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"Be instruments of God's peace and mercy." Homily by Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako during the prayer with representatives of the Churches in Iraq

February 22 2022 - ROME, ITALY

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Homily by Card. Louis Raphaël Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad of the ChaldeesBasilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, February 28, 2022

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 Luke 6, 27-38
"But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

Your Excellencies, dear brothers, and sisters,
The most sincere thanks to the Community of Sant'Egidio for the warm welcome and its solidarity and prayer for Iraq but also for Ukraine. We have experienced the war: so many dead, some cities are totally ruined, and we hope that the dialogue between Ukraine and Russia will find a way.
We, pastors of the Churches in Iraq, Eastern Churches in Iraq, had an audience with the Holy Father today. We are very impressed by his speech and encouragement to be good pastors, to feel the suffering of the people, and to think also about their needs, as Jesus did. And this passage, which Jesus read in the synagogue, from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus took it, but each of us must take it and also implement it, do it, live it.
Moreover, I think that we, leaders of the Churches, must learn from our people and from Sant'Egidio to dialogue, listen and live together. Hence, we can give a true witness to the Gospel.
In our world, globalization and secularization have created a situation in the West of indifference towards religion. People are a bit agonistic: there is fundamentalism, sectarianism, corruption in the East. Furthermore, the pandemic has changed the whole world, culture, society, economy, but it has also created virtual Christians.
What can we do, we as pastors but also as the Church together with our people? Perhaps just one word, I would say one word: return to the Gospel and slowly understand the message of the Gospel today, in our societies, in our difficulties and find the hope to take note of it. Each of us, we and you, are a little bit responsible for what happens in our world.
I admire the initiative of the Holy Father who went to the Russian embassy to say: no more war, try to dialogue, and find a worthy solution. War is an ugly thing, it is a shame for humanity.
We, Easterners, started fasting today, you on Wednesday. It is an important time for self-reflection: let us put aside our egoism, competition, etc., let us work together as a united community, as one Church even if we are different Churches, but we have the same faith, the same Christ, the same Gospel. We must create a community of brothers and sisters who love each other and feel each other to be salt and leaven, that is, a blessing for our world but also a bread for our brothers and sisters in need.
The Pope in his visit to Iraq said a phrase that can be a Magna Carta for all of us, including us as pastors but also Christians, believers: to be instruments of God's peace and mercy, patient and courageous artisans of a new social order.
I wish you a good Lent and a time of reflection, of feeling and touching the needs of our society to be so supportive and close to all.
Once again I would like to thank the Community of Sant'Egidio for what it does. Last Monday I visited the center here and I felt in my heart the good Samaritan, not the parable but the reality of the good Samaritan in this center, where there are poor sick people who find food, medicine, and also shelter.
The Lord will judge us on our love or charity.