Pope's teachings

The Pope in March. Letting oneself be resurrected to be a witness of mercy

April began during Holy Week. It moved forward in awe, between the cross and the resurrection. Amazement before the Lord's surrender, the strength of his life now with us, and his mercy, which is poured out through his wounds, always open for us for all.

Ramiro Pellitero-May 1, 2021-Reading time: 5 minutes

The pandemic, the social and economic crisis and armed conflicts continue, Francis reminded in his message urbi et orbi. But in the risen Christ is our wonder and our hope. He urges us to allow ourselves to rise with him to a new life (more coherent from now on), to a life of witness and mercy. 

Awe and confidence before the cross

Already during the Palm Sunday liturgy, as an introduction to the whole celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Pope had expressed, and proposed to all, a sense of wonder for "the fact that he comes to glory by the way of humiliation." (homily 28-III-2021). "God is with us in every wound, in every fear. No evil, no sin has the last word. God wins, but the palm of victory passes through the wood of the cross. 

That's why the palms and the cross are together." (ibid.). This is why we must ask for the grace of wonder; without it, Christian life becomes gray and tends to take refuge in legalism and clericalism. We must overcome routine, remorse, dissatisfaction and, above all, lack of faith. We need to open ourselves to the gift of the Spirit, to that "grace of wonder". Astonishment at discovering that we are loved by God, that we are loved by God, that we are loved by God, that we are loved by God. "knows how to fill even dying with love". (ibid.).

On Holy Wednesday, Pope Francis presented the celebration of the Paschal Mystery - in the context of these days - as a renewal or reliving "the way of the innocent Lamb slain for our salvation." (general audience, 31-III-2021). 

The following day, at the Chrism Mass, he explained the necessity of the cross, as Jesus manifested in his preaching, in his life and in his self-giving, "the hour of joyful proclamation and the hour of persecution and the Cross go together." (homily, April 1, 2011). As a consequence, the Pope proposed, especially for the priests present, two reflections. In the first place, the presence of the Cross as a horizon, "before" those unfortunate events were unleashed, as an "a priori" (something prophesied and foreseen, accepted, assumed and embraced). And not as a mere consequence or collateral damage determined by circumstances. "No. The cross is always present, from the beginning. In the cross there is no ambiguity." (ibid.).

"We will be amazed at how the
God's greatness is revealed in the
smallness, how its beauty shines
in the simple and the poor".

Secondly, if it is true that the cross is an integral part of our human condition and of our fragility, the cross also contains the bite of the serpent, the poison of the evil one who seeks to do away with the Lord. But what he achieves, as St. Maximus the confessor explains, is the opposite. For in encountering infinite meekness and obedience to the will of the Father, it became a poison for the devil and an antidote that neutralizes his power over us.

In short: "There is a Cross in the proclamation of the Gospel, it is true, but it is a Cross that saves.". Therefore, we should not be frightened or scandalized by the cries and threats of those who do not want to hear the Word of God; nor should we pay any attention to the legalists who would like to reduce it to moralism or clericalism. For the proclamation of the Gospel receives its efficacy not from our words, but from the power of the cross (cf. 2 Cor 1:5; 4:5). For this reason we must also have recourse to prayer, knowing that "to feel that the Lord always gives us what we ask for, but he does it in his divine way.". And that is not masochism, but love to the end.

"Go to Galilee": to start again

In the Gospel, and also in our lives, all this leads to the Easter invitation: "He goes ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him." (Mk 16:7). "What does it mean for us to go to Galilee?"Francis asked in his homily at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday (April 3, 2011).

Going to Galilee means three things for us. First of all, to always start again, despite failures and defeats, from the rubble of the heart, even after these dark months of the pandemic, never to lose hope, because God can build with us a new life, a new history. 

Third, it means going to the frontiers: to those who have difficulties in their daily lives., their enthusiasm or resignation, their smiles and tears: "We will be amazed at how God's greatness is revealed in littleness, how His beauty shines in the simple and the poor.". And so we will be able to break down barriers, overcome prejudices, overcome fears, discover "the grace of the everyday".

Be merciful and become merciful

The risen Christ appears to his disciples. He consoles and strengthens them. They are "merciful" and become merciful. They are merciful "by means of three gifts: first Jesus offers them peace, then the Spirit, and finally the wounds." (homily on the Second Sunday of Easter, April 11, 2011).

Jesus brings them peace, peace of heart, which makes them move from remorse to mission. "It is not tranquility, it is not comfort, it is going out of oneself. The peace of Jesus frees from the paralyzing closures, breaks the chains that imprison the heart.". He does not condemn or humiliate them. He believes in them more than they believe in themselves; "He loves us more than we love ourselves." (St. John Henry Newman).

"The peace of Jesus frees from the
paralyzing closures,
breaks the chains that
imprison the heart".

He gives them the Holy Spirit and, with Him, the forgiveness of sins. This helps us to understand that "at the center of Confession is not us with our sins, but God with his mercy." (ibid.). It is the sacrament of the resurrection: pure mercy. 

He offers them his wounds. "The wounds are open channels between Him and us, pouring mercy on our miseries." (ibid.). At every Mass we adore and kiss those wounds that heal and strengthen us. And there the Christian way always begins again, to give something new to the world. 

They used to argue about who would be the greatest. Now they have changed because they have discovered that they have in common the Body of Christ and, with Him, forgiveness and mission. And so they are not afraid to heal the wounds of those in need. And Francis encourages us to ask ourselves if we are merciful or, on the contrary, if we live a "half-belief". To let ourselves be resurrected in order to be witnesses of mercy. 

Overcoming the virus of indifference

In the same vein, the Pope encouraged the bishops of Brazil - one of the largest episcopal conferences in the Church - to be instruments of unity. Unity that is not uniformity, but harmony and reconciliation. 

In a video message on April 15, he urged them to "work together to overcome not only the coronavirus, but also another virus, which has long been infecting humanity: the virus of indifference, which is born of selfishness and generates social injustice."

"Working together to overcome not
only coronavirus, but also
the virus of indifference, which
is born of selfishness and generates
social injustice".

The challenge - he reminded them - is great; but with the words of St. Paul, the Lord "he did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of fortitude, charity and temperance." (2 Tim 1:7). And there, in the risen Jesus, in his forgiveness and his strength, is our hope. 

To be open to wonder before the life of Christ and to rise with Him, beginning again through the confession of sins. And to be witnesses of love and mercy that transforms life. Such is the proposal for this Easter in hard times.

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