HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
"Learning to live the moments of crisis"
Saturday, May 2, 2020
We pray today for the rulers who have the responsibility to take care of their peoples in these moments of crisis: heads of state, presidents of government, legislators, mayors, presidents of regions ... because the Lord helps them and gives them strength, because their work is not easy. And that when there are differences between them they understand that, in times of crisis, they must be very united for the good of the people, because unity is superior to conflict.
Today, Saturday 2 May, 300 prayer groups join us in prayer. They are called the " madrugadores ", in Spanish, that is the "early risers": those who get up early to pray, make their own early rising, for prayer. They are joining us today, right now.
The first reading begins: "In those days the Church was at peace for all Judea, Galilee and Samaria: she consolidated and walked in fear of the Lord and, with the comfort of the Holy Spirit, she grew in number" ( Acts 9, 31). Peacetime. And the Church grows. The Church is peaceful, has the comfort of the Holy Spirit, is in consolation. The good times ... Enea's healing follows, then Peter raises Gazzella, Tabità ... things that are done in peace.
But there are times of peace, in the early Church: times of persecutions, difficult times, times that put believers in crisis. Times of crisis. And a time of crisis is what the Gospel of John tells us today (cf. 6,60-69). This passage of the Gospel is the end of a whole sequence that began with the multiplication of the loaves, when they wanted to make Jesus king, Jesus goes to pray, they do not find him the next day, they go looking for him, and Jesus reproaches them that they seek him because feed and not for the words of eternal life ... And all that story ends here. They say: "Give us this bread", and Jesus explains that the bread he will give is his own body and blood.
«At that time, many of Jesus' disciples, after listening, said:“ This word is hard! Who can listen to it? "" (V. 60). Jesus said that whoever did not eat his body and blood would not have eternal life. Jesus also said: "If you eat my body and my blood, you will rise again on the last day" (cf. v. 54). These are the things that Jesus said. "This word is hard!" (v. 60) [think the disciples]. “It is too tough. Something is not working here. This man has gone beyond limits. " And this is a moment of crisis. There were moments of peace and moments of crisis. Jesus knew that the disciples murmured. Here there is a distinction between the disciples and the apostles: the disciples were those 72 or more, the apostles were the Twelve. "In fact, Jesus knew from the beginning who were those who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him" (v. 64). And faced with this crisis, remind them: "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father" (v. 65). He starts talking again about being drawn to the Father: the Father draws us to Jesus. And this is how the crisis is resolved.
And "from that moment, many of his disciples went back and no longer went with him" (v. 66). They distanced themselves. "This man is a little dangerous, a little ... But these doctrines ... Yes, he is a good man, he preaches and heals, but when he gets to these strange things ... Please, let's go" (see v. 66). And the same did the disciples of Emmaus, on the morning of the resurrection: "Well, yes, a strange thing: the women who say that the sepulcher ... But this stinks - they said - let's go early because the soldiers will come and crucify us" (cf. Lk 24 : 22-24). The soldiers who guarded the sepulcher did the same: they had seen the truth, but then they preferred to sell their secret: "We are sure: we do not put ourselves in these stories, which are dangerous" (cf. Mt 28 : 11-15).
A moment of crisis is a moment of choice, it is a moment that puts us before the decisions we have to make. In life, we have all had and will have moments of crisis: family crises, marriage crises, social crises, work crises, many crises ... This pandemic is also a moment of social crisis.
How to react in times of crisis? "At that moment, many of his disciples went back and never went with him" (v. 66). Jesus makes the decision to question the apostles: "Then Jesus said to the Twelve:" Do you also want to go away? "" (V. 67). Make a decision. And Peter makes the second confession: «Simon Peter answered him:“ Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life and we believed and knew that you are the Holy One of God "" (vv. 68-69). Peter confesses, on behalf of the Twelve, that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the Son of God. The first confession - "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" - and immediately afterwards, when Jesus began to explain the passion that she would come, he stops him: "No, no, Lord, this no!", and Jesus rebukes him (cf Mt16.16 to 23). But Pietro has matured a bit and here he doesn't scold. He does not understand what Jesus says, this "eating the flesh, drinking the blood" (cf 6,54-56), does not understand, but trusts the Master. Trusts. And he makes this second confession: "But to whom shall we go? Please, you have words of eternal life" (cf. v. 68).
This helps, all of us, to live the moments of crisis. In my land there is a saying that says: "When you go horseback riding and you have to cross a river, please don't change horses in the middle of the river." In times of crisis, be very firm in the conviction of faith. Those who left, "changed horses", sought another teacher who was not as "hard", as they said to him. In times of crisis there is perseverance, silence; stay where we are, stop. This is not the time to make changes. It is the moment of faithfulness, of faithfulness to God, of faithfulness to things [decisions] that we have taken before. It is also the moment of conversion, because yes, this fidelity will inspire some changes for the good, not to get away from the good.
Moments of peace and moments of crisis. We Christians must learn to manage both. Both. Some spiritual father says that the moment of crisis is like going through the fire to become strong. May the Lord send us the Holy Spirit to know how to resist temptations in times of crisis, to know how to be faithful to the first words, with the hope of living after moments of peace. Let's think about our crises: the family crises, the neighborhood crises, the work crises, the social crises of the world, of the country ... So many crises, so many crises.
May the Lord give us the strength - in times of crisis - not to sell the faith.
Prayer to make spiritual communion
People who cannot communicate now make 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 already came, I embrace you and I join you all. It never allows me to separate you from you.
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican. va - a Translation from Italian
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican. va - a Translation from Italian