12th Sunday of Year A


Pope Francis

Persecutions Against Christians

25 June 2017 | Saint Peter’s Square

12th Sunday of Year A

In today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 10:26-33) the Lord Jesus, after having called and sent the disciples on mission, teaches them and prepares them to face the trials and persecutions they will have to endure. Going on mission is not like tourism, and Jesus cautions them: “you will find persecutions”. So he exhorts them: “have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed…. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light…. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (vv. 26-28). They can only kill the body; they do not have the power to kill souls: do not fear this. Jesus’ dispatch [of the disciples] on mission does not guarantee their success, just as it does not protect them from failure and suffering. They have to take into account both the possibility of rejection and that of persecution. This is somewhat frightening but it is the truth.

The disciple is called to conform his life to Christ who was persecuted by men, knew rejection, abandonment and death on the cross. There is no Christian mission marked by tranquility! Difficulties and tribulations are part of the work of evangelization and we are called to find in them the opportunity to test the authenticity of our faith and of our relationship with Jesus. We must consider these difficulties as the opportunity to be even more missionary and to grow in that trust toward God, our Father who does not abandon his children during the storm. Amid the difficulties of Christian witness in the world, we are not forgotten but always assisted by the attentive concern of the Father. For this reason, in today’s Gospel, a good three times Jesus reassures the disciples, saying: “Do not fear!”.

Even in our day, brothers and sisters, persecution against Christians is present. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and we praise God because, in spite of this, they continue to bear witness to their faith with courage and faithfulness. Their example helps us to not hesitate in taking the position in favour of Christ, bearing witness bravely in everyday situations, even in apparently peaceful contexts. In effect, a form of trial can also be the absence of hostility and tribulation. Besides [sending us out] as “sheep in the midst of wolves”, the Lord even in our times sends us out as sentinels in the midst of people who do not want to be woken from their worldly lethargy which ignores the Gospel’s words of Truth, building for themselves their own ephemeral truths. And if we go to or live in these contexts, and we proclaim the Words of the Gospel, this is bothersome and they will look at us unkindly.


SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope Benedict XVI

Two Invitations: Have No Fear and Fear

22 June 2008 | Square in front of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran

12th Sunday of Year A

In this Sunday’s Gospel we find two invitations from Jesus: on the one hand to “have no fear” of human beings, and on the other, to “fear” God (cf. Mt 10: 26, 28). We are thus encouraged to reflect on the difference that exists between human fears and the fear of God. Fear is a natural dimension of life. In childhood we experience forms of fear that subsequently are revealed to be imaginary and disappear; other fears emerge later which are indeed founded in reality: these must be faced and overcome with human determination and trust in God. However, especially today, there is a deeper form of fear of an existential type and which sometimes borders on anguish: it is born from a sense of emptiness, linked to a certain culture permeated with widespread theoretical and practical nihilism. 

In the face of the broad and diversified panorama of human fears, the Word of God is clear: those who “fear” God “are not afraid”. Fear of God, which the Scriptures define as “the beginning of knowledge” coincides with faith in him, with sacred respect for his authority over life and the world. 
To be without “fear of God” is equivalent to putting ourselves in his place, to feeling we ourselves are lords of good and evil, of life and death. Instead, those who fear God feel within them the safety that an infant in his mother’s arms feels (cf. Ps 130: 2). Those who fear God are tranquil even in the midst of storms for, as Jesus revealed to us, God is a Father full of mercy and goodness. Those who love him are not afraid: “There is no fear in love”, the Apostle John wrote, “but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” (1 Jn 4: 18). Believers, therefore, are not afraid of anything because they know they are in the hands of God, they know that it is not evil and the irrational which have the last word, but rather that the one Lord of the world and of love is Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, who loved us to the point of sacrificing himself for us, dying on the Cross for our salvation.


SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope St. John Paul II

Christ, the Bread of Hope and Peace

3 June 1999 | Homily

12th Sunday of Year A

1. Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem! Zion, praise your Saviour!

Praise your Saviour, Christian community of Rome gathered in front of this cathedral basilica dedicated to Christ the Saviour and to his Precursor, John the Baptist! Praise him, because “he makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat” (Responsorial Psalm, 147:14).

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is a feast of praise and thanksgiving. On this day the Christian people gather round the altar to contemplate and adore the Eucharistic Mystery, the memorial of the sacrifice of Christ who has brought everyone salvation and peace. This year our solemn celebration and, in a while, the traditional procession which will take us from this square to St Mary Major have a specific aim: they are meant as a heartfelt and unanimous prayer for peace.

As we adore the Body of the One who is our Head, how can we not show our solidarity with his members who are suffering because of war? Yes, dear brothers and sisters, Romans and pilgrims, this evening we want to pray together for peace, especially for peace in the Balkans. May the Word of God, which we have just heard, enlighten and guide us.

2. In the first reading the Lord’s command resounded: “Remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you” (Dt 8:2). “Remember …”! This is the first word. It is not an invitation, but a command that the Lord gives his people before leading them into the promised land. He commands them not to forget.

To have peace, which sums up all the good things promised by God, it is first necessary not to forget past experiences but to treasure them. From errors, too, we can learn a lesson to give better direction to our journey.

In looking at this century and the end of this millennium, how could we forget the terrible sufferings endured by humanity? We must not forget: on the contrary, we must remember. God our Father, help us to learn the right lessons from our history and that of those who have gone before us!

3. History speaks of great yearning for peace, but also of the recurring disappointments humanity has had to suffer amid tears and blood. John XXIII, the Pope of Pacem in terris, died precisely today, 3 June, 36 years ago. What a unanimous chorus of praise welcomed that document which outlined the principles for building true peace in the world! But in recent years, how many times have we had to witness the outbreak of violent warfare in one part of the world or another.

The believer, however, does not give up. He knows he can always count on God’s help. In this regard, Jesus’ words at the Last Supper sound particularly eloquent: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn14:27). Today we want once again to welcome and understand these words in depth. Let us enter into the spirit of the Upper Room to contemplate Christ, who under the appearances of bread and wine gives his Body and his Blood, anticipating Calvary in this sacrament. This is how he gave us peace. St Paul would later remark: “He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility … through the cross” (Eph 2:14, 16).

In giving himself, Christ gave us peace. His peace is not that of the world, often made of shrewdness and compromises, and of oppression and violence. Christ’s peace is the fruit of his Passover, that is, the fruit of his sacrifice which uproots hatred and violence and reconciles human beings with God and with one another; it is the trophy of his victory over sin and death, of his peaceful war against the evil of the world, a war fought and won with the weapons of truth and love. 

4. It is not by chance that this greeting is frequently heard on the lips of the risen Christ. Appearing to the Apostles, he first shows the signs in his hands and side of the hard struggle he endured, and then he greets them: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19, 21, 26). He communicates his peace to the disciples as a precious gift, not to keep jealously hidden, but to share with others through their witness.

This evening, dear friends, as we carry the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ our Passover in procession through the streets of Rome, we will be bringing the message of that peace which he left us and which the world cannot give. As we walk, we will ask ourselves about our personal witness to peace. It is not enough, in fact, to speak of peace if we do not strive to foster sentiments of peace in our hearts and to express them in our daily relations with those who live around us.

We will carry the Eucharist in procession and raise our heartfelt prayers to the “Prince of Peace” for the neighbouring land of the Balkans, where already too much innocent blood has been shed and where too many violations have been committed against the dignity and rights of individuals and peoples.

Our prayer this evening is strengthened by the hopeful prospects which are finally emerging.

5. “The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn 6:51). In the Gospel passage we have just heard, these words of Jesus have helped us understand what the source of true peace is. Christ is our peace, the “bread” offered for the life of the world. He is the “bread” which God the Father prepared, so that humanity might have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn10:10). 

God did not spare his Son, but gave him as the salvation of all, as the Bread we must eat if we wish to have life. Christ’s words are clear: to have life it is not enough to believe in God; it is necessary to dwell in him (cf. Jas 2:14). This is why the Word was made flesh, died and rose and gave us his Spirit; this is why he left us the Eucharist, so that we could live on him as he lives on the Father. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the gift Christ made of himself for us: he is the sacrament of love and peace, which is the fullness of life.

6. “Living bread, who gives life!“.

Lord Jesus, before you, our Passover and our peace, we commit ourselves to non-violently opposing man’s violence against man.

Prostrate at your feet, O Christ, today we want to share the bread of hope with our brothers and sisters in despair; the bread of peace with our brothers and sisters tortured by ethnic cleansing and war; the bread of life with our brothers and sisters threatened each day by weapons of destruction and death.

O Christ, we want to share the living Bread of your peace with the innocent and most defenceless victims.

“We offer you this sacrifice of praise for ourselves and those who are dear to us” (Roman Canon), so that you, O Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, may be for us, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the source of life, love and peace.



SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana