Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The hope for peace for Jerusalem, which has been shaken by clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and a reflection on the Communion of Saints, which "unites heaven and earth" were the themes touched on today by Pope Francis at the Angelus for the Feast of All Saints.
"The first two days of November - the Pope said to the 30 thousand people in St Peter's Square - the first two days of November are for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the "last things" of life. In fact in celebrating all the saints and commemorating all the faithful departed, in the Liturgy the pilgrim Church on earth lives and expresses the spiritual bond which unites her to the Church in heaven. Today we praise God for the countless host of holy men and women of all ages: simple men and women, who sometimes were the "last" for the world, but "first" for God. At the same time we already remember our departed loved ones by visiting cemeteries". In fact the Pope recalled that he will also visit Roman cemetery of Verano this afternoon. "It 'a matter of great consolation - he continued - to think that they are in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and all the saints of heaven".
"Today's Solemnity thus helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the "Creed": the communion of saints. It is the communion that comes from faith and unites all those who belong to Christ by Baptism. It is a spiritual union that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life. In fact there is an unbreakable bond between us living in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of death. We here on earth, along with those who have entered into eternity, form one great family".
"This beautiful communion between heaven and earth takes place in the highest and most intense way in the Liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, which expresses and fulfills the deepest union between the members of the Church. In the Eucharist, we encounter the living Jesus and His strength, and through Him we enter into communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith, those who live with us here on earth and those who have gone before us into the next life, life without end. This reality of communion fills us with joy: it is nice to have so many brothers and sisters in the faith who walk alongside us, supporting us with their help and together we travel the same road toward heaven. And it is comforting to know that we have other brothers and sisters who have already reached heaven ahead of us and who pray for us, so that together in eternity we can contemplate the glorious and merciful face of the Father".
"In the great assembly of the saints, God wanted to reserve the first place for the Mother of Jesus. Mary is at the center of the communion of saints, as a unique custodian of the bond between the universal Church and Christ. For those who want to follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel, she is a safe guide because she is the first disciple, an attentive and caring Mother, to whom we can entrust every desire and difficulty".
Pope Francis spoke of Jerusalem after the Marian prayer. "Today's liturgy - he said - speaks of the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem. I invite you to pray that the Holy City, dear to Jews, Christians and Muslims, which in recent days has witnessed diverse tensions, always be a sign and foretaste of the peace which God desires for the whole human family".
Finally Francis' thoughts turned to the beatification today in Vitoria, Spain of Pedro Asúa Mendía, martyr, who was shot in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. "A humble and austere priest, he preached the Gospel with the sanctity of his life, catechesis and devotion to the poor and needy. Arrested, tortured and killed for having expressed his desire to remain faithful to the Lord and to the Church, he is a wonderful example of strength in the faith and witness of charity for us".