Pope Francis on Friday urged Christians not to fall into the trap of vanity in moments of pain and sorrow but rather resort to prayer patience and hope in God. Do not be misled by the “cosmetic beauty” of vanity, but let that “joy of God” enter your hearts, thanking the Lord for the “salvation” he grants us. Pope Francis made the exhortation in his homily at Mass Friday morning, in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.
Reflecting on the first reading from the Book of Tobit, the Pope went through the story of a father-in-law and a daughter-in-law: Tobit, the father of Tobiah who became blind, and Sarah, Tobiah’s wife, accused in the past of being responsible for the death of some men. The Pope explained it’s a passage in which one understands how the Lord carries forward the “history” and “the life of persons, including ours”. In fact, he said, Tobit and Sarah lived through “bad times” and “good times”, as “it happens in an entire life”. Tobit was “persecuted,” “teased” and “insulted” by his wife, who after all, the Pope said, was not a bad woman, because she had to manage the house as he was blind. Even Sarah was insulted and suffered much. Passing through some very bad times, both of them, the Holy Father said, thought “it’s better to die.”
“We’ve all been through bad times, though not as bad as this, but we know how its feels in times of darkness, in moments of pain, in times of difficulty, we know. But then Sara thinks, ‘If I hang myself, I will make my parents suffer.’ So she stops and prays. And Tobit says, ‘But this is my life, let’s go ahead’ and he prays. This is the attitude that saves us in bad times,– prayer. Patience – because both of them are patient with their pains. And hope – that God will listen to us and help us tide over these bad moments. In moments of sadness, little or much, in moments of darkness, prayer, patience and hope. Do not forget this.”
There are also bright moments in their stories but the Pope stressed it is like a “happy ending” of a novel.
“After the test, the Lord comes close to them and saves them. But there are some beautiful and authentic moments, not with beautiful makeup that everything is artificial, all fireworks which is not the beauty of the soul. And what do both of them do in the beautiful moments? They thank God, broadening their hearts with prayers of thanksgiving.”
The Pontiff exhorted all to ask themselves whether in various phases of life we are able to discern what is happening in our soul, aware that the bad moments are “the crosses” and that one needs “to pray, to have patience and have at least a bit of hope.” One must avoid falling into “vanity” because “the Lord is always there” beside us when we turn “to Him in prayer” and thank Him for the joy that He has given us. Through discernment Sarah realized that she should not end up hanging herself; Tobit realized that he had to “wait, in prayer and in hope for the Lord’s salvation.” Pope Francis invited all to re-read these passages of the Bible:
“While reading this Book this weekend, let us ask for grace of discerning what happens in the bad times of our lives and how to go on and what happens in the beautiful moments and not be misled by vanity.”