Friday, June 14, the Community of Sant'Egidio, with a large number of friends, gathered in prayer in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere to pray for peace in Syria and for the release of the bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, the Italian journalist Domenico Quirico, the Syrian priests Kayyal Michel Maher and Mahfouz and all the hostages and victims of the conflict that brings such bloodshed to Syria.
The prayer was presided over by Mons. Ambrogio Spreafico, Bishop of Frosinone - Veroli-Ferentino, whose preaching of the Gospel of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) we transcribe here (Luke 10,25-37).
Dear brothers and sisters,
At the beginning of his Passion, Jesus asked his disciples to "watch and pray" in the hour of pain. This is also the meaning of our prayer this evening so that peace is affirmed in Syria. Yes, the word of God wakes us up from the sleep of habit and indifference, which pushes aside and hides pain, and also helps us to give an answer especially in prayer. Prayer is believers’ humble weapon, which manages to change hearts and history. In prayer, far-away people and strangers become neighbours, , it is as if they were here with us. Today, we think especially of our dear friends, for whom we pray every evening and in a very special way today, the bishops of Aleppo Mar Gregorios and Paul Yazigi, who were kidnapped nearly two months ago and there has been no news of them. But with them, we would like to entrust to the Lord the journalist Domenico Quirico together with Father Michel Kayyal, Armenian Catholic priest, and Father Maher Mahfouz, Greek-Orthodox priest, both of them have been kidnapped since February. Let us pray to Jesus, the Good Samaritan of humanity of whom we heard in the Gospel, to stop next to them, and to return to them soon peace and freedom, just as we invoke it for Syria, a country so dear to us.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, dear brothers and sisters, the history of wounded humanity is run through again and again. There is a wounded man on the roadside, there are millions of refugees from a war that has lasted for more than two years, more than ninety thousand dead people, so much suffering and pain, but the world seems to pass by next to all this just as that priest and that Levite in the parable. They see that man. The tragic images of Syria are not entirely unknown to our world even if, unfortunately, wars do not make the news and therefore there is less and less talk about them, because we are taken by ourselves and our problems. However, sometimes people see them, but no one stops, people pass by on the opposite side. After all, what else should be asked of our rich world, which lives a difficult time of crisis? What do you want from me, for I already sacrifice for the others? And the world looks on helplessly. Even those two of the parable who did not stop, had important things to do: they were going to the temple to offer sacrifice to the Lord.
But then a Samaritan came, a foreigner, if not a potential enemy of that wounded man. He himself saw him, but he did not pass by“he was moved with compassion " and approached him, bandaging his wounds and taking care of him. No doubt the only fact of seeing would already be something in a world dominated by indifference, but it is not enough. Only compassion stops the hurry, stops the domain of the “I” and the doing. Compassion is a unique feeling of Jesus in the Gospels. It is the attitude of the mother to her children, a unique attitude, which makes one worry about someone else more than about oneself, which makes live for someone else, considering him as her own child. Lord, teach us compassion, so that we can stop and take care of the pain and wounds of others. Lord, flood the world with compassion, so that all stop for a while at least and learn not to take their eyes and heart off the great suffering of millions of people in Syria and in other parts of the world.
Let us pause, as this evening, in prayer. Let us remember those who suffer on account of the war, let us remember them to the Lord. I know that every evening all the Communities of Sant’Egidio in the world have remembered the kidnapped bishops for nearly two months. It is important! This prayer, like that of many, goes to the heart and soul of who is kidnapped as a consolation, and rises to the Lord as a question of liberation.
The Samaritan, after having treated his wounds, took the man to an inn so he could recover. Dear brothers and sisters, be the Church, our community, our communities, like that inn, places to heal the wounds of the poor, of those who suffer, of men and women beaten by war. Energies of peace and reconciliation arise from prayer: it is the history of this community. Be it so also for Syria!
Lord, send your peace to Syria!
Lord, release the hostages and give comfort to those who suffer!
Mgr. Ambrogio Spreafico