Amid the confusion and anxiety often found in modern society, Christ offers us the perspective and freedom to order our lives properly, Pope Francis said at Mass in Tokyo on Monday.
“Worldly attitudes that look only to one’s own profit or gain in this world, and a selfishness that pursues only individual happiness, in reality leave us profoundly unhappy and enslaved, and hinder the authentic development of a truly harmonious and humane society,” he said.
But when we listen attentively to Christ, we find a new perspective on life, he continued.
“In Jesus, we encounter the summit of what it means to be human; he shows us the way that leads to a fulfillment exceeding all our hopes and expectations,” the pope said. “In him, we encounter a new life, where we come to know the freedom of knowing that we are God’s beloved children.”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Tokyo Dome stadium on Nov. 25, part of a three-day visit to Japan, which also included stops in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japan comprised the second leg of a papal trip to Asia, which began in Thailand Nov. 20-23.
In his homily, the pope cautioned that our sense of freedom as God’s children can be repressed when we become caught in “the frenetic pursuit of productivity and consumerism as the sole criterion for measuring and validating our choices, or defining who we are or what we are worth.”
“This way of measuring things slowly makes us grow impervious or insensible to the really important things, making us instead pant after things that are superfluous or ephemeral,” he warned.
“How greatly does the eagerness to believe that everything can be produced, acquired or controlled oppress and shackle the soul!”
Although Japan enjoys a highly developed economy, the pope said, many of its people are overwhelmed with the worries and anxieties of life.
“Increasingly, the home, school and community, which are meant to be places where we support and help one another, are being eroded by excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency.”
As society is faced with confusion and isolation, he said, Christ offers a “refreshing balm” for his followers when he instructs them, “Do not be anxious about your life.”
“This is not an encouragement to ignore what happens around us or to be irresponsible about our daily duties and responsibilities,” Francis said.
“Instead, it is an invitation to set our priorities against a broader horizon of meaning and thus find the freedom to see things his way…he invites us to re-evaluate our daily decisions and not to become trapped or isolated in the pursuit of success at any cost, including the cost of our very lives.”
This proper perspective allows us to reprioritize our lives, moving from a selfish and isolated existence to a community of gratitude and compassion that recognizes the value of all human life, including those who are sick, disabled, imprisoned, or sinful, he said. In this way, the Christian community becomes “the prophetic leaven of a society that increasingly protects and cares for all life.”
The pope also highlighted the importance of being willing to forgive, choosing the path of healing and reconciliation.
“For the Christian, the only possible measure by which we can judge each person and situation is that of the Father’s compassion for all his children,” he said.