On Wednesday, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Mexico after they suffered a devastating earthquake Sept. 19, asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for all those who have died or lost loved ones.
“Yesterday a terrible earthquake has devastated Mexico. I saw that there are many Mexicans here today among you. It caused numerous victims and material damages,” the Pope said in Spanish after the General Audience Sept. 20. “In this moment of sorrow I want to express my closeness and prayer to all the beloved Mexican population. Let us all raise our prayers together to God so that he may welcome into his bosom those who have lost their lives, comfort the wounded, their families and all those affected.”
He also asked for prayers for all military personnel and others who are helping those affected, and prayed for “our mother,” Our Lady of Guadalupe, to be “close to the beloved Mexican nation.”
A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico City Tuesday destroying dozens of buildings and killing at least 217 people, according to the head of Mexico's civil protection agency, Luis Felipe Puente. Citizens and rescuers worked through the night to dig people out of the rubble. The death toll is expected to rise as the rescue continues.
The powerful quake hit Puebla state just 76 miles south-east of Mexico City, and follows less than two weeks after a magnitude 8.1 quake, the strongest the country has experienced in a century, struck off of the southern coast of Mexico Sept. 8, killing at least 61 people. The Sept. 19 earthquake, with more than 11 aftershocks, hit Mexico City exactly 22 years to the day after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake which killed thousands struck the city in 1985.
In his weekly General Audience address, Pope Francis gave an encouraging reflection on hope, saying that this week he intended to address those gathered in St. Peter's Square as an educator or as a father speaking to a child. He encouraged those present to not give up, or let themselves become bitter, but to trust in God the Creator, who in the Holy Spirit moves all things for good in the end.
“Believe it, he is waiting for you,” he emphasized. “Think, where God has sown you, he hopes! He always hopes.” “Do not,” he said, “ever think that the fight you lead down here is completely useless.” All will not end in shipwreck. “God does not disappoint: if he has placed hope in our hearts, he does not want to wear it out with continued frustration.” Everything has been created to eventually bloom in an eternal spring, he continued, even we have been created by God to bloom.
But, Francis urged, we cannot sit around waiting, we must act. “If you’re on the ground, get up!” he said. “If boredom paralyzes you, drive it away with good works! If you feel empty or demoralized, ask the Holy Spirit to again fill your nothingness.” “And above all,” he said, “dream! Do not be afraid to dream.” Throughout history, those who have had hope in dreams are the ones who have won great victories, like the end to slavery, or better living conditions, the Pope said, and we should look to these people as examples.
We must be responsible for the world and for the life of every person, he said, because injustice done to any man is “an open wound” which dampens even our own dignity. And in this responsibility, Francis continued, we must have “the courage of truth,” even while we remember that we are superior to no one.
“If you were the last to believe in the truth, do not shy away from the company of men,” he said. “Even if you live in the silence of a hermitage, bring into your hearts the suffering of every creature. You are a Christian; and in prayer give all back to God.”
He also advised against listening to the voices of those who spread hate and division, saying that human beings were created for community, and to live together in peace. Even though living the truth and cultivating ideals takes courage, never stop, be loyal, Francis urged, even if you have to pay “a salty bill.”
Your life, from your Baptism, has already been steeped in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, he said. You belong to Jesus, so do not be afraid. “And if one day you get scared, or you think that evil is too big to be challenged, simply think that Jesus lives in you. And it is He who, through you, with his mildness wants to subdue all the enemies of man: sin, hatred, crime, violence; all our enemies,” he said.
The Pope continued his counsel, saying that when you make a mistake, as humans do, it’s important not to let it imprison you, but to turn it over to God, remembering that he came to save sinners. And when you make a mistake again, “do not be afraid,” he said. “Get up! Do you know why? Because God is your friend.” “If you are bitter, believe firmly in all the people who still work for good: in their humility there is the seed of a new world. Spend time with people who have kept their heart like that of a child. Learn from wonder, cultivate amazement,” he concluded. “Live, love, dream, believe. And with God’s grace, never despair.”