May 20, 2015
Pope Francis said on Tuesday (May 19th) many people like the Rohingya of Myanmar or the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq have been forced to say farewell to their homes and the lives of all of us are marked by farewells of varying importance. He said each of us should reflect on our own final farewell from this life and what it means for Christians to entrust themselves to God. The Pope’s words came during his morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence.
Pope Francis’ homily was a reflection on how our lives are marked by saying goodbye or farewell, how we do it and the reasons why we do it. He took as his inspiration the day’s readings where Jesus bids farewell to the disciples before his Passion and death and where St Paul bids farewell before going to Jerusalem and weeps on the beach with those who have come to say goodbye to him.
He said our lives are made up of many farewells, small and big ones and with some of them there is a great deal of tears and suffering.
“Let’s think nowadays of those poor Rohingya from Myanmar. When they left their lands to flee from persecution, they didn’t know what would happen to them. And they’ve been in boats for months over there. They arrive in a town where people give them water and food and tell them to go away. That’s a farewell. In addition, this great existential farewell is taking place in our times. Think about the farewell for the Christians and Yazidis (in Iraq) who believe they can no longer return to their lands because they were chased out of their homes. This is happening now.”
The Pope said there are small farewells such as when a mother hugs her son who’s going off to fight in a war and then there’s the final farewell for a person who is leaving this world and this theme of farewell is explored in art and in songs.
“I’m thinking of one, of the Italian “Alpini” regiment, when the captain bids farewell to his soldiers: the captain’s Will. I’m thinking of the great farewell, my great farewell, not when I must say ‘see you then,’ ‘see you later,’ ‘bye for now,’ but ‘farewell.’ These two readings use the word ‘addio’ (farewell in a final sense.) Paul entrusts everything of his to God and Jesus entrusts to God his disciples who remain on this earth. ‘They are not of this world but look after them.’ We only say ‘addio’ at a time of final farewells, be they of this life or be they our final farewell.”
Pope Francis went to say that each of us would do well to think of our final farewell or passing and examine our conscience, just like Jesus and St Paul did.
“What will I leave behind? Both St Paul and Jesus in these two readings carry out a kind of examination of conscience: ‘I’ve done this, this and this … And what have I done? It’s good for me to imagine myself at that moment. We don’t know when it will happen, but it will be that moment when expressions like ‘see you later,’ ‘see you soon,’ ‘see you tomorrow,’ ‘goodbye for now,’ will become ‘farewell.’ Am I prepared to entrust to God all that I have? To entrust myself to God? To say that word which is the word of the son entrusting himself to his Father.”
The Pope concluded his homily by praying that the Holy Spirit teaches us how to say farewell and truly entrust ourselves to God at the end of our life.