Pope Francis: "God demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil"
At the end of World Youth Day, Pope Francis addressed hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world. He encouraged a new generation to work for peace, reconciliation and justice. ‘God demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil, by loving everyone, even our enemies’.
Photos of throngs of young people at the final Mass of his Polish trip was a sharp contrast to pictures of the Pontiff, walking alone and praying in silence in the concentration camp, Auschwitz. Over one million, mostly Jewish people were killed there during the Holocaust. As he reflected on the challenges facing Poland and all nations, he stressed that ‘a merciful heart opens up to welcome refugees and immigrants’.
This comes after a week, where two Muslim extremists brutally murdered an elderly priest at morning Mass near Rouen. To increase terror, ISIS releases distressing pictures and videos of beheadings and crucifixions of hostages, aid workers, Christians and even their own soldiers. The alternative to such violence was shown yesterday by a moving gesture of solidarity, as Muslims across France attended Sunday Mass. It is fitting that faith and non-faith communities join in unity, as the sacrifice and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ is remembered.
Centered on the sharing of bread and wine, Jesus enjoyed The Last Supper with his disciples. He commanded them to break the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Him. The broken body and the blood poured out for others, enable Christians to feed on the bread and drink the wine in faith. As often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we are proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes again.
We remember Christ died for humanity. He died for human sin, past, present and future. He died to restore humanity to a living, loving relationship with God. The Church stands as witness to the love of God in action.
Terrorism and destructive violence based on ideology threatens us all. Nazism and the notion of racial superiority massacred millions in the Death camps. It was only defeated by a unity which went beyond political and racial divisions. Peace, reconciliation and justice were not just slogans, but required the willingness to fight and die, as so many did-not for themselves, but for others. They sacrificed their todays, for our tomorrows. Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested we are in the midst of a world war. Forces of violence, hatred, bigotry, division and racism, often cloaked in the name of religion, threaten the peace and well-being of the whole world and all of us. Doing nothing means allowing evil to triumph. The only alternative is to work for peace, reconciliation and justice. That’s hard, whether on the streets of Paris, Chicago, Kabul, Tehran or London. Military strength and wisdom must be matched with local and national acts of charity and solidarity. This is our world. Peace, justice and reconciliation don’t just happen. They are fostered and grown in showing mercy and understanding. We need huge crowds of pilgrims as well as individuals to walk, worship, pray and then work ceaselessly, to show that love trumps evil every time.