Don't build fences around Gospel, Pope urges

Pope Francis delivers his first Sunday Angelus on March 17 2013 Credit InterMirificanet CNA Vatican 3 20 13 Pope Francis delivering an Angelus address, March 17, 2013. |

In his Angelus message delivered in Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis exhorted the crowds to proclaim their faith throughout the world.

In today's day and age, "we can be frightened and give into the temptation to build fences to be safer, more secure. But Jesus teaches us that the good news is not reserved for a part of humanity, and to communicate it to everyone," said the Pope on Jan. 26.

The Gospel message "is a happy announcement destined for those who await it, but also for the many who perhaps do not await anything more and do not even have the strength to look and to ask."

The Pontiff reflected on Sunday's Gospel reading in which Jesus calls the disciples, beginning his work of ministry in the region of Galilee, which is "a border land, a region of transit where they encountered persons of different races, cultures and religions."

Jesus' mission "did not originate in Jerusalem, that is, from the religious, social, and political center, but from a peripheral area, disdained by the more observant Jews, because of the presence of diverse populations in that region," noted the Pontiff.

"From this point of view, Galilee resembles the world of today: the simultaneous presence of diverse cultures, the need for comparison and for meeting.  We too are immersed every day in a 'Galilee of the people,'" he explained.

Jesus' decision to begin from the "periphery" shows that "no one is excluded" from God's desire to save.

Rather, we see that "God prefers to start from the periphery, from the outermost, to reach everyone."

Moreover, noted Pope Francis, Jesus chooses apostles from men "who could be called 'low-profile.'"

"He does not address the school of the scribes and of the doctors of the law, but humble and simple people, who are preparing diligently for the coming of God's Kingdom."

The response of those simple people chosen by Christ acts as an example for all Christians today.

"Jesus goes to call them where they work, on the lakeshore: they are fishermen. He calls them, and they follow him immediately. They leave their nets and go with him. Their lives become an extraordinary and fascinating adventure," emphasized the Pontiff.

"Dear friends, the Lord also calls us today!" he exclaimed. "Each one you must realize that the Lord is watching you: if you hear Him saying follow me, you must have courage and go with Him. The Lord will never disappoint you."

After leading the crowds in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis went on to pray for many tragic situations in the modern day Galilee of the world.

Jan. 26 marks the world day for those sick with leprosy. The Pontiff prayed for those who suffer with this "disease, although in decline, (that) unfortunately still affects many people in conditions of severe poverty."

He also prayed for those in the Ukraine who "have lost their lives in these days and for their families," as the country experiences violence between police and protesters angry over legislation concerning admission to the European Union. The Pope expressed his hope for "constructive dialogue between the institutions and the civil society, avoiding any recourse to violent actions, the spirit of peace and the common good prevailing every heart."

Departing from his prepared remarks, the Pontiff asked for a moment of silence for a small child in southern Italy who was burnt to death by the mafia as revenge for his grandfather's unpaid debt. "Let' s pray for Cocò, who is surely in heaven with Jesus, and for those who have committed this crime: may they repent and convert to the Lord," he said.

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Finally, Pope Francis concluded his Angelus by having two children from the Diocese of Rome's Catholic Action join him in the window of the apostolic palace.

The many youth gathered in the square cheered loudly and waved giant yellow foam hands as Pope Francis thanked them for their apostolic work. After reading a message to Pope Francis, the two children released doves as a symbol of peace.

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