On Sunday Pope Francis encouraged people not to wait to reflect on their lives, but to ask themselves: If this was my last day on earth, am I prepared? Am I cooperating with God’s grace?
“It would be nice to think a little bit: one day will be the last. If it was today, am I prepared?” he asked Nov. 12. “Here, therefore, is the meaning of being wise and prudent: it is not to wait for the last moment of our life to cooperate with the grace of God, but to do it already, from now.”
The basis of the Pope’s Angelus reflection on preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven was the day’s Gospel passage of the parable of the ten virgins: five wise and five foolish.
In the parable, which he said, “tells us the condition to enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” we hear the story of five virgins who are wise and prudent, bringing oil for their lamps while they wait for the bridegroom. The other five, however, are foolish and are not prepared with oil.
Therefore, when the arrival of the bridegroom is announced the five foolish virgins realize, too late, that they are not prepared. Thus, the wise virgins enter into the banquet hall with the bridegroom and the door is closed on the foolish.
“What does Jesus want to teach us with this parable?” Francis asked. He reminds us to be prepared to meet the Lord, which means not only having faith, but also living a Christian life, “full of love, charity, for our neighbor.”
In the parable, the oil is a symbol for charity, he explained, which acts as a light for our faith, making it shine and become fruitful. On the other hand, if we live a life based on self-centeredness and our own interests, then our lives are made sterile and our faith “extinguished.”
“If, however, we are vigilant and try to do good, with gestures of love, sharing, service to our neighbor in difficulty, we can remain calm while we wait for the bridegroom’s coming,” he reassured.
Thought “the Lord may come at any time,” he continued, “even the sleep of death does not scare us because we have the oil reserve accumulated with the good works of every day.”
Look to the Virgin Mary, he said, who inspires us, through charity, to be active in our faith, “so that our lamp may shine here, on the earthly path, and then forever, at the wedding feast in paradise.”
Following the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke about Vicente Queralt Lloret and 20 companions and José María Fernández Sánchez and 38 companions, who were beatified in Madrid on Nov. 11.
Some were members of the Congregation of the Mission: priests, brothers and novices, he said. And others were laity who belonged to the Miraculous Medal Association. They were all martyred during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1937.
“We give thanks to God for the great gift of these exemplary witnesses of Christ and the Gospel,” he said.
Francis then concluded by greeting different pilgrim groups, including groups from Washington, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and New York. When he did, a group broke out in song for a moment, which the Pope paused to listen to. He then thanked them for the song before asking for prayers and wishing everyone a good lunch.