“We are people of spring more than autumn”, explained Pope Francis during his wednesday weekly audience about christian hope.
The General Audience was held today, August 23, 2017, at 9:30, in Paul VI Hall, in the Vatican, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of visitors from Italy and from all over the world.
In his catechesis, the Pope reflected on the theme: “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5) and “the novelty of Christian hope”.
Pope Francis added: “I would like to ask now – each one answer in his heart, in silence, but answer –: Am I a man, a woman, a boy, a girl of spring or of autumn? Is my soul in spring or in autumn?” Each one answers himself.”
“We see the sprouts of a new world rather than the yellowing leaves on branches. We do not delude ourselves in nostalgias, regrets and laments: we know that God wants us to be heirs of a promise and tireless cultivators of dreams. Don’t forget that question: “Am I a person of spring or of autumn?””, asked Pope Francis.
He concluded: “Of spring, that waits for the flower, that waits for the fruit, that waits for the sun that is Jesus, or of autumn, which is always with a face looking down, embittered and, as I’ve said sometimes, with the face of vinegar peppers.”
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
Here is a ZENIT’s translation of the Pope’s words.
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
He who sat upon the throne said: “Behold, I make all things new.” And He added: “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We listened to the Word of God in the Book of Revelation, and it says thus: “Behold, I make all things new” (21:5). Christian hope is based on faith in God, who always creates novelties in man’s life, He creates novelties in history and He creates novelties in the cosmos. Our God is the God that creates novelties, because He is the God of surprises.
It’s not Christian to walk looking down — as pigs do: they always go like this — without raising our eyes to the horizon, as if all our journey ended here, in the span of a few meters of travel; as if there were no aim in our life and no landing, and we were constrained to an eternal wandering, without any reason for our many toils. This isn’t Christian.
The last pages of the Bible show us the ultimate horizon of the believer’s journey: the Jerusalem of Heaven, the celestial Jerusalem. It is imagined first of all as an immense tent, where God will receive all men to dwell definitively with them (Revelation 21:3). And this is our hope. And what will God do, when we are finally with Him? He will use an infinite tenderness towards us, as a father that welcomes his children who have worked hard and suffered. In Revelation John prophesies: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men! . . . He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. . . . Behold, I make all things new!” (21:3-5) — the God of novelty!
Try to meditate on this passage of Sacred Scripture, not in an abstract way, but after having read a chronicle of our days, after having seen the television news or the front page of newspapers, where there are so many tragedies, where sad news is reported to which we all risk growing inured. And I have greeted some <of you> from Barcelona: how much sad news form there! I have greeted some <of you> from the Congo, and how much sad news from there! And how many others! To name only two countries of <those of> you who are here . . . Try to think of the faces of children afraid of war, of the cry of mothers, of the broken dreams of so many young people, of refugees that face terrible voyages, and are exploited so many times . . . Unfortunately, life is also this, sometimes one should say that it is especially this.
It can happen, but there is a Father who weeps with us; there is a Father who cries tears of infinite compassion for His children. We have a Father who is able to cry, who weeps with us, a Father who waits for us to console us, because He knows our sufferings and has prepared a different future for us. This is the great vision of Christian hope, which dilates itself on all the days of our existence, and intends to uplift us.
God did not will our lives by mistake, constraining Himself and us to hard nights of anguish. Instead, He created us because He wants us happy. He is our Father and if we here, now, experience a life that is not that which He wished for us, Jesus guarantees us that God Himself is operating His rescue. He works to rescue us.
We believe and know that death and hatred are not the last words pronounced in the parable of human existence. To be Christians implies a new perspective: a look full of hope. Some believe that life retains all their happiness in youth and in the past, and that living is a slow decay. Others even hold that our joys are only episodic and passing, and that non sense is inscribed in men’s life, those that in face of so many calamities say: “But life has no meaning, our journey is non-sense.: But we Christians don’t believe this. Instead we believe that in man’s horizon there is a sun that illumines for ever. We believe that our most beautiful days are yet to come. We are people of spring more than autumn. I would like to ask now – each one answer in his heart, in silence, but answer –: Am I a man, a woman, a boy, a girl of spring or of autumn? Is my soul in spring or in autumn?” Each one answers himself. We see the sprouts of a new world rather than the yellowing leaves on branches. We do not delude ourselves in nostalgias, regrets and laments: we know that God wants us to be heirs of a promise and tireless cultivators of dreams. Don’t forget that question: “Am I a person of spring or of autumn?” Of spring, that waits for the flower, that waits for the fruit, that waits for the sun that is Jesus, or of autumn, which is always with a face looking down, embittered and, as I’ve said sometimes, with the face of vinegar peppers.
The Christian knows that the Kingdom of God, His Lordship of love is growing as a great field of wheat, even if in the midst of darnel. There are always problems, there is gossip, there are wars, there are sicknesses . . . there are problems! But the wheat grows and, in the end, evil will be eliminated. The future doesn’t belong to us, but we know that Jesus Christ is the greatest grace of life: it’s God’s embrace that awaits us at the end, but which already now accompanies and consoles us on the way. He leads us to God’s great “tent” with men (Cf. Revelation 21:3), with so many other brothers and sisters, and we will bring to God the memory of days lived down here. And it will be beautiful to discover in that instant that nothing was lost, no smile and no tear. Although our life might have been long, it will seem to us that we lived it in a breath. And that Creation was not arrested on the sixth day of Genesis but has continued tirelessly, because God has always been concerned about us. Until the day that everything will be fulfilled, in the morning that tears will be extinguished, in the very instant in which God will pronounce His last word of blessing: “Behold – says the Lord – I make all things new!” (v. 5) Yes, our Father is the God of novelties and surprises. And that day we will be truly happy, and we’ll weep. Yes, but we’ll weep with joy.
To Italian visitors
I now greet the Italian pilgrims. In particular, the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Clare, who are taking part in their Congregation’s General Chapter, and I exhort them to witness concretely the Gospel of hope and love. Numerous seminarians are present: those taking part in the 25th summer course, those of Saint Philip Neri’s Oratory and those of Verona: dear youngsters and youths who are preparing for the priesthood, train yourselves henceforth to live the Gospel with an ardent missionary spirit and with special attention in serving the poor and the needy. And don’t fail to pray the Rosary every day. In addition, I greet the members of the “Extended Wings” Association of Vittorio Veneto and the other groups present, especially the parishes. I hope for each one that this pause at the Tombs of the Apostles is a propitious occasion for a profitable spiritual renewal.
A warm greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Beloved, let us raise our gaze to Heaven to contemplate the splendor of the Holy Mother of God, whom we remembered last week in her Assumption, and whom we invoked yesterday as our Queen. Cultivate a sincere devotion to her, so that she is by your side in your daily existence.
Finally I address my thought and express my affectionate closeness to all those suffering because of the earthquake that on Monday evening affected the Island of Ischia. Let us pray for the dead, for the wounded, for the respective families and for the persons that lost their home.[Original text: Italian]
© Translation by ZENIT, Virginia M. Forrester