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FROM THE CHAPEL OF CASA SANTA MARTA
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
"Be filled with joy"
Thursday, April 16, 2020
These days they have scolded me because I forgot to thank a group of people who also 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.
These days, in Jerusalem, people had many feelings: fear, amazement, doubt. "In those days, while the healed cripple kept Peter and John, all the people, out of themselves in amazement ..." (Acts 3:11): there is an uneventful environment because things that were not understood happened. 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 they saw a ghost" (Lk 24,37); they 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, said: "But if it is you, let me go on the water" (cf. Mt 14:28). This 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 they were so full of fear, upset, they believed they saw a ghost. And he says: “But no, why are you upset? Why do doubts arise in your heart? Look at the hands, the feet ... ", he makes him see the wounds (cf. Lk 24,38-39). That treasure of Jesus who brought him to Heaven 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 because for joy they did not believe ..." (cf. Lk 24:41), again and they were full of amazement, joy kept him 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. The 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 another thing from being cheerful, positive, bright ... No, it is another thing. Being joyful ... but full of joy, an overflowing joy that really takes us. And for this Paul hopes that "the God of hope will fill you with joy", to the Romans. And that word, that expression, filling with joy is repeated, many, many times. For example, what happens in prison and Paul saves the life of the jailer who was about to commit suicide because the doors had opened with the earthquake and then announces the Gospel, baptizes him, and the jailer, says the Bible, was "full of joy "For believing (cf Acts 16,29-34). The same happens with the economy minister of Candàce, when Philip baptized him, disappeared, 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 Acts 24: 52-53). It 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 burst for a wonderful thing ... No more. This joy, this 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 down. Today is a beautiful day to read it. 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 it - great celebration and all the people gathered to listen to the priest Ezra who read the book of the law. The moved people wept, wept with joy because they had found the book of the law and 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 who is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and today we ask him to grant us this fruit.