Caring for the Inner Life: The Pope’s Reflection on Wisdom and Foolishness

2023-11-12 11:37:09

In his reflection before the Angelus, Francis invites us to renounce the time spent in front of the phone screen to look at the light in the eyes of others, in our own hearts, in God’s gaze towards us.

Vatican News

The difference between wisdom and foolishness centers the Pope’s speech before the Angelus this Sunday. Before the faithful and pilgrims present in a St. Peter’s Square immersed in autumnal grey, Francis speaks about the preparation and care of the interior life, which involves abandoning appearances, looking at ourselves and stopping to listen to the heart, attend to the thoughts and feelings.

The difference between wisdom and foolishness

Inspired by today’s Gospel that proposes the parable of the ten virgins, called to go out to meet the bridegroom (cf. Mt 25:1-13), the Pontiff speaks of the meaning of life, which is “a great preparation” for when we will be called to go out to meet Jesus. And precisely in the parable the difference between wisdom and foolishness is expressed; of those ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish.

“All those bridesmaids are there to welcome the husband, that is, they want to meet him, just as we also wish for a happy fulfillment of life: the difference between wisdom and foolishness is not, therefore, in good will. Nor does it lie in the speed with which they arrive at the meeting: they are all there with their lamps, waiting. The difference between the wise and the foolish is another: preparation.”

Caring for the inner life

And that preparation in the evangelical text is in the haste with which the wise women “also took oil along with their lamps” and the foolish ones did not. A difference that – the Pope affirms – is in the oil, without which the lamps do not give light.

“We look at ourselves and see that our lives run the same risk: today we are very attentive to appearances, what matters to us is taking good care of our image and making a good impression on others. But Jesus says that the wisdom of life is in another dimension: in taking care of what is not seen, but which is more important, because it is within us. It is the care of the inner life.”

Give space to God

Francisco explains that taking care of one’s inner life involves stopping to listen to the heart, paying attention to thoughts and feelings.

“It means knowing how to give space to silence, to be able to listen. It means knowing how to give up the time spent in front of the phone screen to see the light in the eyes of others, in our own hearts, in God’s gaze towards us. It means, especially for those who play a role in the Church, not to get caught up in activism, but to dedicate time to the Lord, to listening to his Word, to worship.

Prepare the oil of the soul

The Holy Father recalls that it is the same Gospel that proposes preparation as the key to not neglect the oil of the interior life, “the oil of the soul.” In fact, Francisco says that the virgins, although they have the lamps, must prepare them, buy the oil, place it in the lamps, and the same thing, he tells us, we must do.

“The inner life is not improvised, it is not a matter of a moment, from time to time, once and for all; “You have to prepare it by dedicating a little time each day, with perseverance, as you do for every important thing.”

As always, the Pope concludes the Angelus with an invitation to reflect, this time, to know how the oil of our souls is, if we feed and conserve it, or if we are distracted in the daily routine of life “trying to save something”, “thinking in a house or a new car or in specific projects”, we are not dedicating time “to the heart, to prayer, to the service of others, to the Lord who is the goal of life.” And so, the Pontiff entrusted the Virgin to help us guard the oil of interior life.

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