The Vatican

"To pray is not to escape the difficulties of life."

Pope Francis has once again celebrated a public act after his week-long series of spiritual exercises. He did so by praying the Angelus on the morning of Sunday, February 28, where he warned against the danger of "spiritual laziness".

David Fernández Alonso-February 28, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
angelus Pope Francis

The Holy Father began his words by recalling the passage from the Gospel of the Transfiguration, which is included in the liturgy of the Mass: "This Second Sunday of Lent invites us to contemplate the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, before three disciples (cf. Mc 9,2-10). Shortly before, Jesus had announced that, in Jerusalem, he would suffer greatly, would be rejected and condemned to death. We can imagine what must have occurred in the hearts of his friends, his close friends, his disciples: the image of a strong and triumphant Messiah went into crisis, their dreams were shattered, and anguish assailed them at the thought that the Master in whom they had believed would be executed as the worst of evildoers. And precisely at that moment, with that anguish of soul, Jesus calls Peter, James and John and takes them with him to the mountain".

The Lord is risen and does not allow darkness to have the last word

Climbing the mountain

Francis reflected on the meaning of going up to the mountain, as an elevated place that anticipates the glory of Heaven: "The Gospel says: "He led them up a mountain" (v. 2). In the Bible, the mountain always has a special meaning: it is the high place where heaven and earth touch, where Moses and the prophets lived the extraordinary experience of the encounter with God. To climb the mountain is to come a little closer to God. Jesus goes up with the three disciples and they stop at the top of the mountain. Here, he is transfigured before them. His radiant face and his shining clothes, which anticipate the image of the Risen One, offer to these frightened men the image of the Resurrected One. the lightthe light of hope, the light to cross the darknessDeath will not be the end of everything, because it will open up to the glory of the Resurrection. Jesus, then, announces his death, takes them to the mountain and shows them what will happen afterwards, the Resurrection".

This anticipation, we can live it during Lent, "as the Apostle Peter exclaimed (cf. v. 5), it is good to be with the Lord on the mountain, to live this "anticipation" of light in the heart of Lent. It is an invitation to remind ourselves, especially when we are going through a difficult trial - and many of you know what it is like to go through a difficult trial - that the Lord is risen and does not allow darkness to have the last word."

Moments of darkness

"Sometimes we go through moments of darkness in our personal, family or social life, and we fear that there is no way out. We feel frightened in the face of great enigmas such as illness, innocent pain or the mystery of death. On the same journey of faith, we often stumble when we encounter the scandal of the cross and the demands of the Gospel, which asks us to spend our life in service and lose it in love, instead of keeping it for ourselves and defending it."

We are called to climb the mountain, to contemplate the beauty of the Risen One who lights flashes of light in every fragment of our lives and helps us to interpret history from the paschal victory.

In the face of these periods of difficulty, the Pope continued, "we need another way of looking at things, a light that illuminates the mystery of life in depth and helps us to go beyond our own schemes and beyond the criteria of this world. We too are called to go up to the mountain, to contemplate the beauty of the Risen Lord who lights up every fragment of our lives and helps us to interpret history on the basis of the Paschal victory.

The danger of spiritual laziness

In conclusion, Francis warned against the danger of spiritual laziness: "but let us be careful: Peter's feeling that 'it is good to be here' must not become spiritual laziness. We cannot stay on the mountain and enjoy the joy of this encounter alone. Jesus himself brings us back to the valley, among our brothers and sisters and to our daily life. We must guard against spiritual laziness: we are well, with our prayers and liturgies, and this is enough for us.

"No!" the Pope exclaimed in conclusion. To climb the mountain is not to forget reality; to pray is never to escape the difficulties of life; the light of faith is not for a beautiful spiritual emotion. No, this is not the message of Jesus. We are called to live the encounter with Christ so that, illuminated by his light, we can carry it and make it shine everywhere. To kindle little lights in people's hearts; to be little lamps of the Gospel that carry a little love and hope: this is the mission of the Christian".

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