Faith brings hope even at moment of death, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians can find hope even at the hour of death, which faith teaches is
not a closed door but a wide-open passage to a new life with Christ, Pope
Francis said.

While all men and women are “small and helpless in
front of the mystery of death,” Jesus’ victory over death assures
Christians of the joy of the resurrection, the pope said Oct. 18 during his
weekly general audience.

Despite chilly temperatures in Rome, thousands gathered in
St. Peter’s Square to greet the pope who rode around St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile, stopping
frequently to greet pilgrims and kiss babies.

sure one child was kept warm, the pope pulled up the hood of the baby’s
jacket before he was taken back to his parents.

Continuing his series of talks on Christian hope, Pope
Francis reflected on death,
which is “a reality that our modern civilization tends to eradicate” so completely that
“when death comes to us or those around us, we are unprepared.”

Past civilizations, however, “had the courage to look
death in the face,” he said, and viewed death not with fear but as
“an inescapable reality that forced man to live for something absolute.”

Death “shows us that our acts of pride, anger and
hatred were vanity: pure vanity,” the pope said. “We realize with regret that
we have not loved enough and did not look for what was essential.”

Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus’ mourns his
friend’s death, the pope noted. Christ’s behavior shows that despite hope in
the resurrection, Christians
can “feel sorrowful when a dear person passes away.”

“Christian hope draws from the approach that Jesus takes against human
death: if this (death) is present in creation, it is nevertheless a gash that
disfigures God’s plan of love, and the savior wants to heal us of it,” the pope

In another instance, he continued, Jesus comforts Jairus after his daughter’s
death because “he knew that man was tempted to react with anger and

Jesus’ invitation to “not be afraid,” he said, is
a call for all Christians to guard the “small flame” of faith within
that keeps them from falling into “the precipice of fear” that comes
at the moment of death.

Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis asked
pilgrims to close their
eyes and “think about our own death and imagine the moment that
will come when Jesus will take us by the hand and say, ‘Come, come with me, get

“There hope will end and it will be a reality, the
reality of life,” Pope Francis said. “Jesus himself will come to each
of us and take us by the hand with his tenderness, his meekness, his

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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