Pope at Mass: ‘Christians must light candles of hope amid gathering darkness’

Pope Francis presides over Mass on the World Day of the Poor, and urges Christians to listen to the stifled cry of pain of the frailest members of society.

By Devin Watkins

As the Church marked the 6th World Day of the Poor on Sunday, Pope Francis presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and reflected on this year’s theme: “For your sakes Christ became poor”.

In his homily, the Pope focused his remarks on Jesus’ twin exhortations in the day’s Gospel (Lk 21:5-19): “beware that you are not led astray and bear witness”.

Jesus was warning His disciples not to be overly concerned even when terrible events come to pass, such as wars, insurrections, earthquakes, and plagues.

Resisting defeatism

Pope Francis noted that Jesus’ apocalyptic words are a reminder not to get lost in defeatism when world events frighten us. Rather, we must resist the temptation of superstition or fear-mongering by trusting in God.

“A disciple of the Lord should not yield to resignation or give in to discouragement, even in the most difficult situations, for our God is the God of resurrection and hope, who always raises up. With Him we can lift up our gaze and begin anew.”

When faced with trials, said the Pope, Christians should instead ask themselves “What good can I concretely do?”

Faithful at the Pope's Mass
Faithful at the Pope's Mass

Turning challenges into opportunities

The Pope then considered Jesus’ second exhortation to “bear witness”, saying bad times are really an “opportunity to testify”.

Every person faces their own unique situation in life, but each has the chance to do something good, even in the midst of a crisis.

“It is a skill typically Christian not to be a victim of everything that happens, but to seize the opportunity that lies hidden in everything that befalls us, the good that can come about even from negative situations,” he said. “Every crisis is a possibility and offers opportunities for growth.”

We should not become distracted, added Pope Francis, but rather turn every event into an opportunity to bear witness to the Gospel.

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Overcoming inner deafness

Pope Francis went on to tie the day’s Gospel in with the celebration of the 6th World Day of the Poor.

“On this World Day of the Poor, Jesus’ word is a forceful admonition to break through that inner deafness which we all have and which prevents us from hearing the stifled cry of pain of the frailest.”

He noted that wars in our own times—such as the war in Ukraine, he added—have caused so many people to flee their homes, and it is poor who “pay the heaviest price in any crisis.”

“If our heart is deadened and indifferent,” said the Pope, “we cannot hear their faint cry of pain; we cannot cry with them and for them; we cannot see how much loneliness and anguish also lie hidden in the forgotten corners of our cities.”

Pope Francis delivers his homily
Pope Francis delivers his homily

Lighting candles of hope in the darkness

In conclusion, the Pope launched a series of appeals for Christians to resist the “prophets of doom” and the “sirens of populism, which exploit people’s real needs by facile and hasty solutions.”

“Let us light candles of hope in the midst of darkness. Amid dramatic situations, let us seize opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel of joy and to build a more fraternal world.”

Pope Francis said we can find strength to embrace justice and peace in the arms of God our Father, who will “strengthen us with the capacity to love.”

“Let us care for the poor,” concluded the Pope, “in whom we find Jesus, who became poor for our sake.”

Full video of the Mass for the World Day of the Poor

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13 November 2022, 10:37