Greetings of His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to the celebration of the Mass
Yesterday, I received a letter from a Sister, who is working as a translator in sign language for the deaf and the mute, and she told me about the difficult work that is being accomplished by health workers, nurses and doctors who are working with those who are disabled and who are sick with COVID-19. Let us pray for them: they are constantly serving these people with various abilities, but they do not have the same abilities as we do.
Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass celebrated on 18 April 2020
The leaders, the elders, the scribes, seeing these men and the frankness with which they spoke, and knowing that they were people without education - perhaps they could not write - they were amazed. They did not understand: But it is something we cannot understand, how courageous these people are, this frankness (cf Acts 4: 13). This word is a very important word which becomes the style proper to Christian preachers, also in the Book of Acts of the Apostles: frankness. Courage. It means all that. Say it clearly. It comes from the Greek root of saying everything, and we too use this word many times, the Greek word, to indicate this: parrhesia, frankness, courage. And they saw this frankness, this courage, this parrhesia in them and they didn't understand.
Frankness. The courage and frankness with which the first apostles preached ... For example, the Book of Acts is full of this: it says that Paul and Barnabas tried to explain to the Jews frankly the mystery of Jesus and they preached the Gospel with frankness (cf Acts 13: 46).
There is a verse that I like so much in the Letter to the Hebrews, when the author of the Letter to the Hebrews realizes that there is something in the community that is going down, that some Christians are missing that thing, that there is a certain warmth, that these Christians are becoming lukewarm. And he says this - I don't remember the quote well ... - he says this: Called back to the first days, you have endured a great and hard struggle: don't throw away your frankness now (cf Heb 10: 32-35). Take back, rediscover the frankness, the Christian courage to move forward. One cannot be a Christian without this frankness: if it is not present, you are not a good Christian. If you don't have the courage, if in order to explain your position you slip into ideologies or case explanations, you lack that frankness, you lack that Christian style, the freedom to speak, to say everything. Bravery.
And then, we see that the leaders, the elderly and the scribes are victims, they are victims of this frankness, because it puts them on the corner: they don't know what to do. Realizing that they were simple and uneducated people, they were amazed and recognized them as those who had been with Jesus. Then seeing the man who had been healed standing next to them, they did not know what to reply (Acts 4: 13-14). Instead of accepting the truth as we saw, their hearts were so closed that they sought the path of diplomacy, the path of compromise: Let's frighten them a bit, tell them that they will be punished and see if they keep silent (cf Acts 4:16 -17). Really, they were cornered just by frankness: they didn't know how to get out of it. But it didn't occur to them to say, But isn't this true? Their hearts were already closed, they were hardened: their hearts were corrupt. This is one of the tragedies: the power of the Holy Spirit that is manifested in this frankness of preaching, in this madness of preaching, cannot enter into corrupt hearts. For this reason, we must always be careful: yes we are sinners, but we must never be corrupt. And don't get to this corruption that has so many ways to manifest itself ...
But, they were on the corner and didn't know what to say. And in the end, they found a compromise: Threaten them a little, frighten them a little, and then invite them, they called them back and ordered them, they invited them not to speak at any time or to teach in the name of Jesus. Peace: you go in peace, but do not speak in the name of Jesus, do not teach (cf Acts 4: 18). We know Peter: he was not a brave man. He was a coward, he had denied Jesus. But what happened now? The apostles - Peter - replied: If it is right before God to obey you instead of God, judge him; we cannot keep silent about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4: 19-20). But where does this courage come from, for this coward who denied the Lord? What happened to this man's heart? It is the gift of the Holy Spirit: frankness, courage, parrhesia is a gift, a grace that the Holy Spirit gives on the day of Pentecost. Just after receiving the Holy Spirit, they went out to preach: they were brave, this was something new for them. This is coherence, the sign of the Christian, of the true Christian: he is courageous, he tells the whole truth because it is coherent.
And the Lord calls on this coherence in sending them forth. After this synthesis made by Mark in the Gospel: Risen in the morning ... (Mk 16: 9) - a synthesis of the resurrection -, he reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen him risen (Mk 16: 14). But with the power of the Holy Spirit - this is Jesus' greeting: Receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 20: 22) - and he said to them: Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation (Mk 16: 15) ). Go boldly, go frankly, don't be afraid. Do not - I repeat the verse of the Letter to the Hebrews - do not throw away your frankness, do not throw away this gift of the Holy Spirit (cf Heb 10: 35). The mission is born from here, from this gift that makes us brave, frank in the proclamation of the word.
May the Lord always help us to be like this: courageous. This does not mean that we should be imprudent: no, no. Courageous. Christian courage is always prudent; we must be courageous.
Prayer to make a spiritual communion
Those who cannot receive communion, make your spiritual communion now:
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.
A Tes pieds, ô mon Jésus, je me prosterne et je T'offre le repentir de mon cœur contrit qui demeure dans son néant et en Ta sainte présence. Je t'adore dans le Sacrement de Ton amour, l'ineffable Eucharistie. Je désire te recevoir dans la pauvre demeure que mon cœur t'offre. Dans l'attente du bonheur de la communion sacramentelle, je veux te posséder en esprit. Viens à moi, ô mon Jésus, que je vienne à Toi. Que Ton amour enflamme tout mon être, pour la vie et pour la mort. Je crois en toi, j'espère en toi, je t'aime. Ainsi soit-il.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the Holy Father explained:
Tomorrow, the Holy Mass will be celebrated in the parish of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, at 11:00am (5:00am EDT). And Monday, we will be back here, at 7:00am (1:00am EDT). The Mass is ended, let us go in peace: Alleluia, alleluia!