By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Introducing the Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations.
“Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Let us pray for the people who work in these meritorious institutions. May the Lord bless their work that does so much good.”
Jesus our consoler
Beginning his homily, the Pope pointed out that the setting of the Gospel Reading was gloomy. Jesus was at dinner with His disciples. They were sad because Jesus had said that one of them would betray Him. Seeing the disciples’ sad disposition, Jesus began to console them since one of Jesus’s many roles was to be a consoler.
Pope Francis remarked that consolation can come in many forms: genuine, formal, or even inauthentic. However, Jesus’s way of consoling us in times of difficulty is different. It takes three forms: nearness, truth and hope.
The consolation of Jesus is always close – never distant. God drew near to us in the Incarnation. When Jesus consoles, He does not use empty words. He says to us “I am here; I am with you.” The force of His presence and His closeness speaks to us even though it is silent.
Pope Francis remarked that the Gospel passage demonstrates that Jesus did not hide the truth from His disciples. He let them know that His death was near. However, Jesus spoke the truth gently, without seeking to hurt His disciples. Jesus speaks the truth because he is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Jesus consoled His disciples and restored their hope. He said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. I am going to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2).
The Pope noted that Jesus goes ahead of us to open the doors of heaven for all of us. As Jesus reassures His disciples that He would come back to take them with Him, so He will come back to take us. Jesus does not promise that we will not suffer but rather that when we do, he will be close to us to console us.
The Pope’s prayer
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis pointed out that “It is not easy to allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord.” In bad times, we may become angry with God and we do not allow Him to console us.
Pope Francis prayed that we might allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord. His consolation “is nearness, He is truth, and He opens the doors of hope”.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Pope Francis wished Happy Birthdady to Silvia, a receptionist at the Casa Santa Marta.