Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 17 November 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel of this penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year (cf. Lk 21:5-19) presents to us Jesus’ discourse on the end of time. Jesus delivers it before the Temple of Jerusalem, a building admired by the people for its grandeur and splendour. But He prophesied that all the beauty of the Temple, that grandeur, “there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (v. 6). The destruction of the Temple foretold by Jesus is not so much a metaphor of the end of history as of the purpose of history. Indeed, before the listeners who want to know how and when these signs will happen, Jesus responds with the typical apocalyptic language of the Bible.
He uses two apparently contrasting images: the first is a series of frightening events: catastrophes, wars, famines, riots and persecutions (vv. 9-12); the other is reassuring: “Not a hair of your head will perish” (v. 18). First of all, there is a realistic look at history, marked by calamity and also by violence, by traumas that wound creation, our common home, and also the human family that lives there, and the Christian community itself. Think of the many wars today, so many catastrophes today. The second image — enclosed in Jesus’ reassurance — tells us what attitude the Christian should adopt in living this story, characterized by violence and adversity.
And what is the attitude of the Christian? It is the attitude of hope in God, which allows us not to be overwhelmed by tragic events. Indeed, they are “a time to bear witness” (v. 13). Christ’s disciples cannot remain slaves to fear and anxiety; instead they are called to live history, to stem the destructive force of evil, with the certainty that the Lord’s action of goodness is always accompanied by His providential and reassuring tenderness. This is the eloquent sign that the Kingdom of God is approaching us, that is, the realization of the world as God wants it. It is He, the Lord, Who guides our existence and knows the ultimate purpose of things and events.
The Lord calls us to cooperate in the construction of history, becoming, together with Him, peacemakers and witnesses of hope in a future of salvation and resurrection. Faith makes us walk with Jesus on the very often tortuous roads of this world, in the certainty that the power of His Spirit will bend the forces of evil, subjecting them to the power of God’s love. Love is superior, love is more powerful, because it is God: God is love. The Christian martyrs are an example to us — our martyrs, of our times too, who are more numerous than those at the beginning — who, despite persecution, are men and women of peace. They hand on an inheritance for us to preserve and imitate: the Gospel of love and mercy. This is the most precious treasure that has been given to us and the most effective witness that we can give to our contemporaries, responding to hatred with love, to offence with forgiveness. Even in our daily lives: when we receive an offence, we feel hurt; but we must forgive from the heart. When we feel we are hated, we must pray with love for the person who hates us. May the Virgin Mary, through her maternal intercession, sustain our daily journey of faith, following the Lord who guides history.
After the Angelus, the Pope continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Riobamba, Ecuador, Father Emilio Moscoso, a martyr priest, was proclaimed Blessed. A member of the Society of Jesus, he was killed in 1897 in a climate of persecution against the Catholic Church. May his example of a humble religious, an apostle of prayer and an educator of youth, sustain our journey of faith and Christian witness. Let us applaud the new Blessed!
Today we are celebrating World Day of the Poor, which has as its theme the words of the Psalm “The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever” (Ps 9:18). My thoughts go to all those in dioceses and parishes around the world who have promoted initiatives of solidarity to provide tangible hope to the poorest people. I thank the doctors and nurses who have served throughout these days in the Medical Presidium here in Saint Peter’s Square. I thank you for the many initiatives in support of the people who suffer, the needy, and this must bear witness to the attention that must never be lacking towards our brothers and sisters. Recently, a few minutes ago, I saw some statistics on poverty. They make one suffer! Society’s indifference to the poor.... Let us pray. [Silent prayer]
I greet all the pilgrims who have come from Italy and from different countries. In particular, I greet the Ecuadorian Community of Rome who are celebrating the Virgen del Quinche; the faithful of New Jersey and those of Toledo; the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from various countries and the Italian Association of Marian Shrine assistants in the World. I greet the groups from Porto d’Ascoli and Angri; and those taking part in the pilgrimage of the La Salle Schools in Turin and Vercelli for the conclusion of the third centenary of the death of Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle.
On Tuesday I shall begin my journey to Thailand and Japan: I ask you for a prayer for this Apostolic Journey. And I wish you all a happy Sunday. And please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and Arrivederci!
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