By Vatican News staff writer
Addressing those gathered at the Conclusion of the Ecumenical day of Prayer for Lebanon Pope Francis noted that on this day, “sustained by the prayers of the Holy People of God, in facing this dark situation, we, as pastors, have sought together to be guided by God’s light”. In this light of His, he continued, “we have seen our own lack of clarity” and the mistakes we have made. “For all this”, he continued, “we ask forgiveness”, and with contrite hearts we pray: “Lord, have mercy”.
Some 10 senior leaders of the various Christian Churches and communities of Lebanon, along with their delegations, are in the Vatican for a day of prayer and reflection on the current situation of the troubled Middle Eastern nation and its future.
The Pope went on to refer to the woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon, who, with this same plea, in her suffering insistently begged Jesus: “Lord, help me”.
Joining in one plea
“Today her plea has become that of an entire people, the disillusioned and weary Lebanese people in need of certainty, hope and peace”, said the Pope. Let us neither desist nor tire of accompanying the Lebanese people in this plea, “imploring heaven for that peace which men and women find so difficult to build on earth”. It is a small yet great country, but even more, it is a universal message of peace and fraternity arising from the Middle East.
Referring to the Scriptures, mentioned earlier during the day, Pope Francis then went on to focus on the short phrase “the Lord declares that he has plans for peace and not for woe”. In these woeful times, the Pope noted, “we want to affirm with all our strength that Lebanon is, and must remain, a project of peace”. The Pope said that Lebanon’s vocation is to be “a land of tolerance and pluralism, an oasis of fraternity where different religions and confessions meet, where different communities live together, putting the common good before their individual interests”. He then went on to stress how essential it is that “those in power choose finally and decisively to work for true peace and not for their own interests”.
To the weak and to the powerful
Addressing the people of Lebanon, Pope Francis noted that “you have distinguished yourselves by your resourcefulness and industriousness. He asked that they be inspired by those “gone before” them, “who saw in diversity not obstacles but possibilities, and could thus build common foundations”. Sink your roots in their dreams of peace, said the Pope. Addressing the political leaders, the Pope asked that “in accordance with your responsibilities, may you find urgent and durable solutions to the current economic, social and political crisis, mindful that there can be no peace without justice.”
Pope Francis then went on to note that as Christians our wish is “to renew our commitment to building a future together”. Our future will be peaceful only if it is shared, he explained. “Human relationships cannot be based on the pursuit of partisan interests, privileges and advantages.” “We Christians are called to be sowers of peace and builders of fraternity, not nursing past grudges and regrets, not shirking the responsibilities of the present, but looking instead with hope to the future”. We believe that God has shown us but one way: the way of peace, he added.
Paraphrasing the poet Gibran, Pope Francis stressed “let us recognize that there is no other way to come to the dawn than by passing through the night. And in the night of crisis, all of us need to remain united”. Together, concluded the Pope, through honest dialogue and pure intentions, “we can bring light where there is darkness”. Let us entrust every effort and commitment to Christ, the Prince of Peace, so that, as “May the night of conflicts recede before a new dawn of hope. May hostilities cease, disagreements fade away, and Lebanon once more radiate the light of peace”.