Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Terrible "news continue to come out of Syria and Iraq, about acts of violence, abduction and harassment against Christians and other groups. Let those involved in these situations be aware that we have not forgotten them, that we are close to them, and that we are praying insistently for an end to the intolerable brutality of which they are victims," said Pope Francis in today's Angelus prayer.
Together with the Middle East, Francis also mentioned Venezuela's "moments of grave tensions" and urged "everyone to reject violence and show respect for the dignity of every person." The Holy Father made his appeal after the Angelus.
Before the prayer, the pope commented today's Gospel passage on the Transfiguration, which "is at the peak of Jesus' public ministry. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the 'Servant of God' will be fulfilled and where his redeeming sacrifice will be done. The crowds, facing the prospect of a Messiah that does not fit their earthly expectations, abandoned him. They thought that the Messiah would be a liberator of his country from Roman rule. Jesus did not like this perspective."
"Even the Apostles," he said, "did not understand the words with which Jesus announced the outcome of his mission in glorious passion. They did not understand. Jesus then showed Peter, James and John, a foretaste of his glory, that he would have after the Resurrection, to confirm them in the faith and encourage them to follow the path of the Cross. On a high mountain, immersed in prayer, he was transfigured before them: his face and his whole person radiated a brilliant light. The three disciples were frightened, whilst a cloud enveloped them and from above came - as in the Baptism in the Jordan - the voice of the Father, 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him' (Mk 9:7). Jesus is the Son who became servant, sent into the world to implement through the cross the project of salvation. His full adherence to the Father's will makes his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is Love."
"Jesus," the pope pointed out, "reveals himself as the perfect icon of the Father, the irradiation of his glory. He is the fulfilment of Revelation. For this reason, beside Him transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear, representing the Law and the Prophets, indicating that everything begins and ends in Jesus. The directive for the disciples and for us is this: 'Listen to him!' Listen to Jesus. He is the Saviour: follow him. Listening to Christ, in fact, entails taking on the logic of his Paschal Mystery, setting off with him in order to make our lives a gift of love to others, in docile obedience to God's will, with an attitude of detachment from worldly things and of inner freedom. We must, in other words, be prepared to 'lose our life' (cf. Mk, 8:35), to give it, so that everyone can be saved and that we might meet again in eternal happiness. Jesus' journey always leads us to happiness. There will be a cross [to bear], trials [to undergo], but there will always be happiness. Jesus does not deceive us; for this reason, we have to set off on his path. "
"With Peter, James and John," said the pontiff in concluding, "we also climb the Mount of Transfiguration and stop in contemplation of the face of Jesus, to receive the message and translate it into our lives, because we too can be transfigured by love. Love transfigures everything. Do you believe it? Ah, not so much from what I hear [The crowd shouts 'yes']. May the Virgin Mary, whom we now invoke with the Angelus prayer, support us in this journey."
Following the Marian prayer, the pontiff issued a number of appeals. "Dear brothers and sisters, unfortunately, unending tragic news continue to come out of Syria and Iraq, about acts of violence, abduction and harassment against Christians and other groups. Let those involved in these situations be aware that we have not forgotten them, that we are close to them, and that we are praying insistently for an end to the intolerable brutality of which they are victims. Together with the members of the Roman Curia, I offered, according to this intention, the last Mass the Spiritual Exercises, last Friday. At the same time I call on everyone, according to their possibilities, to work to alleviate the suffering of those who are tested, often only because of the faith they profess. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, who suffer for their faith. In Syria, in Iraq. Let us pray in silence." At this point, the crowd in the square joined the Holy Father in silent prayer.
"Let me also mention Venezuela," Francis added, "which is going through moments of acute tensions. I pray for the victims; in particular, for the boy who was killed a few days ago in San Cristobal. I urge everyone to reject violence and show respect for the dignity of every person and the sanctity of human life and I encourage you to walk together for the good of the country, opening spaces to meet and engage in sincere and constructive dialogue. I entrust that dear country to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto."