At the Angelus, Pope Francis explains the parable of the ten virgins. "Being ready to meet with Him." "Keeping vigil does not just mean not sleeping, but being prepared." "The lamp is the symbol of faith that illuminates our lives." "The oil is the symbol of charity that feeds, makes the light of faith fruitful and credible". The memory of 60 beatified in Madrid, martyrs of the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and '37
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "While we wait for the Groom's coming ... even the sleep of death does not frighten us, because we have the reserves of oil accumulated with the good works of every day,” said Pope Francis Sunday synthesizing the teaching of the parable of the ten virgins ("bridesmaids") narrated in Matthew's Gospel (25,1-13), proclaimed at Mass (Sunday, 32rd, A).
Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square before the Angelus, Francis explained that with this parable Jesus "reminds us that we must keep vigil to be ready to meet with Him. Often, in the Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to be vigilant, and so too at the end of this story: "Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour " (v. 13). This parable tells us that keeping vigil does not just mean not sleeping, but being prepared; in fact, all the virgins sleep before the bridegroom arrives, but at the awakening some are ready and others are not. Here, therefore, is the meaning of being wise and prudent: we should not wait for the last moment of our life to cooperate with the grace of God, but do so from now on."
"The lamp," he continued, "is the symbol of faith that illuminates our lives, while oil is the symbol of charity that feeds it, making the light of faith fruitful and credible. The condition of being ready to meet with the Lord is not only faith, but a Christian life full of love for one another. If we allow ourselves to be led by what is seemingly most convenient, by looking out for our own self-interest, our lives become sterile, and we do not accumulate any stock of oil for the lamp of our faith; and this will be extinguished at the time of the Lord's coming, or even earlier. If, however, we are vigilant and try to do good, with gestures of love, sharing, service to our neighbor in difficulty, we can remain calm while we wait for the Groom's coming: the Lord may come at any time, and not even the sleep of death frightens us because we have the oil accumulated with the good works of every day. Faith inspires charity and charity keeps faith."
"May the Virgin Mary – he concluded - help us to make our faith ever more operative through charity; so that our lamp may shine here, on the earthly path, and then forever, at the wedding feast in Heaven."
After the Marian prayer, the Pontiff recalled that yesterday, in Madrid, Vicente Queralt Lloret and 20 martyrs were proclaimed blessed, and José María Fernández Sánchez and 38 martyrs.
"The New Blessed One, he said, were members of some Missionary Congregation: priests, r brothers, novices; others were laity belonging to the Miraculous Medal Association. All were killed in hatred of faith during the religious persecution that took place during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1937. Let us thank God for the great gift of these exemplary witnesses of Christ and the Gospel. "
Before the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis explained the symbols of today's Gospel. Jesus "is a leader whose authority is expressed in the service [. . .] Once can trust such a leader." He is a " a friendly, strong and sweet presence, who leads, protects, consoles, and heals." Too often we leave "spiritual and affective dimension" in the shadow. May Christ sustain "all those who are called by Him, so that they may be ready and generous in following His voice.” Seven martyrs of the Spanish Civil War were beatified yesterday. The pontiff calls on the faithful to pray the rosary in May "for peace, as the Virgin asked in Fatima."
Free copies of the Gospel of St Luke were handed out. Memorising works of mercy makes it “easier to fulfil them”. As the adulterous woman stood in front of Jesus, they were like “misery and mercy, facing each other,” like us when we go to the confessional. “God does not nail us to our sins; he does not identify us with the wrongs we have done.” Instead, “He wants to free us” so as to make us into “new creatures”.
At the Angelus, Pope Francis explains the "very strong" link between the feast of the first martyr and Christmas. The message of Jesus "challenges worldly religious power and provokes consciences". Stephen’s words of forgiveness to his persecutors, "humanly unthinkable expressions", "possible only because the Son of God came to earth and died and rose for us".
Francis’ decision came in today’s ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the blessed. The life of the "little sister" devoted to the poorest of the poor went from a shack in a Kolkata slum to a Nobel Peace Prize and global reach of the Missionaries of Charity.