Pope Francis reminded Christians gathered for his general audience on Wednesday, October 18 that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death. He also prayed for the over 300 victims of a deadly bombing in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and condemned the terrorist attack that falls on an ravaged tortured nation.
Noting that death is a reality that modern civilization “tends, more and more, to set aside” and not reflect upon, Pope Francis said that for believers death is actually “a door” and a call to live for something greater.
For those “in doubt,” he added, it contains a glimmer of light that shines through a slightly open threshold.
For all of us, he continued, in the mystery of death is a grace and that light will shine for everyone.
Prepare for death
The pope invited those present to think of the moment of their death and imagine the time when Jesus will take us by hand and say: “come, rise and come with me”.
In that moment, he said, hope will end and it will become reality.
Often, he continued we find ourselves unprepared to face death, and yet for centuries past civilizations had the courage to face this inevitable reality. Older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.
Pointing out that our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath, Francis said “death lays bare our lives” forcing us to acknowledge that all those actions born from pride, anger and hatred” were useless and vain.
To the contrary, he said, it highlights how all the good things that we have sown have germinated and now “hold us by the hand”.
Jesus will take us by the hand
Jesus, the Pope explained, is the one who ultimately helps us to confront the mystery of death. He shows us that it is natural to weep and to mourn the loss of a loved one, just as he wept at Lazarus’ death.
But he did not only mourn, he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb pointing out that “Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death”.
Recalling the gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus in faith asking him to save his sick daughter, and Jesus’s exhortation: “Do not fear, only believe”, the Pope urged Christians not to be afraid, but to keep the flame of faith burning.
Jesus, Francis said, puts us on this “ridge” of faith: every time death comes to tear us away from the fabric of live and our earthly ties, Jesus is there reminding us that He is the resurrection and the life.
We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, Pope Francis concluded, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: “Talitha cum” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise. To each of us, he concluded, he will say: “I say to you, arise.”