Francis' new appeal to pray for peace "on this feast of God who becomes a child". In the General Audience catechesis an invitation to confront the Word of God and the doctrine of the Church that "help us read what is moving in our hearts".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - One of the crimes of war is robbing children of the ability to smile, said Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience today, returning to renew his invitation to live this Christmas with his gaze fixed on the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
"On this feast of God who becomes a child," he told the faithful present in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, "let us think of the children of Ukraine who suffer so much from this war. When I meet them here the majority cannot smile and when a child loses the ability to smile it is serious. These children carry within themselves the tragedy of this war that is so inhuman, so harsh. We think of the Ukrainian people this Christmas, without light, without heating, without what they need to survive. Let us pray to the Lord to bring peace as soon as possible."
Earlier, continuing his catechesis on discernment, Pope Francis dwelt on some aids that can make this indispensable exercise of the spiritual life easier. And the first "indispensable" aid is the comparison with the Word of God and the doctrine of the Church. "They help us to read what is moving in our hearts, learning to recognise the voice of God and to distinguish it from other voices, which seem to impose themselves on our attention, but which ultimately leave us confused," the pontiff observed.
"For the believer," he added, "the Word of God is not simply a text to be read, it is a living presence, the work of the Holy Spirit that comforts, instructs, gives light, strength, refreshment and zest for life. It is a true foretaste of paradise".
Approaching the Word of God helps to live an affective relationship with the Lord Jesus. "Many times we can have a distorted idea of God," Francis commented, "considering him as a sullen, severe judge, ready to catch us in the act. Jesus, on the contrary, reveals to us a God full of compassion and tenderness, ready to sacrifice himself in order to meet us. Jesus on the cross does not frighten anyone, he is the image of total impotence and at the same time of the fullest love, capable of facing every trial for us".
"It is very beautiful," the Pope added, "to think of life with the Lord as a relationship of friendship that has the capacity to change the heart". It happens thanks to the Holy Spirit "discernment in action, God's presence in us, who instructs us, makes alive the Word of God that we read, suggests new meanings, opens doors that seemed closed, points out paths of life where there seemed to be only darkness and confusion".
"With these aids, which the Lord gives us, we need not fear," Francis concluded.