02/05/2019, 10.52
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Pope in the Emirates: celebrates first public mass in Arabia

The Mass in Zayed Sports City of Abu Dhabi in front of 120 thousand people, Catholics of different nationalities and rites. The Beatitudes, the ideal model of "normal" Christian life, in reality a "overturning of popular thinking", according to which the blessed are the rich, the powerful, the successful.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) – A Papal Mass in a stadium, with 120 thousand people, inside and outside the large structure. Thousands of white and yellow flags, cries of joy, greetings and emotion when Francis passes among them in a car. All part of a "routine" papal visit. But this is far from routine, it is the first time on the Arabian peninsula, in a Muslim country. Above the altar there is a large cross in a country where churches cannot have one on the roof.

It’s "normality" belies that it is a historical Mass, held at 10.30 local time (6.30 GMT), at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. The solemn rite for people of 100 nationalities and different rites: Chaldeans, Copts, Greek-Catholics, Greek-Melchites, Latins, Maronites, Syrian-Catholics, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malancar. The Pope lists them and thanks them at the end of the Mass, the last act of a journey marked by interreligious dialogue.

They are all migrants, mostly Asian, many Indians and Filipinos, who have come to the rich United Arab Emirates to work: a minority that makes up 10% of the population. Not infrequently harassed in the rest of the Arab world.

There are also 4,000 Muslims and the Minister for Tolerance, testimony to the diversity of the Emirates compared to other countries in the region.

In the homily of the Mass "For Peace and Justice", celebrated in English and Latin, the Pope speaks of the Beatitudes, the ideal model of "normal" Christian life. But in reality they are a "overturning of popular thinking", according to which the blessed are the rich, the powerful, those who are successful. Not so for Jesus, for whom blessed are "blessed are the poor, the meek, those who remain just even at the cost of appearing in a bad light, those who are persecuted".

"Blessed: this is the word with which Jesus begins his preaching in Matthew’s Gospel.  And it is the refrain he repeats today, as if to fix in our hearts, more than anything, an essential message: if you are with Jesus, if you love to listen to his word as the disciples of that time did, if you try to live out this word every day, then you are blessed.  Not you will be blessed, but you are blessed; this is the first truth we know about the Christian life.  It is not simply a list of external prescriptions to fulfil or a set of teachings to know.  The Christian life, first and foremost, is not this; rather, it is the knowledge that, in Jesus, we are the Father’s beloved children.  The Christian life means living out the joy of this blessedness, wanting to live life as a love story, the story of God’s faithful love, he who never abandons us and wishes to be in communion with us always.  This is the reason for our joy, a joy that no one in the world and no circumstance in our lives can take from us.  It is a joy that gives peace also in the midst of pain, a joy that already makes us participate in that eternal happiness which awaits us.  Dear brothers and sisters, in the joy of meeting you, this is the word I have come to say to you: blessed!".

The Beatitudes, he adds, is "a roadmap for our life", it is "the holiness of daily life, one that has no need of miracles or of extraordinary signs.  The Beatitudes are not for supermen, but for those who face up to the challenges and trials of each day.  Those who live out the Beatitudes according to Jesus are able to cleanse the world.  They are like a tree that even in the wasteland absorbs polluted air each day and gives back oxygen.  It is my hope that you will be like this, rooted in Jesus and ready to do good to those around you.  May your communities be oases of peace".

"To live the life of the blessed and following the way of Jesus does not, however, mean always being cheerful.  Someone who is afflicted, who suffers injustice, who does everything he can to be a peacemaker, knows what it means to suffer.  It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future.  But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people.  The Lord is close.  It can happen that, when faced with fresh sorrow or a difficult period, we think we are alone, even after all the time we have spent with the Lord.  But in those moments, where he might not intervene immediately, he walks at our side.  And if we continue to go forward, he will open up a new way for us; for the Lord specializes in doing new things; he can even open paths in the desert (cf. Is 43:19).".

"Finally, I would like to consider for a moment two of the Beatitudes.  First: “Blessed are the meek” (Mt 5:5).  Those who attack or overpower others are not blessed, but rather those that uphold Jesus’ way of acting, he who saved us, and who was meek even towards his accusers.  I like to quote Saint Francis, when he gave his brothers instructions about approaching the Saracens and non-Christians.  He wrote: “Let them not get into arguments or disagreements, but be subject to every human creature out of love for God, and let them profess that they are Christians” (Regula Non Bullata, XVI).  Neither arguments nor disagreements: at that time, as many people were setting out, heavily armed, Saint Francis pointed out that Christians set out armed only with their humble faith and concrete love.  Meekness is important: if we live in the world according to the ways of God, we will become channels of his presence; otherwise, we will not bear fruit".

"Second: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9).  The Christian promotes peace, starting with the community where he or she lives".

He  concluded “ - I ask for you the grace to preserve peace, unity, to take care of each other, with that beautiful fraternity in which there are no first or second class Christians. May Jesus, who calls you blessed, give you the grace to go forward without becoming discouraged, abounding in love “to one another and to all” (1 Thess 3:12). ”.

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