Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pope: Syria, a ceasefire, at least to evacuate the children

A ceasefire in Syria, at least to evacuate the children. This is Pope Francis’ latest appeal which came at the end of the general audience. 

"I want to emphasize and reiterate - his words - my closeness to all victims of the inhuman conflict in Syria. It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging, with all my strength, those responsible, that steps be taken toward an immediate ceasefire, one imposed and respected at least for the time necessary to allow the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under cruel bombardment”.
Earlier, addressing the 40 thousand people in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke of the works of mercy, even "spiritual" ones such as "to patiently bear wrongs", calling them "the best antidote" in a world "struck by the virus 'indifference". If everyone did some every day one, he added, there would be "a real revolution". He continued the catechesis of the next weeks  will be dedicated to works of mercy.
To be merciful "is a commitment that challenges the conscience and action of every Christian. It is not enough to experience the mercy of God in our lives; Whoever receives it should also become a sign and instrument for the other. Mercy also is not reserved only for special times, but embraces all our daily lives. "

"How, then, can we be witnesses of mercy? We should not think that it means making great efforts or superhuman gestures. No, it does not. The Lord shows us a much simpler way, through small gestures which, however, are great in His eyes, so much so that he told us that on these we will be judged. In fact, a most beautiful page of Matthew's Gospel brings us the lesson that we could refer to somewhat as the  'Testament of Jesus', for the evangelist who experienced the action of Mercy in first person. Jesus says that every time we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, clothe a naked person and welcome a stranger, visit those who are sick or in prison, we do it to Him (cf. Mt 25,31- 46). The Church has called these gestures 'corporal works of mercy' because it gives succor to people in their  material needs.

"But there are also seven other 'spiritual' works of mercy, affecting other equally important needs, especially today, because they touch the intimate and often make people suffer more. We all will certainly remember the one that has entered the common parlance: ‘To patiently bear’ annoying people, and wrongs. It might seem like a minor thing, which makes us smile, but instead contains a feeling of deep love; and this is also the case for the other six, which is good to remember: Counseling the doubtful, teach the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, pray to God for the living and for the dead, these are everyday things. I stop, listen to those in need, I console and I dedicate my time and this is not just for those in need, it is for Jesus.

In the next catechesis we will focus on these works, that the Church presents to us as a concrete way of living compassion. Over the centuries, many simple people have put them into practice, thus giving genuine witness of faith. The Church, moreover, faithful to her Lord, nourishes a preferential love for the weakest. Often it's the people closest to us who need our help. "

"We don’t have to go off in search of some kind of work to accomplish. It is best to start from the simplest of things, the Lord shows us the most urgent. In a world sadly struck by the virus of indifference, the works of mercy are the best antidote. They educate us, in fact, to pay attention to the most basic needs of our "little brothers" (Mt 25,40), in whom Jesus is present, Jesus is always present where there is need, where there is a material and spiritual need. Recognizing his face in that of those in need is a real challenge against indifference. It allows us to always be vigilant, avoiding that we should walk by without recognizing Christ. St. Augustine’s saying comes to mind: "Timaeus Iesum transeuntem" (Serm., 88, 14, 13), I am afraid that the Lord will pass by and I will not recognize Him, I am afraid I will pass by like one of these little people and I will not recognize Him. I wondered why St. Augustine said he feared the passage of Jesus. The answer, unfortunately, is in our behavior because we are often distracted, indifferent, and when the Lord passes by we lose the opportunity to encounter Him".

"The works of mercy awaken in us the need and the ability to have a living and active faith with charity. I am convinced that through these simple everyday actions we can make a real cultural revolution, as it was in the past, if each of us every day carries out a work of mercy, this will be a real revolution in the world! How many Saints are still remembered not for the great works that they have achieved but for the charity that they were able to pass on! We think of Mother Teresa, recently canonized who is not remembered for the many houses she opened in the world, but because she bent over every person who was in the middle of the road to give them back their dignity. How many abandoned children did she hold in her arms; she accompanied those dying, those on the threshold of eternity holding their hands! These works of mercy are the traits of the face of Jesus Christ, who takes care of his little siblings to bring everyone the tenderness and closeness of God. May the Holy Spirit kindle within us the desire to live with this lifestyle, to carry out at least one every day, at least! Let us learn again by heart the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and ask the Lord to help us to put them into practice every day, and the time in which we see Jesus in a person who is in need. "

Finally, the Pope also spoke of the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction, which is celebrated tomorrow and this year proposes the theme: 'Reduce mortality'. "Natural disasters could be avoided or at least limited, since their effects are often due to man’s deficiencies in environmental care. Therefore I encourage you to join efforts in the protection of our common home, promoting a culture of prevention, also with the help of new knowledge, reducing the risk to the most vulnerable populations."

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