POPE FRANCIS AT THE ANGELUS: COURAGE IN MISSION, HEARTBREAK FOR IRAQ
Sunday the Church marked both World Mission Day and, in the context of the Holy Year of Mercy, the Jubilee of Choirs and Liturgical Animators. At noon Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace and reflected on the life of St. Paul, his dedication to the mission, his courage in proclaiming the Gospel and the courage needed today by the faithful as they share in the mission.
Francis reflected on the day’s second reading taken from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy, and said, “Today is a time of mission and it is time of courage: courage to strengthen hesitant steps, to rediscover the delight of spending ourselves for the Gospel, to regain confidence in the strength that mission brings with itself.”
“What is required of us today,” said the Holy Father, “is courage to be an alternative in the world, without ever becoming argumentative or aggressive. What is required of us is the courage to be open to all, without ever diminishing the absoluteness and uniqueness of Christ, the one Savior of all. … Courage is required of us to stand up to unbelief, without becoming arrogant.”
Departing from his prepared text, Francis said, “There is also required of us in this day the courage of the publican in today’s Gospel,”according to St. Luke, with the parable of the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector who averts his eyes from heaven and begs the Lord forgiveness – the parable that concludes with the admonition “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. “
After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis, in a voice marked by sadness, called for prayers for Iraq. “At such a tragic time, we are close to the people of Iraq as a whole, especially to the people of the city of Mosul. Our hearts are shocked by the heinous acts of violence that have been committed for far too long against innocent citizens, be they Muslim, Christian or members of other ethnic groups and religions. I was saddened to hear news of the cold-blooded killing of many people of that beloved land, including many children. Such cruelty makes us weep, leaving us speechless! To these words of solidarity, I add the assurance that I shall remember in prayer so that Iraq, while suffering, may be both strong and firm in the hope of moving towards a future of security, reconciliation and peace.”
The Pope and the pilgrims in the square prayed silently for a moment and then together prayed the Hail Mary.