During his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis contemplated Jesus’ public ministry, which he said is a calling for each one of us to follow him.
The Gospel of Matthew recalled the beginning of Christ’s mission, calling the people of Galilee to “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The area of Galilee is significant since it was a place where many foreign groups lived. Galilee, the Holy Father noted, is a symbolic place of the “Gospel’s openness to all peoples.”
“From this point of view, Galilee resembles today’s world: the joint presence of different cultures, the necessity of confrontation and encounter,” the Pope said. “We, too, are immersed every day in a ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’, and in this sort of context we can be frightened and give in to the temptation of building walls around ourselves to be safer and more protected.”
“But Jesus teaches us that the glad tidings that he brings are not reserved for just one part of humanity; it is to be communicated to everyone. It is a joyful proclamation to those who have been waiting for it but also perhaps to those who have given up and no longer have the strength to seek and to ask.”
Beginning His ministry in Galilee, the Holy Father went on to say that Christ teaches that no one is excluded from God’s salvation and would rather start from the outskirts of society. In doing so, God’s mercy is expressed to the world. The Pope also noted that Christ did not choose scribes or doctors as his disciples, but humbler people — fisherman — to follow him.
Before reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father told the pilgrims gathered in the square that Jesus makes the same call to announce the coming of the Kingdom to the “Galilees of our time.”
“Listen in your heart to see whether the Lord is calling you to follow him. Let us allow ourselves to be reached by his gaze, his voice, and let us follow him! So that ‘the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world’”, he said.
Following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis said that he was united in prayer for the people of Ukraine, where massive anti-government protests have rocked the capital of Kiev. The Holy Father remembered the victims who have died as well as calling for dialogue.
“I would like to see a constructive dialogue develop between the institutions and civil society, an end to all violent actions and the victory of the spirit of peace and pursuit of the common good in everyone’s hearts!” he said.
Pope Francis also said a prayer for Nicolo Campolongo, a 3 year old boy who was murdered by Mafia hitmen last week. Authorities say that the young boy’s grandfather, who was also murdered alongside his lover, were targeted by the notorious “Ndrangheta” mafia for unpaid debts.
Referring to the child by his nickname, Cocò, the Holy Father denounced the murder of such a young child while calling on the murderers to repent.
“This fury against such a little child does not seem to have precedent in the history of crime. Let us pray with Cocò, who is surely in heaven with Jesus, for the people who committed this crime, that they repent and convert to the Lord,” he said. (J.A.E.)