“The only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity! ˮ

The Pope’s Mass at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo: “Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him! The more we grow in faith and knowledge, the more we grow in humility and in the awareness of our littleness”

Andrea Tornielli
Vatican Insider

“The only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!” In the first and only great crowd embrace of his Egyptian trip, Pope Francis meets the Coptic Catholic community celebrating a Mass in the Air Defense Stadium. The facility, also known as the “June 30th Stadium”, is part of the Military Air Force Sports Village, built and operated by the Egyptian Defense Ministry to celebrate the valor of the aviation defense during the “war of attrition” fought with Israel and ended in 1970. Initially, the celebration was not planned here, but the new destination was chosen to allow a greater attendance of the faithful: the stadium can hold up to 30,000. There are Catholics of various rites, but also Orthodox and Muslims.  

The Pope pronounced the homily in Italian with consecutive Arabic translation, read by one of his two special secretaries, Egyptian Yoannis Lahzi Gaid. Francis commented on the gospel passage about the encounter of the risen Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus. “The disciples – the Pope points out – could not believe that their Master and Savior, who had raised others from the dead and healed the sick, would end up hanging on the cross of shame. They could not understand why Almighty God had not saved him from such a disgraceful death”

How often – Francis explained – do we paralyze ourselves by refusing to transcend our own ideas of God, a god created in the image and likeness of man! How often do we despair by refusing to believe that God’s omnipotence is not one of power and authority, but rather of love, forgiveness and life!”

The Bishop of Rome states that “When we reach the depths of failure and helplessness, when we rid ourselves of the illusion that we are the best, sufficient unto ourselves and the center of our world, then God reaches out to us to turn our night into dawn, our affliction into joy, our death into resurrection.”

“Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection – the Pope adds – condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power.”

The Pope worns, “The experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus teaches us that it is of no use to fill our places of worship if our hearts are empty of the fear of God and of his presence. It is of no use to pray if our prayer to God does not turn into love for our brothers and sisters. All our religiosity means nothing unless it is inspired by deep faith and charity. It is of no use to be concerned about our image, since God looks at the soul and the heart and he detests hypocrisy. For God, it is better not to believe than to be a false believer, a hypocrite!”

True faith – The Pope insists – is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane. It moves our hearts to love everyone without counting the cost, without distinction and without preference. It makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome, but a brother or sister to be loved, served and helped. It spurs us on to spread, defend and live out the culture of encounter, dialogue, respect and fraternity. It gives us the courage to forgive those who have wronged us, to extend a hand to the fallen, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to visit the imprisoned, to help orphans, to give drink to those who thirst, and to come to the aid of the elderly and those in need. True faith leads us to protect the rights of others with the same zeal and enthusiasm with which we defend our own. Indeed, the more we grow in faith and knowledge, the more we grow in humility and in the awareness of our littleness.”

“God – Pope Francis concludes -is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity! Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him!”

“Do not be afraid to love everyone, friends and enemies alike, because the strength and treasure of the believer lies in a life of love!”

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