“Destroy the darkness of disrespect for human life and the darkness of vengeance”

One million people at the Mass of Pope Francis in the Simón Bolívar Park of Bogotà

“Destroy the darkness of disrespect for human life and the darkness of vengeance”

By Andrea Tornielli from Bogotá/ lastampa.it

One million people at Pope Francis’ Mass in the Simón Bolívar Park in Bogota: Francis quotes those who have committed to the peace process, who like Peter have “put out into the deep”. Brief meeting, at the end of the celebration, with some cardinals and bishops of Venezuela.

A swaying rain soaked the Simón Bolívar Park where Pope Francis celebrated his first Colombian Mass, at the same place where, 31 years ago St. John Paul II celebrated Mass before 1 million faithfuls. It is the votive mass for peace and justice, which crowns the Pope’s first full- day in Bogotá. A day where peace and reconciliation have been protagonists. Like yesterday and this morning, many people hit the streets to greet Francis: their welcome was warm and extraordinary.

After crossing various areas on the pope-mobile, Bergoglio was welcomed by a group of disabled people near the sacristy. Then the liturgy began. In the homily, the Pope commented on the Gospel passage where Jesus is preaching near the Sea of Galilee. “Everyone came to hear him; the word of Jesus - says Francis - has something special that leaves no one indifferent; his word has the power to convert hearts, to change plans and projects. It is a word demonstrated by action, not academic findings, cold agreements, removed from people’s pain; for his is a word valid both for the safety of the shore and the fragility of the sea.”

Bergoglio therefore suggests a similarity, “This beloved city, Bogotá, and this beautiful country, Colombia, convey many of the human scenarios presented by the Gospel. Here too the crowds come together, longing for a word of life to enlighten all their efforts, and to indicate the direction and beauty of human existence.” But, Francis warns. “here, as in other places, there is a thick darkness which threatens and destroys life: the darkness of injustice and social inequality; the corrupting darkness of personal and group interests that consume in a selfish and uncontrolled way what is destined for the good of all; the darkness of disrespect for human life which daily destroys the life of many innocents, whose blood cries out to heaven; the darkness of thirst for vengeance and the hatred which stains the hands of those who would right wrongs on their own authority; the darkness of those who become numb to the pain of so many victims.”

Words that photograph the still bleeding wounds of the country. “Jesus scatters and destroys all this darkness with the command he gives to Peter in the boat: “Put out into the deep sea”. “We can,” Francis continues, “get tangled up in endless discussions, adding up failed attempts and making a list of all the efforts that have ended in nothing; just like Peter, we know what it means to work without success.” The Pope then recalls that Colombia knows this reality all too well, given that in a period of six years, there were sixteen presidents, and the country paid dearly for its divisions (the “foolish homeland”); the Church in Colombia knows also about unsuccessful and fruitless pastoral work… but, like Peter, we too are able to trust the Master, whose word is fruitful even where the hostility of human darkness renders so many attempts and efforts fruitless.

The command to cast out the nets, the Pope goes on explaining, “ is not directed only to Simon Peter; he was directed to put out into the deep, like those in your homeland who first recognized what is most compelling, like those who took the initiative for peace, for life. Casting out the nets involves responsibility. In Bogotá and in Colombia a vast community journeys forwards, called to conversion in a healthy net that gathers everyone into unity, working for the defense and care of human life, especially when it is most fragile and vulnerable: in a mother’s womb, in infancy, in old age, in conditions of incapacity and in situations of social marginalization. Great multitudes of people in Bogotá and in Colombia can also become truly vibrant, just and fraternal communities, if they hear and welcome the Word of God.”

“ We need,” Francis concludes, “ to call out to one another, to signal each other, like fishermen, to see each other again as brothers and sisters, companions on the way, partners in this common cause which is the homeland.”

At the end of the Mass, the Pope greeted some cardinals and bishops from Venezuela, and spent some time talking to them about the country’s situation. Before the end of the trip, many are waiting for Francis to say something on the serious Venezuelan situation.

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 12:04
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