· Pope Francis’ appeal at the Angelus after fighting heats up in eastern Ukraine ·
Concerned over the embitterment of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Pope Francis addressed a new appeal for peace to the parties, invoking respect fro the commitments undertaken and asking for “the help of organizations and of people of good will” in response to “the humanitarian emergency”. At the Angelus on Sunday, 23 August – the eve of the annual Ukrainian national holiday commemorating the declaration of independence in 1991 – the Pontiff spoke once again of the difficult situation in the country where fighting has escalated in recent weeks. “May the Lord grant peace to Ukraine”, he implored at the end of the prayer. He then added: “May the Virgin Mary intercede for us!”.
Earlier, reflecting on Chapter Six of the Gospel according to John at the heart of Sunday’s liturgy, Francis had recalled the attitude of the disciples, who found themselves in crisis brought on by Jesus’ exigent message. “Jesus’ words”, the Pope observed, “always place us in crisis, for example in facing the worldly spirit, worldliness”. But Christ provides “the key for overcoming this difficulty”, recalling his divine origin, indicating the action of the Holy Spirit, and confronting them with the choice of faith.
“Jesus does not discount”, the Pope emphasized. He repeated the question that the Lord asked the disciples – “Will you also go away?” – and he explained the meaning of Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. In reality, the Pontiff explained, from the Apostle’s question we “understand that fidelity to God is a question of the fidelity to a person, to whom we bind ourselves to walk together on the same road. And this person is Jesus”.
“All that we have in the world” – the Pontiff continued – “does not satisfy our infinite hunger. We need Jesus, to be with Him, to nourish ourselves at his table, of his words of eternal life!
Believing in Jesus means making Him the centre, the meaning of our life”. Indeed, Christ “is not an optional element” but “essential nourishment” for man. Francis then asked the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square: “let us have a moment of silence and each one of us silently, in your heart, ask yourself the question: ‘Who is Jesus for me?’. Silently, each one, answer in your heart”. And his final wish: “May the Virgin Mary help us to always ‘go’ to Jesus to experience the freedom He offers us, and allow us to cleanse our choices from worldly incrustations and fears”.
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