02/07/2018, 14.50
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Pope: join forces to prevent trafficking in people and protect victims

Francis appeal on World Day against Trafficking. The hope of "a world in which conflicts can be resolved peacefully through dialogue and mutual respect" urged by the joint parade of the two Koreas at the Olympics. During the Mass, the Gospel should be heard "with an open heart" and the homily should be prepared and last "no more than 10 minutes".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An appeal to "citizens and institutions, to join forces to prevent trafficking and to guarantee protection and assistance to victims" and the hope of "a world in which conflicts can be resolved peacefully through dialogue and mutual respect "solicited by the joint parade of the two Koreas at the Winter Olympics concluded today's general audience, dedicated to the Gospel during Mass.

Pope Francis spoke to the eight thousand people present in the Paul VI hall,  about listening to the Gospel, which is important, because it is "living Word", "to be heard with an open heart" and that the homily "must be well prepared with prayer and study and it must be short, no more than ten minutes "and it must be followed" paying attention, assuming the right internal dispositions, without subjective pretexts, knowing that every preacher has merits and limits ".

Continuing his catechesis dedicated to Mass, Francis said that "the dialogue between God and his people, developed in the Liturgy of the Word of the Mass, reaches its peak in the proclamation of the Gospel".

And, he added, "as the mysteries of Christ enlighten the entire biblical revelation, so, in the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel is the light to understand the meaning of the biblical texts that precede it, both of the Old and New Testaments" .

"Therefore the liturgy itself distinguishes the Gospel from other readings and surrounds it with particular honor and veneration".

Because "in the Mass we do not read the Gospel to know how things went, but to become aware that what Jesus once did and said, and which he continues to do and to say  for us too. St. Augustine writes that "the mouth of Christ is the Gospel. He reigns in heaven, but he does not cease to speak on earth. " If it is true that in the liturgy "Christ proclaims the Gospel again", it follows that, by participating in the Mass, we must give him an answer ".

"In order to get his message across, Christ also uses the word of the priest who, after the Gospel, holds the homily. Strongly recommended by the Second Vatican Council as part of the same liturgy, the homily is not a matter of circumstance, nor a conference or a lesson, but "a resumption of that dialogue which is already open between the Lord and his people", so that fulfilment in life. The authentic exegesis of the Gospel is our holy life! The word of the Lord ends its journey by becoming flesh in us, translating itself into works, as it happened in Mary and in the saints. Remember what I said last time, the Word enters the ears, goes to the heart and passes into the hands to do good works ".

"Those who hold the homily must do their ministry well, offering a real service to all those who participate in the Mass, but also those who listen to it must do their part. First of all by paying due attention, assuming the right internal dispositions, without subjective pretexts, knowing that every preacher has merits and limits. If sometimes there is reason to get bored  because of a long irrelevant or incomprehensible homily, other times it is prejudice that acts as an obstacle. And whoever does the homily must be aware that he is not doing his own thing, he is preaching the word of Jesus. And the homily has to be prepared and it must be brief. How often do we see that we are distracted during the homily, we chat or go out to smoke a cigarette. The homily must be well prepared with prayer and study and must be brief, no more than ten minutes. The responsibility of those who hold the homily is combined with the possibility - sometimes the duty - of those in the pews to make present, in appropriate ways, the expectations that the community feels. This is not about accusing but of helping, yes. Who can help the priests if not the faithful who are sincerely close to them? Finally, I want to remember that knowledge of the Bible greatly favors participation in the liturgy of the Word. Those who do not routinely read the Gospel make it more difficult to listen and understand the readings of the Mass. In conclusion we can say that in the Liturgy of the Word, through the Gospel and the homily, God dialogues with His people, who listen to him with attention and veneration and, at the same time, recognize him as present and active. If, therefore, we listen to the "good news", we will be converted and transformed by it, therefore capable of changing ourselves and the world ".

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis recalled that "tomorrow, 8 February, the liturgical memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, is the World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking. This year's theme is' Migration without trafficking. Say yes to Freedom and No to slavery”'. Having few chances of regular channels, many migrants decide to venture in other ways, where abuses of all kinds, exploitation and slavery often await them. Criminal organizations, dedicated to trafficking in persons, use these migratory routes to hide their victims from migrants and refugees. I therefore invite everyone, citizens and institutions, to join forces to prevent trafficking and to guarantee protection and assistance to victims. We pray that the Lord will convert the hearts of the traffickers and give hope to regain freedom to those who suffer from this shameful plague ".

"The XXIII Winter Olympic Games will open on Friday 9 February, in the city of PyeongChang, South Korea, with the participation of 92 countries. The traditional Olympic truce this year becomes especially important: delegations from the two Koreas will march together under one flag and compete as one team. This fact gives hope for a world in which conflicts can be resolved peacefully through dialogue and mutual respect, as sports also teaches us to do ".

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