By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
“Today our prayer is for all those persons who clean hospitals, the streets, who empty dumpsters, who go to each house to remove trash”. This was Pope Francis’s intention for the Mass he celebrated for the Sixth Sunday of Easter in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta. He continued saying, “It’s a work that no one sees, but it is a job that is necessary to survive. May the Lord bless them and help them”.
He then reflected on the Sunday’s Gospel passage (John 14:15-21) and the Second Reading (1 Peter 3:15-18) during his homily.
Jesus bids farewell with a promise
Pope Francis began his homily saying that as Jesus bade farewell to His disciples, He left them hope. That hope was the promise that He would not leave them orphans. It is this sense of being orphaned, of not having a Father, that is, and has been, the root of many problems on earth, he said.
“We live in a society that lacks the Father. A sense of being orphaned touches one’s sense of belonging and fraternity”.
Fulfillment of the promise
The fulfillment of this promise is the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit does not come to ‘make us His clients’”, the Pope said. Instead, the Holy Spirit comes “to show us how to access the Father, to teach us the way to the Father, the way that Jesus opened, the way that Jesus showed us.”
A spirituality directed only to the Son of God does not exist, the Pope continued. “The Father is at the centre”, he reminded us. “The Son was sent by the Father and returns to the Father. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to remind us and teach us how to access the Father”.
Sense of belonging
This “awareness that we are children” and not “orphans” is the key to living in peace, Pope Francis explained. Wars, both big and small, “always contain a dimension of being orphans because the Father who makes peace is missing”.
Attitudes of those belong to a family
Our mission as Christians is to accomplish what St Peter exhorts in the Second Reading. We are to bear witness to the hope that we have when others ask us for an explanation. “Do it with gentleness and respect”, Peter directed, “keeping your conscience clear”. Gentleness and respect are ways of behaving characteristic of those who share a relationship with a common father, the Pope explained. “They are attitudes of belonging, belonging to one family who is certain of having a Father” who is at the centre, who is everyone’s origin, the source of all unity and salvation. And He sent the Holy Spirit to “remind us” of how to access the Father, to teach us these familial attitudes of gentleness, meekness and peace, the Pope said.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
At the conclusion of his homily the Pope prayed, “Let us ask the Holy Spirit to remind us always, always, how to access the Father, to remind us that we have a Father. And to this civilization that has a huge sense of being orphaned, may He grant the grace of finding the Father once again, the Father who provides everyone with a sense of meaning in life. May He make all men and women one family."