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Pope Francis will visit the southern Italian city of Bari on July 7th for a day of reflection and prayer for peace in the Middle East.
The head of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, told journalists on Wednesday that the Pope intends to invite the heads of other Churches and Christian communities in the region to the ecumenical encounter.
A statement from the press office said the Pope is urging people to prepare for this meeting through prayer, recalling “the dramatic situation in the Middle East which afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith”.
Third visit to Puglia in five months
Bari is located on the Adriatic coast in Italy’s south-eastern Puglia region. Its airport is named after Pope John Paul II – the Karol Wojtyla airport – and its ancient basilica dedicated to Saint Nicholas is an important place of pilgrimage for both Catholics and Orthodox.
It will mark the Pope’s third visit to the region in five months, following on from his trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in March, to pray at the tomb of Padre Pio, and to the towns of Alessano and Molfetta in April to recall the legacy of former bishop Don Tonino Bello.
Pope Francis at Mass on Monday warned against following Jesus out of self-interest in his miracles rather than through faith in his word. He invited us to refresh our memory of the wonderful things God has done in our lives, so as to respond with love.
Self-interest of the crowd
The Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel (John 6:22-29), in which the crowd wanted to make Jesus a king after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Jesus, he said, rebuffed them, saying “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
Pope Francis pointed out the two elements of Jesus’ response. On the one hand, he said, they were seeking Jesus in order to feel his Word in their hearts, that is, out of faith. On the other, they were merely curious to see his miracles. The Holy Father said these were good people but their faith was a little too curious and self-seeking.
Stephen’s faith in Jesus
Pope Francis then spoke about another example of faith in Jesus, that of Stephen in the First Reading (Acts 6:8-15). He spoke so clearly, the Pope said, that his interlocutors in the Sanhedrin could not resist his wisdom.
“He followed Jesus without weighing the consequences: ‘this works for me; that doesn’t’… He was not self-interested. He loved. So he followed Jesus sure in his faith. They laid a trap of slander, and they led him into it. So he was stoned to death, giving witness to Jesus.”
Faith or self-interest?
Pope Francis invited us to consider how we follow Jesus. He advised us to refresh our memory of how Jesus has acted in our lives.
“We will find so many great things that Jesus has freely given us, because he loves each one of us. Once I have considered the things Jesus has done for me, I can ask the second question: ‘What should I do for Jesus?’ With these two questions, perhaps we can purify our faith of any self-interest. When I see all that Jesus has given me, my heart generously says: ‘Yes, Lord, I shall give all. I won’t make these mistakes and commit these sins again. I’ll change my life in this way…’ [This is] the road to conversion by love: ‘You’ve given me so much love, so I shall give you my love’.”
Finally, Pope Francis said these two questions can help us to purify our faith of self-interest.
“This is a good test to see how we follow Jesus: ‘Am I self-interested or not?’… ‘What has Jesus done for me in my life out of love?’ And seeing this, ‘what should I do for Jesus?’ ‘How do I respond to his love?’ That’s how we can purify our faith from all self-interest. May the Lord help us along this path.”
The Museo di Roma at Palazzo Braschi honours the Italian master Canaletto with a major retrospective, the largest exhibition of Canaletto works ever held in Italy. Canaletto 1697-1768 celebrates the 250th anniversary of the death of the great Venetian painter who revolutionised the genre of landscape painting, raising it to the same importance as historical and figurative painting.
The show features 68 works including Canaletto paintings, drawings and archive documents on loan from some of the world’s most important collections.
The exhibition includes several Canaletto masterpieces such as The Grand Canal from the north, towards the Rialto bridge, and The Grand Canal with S. Maria della Carità, exhibited together for the first time, along with the manuscripts detailing their commission.
Piazza di S. Pantaleo, 10, 00186 Roma RM, Italy