VATICAN CITY, November 18, 2013 (Zenit.org) – Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address “On God’s Plan of Goodness and Mercy” before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, November 17.
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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 21:5-19) consists in the first part of one of Jesus’ sermons, that on the last times. Jesus gives it in Jerusalem, near the temple, and the topic is given to him precisely by the people who were talking about the temple’s beauty, because that temple was beautiful. So Jesus said: “All that you see here — the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). Naturally, they ask him: When will this happen? What will the signs be? But Jesus deflects attention away from these secondary aspects – When will it happen? What will it be like? – and turns it toward the real issues. And there are 2. First, do not let yourself be deceived by false messiahs and do not let yourself be paralyzed by fear. Second, live the period of waiting as time of witness and perseverance. And we are in this of waiting, of waiting for the Lord’s coming.
This sermon of Jesus is always relevant, even for us who live in the 21st century. He repeats: “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name” (21:8). It is an invitation to discernment, this Christian virtue of understanding where the spirit of the Lord is and where the evil spirit is. Today too, in fact, there are false “saviors,” who try to take Jesus’ place: leaders of this world, gurus, even sorcerers, people who want to attract the minds and hearts, especially of young people, to themselves. Jesus warns us: “Do not follow them!” “Do not follow them!”
And the Lord helps us not to be afraid too: in the face of wars, revolutions, but also natural calamities, epidemics, Jesus frees us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions. The second aspect addresses us precisely as Christians and members of the Church: Jesus foretells painful trials and persecutions that his disciples must undergo for his sake. Nevertheless, he assures them: “Not one of your heads will be harmed” (21:18). He reminds us that we are totally in God’s hands! The adversity that we face because of our faith and our adherence to the Gospel are occasions for witness; they need not distance us from the Lord but move us to abandon ourselves all the more to him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace.
I am reflecting in this moment and let all of us reflect. Let us do it together: let us think about the many brother and sister Christians, who suffer persecution because of their faith. There are many, perhaps many more than in the first centuries. Jesus is with them. We too are united to them by our prayer and our affection. We also admire their courage and their testimony. They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer because of being faithful to Jesus Christ. We salute them from our hearts and with affection.
In the end, Jesus makes a promise that guarantees victory: “With your perseverance you will save your life” (21:19). How much hope there is in these words! They are call to hope and patience, to knowing how to wait for the sure fruits of salvation, trusting in the profound meaning of life and of history: trials and difficulties are part of a larger design; the Lord, Lord of history brings everything to fulfillment. Despite the disorder and disasters that disturb the world, the plan of God’s goodness and mercy will prevail! And this is our hope: to walk in this way, on this road, in this plan of God that will prevail. This is our hope.
This message of Jesus makes us reflect on our present moment and gives us the strength to face it with courage and hope, in the company of Our Lady, who always walks with us.