Celebrating his first public Mass in Japan on the Feast of Christ the King on Sunday, Pope Francis draws attention to the good thief in Luke’s Gospel. His attitude and profession of faith, the Pope says, makes the horror and injustice of Calvary, become a message of hope for all humanity.
Pope Francis chose the plea of the good thief as the base of his homily: “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power”. “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” is what Jesus assures the thief. “And that moment does nothing more than confirm the entire meaning of Jesus’ life: always and everywhere to offer salvation,” the Pope said at the afternoon Mass at Nagasaki’s Baseball Stadium.
Love overcomes hatred, selfishness
“‘Save yourself!’ The shouts of scornful derision addressed to the innocent victim of suffering will not be the last word,” the Pope said. “Rather, they will awaken a response from those who let their hearts be touched, who choose compassion as the authentic way to shape history.”
Saint Paul Miki and his companions and hundreds of martyrs who gave their lives in courageous witness, the Pope said, invite us in their footsteps to profess courageously that the love poured out in sacrifice for us by Christ crucified is capable of overcoming all manner of hatred, selfishness, and mockery. “It is capable of defeating all those forms of facile pessimism or comfortable indolence that paralyze good actions and decisions.”
The rejected are living sacrament of Christ our King
As missionary disciples and witnesses and heralds of things to come, the Pope said, we cannot become resigned in the face of evil in any of its forms. Rather, we are called to be a leaven of Christ’s Kingdom wherever we find ourselves: in the family, at work or in society at large. We are to be a little opening through which the Spirit continues to breathe hope among peoples.
The kingdom of heaven, our common goal, the Pope explained, is not only about tomorrow but also of today, amid the indifference that so often surrounds and silences the sick and disabled, the elderly and the abandoned, refugees and immigrant workers. All of them, the Pope said, are a living sacrament of Christ our King, because Jesus Himself wanted to be identified in their faces.
Pope in Hiroshima: Use and possession of atomic energy for war is immoral
Over 70,000 people died instantly. Another 70,000 died later from radiation burns. At 8:15 on the morning of 6 August 1945, the first wartime atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, destroying it completely.
The only building to survive the blast was the Genbaku Dome. Today its iconic ruin stands at the heart of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park as a reminder of the most destructive force ever unleashed by humanity, on humanity.
Nuclear warfare is immoral
The Pope declared once more, “that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral”, affirmed Pope Francis, and “we will be judged on this.” “Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth.” Peace must be “founded on truth, built up in justice, animated and perfected by charity, and attained in freedom”, he added.
Pope in Nagasaki: We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past
At 11:02 on the morning of 9 August 1945, an atomic bomb exploded in Nagasaki, Japan. One-third of the city was destroyed and around 150,000 people were killed or injured. Many more died later from the effects of radioactive poisoning.
Today, a commemorative monument to peace marks the spot where the bomb fell.
Pope Francis visited the Peace Memorial in Nagasaki on Sunday morning. He placed flowers at the foot of the monument, and noted how “This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another.”
Beside the Atomic Bomb Hypocentre stand the remains of Urakami Cathedral. Once the largest church in East Asia, it was completely destroyed by the bomb.
In his discourse, Pope Francis referred to a damaged cross and a statue of Our Lady that were recently discovered on the Cathedral site: “They remind us once more of the unspeakable horror suffered in the flesh by the victims of the bombing and their families”, he said.