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Mike Hayes and guest authors give insight into the surprises of Pope Francis’ papacy, shedding light on how and why this pope is doing things a bit differently.

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August 1st, 2014

When the World Goes to Hell, Pope Francis Summons Heaven and Earth

 
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Pope Francis waves as he delivers Sunday Angelus.All is lost with with war, especially children's lives and future, the pope said. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he delivers Sunday Angelus.All is lost with with war, especially children’s lives and future, the pope said. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Lately, we’ve been bombarded with so many sad events. From the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down in Ukraine, to children and others fleeing Central America because of unbearable gang violence, to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, the world indeed looks like a precarious place.

In times like these, we are called to pray for and to do whatever is necessary for peace. And Pope Francis has given us good examples of both.

Regarding the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope Francis drew attention especially to minors seeking asylum from the violence and oppression in a speech directed mostly at Mexico, but with a clear call for U.S. immigration policy officials to pay attention.

“Such a humanitarian emergency demands as a first urgent measure that these minors be protected and duly taken in,” Pope Francis said. He reminds us not to forget those in harm’s way when we can easily be preoccupied with our own personal worries and problems.

When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down, the pope called not only for prayers but also for those responsible to stop the violence in Ukraine. A statement from the Vatican press office said, “The pope raises prayers for the numerous victims of the incident and for their relatives, and renews his heartfelt appeal to all parties in the conflict to seek peace and solutions through dialogue, in order to avoid further loss of innocent human lives.”

And when Israel attacked Gaza a few weeks ago, the pope telephoned the presidents of Israel and Palestine in an attempt that cooler heads might prevail. Pope Francis called for an immediate ceasefire “to bring an end to hostilities, making efforts to promote a truce, peace and reconciliation in the hearts of those involved.”

This call came on the heels of a prayer service, which Pope Francis held with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres. The pope’s actions show that he understands the power of personal relationships and his role as a spiritual leader, guiding others and hopefully influencing their actions, not merely praying for peace.

While other popes have indeed prayed for a lasting peace in the world and made that a central theme of their papacy, it is remarkable that Pope Francis is unafraid to be involved in the heart of the matter and that he provides guide points for all of us to consider.

People are always at the heart of the pope’s public comments. His mission is not a political one, per se, but one that calls each of us to consider the Jesuit maxim of “Cura Personalis,” that is, care for the whole person. We’re not merely hoping to improve political relations between countries, rather we are looking at each individual with compassion, especially those who have been suffering. Be it minors crossing the border, the loss of innocent life in Ukraine or the continued bombing in Gaza and Israel, Pope Francis values all life and chooses the side of life over all factions that exist in a conflict.

Perhaps we should take his example to heart. While we have much less influence than the pope does, we can focus on helping the suffering in our own way. Donations to groups like Catholic Relief Services and Caritas or other relief organizations go a long way. Working directly with the disenfranchised to understand their plight a bit more is also helpful. Volunteer to deliver meals on wheels. If you’re just out of college, join a year-long volunteer program. Tutor a struggling student or join Big Brothers/Big Sisters and give some time to a lonely child.

The pope’s call to care for those in need is not merely directed at those in elected offices but also to each of us. It’s a very democratic notion when I think about it. We are not merely our governments. No, we the people are much more than that. And each time we reach out to the suffering, we become Christ for another. We see Christ in the eyes of the poor and recognize that he is among us at every turn, and, far too often, Christ is a suffering savior. Might we challenge ourselves to not leave the care of the suffering to those we elect or appoint, but rather, we should appoint ourselves to reach out each day to someone in need. And by doing so we become a bit more of the person that God calls each of us to be.

 
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The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Ashikaga Takauji

    I rather see God, if there is one at all, step in to do the handywork and root out evil strife war poverty and disease. He has been quite lazy for the last 2000 years.

    And on the subject of Israel’s war against the Palestinians, I wish Rome would return in full force to deal with both peoples. At least the Romans brought order to Judaea.

    • gooder1

      Just read the prophetic words of Jesus and you’ll see that war in the middle east will sadly be a part of history; Luke 21 is pretty interesting the way it described the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70:

      Luke 21
      “5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, [Jesus] said, 6 “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” …10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven….20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. … 24 And [the Jews] will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled…”

      And indeed it happened just the way Jesus predicted it: the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple itself, and the scattering of the Jews. And since then, the Church has strictly become a Gentile Church, thus the “times of the Gentiles.” Additionally, Jesus said that “the times of the Gentiles” would continue as long as Jerusalem remained “trampled underfoot.” And indeed it did remain just that way until 1948, when Israel was once again proclaimed to be a “State,” and was recognized by the nations. That prediction by our Lord is considered to be a key element in “end times” prophecy. That is why many believe we have, since 1948, entered into the end times.

      Matthew 24: Let’s see what Jesus says of the end times: Matthew 24: “3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”… [Jesus replied,] 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8 all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. … 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold….29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; 30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; 31 and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…. 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.”

      So we will see. If our Lord predicted the first destruction of the temple in AD 70 with such spot-on clarity, then we must believe that the end will also come as he described. Just when will that be? Well, nobody knows, but we definitely know that the when Israel became a State in 1948, we entered into a new age, at least the way God reckons things.

      • Ashikaga Takauji

        We will indeed see. For instance, the Holocaust and Nazi Germany could as well have been part of that prediction. I am happy that Matthew at least did not indulge himself on ergot like Johannes did when he wrote his book of revelations ;)

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