Cold winter weather didn’t stop thousands of pilgrims from flocking St. Peter’s Square to listen to Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square today.
The Holy Father, who was also bundled up with a coat and scarf, began his audience thanking the faithful for coming despite the freezing temperatures.
“You are very brave for coming here in this cold weather. Thank you!” he told the crowd gathered.
The Pope continued his catechesis on the Creed, reflecting on one aspect of the resurrection of the body: dying in Christ. Death, he said, can be viewed in a fearful or even scandalous manner, particularly when dealing with the death of someone close or innocent ones, like children.
“I have always been struck by the question: why do children suffer?, why do children die?,” he said. “If it is understood as the end of everything, death frightens us, it terrifies us, it becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every prospect, that breaks every relationship and blocks every path.”
This fear of death, he continued, can happen when one views life as just a period of time between birth and death, without believing in life after death. This view is typical of atheist thought which views life as a circumstance and a path towards nowhere.
“But there is also a practical atheism that exists, which is to live alone for one’s own interests and earthly things,” he warned. “If we let ourselves be taken by this wrong view of death, we have no choice but to conceal death, to deny it, or to trivialize it, so that it does not frighten us.”
The Holy Father went on to say that the heart of man “rebels” against this false concept, and this instinct inside us tells us that life does not end with death. The Resurrection of Christ gives all the hope and certainty of life after death.
“If we live united to Jesus, faithful to Him, we will be able to confront with hope and serenity even the passage of death,” he said. “If my life has been a path with the Lord, of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the last moments of my earthly existence as the definitive trustful abandonment in his receiving hands, in awaiting to contemplate Him face to face.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called on the faithful to remain close to Christ through prayer, in the Sacraments, as well as in acts of charity. One can thus can be well prepared for death.
“Solidarity in sharing pain and instilling hope is the premise and condition to receive in inheritance the Kingdom prepared for us,” he said.