Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The international
community must find a peaceful solution to the difficult situation in Libya".
Pope Francis again today invoked peace for the Middle East, North Africa and
Ukraine, renewing for the third consecutive day his invitation to pray "for
our Egyptian brothers who were killed three days ago in Libya for the mere fact
of being Christian. The Lord welcome them into His house, give comfort to their
families and their communities".
The Pope's appeal came at the end of a general audience during which also once again expressed his hope for peace for Ukraine. Welcoming the bishops of that country, in Rome for the five-yearly "ad limina" pilgrimage, the Pope said it "brought the appeal for peace in Ukraine to the tombs of the Apostles. I share the same desire in my heart and I join in your prayer that soon there will be lasting peace in your native land".
Before the prayers for peace, Francis, continued his reflections on the family, dedicating his catechesis to "brotherhood". Speaking to the 15 thousand people present in St Peter's Square among whom he toured in his white jeep, even inviting a young boy and girl to join him on board, the Pope said that "brother" and "sister" are "words that Christianity loves" and "history has shown enough, moreover, that freedom and equality, without brotherhood, become filled with individualism and conformity, even personal interests".
"The fraternal bond has a special place in the history of the People of God" he continued " which receives its revelation in the living human experience. The psalmist sings of the beauty of the fraternal bond "How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!" (Ps 132,1). This is true; being brothers and sisters is beautiful. Jesus Christ brought even this human experience of being brothers and sisters to fulfillment, assimilating it into Trinitarian love and strengthening it so that it goes well beyond the ties of kinship and is capable of overcoming every obstacle of estrangement".
"We know that when the fraternal relationship is ruined, when it is ruined, this opens the path to painful experiences of conflict, betrayal, hatred. The biblical story of Cain and Abel is an example of this negative result. After the murder of Abel, God asks Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" (Gen 4,9a). It is a question that the Lord continues to repeat to every generation. And unfortunately, in every generation, the Cain's dramatic response continues to be repeated: "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"(Gen 4,9b)".
"When the bond between brothers is broken, it leads to something that is truly ugly, that is bad for humanity. Even in families how many brothers and sisters have fought even over little things...over an inheritance... then they stop speaking to each other, they no longer greet each other...this is an awful thing. Brotherhood is such a great thing. Just think, brothers and sisters, they all dwelt in the womb of the same mother for nine months, they come from their mother's flesh. We cannot break the bonds of brotherhood. We all know families where brothers and sisters are divided; where they have fallen out, maybe in our own families we have cases like these. Let's ask the Lord to help us to reunite these families, to rebuild these families. The bonds of brotherhood should not be broken, because when they are broken, things happen like with Cain and Abel, when the Lord asks Cain, he responds I am not my brother's keeper, this is awful, really terrible to hear".
"The bond of brotherhood that is formed between the children in the family, if it takes place in a climate of an education open to others, is the great school of freedom and peace. Maybe we are not always aware of this, but it is the family that introduces brotherhood into the world! From this first experience of brotherhood, nourished by affection and by family education, style of fraternity radiates like a promise throughout society and relations between peoples".
"The blessing that God, in Jesus Christ, poured out on this bond of brotherhood expands it in a way unimaginable, enabling it to overcome all differences of nationhood, language, culture and even religion. Just think of what this bond between men, even very different from each other, becomes when they can say to another: "He is like a brother to me, she is like a sister to me"! This is beautiful! History has shown enough, moreover, that freedom and equality, without brotherhood, become full of individualism and conformity and personal interest too. Brotherhood in the family is particularly illuminating when we see the care, patience, affection with which the weaker, sick, or disabled brother or sister are surrounded. World over there are many brothers and sisters who do this, and maybe we do not appreciate their generosity enough. And when there are many brothers and sisters in a family...today I greeted a family here who has nine children...the oldest helps the mother and father to take care of the younger ones, this work of helping each other as brothers and sisters, this is beautiful ....".
"Having a brother, a sister who loves you is a powerful, priceless, irreplaceable experience. Christian brotherhood happens in the same way. The little ones, the weak, the poor must provoke our tenderness: They have the "right" to in our heart and soul. Yes, they are our brothers and sisters and we love them and treat them as such. When this happens, when the poor are like a part of our family, our own Christian brotherhood comes back to life. Christians, in fact, go out to the poor and weak not in obedience to an ideological agenda, but because the word and example of the Lord tell us we are all brothers and sisters. This is the principle of love of God and of all justice among men".
"I would like to suggest something before finishing" concluded Pope Francis "let us think in silence of our brothers and sisters; in the silence of our hearts let us pray for them...a moment of silence [pause]. With this prayer we have brought all of our brothers and sisters here in our hearts to this square for a blessing. Thank you. Today more than ever it is necessary to bring brotherhood back to the heart of our technocratic and bureaucratic society: Only then will freedom and equality take on the correct intonation. Therefore, we must not deprive ourselves or our families in a light-minded manner, out of subjection or fear, of the beautiful of a wide-ranging fraternal experience of sons and daughters. And we must not lose our confidence in the breadth of horizons that faith is able to draw from this experience, illuminated by God's blessing".