In his Wednesday general audience address Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of Christian hope, saying that it consists in our joyful expectation of the return of its source, Jesus Christ. “Christian hope encompasses the whole person, so it is not a mere desire or an optimism, but the full realization of the mystery of divine love, in which we have been born and in which we already live,” the Pope told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 15. The Roman Pontiff continued his catechesis on the Church, turning this week to the theme of Christian hope as the fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ at the end of time. In the book of Revelation we read about this encounter with the Lord in St. John’s image of the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven, he noted, and is prepared like a bride adorned to meet her husband. This image of a wife waiting for her bridegroom speaks to us about God’s plan of communion with “the person of Jesus that God has traced throughout history,” he said, and this New Jerusalem evokes for us an idea of “the place where all peoples will gather together with God.” By using this imagery John, the Evangelist who wrote the apocalyptic book of Revelation, reveals to us a profound truth, he observed. Namely, the truth revealed to us is that “by taking on our flesh, Jesus united humanity to himself, and at his coming we will see the consummation of this mystic marriage in the wedding feast of heaven.” This vision of a New Jerusalem also serves as a reminder, the Pope continued, that the Church, as established by Christ, is intended in God’s plan to be “a City in which all men and women live at last in harmony and blessed peace.” “Christian hope, then, is our joyful expectation of the Lord’s coming and the fulfilment of his saving plan for the human family,” he explained, emphasizing that this hope goes beyond mere optimistic desires. “We yearn for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he makes himself closer to us every day in order to finally bring us to the fullness of his communion and peace.” Because of the Lord’s closeness, the Church in each generation is called to lift high “the lamp of this hope before the world” as a concrete sign of salvation, he said, and encouraged those present to ask themselves whether they have been a good witness to this hope. Have we asked ourselves if we are “true, luminous and credible witnesses of that hope; if our lives, our communities, manifest the presence of the Lord and the ardent hope of his return?” he probed. If not, “we run the risk of depleting the oil of our faith and losing our joy,” the Pope explained, commissioning all to be a “joy-filled witness” to our Christian hope in God’s promises. After concluding his weekly address Pope Francis gave personal greetings to groups of pilgrims present from various countries around the world, including England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Ghana, India, Japan, Thailand, Australia, the United States of America, México, Costa Rica and Argentina.
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