Pope Francis turned his thoughts at Mass on Thursday to the end of the world. He took his cue from the readings of the day from the Book of Revelation, which describes the destruction of Babylon, a symbol of worldliness, and from the Gospel of Luke (21:20-28), in which Jesus tells of the devastation of Jerusalem, the holy city.
The fall of Babylon
On the day of judgment, Babylon will be destroyed with a mighty cry of victory, the Pope said. The great harlot will fall, he said, condemned by the Lord, and she will show her truth: “a haunt for demons, a cage for every unclean spirit.”
Pope Francis said that corruption will be revealed under her magnificent beauty and that her feasts will be exposed as false happiness.
“The melodies of musicians, harpists, flutists, and trumpeters will never be heard in you again. There will be no more beautiful feasts… Craftsmen of every type will never be found in you again; because you are not a city of work but of corruption. The sound of the millstone will not be heard in you again; no lamplight will be seen in you again. The city may be illuminated, but she will be without light, not luminous. Hers is a corrupt society – the voices of brides and grooms will never be heard in you again. There were many couples, many people, but there will no longer be any love. This destruction starts from within and ends when the Lord says: ‘Enough’. And there will come a day when the Lord says: ‘Enough with the appearances of this world.’ This is the crisis of a society that sees itself as proud, self-sufficient, dictatorial, and it ends in this manner.”
Jerusalem opened her heart to pagans
Pope Francis then turned to the fate of Jerusalem. She will see her ruin, he said, in another type of corruption, “the corruption that comes from unfaithfulness to love; she was not able to recognize the love of God in His Son.”
The holy city will be “trampled underfoot by pagans” and punished by the Lord, the Pope said, because she opened the doors of her heart to pagans.
“The paganization of life can occur, in our case the Christian life. Do we live as Christians? It seems like we do. But really our life is pagan, when these things happen: when we are seduced by Babylon and Jerusalem lives like Babylon. The two seek a synthesis which cannot be effected. And both are condemned. Are you a Christian? Are you Christian? Live like a Christian. Water and oil do not mix. They are always distinct. A contradictory society that professes Christianity but lives like a pagan shall end.”
Salvation for those who hope in the Lord
Returning to the two readings, Pope Francis said that, after the condemnation of the two cities, the voice of the Lord will be heard: Salvation follows destruction. “And the Angel said: ‘Come: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ The great feast; the true feast,” he said.
“Faced with the tragedies of life, we are called to look to the horizon, because we have been redeemed and the Lord will come to save us. This teaches us to live the trials of the world, not in a compromise with worldliness or paganism which brings about our destruction, but in hope, separating ourselves from this worldly and pagan seduction by looking to the horizon and hoping in Christ the Lord. Hope is our strength for moving forward. But we must ask it of the Holy Spirit.”
The humble remain after all collapses
Finally, Pope Francis invited us to think about the Babylonians of our time and about the many powerful empires of the last century which have fallen.
“The great cities of today will also end,” he said, “and so will our lives, if we continue along this road towards paganism.”
The Pope said the only ones who will remain are those who place their hope in the Lord. “Let us open our hearts with hope and distance ourselves from the paganization of life.”