Pope Francis celebrates Mass on Monday afternoon at the Tokyo Dome stadium. In his homily, the Pope says we need to get our priorities right, in line with the life of Jesus.
As the starting point of his homily on Monday, Pope Francis drew attention to the Sermon on the Mount, saying it indicates the beauty of the path we are called to take to reach Jesus, in whom we have the freedom of becoming God’s beloved children.
Hurdles to being God’s children
Yet along the way, the Pope observed, the freedom of being God’s children can be repressed and weakened by a vicious circle of anxiety and competition. A frenetic pursuit of productivity and consumerism becomes the sole criterion for measuring or defining who we are or what we are worth.
The Pope warned that this criterion slowly makes us insensitive to the really important things and yearn for things that are superfluous or ephemeral.
The Pope noted that in Japan, with its highly developed economy, many people are socially isolated on the margins who are unable to grasp the meaning of their life and existence. He lamented that home, school, and community, which are meant to be places where we support and help one another, are being eroded by excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency. As a result, many lose their peace and stability.
Pope to authorities: your heritage is precious, your morals high
Pope Francis began his address to authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps by recalling “the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and Japan are long-standing”. He described these relations as being “rooted in the appreciation and admiration felt by the first missionaries for these lands”.The Pope referred to one missionary in particular, the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, “who in 1579 wrote: ‘Whoever wishes to see what our Lord has bestowed upon man need only come to Japan to see it’”.“As a nation”, the Pope continued, “Japan is particularly sensitive to the suffering of those less fortunate”. On this note, he recalled the theme of his visit: Protect all life, “in the recognition of its inviolable dignity and the importance of showing solidarity and support to our brothers and sisters in any kind of need”.
Pope Francis meets victims of Japan’s “triple disaster”
On his third day in Japan, Pope Francis meets the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011. He reminds us we are all members of one family, and that if one member suffers, we all do.
The Pope’s embrace with Matsuki Kamoshita was one of the most moving moments of his meeting with victims of the so-called “triple disaster”. Matsuki was 8 years old in 2011, when the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster shook Japan. Today he is 16 and still lives as a displaced person.
During his testimony in Tokyo’s Bellesalle Hanzomon Auditorium, he described being bullied for the fact of being a victim, claiming that people had “given up being concerned” about those displaced by the disasters. Eight years after the Fukushima accident, people are still feeling the effect of radioactive contamination, he said. Matsuki asked the Pope to pray that those in power “may find the courage to follow another path”
Pope Francis meets with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito
The private meeting at the Imperial Palace lasted around 30 minutes.Pope Francis gave Emperor Naruhito a mosaic of the “View of the Arch of Titus”, based on a watercolor painting by the Roman artist Filippo Anivitti (1876-1955). Japanese media made note of how the Emperor accompanied Pope Francis to his car. Usually guests depart with their retinue, while the Emperor remains inside. Analysts say this is a sign of the special regard in which he holds Pope Francis.
Pope to young people in Tokyo: ‘Japan needs you, the world needs you!’
According to a well-rehearsed formula, the meeting between Pope Francis and young people in Tokyo’s St Mary Cathedral began with some first-hand testimonies. Representing the cultural and religious diversity of young people living in Japan today, a young Catholic, a young Buddhist, and a young migrant were able to voice their deepest fears and aspirations and ask the Pope some important questions.