Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday (March 27 this year) is considered the source and summit of ecclesiastical and liturgical year. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday along with Easter Sunday – are called sacred Triduum whereby Christians commemorate the last days of Jesus here on Earth when he expressed his deep most love for His people through his passion, death and resurrection.

Here, I narrate these three-day experiences of a small town called Kulur in the city of Mangalore, India. The parish is dedicated to the patronage of St. Antony of Padova. On Maundy Thursday, reliving the cenacle experience of Jesus, for the first time, women were included in washing of the feet of the disciples as per the Pope’s directive (see photos). Priest who is considered as a an eminent figure in the society here, the washing of the feet communicates a very formidable message of service and humility as intended by our Lord.

On Good Friday, apart from the liturgical service as prescribed by the Liturgy, there is a particular custom in this part of the world. They call it ‘Bringing down Jesus from the Cross’. A group of persons come in with lanterns and climb the ladder first to remove the nails and then, to bring His body down from the cross followed by the procession of the statue of Jesus and Or Lady of Sorrows in the town (See images). Incidentally, this year witnessed the culmination of 25 years to this custom.

Finally, on Holy Saturday, the church filled with the faithful participated in the luminous liturgy of Easter night and renewed their Baptismal vows. People usually abstain from eating meat throughout the Lent season, thereby, day of Easter when the angels sing, ‘Glory’, peoples acclaim, ‘Alleluia’, they enjoy their fellowship meal in their families. Being a Catholic Priest from few months I sincerely experienced the profound significance of these moments which we commemorate every Sunday, on the day of the Lord.