Two days after the horrendous jihadist attacks in Paris, Pope Francis preached about the “end times,” encouraging his hearers to be vigilant and ready at any moment to meet God face to face.
In his Angelus message Sunday, the Pope invited the ten thousand pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to think about their death, the day they will meet God and give an accounting for their life.
The Pope also explicitly addressed the Paris carnage, expressing his “deep sorrow for the terrorist attacks that bloodied France late on Friday, causing many casualties.” Along with offering his condolences to the victims and their families, Francis condemned the massacre as an “unspeakable affront to human dignity.”
“Such barbarity leaves us shocked and we wonder how the human heart can conceive and carry out such horrible events, which have shaken not only France but the whole world,” he said.
Francis unequivocally recognized the Islamist ideology behind the attacks, denouncing the use of God’s name to justify the brutal attacks as “blasphemy.”
Commenting on Sunday’s Scripture readings, the Pope said that Jesus’ preaching about the end of the world contains “apocalyptic elements, like war, famine, and cosmic catastrophes.”
“In those days,” Francis repeated, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”
These signs are not the most important things, however, the Pope insisted. “Our final goal is the meeting with the resurrected Lord.” The most important thing is not knowing when the end will come, but being ready for it when it does, he said.
“We are called to live the present,” Francis said, but always ready to meet God whenever he may call.
At the end of the world, Francis said, “Jesus’ triumph will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself out of love for one’s neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power and the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals and tragedies of the world.”
The Pope also warned against an unhealthy curiosity to know details of the future, with recourse to psychics and horoscopes, saying they distract us from what is really important in the present.
We are called rather “to watchfulness,” Francis said, that keeps us focused and ready at all times.
“In our days,” he concluded, “there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, as well as adversities of every kind.”
“The Lord tells us that everything passes and only He and his Word remain as a light to guide and strengthen our steps,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome