In the Gospels we encounter people with sad faces: the rich young man who has not the courage to detach his heart from his possesions (Mt 19:22), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:17). But an atmosphere of joy pervades in all the pages of the Gospel, from the promise of a son to Zechariah "he will bring joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth" (Lk 1:14), to the "great joy" announced to the shepherds (Lk 2:10-11), to the joy of Zacchaeus who receives the Lord in his house (Lk 19:6), until the disciples’ sheer joy on the day of Passover (Jn 20:20).
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The Koran says that Mary, a young virgin, is told by God she will produce a “pure son.” When the birth pangs come she retires to a palm tree. Suffering alone (Joseph is not mentioned), God tells her to shake the tree, from which fresh dates fall. Again there is a parallel: in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, when the holy family stops off on the way to Egypt.
Looking back over my theological life has been a thought-provoking and sometimes humbling experience. At the conclusion of my primary studies for the priesthood in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I was regrettably incurious about what was going on in the wider theological world – beyond the then mandatory narrow and legalistic scholasticism.
The Baptist had a mission to fulfill: to prepare the way for this encounter of love. The strange clothing that distinguished him was that of the prophets (Zec 13:4) and, in particular, of Elijah who, like John, “wore a mantle of fur with a leather belt around his waist” (2 Kgs 1:8). The content of the Baptist’s preaching (vv. 7-8) was the announcement of the coming of one, stronger than he, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception—defined by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854—has been formulated with a language linked to the philosophical and theological categories of time, a difficult to understand language for the twenty-first-century man and woman. If the dogma wants to have something to say to us today, we must re-read it in the light of biblical revelation.
“The doorkeeper” who has to be more vigilant than others indicates those that, in the Christian community, are responsible for carrying out the most important services, those on which the life of the church depends: the proclamation of the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments, the support of the disciples who are wavering in their faith.
Dear young people of Myanmar, hearing your young voices and listening to you sing today, I want to apply those words to you. Yes, you are "a welcome sound;" you are a beautiful and encouraging sight, for you bring us ‘good news’, the good news of your youth, your faith and your enthusiasm. Indeed, you are good news, because you are concrete signs of the Church’s faith in Jesus Christ, who brings us a joy and a hope that will never die.
Christians and Buddhists are called by faith to overcome evil with goodness and violence with peace, Pope Francis said during a meeting with leaders of Myanmar's Buddhist community. Pope Francis met Nov. 29 with members of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, a government-appointed group of senior Buddhist monks who oversee some 500,000 monks and novices in Myanmar, where close to 90 percent of the population follows Buddhism.