Fraternity is built by choosing love every day, Pope tells Catholics in Bahrain


ROME — Pope Francis celebrated Mass for Catholics in Bahrain on Saturday, telling those attending the liturgy to always act with love and brotherhood, even in difficult and oppressive situations, because that is the only true path to peace.

Speaking at his Nov. 5 Mass, the pope said Jesus suffers when he looks at the world and sees ways of exercising power “that feed on oppression and violence, seeking to extend their own space by restricting that of others, imposing their own domination and restricting fundamental freedoms, and thus oppressing the weak.

Conflicts, disagreements and oppression will always be present, Pope Francis said, saying that Jesus’ own response to these situations is to ask his followers to “remain always, faithfully, in love, despite everything, even in the face of evil and our enemy”. ”

As a human reaction seeks revenge, Jesus shows a different and seemingly “unthinkable” way, which is to turn the other cheek, he said, adding, “That is what the Lord asks of us. “.

“Not dreaming ideally of a world of fraternity,” he said, “but choosing, starting with ourselves, to practice universal fraternity, concretely and courageously, persevering in good even when evil is done to us, breaking the spiral of vengeance, disarming violence, demilitarizing the heart.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Bahrain National Stadium in Awali on his third day in Bahrain, especially greeting the faithful who came from the four countries that make up the Apostolic Vicariate of North Arabia – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia – as well as those who came from other Gulf countries, and elsewhere.

In his homily, Francis, who is the first pope to visit Bahrain, said the secret of Jesus’ power does not come from “the strength of violence, but from the weakness of love”.

Jesus’ strategy in any situation, even conflict, is “to love always and to love everyone,” he said. “Not just when things are going well and we feel like loving, but always. Not just to our friends and neighbors, but to everyone, including our enemies.

This vision is not theoretical, but practical, Francis said, noting that Jesus “does not say it will be easy,” but is “realistic” and knows that “in our relationships there is a daily struggle between love and hate”.

“In our hearts too, there is a daily clash between light and darkness. He also knows that, despite our generous efforts, we do not always receive the good we expect and indeed sometimes, incomprehensibly, we experience evil,” he said.

Yet whatever the situation, whether in society, in the workplace or in the family, Christians are urged to respond with love, he said, saying: “There will be cases of friction, moments of tension, conflict and opposing viewpoints, but those who follow the Prince of Peace must always strive for peace.

“Peace cannot be restored if a harsh word is answered with an even harsher word, if one slap leads to another,” the pope said, saying “we must ‘disarm,’ break the chains of evil, break the spiral of evil.violence and ending resentment, complaining and self-pity.We must continue to love, always.

Pope Francis also stressed the need not only to love, but to love everyone, saying that the decision to love does not go far enough “if we limit this commitment to the narrow circle of those who love us, who are our friends or who are like us.”

What Jesus asks, he said, is “amazing because it transcends the bounds of law and common sense.”

“Loving your neighbour, your loved ones, although reasonable, is already exhausting enough. In general, this is what a community or people try to do to preserve their inner peace,” he said. However, “what happens if distant people approach us, if strangers, different or with other beliefs, become our neighbors?

Given its diverse population and many different ethnic and religious traditions, Bahrain, the pope said, is an example of “coexistence in diversity” and a living reflection of the world, “marked by the constant migration of peoples and by a pluralism of ideas”. , Customs and traditions.”

“If we want to be children of the Father and build a world of brothers and sisters, the real challenge is to learn to love everyone, even our enemies,” the pope said.

Concretely, this means “choosing not to have enemies, choosing to see in others not an obstacle to be overcome, but a brother or a sister to be loved”, he said, adding: “To love our enemies , is to make this earth a reflection of the sky.

Calling the ability to love in this way a gift from God, Pope Francis urged the faithful to pray for this grace, saying, “We often bring our requests before the Lord, but what is essential for us as Christians is to know how to love as Christ loves.

Francis concluded his homily by thanking those who came to attend the liturgy and assured the Catholic community in the region of “the affection and closeness of the universal Church, which looks at you and embraces you, which loves you and encourage you”.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen


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