“Death is a fact; death is an inheritance; death is a memory.”
With these three reflections, Pope Francis invited his listeners at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta to remember that time is limited.
“We are neither eternal nor ephemeral: we are men and women on a journey in time, time that begins, and time that ends.” Inspired by the reading from the First Book of Kings, on the death of David, Pope Francis invited everyone “to pray, and to ask for the grace of a sense of time” in order not to be “imprisoned” by the present moment, “closed in on oneself.” Death, the Pope said, “is a fact that affects everyone.” For some it comes later, for some sooner, “but it comes.”
But there is the temptation of the present moment that takes hold of life and brings you to go wandering in this selfish labyrinth of the moment, without a future, always coming and going, coming and going, no? And the journey ends in death, we all know that. And for this reason, the Church has always tried to reflect on this our end: not death.”
It is helpful, Pope Francis said, to repeat often, “I am not the master of time,” because this reflection “saves us from the illusion of the moment, of viewing life like a chain with links made up of individual moments,” a transitory life “that makes no sense.” We say to ourselves, “I am on a journey and I have to look forward”; but, the Pope said, we should also consider that “death is a legacy,” – not a material inheritance, but a legacy of memory. And so we should ask ourselves:
“What would be my legacy if God were to call me today? What legacy would I leave as a testimony of my life?” It is a good question to ask ourselves. And thus we can prepare ourselves, because each one of us… none of us will remain “as a relic.” We must all go down this path.
Finally, the Pope said, “death is a memory,” an “anticipated memory” to reflect upon:
When I die, what would I like to have done in this decision that I must make today, in my way of living today? It is an anticipated memory that illuminates the “moment” of today, illuminating with the fact of death the decisions that I must make every day.
Knowing that we are on a journey that leads to death, Pope Francis concluded, “will make us treat everyone well.”