We are all children of God! Are we aware of this great gift? Yesterday, on the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis asked this during his Angelus address at noon in St. Peter’s Square, as he reflected on the saints who watch over us, those in our midst, and those we are meant to become.
Recalling that the day’s reading from the Book of Revelation recalls that saints are persons that, in “bearing His seal,” belong totally to God in a full and exclusive way, and are His property, the Pontiff posed the following question to the thousands gathered in the Square: “What does it mean to bear the seal of God in one’s life and in one’s person?”
The Apostle John, the Pontiff observed, says it means that, in Jesus Christ, we have become truly children of God.
“Are we aware of this great gift? We are all children of God!” the Pope said, adding, “Do we remember that in Baptism we received the “seal” of our Heavenly Father and became His children? To say it simply: we bear God’s surname, our surname is God, because we are children of God.”
“Here is the root of the vocation to holiness! And the saints we remember today are precisely those who lived in the grace of their Baptism, they kept the “seal” intact, behaving as children of God, seeking to imitate Jesus, and now they have reached their goal because they finally “see God as he really is.”
A second characteristic proper to the saints, the Holy Father continued, is that they are examples to imitate. Here, he pointed out, we do not only refer to canonized saints, but also to those who are or who have been in our midst, making the effort to live out the Gospel in their ordinary lives.
The Pope stressed that we have met these saints, perhaps in our family, or among our friends and acquaintances, and that we must be thankful to them and, above all, to God who has given them to us, put them close to us, “as living and infectious examples of the way of living and of dying in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and to His Gospel.”
“How many good people we have known and know, and we say: ‘But this person is a Saint!,’ we say it, it comes spontaneously. These are the ‘next door saints,’ those not canonized but who live with us,” Francis said.
The Argentine Pope highlighted that when we imitate their gestures of love and mercy, it is somewhat like perpetuating their presence in this world, and that these acts are the only ones “that resist the destruction of death.”
Gestures such as an act of tenderness, a generous help, time spent listening, a visit, a good word, or even a smile, might seem insignificant to our eyes, the Holy Father said, “but in God’s eyes they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death.”
Before reciting the midday prayer, the Pope prayed, “May that the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, help us to trust more in God’s grace, to walk with speed on the way of holiness. We entrust to our Mother our daily endeavor, and we pray to her also for our dead in the profound hope of meeting again one day, all together, in the glorious communion of Heaven.”
After launching a series of appeals, including for an end to violence in the Central African Republic, where he will visit later this month, Francis, as usual, concluded, wishing those gathered a good Sunday lunch, and telling them not to forget to pray for him. But, this week, he also wished all the faithful peace and serenity in the spiritual company of the saints.
Pope Francis also mentioned that Sunday afternoon, he would go to Rome’s Verano Cemetery, to celebrate Holy Mass in suffrage for the dead. “On visiting the main cemetery of Rome,” he said, “I will unite myself spiritually to all those that in these days go to pray at the tombs of their dear ones in every part of the world.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-angelus-address–3