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Jesus is “Sovereignly free” From Earthly Desire for Fame, Glory

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The Pontiff has reminded Christians that Jesus doesn’t seek earthly cheap popularity and that he came not to dominate, but to serve others.

Pope Francis was on Sunday reflecting on the Kingship of Christ on today’s Solemnity of Christ the King.

The Pope observed that Christ says he is a king when the crowds chanted against him, but when the crowds acclaimed him previously, he kept his distance.

“This shows that Jesus is “sovereignly free” from the earthly desire for regal fame and glory,” he noted, something that all Christians need to ask themselves if they too are imitating this mission of service to others, rather than seeking approval, esteem and applause.

Reflecting on the readings for today’s Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Pope Francis pointed out how Jesus said clearly during Pilate’s interrogation, “I am a king”, where previously we read in the Gospels how he did want others to acclaim him as their king.

The reason is the understanding of “kingship” according to worldy standards is very different from what He intended. Jesus came into the world, not to dominate, “but to serve”, the Pope, noted, and he did this not through “signs of power”, but rather, through the “power of signs”.

His kingship signified service to the point of being nailed on a cross, something “truly beyond human parameters” that regard a king as manifesting pride, fame, glory and power over others.

While Jesus fled earthly greatness, he “makes the hearts of those who follow him free and sovereign,” the Pope pointed out, saying Jesus frees us from the slavery of sin.

“His Kingdom is liberating,” where every disciple is treated like a friend and not a subject, he added, even though He is above all sovereign. The Pope emphasized that “we acquire dignity” by following Christ, who wants us all to be free.

The Pope explained the Jesus’ freedom derives from the truth, the reality that Jesus made “the truth within us that free us” from the falsity we have inside. When Jesus reigns in our heart, we are freed from hypocrisy, deceit and duplicity, the Pope said, since “being with Jesus, we become true”.

In conclusion, that Pope prayed that Mary might help us seek every day “the truth of Jesus, King of the Universe” who frees us from the earthly slavery to sin and leads us to discipline in our lives.

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Religion

Celebrating Prophet-founder of Baha’i Faith

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On November 12, 1817 the prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith was born in Persia the present day Iran.

Mirza Husayn-Ali, who is known to the world by His title, Baha’u’llah, was born in Tehran. Baha’u’llah means “Glory of God” in Arabic.

Two centuries later, the anniversary of the day He was born is celebrated around the world alongside the Birth of the forerunner of His Revelation, the Bab (according to the calendar used in Persian at the time of Their Births, these two anniversaries fell on consecutive days and Baha’is across the planet continue to celebrate these special days one after another).

These Twin Holy Birthdays, or Twin Holy Days, are celebrated annually as one festival where the closely interwoven lives and missions of these two Divine Luminaries are remembered together.

Rwanda hosts about 15,000 members of the Bahá’í faith one of the smallest religious sects in this hilly east African country that is predominantly catholic and with a slightly larger number of Anglicans and moslems.

Where Do Rwanda’s 15,000 Bahá’í Faith Converts Pray From?

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Religion

Pope Francis Visits Hungary, Slovakia

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The papal plane that departed from Rome at 6.09am local time, is taking Pope Francis to Budapest, where he is scheduled to land at 7,45am for the first leg of his journey.

Here he will meet with authorities before presiding over the concluding Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in the Hungarian capital’s Heroes Square.

He is scheduled to spend about 7 hours in the country before taking a short flight to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on Sunday afternoon.

That leg of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey will last until Wednesday.

One highlight of his visit to Slovakia wil be the celebration of Mass at the National Shrine of Šaštin, on the feast day of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Patron saint of Slovakia.

Pope Francis’ pilgrimage, said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin in an interview with Vatican News on the eve of the journey, is a way of entrusting “to Her all those who find themselves in situations of fragility, of vulnerability, of suffering, including physical suffering, as he has been going through in this period, especially taking into account the situation brought on by the pandemic.”

four dimensions of the visit

Presenting the visit to journalists at a briefing in the Vatican, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said the visit can be seen as a pilgrimage with four dimensions: a spiritual dimension centered on the Eucharist; an ecumenical dimension when he meets leaders of the other Christian churches and recalls the shared Christian heritage in Hungary and Slovakia that is linked to saints, Cyril and Methodius, who evangelized these peoples; an interreligious dimension represented by the meetings with leaders of the Jewish community in both capital cities; and a missionary dimension during which the Pope will evoke the heroic witness of faith and martyrdom given by Hungarian and Slovak Catholics who suffered persecution under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

 

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Pope Asks Do We Live Under Law or As Children of God?

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In his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis said we should ask ourselves if we are still living “under the Law” or if we understand that, having become children of God, we are called to live in love.

Pope Francis was explaining St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians at a General Audience, focusing on St Paul’s understanding of the role of the Law for Christians.

St Paul, he said, “has taught us that the ‘children of the promise,’ – that is, all of us, justified by Jesus Christ – are no longer bound by the Law, but are called to the demanding life-style of the freedom of the Gospel.”

He explained that for St Paul, the acceptance of faith is the turning point both for salvation history as a whole and in our own personal stories. At the heart of faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus, “which Paul preached in order to inspire faith in the Son of God, the source of salvation.”

So, he said, for Christians, there is a period “before becoming believers” and “after receiving the faith”; and there is, therefore, “a ‘before’ and ‘after’ with regard to the Law itself.”

In the period before receiving the faith, being “under the Law” has a negative sense, “as if one is watched and locked up, a kind of preventative custody.” This period, he said, “is perpetuated as long as one lives in sin.”

Law as teacher and guardian

The Law, said Pope Francis, makes us aware of what it means to transgress the law and also makes people aware of their own sin. In a certain sense, it ends up “stimulating the transgression.”

But he went on to explain, using St Paul’s image of the Law as a pedagogue, that while the Law had a “restrictive” function, it also served to protect and support the people of Israel, “it had educated them, disciplined them, and supported them in their weakness.”

So, the Pope said, the Law also had a positive function, that was nonetheless limited in time: when children become adults, they no longer need a guardian. Likewise, “once one has come to faith, the Law exhausts its propaedeutic value and must give way to another authority.”

Considering the role of the law

However, he said, the law still exists and is still important. Pope Francis said the role of the law “deserves to be considered carefully so we do not give way to misunderstandings and take false steps.”

And so, he said, “it is good for us to ask ourselves if we still live in the period in which we need the Law, or if, instead, we are fully aware of having received the grace of becoming children of God so as to live in love.”

It is a good question, he said, and added a second: “Do I despise the Commandments?” He also gave an answer: “No. I observe them, but not as absolutes, because I know that it is Jesus Christ who justifies me.”

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