Pope says for believers “death is a door wide open” for doubters “it is a flickering light”
Christian hope and the reality of death was the theme of catechesis for the general audience. "I invite you now, perhaps, to close your eyes and to think of that moment: of our death. Let us each think of our own death, and imagine the moment that will come when Jesus takes us by the hand and will say, 'Come, come with me, arise.' There hope will end and reality begins, the reality of life."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Death "for whoever believes is a door wide open; for whoever doubts it is a flickering light. " The reality of death in the light of Christian hope, the moment in which "Jesus will take us by the hand and will say, 'Come, come with me, arise" was the subject of Pope Francis’ general audience today, at the end of which he also invited prayers for the victims of the attack in Somalia.
Francis told the estimated 30,000 people in St. Peter's Square that he wanted to "compare Christian hope with the reality of death, a reality that our modern civilization tends to erase. So when death comes, for those around us or for ourselves, we find ourselves unprepared, devoid of an 'alphabet' suitable to trace the meaning of this mystery with words. Yet the first signs of human civilization passed through this enigma. We could say that man was born with the cult of the dead. "
"Other civilizations, before ours, have had the courage to look at its face. It was an event told by the older to the younger generations, as an inevitable reality that obliged man to live for something absolute. The Psalm 90 says: "Teach us to count our days and acquire a wise heart" (v. 12). Counting days makes the heart become wise. Words that bring us to a healthy realism, casting off the delusions of omnipotence. What are we? We are "almost nothing," says another psalm (cf. 88: 48); our days are running fast: we live even a hundred years, in the end it seems to have been a breath of air. Many times I have heard old people say, 'Life has passed like a breath ...'. So death renders our life naked. It shows us that our acts of pride, anger, and hatred were vanity: pure vanity. We find it regrettable that we have not loved enough and did not look for what was essential. And, on the contrary, we see what we have really sowed: the affections for which we have sacrificed ourselves and who now hold our hand. "
"Jesus illuminated the mystery of our death. With his behaviour, he authorizes us to feel sorrowful when a dear person goes away. He was "profoundly" moved in front of the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and "burst into tears" (Jn 11,35). In this attitude, we feel very close to Jesus, our brother. He wept for his friend Lazarus. And then Jesus prays the Father, the source of life, and orders Lazarus to leave the tomb. And so it happens. Christian hope draws on this attitude that Jesus assumes against human death: if it is present in creation, it is, however, a disadvantage that destroys the design of God's love, and the Savior wants to be healed. "
"Elsewhere, the Gospels tell of a father who has a very sick daughter, and with faith calls on Jesus to save her (cf. Mk 5: 21-24: 35-43). And there is no more touching figure than a father or a mother with a sick child. And immediately Jesus came forth with that man, who was called Jairus. At some point somebody comes from Jairus's house and tells him that the child is dead, and there is no need to disturb the Master anymore. But Jesus says to Jairus, "Do not be afraid, only have faith!" (Mk 5:36). Jesus knows that man is tempted to react with anger and despair because the child is dead and advises him to guard the small flame that is in his heart: faith. 'Do not be afraid, only have faith.' 'Do not be afraid, just keep igniting that flame!' And then, going home, he will awaken the child from death and return her alive to her loved ones.”
"Jesus puts us on this 'crest' of faith. To Martha weeping for the disappearance of her brother Lazarus he opposes the light of a dogma: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even if he dies, will live; anyone who lives and believes in me will not die forever. Do you believe this? "(Jn 11: 25-26). It is what Jesus repeats to each of us whenever death comes to tear the fabric of our life and affections. All our existence is played out here, between the side of faith and the precipice of fear. 'I am not death, Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life, do you believe this ?, do you believe this?' We, who are here in Piazza today, do we believe this? We are all small and helpless in front of the mystery of death. However, what a grace if we keep the flame of faith in our hearts! Jesus will take us by the hand, like Jaius's daughter, and he will repeat once again: ‘Talità kum’, 'Child, get up!' (Mk 5:41). He will tell it to us, to each of us, 'Get up, grow up!' ".
"I invite you now, perhaps, to close your eyes and to think of that moment: of our death. Let us each think of our own death, and imagine the moment that will come when Jesus takes us by the hand and will say, 'Come, come with me, arise.' There hope will end and reality begins, the reality of life. Ponder this: Jesus himself will come to each of us and will take us by his hand, with his tenderness, his mildness, his love. And each one repeats in his heart the word of Jesus: 'Arise, come. Arise, come on! ' This - he concluded - is our hope before death. For whoever believes is a door wide open; for whoever doubts it is a flickering light that filters out of a door that has not completely closed. But for us all it will be a grace, when this light, of our encounter with Jesus, will enlighten us. "