The Gospel of this second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year proposes to us some of Jesus’ words about the last events of human history, oriented toward the complete fulfillment of the reign of God.
It is the preaching that Jesus gave in Jerusalem before his last Passover. It has certain apocalyptic elements, such as wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes. “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”
Still, these segments are not the essential part of the message. The central nucleus around which the words of Jesus turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time. Our final goal is an encounter with the Risen Lord.
I would like to ask how many of you think about this: “There will be a day in which I encounter the Lord face to face.” And this is our goal, our encounter. We do not await a time or a place; rather we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather that we find ourselves prepared. It’s also not about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things.
We are called to live the present building our future with serenity and trust in God. The parable of the fig tree that sprouts, as a sign of approaching summer, teaches that the perspective of the end doesn’t distract us from the present life, but rather brings us to look toward our current days with an outlook of hope.
Hope: this virtue that is so hard to live. The smallest of the virtues, but the strongest. And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory,” and this will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world.
The Lord Jesus is not only the destination point of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives. That’s why when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always to lead us back to the present.
He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; he counters fatalism. He is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us so much.
He wants to direct his disciples of every age away from curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and concentrate their attention on the today of history.
I would like to ask you — but don’t answer out loud; each one answer to himself — how many are there among us who read the horoscope every day? Each one answer, and when you feel like reading your horoscope, look to Jesus who is with us. That is better and will serve us better.
This presence of Jesus calls us, yes, to anticipation and vigilance that excludes both impatience and lethargy, [both] the escaping to the future and the becoming prisoners of the current moment and worldliness. In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every type. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us. His word alone remains as light that looks upon and steadies our journey. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We only have to look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our lives, and persevere with joy in his love.
Dear brothers and sisters, I want to express my profound sorrow over the terrorist attacks that bloodied France on Friday night, resulting in numerous victims.
To the president of the Republic of France and all of its citizens, I express my deepest sorrow. I feel particularly close to the families of those who lost their lives and the wounded.
Such barbarity leaves us stunned and makes us question how the heart of man could come up with and carry out such horrific acts, which have shattered not only France, but the whole world.
In the face of such intolerable acts, we cannot cease condemning this unspeakable attack on the dignity of the human person.
I want to vigorously reaffirm that the path of violence and hate does not resolve the problems of humanity. And that to use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy.
I invite you to join in my prayer: let us entrust the defenseless victims of this tragedy to the mercy of God. Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, plant in the hearts of all thoughts of wisdom and resolutions of peace.
We ask her to protect us and to watch over the beloved French nation, the eldest daughter of the Church, all of Europe and the whole world.
Let us pray in silence for a moment and then, a Hail Mary …
Yesterday in Tres Puntas, in the state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, Fr. Francisco de Paula Victor was beatified. He was a Brazilian priest of African origin, the son of a slave. A generous parish priest, dedicated to catechesis and administering the sacraments, he was particularly distinguished by his great humility.
May his extraordinary testimony be a model for so many priests, called to be humble servants of the people of God.
I greet everyone here, families, parishes, associations and each one of the faithful who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrims coming from Granada, Málaga, Valencia and Murcia, Spain, — so many Spaniards! — San Salvador and Malta. To the association ‘Accompagnatori Santuari Mariani nel Mondo’ and the Cristo Rey secular institute. I wish all of you a good Sunday. And please, don’t forget to pray for mi. Have a good lunch and arrivederci.