Pope at Mass: nurture tomorrow’s hope by healing today’s pain
By Vatican News staff writer
In his homily for Sunday's World Day of the Poor Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis observed that the Gospel tells us of the bewildering signs before the Son of Man will come that help us intepret history where today's pain coexists with tomorrow's hope - from today's painful contradictions to the salvation that awaits us in encountering the Lord who comes to free us from all evil.
The Pope pointed how the poor are the most wounded and oppressed in history "marked by tribulation, violence, suffering and injustice", awaiting a liberation that "never seems to arrive". Today's World Day of the Poor calls us to focus in a special way on the "suffering of those most vulnerable", the Pope said, since they are often forced into this situation due to injustice and inequality, made worse by a "throwaway society" that ignores or abandons them.
Arising from the suffering and fear that this situation evokes, the light of hope exists and points to a "future of salvation", the Pope pointed out, saying that "Jesus wants to open our hearts to hope" and free us from anxiety and fear. "Tomorrow’s hope flowers amid today’s pain", the Pope said and this hope is at work within our wounded history today, as the kingdom of God is "blossoming like the tender leaves of the tree and guiding history to its goal, to the final encounter with the Lord" who will set us definitively free.
What can we do?
In view of suffering and hope, the Pope asked what is demanded of Christians given this reality? He said it means we must "nurture tomorrow’s hope by healing today’s pain". Christian hope is not just a naive optimism that things will be better tomorrow, but a call to action to help make God's promise of salvation "concrete...today and every day". It means building day-by-day the "kingdom of love, justice, and fraternity that Jesus inaugurated" through concrete gestures, the Pope emphasized, never ignoring or walking by those who need help. We need to be witnesses of compassion, he stressed, compassion that comes from a heart that is moved by tenderness and the desire to draw near to others to help them in the face of widespread indifference.
We must organize hope
The Pope paid tribute to a late Italian bishop who was very close to the poor, Don Tonino Bello, who used to say: “We cannot be content to hope; we have to organize hope”. Our hope must be expressed concretely with decisions, outreach, work for justice and solidarity, to alleviate the suffering of the poor, the Pope explained, stressing that hope must become reality "in our everyday lives, in our relationships, in our social and political commitments". He paid tribute to those who volunteer in helping the Church's outreach to help the poor to make concrete this hope.
Hope that blossoms through tenderness
As we read in today's Gospel, the leaves of the fig tree appear when the branches are tender, the Pope noted, and this word, "tenderness" is what makes "hope blossom in the world and relieves the suffering of the poor". He said we need to overcome our selfishness and interior rigidity and become sensitive to the world's tragedies, to share in its suffering and work to alleviate it. He observed how the tender leaves of tree can absorb the pollution all around us and "turn it into goodness". And rather than just discuss the problems and challenges, we must do something about them, as the leaves do we can also "turn dirty air into clean air", becoming "converters" of goodness by responding to evil with good, "by breaking bread with the hungry, working for justice, lifting up the poor and restoring their dignity".
In conclusion, the Pope noted how beautiful and prophetic the Church is when it reaches out to the poor to share the Good News and accompany them, to show that from their pain, hope can arise. "Let us bring this outlook of hope to our world", he underscored, through our tenderness, "because there, in them, is Jesus, who awaits us."