Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "In this time of crisis do not forget the poor and the little ones," "do not close in on yourself, burying your talents, spiritual, intellectual, material riches, everything that the Lord has given us but be open, be supportive, care for one another", because at the time of Jesus' return" we shall be judged on our charity towards others, on how we have helped our brothers and sisters". Pope Francis continued to dedicate his catechesis for the general audience to the Creed and today focused his reflection on the phrase "Jesus will come in glory to judge the living and the dead." We should "never fear," this judgment, but we should look towards it in order to "do good in the present".
A present of "conflicting reports" on the fate of the Syrian bishops of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim, and the Greek-Orthodox Church of Antioch, Paul Yazigi. Their kidnap says the Pope, "is another sign of the tragic situation that the dear Syrian nation is going through, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering. While I remember the two bishops in prayer so that they may soon return to their communities, I ask God to illuminate hearts. I renew the invitation I addressed Easter Sunday for an end to bloodshed, for the provision of necessary humanitarian assistance to the population and a political solution to be found as soon as possible to the crisis. "
An estimated 70 thousand people crowded St Peter's Square today, including the Pope who, as has become customary, made a long tour among the pilgrims in his open-topped jeep: greetings, the now frequent exchange of the papal zucchetto, kissing children. And many young people to whom the Pope again repeated the invitation to "follow high ideals" because "life is given to us not to jealously guard for ourselves, but to gift to others."
The exhortation is among the three passages from the Gospel of Matthew that Francis comments on: the parable of the 10 virgins who await the bridegroom, of the talents and of the shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. They are, he notes, passages that speak of Christ's return and the final judgment. "Human history - in fact - begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with the final judgment of Christ. We often forget these two poles of history, and above all faith in the return of Christ and the final judgment is sometimes not so clear and strong in the hearts of Christians. "
This is the case in the parable of the 10 virgins who await the bridegroom, but only five of them have the oil for the lamps ready, "the Bridegroom is the Lord, and the period of waiting for his arrival is the time that He gifts us, in all of us, with mercy and patience, before His final coming, it is a period of vigilance; when we need to keep the lamps of faith, hope and charity burning, which keep our hearts open to goodness, beauty and truth, a period to live according to God, because we know neither the day nor the hour of Christ's return. What is asked of us is to be prepared for the encounter: prepare yourself for the encounter, a beautiful encounter, our encounter with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of His presence, to keep alive our faith, prayer, the sacraments, be vigilant not to fall asleep, not to forget God. The life of a sleeping Christian is a sad life, eh?, it is not a happy life. Christians should be happy, the joy of Jesus ... Do not fall asleep!".
Similarly, in the parable of the talents, the master who has entrusted the "ancient coins" praises the two servants who made them fruitful, but casts the one who did not out, "because he has kept it hidden out of fear, closing in on himself." "A Christian who withdraws into himself, hiding all that the Lord has given him, is not a Christian! He is a Christian who does not thank God for everything he has given him." "This - he continued - tells us that the period of waiting for the return of the Lord is the time for action: we are in the time of action, the time in which to capitalize on the gifts of God, not for ourselves, but for Him, for the Church, for others, it is the period in which we should always try to make good grow in the world. "
In the square, he added, there are so many young people. "To you, who are at the beginning of life's journey, I ask: Have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought about how you can put them at the service of others? Don't bury your talents! Pursue great ideals, ideals that enlarge the heart, the ideal of service that will make your talents' fruitful. Life is not given to us not to jealously guard for ourselves, but to gift to others. Dear young people, you have a great soul! Do not be afraid to dream great things. "
In the third parable the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. "To the right are placed those who have acted according to the will of God, coming to the aid of hungry, thirsty, the stranger, those who are naked, sick, in prison." And "I think of the many foreigners who are here in the diocese of Rome. What do we do for them?". "To the left - he continued - are those who have not rescued their neighbor. This tells us that we will be judged by God on charity, on how we loved Him in our brothers, especially the most vulnerable and needy. Of course, we must always remember that we are justified, we are saved by grace, by a free act of love of God, which always precedes us, we alone can not do anything. Faith is first of all a gift that we have received. But to bear fruit, the grace of God always requires our openness to Him, our free and concrete response. Christ comes to take us to the mercy of God that saves. We are asked to entrust ourselves to Him, to respond to the gift of his love with a good life, made of actions animated by faith and love. "
"We should never be afraid to look toward the final judgment - were the concluding words of the Pope - instead it should impel us to live better in the present. God offers us this time with mercy and patience so that we learn every day to recognize Him in the poor and the little ones, so let us work for the good and be vigilant in prayer and love. So that the Lord, at the end of our existence and history, may recognize us as good and faithful servants. "