Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In today’s Angelus, Pope Francis expressed “great sorrow” for the victims of the “terrible massacre that occurred in Ankara, Turkey”, and called on pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square to pray in silence.
Yesterday, during a peaceful pro-Kurdish rally in the Turkish capital, two blasts – possibly two suicide attacks – killed at least 95 people and injured another 246, 48 of them very seriously. No one has claimed responsibility for the carnage so far.
In his statement, Francis expressed his “Pain for the many deaths; pain for the wounded; pain because the attackers struck defenceless people who were demonstrating for peace."
"As I pray for that dear country,” the pontiff said, “I ask the Lord to welcome the souls of the dead and comfort those who are suffering and the families."
“His Holiness Pope Francis is deeply saddened,” said Card Piero Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, in a telegram sent yesterday, on the pope’s behalf, to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the massacre. The text of telegram was released today.
After expressing "heartfelt solidarity" for those who have been affected by the tragedy, the telegram said, “While His Holiness deplores this barbaric act, he asks you to convey his spiritual closeness to all the families affected during this time of grief, and to the security and emergency personnel working to assist the wounded.”
Furthermore, "Commending the souls of all who have died to the loving mercy of the Almighty, Pope Francis invokes divine strength and peace upon their grieving relatives.”
Before the Marian prayer, the pope paused to comment on this Sunday’s Gospel (Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Liturgical Year B, Cycle I; Mark 10: 17-30), about Jesus' encounter with "The Rich Man".
The pope said that the passage is built around "three gazes of Jesus." The first is the "intense gaze, full of tenderness and affection, that Jesus had for the young rich man. ‘[L]ooking at him, [Jesus] loved him’ (V 21) because "observing the precepts was not enough” for him since “it did not satisfy his desire for wholeness."
"Jesus understood his interlocutor’s weak point,” the pope explained, “and came up with a concrete proposal: give all his possessions to the poor and follow him. But the young man's heart was torn between two masters – God and money - and so went away sad. This shows faith and attachment to wealth cannot coexist. In the end, the young man’s initial impulse faded into unhappiness of a wrecked sequela."
The "second gaze" is "the thoughtful gaze, one of warning: ‘Jesus looked around and said to his disciples: «How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!»’ (V. 23)."
"Jesus,” the pontiff went on to say, “responded with a look of encouragement – this is the third gaze – and said that salvation is, yes, impossible ‘For human beings [. . .], but not for God’ (v. 27). If we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we can overcome all the obstacles that prevent us from following him in the path of faith."
This is followed by "Jesus’ solemn declaration: ‘I say to you, there is no one who has given up [everything] who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age, [. . .] and eternal life in the age to come (cf. VS 29-30).”
“This ‘hundred times’ is made up by the things first owned and then abandoned, but which are found multiplied ad infinitum. We give up goods and in exchange receive the enjoyment of the true good; we free ourselves from the slavery of things and we gain the freedom to serve for love; we give up possession and get the joy of giving."
"The young man,” the pope added, “did not allowed himself to be won over by Jesus’ loving gaze, and so could not change. Only by accepting with humble gratitude the love of the Lord do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure, and success dazzle, but then let down; they promise life, but deliver death. The Lord asks us to detach ourselves from these false riches to enter into real life, a full, authentic, and bright life."
Speaking directly to the crowd without his written text, the pope said, “And I ask you, young people, young women and young men who are in the streets: Have you felt Jesus' gaze on you? What do you say to that? Do you prefer to leave this square with the joy that Jesus gives us or the sadness caused by worldliness?"
As he ended his address, the pope said, "May the Virgin Mary help us open our hearts to the love of Jesus, who alone can quench our thirst for happiness.”
After the Angelus and his statement about the massacre in Turkey, Francis mentioned that this Tuesday, 13 October, is International Day for Disaster Reduction.
"We must unfortunately recognise,” he explained, “that the effects of such calamities are often compounded by man’s lack of care of the environment by man.”
Hence, “I join all those who with foresight are committed to the protection of our common home, to the promotion of a global and local culture of disaster reduction and to greater resilience against them, through harmonising new and traditional knowledge, with particular attention for the most vulnerable populations."