Pontiff hopes that everyone will enjoy peace, health and a peaceful and secure life in the year ahead
An Indonesian woman makes an offering at a Chinese temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Banda Aceh on Feb. 1, ushering in the Year of the Tiger. (Photo: AFP)
Pope Francis has conveyed his best wishes to the people of China and other parts of Asia preparing to celebrate Lunar New Year on Feb. 1, expressing hopes that "in the new year everyone may enjoy peace, health and a peaceful and secure life."
During his Angelus on Jan. 30, he said the Lunar New Year is an occasion for family celebrations but noted that because of the Covid-19 pandemic many families would not be able to gather as in the past.
"I hope that we will soon be able to overcome this trial,” he added.
At the end of his general audience on Jan. 31, the pope greeted all those who celebrate the new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. He offered prayers for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations.
The Chinese New Year, also referred as the Spring Festival in China, is among several lunar new years celebrated in Asian nations.
The 15-day long celebration comes in late January or early February. The festival begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the next first full moon 14 days later. This year the main festival day falls on Feb. 1.
I send them my cordial greetings, wishing them in particular to be places of education in the virtues of welcome, wisdom, respect for each person and harmony with creation
Starting on Jan. 25 “in the Far East and in various other parts of the world, many millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year,” Pope Francis said.
“I send them my cordial greetings, wishing them in particular to be places of education in the virtues of welcome, wisdom, respect for each person and harmony with creation,” he said.
He also invited “all to pray also for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations: gifts which are so necessary in the world today.”
During his Angelus he also spoke about the day's Gospel reading, which was a story from Luke about Jesus speaking in the synagogue of Nazareth and angering the locals who thought they knew him.
"The hostility towards Jesus on the part of his people provokes us: they were not welcoming — but what about us?" the pope asked.
Too often, he said, people today are like the crowd in Nazareth, wanting Jesus to perform a miracle, but "if we look for miracles, we will not find Jesus."
"He is found only by those who accept his ways and his challenges, without complaint, without suspicion, without criticism and long faces," the pontiff said.
"In other words, Jesus asks you to accept him in the daily reality that you live; in the church of today, as it is; in those who are close to you every day; in the reality of those in need, in the problems of your family, in your parents, in your children, in grandparents, in welcoming God there."
Especially after a long life as a Christian, he said, it is tempting to think that one knows Jesus and everything about him.
"The risk is that we get accustomed, we get used to Jesus," the pope said. "We close ourselves off to his newness, to the moment in which he knocks on our door and asks something new."
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