Crowds filled a rainy St. Peter’s Square today to hear Pope Francis’ Angelus message, which focused on the importance of seeking God above all else, especially earthly goods. “A heart occupied by the desire to posses is full of this desire to possess (things), but empty of God,” said the Pope on Sunday, March 2. “In a heart possessed by riches, there is not much space for faith. Everything is occupied by riches: there is no place for faith. If instead one allows God his rightful place, that is, first, then his love also leads to sharing the wealth, putting riches at the service of charitable and development projects, as evidenced by many examples, even recent ones, in the history of the Church.” The Pontiff explained that for a Christian, wealth can never become a goal in itself. “We cannot serve two masters: God and wealth.” “This is why Jesus repeated warned the rich, because the risk of placing their security in the goods of this world is strong for them. And security - definitive security - is in God,” he stressed. A follower of Christ is part of the wider community of the Church, and therefore called to serve others, including by the use of his material possessions, the Pope explained. “As long as everyone tries to accumulate for themselves, there will never be justice. If, however, trusting in the providence of God, we seek his kingdom together, then no one will lack what is necessary to live with dignity.” In fact, he continued, “the providence of God passes through our service to others.” When people share their goods, and put them in the service of others, “the providence of God becomes a gesture of solidarity.” But when a person who “accumulates only for himself,” is “called by God, he will not be able to bring his riches, because, as you know, the burial shroud does not have pockets!” “It is better to share, because we bring to Heaven only that which we have shared with others,” he stressed. Pope Francis led the crowds in the Angelus prayer and then asked for prayers for Ukraine, that “all the members of the country strive to overcome misunderstandings and build the future of the nation together.” Ukraine has experienced several months of political unrest and violence. Recently, Russian troops have entered parts of the country, prompting deep concern from the international community. Today the Pope asked “the international community that it might support any initiative in favor of dialogue and harmony.” He then reminded everyone that as Lent begins this this week, Christians are called to “combat evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting, and mercy.” “Humanity needs justice, reconciliation, (and) peace, and may only have them when it returns to God whole-heartedly,” the Pontiff said. “And we all need God’s forgiveness. We enter into Lent in a spirit of adoration of God, and fraternal solidarity with those who, in these times, are tested by poverty and violent conflict.” Pope Francis concluded his Angelus by greeting the many pilgrim groups and wishing everyone a “good Sunday and good lunch.”
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