Catholic World News

Pope Francis reflects on Rachel’s tears

January 04, 2017

Continuing his weekly series of catechetical addresses on Christian hope, Pope Francis devoted his January 4 general audience to the Old Testament figure of Rachel, weeping over her children.

“In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now turn to the figure of Rachel, the wife of Jacob, who died giving birth to her second child,” Pope Francis said to those gathered in Paul VI Audience Hall. “The prophet Jeremiah evokes Rachel’s tears—the tears of a mother who weeps for her children and would not be consoled—to describe the sorrow of the Chosen People at the time of the Exile.”

“Anyone familiar with the grief of a mother who has lost a child knows the power of this image,” the Pope continued. “In response to Rachel’s tears, God offers a word of consolation by promising new life in the return of the exiles (cf. Jer. 31:15-17).”

Pope Francis added:

In this Christmas season, we read Jeremiah’s prophecy on the feast of the Holy Innocents. In the Gospel for that day, Saint Matthew also evokes Rachel’s tears to describe the grief of those mothers who saw their children killed before their eyes, victims of a tyranny that despises and destroys life.

Yet it is in Mary, standing at the foot of the cross, that the prophecy is truly fulfilled. Our Lady’s tears for the death of her Son bear fruit in new hope and new life for all those who, through faith, become her children in the body of the Risen Christ, which is the Church.

Previous general audiences on hope:

  1. Isaiah 40: “Comfort, comfort my people…” (December 7)
  2. Isaiah 52: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings…” (December 14)
  3. Christ’s birth is the source of hope (December 21)
  4. On Abraham, who “hoped against hope” (December 28)


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