Category Archives: Quotes and Positivity

Pope Urges the Poor be Restored Their Voice and Dignity

In view of the Catholic Church’s 5th World Day of the Poor, on 14 November, Pope Francis paid a private visit to Assisi on Friday, to listen to and pray with poor people from around Europe.

“May this meeting open all of our hearts to put ourselves at each other’s disposal, so make our weakness a strength to help continue on the journey of life, to transform our poverty into wealth to be shared, and thus to make the world better.” 

Pope Francis made the call Friday morning at a meeting with some 500 poor people from around Europe in Assisi, the home town of St. Francis in central Italy. It was a private visit of listening and prayer in view of Sunday’s World Day of the Poor.

On his arrival, he was given a cloak and a staff, symbols of a pilgrim to the places of St Francis, to listen to his word. Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Holy Mary of the Angels), where St. Francis understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor, Pope Francis listened to the testimony of 6 poor people from Italy, France, Poland and Spain. 

Need for one another

Addressing them, Pope Francis said, “Every one of us needs the other, and that even weakness, if experienced together, can become a strength that will make the world better.”

He expressed pain that the presence of the poor is often seen as an annoyance and sometimes are blamed for poverty in the world, which is an insult.  Instead, we should make a serious examination of conscience on our actions, on the injustice of certain laws and economic measures, on the hypocrisy of those who want to enrich themselves excessively.

Restoring the rights of the poor

The Holy Father said it is time that the poor are given back their voice, that eyes be opened to see the state of inequality in which many families live, that sleeves to be rolled up so dignity can be restored by creating jobs. 

“It is time to be scandalized once again before the reality of children who are starving, reduced to slavery, tossed about in the water in the aftermath of a shipwreck, innocent victims of every sort of violence. It is time that violence against women ends, that they be respected and not treated like bargaining chips. It is time that the circle of indifference be broken so as to discover once again the beauty of encounter and dialogue.” Unless we men and women learn to meet each other,  he warned, humanity will head for a very sad end.

The hope and perseverance of the poor

Pope Francis said he was impressed by the tremendous sense of hope of the poor which gives way to holding out against every odd.  “Marginalization, suffering sickness and loneliness, the lack of so many necessary means,” he said, “has not stopped you from seeing with eyes filled with gratitude the little things that have enabled you to hold out.”

The strength to keep going against the current despite every odd, he said, requires the courage to take a new path, knowing it will bear fruit. We do not face difficulties alone but together, and only together can we overcome them, without giving in to the temptation to give up and fall into loneliness or sadness.

Pope Francis drew attention to the simplicity of heart and life of St. Francis, which, he said, is more powerful than preaching.

He recalled an episode where St. Francis and Brother Masseo on a journey to go to France had to beg for food. Despite the poverty and lack of necessity all around, St. Francis considered the pieces of stale, hard bread they collected a great treasure, saying it was a gift of Providence.  “Knowing how to be content with the little we have and to share it with others,” the Pope said, is the lesson St. Francis teaches us.

Repairing the Lord’s house

Drawing attention to the Portiuncula, the tiny chapel inside the basilica that St. Francis restored after Jesus had asked him to “repair his house”, the Pope said, “the Lord was asking him to give his life to renew not the church made of stone, but the one made of persons, of men and women who are the living stones of the Church”. 

The Pope said the poor were gathered in the church to ask the Lord to hear their cry of help.

The first marginalization they suffer from is a spiritual one. Many people find time to help the poor and bring them food and hot beverages, but what brings more joy, he said, is that these volunteers stop a bit and speak with the people, and sometimes pray with them. 

“The Portiuncula reminds us of the Lord’s company, that He never leaves us alone, he always accompanies us in every moment of our lives.”

Hospitality and fraternity

Another lesson of the Portiuncula is that it was where St. Francis welcomed Saint Clare, the first brothers, and many poor people as brothers and sisters, sharing everything with them.

Hospitality, the Pope said is the most evangelical expression we are called to make our own. It means opening the door of our house and heart to allow the person who knocks to come in, that he or she might feel welcome and not ashamed.

A true sense of fraternity leads to a sincere experience of hospitality and community, the Pope said, adding its absence leads to egoism and breeds fear, contempt and rejection of the other, or worse still indifference, which looks the other way.  

In this regard, he recalled a saying of Mother Teresa: “what is the best welcome? A smile”.  

“A smile as an expression of sympathy and tenderness,” the Pope said, “does me and the other person good.”  Later, he pointed out, the smile involves you because you cannot distance yourself from the one you smiled at.

Inspiration of the poor

While thanking everyone for the occasion, Pope Francis thanked God for the World Day of the Poor, whose idea, he said, came from a boy called Etienne in a sacristy and which he took as an inspiration from the Holy Spirit and instituted the annual observance.

Among those present was also French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who accompanied the poor from France.  He stepped down as Archbishop of Lyon stepped down after a court in 2019 convicted him for covering up a priest’s child sex abuse in his diocese.  He was later acquitted on appeal.   The Pope thanked Cardinal Barbarin his witness.  “He is among the poor.  He too endured poverty, abandonment and mistrust with dignity, and he defended himself with silence and prayer,”  the Pope said.

Pope: Mature Christians Trust God, Serve Others Even in Tough Times

Maturing in the Christian life means learning to trust God and hang on to hope even when daily trials tempt one to complain, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating a memorial Mass Nov. 4 for the 17 cardinals and 191 bishops who died over the past year, the pope said, “Let us ask for the grace to look at adversity with different eyes. We ask for the strength to know how to live in the meek and trusting silence that awaits the salvation of the Lord, without complaining, without grumbling, without allowing ourselves to be saddened.”

Twenty-six cardinals, 22 bishops and diplomats accredited to the Vatican joined the pope for the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The pope noted in his homily that the number of cardinals and bishops who had died over the course of the year was higher than normal. “Some of them died as a result of COVID-19, in difficult situations that compounded their suffering,” he said.

He prayed that all of them would hear the Lord say, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Waiting on the Lord with patience and hope, he said, is something Christians learn gradually, but it is not automatic.

“In the face of life’s difficulties and problems, it is difficult to have patience and remain serene,” he said. “Irritation can set in and despondency. Thus, one can be strongly tempted by pessimism and resignation, to see everything as black, to become accustomed to mistrustful and complaining tones.”

“It’s bad to reach old age with a bitter heart, with a disappointed heart, with a heart critical of new things,” Pope Francis said.

Instead, throughout their lives Christians must prepare for old age and death by cultivating “the art of waiting for the Lord,” waiting for him “meekly, trustingly,” knowing that God loves and will save them, he said. “This is how we prepare for the last and greatest trial of life, death.”

“What is needed is for each of us to bear witness with our lives to our faith, which is a docile and hopeful expectation. Faith is just that: Docile and hopeful expectation,” he said. Christians do not downplay suffering, “but they raise their eyes to the Lord and amid trials they trust in him and pray for those who suffer.”

Christians keep their “eyes on heaven,” but their hands are “always extended to earth, to serve” those in need, he said, even when they are experiencing their own time of sadness or darkness.

Original Article:

How Jesus’ Parables Help Disprove the ‘Legend’ Theory

Skeptics frequently argue that the Gospels are not based on eyewitness accounts. They were composed decades after Jesus’ death by people not familiar with first-century Israel. And they wrote after hearing stories passed down to them. And those stories came from others who heard these stories. It’s one long game of telephone. How can we know if we have the actual words of Jesus?

One piece of evidence that goes against the telephone game theory is the parables of Jesus. The gospels present Jesus as a formal teacher or rabbi, with disciples. New Testament scholar Peter J. Williams notes that the Gospels use the word disciple or disciples 195 times. They also describe Jesus as a teacher or a rabbi 62 times. If Jesus was a rabbi in the traditional sense, his students would probably memorize his teaching.

Now think about parables for a moment. They are simple and easy to remember. They have a quality that sticks with you even after hearing them only once. A gifted communicator like Jesus understood this. And if he taught for three years, he’d likely repeat the same parables. The disciples could then pass them on to others without effort.

Now let’s dig in and look at parables, again with the help of Peter J. Williams. I’ll be drawing from his book Can We Trust the Gospels? Before we jump in, we should note that there is no consensus on how many parables are in the Gospels. There are at least 40 in the Synoptics, and John contains few if any.

The Parables in the Synoptics ((Matthew, Mark, and Luke) occur in material unique to each writer. They’re also in the material found in all three Gospels. And they’re in material shared between Matthew and Luke. Jesus tells more parables than any ancient rabbi we have a record of.

Parables: A Jesus Thing

The simplest hypothesis is that Jesus told all these parables for three reasons. First of all, Jewish sources often attribute parables to rabbis. But there are few parables in the Old Testament or Dead Sea Scrolls. Nor are they in Deuterocanonicals. Paul didn’t use them. Neither did the other church fathers. Almost all of the parables in the Gospel of Thomas have parallels in the Synoptics.

I should note that some scholars see The Shepherd of Hermas as a parable. But it’s not like anything we find in the Gospels; the genre is different. A lot of it is visionary in nature. And the Shepherd is much longer. Parables are overwhelmingly a Jewish genre. They fit in the time after the Old Testament, but before Christianity became less Jewish.

Multiple Parable Inventors?

Secondly, if Jesus told no parables, we need at least 3 parable inventors. Otherwise, we can’t explain those parables unique to each source. But we know parables weren’t popular storytelling forms among early Christian writers. They’re not found in the New Testament epistles. The Church Fathers didn’t use them.

So if Jesus said some parables but others put them into Jesus’ mouth, we have several parable tellers. And they’d have to come from different places at different times. And then in flash, parable inventing had to go out of style among Christians. This seems very unlikely. The simpler hypothesis is there was one master parable teller.

Lastly, Jesus’s parables are literary masterpieces. There is the parable of the sower, the parable of the good Samaritan, and the parable of the prodigal son. And I could go on. So let’s think about this for a moment. What if these were inventions? We would need to posit several later creative geniuses making up these parables. And they’d all happen to credit their less creative founder with their great works.

This is more complicated than Jesus being the creative genius behind these parables. Again, we ought to prefer a more simple hypothesis over a more complicated one.

Parables: Evidence We Have Jesus’ Words

It is also worth noting how Jesus’ parables fit well with the time in which they are set. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai told a parable about a king inviting servants to a banquet. There were some wise and others foolish, the latter made the king angry by not dressing appropriately.

Sound familiar? The key elements of this story are in two different parables of Jesus (Matthew 22:1–14; 25:1–13). Many of Jesus’ parables contain traditional Jewish themes. But Jesus rearranges them to make his own, often giving a surprising conclusion. We also see this in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. That means these themes are a product of Jesus’ setting, first-century Israel. They are an awkward fit if the Gospel authors were Gentiles writing decades later, far away.

These three reasons lend credence to the Gospels being based on eyewitness accounts. And they’re more of a clumsy fit on the telephone game hypothesis. Jesus’ parables give us sneaky good evidence that the Gospels are reliable. If they passed on these aspects of his message correctly, chances are they passed on his other words reliably as well.

Erik Manning is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and handmade decor business with his wife, Dawn. He is passionate about the intersection of apologetics and evangelism.

Mark Wahlberg Talks About his Christian Faith

Actor and producer Mark Wahlberg has credited his faith in God for helping him turn his life around and allowing him to become a “better person”.

In a recent interview with People Magazine, the 45-year-old “Deepwater Horizon” star reflected on his troubled younger years growing up in Boston, Massachusetts in the 70’s and 80’s. As a teen, Wahlberg struggled with a cocaine addiction and regularly got into trouble with the law.

At just 16 years old, Wahlberg became a Christian after meeting a priest in jail while serving time in prison for robbing a pharmacy, assaulting one man, leaving another one blind in one eye and attacking a security guard. After he was imprisoned and charged with attempted murder, Wahlberg realized he needed to change, consequently turning to God.

Actor and producer Mark Wahlberg has credited his faith in God for helping him turn his life around and allowing him to become a "better person".

Actor and producer Mark Wahlberg has credited his faith in God for helping him turn his life around and allowing him to become a “better person”.

In a recent interview with People Magazine, the 45-year-old “Deepwater Horizon” star reflected on his troubled younger years growing up in Boston, Massachusetts in the 70’s and 80’s. As a teen, Wahlberg struggled with a cocaine addiction and regularly got into trouble with the law.

At just 16 years old, Wahlberg became a Christian after meeting a priest in jail while serving time in prison for robbing a pharmacy, assaulting one man, leaving another one blind in one eye and attacking a security guard. After he was imprisoned and charged with attempted murder, Wahlberg realized he needed to change, consequently turning to God.

“I think the fact that I’ve been able to turn my life around and really make my mom proud and become a better person through focusing on my faith, it always gives me great sense of pride to come home,” Wahlberg told People.

The actor, whose latest film, Patriot’s Day, tells the story of the Boston Marathon bombings, said he hopes his story inspires young people today.

“I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve done a lot to turn my life around,” he said. “And I encourage and challenge people like myself to do the same, but more importantly, I want to encourage young people growing up in that situation first and foremost to avoid the mistakes that I made. There isn’t anything you can’t accomplish by hard work.”

Earlier this year, the actor appeared in an online video in which he identified his Catholic faith as the “anchor that supports everything I do in life” and said he regularly prays for “guidance and strength in my vocation as a husband and as a father.”

During a 2015 interview with Square Mile Magazine, Wahlberg said his faith makes him a “better man”.

“It’s the most important part of my life,” he said. “I pray that I will live up to my intention to be the best husband and father than I can be.”

Wahlberg also credits his faith for his massively successful career, which includes Golden Globe and Oscar nominations: “I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith,” he said.