Homily of Pope Francis "We ask for the strength to know how to live in the gentle and trusting silence that awaits the salvation of the Lord, without complaining..." FULL TEXT + Video
MASS IN SUFFRAGE OF CARDINALS AND BISHOPS DECEASED DURING THE YEAR
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
St. Peter's Basilica - Thursday, 4 November 2021
In the first reading we heard this invitation: "It is good to wait in silence for the salvation of the Lord" ( Lam3.26). This attitude is not a starting point, but a point of arrival. In fact, the author arrives there at the end of a path, a bumpy path, which has made him mature. He comes to understand the beauty of trusting the Lord, who never fails in his promises. But trust in God does not arise from a momentary enthusiasm, it is not an emotion or even just a feeling. On the contrary, it comes from experience and matures in patience, as happens to Job, who passes from a knowledge of God "by hearsay" to a living, experiential knowledge.
And for this to happen, a long inner transformation is necessary which, through the crucible of suffering, leads to knowing how to wait in silence., that is, with confident patience, with a meek soul. This patience is not resignation, because what nourishes it is the expectation of the Lord, whose coming is certain and does not disappoint.
Dear brothers and sisters, how important it is to learn the art of waiting for the Lord ! Waiting for him docilely, confidently, chasing away ghosts, fanaticisms and clamors; preserving, especially in times of trial, a silence full of hope. This is how we prepare for the last and greatest test of life, death. But first there are the trials of the moment, there is the cross that we have now, and for which we ask the Lord for the grace of knowing how to wait there, right there, for his coming salvation.
Each of us needs to mature in this. In the face of life's difficulties and problems, it is difficult to have patience and remain calm. The irritation grows and often discouragement arrives. It can thus happen to be strongly tempted by pessimism and resignation, to see everything black, to get used to discouraged and lamenting tones, similar to those of the sacred author who at the beginning says: "My glory has disappeared, the hope that I it came from the Lord "(v. 18). In the trial not even the good memories of the past are able to console, because the affliction leads the mind to dwell on the difficult moments. And this increases the bitterness, it seems that life is a continuous chain of misfortunes, as the author still admits: "The memory of my misery and my wandering is like poison" (v. 19).
At this point, however, the Lord gives a turning point, precisely at the moment in which, while continuing to dialogue with him, it seems to touch the bottom. In the abyss, in the anguish of nonsense, God approaches to save, in that moment. And when the bitterness reaches its climax, hope suddenly blossoms again. It is bad to reach old age with a bitter heart, with a disappointed heart, with the critical heart of new things, it is very hard. "This is what I intend to call back to my heart - says the person praying in the Book of Lamentations - and for this I want to regain hope" (v. 21). Take back hope in the moment of bitterness. In the midst of pain, whoever is close to the Lord sees that He discloses suffering, opens it, transforms it into a door through which hope enters. It is an Easter experience, a painful passage that opens up to life,
This turning point does not happen because the problems have disappeared, no, but because the crisis has become a mysterious occasion for inner purification. Prosperity, in fact, often makes us blind, superficial, proud. This is the way prosperity leads us. On the other hand, the passage through the trial, if lived in the warmth of faith, despite its hardness and tears, causes us to be reborn, and we find ourselves different from the past. A church father wrote that "nothing more than suffering leads us to discover new things" (S. Gregorio di Nazianzo, Ep. 34). The trial renews, because it causes a lot of waste to fall and teaches us to look beyond, beyond the darkness, to touch firsthand that the Lord truly saves and that he has the power to transform everything, even death. He lets us pass through bottlenecks not to abandon us, but to accompany us . Yes, because God accompanies, especially in pain, like a father who makes his son grow well by staying close to him in difficulties without replacing him. And before we cry on our face, the emotion has already reddened the eyes of God the Father. He cries first, I dare to say. Pain remains a mystery, but in this mystery we can discover in a new way the fatherhood of God who visits us in trial, and come to say, with the author of the Lamentations: "Good is the Lord with those who hope in him, with him who seeks him "(v. 5).
Today, faced with the mystery of redeemed death, we ask for the grace to look at adversity with different eyes. We ask for the strength to know how to live in the gentle and trusting silence that awaits the salvation of the Lord, without complaining, without grumbling, without letting ourselves be saddened. What seems like a punishment will prove to be a grace, a new demonstration of God's love for us. Knowing how to wait in silence- without chattering, in silence - the salvation of the Lord is an art, on the road to holiness. Let's grow it. It is precious in the time we are living: now, more than ever, there is no need to shout, to provoke clamor, to be embittered; each one needs to witness faith, which is a docile and hopeful expectation with their life. Faith is this: docile and hopeful waiting. The Christian does not diminish the gravity of suffering, no, but he looks up to the Lord and under the blows of trial he trusts in him and prays: he prays for those who suffer. He keeps his eyes on Heaven, but his hands are always stretched out on the ground, to concretely serve his neighbor. Even in the moment of sadness, of darkness, the service.
With this spirit, let us pray for the Cardinals and Bishops who have left us in the past year. Some of them died from Covid-19, in difficult situations that aggravated the suffering. May these brothers of ours now savor the joy of the Gospel invitation, the one that the Lord addresses to his faithful servants: "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" ( Mt 25:34 ).