(CNA) Pope Francis said Wednesday Catholics must spread the Gospel to a world which hungers and thirsts for the justice of Jesus Christ.
Speaking via live stream, the pope said March 11 that in the heart of every person, “even the most corrupt and far from good person,” there is “always the thirst for truth and good, which is the thirst for God.”
“This is why the Church is sent to announce to everyone the Word of God, steeped with the Holy Spirit,” he stated.
“Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest justice which can be offered to the heart of humanity, which has a vital need for it, even if it does not realize it.”
Because of the coronavirus epidemic in Italy, Pope Francis gave his weekly general audience address via internet live stream from the library of the apostolic palace. It would ordinarily be held in St. Peter’s Square, which was closed yesterday by Italian police.
Francis said he would like to address everyone who is sick with the coronavirus and all those who suffer from uncertainty.
The pope also thanked hospital staff, doctors, nurses, and volunteers who are helping the ill.
“In this moment, it is very difficult to stay close to the people who suffer,” he said. “I thank all Christians, all men and women of good will, who are praying during this moment.”
Francis encouraged Italians, who are under a nearly month-long nationwide home quarantine, to “face every situation, even the most difficult, with fortitude, responsibility, and hope.”
“May you live this Lenten season with your gaze fixed on Jesus who has suffered and risen, receiving consolation and meekness from his Spirit,” he said.
In his catechesis, Pope Francis also recalled the need for every person “to rediscover what really matters, what he really needs, what makes life good and, at the same time, what is secondary, and what can be done without.”
He also said he hopes the pain of the coronavirus epidemic will not make people forget the pain of Syrian refugees, who are suffering at the borders of Greece and Turkey right now.
“People suffering for years,” he said. “They must flee war, hunger...”
“So many children are suffering.”
The pope’s meditation for the general audience was on the fourth beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, because they will be satisfied.”
“We have already encountered poverty in spirit and weeping; now we are confronted with another type of weakness, that connected with hunger and thirst,” he said, adding that hunger and thirst are “primary needs, they concern survival.”
“This must be emphasized,” he stated. “Here it is not a question of a generic desire, but of a vital and daily need, such as nourishment.”
He noted that, though injustice hurts humanity, hunger and thirst for justice is not about revenge, but about Christ’s justice, which is “even more profound than the legitimate need for human justice that every man carries in his heart.”
Pope Francis pointed to scripture, where “we find a deeper thirst expressed.”
Psalm 63 says: “O God, you are my God, at dawn I seek you, my soul is thirsty for you, my flesh yearns for you, as a deserted, arid land, without water.”
“The Fathers speak of this fruitful restlessness that lives in the heart of man,” the pope said. “There is an interior thirst, an interior hunger,” like that expressed by St. Augustine: “You made us for yourself, Lord, and our heart does not find peace until it rests in you.”