The Vatican

"Desire is not the desire of the moment," Pope Francis says

On a sunny Roman morning, the Pope's fourth catechesis on spiritual discernment took place in St. Peter's Square, focusing on the role of desire.

Javier Garcia-October 12, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
wish child

Photo: © Leo Rivas

Pope Francis continued on Wednesday, October 12, the Feast of the Feast of the Holy Cross, the catecheses on the discernment. In the previous sessions I had discussed the importance of prayer and self-knowledge in discovering God's will. Today he reflected on an "'indispensable ingredient': desire. In fact, discernment is a form of search, and the search is always born of something that we lack but that we somehow know.".  

All men have desires, some noble and others selfish. Some elevate us and aim at the best version of ourselves, while others debase us. The Pope pointed out that "desire is not the desire of the moment", but the root of "a longing for fullness that never finds full satisfaction, and is the sign of God's presence in us". If one knows how to identify the desires that do good to man, he has a "compass to understand where I am and where I am going".

Good wishes

The Pope's reflections recognized that the problem is often knowing how to recognize which desires are good and which are not. To find this out, he proposed that "a sincere desire knows how to strike deep into the chords of our being, so that it is not extinguished in the face of difficulties or setbacks," so that "obstacles and failures do not suffocate desire; on the contrary, they make it even more alive in us. Unlike the desire or the emotion of the moment, the desire lasts in time, even for a long time, and tends to become concrete. If, for example, a young person wishes to become a doctor, he will have to undertake a course of study and work that will occupy some years of his life, and as a consequence he will have to set limits, to say 'no', first of all, to other courses of study, but also to possible entertainments or distractions, especially in the moments of more intense study. But, the desire to give a direction to his life and to reach this goal allows him to overcome these difficulties".  

Our post-modern world has unleashed the Pandora's box of human desires, exalting a freedom separated from goodness and truth. As the Holy Father said, "the age in which we live seems to favor maximum freedom of choice, but at the same time it atrophies desire, which is mostly reduced to the desire of the moment. We are bombarded by thousands of proposals, projects, possibilities, that we run the risk of distracting us and not allowing us to evaluate calmly what we really want".  

Learning from the Gospel

To distinguish between one desire and another, the Pope proposed to look at the attitude of Jesus in the Gospel. "It is striking that Jesus, before performing a miracle, often asks the person about his desire. And sometimes this question seems to be out of place. For example, when he finds the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, who had been there for many years and could never find the right moment to enter the water. Jesus asks him: 'Do you want to be healed` (Jn 5,6) Why? In reality, the paralytic's answer reveals a series of strange resistances to healing, which do not have to do with him alone. Jesus' question was an invitation to clear his heart, to welcome a possible leap of quality: to no longer think of himself and his own life as a "paralytic", carried by others. But the man on the stretcher did not seem to be so convinced. Dialoguing with the Lord, we learn to understand what we really want from our life.  

The Pope also referred to another Gospel scene, the healing of the blind man of Jericho, when Jesus asks the protagonist "'What do you want me to do to you?Mc 10:51), how would we respond? Perhaps, we could finally ask him to help us to know the deep desire that God himself has placed in our hearts. And give us the strength to make it concrete. It is an immense grace, at the basis of all the others: to allow the Lord, as in the Gospel, to work miracles for us. For he too has a great desire for us: to make us sharers in his fullness of life.  

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