Thursday, April 16, 2020

Pope Francis' Mass for 16 April 2020

At 7:00am local time this morning (1:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis celebrated Mass inside the chapel at the Casa Santa Marta.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the celebration of the Mass

In recent days, I have been scolded because I have forgotten to thank a group of people who also are hard at work. I thanked the doctors, nurses, the volunteers ... But you forgot the pharmacists": they too work a lot to help the sick get out of the disease. We also pray for them.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass celebrated on 16 April 2020

In those days, in Jerusalem, people had many sentiments: fear, amazement, doubt.  "In those days, while the crippled man who had been healed held on to Peter and John, all the people were filled with amazement ... (Acts 3: 11): the environment was not peaceful because things were happening that were not understood. The Lord went to his disciples. They too knew that he had already risen, Peter also knew it because he had talked to him that morning. These two who had returned to Emmaus knew it, but when the Lord appeared they were frightened. Shocked and full of fear, they believed that they were seeing a ghost (Lk 24: 37); they had had the same experience on the lake when Jesus came walking on the water.

But at that time Peter, making himself courageous, bet on the Lord and said: Lord, if it is you, let me come to you on the water (cf Mt 14: 28). That day, Peter was silent; he had talked to the Lord that morning, and nobody knows what they said about that dialogue ... and that was why he was silent. But the disciples were so full of fear, upset, they believed they were seeing a ghost. And Jesus said: But no, why are you upset? Why do doubts arise in your heart? Look at my hands, my feet ..., he let them see his wounds (cf Lk 24: 38-39). That was Jesus' treasure, the treasure that brought him to Heaven, in order to show him to the Father and intercede for us. Touch me and look; a ghost has no flesh and bones.  And then comes a phrase that gives me so much consolation and for this, this passage from the Gospel is one of my favorites:  But in their joy they did not believe ... (cf Lk 24: 41), again they were full of amazement, joy kept them from believing. There was so much joy that no, this cannot be true. This joy is not real, it is too much joy.  And this prevented him from believing.

Joy. Moments of great joy. They were overflowing with joy but paralyzed with joy. And joy is one of the desires that Paul has for his people in Rome: May the God of hope fill you with joy (cf Rom 15: 13). Fill with joy, be full of joy. It is the experience of the highest consolation, when the Lord makes us understand that this is something different from being cheerful, positive, bright ... No, it is another thing. Being joyful ... but full of joy, an overflowing joy that really seizes us. And for this reason, Paul hopes that the God of hope will fill you with joy, as he said to the Romans. And that word, that expression, filling with joy is repeated, many, many times. For example, what happened in prison when Paul saved the life of the jailer who was about to commit suicide because the doors had opened with the earthquake and then he announced the Gospel, baptized him, and the jailer, says the Bible, was full of joy for believing (cf Acts 16: 29-34). The same happens with the minister of the economy from Cand├áce, when Philip baptized him: Philip disappeared and he followed his path full of joy (cf Acts 8: 39). The same happened on Ascension Day: the disciples returned to Jerusalem, says the Bible, full of joy (cf Lk 24: 52).

This is the fullness of consolation, the fullness of the presence of the Lord. Because, as Paul says to the Galatians, joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf Gal 5:22), it is not the consequence of emotions that resulted in a wonderful thing ... No more. This joy which fills us is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit one cannot have this joy. Receiving the joy of the Spirit is a grace. I am reminded of the latest issues, the last paragraphs of Paul VI's Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (cf 79-80), when he speaks of joyful Christians, joyful evangelizers, and not of those who always live looking down. Today is a beautiful day to read these words. Full of joy. This is what the Bible tells us: But because for joy they did not believe ..., it was so much that they did not believe. There is a passage from the book of Nehemiah that will help us today in this reflection on joy. The people returned to Jerusalem found the book of the law, it was discovered again - because they knew the law by heart, the book of the law did not find joy - great celebration and all the people gathered to listen to the priest Ezra who read the book of the law. The people were moved and wept, wept with joy because they had found the book of the law and they wept, it was joyful, the tears ... At the end when the priest Ezra finished, Nehemiah said to the people: Rest assured, now do not cry anymore, keep the joy, because joy in the Lord is your strength (cf Ne 8: 1-12). This word from the book of Nehemiah will help us today. The great strength that we have to transform, to preach the Gospel, to go forward as witnesses of life is the joy of the Lord which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and today we ask him to grant us this fruit.

After the completion of the Mass, the Holy Father spent some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  All those who could not be physically present, but who were participating via various media were encouraged to be united with him in prayer and to make a spiritual communion.

Prayer to make a spiritual communion

My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things and I desire you in my soul. Since I cannot receive You sacramentally now, at least spiritually come to my heart. As you have already come, I embrace you and I join myself to you. Do not let me ever be separated from you.  Amen.

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