Havana (AsiaNews) - "Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others ": this is the message that Pope Francis today launched its first mass in Cuba, in the Plaza de la Revolucion. The pope-mobile bearing Pope Francis arrived an hour beforehand to tour the square among the hundreds of thousands of people present (some say 500 thousand) . The Pope then alighted to walk and greet the sick gathered around the sanctuary of the great altar of wood one by one.
The Pope’s theme of "serving others" and not "using others" was drawn from the Sunday Gospel (25th year, B, Mark 9,30-37), in which Jesus answers the disciples question about "Who it is the most important?". His answer is "simple": ""He who wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all. "
The pontiff first explained the meaning of "serving": ". Serving others chiefly means caring for their vulnerability. Caring for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people. Theirs are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically to look at and which he asks us to love ."
That "serve" applies especially to Christians: " Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it. That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable".
Even Christians must be careful not to use "service" as a tool for their own power: "There is a kind of “service” which truly “serves”, yet we need to be careful not to be tempted by another kind of service, a “service” which is “self-serving”. There is a way to go about serving which is interested in only helping “my people”, “our people”. This service always leaves “your people” outside, and gives rise to a process of exclusion".
But to "serve" and not "use the other" is an invitation to all, even to non-Christians: " All of us are called by virtue of our Christian vocation to that service which truly serves, and to help one another not to be tempted by a “service” which is really “self-serving”. All of us are asked, indeed urged, by Jesus to care for one another out of love”.
He then underlined the important role of this ideal here in Cuba where to "serve the people" is placed as a cornerstone of the "Code of Ethics of the leaders of the Cuban state", citing many times the poet Jose Marti: "Home is an altar, not a pedestal ". But even here - as in many Marxist revolutions – to "serve the people" sooner or later becomes "serving oneself of the people".
The Pope's invitation, to Christians and revolutionaries is clear: " This caring for others out of love is not about being servile. Rather, it means putting our brothers and sisters at the center. Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, “suffers” in trying to help. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people".
The Pope concluded his homily by recalling the gifts that the Christian community of Cuba has received: " God’s holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beautiful things. It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur. Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, but above all I invite you to care for and be at the service of the frailty of your brothers and sisters. And among these fragile brothers there are probably many Cubans disappointed by the "revolucion", the inability to maintain this high moral value of "service".
Pope Francis concluded:”Let us not forget the Good News we have heard today: the importance of a people, a nation, and the importance of individuals, which is always based on how they seek to serve their vulnerable brothers and sisters. Here we encounter one of the fruits of a true humanity. “Whoever does not live to serve, does not ‘serve’ to live”.