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Pope Francis: In moments of darkness choose the path of prayer and hope

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Pope Francis on Friday urged Christians not to fall into the trap of vanity in moments of pain and sorrow, but to resort to prayer, patience and hope in God.

The pope’s words came in his homily at morning Mass, in the chapel of his residence at the Santa Marta.

Do not be misled by the “cosmetic beauty” of vanity, he said, but let that “joy of God” enter your hearts, thanking the Lord for the “salvation” he grants us.

Reflecting on the first reading from the Book of Tobit, the Pope went through the story of a father-in-law and a daughter-in-law: Tobit, the father of Tobiah who became blind; and Sarah, Tobiah’s wife, who had been held responsible for the death of several men.

The Pope said the passage shows how the Lord carries forward the “history” and “the life of persons, including ours.” In fact, he said, Tobit and Sarah lived through “bad times” and “good times,” as “it happens over life.”  Tobit was “persecuted,” “teased” and “insulted” by his wife, who in the end, the pope said, was not a bad woman, because she had to manage the house as he was blind. Sarah too was insulted and suffered much.  Passing through some very bad times, both of them, the Holy Father said, thought “it is better to die.” He said:

“We’ve all been through bad times, though not as bad as this, but we know how its feels in times of darkness, in moments of pain, in times of difficulty, we know.  But then Sarah thinks: ‘If I hang myself, I will make my parents suffer.’  So she stops and prays. And Tobit says, ‘But this is my life, let’s go forward,’ and he prays.  Prayer is the attitude that saves us in bad times. And patience, because both of them are patient in their suffering. And hope — that God will listen to us and help us get through these bad moments. In moments of sadness, little or great, and in moments of darkness, we need prayer, patience and hope. Do not forget this.”

There are also bright moments in their stories but the Pope stressed it is like a “happy ending” of a novel.

“After the test, the Lord comes close to them and saves them. But there are some beautiful and authentic moments, not with beautiful cosmetics which are artificial, or all fireworks, which is not the beauty of the soul. And what do both of them do in the beautiful moments? They thank God, broadening their hearts with prayers of thanksgiving.”

The Pontiff exhorted those attending Mass to ask themselves whether, in various phases of life, we are able to discern what is happening in our soul, aware that the bad moments are “the crosses” and that one needs “to pray, to have patience and have at least a bit of hope.”

“The Lord is always there” beside us when we turn “to Him in prayer” and thank Him for the joy that He has given us, he said.  Through discernment, Sarah realized that she should not take her own life; Tobit realized that he had to “wait, in prayer and hope for the Lord’s salvation.” Pope Francis invited everyone to re-read these passages of the Bible:

“While reading this Book this weekend, let us ask for grace of discerning what happens in the bad times of our lives, and how to go on; and what happens in the beautiful moments, and not be misled by vanity.”