Pope Francis asked all Koreans to examine their lives and see to what extent they are promoting reconciliation as he celebrated today his last Mass of his five-day trip to Asia, a Mass he said was “first and foremost a prayer for reconciliation in this Korean family.”
The Pope celebrated the Mass at the Myeong-dong Cathedral in Seoul just hours before boarding his return flight to Rome.
The Pope cited Deuteronomy in saying that God promises to restore unity but this promise comes with a command: “to return to God and wholeheartedly obey his law.”
“God’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people,” he explained.
North Korea was invited to send a delegation to this Mass, but the invitation was declined. Nevertheless, Francis has repeatedly spoken of Korea as a single family, and in an address to Asian bishops yesterday, expressed the hope that countries without diplomatic relations with the Holy See (which includes China and North Korea) would become open to “further a dialogue for the benefit of all.”
Today’s homily was of course pastoral, not political, as the Pope asked each of “Christ’s followers in Korea to examine the quality of their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society.”
He spoke of the challenge “to reflect on the extent to which you, as individuals and communities, show evangelical concern for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those without work and those who do not share in the prosperity of the many. And it challenges you, as Christians and Koreans, firmly to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people.”
The Pope said that forgiveness must be at the heart of reconciliation and peace.
If we are not prepared to heed the prayer of the Our Father and forgive those who sin against us, “how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?” he asked.
“Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation. In telling us to forgive our brothers unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it. What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross. The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to reestablish the original bonds of brotherly love,” Francis continued.
The Pope said his final message in Korea was to “trust in the power of Christ’s cross!”
“Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others!,” he said. “I ask you to bear convincing witness to Christ’s message of forgiveness in your homes, in your communities and at every level of national life. I am confident that, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with other Christians, with the followers of other religions, and with all men and women of good will concerned for the future of Korean society, you will be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in this land.”
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