Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - Jesus began his mission, starting from Galilee , "the outskirts" , and chose as his disciples people who had a "low profile", "this teaches us that no one is excluded from God's salvation, indeed, that God prefers to begin from the outskirts, from the least among us to then reach out to everyone". This was the Pope's Angelus reflection on the Gospel this Sunday that recounts the beginning of Jesus' public life in the towns and villages of Galilee.
From Galilee to the Far East, because at the end of the Marian prayer, Pope Francis noted that "in the coming days, millions of people who live in the Far East or who are scattered in various parts of the world, among them Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, celebrate the Lunar New Year. I wish all of them a life full of joy and hope. May the irrepressible yearning for fraternity, which dwells in their hearts, find in the intimacy of the family a privileged place to be discovered, educated and realized. This will be a valuable contribution to the building of a more humane world, where peace reigns".
Before speaking of the New Lunar Year to 50 thousand people present in St Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that "this Sunday's Gospel recounts the beginning of Jesus' public life in the towns and villages of Galilee". "It is a border land, a transit area, where people of different race, culture and religion meet. Galilee becomes the symbolic place for the opening of the Gospel to all peoples. From this point of view, Galilee is similar to the world today: the coexistence of different cultures, the need for encounter and confrontation. We, too, are immersed every day in a ' Galilee of the Gentiles ' , and in this context we may become afraid and give in to the temptation to build fences to feel safer, more protected. Yet Jesus teaches us that the Good News is not reserved for a certain section of humanity, it is for everyone. It is Good News destined for those who are waiting to receive it, but also to those who perhaps are not waiting for anything and who do not even have the strength to seek and ask for it".
"Starting from Galilee, Jesus teaches us that no one is excluded from God's salvation, indeed, that God prefers to start from the outskirts, from the least, to reach everyone. He teaches us a method, his method , but it expresses a content, the Father's mercy. " Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the "peripheries" in need of the light of the Gospel" (Apostolic Exhortation . Evangelii gaudium, 20). Jesus begins his mission not only from a decentralized place, but also among people of a 'low-profile', so to speak. He choose for his future apostles and the first disciples, not among scholars, scribes and doctors of the law, but to the humble and simple people , who are preparing in earnest for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus calls them where they work, on the shore of the lake where they are fishing. He calls them, and they immediately follow. They leave their nets and go with Him, their lives become an extraordinary and fascinating adventure".
"The Lord also calls us today! He walks the streets of our daily lives, he even walks in this square, He calls us to go with Him, with Him to work for the Kingdom of God , in "the Galilee" of our times. And if someone feels that the Lord is calling, take courage, follow him , the Lord never disappoints. We must let His gaze fall upon us and follow him! So that the joy of the Gospel reach the ends of the earth and no place on the outskirts is devoid of its light".
The Pope had various appeals to make following the recitation of the Angelus prayer. He spoke of Ukraine and his closeness in prayer to the nation and its people "especially those who lost their lives these days and their families. I hope - he added - that a constructive dialogue between the institutions and the civil society will develop, avoiding any recourse to violent actions, that the spirit of peace and the pursuit of the common good prevail in every heart".
The Pope also recalled that today "we mark the World Day for Leprosy Sufferers. This disease, although in decline, unfortunately still affects many people in conditions of severe poverty. It is important to keep solidarity for these brothers and sisters alive. We must assure them of our prayers, and we also pray for all those who care for them and who, in many ways, strive to defeat this disease".
The Pope's final thoughts went to Coco Campolongo, the Italian toddler whose burned body was discovered in a car. "Let us pray with Coco - he said - who without any doubt is in heaven with Jesus, for these people who have committed this crime, that they repent and be converted".
The appointment with the Pope concluded with two young children from Catholic Action Rome, who, as every year, at the conclusion of the "Caravan of Peace" read a message and released two white doves.