But the loving convergence of divine and human desire promoted by the Our Father is suddenly interrupted by the penultimate petition, "and lead us not into temptation". It is precisely this last aspect that has generated pastoral discomfort and has led exegetes and Church leaders – among whom we now include Pope Francis – to ask for a modification of the centuries-old formula of the liturgical prayer that would respond to sentiments now widely shared and promote a more accurate and respectful conception of God.
The motif of the small, the poor, and the meek is a recurring theme throughout the New Testament. We have a new beginning and once again it is the love of the Lord for the small that emerges. We see it in the figure of Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:48) and it is perfectly fulfilled in the Incarnation of the Word of God, humbled even unto death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8), and becomes the history of salvation of the Christian community.
With this parable, he wanted to send a message to his discouraged disciples who asked him about the usefulness of the apostolic work he was doing. Despite all the contradictions and obstacles, his word would have given abundant fruit because it has in itself an irresistible force of life.
Evariste Ndayishimiye, a practising Catholic who is known to bring the importance of God into politics, has been sworn as the president of Burundi. The president immediately promised to unite the people, promote peace and justice in the tiny East African country where majority are Catholics. He also swore to fight genocide ideology and discrimination.
Religious-cultural nationalism is marked by zeal, but this is not one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22-23). In reality, Paul calls a certain “zeal” for the Mosaic law “blindness” (cf. 2 Cor 4:4-6) and one of the “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19-20).
Imagine this. You are the dutiful daughter or son and your mother is widowed and living in an assisted living facility. You happen to be living close by while your sister is living across the country, thousands of miles away. So the weight falls on you to be the one to help take care of your mother. You dutifully visit her each day.
The vitality of the Church and, above all, the faith that animates her pastors and her faithful cannot be measured by numbers and statistics. Only God knows the mysterious and unique relationship that unites him to people who profess themselves Catholic. This is what constitutes the essence of the faith.
I like to offer some reflections as we celebrate the 171 years of the foundation of our missionary Congregation. On this occasion I invite you to reflect on the theme of responsibility which we, as individuals and as a charismatic community, should assume for our vocation and mission in the Church.