Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has issued yet another appeal and call for prayer for Syria, especially for the people of Aleppo. Once Syria’s economic heart, the city recently saw renewed fighting between rebel and government forces, as the former seek to regain control of some areas of the city recently taken by the army.
Speaking after the Angelus, mentioning “reports of civilian victims of war,” the pope said, ” It is unacceptable that so many defenseless persons – among them many small children – must pay the price for conflict – for the closure of the hearts and the want of a will for peace among the powerful.”
Addressing the pilgrims present, he added, “Let us draw near to our Syrian brothers and sisters with prayer and solidarity. Let us entrust them to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary. Let us pray silently and then say Hail Mary.” After a few moments of silence, he recited the Marian prayer with everyone else.
Earlier, the pope had commented the Gospel reading of the day (Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, C) concerning three parables on vigilance (Lk, 12:32-48).
“The first,” he explained, “is the parable of the servants who wait during the night for the return of the master. ‘Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival’ (v. 37). It is the blessedness of waiting with faith for the Lord, of getting ready in an attitude of service. He becomes present every day, knocking on the door of our heart. And blessed will be those who open it because they will have a great reward: for the Lord himself will be the servant of his servants; in the great feast of his Kingdom, he will himself serve them.
“With this parable, set at night, Jesus promises life as a vigil of diligent waiting, which is a prelude to the bright day of eternity. To access it one has to be ready, alert and committed to the service of others, in the comforting perspective that ‘Beyond’ it will not be us who serve God, but he himself will welcome us to his table. Come to think of it, this happens already today every time we meet the Lord in prayer, or in serving the poor, especially in the Eucharist, where he prepares a feast to feed us with his Word and Body.”
The second parable has as image that of the unexpected coming of the thief. This requires vigilance. In fact, Jesus says, ‘You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come’ (v. 40). The disciple is the one who waits for the Lord and his Kingdom.”
The Gospel clarifies this perspective in the third parable, about the steward of a house after the departure of the master. In the first case, the steward performs his duties faithfully and receives the reward. In the second case, the steward abuses his authority and beats the servants, so, upon the sudden return of the master, he is punished. This case describes a frequent situation even today: so much injustice, violence and daily wickedness are born from the idea of behaving as masters of the lives of others. We instead have only one master, who calls himself Father.”
“Jesus,” the pope said, “today reminds us that the expectation of eternal beatitude does not dispense us from our responsibility to work for a more just and more habitable world. Indeed, it is precisely this, our hope of possessing the Kingdom in eternity, which encourages us to work towards improving the conditions of life on earth, especially those of our weakest brothers and sisters.
“May the Virgin Mary help us to be persons and communities not focused on the present, or, worse, the nostalgic about the past, but turned towards the future of God, towards the encounter with him, our life and our hope.”