Pope: Sri Lanka, do not give in to violence!
Francis' appeal at general audience for grave crisis shaking South Asian country: let people's aspirations be heard. "Let us entrust the world's ardent desire for peace to Our Lady of Fatima." Continuing the cycle of catechesis on old age, the pontiff dwelt on the biblical figure of Judith: "The good sown is the best legacy we can leave behind."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "I address a special thought to the people of Sri Lanka and to the young people who in recent times have made their cry heard in the face of the country's social and economic problems. I join those religious authorities in urging all parties to maintain a peaceful attitude, without yielding to violence," appealed Pope Francis at the end of this morning's general audience in St. Peter's Square. "I appeal to all those with responsibility to listen to the aspirations of the people, guaranteeing full respect for human rights and civil liberties," he continued.
With a thought always turned to peace, greeting the German-speaking pilgrims present at the audience, he renewed his invitation to pray the Rosary for world peace. Francis also asked people to entrust "the ardent desire for peace in the world to the Virgin Mary, who envelops all with her maternal gaze," addressing those who are on their way to the Shrine of Fatima these days, bringing to Our Lady the joys and concerns of their hearts. At the end of the audience he also met as usual with some people from Ukraine including the wives of two soldiers from the Azov battalion barricaded in the Mariupol steel plant.
The biblical figure at the center of the Pope's catechesis today was that of Judith (Reading: Jdt. 16:21, 23-24). Continuing on the theme of old age, as he does every Wednesday, Francis told the story of this "biblical heroine, young and virtuous," who, "thanks to her faith, beauty and cunning, saves the city of Bethulia and the people of Judah from the siege of Holofernes the general of Nebuchadnezzar king of Assyria, the overbearing and contemptuous enemy of God." After this feat, Judith returns to live in Bethulia and thus comes "retirement time" for her, as for so many people after years of work.
"Heroism is not only that of the great events that fall under the spotlight," the pope said. "It is often found in the tenacity of love poured out in a difficult family and on behalf of a threatened community. So even today, as we find ourselves living so many more years after the season of retirement, we need to ask ourselves how to make the most of this available time.
"There is the commitment, both joyful and tiring, of caring for grandchildren," the Pope recalled, "but we know that today fewer and fewer children are being born, and parents are often more distant, more subject to displacement, with unfavorable work and housing situations. There are new demands, including in the area of educational and parental relationships, that today call for reshaping the traditional alliance between generations. In a world where the co-presence of generations is lengthening, "do we try, all together, to make them more human, more loving, more just, in the new conditions of modern societies?" the Holy Father wondered.
For grandparents, an important part of their vocation is to support their children in their upbringing. Judith in her old age bequeaths wisdom and tenderness, "a legacy of good and not only of goods." According to the pontiff, precisely "the good sown is the best legacy we can leave."
"The Lord does not entrust his talents only to the young and strong," Francis said, "he has some for everyone, tailored to each one. Our communities must therefore know how to enjoy the talents and charisms of the elderly, "who are already retired by registry, but who are a wealth to be valued." This requires, on the part of the elderly themselves, a creative and new attention, a generous willingness to "teach, advise, build, care, listen, preferably in favor of the most disadvantaged."
The Holy Father therefore invited people to read the book of Judith, to take an example from this courageous woman: "This is how I would like all our grandmothers to be: courageous, wise and leaving not the 'legacy of money, but that of wisdom, sown in their grandchildren."