By Vatican News
The Mass was Pope Francis’ last public event in Mozambique. It was also the culmination of two days of encounters, emotions, and excitement. The stadium erupted in sound and song when the Pope entered, while music and movement enlivened the whole celebration.
Love your enemies
The Pope took the inspiration for his homily from the Gospel of Saint Luke where, after choosing His disciples and proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus adds: “But I say to you that listen, love your enemies”. These words are also addressed to us today, said the Pope.
“Jesus is no idealist”, continued Pope Francis. “He is talking about specific enemies… those who hate, exclude, revile and defame us”.
The Pope was referencing the civil war that raged in Mozambique between 1977 and 1992. “Many of you can still tell your own stories of violence, hatred and conflict”, he said, acknowledging that some still fear “past wounds will reopen and reverse the progress already made towards peace”.
Reconciliation and forgiveness
“It is not easy to speak of reconciliation while wounds are still open from the years of conflict”, continued Pope Francis, “or to take a step towards forgiveness, which is not the same as ignoring pain or giving up our memories or ideals.” Nonetheless, he said, “Jesus Christ is calling us to love and to do good… He commands us to show an active, impartial and extraordinary benevolence towards those who have hurt us”, even asking us to bless and pray for them.
The Pope admitted this is “a high standard the Master sets before us”, but insisted, “we cannot look to the future, or build a nation, an equitable society, on the basis of violence”.
Love one another
Jesus tells us to “love one another”, said the Pope, in a world that “disregards and continues to ignore the virtue of mercy, of compassion”. Overcoming times of division and violence, he added, “calls for daily commitment on the part of everyone to an attentive and active concern that makes us treat others with the same mercy and goodness with which we ourselves want to be treated”.
Peace and mercy
“We want a future of peace”, said Pope Francis, borrowing a sports image from Saint Paul when he says: “May the peace of Christ act as the umpire in your hearts”. Whenever we feel torn between two contrary feelings “we should play Christ’s game”, said the Pope, “and let His decision keep us on the path of love and mercy, in the option for the most poor and the protection of nature. The path of peace”.
Hold onto hope
At the conclusion of the Mass, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices people had made to participate in the encounters in Maputo. Many people, in fact, spent days on the road travelling from the far north of the country.
“Please, hold onto hope”, the Pope told the people of Mozambique, “do not let yourselves be robbed of it”. There is no better way to do so, he concluded, “than to remain united… so that all the reasons sustaining it will constantly consolidate for a future of reconciliation and peace in Mozambique”.