Russ Breault writes:
While not specifically referencing the Shroud, Pope Francis specifically relates the wounds of Christ (clearly seen on the Shroud) with works of mercy for the sick, poor and needy. Perhaps this understanding elevates the significance and importance of the Shroud for those doing the work of ministry. It was the subject of his sermon today, July 3rd.
Indeed! and so, via Vatican Radio, here is a summary of the Pope at Mass, July 3, 2013:
To meet the living God we must tenderly kiss the wounds of Jesus in our hungry, poor, sick, imprisoned brothers and sisters. Study, meditation and mortification are not enough to bring us to encounter the living Christ. Like St. Thomas, our life will only be changed when we touch Christ’s wounds present in the poor, sick and needy. This was the lesson drawn by Pope Francis during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta Wednesday as he marked the Feast of St. Thomas Apostle.
Jesus after the Resurrection, appears to the apostles, but Thomas is not there: "He wanted him to wait a week – said Pope Francis – The Lord knows why he does such things. And he gives the time he believes best for each of us. He gave Thomas a week. " Jesus reveals himself with his wounds: "His whole body was clean, beautiful, full of light – said the Pope – but the wounds were and are still there" and when the Lord comes at the end of the world, "we will see His wounds". In order to believe Thomas wanted to put his fingers in the wounds.
"He was stubborn. But the Lord wanted exactly that, a stubborn person to make us understand something greater. Thomas saw the Lord, was invited to put his finger into the wounds left by the nails; to put his hand in His side and he did not say, ‘It’s true: the Lord is risen’. No! He went further. He said: ‘God’. The first of the disciples who makes the confession of the divinity of Christ after the Resurrection. And he worshiped Him”.
"And so – continued the Pope – we understand what the Lord’s intention was when he made him wait: he wanted to guide his disbelief, not to an affirmation of the Resurrection, but an affirmation of His Divinity." The "path to our encounter with Jesus-God – he said – are his wounds. There is no other”.
"In the history of the Church there have been some mistakes made on the path towards God. Some have believed that the Living God, the God of Christians can be found on the path of meditation, indeed that we can reach higher through meditation. That’s dangerous! How many are lost on that path, never to return. Yes perhaps they arrive at knowledge of God, but not of Jesus Christ, Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. They do not arrive at that. It is the path of the Gnostics, no? They are good, they work, but it is not the right path. It’s very complicated and does not lead to a safe harbor. "
"Others – the Pope said – thought that to arrive at God we must mortify ourselves, we have to be austere and have chosen the path of penance: only penance and fasting. Not even these arrive at the Living God, Jesus Christ. They are the pelagians, who believe that they can arrive by their own efforts. " But Jesus tells us that the path to encountering Him is to find His wounds:
"We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress – the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he’s in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. ‘Oh, great! Let’s set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help ‘. That’s important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed. "
Pope Francis concluded that we do not need to go on a “refresher course” to touch the living God, but to enter into the wounds of Jesus, and for this "all we have to do is go out onto the street. Let us ask St. Thomas for the grace to have the courage to enter into the wounds of Jesus with tenderness and thus we will certainly have the grace to worship the living God. "
There was a report that Francis was going to issue a statement originally authored by Benedict. I am no unalloyed fan of Benedict, but I wonder if a reference to the Shroud may have been excised.
However, the bottom line in this: The Shtoud is a “silent witness” to what “they” are writing about (if one supposes joint authorship). Dealing with the authenticity if the Shroud is per force greatly elevated. My thought that it is an inexplicable act of providence. The truth revealed by the Shroud has been hiding in plain sight for two millenia. It has taken the advances of science to reveal it as truth.
i’m a huge fan of benedict….but i’m pretty conservative
people talk about pope francis andh is humility…..think benedict showed even more when he
I have for many years considered that the heart of the Christian message is contained in the text of Matthew 25:31-46, although the other evangelists don’t seem to make it quite so explicit. It paints the scene of the Last Judgment when the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, and separates the sheep from the goats. The essential criterion are the corporal works of mercy: “Come … For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; (etc)”. This seems to be the main theme of the present sermon of Pope Francis. He associates it with putting your hands into the wounds of Christ, maybe “getting your hands dirty” would be an Anglophile way of expressing it. It is also significant I think that this text immediately precedes the Passion narrative, when Christ incurs those wounds.
Coming from Pope Francis with his South American background it is a refreshing re-emphasis of the core of this Christian message. The Latin population expressions of religion have often in the past seem to have been marked by extreme mortifications, such as the Lenten flagellations and personal self crucifixions, seen in these countries. Meditation and other expressions of personal piety has also, I think, tended to have been over-emphasised, at the expense of this reaching out to those with real suffering. Yes, fasting, prayer, penance and meditation all have their place, but need not be taken to such extremes that they displace the real caring and reaching out on which we will be finally judged. Such works as those of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society, founded by Blessed Frederick Ozanam, and the personal or institutional efforts of many Christians, such as nursing, missionary charity, prison chaplaincy, are various ways in which this message can be realised.
huh?….i’m not sure that a small subset of catholics in latin America, who may do what you consider “extreme” reflects the church there; no more that snake handlers reflect the non-Catholic christian population in the southern part of the u.s
Popes have been teaching what francis has been saying for years….besides the children of FATIMA practices some of these devotions as well….
It is possible that Pope Francis I also thought about the Shroud when he uttered those words. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires he visited the slums every day to help the needy there, cooked his own food and the bus and tube were his means of transport. That is why Archbishop Justin Welby, Primate of the Church of England, referred to the pope’s “extraordinary humanity” after their first meeting. This approach will mark his pontificate, leading the faithful to understand how the primitive Christians lived and how there should be an inner transformation.
think the last several popes where very humble…..jean paul probably didn’t bet much press for it since he was busy bringing down communisim in the soviet untion (as our lady of Fatima used him as that instrument)
John Paul II and Benedict XVI came from Europe, where the gap between the rich and the poor was not as big as it is in South America, so they probably left this part of Church activity to the appropriate organs, aware, of course, of the kind of charity being done.
Who brought the question to the limelight was the Peruvian priest Father Gustavo Gutiérrez, also influencing Lutherans and Anglicans in the process. Remember Anglican Father Tim Jones, who roughly did the same thing not long ago, and in the “Spirit of Christ”? Since Francis I lived in the reality of South America he has a more realistic view of what the Church should be like,much more than superficial church attendance, get-togethers with coffee as though participating in club activity and so on…
Rick’s comments are I think somewhat naive. Historically, the churches’ position on a social option for the poor and oppressed has been uneven. It has ranged from an outlook that has promoted a philosophy of passive Christian patience, forbearance and acceptance of one’s lot to the then somewhat radical but essentially conservative social teaching of Pope Leo XIII, sometimes described as the Catholic Church’s “best kept secret”.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century led to the gross exploitation of the working classes, not only male workers but women and children as well, at the behest of capitalist profit. There have always been extreme right wing regimes oppressing the poor for similar reasons. These factors inevitably led to the teachings of Karl Marx who saw Religion as the opiate of the poor, their only available refuge. The response of the churches to these conditions has often seemed ambiguous.
The Liberation Theology of the late 20th century as one solution to these problems was often condemned. In South America some Catholic churchmen joined underground revolutionary movements and took up arms to fight against reactionary government forces, fifty Bolivian priests openly espoused armed revolution, and a group of Maryknoll priests and nuns assisted Guatemalan guerrillas. There is a diversity of theological commitment, but also a unity of shared concerns and theological perspectives.
An excellent essay on the topic by Ernest Wallwork can be found in the textbook “Critical Issues in Modern Religion” – ‘Christians in the Revolution of the Oppressed’.
The extreme religious escapism evident in Filipino flagellations and self-crucifixions, and by similar devotional excesses elsewhere I do not see as a minority practice such as the snake handlers of some southern USA groups, but as a more general outlet of religious expression and social frustration.
I see the sermon of Pope Francis as a signal, and hopefully heralding a repositioning and coming of age of a theology and option for the poor and oppressed.
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