by Elise Harris
.- On Wednesday, Pope Francis said going through life downcast as if it has no meaning is not the attitude of a Christian, who has the assurance that even when things look grim, there is always new hope found in Christ.
“It is not Christian to walk with your gaze turned down, without raising your eyes to the horizon. As if our entire path expires here, in the palm of a few meters of the journey,” the Pope said Aug. 23.
To live “as if in our lives there was not destination and no landing, place, and we were forced to an eternal wandering, without any reason for our many labors; this is not Christian,” he said.
Rather, as Christians “we believe and we know that death and hatred are not the final words pronounced in the parable of human existence,” he said, adding that to be a Christian “means a new perspective: a gaze full of hope.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for his weekly general audience, continuing his catechesis on Christian hope.
In his address, Francis turned to the day’s reading from Revelation, in which God, seated on his throne in heaven, says “I will make all things new.”
This passage, he said, is a reminder that “Christian hope is based on faith in God who always creates newness in the life of man, in history and in the cosmos. Newness and surprises.”
Turning to the last pages of the bible, the Pope said they show us the final goal for all believers, which is the heavenly Jerusalem, described as “an immense tent, where God will welcome all men to live with them permanently.”
“This is our hope,” Francis said, noting how the bible goes on to describe how God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
He urged those present to reflect on the passage “not in an abstract way,” but in light of all the sad news published in recent days such as the terrorist attack in Barcelona and natural disasters – news “which we all risk becoming addicted to.”
Pointing to the many children who suffer from war, youth whose dreams are often destroyed and refugees who embark on dangerous journeys and who many times are exploited, Pope Francis noted that “unfortunately life is also this.”
However, returning to the day’s scripture passage, he stressed that “there is a Father who weeps with tears of infinite mercy toward his children.”
“We have a God who knows how to weep, who weeps with us,” he said, adding that he is also a Father “who waits to console us, because he knows our sufferings and has prepared for us a different future.”
God, the Pope said, “did not want our lives by mistake, forcing himself and us to long nights of anguish.” Rather, “he created us because he wants us happy. He is our Father, and if we here, now, experience a life that is not what he wanted for us, Jesus guarantees us that God himself is working his ransom.”
Some people believe that all of life’s happiness lay in youth and in the past, and that living “is a slow decay.” Still others hold that the joys we experience “are only episodic and passionate,” and that the life of man “is writing nonsense,” the Pope noted.
But as Christians, “we don’t believe this. We believe instead that on man’s horizon there is a sun that illuminates forever. We believe that our most beautiful days are still to come.”
“We are people more of spring than autumn,” he said, and urged those present to ask themselves: “Am I a man, woman, child of the spring, or the fall? Is my spirit in the fall or the spring?”
“Don’t forget that question,” he said in off-the-cuff remarks, asking again “am I a person of the spring or the fall? The spring, which waits for flowers, fruit, the sun, which is Jesus; or the autumn, which is always looking down, embittered, with, as sometimes I’ve said, a face like peppers in vinegar.”
There are always problems in life, such as gossip, war or illness, but in the end “the grain grows and in the end, evil is eliminated,” he said.
Pope Francis closed his address saying Christians have the knowledge that in the Kingdom of God, grain grows “even if in there are weeds in the middle.”
“In the end evil will be eliminated,” he said. “The future does not belong to us, but we know that Jesus Christ is the greatest grace of life: he is the embrace of God who waits for us at the end, but who already accompanies us and consoles us on the journey.”
After greeting groups of pilgrims from various countries around the world, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of a 4.0 level earthquake that rocked the Italian island of Ischia, roughly 88 miles off the coast of Naples, Monday, killing two and injuring at least 39 others.
Francis expressed his “affectionate closeness” to the many who are suffering as a result of the quake, and offered prayers “for the death, the wounded, for their families and for the people who have lost their homes.”