· Vatican City ·

The Holy Father turns his thoughts to Ukraine and the Holy Land

Open paths of peace dialogue and reconciliation

 Open paths of peace dialogue and reconciliation  ING-028
14 July 2023

After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 9 July, Pope Francis expressed his hope “that the Israeli and Palestinian authorities can resume direct dialogue to bring an end to the spiral of violence” in the Holy Land and “open paths of reconciliation and peace”. Earlier, the Pope had reflected on the day’s Gospel reading focused on Jesus’ praise of the Father for revealing himself not to the wise but to the little ones. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the Gospel contains a very beautiful prayer of Jesus, who addresses the Father, saying, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Mt 11:25). But what things is Jesus talking about? And then, who are these “babes” to whom such things are revealed? Let us reflect on this: on the things for which Jesus praises his Father and on the “babes” who know how to welcome them.

The things for which Jesus praises the Father. Just before this, the Lord had recalled some of his works — “the blind receive their sight […], lepers are cleansed […], the poor have good news preached to them” (Mt 11:5) — and revealed their meaning, saying that these are the signs that God is at work in the world. The message, then, is clear: God reveals himself by liberating and healing the human person. Let us not forget this: God reveals himself by liberating and healing the human person, and he does this with a gratuitous love, a love that saves. This is why Jesus praises his father, because his greatness consists in love and he never works outside of love. But this greatness in love is not understood by those who presume to be great and who fabricate a god in their own image — powerful, inflexible, vindictive. In other words, those who are presumptuous are not able to accept God as Father; those who are full of themselves, proud, concerned only about their own interests — these are the presumptuous ones — convinced they do not need anyone. In this regard, Jesus names the inhabitants of three rich cities of his time: Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, where he had accomplished many healings, but whose inhabitants remained indifferent to his preaching. For them, his miracles were only spectacular events, useful for making news and feeding gossip. Once passing interest in them was over, they archived them, maybe in order to occupy themselves with other novelties of the moment. They did not know how to welcome the great things of God.

The little children, instead, know how to welcome them, and Jesus praises the Father for them: “I bless you,” he says, because you have revealed the Kingdom of Heaven to the little ones. Jesus praises him for the simple people whose hearts are free from presumption and self-love. The little ones are those who, like children, feel their need and are not self-sufficient. They are open to God and allow themselves to be amazed at his works. They know how to read his signs, to marvel at the miracles of his love! I ask all of you, and even myself, do we know how to marvel at the things of God or do we take them for passing things?

Brothers and sisters, if we think about it, our lives are filled with miracles. They are filled with deeds of love, signs of God’s goodness. Before these, however, even our hearts can remain indifferent and become habitual, curious but not capable of being amazed, of allowing themselves to be “impressed”. A closed heart, an armoured heart, is incapable of being amazed. To impress is a beautiful verb that brings to mind photographic film. This is the correct behaviour to have before God’s works: to take a photograph of his works in our minds so that they may be impressed in our hearts, and then developed in our lives through many good deeds, so that this “photograph” of God, who is love, becomes ever brighter in us and through us.

And now, let us all ask ourselves: In the deluge of news that overwhelms us, do I, as Jesus shows us today, know how to stop before the great things of God, those that God accomplishes? Do I allow myself to marvel like a child at the good that silently changes the world? Or have I lost the ability to be amazed? And do I bless the Father each day for his works? May Mary, who exulted in the Lord, make us capable of being amazed by his love and of praising him with simplicity.

After praying the Angelus the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters, with sorrow I learned that blood has again been poured out in the Holy Land. I hope that the Israeli and Palestinian authorities can resume direct dialogue to bring an end to the spiral of violence and to open paths of reconciliation and peace.

Today is Sea Sunday, dedicated to those who work aboard ships, in ports and in the maritime industry. I thank the seafarers who protect the oceans from various forms of pollution — in addition to their work — and remove from the sea the garbage that we throw into it, the plastic. The fishermen from San Benedetto del Tronto told me once about the tons of plastic they removed from the sea, as we saw recently on the programme A Sua Immagine. I thank the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostolate of the Sea and I entrust them all to the protection of Mary, Stella Maris [Star of the Sea]. I would also like to remember with gratitude all those who work for Mediterranea Saving Humans, for saving migrants at sea. Thank you very much, brothers and sisters!

And now I greet you, people of Rome and pilgrims, who, despite the July heat, are here in the square! A round of applause to all of you! I am happy to offer a special greeting to the girl scouts and university students from Lviv, in Ukraine: I offer my blessing to all of you and I extend it to your loved ones and to your people, so severely tried. Let us pray for these people who are suffering so much. I greet the faithful from Poland and I remember the great pilgrimage taking place today at the Shrine of Jasna Góra, in Częstochowa.

I greet the young people from the Regnum Christi movement, the scouts from Modica, the parish choir from Saint Stephen Quisquina — Agrigento, the youth from the Diocese of Pistoia and the faithful from Sacile.

The Pope then announced that he will create 21 new cardinals on 30 September (see page 3). Then he continued:

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!