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Pope’s General Audience: On Vigilant Waiting

October 11, 2017. ‘Have you thought how that encounter with Jesus will be when He comes? It will be an embrace, an enormous joy, a great joy! We must live in expectation of this encounter!’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

In his address in Italian the Pope reflected on the theme: “Vigilant Waiting.”

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he invited to pray the Rosary for the intention of peace in the world, recalling the closing of the celebrations of the Centenary of the last Marian apparitions in Fatima, which will be observed on Friday, October 13, and he made an appeal on the occasion of the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.

The Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to reflect on that dimension of hope that is vigilant waiting. The theme of vigilance is a leitmotiv of the New Testament. Jesus preached to His disciples: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks” (Luke 12:35-36). In this time that follows Jesus’ Resurrection, in which serene moments alternate in continuation with other anguishing ones, Christians never lay down. The Gospel recommends that we be like servants that never go to sleep, while their master hasn’t returned. This world calls for our responsibility, and we assume it wholly and with love. Jesus wants our existence to be laborious, that we never let down the guard, to receive with gratitude and wonder every new day given to us by God. Every morning is a blank page on which the Christian begins to write good deeds. Jesus’ Redemption has already saved us; however, now we are waiting for the full manifestation of His lordship: when God will finally be everything to every one (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28). Nothing is more certain in Christians’ faith than this “appointment,” this appointment with the Lord, when He comes. And when this day arrives, we Christians want to be like those servants who spent the night with their loins girded and their lamps burning: it’s necessary to be ready for the salvation that is coming, ready for the meeting. Have you thought how that encounter with Jesus will be when He comes? It will be an embrace, an enormous joy, a great joy! We must live in expectation of this encounter!

A Christian is not made for boredom, if anything for patience. He knows that a mystery of grace is hidden, even in the monotony of certain days that are always the same. There are persons that, with the perseverance of their love, become like wells that irrigate the desert. Nothing happens in vain, and no situation in which a Christian is immersed is completely refractory to love. No night is so long as to forget the joy of the dawn. And the darker the night is, the closer is the dawn. If we remain united to Jesus, the cold of difficult moments doesn’t paralyze us; and even if the whole world preached against hope, if it said that the future will only bring dark clouds, a Christian knows that in that same future is Christ’s return. No one knows when this will happen, but the thought that at the end of our history is Merciful Jesus, is enough to have trust and not to curse life. Everything will be saved. Everything. We will suffer, there will be moments that arouse anger and indignation, but the sweet and powerful memory of Christ will dispel the temptation to think that this life is wrong.

After knowing Jesus, we can do no other than scrutinize history with trust and hope. Jesus is like a house, and we are inside, and we look at the world from the windows of this house. Therefore, we don’t withdraw into ourselves, we don’t regret melancholically a past that is presumed golden, but we always look ahead, to a future that’s not only the work of our hands, but that is first of all a constant concern of God’s Providence. One day all that is opaque will become light.

And we <know> that God doesn’t deny Himself. Never. God never disappoints. His will in our affairs isn’t nebulous, but is a well-delineated plan of salvation. “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  Therefore, we don’t abandon ourselves to the flow of events with pessimism, as if history were a train of which one has lost control. Resignation isn’t a Christian virtue. As it isn’t for Christians to shrug their shoulders or bow their head in face of a destiny that seems ineluctable.

One who brings hope to the world is never a submissive person. Jesus recommends that we wait for it without staying twiddling our thumbs. “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes “ (Luke 12:37).  There is no peacemaker that, ultimately, has not compromised his personal peace, by assuming others’ problems. A submissive person isn’t a peacemaker but is lazy, one who wants to be comfortable. While a Christian is a peacemaker when he risks, when he has the courage to risk to bring the good, the good that Jesus has given us, given us as a treasure.

Let us repeat each day of our life that invocation that the first disciples expressed in their Aramaic language with the words Marana tha, and that we find again in the last verse of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20) It’s the refrain of every Christian existence: in our world we aren’t in need of anything other than a caress of Christ. What a grace if, in prayer, in difficult days of this life, we hear His voice responding and reassuring us: “Behold, I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7)!

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims, welcome! I’m happy to receive the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and the Members of the Dicastery, gathered in Rome for the Plenary Session, on the occasion of the first centenary of its foundation. I entrust your works to the intercession of Saint John XXIII, whose liturgical memorial is observed today, so that the Congregation for the Oriental Churches continues with generous dedication the service to the Catholic East.

I greet the Divine Word Missionaries, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Daughters and Sons of Saint Anne, the community of the Saint John XXIII Minor Seminary of Montefiascone and the many faithful from Italian parishes and Associations. May the visit to the Tombs of the Apostles foster in all of you the sense of belonging to the ecclesial family and stimulate an ever more generous service, full of hope.

A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. The month of October is the missionary month, in which we are invited to pray to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Missions: dear young people, be missionaries of Christ in your ambiences with His same mercy and tenderness; dear sick, offer your suffering for the conversion of those that are far and the indifferent; and you, dear newlyweds, be missionaries in your family, proclaiming with your example the Gospel of salvation.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

The Holy Father’s Appeals

Observed next Friday, October 13, is the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. I renew my heartfelt appeal for the safeguarding of Creation through an ever more attentive protection and care of the environment. Therefore, I encourage the Institutions and all those that have public and social responsibilities to promote increasingly a culture that has as objective the reduction of the exposure to risks and to natural calamities. May concrete actions, geared to the study and the defense of our common home, be able to reduce progressively the risks for the most vulnerable populations.

[Original text: Italian]  [Copyright, ZENIT translation, by Virginia M. Forrester]