On Life in Eternity

"Before us there is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our name, as he said: 'I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,' also the God with my name, with your name, with your name... with our name. God of the living"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 6243 hits

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel presents us Jesus contending with the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. And it is precisely on this topic that they pose a question to Jesus to give him trouble and ridicule faith in the resurrection of the dead. They propose a hypothetical situation: “A woman had seven husbands, who died one after the other,” and they ask Jesus: “Whose wife will she be after her death?” Jesus, always meek and patient, first of all responds that life after death does not have the same parameters as life on earth. Eternal life is another life, in another dimension, where, among other things, there will be no marriage, which is linked to our existence in this world. The resurrected, Jesus says, will be like angels, and they will live in a different state that we cannot experience or imagine now. And this is how Jesus explains things.

But then Jesus, so to speak, launches a counterattack. And he does this by citing Sacred Scripture with a simplicity and an originality that fills us with admiration for our Master, the only Master! Jesus finds the proof of the resurrection in the episode about Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6), where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The name of God is connected to the men and women to which he binds himself, and this link is stronger than death. And we can also say of God’s relationship with us, with each one of us: He is our God! He is the God of each one of us! It is as if he bore our name. It pleases him to say it, and this is the covenant. This is why Jesus says: “God is not the God of the dead but of the living, because everyone lives for him” (Luke 20:38). And this is the decisive link, the fundamental covenant, the covenant with Jesus: he himself is the Covenant, he himself is the Life and the Resurrection because, with his crucified love, he overcame death. In Jesus, God gives us eternal life, he gives it to everyone, and thanks to him everyone has the hope of a life still more true than this one. The life that God prepares for us is not merely an embellishment of this present life: it transcends our imagination, because God continually awakens wonder in us with his love and with his mercy.

So, what will happen is precisely the contrary of what the Sadducees expected. It is not this life that illuminates eternity, the other life, the one that awaits us, but eternity – that life – that illuminates and gives hope to the earthly life of each one of us! If we look at things only with human eyes, we are brought to say that man’s journey runs from life to death. This is obvious! But this is only the case if we look at things with human eyes. Jesus stands this perspective on its head and says that our pilgrimage runs from death to life: to fullness of life! We are on a journey, on pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that life is what enlightens us on our journey! So, death is behind us, at our backs, not in front of us. Before us there is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our name, as he said: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” also the God with my name, with your name, with your name..., with our name. God of the living! ... Before us is the final defeat of sin and death, the beginning of a new time of joy and of light without end. But already on this earth, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in fraternity, we meet Jesus and his love, and in this way we can have a foretaste of the risen life. Our experience of his love and his fidelity lights a fire in our heart and increases our faith in the resurrection. In fact, if God is faithful and loves, it cannot be for a limited time: fidelity is eternal, it cannot change. God’s love is eternal, it cannot change! It is not for a limited time: it is forever! And to go forward! He is faithful forever and he awaits us, each of us, he accompanies each of us with this eternal fidelity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square:]

Today in Paderborn, Germany, Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel will be proclaimed blessed. Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, she lived in the 19th century. The Eucharist was the source from which she drew spiritual energy to dedicate herself with untiring charity to the weakest. Let us praise the Lord for her witness!

I would like again to assure the people of the Philippines and that region, who have been struck by a massive typhoon, of my closeness to them. Unfortunately, there are many victims and enormous damage. Let us pray for a moment in silence and then to Our Lady for these brothers and sisters of ours and let us try also to help them concretely. Let us pray in silence. [And then after a pause:] Hail Mary...

Today is the 75th anniversary of the so-called “Kristallnacht,” the night of violence against Jews, their synagogues, homes and businesses [in Germany and Austria] November 9-10, 1938. It marked a sad step toward the tragedy of the Shoah. Let us renew our nearness and solidarity with the Jewish people, our big brothers. And we pray to God that the memory of the past, the memory of past sins help us to be ever more vigilant against every form of hatred and intolerance.

This Sunday in Italy the Day of Thanksgiving is celebrated. I join my voice to that of the bishops, expressing my nearness to the agricultural world, especially to young people who have chosen to work the land. I encourage those who work to ensure that no one goes without healthy and adequate food.

I greet all the pilgrims, who have come from different countries, the families, the parish groups, the associations; in particular I greet the faithful of the dioceses of Liguria, accompanied by Cardinal Bagnasco and by the other bishops of the region.

I greet the Istituto Secolare Operaie Parrocchiali, the Centro Académico Romano Fundación, the faithful from the United States of America and from Tahiti, along with those from Riccione, Avezzano, Torino, Bertonico e Celano. A special thought goes out to the young people of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, the young people from Pescara and Monte San Savino and the Green Cross of Alessandria.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Goodbye and have a good lunch!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]