Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "What do the Saints tell us today? They tell us to trust the Lord because He does not disappoint! The Lord is our friend; He never disappoints! With their witness, they encourage us not to be afraid of going against the tide or of being misunderstood and ridiculed when we speak about Him and the Gospel". This is the teaching Pope Francis offers for the Solemnity of All Saints, which the Catholic Church celebrates today.
Pope Francis has often called on Christians to "go against the tide". In today's feast, he focuses on three aspects of going against the dominant mind-set. The first is victory over death. "The feast of All Saints," the pope said, "reminds us that death is not the goal of our existence, Heaven is! As the Apostle John wrote, 'We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (1Jn, 3:2). The Saints, God's friends, assure us that this promise will not disappoint. During their earthly existence in fact, they lived in deep communion with God, so much so that they become like Him. In the faces of their younger and more despised brothers, they saw God's face, and now they contemplate it face to face in its glorious beauty."
The second aspect is to live the beatitudes following Jesus Christ. "To be holy," the pope noted, "is not a privilege of a few, but a vocation for everyone. Everyone can be called to walk along the path of holiness, and this path has a name and a face: Jesus Christ. He shows us the way in the Gospel: that of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt, 5:1-12). The Kingdom of Heaven is in fact for those who put their safety in God' love, not in things. It is for those who have a simple, humble heart; those who do not assume to be fair; those who do not judge others; those who know how to suffer with those who suffer and rejoice with those who rejoice; those who are merciful, not violent, who try to be artisans of reconciliation and peace."
The third aspect is love against hate. "The Saints," Francis noted, "are not supermen, nor were they born perfect. They are people who before reaching the glory of heaven led a normal life, with joys and sorrows, struggles and hopes. But when they encountered God's love, they followed him wholeheartedly, without preconditions or hypocrisy. They spent their lives in the service of others, endured suffering and adversity without hate and responded to evil with good deeds, spreading joy and peace. Saints are men and women who have joy in their heart and pass it onto others." Indeed, "Saints did not hate," he said. "Love comes from God. From whom comes hatred? Saints do not hate."
The pontiff also pointed out that "The Church wisely placed in close succession the feast days of All Saints and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. Our prayer praising God and venerating the blessed spirits joins the prayer of suffrage for all who have gone before us, passing from this world to eternal life."
Right after the Angelus prayer, Francis announced that, in the afternoon, he would got to Rome's Verano Cemetery to celebrate Mass.
"I shall be spiritually united," he said, "with all those who are now visiting cemeteries, where those who have come before us in the sign of faith are at sleep, waiting for the day of resurrection. Specifically, I shall pray for the victims of violence, especially for the Christians who have lost their lives because of persecution."
"In particular," he said ad-lib with reference to the many war refugees, "I shall pray for our brothers and sisters who have died of fatigue and hunger on their way to a better life. In recent days, we have seen pictures of this cruel desert. Let us hold a moment of silence to pray for these brothers and sisters of ours."