Let’s not complain so much… For the Lord comforts, and ‘punishes’ with tenderness…
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass, today, Dec. 10, at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on today’s readings.
The Pope reminded that God guides and comforts His people, and that in correcting and punishing them, he does so like a Father who loves His children, and like a shepherd, who carries the sheep close to his chest, after seeking him after he went astray.
The First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pontiff notes, is “an announcement of hope.” “Console, console my people”, the prophet tells the words of God. Francis reminded that the Lord comforts those who allow themselves to be consoled.
“The Lord always consoles us, as long as we allow ourselves to be consoled,” he underscored.
“How does the Lord console? With tenderness. How does the Lord correct? With tenderness. How does he punish the Lord? With tenderness,” he said.
“The Lord leads, the Lord guides his people, the Lord corrects; also, I would say: the Lord punishes with tenderness. The tenderness of God, the caresses of God. It is not a didactic or diplomatic attitude of God: it comes from within, it is the joy that He has when a sinner approaches. And joy makes him tender.”
The joy of the Lord, before a sinner, becomes tenderness, the Jesuit Pope reminded, before illustrating God’s forgiveness.
“Father, I have so many sins, I made so many mistakes in life,” [one could say] “But let me console you” – “But who consoles me?” – “The Lord” – “And where should I go?” – “To ask forgiveness: go. go.”
“Go! Be brave. Open the door. And He will caress you,” Francis urged, noting the Lord will approach with the tenderness of a father, of a brother: “as a shepherd grazes the flock and gathers it with his arm, brings the lambs to his chest and gently leads the sheep. This is how the Lord comforts us.”
The Holy Father recalled “the parable of the Prodigal Son” and the father who saw his son “from afar” because he was waiting for him. Francis recalled that he went up to the terrace to see if his son was returning, noting this is a “father’s heart.”
“The tender closeness of the Lord,” Francis observed, one sees in the Gospel, when the Shepherd leaves the other 99 sheep to seek the one who went astray.
“Many times,” the Pope said, “we complain about the difficulties we have: the devil wants us to fall into the spirit of sadness,” “bitter about life” or “about our own sins.”
Francis recalled: “I met a person consecrated to God who they called ‘Lamentela (the Complainer)’, “because he could not do anything other than complain.” He would have won, Francis suggested, “the Nobel prize of complaints”.
“But how many times we too complain and complain,” the Pope acknowledged. “Many times we think that our sins, our limits cannot be forgiven. And there, the voice of the Lord comes and says: ‘I console you, I am near you,’ and He takes us with tenderness. The powerful God who created the heavens and the earth, the God-‘hero,’ to put it this way, our brother, who let Himself be led to the Cross to die for us, is able to caress us and say: ‘Don’t cry.'”
Saying we must believe in this consolation of the Lord, Pope Francis concluded, inviting faithful to go to confession to be forgiven and consoled by the Father.