The Pope directed his comments to those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse for his daily Mass on Nov. 28.
Reflecting on the day's reading taken from the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus speaks of the trials and tribulations that will precede the end times, the pontiff explained that when the Lord refers to this in another passage, “he tells us that it will be a desecration of the temple.”
It will be “a profanation of the faith, of the people,” he continued, and “it will be an abomination, it will be desolation and abomination.”
“What does this mean?” the Pope asked the Mass attendees, responding, “It will be like the triumph of the prince of this world: the defeat of God.”
“It seems at that final moment of calamity, it seems like he will take over this world, he will master of the world,” the pontiff observed, adding that in that time we will become aware this apparent victory over God would be more devastating than a great natural disaster.
These worldly powers which seek to destroy God, noted the Pope, also manifest in the contemporary desire to keep religion as “a private thing,” alluding to the fact that today many religious symbols have become taboo.
“You must obey the orders which come from worldly powers. You can do many things, beautiful things, but not adore God. Worship is prohibited. This is at the center of the end of time.”
Once we “reach the fullness of this pagan attitude,” the Pope continued, “then yes, he will come…’ truly the Son of Man will come in a cloud with great power and glory.’”
Christians who “suffer times of persecution, times of prohibition of worship” because of their beliefs, are a prophecy of what will happen to us all,” he emphasized.
Speaking of the prophet Daniel in the first reading who was thrown into the lion’s den because he refused to denounce his faith, Pope Francis encouraged those in attendance not to be afraid, saying that God “only asks of us faithfulness and patience.”
“Fidelity like Daniel, who was faithful to his God and adored God until the end. And patience, because the hairs of our heads will not fall out. The Lord has promised this.”
Urging those present at the Mass to continue reflecting throughout the week on this “general apostasy” which “is called the prohibition of worship,” the Pope challenged them to ask themselves “Do I worship the Lord?”
“Do I adore Jesus Christ, the Lord? Or, a little half and half, do I in some way play game of the prince of this world?”
“Worship until the end,” the Pope concluded, “with confidence and fidelity: this is the grace we must ask for this week.”
In his daily homily Pope Francis reflected on the end times, saying that faith will be increasingly pushed out of the public square and that persecution of Christians is a “prophecy” of what is to come.
Persecuted Christians, Pope Francis, Daily Mass