Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI made another heartfelt appeal in response to the "tragic and growing episodes of violence in Syria with their sad trail of deaths and injuries, including civilians, and large number of people displaced internally and refugees in neighbouring countries." At the end of today's Angelus at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, the pope said that he was following events in Syria "with apprehension," urging "God to give the wisdom of the heart, particularly to those who have the greatest responsibilities, so that no effort is spared in seeking peace, including the international community, through dialogue and reconciliation, for a proper political settlement of the conflict."
Benedict XVI also turned his thoughts to "the dear nation of Iraq, which has been hit by numerous, serious attacks which have caused many deaths and injuries. May this great country find once again the path toward stability, reconciliation and peace."
The pope also expressed concern for the situation of the ILVA steel mill in Taranto (Italy), which was closed by court order because of pollution problems going back decades, a decision opposed by workers who would lose their jobs and the tens of thousands of families that would lose their main source of income.
"I would like to express my closeness to the workers and their families, who are going through this difficult time with apprehension," the pope said. "Whilst I ensure you my prayers and the Church's support, I call on everyone to show a sense of responsibility. I encourage national and local governments to make every effort to find a fair solution to the issue, one that would uphold people's right to health, as well as the right to work, especially at such a time of economic crisis."
Amid so many sad stories, Benedict XVI noted that "a year from now, at this time, the 28th World Youth Day shall take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [. . .] It will be a precious occasion for many young people to experience the joy and beauty of belonging to the Church and living the faith," the pontiff said. "I look forward with hope to this event, and I encourage and thank the organisers, especially the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, for working diligently to welcome young people from around the world to this important Church meeting."
Before the Angelus, Benedict XVI talked about this Sunday's Gospel (John, 6:1-15). This is what he said:
"Dear brothers and sisters,
"This Sunday, we have begun reading the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, which starts with the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus speaks about it at the synagogue of Capernaum, describing Himself as the 'bread' that gives life. Jesus' actions parallel those of the Last Supper, when 'Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining' (Jh, 6:11). The insistence on the topic of 'bread', which is shared, and on giving thanks (v.11, eucharistesas in Greek), are references to the Eucharist, Christ's Sacrifice to save the world.
"The Evangelist notes that Passover was near (cf v 4). The gaze turns to the Cross, total gift of love, and towards the Eucharist, which perpetuates this gift. Christ becomes the bread of life for men. As Saint Augustine said, 'Who is the Bread of heaven, but Christ? But in order that man might eat Angels' Bread, the Lord of Angels was made Man. For if He had not been made Man, we should not have His Flesh; if we had not His Flesh, we should not eat the Bread of the Altar' (Sermon, 130:2). The Eucharist is the great permanent meeting with God, in which the Lord becomes our nourishment and gives Himself to transform us in Him.
"In the scene of the multiplication, the presence of a boy is noticed. Given the difficulty of feeding so many people, he offered to share the little he had-five loaves and two fish (cf Jn, 6:8). The miracle did not come from nothing but from an ordinary boy's desire to share what he had. Jesus does not ask us what we do not have, but shows us that if each of us offers what little we have, a miracle can always take place again. God is able to multiply every one of our small deeds of love and make us share in his gift. The crowd is struck by the wonder. It sees in Jesus a new Moses, worthy of power, and the new manna, its future assured, but stops at the material aspect. The Lord 'knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king [. . .] withdrew again to the mountain alone' (Jh, 6:15). Jesus is not an earthly king who rules, but a king who serves, who bends to man's level to meet not only his material hunger, but the deeper one, the one for God.
"Dear brothers and sisters, we call on the Lord to make us see the importance of rediscovering the importance of nourishing ourselves with the body of Christ, participating with faithfulness and great awareness to the Eucharist, to be ever more intimately united with Him. In fact, 'It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to himself; .he draws us into himself. (Esort. Apost. Sacramentum caritatis, 70)'. At the same time, we want to pray that no one may lack the necessary bread for a life of dignity, and that all inequalities be removed, not through the weapons of violence, but through sharing and love.
"Let Us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary as we invoke upon ourselves and our loved ones her maternal intercession."