The virtue of perseverance reflects to the world the unchanging love of God, Pope Francis said in his Angelus message Sunday.
After celebrating Mass for the World Day of the Poor, the pope led the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
“Perseverance is the reflection in the world of God’s love, because God’s love is faithful, it never changes,” Francis said Nov. 13, in a short message.
He referenced the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus tells those gathered to hear him that “in history almost everything collapses: there will be, he says, revolutions and wars, earthquakes and famines, pestilence and persecution, and so on.”
It is as if Jesus is saying “one should not place too much trust in earthly realities, which pass,” the pope said. “They are wise words…”
He said Jesus is trying to teach us the virtue of perseverance.
Francis explained that perseverance indicates a high level of strictness, but Jesus did not mean being inflexible and rigid with our own standards.
“Jesus asks us to be ‘strict,’ uncompromising, persistent in what he has at heart, in what counts,” he underlined.
“Because, what truly counts, very often does not coincide with what attracts our interest,” he said. “We prioritize the works of our hands, our successes, our religious and civil traditions, our sacred and social symbols. They are important things, but they pass away.”
The pope said Jesus wants us to focus on building “on his word, on love, on goodness.”
“Here, then, is perseverance: it is building goodness every day,” he said. “To persevere is to remain constant in goodness, especially when the reality around us urges us to do otherwise.”
Francis gave a few examples of what it means to not persevere in goodness: putting off prayer because you have a lot to do; not following the rules because you see others dodging them; discontinuing your service to the Church, community, and poor, because others use their free time for pleasure; not seeing results; boredom.
“Let us ask ourselves: how is my perseverance? Am I constant, or do I live faith, justice and charity according to the moment,” he said. “In short, do my prayer and service depend on circumstances or on a heart that is steadfast in the Lord?”
The pope quoted a line from The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which says: “Have no fear of men’s sin. Love a man even in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth.”
“If we persevere — Jesus reminds us — we have nothing to fear, even in the sad and ugly events of life, not even in the evil we see around us, because we remain grounded in the good.