Citing Sunday’s gospel reading about Jonah, the Pope on January 21, 2018, warned that we sometimes suffer that prophet’s faith. He called it the “Jonah syndrome.”
His remarks came in his homily at mass at Las Palmas Air Base, Lima, the final major event of his January 15-22 apostolic journey to Chile and Peru.
“The Lord sets out on a journey: to Nineveh, to Galilee, to Lima, to Trujillo and Puerto Maldonado… the Lord comes here,” said Pope Francis. “He sets out to enter into our individual, concrete histories”
He pointed out that God wants “to be with us always.” That means “here in Lima…in the routine of your daily life and work…amid you aspirations and anxieties…within the privacy of the home and the deafening noise of our streets.”
He warned that under this conditions, the same thing that happened to Jonah can happen to any of us. Because of the “pain and injustice” in our cities, we can be tempted “to flee, to hide, to run away.”
In the city, he lamented, there are those who have the means to develop their personal and family life, but left behind are many “non-citizens”, “the half-citizens” or “urban remnants”
“They are found along our roadsides, living on the fringes of our cities, and lacking the conditions needed for a dignified existence,” Francis said. “It is painful to realize that among these urban remnants all too often we see the faces of children and adolescents. We look at the face of the future.”
“Seeing these things in our cities and our neighborhoods – which should be places of encounter, solidarity, and joy – we end up with what we might call the Jonah syndrome: we lose heart and want to flee,” the Holy Father decried. “We become indifferent, and as a result, anonymous and deaf to others, cold and hard of heart. When this happens, we wound the soul of our people.”
Recalling his consistent theme of the need to care for those on the fringes, Pope Francis called on the faithful to be a “timely antidote to the globalization of indifference”. He calls on people to be like Jesus, who walked through the city with his disciples.
“Jesus continues to walk on our streets,” Francis stated. “He knocks today, as he did yesterday, on our doors and hearts, in order to rekindle the flame of hope and the aspiration that breakdown can be overcome by fraternity, injustice defeated by solidarity, violence silenced by the weapons of peace.
“Jesus continues to call us; he wants to anoint us with his Spirit so that we too can go out to anoint others with the oil capable of healing wounded hopes and renewing our way of seeing things.”
The Pope concluded by reminding the immense crowd gathered at the air base that Jesus continued to give us hope. But he cannot reach the far corners of the earth without “daring and courageous witnesses”.
“Today the Lord calls each of you to walk with him in the city, in your city. He invites you to become his missionary disciple so that you can become part of that great whisper that wants to keep echoing in the different corners of our lives: Rejoice, the Lord is with you!”