Sunday, November 12, 2017

Angelus about extra oil for our lamps

At noon today (in Rome), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday, the gospel (cf Mt 25:1-13) points out the conditions for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and it does so with the parable of the ten virgins who are given the role of bridesmaids welcoming and accompanying the bridegroom when he arrives for the wedding, and since at the time it was customary to celebrate weddings at night, the bridesmaids were carrying lamps.

The parable explains that five of these virgins are wise and five are foolish: in fact, the wise ones carry oil for their lamps along with them, while the foolish ones do not.  The bridegroom is late in arriving and all of them fall asleep.  At midnight, the bridegroom's arrival is proclaimed; the foolish bridesmaids realize that they do not have enough oil for their lamps, and they ask the wise bridesmaids to share their oil.  But the wise ones respond that they cannot spare any oil, because there wouldn't be enough for everyone.  While the foolish bridesmaids are searching for more oil, the bridegroom arrives;  the wise virgins enter with him into the room where the banquet is to be held and the door is closed.  The five foolish bridesmaids come back too late and knock at the door, but the response is: I don't know you (Mt 25:12), and they remain outside.

What does Jesus want to teach us with this parable?  We remember that we need to be ready for our meeting with Him.  Many times in the gospels, Jesus urges us to stay awake, and he does this again at the end of this story.  He says: Stay awake then, for you know neither the day nor the hour (Mt 25:13).  But with this parable, he tells us that staying awake does not only mean not falling asleep, but being prepared; all the virgins had fallen asleep before the bridegroom arrived, but when they were awakened, some of them were ready and some were not.  This is the meaning of being wise and prudent: not waiting until the last minute of our lives to collaborate with the grace of God, but to do so in anticipation of that moment.  It would be wonderful to think about it a bit: one of these days will be our last.  If that day was today, how would I prepare, am I prepared?  No, I need to do this and that ... Let us prepare ourselves as though today were our last day ... this is a good thing to do.

The lamp is a symbol of faith that lights our way, while the oil is a symbol of charity that nourishes our lives, makes the light of faith fruitful and credible.  The condition of being ready for the encounter with the Lord is not only faith, but a Christian life that is enriched with love and charity for our neighbour.  If we allow ourselves to be guided by whatever appears to be most convenient, by a quest for our own interests, our lives will become sterile, in capable of giving life to others, and we will not accumulate any extra supply of oil to feed the lamps of our faith; and this - our faith - will be extinguished at the moment when the Lord comes, or maybe even before that time.  If instead, we are vigilant and seek to do good, with gestures of love, of sharing, of service to others in difficulty, we can remain calm while we wait for the arrival of the bridegroom: the Lord can arrive at any moment, and even the sleep of death does not scare us because we have a reserve of oil, saved up through our daily good deeds.  Faith inspires charity and charity cares for faith.

The Virgin Mary helps us to transform our faith more and more into works of charity, so that our lamps can already shine brightly as we continue our earthly journey, and then forever, at the wedding feast in paradise.

After the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday in Madrid (Spain), Vicente Queralt Lloret and twenty of his companions who were martyred, and José María Fernández Sánchez and 38 of his companions who were also martyred - were all proclaimed Blessed.  These new Blesseds were - some of them - members of the Congregation of Missions: priests, affiliated brothers, novices; some were lay people who were part of the Miraculous Medal Association.  All of them were killed for hatred of the faith during the religious persecutions that took place during the Spanish civil war between 1936 and 1937.

I greet all of you, families, parishioners, associations and individuals, who have come from Italy and from many parts of the world.  In particular, I greet the pilgrims from Washington, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and New York; the parish choir from Saint Mary Magdalene in Nuragus (Sardegna); the faithful from Tuscany, Eroclano and Venice; the Bocciofila Society from Rosta and the recently Confirmed young people from Galzignano.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!

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