Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - For the Christian, the year that ends, the passage of time "is a journey towards a final destination" "a further step toward the goal that lies ahead of us : a place of hope and happiness, because we will meet God , the reason for our hope and source of our joy". This was Pope Francis' first reflection this evening , the last day of 2013 , as he celebrated the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in the Basilica of St. Peter which was followed by the traditional chanting of the Te Deum of thanksgiving .
His thoughts also went to the city of Rome, highlighting his role as bishop of Rome, to the contrasts of the "his" city, rich in cultural and extraordinary spiritual heritage, but also of poverty and marginalization of people who have jobs and those who are marginalized , tourists and refugees. A city which in order to become even more beautiful and welcoming, needs the personal commitment of each of its citizens, as well as that of the authorities.
"The Biblical and Christian vision of time and history - said the Pope - is not cyclical , but linear : it is a path that leads towards a conclusion. A year that has passed, therefore , does not lead us to a reality that ends and to a reality that is accomplished, is a further step toward the goal that lies ahead of us : a place of hope and happiness, because we will meet God , the reason for our hope and source of our joy . As the year 2013 comes to an end we gather, as if in a basket , the days , the weeks , the months that we have lived , to offer everything to the Lord . And let us ask ourselves: how have we lived the time that He has given us ? Have we used it mainly for ourselves, for our interests, or were we able to spend it for others ? And God ? How much did we set aside to "be with him " , in prayer , in silence? ... " .
"And we also think in this city of Rome . What happened this year? What is happening, and what will happen? How is the quality of life in this city? This depends on all of us! How is the quality of our "citizenship?" This year did we make our own "small" contribution, to make it more livable, tidy, friendly ? Indeed , the face of a town is like a mosaic whose pieces are all those who live there. Of course, those vested with authority a have greater responsibility, but each of us are jointly responsible, for better or for worse".
"Rome is a city of unique beauty. It has an extraordinary spiritual and cultural heritage. Yet, even in Rome there are so many people marked by material and moral misery, the poor, the destitute, the suffering, that not only appeal to the conscience of the public authorities, but of every citizen. Maybe this contrast between the majestic surroundings full of artistic beauty, and social hardship of those in need is even more keenly felt in Rome. Rome is a city full of tourists, but also full of refugees. Rome is full of working people, but also people who cannot find work or forced to accept underpaid and sometimes undignified jobs, and everyone has the right to be treated with the same attitude of acceptance and fairness, because everyone is the bearer of human dignity " .
"The Rome of the new year can only be a better place of people stop looking at it as if it were a picture postcard, just looking on from their balconies, without getting involved in the human problems, the problems of men and women who, from the beginning to the end ... and, like it or not, are our brothers".
"Tonight we conclude the Year of our Lord 2013 in thanksgiving and also asking for forgiveness. The two together; in thanksgiving and asking for forgiveness. Giving thanks for all the blessings that God has bestowed on us , and especially for his patience and loyalty , manifest down through the ages, but in a unique way in the fullness of time, when "God sent forth his Son , born of woman " (Gal 4:4). May the Mother of God , in whose name tomorrow we will begin a new chapter of our earthly pilgrimage , teach us to welcome the God made man, so that every year, every month, every day is full of his eternal Love. "