Vatican City, Aug 7, 2016 / 03:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis lamented at how many defenseless civilians are forced to “pay the price” of the ongoing Syrian crisis, and he expressed his solidarity for those affected. “Sadly, news of civilian victims of war continues to arrive from Syria, especially from Aleppo,” the Pope said during his weekly post-Angelus address, delivered to the crowds in St. Peter's Square from the Apostolic palace.
“It is unacceptable that many unarmed persons — even many children — must pay the price of the conflict,” he said. The price, he said, is that of “closed hearts and the absence of the desire for peace” on the part of the powerful.
The pontiff expressed his closeness in prayer and solidarity to his “Syrian brothers and sisters,” entrusting them to the “maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.” He then invited the crowds in a moment of prayerful silence, before leading them in the Hail Mary.
The city of Aleppo has been under a weeks-long siege by Syrian government forces, although rebel fighters have announced that they have put an end to it, the BBC reports. Around 250,000 are estimated to have been living in the besieged city. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions more displaced over the course of the civil war between Syrian and government forces, which is currently in its fifth year.
Before leading the crowds in the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis shared some reflections on the day's Gospel readings, during which Jesus invites his disciples to sell all their belongings and follow him. This invitation presents almsgiving as a “work of mercy,” the Pope said. Rather than placing “faith in ephemeral goods,” Jesus invites his disciples to “use things without attachment or egotism,” according to “the logic of God, the logic of attentiveness to others, the logic of love.”
The pontiff then turned to the parables on the theme of vigilance as recounted in the day's Gospel. He began with the first parable about servants needing to always be prepared for the return of their master. “It is happiness to wait for the Lord with faith, to stay ready, in an attitude of service,” the Pope said.
Noting how the parable is set at night, Pope Francis explained how the scene is like a vigil, “which is a prelude to the bright day of eternity.” By remaining “ready, alert, and committed to the service of others,” he said, the Lord will invite us to be served upon his return, and he “welcome us to his table.”
“This is already the case every time we meet the Lord in prayer, or in serving the poor, and above all in the Eucharist, where he prepares a banquet to nourish us with his Word and his Body.” Pope Francis reflected briefly on the parable of the unexpected coming of the thief, and the demand for “vigilance” ahead of the Lord's arrival.
The Pope also spoke of the third parable of the servant who abuses his power while the master is away; upon the master's return, he is punished. “This scene describes a recurring situation even in our days: so much injustice, violence, and daily evils are born of the idea of acting like the master of the lives of others.”
“Jesus today reminds us that the anticipation of eternal beatitude does not exempt us from the responsibility of making the world more just and habitable,” Pope Francis concluded. “Indeed, it is this hope of possessing the kingdom in eternity which pushes us to work for the betterment of the conditions of earthly life, especially of our weakest brothers and sisters.”