MEDITATION OF THE HOLY FATHER in St Peter’s Rome on Friday 27th March, to the world has been moved to News on this site.
“The evening has come” ( Mk4.35). Thus begins the Gospel that we have heard. For weeks it seems that evening has fallen. Dense darkness has thickened on our squares, streets and cities; they took over our lives filling everything with a deafening silence and a desolate void, which paralyzes everything in its passage: you can feel it in the air, you can feel it in your gestures, the looks say it. We found ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples of the Gospel, we were taken aback by an unexpected and furious storm. We realized that we were on the same boat, all fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and necessary, all called to row together, all in need of comforting each other. On this boat … we are all there. Like those disciples, who speak with one voice and in anguish say: “We are lost” (v. 38),
It is easy to find ourselves in this story. What is difficult is to understand the attitude of Jesus. While the disciples are naturally alarmed and desperate, He stands in the stern, right in the part of the boat that first goes to the bottom. And what does it do? Despite the hustle and bustle, he sleeps peacefully, confident in the Father – it is the only time we see Jesus sleeping in the Gospel -. When he is awakened, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproachful tone: «Why are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith? ” (v. 40).
Let’s try to understand. What is the lack of faith of the disciples, which is opposed to the trust of Jesus? They had not stopped believing in Him, in fact they invoke him. But let’s see how they invoke him: “Master, don’t you care that we’re lost?” (v. 38). You don’t care : they think that Jesus doesn’t care about them, that they don’t care about them. Among us, in our families, one of the things that hurts most is when we hear ourselves say: “Don’t you care about me?”. It is a phrase that hurts and unleashes storms in the heart. It will also have shaken Jesus. Because no one cares more than he cares about us. In fact, once invoked, he saves his disheartened disciples.
The storm unmasks our vulnerability and leaves uncovered those false and superfluous certainties with which we have built our agendas, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have left asleep and abandoned what nourishes, supports and strengthens our life and our community. The storm uncovered all the intentions to “pack” and forget what nourished the soul of our peoples; all those attempts to anesthetize with apparently “saving” habits, unable to appeal to our roots and evoke the memory of our elders, thus depriving us of the immunity necessary to face adversity.
With the storm, the trick of those stereotypes with which we masked our “egos” always worried about their image has fallen; and once again, that (blessed) common belonging to which we cannot escape has remained uncovered: belonging as brothers.
” Why are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith? ». Lord, your Word affects us tonight and affects us, everyone. In this world of ours, which you love more than us, we have moved forward at full speed, feeling strong and capable in everything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves be absorbed by things and confused by haste. We have not stopped in front of your calls, we have not awakened in the face of planetary wars and injustices, we have not listened to the cry of the poor, and of our seriously ill planet. We continued undaunted, thinking of always staying healthy in a sick world. Now, while we are in a rough sea, we implore you: “Wake up Lord!”.
” Why are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith? ». Lord, appeal to us, an appeal to faith. That it is not so much to believe that You exist, but to come to You and trust You. In this Lent your urgent appeal resounds: “Get converted”, “return to me with all your heart” ( Gl 2,12). Call us to take this trial time as a time of choice. It is not the time of your judgment, but of our judgment: the time to choose what matters and what passes, to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is time to reset the course of life towards you, Lord, and towards others. And we can look at many exemplary travel companions, who, in fear, reacted by giving their lives. It is the working force of the Spirit poured out and molded into courageous and generous dedications. It is the life of the Spirit capable of redeeming, enhancing and showing how our lives are woven and supported by ordinary people – usually forgotten – who do not appear in the headlines of newspapers and magazines or in the big catwalks of the last show but, without a doubt, the decisive events of our history are writing today: doctors, nurses and nurses, supermarket workers, cleaners, carers, carriers, law enforcement, volunteers, priests, religious and many but many others who have including that nobody saves themselves. In the face of suffering, where the true development of our peoples is measured, we discover and experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “that all may be one” ( Jn17:21). How many people exercise patience and instill hope every day, taking care not to sow panic but co-responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and grandmothers, teachers show our children, with small and daily gestures, how to face and go through a crisis by adapting habits, raising their eyes and stimulating prayer. How many people pray, offer and intercede for the good of all. Prayer and silent service: these are our winning weapons.
” Why are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith? ». The beginning of faith is knowing that we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient, alone; alone we sink: we need the Lord like the ancient sailors of the stars. We invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us give him our fears, so that He will overcome them. Like the disciples we will experience that, with him on board, there is no shipwreck. Because this is the strength of God: turning everything that happens to us to good, even bad things. He brings peace in our storms, because with God life never dies.
The Lord challenges us and, in the midst of our storm, invites us to awaken and activate solidarity and hope capable of giving solidity, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be shipwrecked. The Lord awakens to awaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: in his cross we have been saved. We have a helm: in his cross we have been redeemed. We have hope: in his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and nobody will separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of the isolation in which we are suffering the lack of affections and encounters, experiencing the lack of many things, we listen once again to the announcement that saves us: he is risen and lives next to us. The Lord challenges us from his cross to find the life that awaits us, to look towards those who demand us, to strengthen, recognize and encourage the grace that lives in us. We do not extinguish the dead flame (cf.Is 42: 3), who never falls ill, and let hope rekindle.
Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the contrarieties of the present time, abandoning for a moment our anxiety about omnipotence and possession to give space to the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of arousing. It means finding the courage to open spaces where everyone can feel called and allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity, solidarity. In his cross we were saved to welcome hope and to let it strengthen and support all possible measures and ways that can help us to keep ourselves safe and secure. Embrace the Lord to embrace hope: here is the strength of faith, which frees from fear and gives hope.
” Why are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith? ». Dear brothers and sisters, from this place, which tells about the rocky faith of Peter, tonight I would like to entrust you all to the Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady, the health of his people, star of the stormy sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the world, God’s blessing descends on you like a consoling embrace. Lord, bless the world, give health to the bodies and comfort to the hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. But our faith is weak and we are fearful. But You, Lord, do not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Repeat again: “Do not be afraid” ( Mt 28.5). And we, together with Peter, “throw all concern into you, because you take care of us” (cf. 1 Pt 5,7).
Day 9. Wednesday 25th March, Feast of the Annunciation and on Day 11, Friday 27th March, Pope Francis asked us to join him in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the Urbi et Orbi blessing.
As we end another extraordinary day in our universal history one thing stands out clearly in the reporting and anecdotale evidence, the main response to this crisis has been people responding in love and compassion to this huge need. Whether they have been using their scientific, medical, administrative or political skills or whether they have been volunteering or ringing up their neighbours and families, the driving force has been love triggered by a determination that fear will be overcome by our humanity towards each other.
Today we contemplate with wonder and awe the miracle of God Himself becoming one with us, so that he might be with us completely in all our joys and pains, in all our achievements and failures, in the extraordinariness of being a human being and also in its ordinariness, God is with us completely. As Pope St Leo the Great who was pope from September 440 until 461, in a letter in today’s Office of Readings said of this reconciliation of God with humankind “Lowliness was taken up by majesty, weakness by strength, mortality by eternity… for he who is true God is also true human; and there is no deception in this union, where the loftiness of God and the lowliness of human are brought together…One of these is ablaze with miracles, the other is overcome by injuries. As the Word does not cease to be on an equality with the glory of the Father, so the flesh does not cease to belong to the nature of our humanit