12/01/2019, 14.32
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Pope slams consumerism as a virus making us live for things, pointlessly

Francis celebrated Mass for Rome’s Congolese Catholic Community on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the city’s Congolese Catholic Chaplaincy. He lamented that fighting is taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, “fuelled also by the outside, amid the silence of many, fighting fuelled by those who enrich themselves by selling weapons.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for Rome’s Congolese Catholic Community on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the city’s Congolese Catholic Chaplaincy. In his homily, the pontiff slammed consumerism as a virus and a disease as well as war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Many worshippers came to the service wearing traditional garments. Traditional songs and dances were performed and fruit and flowers were brought to the altar, with the sound of traditional African instruments in the background.

At the end of his homily, Francis spoke about peace, which is "seriously threatened in the East of the country, especially in the regions of Beni and Minembwe, with fighting taking place, fuelled also by the outside, amid the silence of many; fighting fuelled by those who enrich themselves by selling weapons.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” said the Pope, “you have come from very far. You left your homes; you left loved ones and dear things. Once here, you have found acceptance along with difficulties and unexpected events. But for God you are always welcome. For Him we are never strangers, but [ are instead] expected children. The Church is the house of God: here, therefore, you can always feel at home. We come here to walk together towards the Lord and realise the words with which Isaiah's prophecy ends: ‘come, let us walk in the light of the Lord’ (Is 2:5).”

Yet, “we can prefer the darkness of the world in lieu of the light of the Lord. We can say no to the Lord who comes and to his invitation to go to Him. Often it is an underhanded rather than direct or brazen no. It is the no against which Jesus warns us in the Gospel, urging us not to do as in the ‘days of Noah’ (Mt 24:37). What happened in the days of Noah? What happened was that, whilst something new and shocking was about to arrive, nobody paid attention to it, because everyone thought only of eating and drinking (Mt 24:38). In other words, everyone limited their lives to their needs, happy with their dull, horizontal life, without any élan. No one was expected, only the pretence of having something for oneself, to be consumed.”

“Consumerism is a virus that affects the faith at its root, because it makes us believe that life depends only on what we have, so that we forget about God coming towards us and about those around us. The Lord comes, but we prefer to follow the urges that come to us; a brother knocks on our door, but he bothers us because he disrupts our plans.

“In the Gospel, when Jesus reports dangers to the faith, he is not concerned about powerful enemies, hostilities and persecutions. All this has occurred, and shall occur, but will not weaken the faith. Instead, the real danger comes from what numbs the heart: it means depending on consuming, it means letting ourselves be burdened and dissipated by needs (Lk 21: 34). Hence, we live for things without any purpose; we have many goods but no good is done; houses fill up with things but are empty of children; time is thrown away in pastimes, but there is no time for God and others.

"When we live for things, things are never enough, greed grows and others become obstacles in the race [to get them]. We end up feeling threatened, always dissatisfied and angry, raising the level of hatred. We see it today wherever consumerism rules: how much violence, be it only verbal, how much anger and desire to look for an enemy at all costs! Thus, while the world is full of weapons that cause death, we do not realise that we continue to arm the heart with anger.”

“Jesus wants to rouse us from all this. He does this with a verb: ‘Stay awake’ (Mt 24:42). Keeping watch was the sentry’s job; he kept watch by being awake whilst everyone else slept. Keeping watch is not giving in to the sleep that envelops everyone else. In order to keep watch, we must have some hope: that the night will not last forever, that dawn will soon come. The same is true for us: God comes and his light will also illuminate the thickest darkness.

“Today it is up to us to keep watch, to overcome the temptation that the meaning of life is to accumulate. The meaning of life is not to accumulate; [it is] to unmask the deception that one is happy if one has many things, to resist the dazzling lights of consuming, which will shine everywhere this month; [it is] to believe that prayer and charity are not lost time, but the greatest of treasures.”

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