Vatican City, Jul 19, 2015 / 08:14 am
Pope Francis entrusted his recent tri-nation voyage to South America to Our Lady of Guadalupe – praising the deeply-rooted Christianity in these countries, but also noting the social and economic challenges.
"To the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom the whole of Latin America venerates as Patron by the title Our Lady of Guadalupe, I entrust the fruits of this unforgettable Apostolic journey," the pontiff said.
He made his remarks on Sunday to the large crowds who had gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the weekly Angelus, despite the heat wave currently sweeping through Rome.
It's the Pope's first Angelus address since returning from his July 5-13 trip to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
Drawing from the Gospel reading, the Argentine-born pontiff said he had asked the Good Shepherd to accompany him on his recent trip to the continent of his birth.
"I thank God with all my heart for this gift. I thank the people of the three countries for their affectionate and loving welcome and enthusiasm."
Pope Francis extended his gratitude for all those who took part in his visit, including Bishops, priests, and consecrated persons.
He said that, alongside those who participated, he praised God "for the wondrous things he has worked" among them, as well as as for the natural beauty of these countries.
The Holy Father then acknowledged the social and economic challenges which exist in these countries, and stressed the Church's role in bringing about their resolutions.
"The Latin-American continent has great human and spiritual potential. It protects deeply-rooted Christian values, but also lives with serious social and economic problems."
The Church has worked to offer spiritual and moral strength throughout the communities, working with all members of society, Pope Francis said.
In the face of these challenges, the Pope said he prayed for "the grace which saves and which gives strength to the commitment of Christian witness, to develop the spread of God's Word, in order that the strong religiosity of those populations may always be faithful witnesses of the Gospel.
The July 19 Angelus address centered on the day's Gospel reading, in which the Apostles return – "happy but also tired" – from the mission on which Jesus had sent them. He in turn takes them to a secluded place on a boat where they can rest. However, the crowds find Jesus, and run ahead to meet him where the boat lands.
Saint Mark in his Gospel then gives a sort of "photographic" image of Jesus, the Pope said, when He feels compassion upon seeing the crowds "because they were like sheep without a shepherd," and taught them
Pope Francis honed on three key words: "to see, to have compassion, to teach." These first two words, he said, "are always associated in Jesus' approach: In fact, his gaze is not the gaze of a sociologist or a photojournalist, because he always looks with 'the eyes of the heart.'"
He added that seeing and having compassion "amount to Jesus as the Good Shepherd."
"Even his compassion: it is not merely a human emotion, but it is the sentiment of the Messiah in whom is made flesh the tenderness of God."
This compassion, he continued, leads Jesus to "nourish the crowds with the bread of his Word."
"Jesus sees, Jesus has compassion, Jesus teaches us. This is beautiful!"