By Jim Fair
Pope Francis on November 2, 2020, celebrated Mass for All Souls Day in the chapel in the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery. After Mass, the Holy Father offered prayers in the cemetery.
In his “off the cuff” homily, Pope Francis stressed the gift of hope that is available to everyone. He said that it is certain that Jesus gives hope.
“This certainty is a gift from God because we can never have hope with our own strength,” the Pope said. “We have to ask for it. Hope is a free gift that we never deserve: it is given, it is given. It is grace.”
Here is the Pope’s homily, provided by the Vatican:
Job defeated, indeed finished in his existence because of sickness, with his skin ripped off, almost at the point of death, almost without flesh, Job has a certainty and he says it: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last, He will stand upon the earth!” (Job 19:25). In the moment in which Job is most down, down, down, it’s that embrace of light and warmth that assures him. I shall see the Redeemer; I shall see Him with these eyes, “I shall see Him on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:27).
This certainty, in fact at the almost final moment of life, is Christian hope. A hope that is a gift: we can’t have it. It’s a gift that we must ask for: “Lord, give me hope.” There are so many awful things that lead us to despair, to believe that everything will be a final defeat, that after death there is nothing . . . And Job’s voice returns, returns: “I know that my Redeemer lives and at last He will stand upon the earth! [. . . } I myself will see Him, with these eyes.
“Hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5), Paul has said to us. Hope draws us and gives meaning to our life. I don’t see beyond, but hope is God’s gift that draws us towards life, toward eternal joy. Hope is an anchor that we have on the other side and we support ourselves, holding on to the rope (cf. Hebrews 6:18-20). “I know that my Redeemer lives and I will see Him.” And we must repeat this in moments of joy and in bad moments, in moments of death, let us say it.
This certainty is a gift of God because we can never have hope with our own strength. We must ask for it. Hope is a free gift that we don’t ever merit. It is given. It is given; it is given; it’s grace.
And then, the Lord confirms this, this hope that doesn’t disappoint. “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (KJohn 6:37). This is the end of hope: to go to Jesus, ”and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from Heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (John 37-38). The Lord receives us there, where the anchor is. Life in hope is to live thus: clinging, with the rope in hand, strong, knowing that the rope is down there. And this rope doesn’t disappoint, it doesn’t disappoint.
Today, thinking of the many brothers and sisters that have gone, it will do us good to look at cemeteries and to look up. And to repeat, like Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him, I myself; my eyes will contemplate him, and not another.” And this is the strength that hope gives us, this free gift that is the virtue of hope. May the Lord give it to us all.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father’s Moment of Prayer in the Vatican Grottos
At the end of the Holy Mass in the Church of the Pontifical Teutonic College of Santa Maria in Camposanto, the Holy Father Francis went to the Grottos of the Vatican Basilica for a moment of prayer in private, for the deceased Pontiffs.
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