By Philippa Hitchen
Reflecting on the day’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah, he said the Lord has come to console us. Just as the first disciples could hardly believe the joy of the Resurrection, we often find it hard to let ourselves be consoled by the miracles that God performs in our lives.
It is easier for us to console others, than to let ourselves be consoled, the pope said. So often, we are attached to the negative sins and scars in our hearts and we prefer to remain there on our sick bed, like the paralised man in St Luke’s Gospel, not wanting to hear Jesus telling us to ‘Get up and walk!’
Pope Francis continued by explaining that we prefer to bear grudges and to stew in our own juice because in that way we are masters of our own hard hearts. Like the paralised man, we prefer the ‘bitter root’ of original sin than the sweetness of God’s consolation.
We prefer to stew in our own juices
Such bitterness always leads us to complain, the pope said, with a constant whining as the soundtrack to our lives. He described the prophet Job as the Nobel prize winner of whiners, who complained about everything that God did.
Pope Francis also recalled an elderly priest he knew who complained so much that his companions joked about what he would say to St Peter, upon arriving in heaven. They said his first thoughts would be to ask about hell and to complain that there were too few people denied salvation.
Learn to let go of complaints
Faced with such bitterness, anger and complaining, the pope said, the Church repeats that we must have courage, just like the friends of the paralised man, who didn’t think about the reaction of the scribes, but only about helping their friend in need.
Ask the Lord to come and console
The message of today’s liturgy, Pope Francis concluded, is to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord, to be stripped of all our bitter egoisms and complaints. Let us examine our consciences and look into our hearts, he urged, asking if there is any sadness or bitterness there. Do we praise God, or do we always have something to complain about? Let us pray for the grace of courage, he said, asking the Lord to come and console us.