By Sean O'Donnell - 05 March, 2018
The prayer intention of Pope Francis during March is that the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.
This month’s reflection is from Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass on 26 November 2013.
In his homily at Holy Mass, the Pope commented on the day’s Reading from the Gospel of St Luke (Lk 21:5-11), in which Jesus prophecies the destruction of the temple. Noting the Gospel’s emphasis on destruction and the end of time, the Pope observed that each one of us and all humanity are moving toward the end of time. “A Christian is a man or woman who knows how to live in the moment and also knows how to live in time”, he said.
The “moment”, Pope Francis observed, is what we have in hand right now. “Perhaps we might feel that we are masters of the moment”. “But,” he added, “it is a trap to believe that we are masters of time. Time is not our own. Time belongs to God…. We may be masters of the moment, but there is only one Sovereign over time: Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Lord counsels us: ‘Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, I am he! and The time is at hand! Do not go after them’ (Lk 21:8-9), do not allow yourselves to be led astray into confusion”.
How is it possible to avoid being led astray? Through prayer and discernment, the Pope said. “Jesus admonishes those who did not know how to discern the present moment,” citing as an example the parable of the fig tree (Mk 13:29-29), in which Jesus reproves those who are able to perceive the arrival of Spring in the blossoming of the fig tree and yet are unable to recognize the signs of the times.
Discernment, Pope Francis said, helps us “to recognize true signs and to know the way we should take at this moment”. And prayer is necessary in order to live each moment well. “Yet the only Lord and Master of time is God”, he said, and there is nothing we can do about this. “There is no human virtue that has the least power to exert influence over time. The only virtue that can help us to confront the mystery of time must be given to us by the Lord: it is hope”.
The Pope therefore recommended prayer, discernment and hope. “In this way,” he said, “the Christian is able to move on the road of the moment, with prayer and discernment. But he hopes in the Lord as he awaits the end of time. Men and women of the moment and of time, of prayer and discernment and hope”.
Pope Francis concluded: “May the Lord grant us the grace to walk in wisdom. This, too, is a gift: that wisdom which, in the moment, leads us to pray and discern and which, in time, is God’s messenger that helps us to live with hope”.