· Vatican City ·

The Holy Father prays for the suffering people of Ukraine

May the Lord deliver the human family from the scourge of war

 May the Lord deliver the human family from the scourge of war  ING-029
21 July 2023

“May the Lord have mercy on us and deliver the human family from the scourge of war”, Pope Francis prayed at the end of the Angelus on Sunday, 16 July, as he recalled the 80th anniversary of the bombing of several neighbourhoods in Rome, in particular San Lorenzo. Earlier, he had reflected on the day’s Gospel reading on the parable of the sower. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words which he shared with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the Gospel presents us with the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13:1-23). “Sowing” is a very beautiful image, and Jesus uses it to describe the gift of his Word. Let us imagine a seed: it is tiny, barely visible, but it makes fruit-bearing plants grow. The Word of God is like this: think of the Gospel, a small book, simple and within everyone’s reach, that produces new life in those who receive it. Thus, if the Word is the seed, we are the soil: we can receive it or not. But Jesus, the “good sower”, does not tire of sowing it generously. He knows our terrain, he knows that the stones of our inconstancy and the thorns of our vices (cf. vv. 21-22) can suffocate the Word, yet he hopes, he always hopes that we can bear abundant fruit (cf. v. 8).

This is what the Lord does, and this is what we too are called to do: to sow tirelessly. But how can one do this, sow continually without tiring? Let us take a few examples.

Firstly, parents: they sow goodness and faith in their children, and they are called to do so without being discouraged if at times they seem not to understand or to appreciate their teachings, or if the mentality of the world is against them. The good seed remains. This is what counts, and it will take root in due time. But if, giving in to mistrust, they give up sowing and leave their children at the mercy of trends and mobile phones, without dedicating time to them, without educating them, then the fertile soil will be filled with weeds. Parents, never grow tired of sowing in your children!

Let us look, then, at the young: they too can sow the Gospel in the furrows of everyday life; for example, with prayer: it is a small seed that you cannot see, but with which you entrust all your experiences to Jesus, and then he can make it ripen. But I am also thinking of the time to dedicate to others, to those who are most in need. It may seem wasted. Instead it is holy time, while the apparent satisfactions of consumerism and hedonism leave one empty-handed. And I am thinking of those who study: it is true, [studying] is tiring and not immediately fulfilling, like sowing, but is essential to building a better future for all.

We have looked at parents, we have looked at the young; now let us look at the sowers of the Gospel: many good priests, religious and laypeople engaged in proclamation, who live and preach the Word of God, often without immediate success. Let us never forget when we proclaim the Word, that even where it seems that nothing is happening, in reality the Holy Spirit is at work, and the Kingdom of God is already growing, through and beyond our efforts. Therefore, go ahead joyfully, dear brothers and sisters! Let us remember the people who placed the seed of the Word of God in our life: each one of us, let us think: “How did my faith begin”? Perhaps it germinated years after we encountered their examples, but it happened thanks to them!

In light of all this, we can ask ourselves: do I sow goodness? Do I only care about reaping for myself, or do I also sow for others? Do I sow some seeds of the Gospel in everyday life: study, work, free time? Do I get discouraged or, like Jesus, do I continue to sow, even if I do not see immediate results? May Mary, whom we venerate today as the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, help us to be generous and joyful sowers of the Good News.

After the Angelus, the Pope continued:

Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you all, people of Rome and pilgrims from various countries.

I greet the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles, gathered in Rome for their General Chapter.

I send my heartfelt greeting to the Cenacolo Community, which has been a place of hospitality and human promotion for forty years; I bless Mother Elvira, the Bishop of Saluzzo, and all the fraternity and friends. What you do is good, and it is good that you exist! Thank you!

I want to recall that, 80 years ago, on 19 July 1943, several neighbourhoods in Rome, in particular, San Lorenzo, were bombed, and the Pope, Venerable Pius xii, wanted to go among the devastated people. Unfortunately, today too these tragedies are being repeated. How is this possible? Have we lost our memory? May the Lord have mercy on us and deliver the human family from the scourge of war. In particular, let us pray for the dear Ukrainian people, who are suffering so much.

I wish to greet and thank all the parishes that are carrying out summer activities with children and young people — there is a very popular one in the Vatican too. Thank you to the priests, the sisters, the animators and the families! In this context, I extend my best wishes for the next edition of the Giffoni Film Festival, where the protagonists are young people and children.

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