Sunday, February 26, 2017

God is faithful – trust him and don’t worry, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis prays the Angelus with pilgrims in St Peter's Square Jan. 10, 2016. Credit: Alexey Gotovsky/CNA.While earthly pleasures such as power and money bring temporary satisfaction, they are ultimately fleeting and deceptive, Pope Francis said Sunday, explaining that God alone is faithful and in trusting him, we have nothing to worry about.
“God is not a distant an anonymous being: he is our refuge, the source of our serenity and our peace,” the Pope said Feb. 26. “He is the rock of our salvation, to whom we can cling with the certainty of not falling; he is our defense against the evil that is always lurking.”

For each of us God is a “great friend, allay and father,” he said, but noted that sadly, “we don’t always realize it.”

“We don’t realize that we have a friend, a father, who loves us. We prefer to cling to immediate and contingent goods, forgetting, and at times refuting, the supreme good, which is the paternal love of God,” he said. 

To know and feel that God is our Father is especially important “in this age of orphan-hood,” he said, noting that often times we distance ourselves from God’s love “when we go in obsessive pursuit of earthly goods and riches, thus showing an exaggerated love of these realities.”

Many friends or those whom “we think are friends” delude us with false illusions, he said, but stressed that “God never deludes.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing his speech on the day’s Gospel passage from Matthew in which God tells his disciples that “no one can serve two masters,” and that they don’t need to worry about necessities in life such as food, shelter or clothing, because “your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

The passage serves as “a strong call to trust in God,” Francis said, explaining that God’s “benevolent and responsive gaze” watches over each of us on a daily basis.

This gaze often “flows beneath the worry of many concerns, which risk taking away serenity and balance,” he said, but noted that “this anxiety is often useless, because it isn’t able to change the course of events.”

Rather, Jesus tells us “not to worry about tomorrow” because “there is a loving Father who never forgets his children,” the Pope said. While trusting in him “doesn’t magically resolve our problems,” it allows us “to confront them with the right spirit.”

He said the “frantic search” for earthly goods and riches is ultimately “illusory and a reason for unhappiness,” but that Jesus gives both his disciples and us “a fundamental gift of life” when he tells them to seek the Kingdom of God before all else.

Part of this search means “trusting in God who does not delude,” he said, and told pilgrims to “get busy as faithful administrators of the goods that he has given us, even the earthly ones, but without ‘overdoing it’ as if everything, even our salvation, depended only on us.” 

Turning to the Gospel verse where Jesus says “you cannot serve both God and mammon,” the Pope said it has to be “either the Lord, or fascinating but illusory idols.”

This is a choice that we are called to make not just once, but “in all of our actions, programs and commitments,” he said. “It’s a choice to make in a clear way and to be continuously renewed, because the temptations of reducing everything to money, power and pleasure are relentless.”

While pursuing and honoring these “false idols” brings “fleeting” yet tangible results, choosing the Kingdom of God doesn’t always bear immediate fruits, Pope Francis said, adding that “it’s a decision taken in hope and which leaves the full realization to God.”

“Christian hope is stretched to the future fulfillment of God’s promise and it does not cease before difficulties, because it is founded on fidelity to God, which never fails,” he said.

Francis closed his address praying that Mary would help each person to entrust themselves to the “love and goodness of the heavenly Father,” and to live both with and in him.

“This is the prerequisite for overcoming the torments and adversities of life, and even persecutions, as the witness of many of our brothers and sisters shows us,” he said, and led faithful in praying the traditional Marian prayer.