Vatican City, Feb 27, 2019 / 03:11 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that evil is limited compared to the expanding force of God’s holiness in the world.
“Evil’s days are numbered. Evil is not eternal,” Pope Francis said in a departure from his prepared remarks in St. Peter’s Square Feb. 27.
“God's holiness is an expanding force, and we beg that it quickly shatters barriers of our world,” he said, adding that this holiness “spreads in concentric circles, like when throwing a stone into a pond.”
Pope Francis explained that “prayer drives away all fear. The Father loves us, the Son raises his arms side by side with ours, the Spirit works in secret for the redemption of the world.”
“One thing is certain: it is evil that is afraid,” the pope said.
In a continuation of his weekly catechesis on the “Our Father” prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the line, “Hallowed be Thy name” at the general audience.
In the words, “Hallowed be Thy name,” he said, “you can feel all the admiration of Jesus for the beauty and the greatness of the Father, and the desire that all recognize him and love him for what he really is.”
“At the same time there is the supplication that his name is sanctified in us, in our family, in our community, in the whole world. It is God who sanctifies us, who transforms us with his love, but at the same time we too are the ones who, through our witness, manifest the holiness of God in the world, making his name present,” Francis said.
God is a mystery to us, but we are not one to him, the pope reminded Catholics. “When we talk to God, we do not do it to reveal to Him what we have in our hearts: He knows it much better than ourselves,” he said.
Pope Francis said that the “Our Father” prayer is easily divided into seven subgroups; the first three have God the Father at the center and the other four focus on our human needs.
“In the first part Jesus makes us enter into his desires, all addressed to the Father: ‘hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done;’ in the second it is He who enters into us and becomes the interpreter of our needs for daily bread, the forgiveness of sins, help in temptation, and liberation from evil,” he said.
He continued, “Here is the matrix of every Christian prayer – I would say of every human prayer – which is always made, on the one hand of contemplation of God, of his mystery, of his beauty and goodness, and, on the other of a sincere and courageous request of what we need to live, and live well.”
“The first step in Christian prayer is therefore the surrender of ourselves to God, to his providence,” Pope Francis said. “It is like saying: ‘Lord, You know everything, there is no need for me to tell you of my pain, I only ask you to stay here beside me: you are my hope.’”
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Catechism of the Catholic Church
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD
“FROM THENCE HE WILL COME AGAIN TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD”
I. HE WILL COME AGAIN IN GLORY
Christ already reigns through the Church. . .
668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”549 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”550 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.551
669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.552 Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. “The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom”.553
670 Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour”.554 “Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.”555 Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.556
. . .until all things are subjected to him
671 Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth.557 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover.557 Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.”559 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him:560 Marana tha! “Our Lord, come!”561
672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel562 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.563 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church564 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.565
The glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel
673 Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent,566 even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”567. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”.568
674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.569 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”570 St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”571 The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”,572 will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.573
The Church’s ultimate trial
675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.578
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.579 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.580 God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.581
* II. TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.582 Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.583 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned.584 Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.585 On the Last Day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”586
679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”.587 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.588 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.589
680 Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.
681 On Judgment Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history.
682 When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.
Until 12 years ago I used to be a devout cradle Catholic who was blessed to be taught basic Christian many godly nuns and priests. I don’t think it’s worthwhile for Christians to nitpick each others denominations on what is the most important dogma or governance structure. Lately I have been concerned about my perception that Pope Francis is tickling ears by promoting universalism that God will not punish prideful but ethical agnostics or atheists who reject the Living Word of God. His latest statements that “Evil days are numbered” seems to contradict End Times biblical prophecies about the Great Falling Away and the Rise of the anti-Christ. I hope your readers will understand my concerns that Pope Francis could be providing false comfort and unintentionally minimizing the need for all Christians to evangelize and prayer more fervently
Well put. Let all who believe in Jesus Christ rejoice in his eternal word, being guided and of use to our fellow man.