(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has asked for prayers for his forthcoming meeting with his “dear brother”, the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
That meeting is scheduled to take place on Friday, February 12 at Cuba’s international airport as the Pope travels to Mexico for an apostolic journey.
The Pope’s appeal came at the end of his General Audience in St Peter’s Square. He also asked for prayers for his six-day journey which will take him from South to North of the Latin American Nation.
And during his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke of the significance of a Jubilee Year, an ancient institution that calls on us to practice pardon, combat poverty and inequality, promote an equitable distribution of the earth’s goods for all.
Recalling that according to the Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee Year is a heightened moment of religious and social life, a time of “general pardon” for all people to return to their original state – the freedom proper to the holy people of God – the Pope pointed out that the earth belongs to God and has been entrusted to us.
He said that as stewards of the Lord we are called to render the world we have received human and habitable, and that “no one should claim exclusive possession creating situations of inequality".
“May each of us look into our hearts and ask himself whether he has too many things. Why not give some to those who have none? Ten percent, fifty percent… may the Holy Spirit inspire each of you” he said.
And recalling having recently heard that some eighty percent of the world’s wealth is in the hands of only twenty percent of the world’s population, Pope Francis said “if the Jubilee does not come out of your pockets it’s not a true Jubilee”.
“This in the Bible. It’s not this Pope inventing it. In the Bible the scope of a Jubilee was to create a society based on equality and solidarity, where freedom, land and money would benefit all and not just a few” he said.
We can say – he continued – that the Biblical Jubilee was a “Jubilee of Mercy” because it was to be lived for the good of our needy brothers and sisters.
So, appealing to all believers to live the Jubilee Year in that spirit, Pope Francis also mentioned the phenomenon of loansharking and of how so many desperate people have ended up taking their own lives because they don’t find a helping hand, but only the hand that demands the payment of interests.
“The Lord – he said – blesses he who opens his hand with generosity. He will give you twice as much back, perhaps not in money, but in other things”.
And telling those present that if they want to receive mercy from God, they must begin by being merciful to those close to them and thus – the Pope said - contribute to building a society based on solidarity, fraternity and justice.
Pope Francis concluded his audience recalling the fact that Thursday 11 marks the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 24th World Day of the Sick and he asked for prayers for the sick and appealed to the faithful to make their love felt to them.