Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 10 November 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday’s Gospel sets before us Jesus grappling with the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection. They pose a question to Jesus on this very matter, in order to trip him up and ridicule faith in the resurrection of the dead. They begin with an imaginary case: “A woman had seven husbands, who died one after the other,” and they ask Jesus: “Whose wife will the woman be after her death?”. Jesus, ever meek and patient, first replies that life after death does not have the same parameters as earthly life. Eternal life is another life, in another dimension where, among other things, there will be no marriage, which is tied to our existence in this world. Those who rise — Jesus says — will be like the angels and they will live in a different state, which now we can neither experience nor imagine. This is the way Jesus explains it.
But then Jesus, as it were, moves to the counterattack. And he does so by citing the Sacred Scripture with a simplicity and originality which leaves us full of admiration for our Teacher, the only Teacher! Jesus finds proof for the resurrection in the account of Moses and the burning bush (cf. Ex 3:1-6), where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob. The name of God is bound to the names of men and women to whom he binds himself, and this bond is stronger than death. And we can also say this about God’s relationship with us, with each one of us: He is our God! He is the God of each one of us! As though he bore each of our names. It pleases him to say it, and this is the covenant. This is why Jesus states: “God is not the god of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk 20:38). And this is the decisive bond, the fundamental covenant, the covenant with Jesus: He himself is the Covenant, he himself is the Life and the Resurrection, for by his crucified love he has triumphed over death. In Jesus, God gives us eternal life, he gives it to everyone, and thanks to him everyone has the hope of a life even truer than this one. The life that God prepares for us is not a mere embellishment of the present one: it surpasses our imagination, for God continually amazes us with his love and with his mercy.
Therefore, what will happen is quite the opposite of what the Sadducees expected. It is not this life that will serve as a reference point for eternity, for the other life that awaits us; rather, it is eternity — that life — which illumines and gives hope to the earthly life of each one of us! If we look at things from only a human perspective, we tend to say that man’s journey moves from life to death. This is what we see! But this is only so if we look at things from a human perspective. Jesus turns this perspective upside down and states that our pilgrimage goes from death to life: the fullness of life! We are on a journey, on a pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that fullness of life is what illumines our journey! Therefore death stands behind us, not before us. Before us is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our names stand before us, as he said: “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob”, and also the God with my name, with your name..., with our names. The God of the living! ... Before us stands the final defeat of sin and death, the beginning of a new time of joy and of endless light. But already on this earth, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in fraternity, we encounter Jesus and his love, and thus we may already taste something of the risen life. The experience we have of his love and his faithfulness ignites in our hearts like a fire and increases our faith in the resurrection. In fact, if God is faithful and loves, he cannot be thus for only a limited time: faithfulness is eternal, it cannot change. God’s love is eternal, it cannot change! It is not only for a time: it is forever! It is for going forward! He is faithful forever and he is waiting for us, each one of us, he accompanies each one of us with his eternal faithfulness.
After the Angelus:
Maria Teresa Bonzel, Foundress of the Poor Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, who lived in the 19th century, will be beatified this afternoon in Paderborn, Germany. The Eucharist was the source from which she drew spiritual energy to dedicate herself with untiring charity to the weakest. Let us praise the Lord for her witness!
I wish to assure my closeness to the people of the Philippines and of that region. They have been hit by a tremendous typhoon. Unfortunately, there have been a great many victims and enormous damage. Let us pray for a moment, in silence, and then to Our Lady, for these brothers and sisters of ours, and let us try to also give them concrete help. Let us pray in silence.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the so-called “Crystal Night”: the violence carried out on the night between 9 and 10 November 1938 against the Jews, their synagogues, their homes and stores marked a sad step toward the tragedy of the Shoah. Let us renew our closeness and solidarity to the Jewish people, to our elder brothers and sisters. And let us pray to God that the remembrance of the past, the remembrance of past sins, might help us to be always watchful against every form of hatred and intolerance.
This Sunday in Italy, the Day of Thanksgiving is celebrated. I join my voice with those of the bishops in expressing my closeness to the world of agriculture, especially to young people who have chosen to work the land. I encourage everyone to commit themselves to ensuring that no one will go without proper and adequate nourishment.
I greet all of the pilgrims who have come from various countries, the families, the parish groups, the associations; in particular, I wish to greet the faithful of the diocese of Liguria, who are accompanied by Cardinal Bagnasco and by the other bishops of the region.
I wish everyone a blessed Sunday. Goodbye and have a good lunch!
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