Memory was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at a Mass of which he was the principal celebrant in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, along with the cardinals resident in Rome, who were assembled to give thanks to God on the occasion of the Holy Father’s 80th birthday.
Memory – not merely recollection – of parents and forefathers, of friends and relatives who have gone before him, of the signs of a life well and fully lived – but most especially the memoria Dei, the “memory of God” that is present throughout salvation history and is the characteristic and the hallmark of Christian life.
“In Advent we started this journey, of vigilant expectation of the Lord. Today we stop, we look back, we see that the journey has been beautiful, that the Lord has not disappointed us, that the Lord is faithful,” he said.
“We also see that both in history, and in our own lives, there have been wonderful moments of fidelity and bad times of sin,” Pope Francis went on to say, “but the Lord is there, with hand outstretched to help you up and tell you: ‘Be on your way forward!’ – and this is the Christian life – going forward, towards the definitive encounter. Let not this journey of such intensity, in vigilant expectation of the Lord’s coming, take away the grace of memory, of looking back on everything the Lord has done for us, for the Church, in the history of salvation. Thus shall we understand why the Church does read this passage [the Genealogy of Jesus, Mt. 1:1-17] that may seem a bit boring – but here is the story of a God who chose to walk with his people and become himself, in the end, a man, like every one of us.”