ASIA/JAPAN - The Pope to Japanese Catholics: to recognize God’s gift means to free ourselves from perfectionism

Monday, 25 November 2019


Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - In Japanese society, which suffers from disintegration processes also due to excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency, the Catholic Church can become "prophetic leaven" to foster a coexistence that "protects and cares for all life", helping everyone to "jubilantly recognize that our reality is the fruit of a gift, and also accept our freedom as grace". This is what Pope Francis said in his homily at the Tokyo Dome stadium on Monday 25 November, during the third day of his apostolic visit to Japan.
In the homily, inspired by the reading of the passage of the Gospel in which Jesus invites his followers not to worry about tomorrow, "tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil", the Pope embraced the anxieties and fragility in Japanese society: Also for those who belong to the Church - the Bishop of Rome explained -, "along the way, the freedom of being God’s children can be repressed and weakened if we are enclosed in a vicious circle of anxiety and competition, or if we focus all our attention and energy on the frenetic pursuit of productivity and consumerism as the sole criterion for measuring and validating our choices, or defining who we are or what we are worth". "This way of measuring things slowly makes us grow impervious or insensible to the really important things, making us instead pant after things that are superfluous or ephemeral. How greatly does the eagerness to believe that everything can be produced, acquired or controlled oppress and shackle the soul". This happens even in the evolved Japanese society "the home, school and community, which are meant to be places where we support and help one another, are being eroded by excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency". "The Lord’s words act as a refreshing balm, when he tells us not to be troubled but to trust - the Pope remarked – This is not an encouragement to ignore what happens around us or to be irresponsible about our daily duties and responsibilities". "The Lord - the Pontiff added - is not telling us that basic necessities like food and clothing are unimportant. Rather, he invites us to re-evaluate our daily decisions and not to become trapped or isolated in the pursuit of success at any cost, including the cost of our very lives", and to free ourselves from "worldly attitudes that look only to one’s own profit or gain in this world, and a selfishness that pursues only individual happiness, in reality leave us profoundly unhappy and enslaved, and hinder the authentic development of a truly harmonious and humane society". Given this reality, we are invited as a Christian community to protect all life and testify with wisdom and courage to a way of living marked by gratitude and compassion, generosity and simple listening. One capable of embracing and accepting life as it is, "with all its fragility, its simplicity, and often enough too, with its conflicts and annoyances". "We are called to be a community that can learn and teach the importance of accepting things that are not perfect, pure or ‘distilled’, yet no less worthy of love", following in the footsteps of Jesus, who embraced the leper, the blind man, the paralytic, the Pharisee and the sinner. He embraced the thief on the cross and even embraced and forgave those who crucified him". For the Christian, "the only possible measure by which we can judge each person and situation is that of the Father’s compassion for all his children". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 25/11/2019)