Pope: World Mission Day, Father Maccalli, a prayer for Libya
During the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke of missionaries as "weavers of fraternity". He encouraged and expressed his support for Italian fishermen detained for more than a month in Libya and their families. A long prayerful moment silence expressed support for dialogue and peace in Libya. In differentiating between God and Caesar, Jesus cites " criterion for the distinction between the political sphere and the religious sphere; clear guidelines emerge for the mission of all believers of all times.” the baptism calls on everyone “to be a living presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit.” Believers are the protagonists “in a service of love for the common good.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis cited a number of issues in his greetings to the various groups of faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus. He mentioned World Mission Day, which is celebrated in Italy today. He expressed appreciation for Fr Pier Luigi Maccalli, missionary the African Mission Society (SMA) who was abducted in Niger two years ago by groups linked to Al Qaeda and released in Mali in early October. He called for a prayer for dialogue and peace in Libya, after referring to the 12 Sicilian fishermen seized by the forces General Khalifa Haftar for reportedly violated Libyan territorial waters.
"Today we celebrate World Mission Day,” Francis said, whose “theme [is] ‘Here I am, send me. Weavers of fraternity’. This word 'weavers' is beautiful: every Christian is called to be a weaver of fraternity,” especially “missionaries – priests, consecrated men and women, and lay people – who sow the Gospel in the great field of the world.”
“Let us pray for them and provide them with our practical support. In this context, I would like to thank God for the long-awaited liberation of Father Pier Luigi Maccalli ... Let us greet him with an applause!” He “was abducted two years ago in Niger. We also rejoice because three other hostages were freed with him. Let us continue to pray for the missionaries and catechists and also for those who are persecuted or abducted in various parts of the world.”
Immediately afterwards, the pontiff added: “I would like to address a word of encouragement and support to the fishermen who were held for more than a month in Libya, and to their families. Entrusting themselves to Mary Star of the Sea, may they keep alive the hope of embracing again their loved ones soon.
“I also pray for the various talks underway at the international level, that they may be relevant for the future of Libya. Brothers and sisters, the time has come to stop every form of hostility, favouring dialogue that leads to peace, stability and unity of the country. Let us pray together for the fishermen and for Libya, in silence.” At this point, the Holy Father and the pilgrims in the square observed into a long moment of silence.
Before this, Pope Francis spoke about today's Gospel (Matthew 22: 15-21) and Jesus' reply to his opponents’ questions full of "hypocrisy".
In his reply, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Mt 22:21), Jesus “acknowledges that the tribute to Caesar must be paid, because the image on the coin is his; but above all He notes that each person carries within themselves another image, that of God, and therefore it is to Him, and to Him alone, that each person owes his or her existence.
“In this sentence of Jesus, we not only find the criterion for the distinction between the political sphere and the religious sphere, [but] clear guidelines emerge for the mission of all believers at all times, even for us today. To pay taxes is a duty of citizens, as is complying with the just laws of the state. At the same time, it is necessary to affirm God’s primacy in human life and in history, respecting God’s right over all that belongs to Him.
“Hence the mission of the Church and Christians,” which is “to speak of God and bear witness to Him to the men and women of our time. Everyone, by virtue of baptism, is called to be a living presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit. It is a question of committing oneself with humility, and at the same time with courage, making one's own contribution to building the civilisation of love, where justice and fraternity reign."
The “mission of the Lord’s disciples, in particular the lay faithful, demands to be carried out in full fidelity to spiritual and transcendent values, in communion with the pastors. Belonging to Christ, and the resulting way of life, do not isolate the believer from the world, but rather make him or her the protagonist in a service of love for the common good. The witness of the saints shows that faith urges us to dedicate ourselves generously, paying in person, to the promotion and defence of human dignity, in which the image of God is imprinted.”