What's most important? God and our neighbor, Pope says

cna size Pope Francis Holy Mass in Jubilee the poor Daniel Ibanez 6 Pope Francis in St. Pete's Basilica on Nov. 13, 2016. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The reality that everything in this world is passing shouldn't frighten us, Pope Francis said, but instead it should strengthen us to place our trust completely in Christ, recognizing that what is truly important endures: the Lord and our neighbor.

The readings for the day, he said, "remind us that almost everything in this world is passing away, like running water. But there are treasured realities that remain, like a precious stone in a sieve. What endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear?"

"Surely these two: the Lord and our neighbor. These are the greatest goods; these are to be loved. Everything else – the heavens, the earth, all that is most beautiful, even this Basilica – will pass away; but we must never exclude God or others from our lives," he said in his homily Nov. 13.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica as the closing celebration for participants in the European Festival of Joy and Mercy held in Rome Nov. 11-13. The pilgrims all come from precarious situations such as extreme poverty and homelessness.

Organized by the French organization Fratello, the event brought in groups of pilgrims from 22 different countries, including a large number from France, Poland, and Rome itself. It was organized as a way to help the homeless participate more fully in the Church and in the Jubilee of Mercy.

Quoting the day's first reading from the Book of Malachi, Pope Francis said these words are for those who trust in the Lord: "For you… the sun of justice shall rise, with healing in its wings."

"For those who are materially poor but rich in God, the sun of justice will rise. These are the poor in spirit, to whom Jesus promised the kingdom of heaven and whom God, through the words of the Prophet Malachi, calls 'my special possession,'" he said.

These are contrasted with the proud, those who think they can live a secure and self-sufficient life of earthly possessions, but with no need of God.

"This last page of the Old Testament raises challenging questions about the ultimate meaning of life," Francis noted.

"Where do I look for security? In the Lord or in other forms of security not pleasing to God? Where is my life headed, what does my heart long for? The Lord of life or ephemeral things that cannot satisfy?"

Our hope and trust should be placed in the Lord and in our neighbor: "The human person, set by God at the pinnacle of creation, is often discarded, set aside in favor of ephemeral things. This is unacceptable, because in God's eyes man is the most precious good," he emphasized.

"Even the strongest kingdoms, the most sacred buildings and the surest realities of this world do not last forever; sooner or later they fall."

In the Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus says that there will be wars and insurrections, powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues, the Pope said. "Jesus does not want to frighten us, but to tell us that everything we now see will inevitably pass away."

People have always been curious about the end of the world, Francis said, "yet Jesus does not care for such curiosity."

"Those who follow Jesus pay no heed to prophets of doom, the nonsense of horoscopes, or frightening sermons that distract from the truly important things. Amid the din of so many voices, the Lord asks us to distinguish between what is from him and what is from the false spirit."

"This is important," he said, "to distinguish the word of wisdom that God speaks to us each day from the shouting of those who seek in God's name to frighten, to nourish division and fear."

Francis asked that today, as the Holy Doors of Mercy are closed in the cathedrals and basilicas around the world, we all "ask for the grace not to close our eyes to God who sees us and to our neighbor who asks something of us."

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"Let us look with trust to the God of mercy, with the certainty that 'love never ends,'" he said. "And let us open our eyes to our neighbor, especially to our brothers and sisters who are forgotten and excluded. That is where the Church's magnifying glass is pointed."

This is something we must do, the Pope said, because there is no peace in the homes of the prosperous "as long as justice is lacking in the home of everyone."

We must "persevere in the good" and place "all our trust in God, who does not disappoint," he said, quoting the passage from Luke 21 that says, "Not a hair of your head will perish."

"God does not forget his faithful ones, his precious possession. He does not forget us."

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