Vatican City, Feb 3, 2015 / 05:59 am
In his homily Tuesday Pope Francis noted the importance of contemplating scripture, and urged faithful to read the Gospel for 10-15 minutes a day, rather than watching soap operas or exchanging gossip.
"At home, 15 minutes, pick up the Gospel, a small passage, imagine what happened and talk with Jesus about it," the Pope told those present in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse for his Feb. 3 daily Mass.
By reading the Bible every day, he said, "your gaze will be fixed on Jesus and not so much on a TV soap opera, for example. Your ears will be focused on the words of Jesus and not so much on your neighborhood gossip."
Pope Francis launched his reflection by turning to the day's first reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews, in which the apostle stresses the importance of "keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus."
By keeping our sight on the Lord we allow hope to increase in us, the Pope said, and spoke of the importance of praying every day, whether it is a rosary or talking to the Jesus, Mary and the Saints when we have a problem.
The pontiff then noted the importance of daily "contemplative prayer," which can be done with the Gospel in hand.
He asked attendees how the day's Gospel can be contemplated, saying that when he reads the text, "I see that Jesus was in the middle of the people, he was surrounded by a large crowd. Five times this passage uses the word 'crowd'. Did Jesus ever rest?"
Jesus did rest once when he was sleeping on the boat, but then "the storm came and the disciples woke him. Jesus was constantly in the midst of the people," the pontiff noted, explaining that one contemplates scripture by paying attention to the details which stand out.
The Bishop of Rome then turned to the day's Gospel reading from Mark, in which Jesus heals both the daughter of a synagogue official who had died, as well as a woman with hemorrhages when she touched his cloak.
In the case of the synagogue official, the Pope noted how Jesus is informed of the girl's illness, he leaves everything to take care of the man's daughter. When Jesus arrives to find women crying at the girl's death, Jesus tells them not to worry, and in turn they rebuke him.
This shows "the patience of Jesus," he said, and noted that after Jesus heals the man's daughter he immediately says "Please give her something to eat." Jesus, the pontiff observed, "always thinks of the little things."
The pontiff then noted that what he just did with the day's Gospel "is a prayer of contemplation: take up the Gospel, read and imagine the scene, imagine what happens and talk to Jesus, from the heart."
By doing this we allow hope to grow inside ourselves because our eyes are fixed on the Lord, he said, and encouraged those present to spend time they normally would watching TV or gossiping, by reading the Gospel instead.
Pope Francis concluded his homily by inviting those present to set aside concrete moments of prayer each day, telling them to "pray your prayers, pray the rosary, talk with the Lord, but also carry out this contemplative prayer keeping your gaze fixed on Jesus."
"Today try for 10 minutes – 15, no more – to read the Gospel, picture it and say something to Jesus. And nothing more. And so your knowledge of Jesus will be bigger and your hope will grow."