Pope: Cherish every life always, as with little Rayan
Francis praises the efforts of an entire people in Morocco to save the life of one child, though unfortunately without success. He also condemns female genital mutilation and trafficking that enslaves too many women and girls on the streets. Angelus reflection: "God wants to get into the boat of our lives even when we have nothing to offer Him."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "In Morocco a whole people clung on to save a child, they tried their best. They did not succeed but they offered us an example: My thanks to this people for their witness."
At the end of the Angelus prayer, in front of the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis spoke today of little Rayan, the child who fell into a well in Morocco and for five days held an entire country in suspense.
Unfortunately, last night, when rescuers finally were able to bring him back to the surface, the child was already dead. But the Pontiff wanted to take this mobilization as an example to show what it means to “cherish every life".
He did so on the day in which the Italian Church celebrates the Day for Life. The commitment to protecting life "applies to everyone - Francis commented - especially to the weakest categories: the elderly, the sick, children who are prevented from being born. Every life must always be safeguarded."
In this vein he added: "We are used to reading so much bad news, today I would like to mention two beautiful things." Here he referred to the mobilization for Rayan in Morocco and the story of a young Ghanaian immigrant in Italy who seriously ill with cancer, received help from the village where he lived to fulfill his desire to return to his homeland to re-embrace his father to die. "They are the saints next door - the pope commented - thank you for these two testimonies."
Before the Angelus prayer, Pipe Francis had commented on the gospel passage proposed by today's liturgy, dwelling on the image of Simon Peter's empty boat on which Jesus climbs after a night of fruitless fishing.
“Every day," the pontiff commented, "the boat of our life leaves the shores of home to go out into the sea of daily activities; every day we try to fish offshore, to cultivate dreams, to carry out projects, to live love in our relationships. But often, like Peter, we experience the 'night of empty nets', the disappointment of trying so hard and not seeing the desired results".
This is the very boat that Jesus chooses to teach: "This is what the Lord loves to do," the Pope commented, "to get into the boat of our lives when we have nothing to offer him; to enter our emptinesses and fill them with his presence; to make use of our poverty to announce his wealth, of our miseries to proclaim his mercy.
"God does not want a cruise ship," he added, "a poor rickety boat is enough for him, as long as we welcome him. But do we let him board the boat of our lives? Do we make the little we gave available to him? He is the God of closeness: he does not seek perfectionism, but welcome. He says to you, too: 'Let me get into the boat of your life, just as it is.'"
And this is how he rebuilds trust: "With Jesus," he concluded, "one sails in the sea of life without fear, without giving in to disappointment when one catches nothing and without surrendering to 'there is nothing more to be done'. Always, in personal life as in the life of the Church and society, there is something beautiful and courageous that can be done. We can always start over, the Lord always invites us to get back into the game because He opens up new possibilities."
Addressing the faithful in conclusion, Pope Francis recalled the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation being celebrated today, joining his voice to the condemnation against this "practice that humiliates the dignity of women" and of which millions of girls are still victims. Citing then the Day of Prayer against Trafficking in Persons, which by his will is celebrated on Tuesday, February 8 on the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, he invited people to turn their thoughts to the "many girls enslaved by traffickers in our cities."
"It is a deep wound," he added, "inflicted by the shameful pursuit of economic interests," before which the pope expressed his sorrow and renewed his exhortation to act to put an end to this sad form of exploitation.