By Charles Igwe
Pope Francis delivered a message urging Christians not to fear criticism, economic loss, or persecution when remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church. Speaking during his Sunday Angelus address on June 25, the pope emphasized the relevance of Jesus’ words “do not be afraid” in today’s context. He specifically reflected on Jesus’ warning from the Gospel of Matthew, cautioning against the fear of those who can harm the body but cannot touch the soul. Instead, he emphasized the importance of avoiding a life consumed by trivial matters that lack meaning.
Highlighting the ongoing persecutions faced by the Church throughout history, Pope Francis noted the paradox of a message centered on peace, justice, fraternity, and forgiveness encountering opposition and violence. He emphasized that Jesus’ call to not fear was not an assurance of a trouble-free world, but rather a reminder that believers are cherished by the Father and that what is truly good will never be lost.
The Holy Father cautioned against the pursuit of secondary realities that divert attention from what truly matters. He gave examples such as priests or religious sisters neglecting their relationship with Jesus due to excessive focus on service, parents prioritizing work over quality time with their children, and young people excessively engaging in sports, school, social media, and technology at the expense of deeper connections.
Pope Francis encouraged renouncing idols of efficiency and consumerism, while recognizing the dignity of the marginalized and vulnerable. He stressed that the only genuine fear should be wasting the precious gift of life.
During the Angelus prayer, the pope expressed his support for Radio Maria Italy volunteers and conveyed his sadness regarding a recent prison riot in Honduras, praying for the deceased and their families. He also acknowledged the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, extending his prayers to her family and all those affected by the pain of losing a loved one.
In conclusion, Pope Francis called upon Christians to embrace the challenges and sacrifices that come with remaining faithful to the Gospel, reminding them of the powerful message of hope, reconciliation, and fraternal coexistence.