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'Need Consolation? Become Like Little Children,' Pope Urges at Mass in Georgia

Warns Against Thinking You Are ‘Master of Your Own Life;’ Trust in Lord, Without Fear, Like Little Ones Do in Their Parents

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Need God’s consolation? Become again like a little child.
Pope Francis stressed this during his Mass in Tbilisi at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, on the second day of his three-day Apostolic Visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Sept. 30- Oct.2.
Celebrating Mass on day two of his pastoral visit to Georgia, and on the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the Pontiff spoke on the consolation the Church wishes to give us, and how we can welcome it into our lives.
The key to accomplishing this, the Pontiff told those present, is embracing «our child side.»
Become Like Little Children
The underlying condition to receiving God’s consolation, Francis recalled, is to become little, like children (cf. Mt 18:3-4). In order to receive God’s love, the Pope stressed, we need «littleness of heart,» for, as Jesus said, «only little ones can be held in their mothers arms.»
Jesus told us, the Pope recalled, that whoever becomes like a little child, “is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:4).
«The true greatness of man consists in making himself small before God,» Francis reflected, noting that, «For God is not known through grand ideas and extensive study, but rather through the littleness of a humble and trusting heart.»
«To be great before the Lord,» the Jesuit Pope pointed out, «does not require the accumulation of honor and prestige or earthly goods and success, but rather a complete self-emptying. A child has nothing to give and everything to receive. A child is vulnerable, and depends on his or her father and mother. The one who becomes like a little child is poor in self but rich in God.»
«Children, who have no problem in understanding God, have much to teach us: they tell us that he accomplishes great things in those who put up no resistance to him, who are simple and sincere, without duplicity.»
A Thanks to Women
In his homily, the Holy Father also highlighted that among the treasures of the country of Georgia, one that really stands out is the importance of women.
Recalling Saint Therese of the Child Jesus’ words that women «love God in much larger numbers than men do (Autobiography, Manuscript A, VI),» he noted that in Georgia, there are many grandmothers and mothers who unceasingly defend and pass on the faith.
«The consolation we need, amid the turmoil we experience in life, is precisely the presence of God in our hearts,» Francis said, noting, «God’s presence in us is the source of true consolation, which dwells in us, liberates us from evil, brings peace and increases our joy.»
«If we want to experience his consolation,» the Holy Father underscored, «we must give way to the Lord in our lives.»
Don’t Keep Him Out
The Pontiff instructed the faithful that for the the Lord to abide continually in us, «we must open the doors of our hearts to him and not keep him outside.»
«When the door of our heart is closed, however, his light cannot enter in and everything remains dark. We then get accustomed to pessimism, to things which aren’t right, to realities that never change,» he said. «We end up absorbed in our own sadness, in the depths of anguish, isolated. If, on the other hand, we open wide the doors of consolation, the light of the Lord enters in!»
Church as House of Consolation
In the Church we find consolation, Francis stressed, saying it could be considered «the house of consolation,» where God wishes to console us.
The Pope asked those present to ask themselves some questions: «I who am in the Church, do I bring the consolation of God? Do I know how to welcome others as guests and console those whom I see tired and disillusioned?»
«Even when enduring affliction and rejection,» the Pope continued, «a Christian is always called to bring hope to the hearts of those who have given up, to encourage the downhearted, to bring the light of Jesus, the warmth of his presence and his forgiveness which restores us.»
Lamenting that countless people suffer trials, injustice, and anxiety, he said, «Our hearts need anointing with God’s consolation, which does not take away our problems, but gives us the power to love, to peacefully bear pain.»
Receiving and bringing God’s consolation: this mission of the Church is urgent
The Holy Father then encouraged everyone to take up the call: «to not bury ourselves in what is going wrong around us or be saddened by the lack of harmony between us. It is not good for us to become accustomed to a closed ecclesial ‘micro-environment.’”
He encouraged them to welcome their vulnerable, trusting, childlike side in order to open their horizons to hope, have courage, and go beyond themselves.
«The Gospel,» the Holy Father recalled, «shows us how great wonders are accomplished with small things: with a few loaves and two fishes (cf. Mt 14:15-20), with a tiny mustard seed (cf. Mk 4:30-32), with a grain of wheat that dies in the earth (cf. Jn 12:24), with the gift of just a single glass of water (cf. Mt 10:42), with the two coins of a poor widow (cf. Lk 21:1-4), with the humility of Mary, the servant of the Lord (cf. Lk 1:46-55).»
Trust in Our God of Surprises
«This is the surprising greatness of God, of a God who is full of surprises and who loves surprises: let us always keep alive the desire for and trust in God’s surprises!»
Allowing this, he stressed, «will help us to remember that we are constantly and primarily his children: not masters of our lives, but children of the Father; not autonomous and self-sufficient adults, but children who always need to be lifted up and embraced, who need love and forgiveness.»
«Blessed are those Christian communities who live this authentic gospel simplicity! Poor in means, they are rich in God. Blessed are the Shepherds who do not ride the logic of worldly success, but follow the law of love: welcoming, listening, serving. Blessed is the Church who does not entrust herself to the criteria of functionalism and organizational efficiency, nor worries about her image.»
The Pontiff went on to summarize these thoughts with some words from Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, to whom he personally has a great devotion.
St. Therese, he pointed out, «shows her ‘little way’ to God, “the trust of a little child who falls asleep without fear in his Father’s arms”, because “Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude”
The young saint and Doctor of the Church, he also said, teaches us that “perfect charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice.»
Pope Francis concluded, praying that all faithful today pray for «the grace of a simple heart, of a heart that believes and lives in the gentle strength of love; let us ask to live in peaceful and complete trust in God’s mercy.»
Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-mass-in-georgia/

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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