God shows his greatness in humility, closeness, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Poland (CNS) — God
chose to manifest his power not by amazing feats of greatness but rather
through small acts of humility, choosing to enter the world as a child born of a woman,
Pope Francis said.

The Lord’s “humble love” is reflected
Poland’s history, particularly through “meek and powerful heralds of
mercy,” such as St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska, the pope said July 28 at a Mass outside the Marian
shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa.

these ‘channels’ of his love, the Lord has granted priceless gifts to the whole
church and to all
mankind,” the pope said.

Mass marked the 1,050th
anniversary of the baptism
of Poland, which celebrates the Christianization of the country following the
baptism of Mieszko I,
the first ruler of the Polish state.

Prior to leaving Krakow for Czestochowa,
the pope visited the convent of the Sisters of the Presentation and stopped at
a nearby hospital to visit Cardinal
Franciszek Macharski, retired archbishop of Krakow.

89-year-old cardinal, who is in “serious condition,” succeeded St.
John Paul II as archbishop of Krakow following his election as pope in 1978.

With thick clouds gathered over the
Jasna Gora Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Pope Francis arrived by car
rather than helicopter, as planned. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican
spokesman, said officials had told the Vatican it might not be safe for the
helicopter to land.

In Czestochowa, hundreds of thousands
of Poles lined the street leading up to the shrine, which houses the famed icon
of the “Black Madonna,” traditionally held to have been painted by
St. Luke the Evangelist.

John Paul had a special devotion to the famed image. After his election, the
Polish pope visited the shrine on June 4, 1979, and entrusted his pontificate
to Mary.

waving banners and flags anxiously awaited the arrival of Pope Francis who,
like his predecessor and many Poles, shares a deep connection and reverence to

and Evelina, two local pilgrims, journeyed with their families to the shrine
hoping to catch a glimpse of “Papa Franciszek.”

is the first time I will see the pope; I have never been to a World Youth Day
before,” Viola told Catholic News Service.

is very important for us to see and hear the pope, even if it was a long
journey here to Jasna Gora,” Evelina said.

also stressed that young people in Poland like herself are hoping for a “special word” and
that the pope “tells us what we can do for our church.”

people of Poland need the pope to show us what we can do with our lives and
which roads can lead us to (a better) future,” Evelina told CNS, adding
that young people are also hoping to learn “how we can live here in Poland
with people from other countries.”

in the popemobile to the shrine, the pope made his way to the monastery that
houses the image of the Black Madonna.

the pope was welcomed by Father
Arnold Chrapkowski, superior general of the monks of St. Paul the First Hermit, the
image of Mary was slowly revealed with the fanfare of drums and trumpets.

pope stood still, gazing at the Black Madonna in silence for several minutes before carrying a gold rose to
the altar below the image. He was then presented with a gold chalice and
a replica of the image, which he reverently touched and kissed.

Beginning the outdoor Mass, Pope
Francis missed a step as he was blessing the altar and an image of Mary with
incense. He stumbled and fell, but quickly was helped to his feet and continued
the liturgy without problem.

In his homily, the
pope reflected on the coming of God into human history not by a “triumphal
entrance or striking epiphany” but rather in “the simplest of

contrary to our expectations and perhaps even our desires, the kingdom of God,
now as then, ‘does not come in a way that attracts attention,’ but rather in
littleness, in humility,” the pope said.

the day’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding
feast in Cana, the pope said that Christ’s humility is again exemplified in
“a simple miracle” that “brings joy to the wedding of a young
and completely anonymous couple.”

the “tragically human” attraction to power and grandeur, God
manifests himself and saves humankind “by making himself little, near and
real,” the pope said.

are called to reflect God’s closeness by “radiating goodness through the
transparency of our lives,” he said.

history, he stressed, is marked by occasions in which God has taken them by the
hand and “accompanied you in so many situations.”

is what we, too, in the church are constantly called to do: to listen, to get
involved and be neighbors, sharing in people’s joys and struggles, so that the
Gospel can spread ever more consistently and fruitfully,” the pope said.

Francis also noted that Poland’s history is a testament to God’s real presence,
the “contagious power of faith” and devotion to Mary.

there is any human glory, any merit of our own in the fullness of time, it is
she. Mary is that space, preserved free from sin, where God chose to mirror
himself. She is the stairway God took to descend and draw near to us. She is
the clearest sign of the fullness of time,” he said.

she did in Cana, the pope continued, Mary offers her presence and counsel in
order to “avoid hasty decisions and grumbling in our communities.”

each one of us be able to make an interior passage, a Passover of the heart,
toward the divine ‘style’ incarnated by Mary. May we do everything in
littleness and accompany others at close hand, with a simple and open
heart,” Pope Francis said.

– –

Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article