By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis spoke to the faithful from the Apostolic Library in the Vatican on Wednesday inviting them to find courage, strength and hope in God’s infinite love.
He began his General Audience, that was streamed live, with a poignant question:
“During these weeks filled with anxiety and suffering because of the pandemic (…) we may be asking ourselves a question about God: What does He do in the face of our pain? Where is He when everything is going wrong? Why doesn’t He solve the problems immediately?”
The account of Jesus’ Passion, which accompanies us in these Holy Days, the Pope said, helps us go forward with trust and hope.
In fact, he explained, the Gospels tell us that many questions were raised during the time of the Lord’s Passion, starting with when, after having welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, the people asked themselves when He would finally free them from their enemies.
“They expected a powerful and triumphant Messiah yielding a sword”, said the Pope. Instead, He was meek and humble of heart, calling for conversion and mercy.
It was precisely the crowd that greeted Him singing “Hosanna”, the Pope said, that then cried out saying “Let Him be crucified”.
They were confused and frightened, Pope Francis explained, and “those who followed Him abandoned Him. They were thinking: if this is Jesus’ fate, He is not the Messiah, because God is strong and invincible.”
But, Pope Francis continued, if we read further ahead in the Gospel account of the Passion, “we discover something surprising”:
“When Jesus died, a Roman centurion, a man who was not a believer, but had seen Him suffer on the Cross, who had heard Him forgive those who had harmed Him, was touched by His infinite love and said: ‘Truly, this man was the Son of God’”.
He revealed the true face of God, Pope Francis said, by saying the opposite of what others were saying.
The Pope went on to explain that God revealed Himself completely on the Cross, reminding the faithful not to forget that the Cross is the “chair” of God.
“It will do us good to look at the Crucified One in silence and see who our Lord is: He does not point His finger at anyone, but opens His arms wide to all, even to the one who is crucifying Him; He does not crush us with his glory, but allows Himself to be undressed for us; He does not love us with words, but gives us life in silence.”
It is time, the Pope observed, “to free ourselves from prejudices about God, and to look at the Crucified One".
Contemplate the Crucifix and read the Gospel
Pope Francis continued his catechesis urging the faithful to live life, in these holy days, as “a domestic liturgy”.
In these days of the Easter Triduum, he said, “look at the Crucifix and read the Gospel:
“In these days of quarantine when we are secluded at home, let’s take these two things in our hands: the Crucified One – let’s look at Him – and the Gospel. It will be for us like a great domestic liturgy because we cannot go to church.”
With God’s love all will be well
The true nature of God is Love, said the Pope, "the power of this world passes, while love remains”.
“God’s love healed our sin with His forgiveness at Easter by making death a passage that changed our fear into trust and our anguish into hope,” Pope Francis explained. In the same way, Easter tells us that God can turn everything to good, and that with Him we can truly trust that all will be well.
“That is why on Easter morning we are told: Do not be afraid!’. We are not alone, God does not forget us...” he said.
Pope Francis concluded saying that Jesus changed history "by being close to us."
“Through His death, He conquered death,” said the Pope. “So we too can change our lives by being close to Him,” in the certainty that “we are not alone because the Lord loves us, He does not abandon us and He never forgets us".