By Linda Bordoni
Speaking during the homily on Thursday at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that in order to be able to go forward in Christian life, we must think back to and cherish our first encounters with Jesus, and remember those who transmitted the faith to us.
Christian memory is the salt of life
Drawing inspiration from the liturgical reading of the day in which St. Paul exhorts Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ”, the Pope said Christian memory is the salt of life.
Delving into your memory to relive your first meetings with the Lord is necessary in order “to find strength and be able to continue walking forward” he said, pointing out that “Christian memory is always an encounter with Jesus Christ”.
“Christian memory is like the salt of life. Without memory we cannot go on. When we encounter ‘forgetful’ Christians, we can immediately see that they have lost the flavour of Christian life and have ended up being people who obey the Commandments without spirituality”.
Remember your first encounter with Jesus
The Pope singled out three situations in which we have all met Christ: at the beginning of our lives as Christians, speaking to our ancestors, and in the law.
He recalled the passage in the Letter to the Hebrews which says:” Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful…” and said that in each of our lives there are moments when “Jesus approached us, manifested himself…”
“Do not forget these moments: think back and relive them because they are moments of inspiration, of meeting with Christ” he said.
“Each of us has moments such as these: when I got to know Jesus, when He changed my life, when the Lord showed me my vocation, when the Lord visited me at a difficult time... We all have these moments in our hearts. Let's contemplate them”
Because Jesus, he said, is the source of our Christian journey, the source that gives us the strength to go on.
Remembering those who transmitted the faith to us
The second encounter with Jesus, the Pope continued, takes place through the memory of your ancestors, which the Letter to the Hebrews calls "your leaders, those who taught you the faith".
In his second letter to Timothy Paul exhorts him to: “Remember your mother and grandmother as they have transmitted the faith to you”.
“We have not received the faith by mail” he said, but through those who passed it on to us.
And again, taking his cue from the Letter to the Hebrews, he said: “Look at them who are a multitude of witnesses and take strength from them”.
Do I have roots or do I live only in the present?
When the water of life becomes a bit cloudy, Francis said, “it is important to go to the source and find in it the source, the strength to go on”.
He encouraged believers to ask themselves whether their roots are strong, or whether they have become uprooted and live only for the day. If this is the case, he said, “Immediately ask for the grace to return to your roots” to those people who have transmitted the faith to us.
Memory of the law of love
Finally the law. Pope Francis said in the Gospel of Mark Jesus reminds us that the first commandment is: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!”
He said we must have memory of the law that is a gesture of love that the Lord made for us to direct us on the right path.
This is not the purely juridical law, he said, but the law of love that God has placed in our hearts.
“Am I faithful to the law, do I remember the law, do I repeat the law? Sometimes we Christians, even the consecrated ones, have difficulty repeating by heart the commandments” he said.
Memory and hope go hand in hand
Remembering Jesus Christ, Pope Francis explained, means “having one’s gaze fixed on the Lord” and thinking back to the moments in which I met him, is a way to move forward.
Memory and hope, he said, go hand in hand, they are complementary and they complement each other.
"Remember Jesus Christ, the Lord who came, who gave his life for me and who will come again. He is the Lord of memory, the Lord of hope" he said.
Each of us, Francis concluded, is invited to take a few moments to think back and remember the moments in which he or she met the Lord, to remember those who passed on their faith to us, to brush up on the law.