REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
People are fleeing from violence in other places as well. Along with Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Sudan accounted for 55 percent of all refugees in 2012. Half of these people were under the age of 18.
Each one of these many millions of refugees is a person with a story, hopes, and dreams. Pope Francis wrote in his Message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved.”
Seventy-five year old Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt spent 50 years in Homs, Syria. In solidarity with the people he had served for so long, he refused to leave that war-torn country. On April 7 of this year he was beaten, shot, and killed.
As we wait in hope for an end to the conflicts that create refugees, we join Pope Francis in praying this month that refugees may find safety and protection in those places to which they have fled.
Pope Francis has said that an attitude of indifference toward refugees is “typical of a throwaway culture.” What does that mean?
Luke 9: 51-57 The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.
On October 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized a Filipino lay catechist named Pedro Calungsod who went to Guam in 1668 to share Christianity with the native people. Guam is in the Mariana Islands of the vast area known as Oceania.
Pope Benedict said that Pedro “displayed deep faith and charity” as he gave “witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ.” He and he fellow missionary, Fr. Diego San Vitores, were killed on April 2, 1672. “Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed.”
An early Christian once said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith. Today over 25 percent of the population of Oceania is Catholic.
In an exhortation to the Church of Oceania in 2001 (quoted by Pope Francis in The Joy of the Gospel), St. John Paul II wrote: “All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion.” In other words, the Gospel and our faith give us joy, a joy that we cannot keep to ourselves.
Joy motivated Bl. Diego and St. Pedro to leave their homes and go to Guam. The knowledge, as Pope Francis said, that “we are infinitely loved,” gave them the courage to die as they shared their joy. May the Christians of Oceania now carry on their work.
How does the knowledge that I am “infinitely loved” give me joy even during difficult times?
John 15: 8-17 I told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
God, our Father: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus experienced the tragic fate of refugees. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threat shows us that you are present where people are in danger, suffering, fleeing, or experiencing rejection and abandonment. As we fix our gaze on the Holy Family, we ask you to protect the world’s refugees. Amen.
--from Pope Francis’ Angelus Message, December 29, 2013
Links for August, 2014 Evangelization Intention
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