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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Angelus about the Christian revolution

At noon today (Rome time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the usual Sunday appointment.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In this Sunday's gospel (Mt 5:38-48) - one of the pages that best expresses the Christian revolution - Jesus shows the way to true justice by means of the law of love which surpasses the law of retaliation: the law that says an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  This ancient rule required that penalties equivalent to the damage inflicted be imposed upon the transgressors: death to those who had killed, amputation to those who had hurt someone else, and so on.  Jesus does not call his disciples to suffer the same evils, in fact, he asks them to react not by inflicting another evil, but with doing good.  Only in this way can we break the chain of evil: one evil action brings about another evil action, another brings on another, and so on ... instead, we must break the chain of evil, and truly change things.  In fact, evil is a vacuum, the absence of good, and one vacuum cannot be filled with another one, but only with a fullness, ie with good.  Retaliation never leads to conflict resolution.  You did this to me, I will do this to you: this will never resolve the conflict, such actions are not Christian.

For Jesus, the rejection of violence may also involve giving up a legitimate right; and he gives some examples: turning the other cheek, giving up one's own clothing or even money, accepting other sacrifices (cf Mt 5:39-42).  But this renunciation does not mean that the demands of justice are being ignored or contradicted; no, on the contrary, Christian love, which is demonstrated in a special way by mercy, represents a higher realization of justice.  What Jesus wants to teach us is the distinction that must be made between justice and revenge.  The difference between justice and revenge.  Revenge is never the same as justice.  We are allowed to seek justice; it is our duty to practice justice.  However we are prohibited from seeking vengeance or from inciting revenge in any way, as an expression of hatred or violence.

Jesus does not want to propose a new civil order, but rather the commandment to love our neighbour, which includes also loving our enemies: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mt 5:44).  This is not easy.  This word should not be understood as an endorsement for the evil perpetrated by an enemy, but as an invitation to a higher perspective, a more magnanimous perspective, similar to the proposals of our heavenly Father who - Jesus says - makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and brings rain upon the just and the unjust alike (Mt 5:45).  Even an enemy, in fact, is a human person, created in God's image, although this image may be tarnished by his misconduct.

When we speak about enemies, we should not think only of people who are different or far away from us; we can speak also of ourselves: we too can enter into conflict with our neighbours, at times even with our family members.  How much enmity there can be in families, so much!  Let us consider this.  Enemies are also those who speak ill of us, who slander us and make us appear as the wrongdoers.  It is not easy to accept this.  We are called to respond to all people with good, for good also has its own strategies, inspired by love.

May the Virgin Mary help us to follow Jesus on this difficult path, which truly exalts human dignity and enables us to live as brothers of our Father who is in heaven.  May she help us to practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and in this way to be artisans of communion and artisans of fraternity in our daily lives, above all in our families.

After the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Unfortunately, we continue to receive news of violent and brutal clashes in regions of Central Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I am very saddened for all the victims, especially the many children who are being torn away from their families and their schools in order to fight as soldiers.  This is a tragedy: child soldiers.  I assure you of my closeness and of my prayer, also for religious and humanitarian personnel who are working in that difficult region; and I renew an urgent plea to the consciences and the responsibilities of national Authorities and to the international community, that they made appropriate and timely decisions in order to help these brothers and sisters.

Let us pray for them and for all the people who, also in other parts of the African continent and throughout the world, are suffering because of the violence of war.  I think especially of the beloved people of Pakistan and Iraq, victims of cruel acts of terrorism in these recent days.  Let us pray for the victims, for those who are wounded and for their families.  Let us pray ardently that every heart that has been hardened by hatred may be converted to peace, according to the will of God.  Let us pray first in silence.  Hail Mary ...

I greet all of you, families, associations, parish groups and individual pilgrims who have come from Italy and from other parts of the world.

In particular, I greet the students from Armagh (Ireland), the faithful from the dioceses of Asidonia-Jerez, Cádiz y Ceuta and Madrid (Spain), the Guanellian Youth Movement, the recently Confirmed young people from Castelnuovo di Prato and the pilgrims from Modena and Viterbo.

I wish you all a good Sunday - a beautiful day!  (pointing toward the blue skies).  And please, don't forget to pray for me.

Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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