Reality can be ugly, but despite the suffering, corruption and indifference in today’s world as Christians we must hold our heads high in hope said Pope Francis at Mass Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta.
Basing his reflections on the Readings of the Day, Pope Francis spoke of the fate of the two cities of Babylon and Jerusalem. The Pope pointed out that both the First Reading from Revelation and the Gospel from St Luke Chapter 21, draw our attention to the end of this world.
He noted that they speak of the fall of two cities that refused to welcome the Lord and that drifted away from Him. These two cities fall for different reasons, he said. Babylon is the “symbol of evil, of sin” and “falls because of its corruption,” the city believed itself to be “the mistress of the world and of itself”. When ” sin accumulates – he warned – you lose the ability to react and you start to rot”. This also happens with “corrupt people, who do not have the strength to react”:
“Because corruption gives you some happiness, it gives you power and also makes you feel satisfied with yourself. But it leaves no room for the Lord, for conversion. The city is corrupt … this word ‘corruption’ says a lot to us today: not only economic corruption, but corruption with many different sins; the corruption of that pagan spirit, that worldly spirit. The worst [form of ] corruption is the spirit of worldliness!”.
This “corrupt culture”, he added, “makes you feel as if you were in Heaven, right here” but “within, the corrupt culture is a rotten culture”. Babylon is a symbol for “every society, every culture, every person who has distanced themselves from God, who has distanced themselves from love of neighbor, which eventually leads to rot”.
Jerusalem, however, Pope Francis said, “falls for another reason”. Jerusalem is the bride of the Lord, but is not aware of her Bridegroom’s visit, “she made the Lord weep”:
“Babylon falls because of its corruption; Jerusalem because of its distraction, its failing to welcome the Lord who comes to her rescue. She did not feel in need of salvation. She had the writings of the prophets, Moses, and this was enough. But sealed writings! She left no room for salvation: her door was closed to the Lord! The Lord was knocking at her door, but there was no willingness to receive Him, to listen, to be rescued by Him. And so she falls … “
Pope Francis noted that these two examples, “make us ponder our own lives”: are we like “corrupt and self- sufficient Babylon” or “distracted” Jerusalem?
The Pope went on to stress that “the message of the Church in these days does not end with destruction: in both texts, there is a promise of hope”. Jesus urges us to lift up our heads, not to be “frightened by the pagans.” These, “have their time and we have to bear it with patience, as the Lord endured his Passion”:
“When we think of the end of time, with all of our sins, with our history, let us think of the banquet which will be freely offered us and let us lift up our heads. Do not give way to depression: Hope! Reality is ugly: there are many, many people, cities and people, so many people who are suffering; many wars, so much hatred, so much envy, so much spiritual worldliness and so much corruption. Yes, it’s true! All of this will fall! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be prepared for the banquet that awaits us, always with our heads held high”.Vatican Radio (Emer McCarthy)