By Christopher Wells
“It is always joy that makes us young!”
Youth and joy were prominent themes during Pope Francis’ visit to the parish of St Paul of the Cross, in the southwest part of Rome.
Incredulous "for joy"
In his homily at the parochial Mass, the Holy Father focused on the days’ Gospel reading. The disciples, he said, knew that Christ had risen, but the truth had not entered into their hearts – they accepted the truth intellectually, but they couldn’t believe it. “Maybe they preferred to keep that truth in their mind,” he said. The Pope asked why they continued to have doubts, and answered from the Gospel: “they were incredulous for joy and were amazed.”
This happens to us, too, the Pope says when someone gives us good news. We can hardly believe it. “We do it to be sure, because, if this is true, it is a great joy.” The disciples not only believed, but were convinced; and this, Pope Francis said, is the “renewed youthfulness,” mentioned in the Collect, which is a gift of the Lord.
Rejuvenated by the risen Christ
“We are in the habit of ‘growing old’ with sin,” he continued. “Sin makes us grow old; but Jesus, risen, alive, renews us!” The fact of Jesus’ Resurrection is the primary truth of our faith. “Let us ask for the grace to believe that Christ is alive, and risen!” Pope Francis emphasized the importance of going to Confession, where we are renewed, rejuvenated; and the importance of receiving Holy Communion. “When you go to Communion, are you sure that Christ is living there, is risen?” he asked. Communion is not simply a piece of blessed bread, he insisted: “No, it is Jesus! Christ is living, is risen in the midst of us, and if we do not believe this, we will never be good Christians, we couldn’t be.”
He concluded his homily asking that we pray that our joy will not keep us from believing; for the grace to “touch Jesus”: in prayer; in the Sacraments; in receiving His forgiveness, which renews the Church; in meeting the sick, prisoners, those most in need, children, the elderly. “If we feel the desire to do something good,” he said, it is Jesus, risen, who urges us to it. It is always the joy, the joy that makes us young!”