The international meeting ‘No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity’ began in Rome today with separate prayers by representatives of different religions. “Thinking only of ourselves: this is the father of all evils,” said Francis. “This is a great temptation. It spares no one, including us Christians. The temptation to think only of saving ourselves and our own circle. To focus only on our own problems and interests, as if nothing else mattered. It is a very human instinct, but wrong.”
Rome (AsiaNews) – The international meeting No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity began in Rome today, “capital of peace” for the day. Prayers were held in separate places by the representatives of the world’s different religions, all united in calling for peace. Christians prayed in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Jews in Rome’s Great Synagogue (Tempio Maggiore), Muslims in the Red Hall of Rome City Hall, Buddhists in the former church of Santa Rita, Sikhs and Hindus in the Franciscan Convent.
In addition to Pope Francis, the Christian prayer saw the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. Everyone wore a mask.
During the ecumenical prayer Pope Francis said that the lack of love “is the primary cause of our personal, social, international and environmental ills. Thinking only of ourselves: this is the father of all evils.”
“This is a great temptation. It spares no one, including us Christians. The temptation to think only of saving ourselves and our own circle. To focus only on our own problems and interests, as if nothing else mattered. It is a very human instinct, but wrong. It was the final temptation of the crucified God.
“Save yourself. The next people to speak those words were the chief priests and the scribes. They were the ones who had condemned Jesus, for they considered him dangerous. All of us, though, are specialists in crucifying others to save ourselves. Yet Jesus allowed himself to be crucified, in order to teach us not to shift evil to others. The chief priests accused him precisely because of what he had done for others: ‘He saved others and cannot save himself!’ (v. 31).
“They knew Jesus; they remembered the healings and liberating miracles he performed, but they drew a malicious conclusion. For them, saving others, coming to their aid, is useless; Jesus, who gave himself unreservedly for others was himself lost! The mocking tone of the accusation is garbed in religious language, twice using the verb to save. But the ‘gospel’ of save yourself is not the Gospel of salvation. It is the falsest of the apocryphal gospels, making others carry the cross. Whereas the true Gospel bids us take up the cross of others.”
“Jesus’ arms, outstretched on the cross, mark the turning point, for God points a finger at no one, but instead embraces all. For love alone extinguishes hatred, love alone can ultimately triumph over injustice. Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards full communion among us.
“Let us ask the crucified God to grant us the grace to be more united and more fraternal. When we are tempted to follow the way of this world, may we be reminded of Jesus’ words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:35). What is counted loss in the eyes of the world is, for us, salvation. May we learn from the Lord, who saved us by emptying himself (cf. Phil 2:7) and becoming other: from being God, he became man; from spirit, he became flesh: from a king, he became a slave.
“He asks us to do the same, to humble ourselves, to father of all evils ‘become other’ in order to reach out to others. The closer we become to the Lord Jesus, the more we will be open and ‘universal,’ since we will feel responsible for others. And others will become the means of our own salvation: all others, every human person, whatever his or her history and beliefs. Beginning with the poor, who are those most like Jesus.”
The desire for Christian unity was at the centre of Bedford-Strohm's reflection. “Praying,” he said, “and doing justice – these are the first two in the trinity of becoming salt of the earth and light of the world. And the third one is becoming one as a church.
“Has Christ been divided?” - asks Paul in 1 Cor 1 in the face of various divisions in the church. And we all know the answer. Christ is one! How could we be satisfied with our internal divisions? Passion for the unity of the church is not a sentiment of some special interest group in the church. It is part of the very DNA of each church. And I add very personally: To experience this unity at the Table of the Lord in my own life time is my very own personal dream.
“Peace and Justice will embrace. And no pandemic will stop it. Yes: our light shall rise in the darkness and our gloom be like the noonday and we shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
“We will heal. AMEN”
Every place in the world hit by wars and violence was remembered in the final prayer, with each of the leaders present lighting a candle for each affected country. (FP)