PAPAL CHAPEL IN SUFFRAGE
OF CARDINALS AND BISHOPS DEFINED IN THE COURSE OF THE YEAR
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Vatican Basilica, Altar of the Chair
Monday, 4 November 2019
The readings we have heard remind us that we came into the world to be resurrected: we were not born for death, but for the resurrection. In fact, as he writes in the second Saint Paul Reading, even now "our citizenship is in the heavens" (Phil 3:20) and, as Jesus says in the Gospel, we will be resurrected on the last day (see Jn 6,40). And it is still the thought of the resurrection that suggests to Judas Maccabeus in the first reading "a very good and noble action" (2 Mac 12.43). Today we too can ask ourselves: what does the thought of the resurrection suggest to me? How do I respond to my call to rise again?
A first help comes to us from Jesus, who in today's Gospel says: "He who comes to me, I will not drive him out" (Jn 6:37). Here is his invitation: "come to me" (see Mt 11:28). Go to Jesus, the Living One, to get vaccinated against death, against the fear that everything will end. Going to Jesus: it may seem a discounted and generic spiritual exhortation. But let's try to make it concrete, asking ourselves questions like these: Today, in the practices that I had in my hands in the office, did I approach the Lord? Have I made any reason for dialogue with him? And in the people I met, did I involve Jesus, did I bring them to Him in prayer? Or did I do everything while remaining in my thoughts, only rejoicing in what was good for me and complaining about what was wrong with me? In short, do I live by going to the Lord or revolving around myself? What is the direction of my journey? Am I just trying to make a good impression, to safeguard my role, my times and my spaces, or am I going to the Lord?
The sentence of Jesus is disruptive: he who comes to me, I will not drive him out. As if to say that the expulsion is foreseen for the Christian who does not go to Him. For those who believe there are no middle ways: one cannot be of Jesus and rotate on oneself. Who is of Jesus lives in exit towards Him.
Life is all an exit: from the womb of the mother to come to light, from childhood to enter adolescence, from adolescence to adult life and so on, until leaving this world. Today, as we pray for our brother Cardinals and Bishops, who have come out of this life to go to meet the Risen One, we cannot forget the most important and most difficult exit, which gives meaning to all the others: that of ourselves. Only by coming out of ourselves do we open the door that leads to the Lord. We ask for this grace: "Lord, I wish to come to You, through the streets and the traveling companions of every day. Help me to get out of myself, to go to meet you, who are life ".
I would like to take a second thought, referring to the resurrection, from the first reading, from the noble gesture made by Judas Maccabeus to the dead. In doing so he, it is written, "thought of the magnificent reward reserved for those who fall asleep in death with feelings of piety" (2 Mac 12.45). That is, feelings of pity to generate magnificent rewards. Pity towards others opens the doors of eternity. To bend down on the needy to serve them is to make an antechamber for paradise. If indeed, as St. Paul reminds us, "charity will never end" (1 Cor 13: 8), then it is precisely the bridge that connects the earth to Heaven. We can therefore ask ourselves if we are advancing on this bridge: do I let myself be moved by the situation of someone in need? Can I cry for those who suffer? I pray for those to whom nobody thinks? Do I help someone who doesn't have to give me back? It is not doing good, it is not petty charity; they are questions of life, questions of resurrection.
Finally, a third stimulus in view of the resurrection. I take it from the Spiritual Exercises, where Saint Ignatius suggests, before making an important decision, to imagine oneself before God at the end of days. That is the call to appear not to be postponed, the point of arrival for everyone, for all of us. Then, every life choice faced in that perspective is well oriented, because it is closer to the resurrection, which is the meaning and purpose of life. As the departure is calculated from the goal, as the sowing is judged by the harvest, so life is judged well starting from its end, from its end. Saint Ignatius writes: "Considering how I will find myself the day of judgment, to think as I would have decided then about the present thing; and the rule I would like to have held then, take it now "(Spiritual Exercises, 187). It can be a useful exercise to see reality with the eyes of the Lord and not only with ours; to have a glance projected on the future, on the resurrection, and not only on today's passing; to make choices that have the taste of eternity, the taste of love.
Do I go out to go to the Lord every day? Do I have feelings and acts of pity for the needy? Do I make important decisions before God? Let us be provoked by at least one of these three stimuli. We will be more in tune with Jesus' desire in today's Gospel: to lose nothing of what the Father has given him (see Jn 6:39). Among the many voices of the world that make us lose the sense of existence, let us tune in to the will of Jesus, risen and alive: we will do the today that we live a dawn of resurrection.