“Stop to think of death,” was Pope Francis advice in the morning mass he celebrated at Santa Marta, in the Vatican, on November 17, 2017. Not to have a morbid imagination, he specified, but to prepare oneself for “the encounter with the Lord.”
Commenting on the Gospel of the day (Luke 17:26-37), in his homily reported by Vatican Radio, the Holy Father stressed that although no one knows when “the call will come,” it does “one good”, for instance, at the beginning of a new day of work to think: “Today might be the last, I don’t know, but I’ll do my work well.”
“The Church says to us these days: stop a while, stop to think of death…stop, stop, every day will not continue like this. Do not get used to thinking>of it as if it were eternity. There will come a day when you will be removed,” added the Pope, exhorting to “think that our life will have an end.”
“To think of death isn’t bad imagination; it’s a reality,” assured the Pope. “If it’s bad or not depends on me, on the way I think about it, but it will come . . . and it will be the encounter with the Lord, that will be the beauty of death, that will be the encounter with the Lord, who will come to meet us, who will say: ‘Come, come blessed of my Father, come with Me.’”
“The other day I met a priest, more or less 65 years old…he didn’t feel well . . . he went to the doctor’s who said: ‘Listen, you have this, it’s serious, but perhaps there’s time to stop it. We will do this, if it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else, and if it doesn’t stop, we will begin to walk and I will accompany you to the end.’ Bravo to this doctor,” said the Pope.
Putting one on guard against the temptation to make of funerals “one more gathering, so as not to think,” the Pontiff invited to live normally, but looking always beyond, to the day when “the Lord will come to take me to Him.”
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester