Pope says mercy illuminates the expectation of death

On the day the departed are commemorated, the pontiff led a Mass of remembrance in St Peter's for the cardinals and bishops who passed away this past year. At the end of life, “the only chief merit and accusation is mercy towards the poor and the discarded. [. . .] let us not be surprised by this discovery.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis led a Mass for the dead on All Souls’ Day in St Peter's Basilica in remembrance of nine cardinals and 148 bishops and archbishops who passed away this past year.

“Death sheds light on the truth about life and removes every extenuating circumstance from mercy,” said the pontiff in his homily.

Two bishops from mainland China are among the names in the celebration booklet: Mgr. Peter Wu Junwei, Apostolic Prefect of Xinjiang who died in May, and Mgr John Baptist Ye Ronghua, Apostolic Prefect of Ankang who died in August.

In his homily, Pope Francis focused on two words that are at the centre of the Gospel account of the Last Judgment, the hour of death, namely expectation and surprise.

“Expectation,” Francis said, “expresses the meaning of life for we live in the expectation of the encounter with God. We all live in expectation, in the hope of hearing one day Jesus’s words: 'Come, blessed by my Father'.”

For this reason, today provides an opportunity to “ask ourselves if our desires have to do with Heaven because we risk continually aspiring to things that pass, of confusing desires with needs, of putting worldly expectations before God’s expectations. Losing sight of what matters to chase the wind would be life's biggest mistake.”

The Gospel passage about the Last Judgment also mentions surprise. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you drink?"

"In the divine tribunal, the only chief merit and accusation are mercy towards the poor and the discarded. He who dwells in the heavens dwells among the most insignificant to the world.”

“Brothers, sisters,” the pontiff added, “let us not be surprised by this discovery. Let us be careful not to sweeten the taste of the Gospel. Because often, for convenience or comfort, we tend to attenuate Jesus's message, to water down his words.

"Feeding the hungry yes, but the issue of hunger is complex, and I certainly cannot solve it! Helping the poor yes, but then injustices must be faced in a certain way and so it is better to wait, also because to commit, you risk being always bothered and maybe you realise that you could do better, better to wait a little.”

"When then, ask, surprised, the righteous and the unrighteous? To this there is but one answer: When is now, today, on the way out from this Eucharist. It is in our hands, in our works of mercy, not in explanations and refined analyses, not in individual or social justifications.

"On the day of our farewell, we shall be pleasantly surprised if we let ourselves be surprised now by the presence of God, who is waiting for us among the poor and the wounded of the world. Let us not be afraid of this surprise; let us go forward in the things the Gospel tells us, to be judged righteous at the end. God is waiting to be touched not by words, but by deeds.”