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

Catechesis by Papa Francis    
General Audience, Wednesday 24 April 2013 - also in Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Italian, Polish, 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 began with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with Christ's final judgement. These two poles of history are often forgotten, and above all faith in Christ’s return and the final judgement is sometimes not that/so clear and firm in
Christians' hearts. Jesus, during his public life, often focused/dwelt upon the reality of his ultimate/last coming. Today I would like to reflect upon three Gospel texts which help us to enter into this mystery: that of the ten virgins, that of the talents and that of the final judgement. All three are part of Jesus’ discourse on the end of time, in the Gospel of St Matthew.

Firstly let us remember that, with the Ascension, the Son of God brought to the Father our humanity assumed by Him and wants to attract everyone to himself, to call the whole world to be welcomed into God's open arms, so that at the end of history the whole of reality may be consigned to the Father. There is, however, this “immediate time” between the first coming of Christ and the last, which is precisely the time that we are living.
In this context of the “immediate time" is placed the parable of the ten virgins (cf Mt 25, 1-13). It is about ten girls 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 all prepare to welcome him, but while five of them, (who are) wise, have oil to fuel their own lamps, the others, (who are) foolish, are there with their lamps extinguished because they have no oil; and while they are searching for some the Bridegroom arrives and the foolish virgins find the door leading to the nuptial feast closed. They knock with insistency/insistently, but it is now too late, the Bridegroom responds: I do not know you. The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time that He gives to us, to all of us, with mercy and patience, before his final coming; it is a time of vigilance; time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, in which to keep our hearts open to goodness, beauty and truth; (the) time to live according to God, because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ’s return. What is asked of us is to be prepared for the encounter — prepared for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter with Jesus -, which means knowing how to see the signs of his presence, keeping our faith alive, with prayer, with the Sacraments, being vigilant so as not to fall asleep, so as not to forget about God. The life of Christians asleep is a sad life, it is not a happy life. The/A Christian must be happy, the joy of Jesus. Let us not fall asleep!

The second parable, that of the talents, makes us reflect on the relationship between how we make use of the gifts received from God and his return, when He will ask us how we have used them (cf Mt 25, 14-30). We know the parable well: before his departure, the master consigns to each servant some talents, so that they will be used well/put to good use during his absence.
To the first (servant) he consigns five, to the second two and to the third one. During his absence, the first two servants multiply their talents — these are ancient coins — while the third servant prefers to bury his and consign it intact to the master. On his return, the master judges their work: he praises the first two, while the third is cast out into the darkness, because he kept the talent hidden through fear, closing in on himself. A Christian who is closed in on himself, who hides everything that the Lord has given him, is a Christian ...  is not Christian! He is a Christian who does not give thanks to God for everything that He/God has given him! This tells us that the waiting for the Lord’s return is the time of action — we are in the time of action —, the time in which to bring God’s gifts to fruition not for ourselves but for Him, for the Church, for others, the time in which to seek always to make good/goodness grow in the world. And particularly in this time of crisis, today, it is important not to close in on oneself, burying one's own talent, one's own spiritual, intellectual, material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but to open up, to be in solidarity, to be attentive to the other. In the square, I have seen that there are many young people: it this true? Are there many young people? Where are they? To you, who are at the beginning of the pathway of life, I ask: Have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought about how you can put them at the service of others? Do not bury your talents! Wager on great ideals, those ideals that enlarge the heart, those ideals of service that will render your talents fruitful. Life is not given to us so that we may preserve it jealously for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it. Dear young people, have a great soul! Do not be afraid to dream great things!

Finally, a word about the passage on the final judgement, in which is described the second coming of the Lord, when He will judge all human beings, living and 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 the right are placed those who have acted according to God’s will, succouring their hungry, thirsty, foreign, naked, sick, (or) imprisoned neighbour — I said “foreign”: I am thinking of the many foreigners who are here in the diocese of Rome: what are we doing for them? - while on the left go those who have not succoured their neighbour. This tells us that we will be judged by God on charity, on how we have loved our brothers (and sisters), especially the weakest and most needy/neediest. Of course, we must always keep well in mind that we are justified, are saved through/by grace, through/by an act of gratuitous love of God who always precedes us; on our own we cannot do anything. Faith is first of all a gift that we have received. But so as to bear fruit, the grace of God always requires our openness to Him, our free and concrete response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of God who saves. To us it is asked/We are asked to entrust ourselves to/trust in Him, to correspond to the gift of his love with a good life, made up of actions animated by faith and love.

Dear brothers and sisters, may looking at the final judgement never make us afraid: rather, may it urge/induce/impel us to live the present better.
With mercy and patience God offers us this time so that we may learn each day to recognize Him in the poor and in the little ones, so that we may strive for the good and be vigilant in prayer and love. May the Lord, at the end of our existence and of history, be able to recognize us as good and faithful servants. Thank you."

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