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How do you overcome the fear of the future? Pope Francis provides the keys

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
Pope Francis General Audience April 26, 2017 © Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
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At the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis offers a consoling message: “There will never be a day in our lives when we will cease being a concern for the heart of God.”

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VATICAN CITY —  Have you ever been gripped by a fear of the future that left you walking in circles or paralyzed from moving forward? Today, Pope Francis provided a deeper answer to this common human fear, urging Christians to remember that faith is the anchor that keeps our lives moored to the heart of God, amid every storm and difficulty.

Speaking to faithful and pilgrims at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope reminded them that, wherever we go, God’s love goes before us.

“There will never be a day in our lives when we will cease being a concern for the heart of God,” he said, as he continued his series on Christian hope.

“I am with you”

Reflecting on St. Matthew’s Gospel, Pope Francis observed that it begins with the birth of Jesus as Emmanuel — “God is with us” — and concludes with the Risen Lord’s promise to his disciples: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He said:

The whole gospel is enclosed in these two quotations, words that communicate the mystery of a God whose name, whose identity is ‘to be with,’ in particular, to be with us, with the human creature. Ours is not an absent God … He is a God who is “passionately” in love with man, and so tender a lover that he is incapable of separating Himself from him. We humans are able to break bonds and bridges. He is not. If our heart cools, his remains incandescent. Our God always accompanies us, even if we unfortunately forgot about Him. […] Christians especially do not feel abandoned, because Jesus promises not to only wait for us at the end of our long journey, but to accompany us during each of our days.

“How long will God’s care for man last?” the pope asked. “How long will Jesus’ care endure?”

The Gospel’s answer leaves no doubt: until the end of the world! The heavens will pass away; the earth will pass away; human hopes will be erased, but the Word of God is greater than everything and it will not pass away…. There will never be a day in our lives when we will cease being a concern for the heart of God. But someone might say: “What are you saying?” I am saying this: that there will never be a day in our lives when we will cease being a concern for the heart of God. He is concerned for us, and he journeys with us. Why does he do this? Simply because he loves us. Do you understand this? He loves us! And God will surely provide for all our needs; he will not abandon us in time of trial and darkness. This certainty needs to take root in our minds so as never to fade. Some call it “Providence.”

Anchored to heaven

From ancient times Christian hope has been symbolized by the anchor, as a sign of its roots in God’s promises. Today, Pope Francis said the anchor is a symbol he is particularly fond of because “it expresses that our hope is not vague.”

Christian hope is rooted not in the attraction of the future but in the certainty of what God has promised and realized in Jesus Christ. If he has guaranteed never to abandon us; if the beginning of every vocation is a ‘Follow Me,’ with which he promised to always go ahead of us, why should we be afraid? … The psalm says: ‘Even though I walk through a dark valley, I fear no evil for you are at my side’ (Ps 23: 4). It is precisely when the darkness is spreading that we need to keep a candle burning. […] Let us return to the anchor. Our faith is an anchor in heaven. We have our lives anchored in heaven. What must we do? Hold onto the rope: it is always there. And we advance because we are sure that our life has an anchor in heaven, on whose shores we shall arrive.

 

Because of our trust in God, and not in ourselves or in this world, we do not lose heart before life’s difficulties, disappointments and defeats, the pope said.

Of course, if we rely only on our own strength, we would be right to feel disappointed and defeated, because the world often proves indifferent to the laws of love. But if the certainty that God does not abandon us lives in us, that God loves us and this world tenderly, then our perspective immediately changes. “Homo viator, spe erectus,” the ancients said. Along the way, Jesus’ promise, “I am with you,” keeps us on our feet in hope, trusting that the good God is already working to accomplish what humanly feels impossible.

Pope Francis concluded today’s general audience, saying:

The holy, faithful people of God keep on their feet — “homo viator” — and walk, but standing up — “erectus” — and they walk in hope. And wherever they go, they know that God’s love goes before them: there is no part of the world that escapes the victory of Christ the Risen. And what is the victory of the Risen Christ? The victory of love.

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