Pope Francis: Serve and live in the freedom of God

2014-07-05 Vatican Radio

Pope Francis emphasized the dignity of the human person in the realm of work and the call of all members of the Church to service, both to God and to others, in his homily during Mass in Campobasso on Saturday morning.

Thousands of people gathered for the outdoor papal mass, one of the highlights of the Pope’s daylong trip to the city, located in the southern Italian region of Molise.

“The Church is a people who serves God; the Church is a people who lives in the freedom that he gives,” he told the assembly. And this service, he continued, is realized through prayer, adoration, the proclamation of the Gospel and charity in the ordinary of everyday life.

There is much need for commitment in the service of others “in the face of situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially in the face of unemployment, a plague that requires every effort and much courage on everyone’s part,” he said.

The challenges of work, he said, calls upon the particular responsibility of institutions and of the business and financial world.

“It is necessary to place the dignity of the human person at the centre of every prospect and every action. Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary,” he said to applause. “At the centre is the dignity of the human person. Why? Because the human person is in the image of God, he was created in the image of God and we are all in the image of God!”

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Read the Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis’ homily below:

The first reading reminded us of the characteristics of divine wisdom, which liberates from evil and oppression those who place themselves at the service of the Lord.  In fact, he is not neutral, but in his wisdom he is close to people who are fragile, discriminated against and oppressed, who abandon themselves in trust to him. This experience of Jacob and Joseph, recounted in the Old Testament, reveals two essential aspects of the life of the Church. The Church is a people who serves God; the Church is a people who lives in the freedom that he gives.

First of all, we are a people who serves God. Service to God is realized in different ways, in particular in prayer, in adoration, in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the witness of charity. And always, the icon of the Church is the Virgin Mary, the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1,38; cfr 1,48). Immediately after having received the message from the Angel and having conceived Jesus, Mary leaves in a hurry to go to help her elderly relative Elizabeth. And, in this way, she showed that the preferred way to serve God is to serve our brothers and sisters who are in need.

At the school of the Mother, the Church learns to become every day “handmaid of the Lord”, to be ready to go to encounter situations of greatest need, to be caring toward the small and the excluded. But we are all called to live the service of charity in ordinary life, that is, in the family, in the parish, at work, with neighbours. It is the charity of everyday, ordinary charity.

The witness of charity is the main path of evangelization. In this, the Church has always been “on the front line”, a maternal and fraternal presence, which shares the difficulties and frailties of the people. In this way, the Christian community seeks to instill in society that “supplement of the soul”, which allows you to look beyond and to hope.

It's what you also, dear brothers and sisters of this Diocese, are doing with generosity sustained by the pastoral zeal of your Bishop. I encourage you all, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, to persevere on this path, serving God in the service of others and spreading everywhere the culture of solidarity. There is much need for this commitment, in the face of situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially in the face of unemployment, a plague that requires every effort and much courage on everyone’s part. Because this challenge of work calls upon, in a particular way, the responsibility of institutions, of the business and financial world. It is necessary to place the dignity of the human person at the centre of every prospect and every action. Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary. At the centre is the dignity of the human person. Why? Because the human person is in the image of God, he was created in the image of God and we are all in the image of God!

Therefore, the Church is the people who serve the Lord. For this, it is the people who experiences his freedom and lives in this freedom that He gives. The Lord always give true freedom. First of all, the freedom from sin, from selfishness in all its forms: the freedom to give of oneself and to do so with joy, like the Virgin of Nazareth, who is free from herself, she does not close in on herself in her condition – and she would have had reason! – but thinks of those who, in that moment, has greater need. She is free in the freedom of God, which is realized in love. And this is the freedom that God has given us and we must not lose it: the freedom to adore God, to serve God and to serve him even in our brothers and sisters.

This is the freedom that, by the grace of God, we experience in the Christian community, when we put ourselves at each other’s service, without jealousy, without taking sides, without chatter… Serving one another. Serving! Then the Lord frees us from ambition and rivalry, which undermine unity and communion. He frees us from distrust, sadness — look, this sadness is dangerous because it casts us down. It casts us down. It’s dangerous. Be careful. He frees us from fear, internal emptiness, isolation, regret, and complaints. Even in our communities, in fact, there is no shortage of negative attitudes that make people self-referential, more concerned with defending themselves than with giving of themselves. But Christ frees us from this existential grayness, as we proclaimed in the Responsorial Psalm, “You are my help and my deliverer”. For this reason, we disciples of the Lord, though still always weak and sinners – we are all so – still weak and sinners, we are called to live our faith with joy and courage, communion with God and with our brothers, adoration of God, and to face with strength the labors and trials of life.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Virgin, who you venerate in particular with the title of “Madonna della Libera”, attain for you the joy of serving the Lord and of walking in the freedom that He has given us, the freedom for adoration... May Mary help you to be a maternal Church, welcoming and caring towards everyone. May she always be beside you, your sick, your elderly, who are the wisdom of the people, and your youth. For all your people, may she be a sign of consolation and sure hope. May the Madonna della Libera accompany us, help us, console us and give us peace and joy.