-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pope Leads Faithful in Prayer for Suffering Migrants and Refugees
Contemplates Christ's Mission to Free World from Slavery to Sin
VATICAN CITY, January 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) - During his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis led the faithful in prayer for migrants and refugees who are living in difficulty and suffering.
Prior to the recitation of the Marian prayer, the Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.
The Pope explained to the faithful that the Gospel, which recalls John the Baptist recognizing Christ as "the Lamb of God", relates Jesus' precise mission in the world. That mission, he said, is "to free it from the slavery of sin, taking humanity's faults upon himself."
"In what way?" he asked. "By loving. There is no other way to defeat evil and sin than with the love that moves one to give the gift of his life for others. In the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus is given the traits of the Servant of the Lord, who 'has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows', to the point of dying on the cross. He is the true Passover lamb, who immerses himself in the river of our sin, to purify us."
The Holy Father went on to say that though Christ has no need of it, He is a "man who gets in line with sinners to be baptized." John the Baptist's observation of Christ as the Lamb, the Pope noted, is a touching image.
"This image of the lamb might surprise us: an animal that is certainly not characterized by its strength and hardiness takes upon himself such an oppressive weight," he said. "The enormous mass of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature, who is a symbol of obedience, docility and defenseless love, who goes to the point of sacrificing himself."
'The lamb," he continued, "is not an oppressor but is docile; he is not aggressive but peaceful; he does not show his claws or teeth in the face of an attack, but endures it and is submissive. And this is how Jesus is! This is how Jesus is! He is like a lamb." (J.A.E.)
The Pope said that like Jesus, Christians today are called to follow that example, of one who in the face of evil, does not respond with malice but rather with love. "We Christians must do this: put innocence in the place of malice, love in the place of force, humility in the place of pride, service in the place of prestige," the Pope said. "Being disciples of the Lamb means that we must not live like a "city under siege," but like a city on a hill, open, welcoming, solidary. It means not having a closed attitude, but proposing the Gospel to everyone, testifying with our life that following Jesus makes us more free and more joyful."
Following the Angelus, Pope Francis gave a special greeting to commemorate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Referring to them as the "heart of the Church", the Holy Father encouraged all migrants to not lose hope for a better world.
"I hope you will live in peace in the countries that receive you, bringing the values of your culture of origin with you," he said.
The Pope also thanked those who work in helping migrants and refugees, in particular the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles and the Scalabrini priests and sisters. The Holy Father commended them for their work, saying that they "do much good for the Church and become migrants with the migrants."
Before greeting several groups and associations, Pope Francis led the faithful in praying a Hail Mary for those migrants who are suffering.
"At this time we think of the many migrants, the many refugees, of their sufferings, of their life, often without work, without documents, with such grief," the Pope concluded. "And we can together say a prayer for the migrants and the refugees who live in the worst and most difficult situations."
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