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"No need to be rich or powerful, just love," pope says in Mongolia

"To be happy we don't need to be great, rich or powerful. Only love quenches the thirst of our heart, only love heals our wounds, only love gives us true joy". So said Pope Francis to Mongolian Catholics and a few dozen people from neighboring countries, such as China, in his homily at Sunday Mass at the 'Steppe Arena' ice hockey pavilion.

Francisco Otamendi-September 3, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes

Photo: Pope Francis greets pilgrims from China at the Steppe Arena Mass ©CNS photo/Vatican Media

Pope Francis celebrated the Eucharist at the Arena of the Steppe Pavilion in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia, on the afternoon of second day Giorgio Marengo, a young Italian Consolata Missionary Cardinal, and other priests and religious. 

In his homily at the MassHe stressed that "this is the truth that Jesus invites us to discover, that Jesus wants to reveal to everyone, to this land of Mongolia: to be happy we do not need to be great, rich or powerful. Only love.

The Holy Father reflected on the words of Psalm 63: "O God, [...] my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you like thirsty land, parched and without water", and then on the words of St. Matthew when "Jesus - we heard him a moment ago in the Gospel - shows us the way to quench our thirst: it is the way of love, which he has walked to the end, to the cross, from which he calls us to follow him 'losing our life to find it again' (cf. Mt 16:24-25)".

"We are not alone."

"This stupendous invocation accompanies the journey of our life, in the midst of the deserts we are called to cross," the Pope continued. "And it is precisely in that arid land that the good news reaches us. On our journey we are not alone; our dryness does not have the power to make our life barren forever; the cry of our thirst does not remain unanswered." 

"God the Father sent his Son to give us the living water of the Holy Spirit to quench the thirst of our soul (cf. Jn 4:10). And Jesus - as we heard a moment ago in the Gospel - shows us the way to quench our thirst: it is the way of love, which he has walked to the end, to the cross, from which he calls us to follow him 'losing our life in order to find it' again," added the Pope, in a reflection that he has been addressing with some frequency lately. The closeness of the Lord.

"Let us too, then, listen to the word that the Lord says to Peter: 'Follow me'; that is: be my disciple, walk the same way that I do and no longer think like the world. In this way, with the grace of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we will be able to walk the path of love. Even when loving entails deny themselvesto fight against personal and worldly selfishness, to dare to live fraternally". 

Christian paradox: losing life, gaining life

"For if it is true that all this costs effort and sacrifice, and sometimes involves having to climb the cross," the Pope told the Mongolian Catholics, "it is no less true that when we lose our life for the Gospel, the Lord gives it to us in abundance, full of love and joy, for eternity."

The words of the psalmist, who cries out to God his own aridity, because his life resembles a desert, "have a particular resonance in a land like Mongolia; an immense territory, rich in history and culture, but also marked by the aridity of the steppe and the desert," the Pope stressed.

"Many of you are accustomed to the beauty and the fatigue of having to walk, an action that evokes an essential aspect of biblical spirituality, represented by the figure of Abraham and, more generally, something distinctive of the people of Israel and of every disciple of the Lord. We are all, in fact, "nomads of God", pilgrims in search of happiness, wanderers thirsty for love".

"But we must not forget this," the Holy Father recalled, following St. Augustine: "in the desert of life, in the work of being a small community, the Lord does not make us lack the water of his Word, especially through preachers and missionaries who, anointed by the Holy Spirit, sow its beauty. And the Word always leads us to the essential of faith: to allow ourselves to be loved by God in order to make our life an offering of love. For only love truly quenches our thirst.

"Embrace the cross of Christ."

"This is what Jesus says, with a strong tone, to the apostle Peter in today's Gospel. He does not accept the fact that Jesus has to suffer, be accused by the leaders of the people, undergo the passion and then die on the cross. Peter reacts, he protests, he would like to convince Jesus that he is wrong, because according to him - and we often think this way too - the Messiah cannot end up defeated, and in no way can he die crucified, like a criminal abandoned by God. But the Lord rebukes Peter, because his way of thinking is "that of men" and not that of God," Pope Francis said.

"Brothers, sisters, this is the best path of all: to embrace the cross of Christ," the Roman Pontiff concluded. "At the heart of Christianity is this disconcerting and extraordinary news: when you lose your life, when you offer it generously, when you risk it by committing it to love, when you make it a free gift to others, then it returns to you abundantly, it pours within you a joy that does not pass away, a peace in the heart, an inner strength that sustains you."

Card. Marengo: "to be joyful and courageous witnesses of the Gospel".

Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, I.M.C., noted at the end of the Eucharistic celebration that the Pope's presence here "is for us a source of deep emotion, difficult to express in words. You have strongly desired to be among us, pilgrim of peace and bearer of the fire of the Spirit. We feel as if we were with the Apostles on the shores of the lake, as on that day when the Risen Lord was waiting for them with a burning ember.

"He reminded us last year, in the Consistory, speaking of the fire that must burn in us. The fire of the embers illuminates, warms and comforts, even though we do not see

shining flames," the Cardinal continued. "Now that we have touched with our own hands how dear are these people of God in Mongolia, we wish to accept your invitation to be joyful and courageous witnesses of the Gospel in this blessed land. Continue to support us by word and example; we, now, can only remember and put into practice what we have seen and heard in these days." "So, please accept this symbolic gift: it is the word. 'bayarlalaa'which means thank you, written in ancient Mongolian", concluded Cardinal Marengo.

On Monday 4, the last day of the Pope's apostolic journey, one of the most eagerly awaited highlights of the visit will take place: the inauguration of the Casa de la Misericordia. A project that began 4 years ago, and that will serve, especially, women and minors who are victims of domestic violence. It also has an area set up to accommodate homeless people and will also serve as a temporary shelter for immigrants. 

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

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