Pope Francis will have lunch with poor people on World Day of the Poor in Paul VI Hall. Dioceses and parishes around the world have promoted similar initiatives of solidarity. The pontiff asked for a round of applause for Father Emilio Moscoso, a Jesuit martyr priest who was killed in 1897 and proclaimed blessed yesterday in Riobamba (Ecuador). “[H]ope in God [. . .] allows us not to be overcome by tragic events. Indeed, they are an opportunity to give ‘testimony’.” The Christian martyrs of our times, despite persecutions, are men and women of peace.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis announced to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square that “Soon I will have the joy of sharing lunch with about 1,500 needy people, to show the attention that must never fail towards these brothers and sisters or ours.”
The meal, which will take place in the Paul VI Hall, has become a tradition on World Day of the Poor, now in its third edition. For the occasion, the pontiff celebrated a solemn Mass in the basilica this morning, attended by many poor people.
Francis thanked dioceses and parishes around the world for undertaking “initiatives of solidarity to give concrete hope to the most disadvantaged people.” Likewise, he thanked “the doctors and nurses who have recently offered their services at the medical clinic in St Peter’s Square.”
Over the past week, medical staff provided specialised medical check-ups, treatments, clinical tests and free examinations to poor people. All these measures, he explained, “show the attention that must be given to these brothers and sisters of ours”.
The pontiff also mentioned that Father Victor Emilio Moscoso Cárdenas was proclaimed Blessed yesterday in Riobamba (Ecuador). The Jesuit priest was martyred in 1897 amid a climate of persecution of the Catholic Church.
"His example of a humble religious, apostle of prayer and educator of youth supports our journey of faith and Christian witness,” said Francis, who called on the pilgrims to give the new Blessed a round of applause.
Before the Angelus prayer, Francis spoke about today’s Sunday Gospel (Luke 21:5-19), in which Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. “The destruction of the temple announced by Jesus,” he said, “is an illustration not so much of the end of history as of the purpose of history.”
In the Gospel passage, Jesus "uses two apparently conflicting images: the first is a series of frightening events: catastrophes, wars, famines, riots and persecutions (vs 9-12); the other is reassuring: ‘but not a hair on your head will be destroyed’ (v 18).” This suggests the attitude that Christians must keep "in living this story, characterised by violence and adversity”.
“This is the attitude of hope in God, which allows us not to be overcome by tragic events. Indeed, they are an opportunity to give ‘testimony’ (v 13). Christ’s disciples cannot remain slaves of fears and anxieties; they are called instead to dwell in history and stem the destructive force of evil with the certainty that to accompany his good deed there is always the provident and reassuring tenderness of the Lord.”
"Faith” Francis went on to say, “makes us walk with Jesus on the winding roads of this world, in the certainty that the strength of his Spirit will bend the forces of evil, subjecting them to the power of God's love. There are examples of Christian martyrs of our times, who, despite persecutions, are men and women of peace. They give us a legacy to be preserved and imitated: The Gospel of love and mercy. This is the most precious treasure given to us and the most effective testimony we can give to our contemporaries, responding to hatred with love, to offence with forgiveness, even in everyday life.”
Before the final greeting, Francis asked everyone to pray for his apostolic journey to Thailand and Japan (November 19-26).