Vatican City, Jul 9, 2023 / 07:09 am (CNA).
The residents of three rich cities in the time of Jesus were incapable of marveling at his works and message, Pope Francis noted, seeing in their example a warning for the faithful of today.
Before praying the midday Angelus with a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square on this very warm Sunday, the Pope considered Jesus’s “very beautiful prayer” addressed to the Father and recounted in the Mass of today: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.”
The Pope reflected on two questions about Jesus’s prayer: What are these “things” and who were they hidden from?
To answer the first question, the Pope noted that just before this passage Jesus recalled some of his works, including healings.
“The message, then, is clear. Let us not forget this,” Pope Francis said. “God reveals himself by liberating and healing the human person, with a gratuitous love that saves. This is why Jesus thanks his father, because his greatness consists in his love and he never works outside of love.”
Those who pretend to be great cannot understand these things, the Pope warned.
“In this regard, Jesus names the inhabitants of three rich cities of his times — Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum — where he had accomplished many healings, but whose inhabitants remained indifferent to his preaching. For them, his miracles were only spectacular events, useful for making news and to incite gossip. Once passing interest in them was over, they archived them, maybe in order to occupy themselves in other novelties of the moment. They did not know how to welcome the great things of God.”
Those who miss God’s message because they are “full of themselves” are contrasted with the “little children.”
Jesus praises the Father for “the simple people whose hearts are free from presumption and self-love. The little ones are those who, like children, feel their need and are not self-sufficient. They are open to God and allow themselves to be amazed at his works. They know how to read the signs, to marvel at the miracles of his love!”
Pope Francis invited the faithful to remember that “our lives, if we think about it, are filled with miracles.”
And he suggested that instead of being indifferent, we allow ourselves to be impressed:
“To impress — a beautiful verb that brings photographic film to mind. This is the correct behavior before God’s works: to take a photo of his works in our minds so they are impressed on our hearts, to then be developed in our lives through many good deeds, so that this ‘photograph’ of God who is love becomes ever brighter in us and through us.”
The Pope concluded, as he often does, with some questions for reflection, or examination of conscience:
“In the deluge of news that overwhelms us, do I, as Jesus shows us today, know how to stop myself before the great things that God accomplishes? Do I allow myself to marvel like a child at the good that silently changes the world? And do I thank the Father each day for his works? May Mary, who exulted in the Lord, make us able to be amazed by his love and to thank him with simplicity.”
After praying the Angelus, the Pope announced that he will create 21 new cardinals in a consistory on September 30.
He also noted the new flare-up of violence in the Holy Land. He expressed his hopes that Palestinian and Israeli leaders would commit themselves to dialogue so that “we can put an end to the spiral of violence and open paths of reconciliation and peace.”
Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, who is among those the Pope has just named a cardinal, on July 4 condemned the Israeli government’s air and ground attacks on the Jenin refugee camp in the Palestinian West Bank after two unknown assailants launched rockets toward Israel from Lebanon.
In a statement on Twitter, the patriarch said, “the city of Jenin has been subject to unprecedented Israeli aggression, which also caused a lot of damage to our Latin parish in Jenin.”
“We condemn this violence, demand a ceasefire, and hope for the pursuit of peace and dialogue to prevent other future unjustified attacks on the population,” he said.
Pope Francis also noted that today is Sea Sunday. In addition to thanking the various people who work in ports and on the seas, he noted the many volunteers who dedicate themselves to cleaning the oceans. The Pope spoke of recent news about the amount of plastic that is found in the water and praised those who are working to combat this issue.
In the same context, he thanked those who work to help the many migrants who try to find better lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. He has referred to this body of water as “Europe’s largest cemetery.”
Nearly 50 people were saved just last Friday off the coast of Libya. The International Organization for Migration has reported that the first quarter of 2023 was the deadliest first quarter since 2017, with 441 migrant deaths in the Central Mediterranean. In fact, according to that UN group, nearly 2,000 have already died this year. Part of that large number is due to one of the worst tragedies to ever occur: when the Adriana sank last month off the coast of Greece. The IOM estimates the number who died at 596.