Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - " If we don't think about God, everything ends up being about "me" and my own comfort. Life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having. "
The theme of " memory of God" was the focus of Pope Francis' homily today at Mass for the Day of Catechists, one of the events set to celebrate the Year of Faith .
Under a rainy sky, the celebration was attended by at least 150 thousand people , groups, catechists from all over the world, including Asia.
The pope linked "memory of God" with the "complacent of Zion ," citing the first reading of the Mass (Amos , 6, 1.4-7 ) , "those who feel secure ... lying upon beds of ivory. They eat, they drink, they sing, they play and they care nothing about other people's troubles. "And he linked it to the gospel that presents the parable of the rich man (Luke 16 , 19-21 ) , whose name is not even remembered. "Whenever material things, money, worldliness, become the centre of our lives, they take hold of us, they possess us; we lose our very identity as human beings. The rich man in the Gospel has no name, he is simply "a rich man". Material things, his possessions, are his face; he has nothing else."
And he added: " How does something like this happen? How do some people, perhaps ourselves included, end up becoming self-absorbed and finding security in material things which ultimately rob us of our face, our human face? This is what happens when we no longer remember God. If we don't think about God, everything ends up being about "me" and my own comfort. Life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having. When we no longer remember God, we too become unreal, we too become empty; like the rich man in the Gospel, we no longer have a face! Those who run after nothing become nothing - as another great prophet Jeremiah, observed (cf. Jer 2:5). We are made in God's image and likeness, not that of material objects, not that of idols!"
On the contrary, catechists "keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others."
First of all, " to remember God, like the Virgin Mary, who sees God's wondrous works in her life but doesn't think about honour, prestige or wealth; she doesn't become self-absorbed. Instead, after receiving the message of the angel and conceiving the Son of God, what does she do? She sets out, she goes to assist her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. And the first thing she does upon meeting Elizabeth is to recall God's work, God's fidelity, in her own life, in the history of her people, in our history".
"The catechist - he added - is a Christian who puts this remembrance at the service of proclamation, not to be important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity. Speaking of the doctrine in its entirety, without cutting from it or adding to it" .
He concluded: "What must we do in order not to be "complacent" - people who find their security in themselves and in material things - but men and woman of the memory of God? In the second reading, Saint Paul, once more writing to Timothy, gives some indications which can also be guideposts for us in our work as catechists: pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (cf. 1 Tim 6:11).
Catechists are men and women of the memory of God if they have a constant, living relationship with him and with their neighbour; if they are men and women of faith who truly trust in God and put their security in him; if they are men and women of charity, love, who see others as brothers and sisters; if they are men and women of "hypomoné", endurance and perseverance, able to face difficulties, trials and failures with serenity and hope in the Lord; if they are gentle, capable of understanding and mercy.
Let us ask the Lord that we may all be men and women who keep the memory of God alive in ourselves, and are able to awaken it in the hearts of others. Amen".
Towards the end of the Mass, Msgr. Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization, greeted the Pope and pointed out the presence of catechists from countries where it is a challenge to live the faith: Vietnam, Pakistan, Syria.
Before concluding by praying the Angelus, the Pope thanked all participants. A special welcome was addressed to His Beatitude Youhanna X, Greek orthodox patriarch of Antioch and All the East, whom the Pope called "my brother". The Patriarch' brother, Boulos Yaziji, bishop of Aleppo, has been in the hands of kidnappers in Syria for months. Welcoming the patriarch, the Pope added: "Your presence invites us to pray once again for peace in Syria and the Middle East."
He also recalled the beatification "yesterday, in Croatia, of Miroslav Bulešić, a diocesan priest, who was martyred in 1947. Praise the Lord, who gives strength to the weak to bear the ultimate witness".