May God relieve the suffering of the people of Tonga affected by the recent devastating volcano eruption, and, please, everyone join me in praying for all affected.
Pope Francis made these appeals for the tsunami-hit island country in Oceania toward the end of his weekly General Audience in the Vatican this morning.
“My thoughts,” Pope Francis has stressed, “go out to the people of the islands of Tonga, who have been affected in recent days by the eruption of the underwater volcano,” which has sparked a tsunami, provoking enormous material damage and claiming lives. So far three deaths have been reported.
While stressing “I am spiritually close to all the afflicted people,” the Pope said, “I am imploring God for relief for their suffering.”
“I invite everyone to join me in praying for these brothers and sisters,” he said.
According to the BBC, the Jan. 15 eruption which caused a wave of devastation lasted eight minutes and “was so powerful it could be heard 800 kilometers away, and generated a cloud of smoke and ashes that rose to a height of 20 kilometers.”
During this morning’s audience, Pope Francis also made an appeal for prisoners, as he recalled the Lord’s tender mercy for all people.
“It does us good,” the Pontiff said, “to mirror ourselves in Joseph’s fatherhood, which is a mirror of God’s fatherhood, and to ask ourselves whether we allow the Lord to love us with his tenderness, transforming each one of us into men and women capable of loving in this way.”
“Without this “revolution of tenderness” – there is a need for a revolution of tenderness! – we risk remaining imprisoned in a justice that does not allow us to rise easily and that confuses redemption with punishment,” he said.
For this reason, the Holy Father wished today to remember in a special way “our brothers and sisters who are in prison.”
It’s Right to Pay for Mistakes, But Only With Window of Hope for Better Life
“It is right that those who have done wrong should pay for their mistake, but it is equally right,” he underscored, “that those who have done wrong should be able to redeem themselves from their mistake. They cannot be sentences without a window of hope.”
“Any sentence must always have a window of hope,” stressed the Holy Father, urging: “Let us think of our brothers and sisters in prison, and think of God’s tenderness for them, and let us pray for them, so they might find in that window of hope a way out towards a better life.”
Pope Francis then concluded his catechesis on the fatherly tenderness of St. Joseph with this prayer:
St Joseph, father in tenderness,
teach us to accept that we are loved precisely in that which is weakest in us.
Grant that we may place no obstacle
between our poverty and the greatness of God’s love.
Stir in us the desire to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation,
that we may be forgiven and also made capable of loving tenderly
our brothers and sisters in their poverty.
Be close to those who have done wrong and are paying the price for it;
Help them to find not only justice but also tenderness so that they can start again.
And teach them that the first way to begin again
is to sincerely ask for forgiveness, to feel the Father’s caress.