Drug trafficking, violence and corruption must not lead to resignation
In a world full of problems — drug trafficking, violence, corruption and disregard for human dignity — Christians must resist the temptation to quit, Pope Francis said in an open-air Mass on Tuesday in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Commenting on the Lord’s Prayer, the pope told a gathering of priests, seminarians and religious in Morelia’s Venusiano Carranza Stadium, that Jesus helped his companions experience “the newness of saying Our Father. In Jesus this expression has no trace of routine or mere repetition. On the contrary, it contains a sense of life, of experience, of authenticity.”
Jesus invites his followers to do the same. “Our first call is to experience this merciful love of the Father in our lives, in our experiences,” Francis said. “His first call is to introduce us into the new dynamic of love, of sonship. Our first calling is to learn to say, ‘Our Father,’ that is, Abba.”
He who is Our Father, it is he to whom we pray every day with insistence: Lead us not into temptation. Jesus himself did the same thing. He prayed that his disciples — yesterday’s and today’s — would not fall into temptation. What could be one of the sins which besets us? What could be one of the temptations which springs up not only in contemplating reality but also in living it? What temptation can come to us from places often dominated by violence, corruption, drug trafficking, disregard for human dignity and indifference in the face of suffering and vulnerability? What temptation might we suffer over and over again when faced with this reality which seems to have become a permanent system?
“Faced with this reality, the devil can overcome us with one of his favorite weapons: resignation,” he stated. “A resignation that paralyzes us and prevents us not only from walking but also from making the journey; a resignation that not only terrifies us but which also entrenches us in our ‘sacristies’ and false securities; a resignation that not only prevents us from proclaiming but also inhibits our giving praise. A resignation that not only hinders our looking to the future but also thwarts our desire to take risks and to change.”
The pope’s reference to drug trafficking was sure to resonate among his listeners from this southern Mexican state capital. Violence and uncertainty are on the rise here due to the strong presence of arms and drugs traffickers, Vatican Insider notes. The state of Michoacán, with its 135 miles of coastline, has become an important port for the transportation of drugs to and from the U.S.
But if the followers of Christ are tempted by quitting, there is a good remedy, the Holy Father suggested: remembering the past and those who came before us. One such example would be Vasco Vázquez de Quiroga,the 16th-century Spaniard who became the first bishop of Michoacán. He became known as “the Spaniard who became an Indian” for his defense of the local Purhépechas people. Vazquez did not resign himself to the poor treatment of the indigenous that he witnessed. “The pain and suffering of his brothers and sisters became his prayer, and his prayer led to his response,” the pope recounted.
Francis gave a nod to Vázquez as he used his pastoral staff and chalice during today’s Mass.
“Among the Indians, he was known as Tata Vasco, which in the Purhépechan language means Father, dad, daddy,” Francis said. “It is to this prayer, to this expression, that Jesus calls us.”