Pope advises Christians against selfishness

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Pope Francis celebrated High Mass today in Antananarivo on a windy day. During the service, he said that Christians cannot be fatalistic, selfish, nor accept that some people have nothing, or see religion subjected to ideologies that exploit God’s name.

Christians must fight “idolatries” that produce “deceptive securities of power, career, money and of the search for human glory.” Calling for solidarity, he urged the people of Madagascar to make “your beautiful country a place where the Gospel can become life”.

Hundreds of thousands of people were present at the Diocesan Camp of Soamandrakizay, a million according to organisers. As the pontiff noted at the beginning of the Mass, many spent the night there, an area partly owned by a Muslim man, who willingly granted its use for the celebration.

In his homily, Francis highlighted ways to abide by the teachings of Jesus. It is hard, he explained, “to follow him if we seek to identify the kingdom of heaven with our personal agenda or our attachment to an ideology that would abuse the name of God or of religion to justify acts of violence, segregation and even murder, exile, terrorism and marginalization.

This demand encourages us not to dilute and narrow the Gospel message, but instead to build history in fraternity and solidarity, in complete respect for the earth and its gifts, as opposed to any form of exploitation.

It encourages us to practise “dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard” (Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019).

And not to be tempted by teachings that fail to see that the wheat and the chaff must grow together until the return of the Master of the harvest (cf. Mt 13:24-30).”

The pontiff stressed “how difficult it can be to share the new life that the Lord offers us when we are continually driven to self-justification, because we think that everything depends exclusively on our efforts and resources! Or, as we heard in the first reading, when the race to amass possessions becomes stifling and overwhelming, which only increases our selfishness and our willingness to use immoral means.

Jesus’ demand is that we rediscover how to be grateful and to realize that, much more than a personal triumph, our life and our talents are the fruit of a gift (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 55), a gift created by God through the silent interplay of so many people whose names we will only know in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus especially wants to free us “from the grave obstacle that, in the end, is one of the worst forms of enslavement: living only for oneself. It is the temptation to fall back into our little universe, and it ends up leaving little room for other people.

The poor no longer enter in, we no longer hear the voice of God, we no longer enjoy the quiet joy of his love, we are no longer eager to do good… Many people, by shutting themselves up in this way, can feel “apparently” secure, yet they end up becoming bitter, querulous and lifeless.

This is no way to live a full and dignified life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit that has its source in the heart of the risen Christ (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 2).”

“As we look around us, how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need! This is not part of God’s plan.

“How urgently Jesus calls us to die to our self-centredness, our individualism and our pride! In this way, we can allow the spirit of fraternity to triumph – a spirit born from the pierced side of Jesus Christ, in which we are born as God’s family – and in which everyone can feel loved because understood, accepted and appreciated in his or her dignity.

“In the face of contempt for human dignity, we often remain with arms folded or stretched out as a sign of our frustration before the grim power of evil. Yet we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness,” he said.

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