To Thank God Means to Help Needy, John Paul II Says

Angelus Address at St. Peter´s Square

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2001 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before leading pilgrims in reciting the midday Angelus at St. Peter´s Square.

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Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

1. Italy celebrates today the traditional Thanksgiving Day for the fruits of the earth and human labor. At the moment of the Offertory in every Mass, the Christian community renders thanks to the Lord, God of the universe, from whose goodness we receive the bread and wine destined to become the Body and Blood of Christ. Today´s celebration magnifies, so to speak, this dimension of offering, inviting us not to forget that Divine Providence is the first source of sustenance and well-being.

This year, Italian bishops have used the very words of the «Our Father» to address the theme of the day. «Give us this day our daily bread.» When teaching this prayer to the disciples, Christ asked them to trust in the goodness of God the Father, who rejoices to give all creatures, especially men, what is necessary to live. At the same time, having us say «today» and «daily,» reminds us that this gift must not be taken for granted, but must always be requested and received in an attitude of thanksgiving.

Moreover, it is also very important that Christ taught us to ask for «our» bread together, and not that each one ask for «his» [bread]. This means that the children of the same Father are co-responsible for the «bread» of all, so that everyone will be able to live worthily and together with others thank the Lord.

2. While we thank God for all that the fields produced this year, we must not forget those brothers and sisters who, in different parts of the world, are deprived of essential goods, such as food, water, home and health care. At this time of great international concern, I am thinking especially of the peoples of Afghanistan, who must urgently receive the necessary aid. This is a world emergency, which, however, does not allow us to forget that in other parts of the world there continue to be conditions of grave indigence and impelling need.

3. In the face of these situations, it is not enough to limit oneself to extraordinary initiatives. The commitment to justice exacts a real change in lifestyle, especially in societies that are well-off, as well as more equitable management of resources, both in rich as well as poor countries. The present marked imbalance, in fact, fuels conflicts and irreversibly threatens the earth, air and water that God has entrusted to the custody of humanity.

May Mary Most Holy help the whole human family to understand that the earth´s resources are a gift of the Lord to be used for the good of all.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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