At the Angelus Pope Francis speaks of how early Christians preached Gospel in a "geographically peripheral and religiously impure land", and that from there “the light on which we have reflected over the past few Sundays spread: the light of Christ." "The joy of proclaiming and witnessing to our faith”. Wishes that during the New Year of the Rooster, the families of the Far East "increasingly become a school of respect for each other". Closeness to earthquake victims in central Italy. Prayers for victims and rescuers. Vespers in St. Paul Outside the Walls together with representatives of other Christian confessions.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "All the areas of human life are the soil on which to cast the Gospel seeds, so they may bear the fruit of salvation" concluded Pope Francis reflection on the Sunday Gospel today (3rd for year A, Matthew 4; 12-23) together with the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's square to pray the Angelus. After the Marian prayer, the pontiff also wished a happy New Year to "millions of men and women" in the Far East who "are preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 28".
Commenting on the Gospel, Francis focused on the place where Jesus' preaching mission began: the "Galilee of the Gentiles”. "Jerusalem, its capital, - he said – saw that land as geographically peripheral and religiously impure, for mixing with those who did not belong to Israel. Certainly, great things for the history of salvation were not expected to come from Galilee. And yet it was from there that “the light on which we have reflected over the past few Sundays spread: the light of Christ”.
He then pointed out the difference between the method of the Baptist and that of Jesus: "What differentiates from Jesus John the Baptist is the style and method. Jesus chooses to be a traveling prophet. He does not wait for the people, but he goes out to meet them. "
Recalling the call of the first disciples (the brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John) and their prompt response, he concluded: "We, Christians of today, we have the joy of proclaiming and witnessing to our faith because of that first proclamation, because of those humble and courageous men who responded generously to the call of Jesus. On the banks of the lake, in an unthinkable land, the first community of disciples of Christ was born. May awareness of these beginnings will inspire in us a desire to bring the word, love and tenderness of Jesus to all contexts, even the most impervious and resistant. All areas of human life are the soil on which to cast the seeds of the Gospel, so they may bear the fruit of salvation".
After the Angelus, Francis began by noting that as per tradition, on January 25 he will travel of the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls for the celebration of vespers together with representatives of other Christian confessions to end the Week of Christian Unity. This year’s theme is "an expression, taken from St. Paul, who shows us the path to follow: 'The love of Christ impels us to reconciliation' (cf. 2 Cor 5:14). Next Wednesday will conclude the Week of Prayer with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, with the participation of the brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities present in Rome. I invite you to persevere in prayer, so as to fulfill the desire of Jesus: "That all may be one" (Jn 17:21) ".
He then expressed his closeness to the people of Abruzzo, Marche and Lazio hit in recent days by new tremors and heavy snowfalls that have killed more people and hampered rescues. "I am close - said the Pope – in prayer and affection to families with loved ones who are victims. I encourage all those engaged generously in the relief and assistance efforts; as well as the local Churches, who are working to alleviate the suffering and difficulties. Thank you so much for your closeness, for your work and concrete help. And I invite you to pray to the Virgin for the victims and for those who are working in any kind of distress: Hail Mary ... ".
A few days before the start of the Year of the Rooster (according to the lunar calendar used by China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, etc ...), Francis expressed his best wishes, saying: "In the Far East and in various parts of world, millions of men and women are preparing to celebrate the lunar New Year on January 28. My cordial greeting to all their families, with the hope that they increasingly become a school where of respect for each other, to communicate and to care for each other unselfishly. May the joy of love spread within families and radiate throughout society".