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He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead

Catechesis by Papa Francis    
General Audience, Wednesday 24 April 2013 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
In the Creed we profess that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. Human history begins with the creation of man and woman in God’s likeness and ends with the Last Judgement of Christ. These two poles of history are often forgotten; and, at times, especially faith in Christ’s return and in the Last Judgement are not so clear and firm in Christian hearts. In his public life Jesus frequently reflected on the reality of his Final Coming. Today I would like to reflect on three Gospel texts that help us to penetrate this mystery: those of the ten virgins, of the talents and of the Last Judgement. All three are part of Jesus’ discourse on the end of time which can be found in the Gospel of St Matthew.

First of all let us remember that in the Ascension the Son of God brought to the Father our humanity, which he had taken on, and that he wants to draw all to himself, to call the whole world to be welcomed in God’s embrace so that at the end of history the whole of reality may be consigned to the Father. Yet there is this “immediate time” between the First and the Final Coming of Christ, and that is the very time in which we are living. The parable of the ten virgins fits into this context of “immediate” time (cf Mt 25, 1-13). They are ten maidens who are awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, but he is late and they fall asleep. At the sudden announcement that the Bridegroom is arriving they prepare to welcome him, but while five of them, who are wise, have oil to burn in their lamps, the others, who are foolish, are left with lamps that have gone out because they have no oil for them. While they go to get some oil the Bridegroom arrives and the foolish virgins find that the door to the hall of the marriage feast is shut. They knock on it again and again, but it is now too late, the Bridegroom answers: I do not know you. The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time he gives to us, to all of us, before his Final Coming with mercy and patience; it is a time of watchfulness; a time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, a time in which to keep our heart open to goodness, beauty and truth. It is a time to live in accordance with God, because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ’s return. What he asks of us is to be ready for the encounter — ready for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of his presence, keeping our faith alive with prayer, with the sacraments, and taking care not to fall asleep so as not to forget about God. The life of slumbering Christians is a sad life, it is not a happy life. Christians must be happy, with the joy of Jesus. Let us not fall asleep!

The second parable, that of the talents, makes us think about the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return, when he will ask us what use we made of them (cf Mt 25, 14-30). We are well acquainted with the parable: before his departure the master gives a few talents to each of his servants to ensure that they will be put to good use during his absence. He gives five to the first servant, two to the second one and one to the third. In the period of their master’s absence, the first two servants increase their talents — these are ancient coins — whereas the third servant prefers to bury his and to return it to his master as it was. On his return, the master judges what they have done: he praises the first two while he throws the third one out into the outer darkness because, through fear, he had hidden his talent, withdrawing into himself. A Christian who withdraws into himself, who hides everything that the Lord has given him, is a Christian who... he is not a Christian! He is a Christian who does not thank God for everything God has given him! This tells us that the expectation of the Lord’s return is the time of action — we are in the time of action — the time in which we should bring God’s gifts to fruition, not for ourselves but for him, for the Church, for others. The time to seek to increase goodness in the world always; and in particular, in this period of crisis, today, it is important not to turn in on ourselves, burying our own talent, our spiritual, intellectual and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but rather to open ourselves, to be supportive, to be attentive to others. In the square I have seen that there are many young people here: it is true, isn’t it? Are there many young people? Where are they? I ask you who are just setting out on your journey through life: have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how you can put them at the service of others? Do not bury your talents! Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart, the ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. Life is not given to us to be jealously guarded for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it in turn. Dear young people, have a deep spirit! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!

Lastly, a word about the passage on the Last Judgement in which the Lord’s Second Coming is described, when he will judge all human beings, the living and the dead (cf Mt 25, 31-46). The image used by the Evangelist is that of the shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. On his right he places those who have acted in accordance with God’s will, who went to the aid of their hungry, thirsty, foreign, naked, sick or imprisoned neighbour — I said “foreign”: I am thinking of the multitude of foreigners who are here in the Diocese of Rome: what do we do for them? While on his left are those who did not help their neighbour. This tells us that God will judge us on our love, on how we have loved our brethren, especially the weakest and the neediest. Of course we must always have clearly in mind that we are justified, we are saved through grace, through an act of freely-given love by God who always goes before us; on our own we can do nothing. Faith is first of all a gift we have received. But in order to bear fruit, God’s grace always demands our openness to him, our free and tangible response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of God who saves. We are asked to trust in him, to correspond to the gift of his love with a good life, made up of actions motivated by faith and love.

Dear brothers and sisters, may looking at the Last Judgement never frighten us: rather, may it impel us to live the present better. God offers us this time with mercy and patience so that we may learn every day to recognize him in the poor and in the lowly. Let us strive for goodness and be watchful in prayer and in love. May the Lord, at the end of our life and at the end of history, be able to recognize us as good and faithful servants. Many thanks!"

Saluti:

Bienvenus chers pèlerins francophones venant de Belgique, de France et de la République démocratique du Congo ! J’adresse un salut particulier aux pèlerinages paroissiaux et diocésains, aux Filles de la Charité, aux séminaristes et aux nombreux élèves venus m’écouter et me saluer. Je vous encourage tous à tenir vive votre foi par la prière fervente, par la participation aux sacrements et par la charité. En cette période de crise, n’oubliez pas ceux qui sont dans le besoin, besoin matériel et besoin spirituel ! Quant à vous chers jeunes, pensez aux talents que Dieu vous a donnés et ayez toujours une âme généreuse ! Bon pèlerinage !

[Un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua francese venuti da Belgio, Francia e Repubblica Democratica del Congo! In particolare saluto i pellegrinaggi parrocchiali e diocesani, le Figlie della Carità, i seminaristi e i numerosi studenti venuti ad ascoltarmi e salutarmi. Vi incoraggio tutti a mantenere viva la vostra fede attraverso la fervida preghiera, la partecipazione ai sacramenti e la carità. In questo periodo di crisi, non dimenticate coloro che sono nel bisogno materiale e spirituale! E voi, cari giovani, pensate ai talenti che Dio vi ha dato e abbiate sempre un animo generoso! Buon pellegrinaggio!]

I am pleased to greet the Vietnamese pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Hochiminh City, led by Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man. I also greet the group of Marist Brothers taking part in a programe of spiritual reunion. My cordial welcome also goes to the visitors from Cambridge Muslim College in England. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, Australia, South Korea and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini vietnamiti dell’Arcidiocesi di Hôchiminh Ville, sotto la guida del Cardinale Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân. Saluto inoltre i Fratelli Maristi che seguono un corso di rinnovamento spirituale. Porgo anche un cordiale benvenuto al gruppo del Cambridge Muslim College in Inghilterra. Su tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Irlanda, Norvegia, Australia, Sud Corea e Stati Uniti, invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore Risorto.]

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an alle Pilger deutscher Sprache, insbesondere an die Knabenkantorei Basel. Christus hat uns allen, ja wirklich jedem einzelnen, wertvolle Talente geschenkt und zählt darauf, dass wir mit ihnen arbeiten. Vor allem euch Jugendliche, die ihr so zahlreich anwesend seid, möchte ich ermutigen, eure Talente nicht zu vergraben, sondern zu überlegen, wie ihr am Aufbau des Reiches Christi mitwirken könnt. Die Kirche braucht euch. Gott segne euch alle.

[Rivolgo un cordiale saluto a tutti i pellegrini di lingua tedesca, in particolare alla Knabenkantorei di Basel. Cristo ha dato a tutti noi — proprio ad ognuno — talenti di grande valore. Egli conta che noi li facciamo fruttificare. Soprattutto voi, cari giovani, che siete presenti così numerosi: vorrei incoraggiarvi a non sotterrare i vostri talenti, ma a pensare come potete cooperare alla costruzione del Regno di Dio. La Chiesa ha bisogno di voi. Dio vi benedica tutti.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular al grupo de la Arquidiócesis de Córdoba, Argentina, así como a los provenientes de España, Colombia, México y los demás países latinoamericanos. Invito a todos a vivir este tiempo presente que Dios nos ofrece con misericordia y paciencia, para que aprendamos cada día a reconocerlo en los pobres. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! Saúdo com afecto os grupos de Portugal e do Brasil, em particular os fiéis das paróquias Divino Pai Eterno de Goiânia e São Pedro de Vila Rica, encorajando-vos a todos a apostar em ideais grandes, ideais de serviço que engrandecem o coração e tornam fecundos os vossos talentos. Confiai em Deus, como a Virgem Maria!

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, benvenuti! Saluto con affetto i gruppi del Portogallo e del Brasile, in particolare i fedeli delle parrocchie «Divino Pai Eterno» in Goiânia e «São Pedro de Vila Rica», incoraggiandovi tutti a scommettere su ideali grandi, ideali di servizio che allargano il cuore e rendono fecondi i vostri talenti. Fidatevi di Dio, come la Vergine Maria!]

كلمات الأب الأقدس للحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية:أيها الأخوات والإخوة الأحباء، إن الدينونة الأخيرة لا تخيفنا ابدا؛ بل تدفعنا بالأحرى لعيش الحاضر بطريقة أفضل. فالله يهب لنا، برحمة وطول أناة، هذا الوقت حتى نتعلم كل يوم أن نتعرف عليه في الفقراء وفي الأصاغر، ولنعمل من أجل الخير، ولنكون يقظين في الصلاة وفي المحبة. لندعو الرب يسوع، محامي وقاضي البشر، لكي يحاكمنا، في نهاية وجودنا وفي نهاية التاريخ، كخدام صالحين وأمناء. "مارانتا، تعالى أيها الرب يسوع" (رؤ 22، 20). أمنح للجميع البركة الرسولية!

[Cari fratelli e sorelle, il giudizio finale non ci faccia mai paura; ci spinga piuttosto a vivere meglio il presente. Dio ci offre, con misericordia e pazienza, questo tempo affinché impariamo ogni giorno a riconoscerlo nei poveri e nei piccoli, ci adoperiamo per il bene e siamo vigilanti nella preghiera e nell’amore. Il Signore, al termine della nostra esistenza e della storia, possa riconoscerci come servi buoni e fedeli. «Maranathà! Vieni Signore Gesù» (Ap 22, 20). A tutti imparto la Benedizione Apostolica! ]

Pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Wczoraj wspominaliśmy św. Wojciecha Biskupa i Męczennika, apostoła Polski i jej patrona. Dziękując Bogu za dar wiary, którą ten Święty przyniósł na polską ziemię i potwierdził ofiarą krwi, polecam jego opiece Kościół w Polsce. Niech ten zasiew, który przez wieki wydał obfite owoce świętości, nadal wzrasta w sercach wszystkich Polaków. Z serca wam błogosławię.

[Saluto i pellegrini polacchi. Ieri abbiamo commemorato sant’Adalberto Vescovo e Martire, apostolo e patrono della Polonia. Ringraziando Dio per il dono della fede che questo Santo ha portato nella terra polacca e ha confermato con l’offerta del sangue, affido la Chiesa in Polonia alla sua protezione. Questo seme, che lungo i secoli ha portato abbondanti frutti di santità, continui a crescere nei cuori di tutti i polacchi. Vi benedico di cuore!]

APPELLO

Il rapimento dei Metropoliti greco-ortodosso e siro-ortodosso di Aleppo, sul cui rilascio ci sono notizie contrastanti, è un ulteriore segno della tragica situazione che sta attraversando la cara Nazione siriana, dove la violenza e le armi continuano a seminare morte e sofferenza. Mentre ricordo nella preghiera i due Vescovi, affinché ritornino presto alle loro comunità, chiedo a Dio di illuminare i cuori e rinnovo il pressante invito che ho rivolto nel giorno di Pasqua affinché cessi lo spargimento di sangue, si presti la necessaria assistenza umanitaria alla popolazione e si trovi quanto prima una soluzione politica alla crisi.

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare saluto i fedeli dei diversi pellegrinaggi diocesani, accompagnati dai rispettivi Vescovi, convenuti alla Sede di Pietro in occasione dell’Anno della fede. Saluto inoltre i sacerdoti, le religiose - specialmente le Figlie di Nostra Signora al Monte Calvario a 10 anni dalla canonizzazione della Fondatrice Virginia Centurione Bracelli -, i seminaristi, i gruppi parrocchiali, i fedeli dell’undicesimo Decanato di Napoli e i numerosi anziani dell’Associazione Nazionale Pensionati. La visita alle tombe degli Apostoli rafforzi in tutti la fede nel Cristo Risorto!

Un pensiero speciale rivolgo all’Arcivescovo di Sassari e agli operai della Società “E.ON” - si vede che oggi l’aereo è arrivato in orario; grazie tante! -, ed auspico che la grave congiuntura occupazionale possa trovare una rapida ed equa soluzione, nel rispetto dei diritti di tutti, specialmente delle famiglie. La situazione in Sardegna e nell’intero Paese è particolarmente difficile. È importante che ci sia un incisivo impegno per aprire vie di speranza.

Infine, un pensiero affettuoso ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Cristo Buon Pastore dìa sicurezza a ciascuno di voi, cari giovani, soprattutto agli studenti così numerosi, perché seguendo la sua voce non sbaglierete; sostenga voi, cari ammalati, nel portare la vostra croce quotidiana; e aiuti voi, cari sposi novelli, a costruire la vostra famiglia sull’amore di Dio. Grazie!"

Pope Francis - General Audience, Wednesday, 24 April 2013, St Peter's Square