VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to renew their faithfulness to God every day and not procrastinate when it comes to their own personal conversion, Pope Francis said.
A hardened heart that sets aside “receiving the love of God” for another day, may find that it is too late to enjoy the heavenly reward awaiting those whose hearts are strong in the faith, the pope said Jan. 12 in his homily during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“I say this not to frighten you but simply to say that our life is a ‘today’ — today or never,” he said. “Tomorrow will be an eternal ‘tomorrow’ with no sunset, with the Lord forever if I am faithful to this ‘today.’ And the question that I ask you is what the Holy Spirit asks: ‘How do I live this ‘today?'” he said.
The pope centered his homily on the day’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews in which the author urges the Christian community to “encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.”
Hearts “are at risk” of losing this “today,” the opportunity of living life to its fullness and not ruined by sin, he said.
Recalling conversations with elderly people — particularly priests and nuns — the pope said he was always struck by their requests to pray for their final moments even if they led good lives in God’s service.
“‘But are you afraid?'” the pope said he would ask them. They would respond that they are not afraid of death, but requested prayers that they would be able to live to the very end of their lives “with a heart strong in faith and not ruined by sin, by vices, by corruption.”
Christians, Pope Francis added, must reflect on the state of their own “today” and ask whether their hearts are “open to the Lord” or closed and seduced by sin like “the doctors of the law; all those people who persecuted (Jesus), who put him to the test to condemn him and in the end, were able to do it.”
Today may well be a person’s last, he told those at Mass. It is healthy to ask, “How is my ‘today’ in the presence of the Lord? And how is my heart? Is it open? Is it strong in faith? Is it led by the love of the Lord?”