At the Angelus, Pope Francis expresses his closeness to the families affected by the earthquake in Latium, Marches, and Umbria. He plans to visit to bring "in person the comfort of the faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope." As “pride, careerism, vanity, and ostentation are the cause of many evils”, it is better to choose “free giving instead of opportunist calculation to get a reward.” Canteens for the poor “spread the culture of free giving”. The World Day of Prayer for the care of Creation is set for 1 September "together with our Orthodox brothers and other ecclesial communities."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – "I hope to come to see you" is the wish Pope Francis expressed on the first morning of the earthquake that hit central Italy on 24 August. The pope expressed this wish today after the Angelus prayer recited in St Peter's Square with pilgrims.
According to some sources in the Vatican on 24 August, Pope Francis wanted to visit earthquake victims on the day of the quake, but was discouraged because his presence would have hampered the work of the emergency teams.
As the search for survivors and bodies under the rubble continues, several Italian politicians have visited the earthquake zone, with the risk of making rescue efforts more difficult. For his part, the pope will go "as soon as possible."
"I wish to renew my spiritual closeness to the inhabitants of Latium, Marches and Umbria, recently hard hit by the earthquake,” said the pope.
“I think in particular about the people of Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata and Pescara del Tronto, Norcia. Again I say to these dear people that the Church shares their suffering and their concerns, praying for the dead and survivors.
“The speed with which the authorities, police, civil protection and volunteers are operating shows how important solidarity is to overcome such painful trials.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I hope to come to see you as soon as possible, to bring you in person the comfort of the faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope."
The pope then turned the invitation to those present. "Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, all together: Hail Mary . . ."
Earlier, the pontiff had commented on the Sunday Gospel (XXII per year, C, Luke 14, 1.7-14), which concerns two parables told by Jesus about the race to take the places of honour at banquets and the doing favours for those who can reciprocate.
The first parable ends with the invitation by Jesus, "when you are invited, take the lowest place" (Lk 14: 8-9).
"With this recommendation,” the pontiff explained, “Jesus does not intend to set rules of conduct, but a lesson on the value of humility. History teaches that pride, careerism, vanity, and ostentation are the cause of many evils. Jesus makes us understand the necessity of choosing the last place, to seek out smallness and obscurity. When we place ourselves before God in this dimension of humility, then God exalts us, stoops down to us to lift us to himself: 'For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted’ (v.11).”
"Jesus’ words underline attitudes that are completely different and opposite: the attitude of those who choose the first place and the attitude of those who let God assign it and wait for a reward from Him. Let us not forget: God pays much more than men! He gives us a much nicer place than what men give us! The place that God gives us is close to his heart and his reward is eternal life. "[B]lessed indeed will you be [. . .] For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous’ (v. 14) ".
Referring to the second parable, he explained: "It is about choosing free giving instead of opportunist calculation to get a reward. In fact, the poor, the simple, the ones who do not count, can never repay an invitation to the canteen. So Jesus shows his preference for the poor and the excluded, who are the privileged of the kingdom of God, and launches the fundamental Gospel message that is important to serve others for love of God.
“Today, Jesus gives a voice to the voiceless and makes an urgent appeal to each of us to open our hearts and make our own the sufferings and anxieties of the poor, the hungry, the marginalised, the refugees, those defeated by life, those who are rejected by society and by the arrogance of the strongest."
"Right now I think with gratitude to the canteens where many volunteers offer their service, giving food to the lonely, the needy, the unemployed or the homeless. These canteens are gyms of charity that spread the culture of free giving because those who work are motivated by the love of God and enlightened by the wisdom of the Gospel. Thus, serving one’s brothers and sisters becomes a testimony of love, which makes credible and visible the love of Christ.
“Let us ask the Virgin Mary to lead us every day on the way of humility, to make us capable of free acts of welcome and solidarity towards the marginalised, to become worthy of the divine reward."
Before greeting the pilgrims, Francis said that the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will be celebrated on 1 September "together with our Orthodox brothers and other ecclesial communities".
"It will be,” he added, “an opportunity to strengthen the common commitment to safeguarding the life, respecting the environment and nature."