In his first general audience, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to follow Jesus' example and be willing to take the first step in helping our brothers and sisters.
The Italian-language address, in which various times the Pope did not follow his prepared text, gave an overview of Francis' reflections for Holy Week.
Francis said that after Easter, he would follow the reflection series begun by his "beloved Predecessor" and take up the catecheses on the Year of Faith.
"What does it mean to follow Jesus in his path towards the Cross on Calvary and the Resurrection?" Francis asked.
Jesus, he said, "spoke to everyone, without distinction, to the great and the humble, to the rich young man and the poor widow, to the powerful and the weak; he brought the mercy and forgiveness of God; he healed, he consoled, he understood; he gave hope; he brought to all the presence of God who is interested in every man and every woman, as a good father and a good mother is in each of their children. God did not wait for everyone to go to Him, but it was He who moved toward us, without calculating, without measure. God is like this: He always takes the first step, He moves towards us."
Francis said that to live Holy Week in the footsteps of Jesus "means learning to come out of ourselves -- as I said on Sunday -- to reach out to others, to go to the outskirts of existence, ourselves taking the first step towards our brothers and sisters, especially those farthest away, those who are forgotten, those most in need of understanding, consolation, help. There is much need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love!"
To live Holy Week, we need to enter more and more into God's logic, the Pontiff continued, "the logic of the Cross, which is not first of all that of pain and death, but that of love and self-giving that brings life."
The Holy Father warned against settling for "a few prayers" or a "few acts of charity" but failing to muster the "courage to 'go out' to bring Christ."
"We are a little like St. Peter," he said. "As soon as Jesus speaks of passion, death and resurrection, of self-giving, of love towards all, the Apostle takes him aside and rebukes him. What Jesus says disrupts his plans, it appears unacceptable, it endangers the fixed securities that he had built, his idea of the Messiah. And Jesus looks at the disciples and addresses to Peter one of the toughest words of the Gospels: 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are not thinking according to God, but according to men.'"
"God," the Pope continued, "always thinks with mercy, never forget this. God always thinks with mercy: He is the merciful Father!"
"Holy Week is a time of grace that the Lord gives us to open the doors of our hearts, of our lives, of our parishes," he added, commenting that it is a pity that so many parish churches are locked shut.
"To go out always! And this with the love and tenderness of God, with respect and patience, knowing that we offer our hands, our feet, our heart, but then it is God who guides them and makes fruitful our every action," he concluded. "I wish everyone to live well these days following the Lord with courage, bearing within ourselves a ray of His love to those we encounter."
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On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-holy-week--2