At 4 pm on the Solemnity of All Saints, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at the entrance of Rome’s Cemetery of Verano, and then led a special prayer for the deceased and the blessing of the tombs. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini; Archbishop Filippo Iannone, Vice-Director of the Diocese of Rome; Auxiliary Bishops and the parish priest of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Father Armando Ambrosi. Here is the text of the homily prepared for the day.
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At this hour, before sunset, we recollect ourselves in this cemetery and think of our future; we think of all those who have gone from us, who have preceded us in life and are in the Lord.
The vision of Heaven that we heard in the First Reading is so beautiful: the Lord God, beauty, goodness, truth, tenderness, and fullness of love. All this awaits us. Those who have preceded us and died in the Lord are there. They proclaim that they were not saved by their works – they also did good works – but they were saved by the Lord: “Salvation belongs to our God who is upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10). He it is who saves us, he it is who at the end of our life takes us by the hand as a father, precisely to that Heaven where are forbearers are. One of the elders asks a question: “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” (v. 13). Who are these righteous ones, these saints who are in Heaven? The answer: “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14).
We can only enter into Heaven thanks to the blood of the Lamb, thanks to the blood of Christ. It is in fact the blood of Christ which has justified us, which has opened to us the doors of Heaven. And if today we remember these our brothers and sisters who have preceded us in life and are in Heaven, it is because they were washed in the blood of Christ. This is our hope: the hope of the blood of Christ! A hope that does not disappoint. If we walk in life with the Lord, he never disappoints!
In the Second Reading we heard what the Apostle John said to his disciples: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us …. We are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2). To see God, to be like God: this is our hope. And today, precisely in the day of the Saints and before the day of the Dead, it is necessary to think a bit of hope: this hope that supports us in life. The first Christians depicted hope with an anchor, as if life were the anchor thrown onto the shore of Heaven and all of us walking towards that shore, grasping the cord of the anchor. This is a beautiful image of hope: to have the heart anchored there, where are forbearers are, where the Saints are, where Jesus is, where God is. This is the hope that does not disappoint; today and tomorrow are days of hope.
Hope is a bit like leaven, which enlarges your soul; there are difficult moments in life, but with hope the soul goes forward and looks at what awaits us. Today is a day of hope. Our brothers and sisters are in the presence of God and we also will be there, by pure grace of the Lord, if we walk on the path of Jesus. The Apostle John concludes: “And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (v. 3). Hope also purifies us, it enlarges us; this purification in hope in Jesus Christ makes us go in haste, quickly. In this, today’s pre-sunset, each one of us can think of the sunset of his/her life: “How will my sunset be?” All of us will have a sunset, all of us! Do I look at it with hope? Do I look at it with that joy of being received by the Lord? This is a Christian thought, which gives us peace. Today is a day of joy, but of a serene, tranquil joy, the joy of peace. We think of the sunset of so many brothers and sisters who have preceded us, we think of our sunset, when it will happen. And we think of our heart and ask ourselves: “Where is my heart anchored?” If it is not well anchored, let us anchor it there, on that shore, knowing that hope does not disappoint because the Lord Jesus does not disappoint.[Original text: Italian} [Translation by ZENIT] [At the end of the Mass, after the blessing of the tombs, the Holy Father prayed for migrants who have lost their lives:]
I would also like to pray in a special way for these brothers and sisters that have died in these days while they sought a liberation, a more worthy life. We have seen the photographs, the cruelty of the desert; we saw the sea where so many were drowned. Let us pray for them. And let us also pray for those who were saved, and at this moment are in so many posts of hospitality, crowded, hoping that the legal practices are speeded up so that they can go somewhere else, more comfortable, in other centers of hospitality.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]