Pope: the Word of God reveals His face and leads us to mankind
Two women, from Pakistan and South Korea, among the lay people on whom Francis conferred the ministry of lectors and catechists on Sunday of the Word of God. At the Angelus he announces a day of prayer on 26 January for peace in Ukraine: "Fraternity comes before partisan interests".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Word reveals the true face of God and at the same time leads us to man, because "sacred Scripture has not been given to us to entertain us, to pamper ourselves in an angelic spirituality, but to go out to meet others and approach their wounds". This is the message that Pope Francis delivered to the Church today on what - by his own will on the day in which the liturgy proposes the Gospel passage from Jesus' "first sermon" in the synagogue of Nazareth - has become the Sunday of the Word of God for the past three years.
Francis presided at a Mass in St Peter's Basilica during which he conferred the instituted ministries of lectors and catechists on 16 lay people for the first time. Among them were two young women from Asia: Sweety Iqbal from Pakistan and Na Young Kim from Korea. Introducing the new lectors and catechists, the Pope said: "They are called to the important work of serving the Gospel of Jesus, of proclaiming him, so that his consolation, his joy and his liberation can reach everyone. That is also the mission of each one of us: to be credible messengers, prophets of God’s word in the world. Consequently, let us grow passionate about sacred scripture, let us be willing to dig deep within the word that reveals God’s newness and leads us tirelessly to love others."
Because the Bible - explained Francis in his homily - reveals who God really is: "God is not an overlord (padrone), aloof and on high – an ugly but untrue image of God – but a Father (Padre) who follows our every step. He is no cold bystander, detached and impassible, a “God of mathematics”. He is God-with-us, passionately concerned about our lives and engaged in them, even sharing our tears. He is no neutral and indifferent god, but the Spirit, the lover of mankind, who defends us, counsels us, defends us, sustains us and partakes of our pain. He is always present." and hIs word, "by telling us the story of God’s love for us, liberates us from the fears and preconceptions about him that stifle the joy of faith. That word overthrows false idols, unmasks our projections, destroys our all too human images of God and brings us back to see his true face, his mercy.
The Pontiff recalled - in the synagogue of Nazareth also says that "he is sent to go out to meet the poor". Because if on the one hand the Word consoles, on the other hand it "undermines our justifications that make what is wrong always depend on something else and on others". He added, ". How much pain do we feel in seeing our brothers and sisters dying at sea because no one will let them come ashore! And some people do this in God’s name. The word of God invites us to come out into the open, not to hide behind the complexity of problems, behind the excuse that “nothing can be done about it” or “it’s somebody else’s problem”, or “what can I do?”, “leave them there”. The word of God urges us to act, to combine worship of God and care for man."
The call to today as the time of the Word of God was also at the heart of the words addressed to the faithful from the window overlooking St. Peter's Square during the Angelus prayer. A reminder that also applies to preaching which - Francis warned - without the strength of this today risks leaving the field to "impeccable conferences, well constructed speeches, which however do not move the heart and so everything remains as before". "For this reason," he added, "those who preach are the first to have to experience the today of Jesus, so as to be able to communicate it in the today of others.
The pope then returned to suggesting that the faithful take the Gospel into their hands every day, particularly during this liturgical year the Gospel of Luke with its proclamation of mercy. "With time we will discover that those words are meant for us, for our lives. They will help us to welcome each day with a better, more serene outlook, because when the Gospel enters today, it fills it with God."
Lastly, at the Angelus, Francis announced a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine on Wednesday 26 January in the face of new tensions that call into question security in Europe and the world. "I appeal to people of good will," he added, "to raise prayers to Almighty God so that every action and political initiative may be at the service of human brotherhood rather than partisan interests. Citing the decree with which he proclaimed St Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church on Friday, Francis pointed him out to the faithful as a bridge of unity between East and West that urges us "to work all together for the full unity of Christians".