By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis took his cue from the liturgical reading of the day during his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning and encouraged those present to go ahead courageously rebuilding their lives, even although they have suffered great difficulties and defeat.
He was addressing some of the hundreds of marginalized people who have been assisted by the “Nuovi Orizzonti” Community to overcome and deal with the scars of abuse, poverty, dependencies and mental illness.
Reflecting on the reading from the Book of Ezra which tells of the rebuilding of the house of God that had been totally destroyed, the Pope said “it is not an easy thing to rebuild”.
According to the reading, “the Jews managed to do so because the Lord was with them,” he said, noting that “only when the Lord is with us, are we able to reconstruct, because it is more difficult to rebuild than it is to build.
We get used to living in ruins
To so many who have seen their lives fall to ruins and are perhaps struggling to pick up the pieces, the Pope said, destructive situations need a change of mentality “because people get used to living in ruins”.
Pope Francis then reflected on how reconstruction is not always convenient for everyone and he recalled how, “a group of merchants, at night destroyed the wall that was built during the day.”
“And in the end what did these people do, those who wanted to build?” he continued: “The Bible says that on one hand they had the bricks and in the other the sword, to defend the building”.
Thus, the Pope explained, the construction of the temple is defended both with work and with the sword, that is: with a struggle.
“The reconstruction of a life is a grace,” he said, “an undeserved grace, but it must be defended, with work and with a struggle, so as not to let the merchants of destruction return to make this life a pile of stones, ruins, bricks”.
Pope Francis recalled that so many times the people of God had to go forward, were defeated, and fell back again, until the arrival of Jesus.
Jesus too was reduced to ruins
“He too was reduced to ruins on the cross,” he said, but for the power of God.
The Pope concluded reflecting on the fact that the life stories that were told to him today, their witness to the power of reconstruction and redemption must be upheld.
He said they show that we cannot make it alone, but that God is with us and this is the root of our hope.
We are men and women of hope, he said, because Jesus came to rebuild the people of God and to save us.
Encouraging those present always to have the desire to rebuild the temple and to trust in the Lord, the Pope warned against the human desire for self-destruction.
And he prayed the Lord to give us this grace, the desire to rebuild always, never to be discouraged notwithstanding defeats.
“He is greater than defeats. He is the sword that wins. May the Lord help us to understand these things with the heart,” he said.