09/23/2018, 10.31
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Pope in the Baltic States, Kaunas: Spending our life in joyful service

Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass in the Baltic States, in Santakos Park in Kaunas, together with hundreds of thousands, remembering the "experiences of the cross" and persecution. “How many of you have also felt your faith shaken because God did not appear to take your side?” Ultimately, “the thirst for power and glory [. . .] is a fruitless and vain attitude.” We should think about ethnic minorities, the jobless who have to emigrate, the elderly, the lonely, or those young people who “lost their roots”.

Kaunas (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass today in Santakos Park in Kaunas before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of believers. In ending his homily, he urged those present “to spend our lives in joyful service, and thus to make known to all that Jesus Christ is our one hope.”

On the second day of his visit to the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), the pontiff urged Christians “to be a Church on the move, unafraid to go out and get involved, even when it might seem that we pour ourselves out, lose ourselves, in going forth to the weak, the neglected, those dwelling at the margins of life. “

The Holy Father stressed first of all “the experiences of the cross" that Lithuanian believers had to endure. Referring to the first reading in today's Mass (25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, B, Wisdom 2:10-20), he asked: “How many of you can identify at first hand, or in the history of some family member, with that passage which we just read?  How many of you have also felt your faith shaken because God did not appear to take your side?  Because the fact of your remaining faithful was not enough for him to intervene in your history?  Kaunas knows about this; Lithuania as a whole can testify to it, still shuddering at the mention of Siberia, or the ghettos of Vilnius and Kaunas, among others. You can repeat the words of condemnation uttered by the apostle James in the passage of his Letter that we heard: they covet, they murder, they engage in disputes and conflicts (cf. 4:2).”

As the Gospel (Mark 9:30-37) says, the disciples, instead of talking about “sorrows and the cross”, discussed who was “the greatest among them”. As it is, “[T]he thirst for power and glory is the sign of those who fail to heal the memories of the past and, perhaps for that very reason, to take an active part in the tasks of the present. They would rather discuss who was better, who acted with greater integrity in the past, who has more right to privileges than others.  [. . .] It is a fruitless and vain attitude that refuses to get involved in building the present, since it has lost contact with the struggles of our faithful people. We cannot be like those spiritual “sages” who only judge from afar and chatter constantly about ‘what ought to be done’.

“Jesus,” Francis added, “provided them with an antidote to their struggles for power and their rejection of sacrifice [. . .] and set a child in their midst; the kind of child that would earn a penny for doing chores no one else would care to do. Whom would Jesus place in our midst today, here, on this Sunday morning? [. . .] Perhaps it is the ethnic minorities of our city.  Or the jobless who have to emigrate. Maybe it is the elderly and the lonely, or those young people who find no meaning in life because they have lost their roots.  

“’In their midst’ means at the same distance from everybody, so that no one can claim not to notice, no one can argue that it is “somebody else’s responsibility” because “I didn’t see him”, or “I am further away”. And without anyone drawing attention to oneself, wanting to be applauded or singled out for praise.”

Lastly, let us “welcome Jesus, in his word, in the Eucharist [. . .]. For there is nothing truly human that does not find an echo in the heart of Christ’s disciples. We feel as our own the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and the afflictions of the people of our time, particularly the poor and the suffering."

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