Vatican City, 2 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, 1 November, Pope Francis presided at the mass for the Solemnity of All Saints at the ceremony of Verano, attended by numerous Roman faithful. During the celebration the relics of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, the two recently canonised popes, were displayed for veneration, and at the end of the ceremony the Holy Father blessed the tombs.
Commenting on the reading from the Book of Revelation, Francis spoke in his homily on the devastation of creation by humanity and the many suffering peoples whose only hope is placed in God. “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees”, cried the Angel to the four Angels who were to devastate the earth and the sea and to destroy everything, and the Pope affirmed that “We are capable of devastating the Earth more fully than the Angels. And this is what we are doing. We devastate Creation … we devastate life, we devastate culture, we devastate values, we ravage hope. And how we are in need of the Lord's strength, to seal us with his love and his strength, to stop this mad race of destruction! The destruction of what He gave us, of the most beautiful things that He made for us, for us to nurture, to make them grow and bear fruit. Man has appropriated everything, believing himself to be God, believing himself to be king. And wars: wars continue, and as a system it is not exactly helping to sow the seeds of life, but is instead destroying it. It is an industry of destruction. And it is also a system in which that which cannot be fixed is discarded; children are discarded, the elderly are discarded, the young unemployed are discarded … entire populations are discarded”.
In the same passage St. John speaks about an immense and uncountable crowd, including every nation, tribe, people and language, an uncountable multitude that the Pope associated with the poor who, “to save their lives, have to flee their homes … and live in tents, suffering the cold, without medicine, hungry, because the 'god-man' has appropriated Creation, all that is good that God made for us. … And this is not ancient history – it is happening today. … It is as if these people, these hungry and sick children, did not count; as if they were of another species, as if they were not human. And this multitude stands before God and begs: 'Salvation, please! Peace, please! Bread, please! Work, please! … And among these persecuted people, there are also those who are persecuted for their faith”.
The Pope compared this multitude to the crowd dressed in white who washing their robes in the blood of the Lamb, as narrated in the Book of Revelation, and affirmed: “Today, on All Saints' Day, I would like us to think of all of them, all of these unknown saints, … all these people who suffer great tribulation. Most of the world experiences this tribulation. And the Lord sanctifies these people, sinners like us, but sanctifies them with tribulation”.
The third image the Pope evoked was that of God, or rather, hope. “And this is the Lord's blessing, that we still have: hope. The hope that He will take pity on His people, that he will take pity on those in their great tribulation, that He will take pity on the destroyers, so that they convert. … What must our attitude be, if we want to become part of this people who walk the path towards the Father, in this world of devastation, in this world of wars, in this world of tribulation? Our attitude, we have heard in the Gospel, is that of the Beatitudes. Only that path can lead us to the encounter with God. Only that path can save us from destruction, from the devastation of the land, of Creation, of morals, of history, of the family, of everything. Only that road: but it will not be easy. It will bring problems and persecution. But it is the only route that will take us forward”.
“May the Lord help us and give us the grace of this hope, but also the grace of the courage to leave behind all that is destruction, devastation, relativism of life, exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us: the exclusion of peace. May He free us from this and give us the grace to walk with the hope of finding ourselves face-to-face with Him one day. And this hope, brothers and sisters, does not disappoint”.