Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The "desire for unity" of the disciples of Jesus is part of our "thirst not only material for water, but above all our thirst for a full life, free from the slavery of evil and death." The sentence uttered by Jesus to the Samaritan woman, "Give me a drink", which is the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year was remembered today by Pope Francis in his address to the 40 thousand people in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Angelus.
The crowds included thousands of children of Catholic Action Rome who concluded the traditional January "Caravan of Peace". A boy and a girl representing the Association, next to the Pope, read a message of peace on behalf of CA in Rome while the young people in the square launched a balloons containing messages of peace instead of the traditional doves.
After the Marian prayer the Pope launched an "urgent appeal to resume attempts at dialogue and an end to all hostilities" in Ukraine where the conflict "continues to cause casualties among the civilian population".
Before the Angelus, the Pope, who invited the faithful to attend the closing prayer of the week, this afternoon in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, recalled that "the Gospel today presents the beginning of Jesus' preaching in Galilee. St. Mark stresses that Jesus began to preach, "after John the Baptist was arrested" (1:14). Just when the prophetic voice of the Baptizer, who announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, is silenced by Herod, Jesus begins to walk the streets of his land to bring to all, especially the poor, "the Gospel of God" (ibid.). The announcement of Jesus is similar to that of John, the major difference being that Jesus no longer indicates another is to come: He himself is the fulfillment of the promises; He is the 'good news' to believe, to accept and to communicate to the men and women of all time, so that they too entrust their existence to Him. Jesus Christ himself is the living and active Word in history: who listens and follows Him enters the Kingdom of God".
"Jesus - he continued - is the fulfillment of God's promises because it is He who gives to the Holy Spirit, the 'living water' that quenches our restless hearts, hungry for life, love, freedom, peace : thirsty for God. How often do we, have we felt the thirst in our hearts. He revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman, at Jacob's well, to whom He said: "Give me a drink" (Jn 4,7). Christ's words addressed to the Samaritan woman, are the theme of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which ends today. This evening, with the faithful of the diocese of Rome and with the representatives of the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities, we will gather in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls to pray intensely to the Lord to strengthen our commitment to the full unity of all believers in Christ. It is a bad thing that Christians are divided, Jesus wants us united, one body. Our sins, history has divided us. For this we must pray that the Holy Spirit bring us together again".
"God becoming man, tasted our own thirst, not only material thirst for water, but above all the thirst for a full life, free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time, by His incarnation God has placed thirst for Him in the heart of a man: Jesus of Nazareth. So, human and divine thirst meet in Christ's heart. And the desire for unity of his disciples is part of this thirst. We find it expressed in prayer He raised to the Father before the Passion: "May they all be one" (Jn 17:21). This is what Jesus wanted. The devil, as we know, is the father of the divisions, one that always divides, makes war, hurts so much. May this thirst of Jesus increasingly become our thirst! Let us continue, therefore, to pray and to strive for the full unity of Christ's disciples, in the certainty that He Himself is with us and sustains us with the power of His Spirit so that this goal is reached. And we entrust our prayers to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. "
After the Angelus, then, Francis said that
"today we celebrate the World Day for Sufferers of Leprosy. I express my
closeness to all the people who suffer from this disease, as well as to those
who care for them, and to those who struggle to remove the causes of the
disease, that is, living conditions unworthy of man. Let us renew our commitment
of solidarity to these brothers and sisters. "
Greetings, finally, to the Filipino community in Rome. "The Filipino people are wonderful, for your strong and joyful faith. May the Lord always sustain you who live far from home. Thank you for your testimony."