By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis’s intention for Wednesday’s Mass was for the elderly, especially those who are isolated or in nursing homes. Many of them, he said, are afraid of dying alone. But “they are our roots, our story, our history”. He invited us to pray for them, “that the Lord might be close to them in this moment”.
Our response to God’s fidelity
Pope Francis recalled his reflection the day before on St Mary Magdalene as the “icon of fidelity” in the Gospel. Pope Francis on Wednesday asked what it means for us to be faithful to God. Our fidelity to God, he said, “is nothing more than a response to God’s fidelity”.
God is “faithful to His word… faithful to His promise”. He “walks with his people, carrying out His promise close to his people”. We constantly experience God as Saviour, the Pope said, because “He is faithful to His promise”.
A more wonderful re-creation
In the first Reading, a man crippled from birth was healed in the name of Jesus. Pope Francis said this is an example of God’s fidelity, “who is capable of redoing things, of re-creating… this is His faithfulness to us: a re-creation that is more wonderful than creation”.
Like a good shepherd, God never tires of seeking the sheep that is lost, the Pope said. He does so “out of love, out of fidelity”; and not for pay, but freely, gratuitously. God is like a father who never grows tired of waiting for his son to return home – and who throws a party when he does. “God’s faithfulness is a feast, a free feast, a feast for all of us”.
God’s fidelity comes before our own
It is that divine faithfulness that led our “generous God” to seek after Peter, who had denied Jesus during His Passion. Pope Francis explained that although we do not know what the Lord said to Peter when He appeared to him for the first time after the Resurrection, “We know that it was God’s faithfulness that sought Peter out”.
As with Peter, God’s faithfulness always precedes our own, “and our faithfulness is always a response to that faithfulness that precedes us”.
For us, Pope Francis said in conclusion, “to be faithful is to praise this fidelity, to be faithful to [God’s] fidelity. It is a response to this fidelity”.