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POPE’S MESSAGE | God gives hope for the future despite present-day suffering

VATICAN CITY — While the world reels from terrorism, natural disasters and division, God weeps with those who suffer and offers the hope of a future full of joy and consolation, Pope Francis said.

Recalling the victims of a terror attack in Barcelona Aug. 17, a devastating landslide Aug. 16 in Congo, and "many other" tragic global events, the pope urged Christians to meditate on God's tenderness when "they report sad news, which we are all at risk of becoming accustomed to."

"Think of the faces of children frightened by war, the cry of mothers, the broken dreams of many young people, the refugees who face terrible journeys and are exploited so many times," the pope said Aug. 23 at his weekly general audience.

Continuing his series of audience talks on Christian hope, Pope Francis said that in moments of suffering, Christians can find comfort in knowing they have a heavenly father, who "weeps tears of infinite pity for His children" and "has prepared for us a different future."

Reflecting on a reading from the Book of Revelation in which God proclaims that He "makes all things new," the pope explained that Christian hope is based on "faith that God always creates new things" in history, in the cosmos and in everyday life.

Christians must not look downward "like pigs" as if "we were forced into an eternal wandering without any reason for our many labors," he said. Rather, they must trust in God's promise of a "heavenly Jerusalem," a place "where there is no more death nor mourning nor weeping or pain."

God didn't create human beings "by mistake, sentencing Himself and us to hard nights of anguish," the pope said. "He created us because He wants us to be happy. He is our father and, if right now we are experiencing a life that isn't what He wanted for us, Jesus assures us that God Himself is working on our salvation. He works to save us."

Christians, he added, are called to be "people of spring rather than fall" and must always hold on to the hope that "our most beautiful days are yet to come."

"Don't forget to ask yourselves this question: Am I a person of the spring or the fall?" the pope told the pilgrims. "Am I of the spring, which awaits the flowers, awaits the fruit, awaits the sun that is Jesus? Or fall, which always has a face cast down, bitter and, as I have said at times, a sourpuss?"

"Creation did not end on the sixth day of Genesis, but continued tirelessly because God always worries about us," he said. "Yes, our father is a God of newness and surprises. And on that day, we will be truly happy and we will weep, but we will be weeping with joy." 

Pope: Christians must unite in witnessing hope to troubled world

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis sent a hand-signed message to the Italian synod of the Methodist and Waldensian churches, saying that it is more important than ever for Christians to witness together that God is stronger than the violence and evil taking place in the world.

"Christian witness cannot give into the logic of the world," the pope wrote to the synod's 180 delegates — half pastors and half laypeople — meeting Aug. 20-25. "Together let's help each other choose and live according to the logic of Christ!"

"It is important to walk together toward full unity with the gaze of hope," the pope said. "Recognizing that God's presence is stronger than evil is so important, especially today in a world marked by violence, divisions and indifference, where the selfishness of self-affirmation without regard for others obscures the simple beauty of welcoming, sharing and loving.

If all Christians keep their gaze firmly on Jesus, he said, they will grow closer to Jesus and to one another, building relationships that "are not only formal and correct, but fraternal and lively," the pope said.

"The Good Shepherd wants us to walk together and His gaze encompasses all of us, His disciples whom He wants to see fully united."

— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

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