Pope Francis & Youth Week 1: Faith & the Possibility of Forgiveness

(Homily for Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday Year C )

Message: Pope Francis call us to faith: to trust God, to forgive and to pray like Abraham.

This week I am in Krakow for World Youth Day with Pope Francis. I encourage brother homilists to read his magnificent encyclical on the Light of Faith (Lumen Fidei). Here are applications to this Sunday's readings:

The encyclical has 23 references to Abraham, who is the subject of our first reading. In the second reading St. Paul speaks about baptism, which is also mentioned 23 times in "Lumen Fidei." Like Jesus in the Gospel, Pope Francis insists that far from being opposed to seeking, true faith involves seeking, asking and knocking. (You will find the word "seek" 14 times in LF.)

Regarding the theme of forgiveness that we see in today's Gospel ("Forgive us our sins, as we ourselves forgive..."), Pope Francis writes:

Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity.

Besides quotes from the Bible, the Fathers and other Christian writers, Pope Francis cites modern authors such Martin Buber and Nietzsche(!). I was particularly impressed by his quote from T.S. Eliot. He cites the great Anglican poet as he confronts the question of what our world would look like without faith:

When faith is weakened, the foundations of life also risk being weakened, as the poet T.S. Eliot warned:

"Do you need to be told that even those modest attainments
As you can boast in the way of polite society
Will hardly survive the Faith to which they owe their significance?"

If we remove faith in God from our cities, mutual trust would be weakened, we would remain united only by fear...

Finally the pope emphasizes that the opposite of faith is not atheism, but idolatry: "Faith, tied as it is to conversion, is the opposite of idolatry; it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in a personal encounter."

Pope Francis call us to faith: to trust God, to forgive and to pray like Abraham.

Abraham is the great model for this faith. As we see today he boldly places his needs before God. St. Paul tells us that by faith we were not only buried with Jesus but raised with him. Jesus challenges us to trust God as deeply as Abraham, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Amen.


Homilies related to Pope Francis & World Youth Day:

July 24, 2016: Pope Francis & Youth Week 1: Faith & the Possibility of Forgiveness
July 31, 2016: Pope Francis & Youth Week 2: Stop Being Wishy-Washy
August 6, 2016: Pope Francis & Youth Week 3: Be Prepared for Martyrdom

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Seventeenth Sunday, Year C):

2013: Call to Faith - Pope Francis
2010: Try God
2007: Why I Believe God Exists
2004: Persistence Pays
2001: Lord, Teach Us To Pray
1998: Prayer of Intercession

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