Anxious? Fearful? Let the Lord’s presence console and fill you with joy…
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this today, April 16, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta.
At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, Francis recalled specifically pharmacists noting, that while he has thanked the other medical professionals, he has not given them enough attention.
“I thanked doctors, nurses, volunteers. ‘But you have forgotten the pharmacists,’” he acknowledged, adding: “They have been working hard to help the sick get better. Let us pray for them as well.”
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on the anxiety and fear of many in Jerusalem following Jesus’ Resurrection.
When the disciples were doubtful, Francis recalled how Jesus’ presence calmed the fears of the disciples when He appeared to them, saying: “Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands! Touch me and see for yourselves! A ghost has no flesh and bones.”
With this, their fear transformed into overflowing joy.
The same happened on the day of the Ascension: the disciples returned to Jerusalem, says the Bible, “full of joy” (Cf. Acts 24:52-53). It’s the fullness of consolation, the fullness of the Lord’s presence, because, as Paul says to the Galatians, “joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit” (Cf. Galatians 5:22);
Francis stressed that it’s not “the consequence of emotions that burst out because of something wonderful.”
“No, it’s more,” he underscored, noting: “this joy, which fills us, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. One cannot have this joy without the Spirit. It is a grace to receive the joy of the Spirit.”
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation.
It was announced this month that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.
The Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is available below:
FULL HOMILY [translated by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]
In these days the people in Jerusalem had many feelings: fear, astonishment, doubt. “In these days, while the healed cripple clung to Peter and John, all the people were beside themselves with astonishment . . . (Acts 3:11): there was an anxious atmosphere because things were happening that weren’t understood. The Lord went to His disciples. They also knew that He was already risen; Peter also knew it because he had spoken with Him that morning. The two that returned from Emmaus knew it, but when the Lord appeared to them they were frightened. “Startled and frightened, they supposed that they saw a spirit” (Luke 24:37); they had had the same experience on the lake, when Jesus came walking on the water. However, at that time Peter, making himself courageous, bet on the Lord and said: “Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water” (Cf. Matthew 14:28). This day Peter was silent; he had spoken with the Lord that morning, and no one knew what they said to each other in that conversation, so he was silent. However, they were all so full of fear and upset, they thought they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet . . . “He makes them see His wounds (Cf. Luke 24:38-39), that treasure of Jesus that He took to Heaven to have the Father see it and to intercede for us. “Handle Me and see; for a spirit has no flesh and bones.”
And then there is a phrase that gives me much consolation and, therefore, this passage of the Gospel is one of my favorites: “And while they still disbelieved for joy . . . (Cf. Luke 24:41) again, and were full of astonishment, their joy impeded them from believing. That joy was so great that they thought: “no, this can’t be true. This joy isn’t real, it’s too much joy.” And this impeded them from believing — joy, moments of great joy; they were full of joy but paralyzed by joy. And joy is one of Paul’s desires for his own of Rome. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy” (Cf. Romans 15:13) he says to them — full of joy, to be full of joy. It’s the experience of the highest consolation, when the Lord makes us understand that this is something other than being cheerful, positive, luminous . . . No, it’s something else. To be joyful . . . but full of joy, an overflowing joy, which really takes hold of us. And, therefore, Paul wishes that “the God of hope may fill” the Romans “with joy.”
And that word, that expression, to fill with joy is repeated many, many times. For instance, when it happens in the prison and Paul saves the life of the gaoler, who was about to commit suicide, because the gates had opened with the earthquake, and then he proclaims the Gospel to him, baptizes him and the gaoler, says the Bible, was “full of joy” for having believed (Cf. Acts 16:29-34). The same happened with Candace’s Minister of the Economy, when Philip baptized him, then disappeared and <the Minister> went on his way “full of joy” (Cf. Acts 8:39). The same happened on the day of the Ascension: the disciples returned to Jerusalem, says the Bible, “full of joy” (Cf. Acts 24:52-53). It’s the fullness of consolation, the fullness of the Lord’s presence, because, as Paul says to the Galatians, “joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit” (Cf. Galatians 5:22); it’s not the consequence of emotions that burst out because of something wonderful . . . No, it’s more. This joy, which fills us, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. One cannot have this joy without the Spirit. It is a grace to receive the joy of the Spirit.
There comes to mind the last numbers, the last paragraphs of Paul VI’s Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (Cf. 79-80), when he speaks of joyful Christians, of joyful evangelizers, and not of those that always live down. Today is a good day to read it, full of joy. This is what the Bible says to us: “because of joy they didn’t believe . . .,” the joy was so great that they didn’t believe.
There is a passage in the Book of Nehemiah, which will help us today in this reflection on joy. The people having returned to Jerusalem rediscovered the Book of the Law, it was discovered again — they knew the Law by heart because they couldn’t find the Book of the Law — they had> a great celebration and all the people gathered to listen to Ezra the priest who read <from> the Book of the Law. The people, moved, wept; they wept with joy because in fact the Book of the Law was found and they wept, their weeping was joyful . . . At the end, when the priest Ezra finished, Nehemiah said to the people: “Do not be grieved, weep no more, preserve joy, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Cf. Nehemiah 8:1-12).
This word of 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 and is fruit of the Holy Spirit, and today we ask Him to grant us this fruit.
The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction,
inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.
Here Is the Prayer Recited by the Pope:
My Jesus, I believe that You are really present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. As I cannot receive You sacramentally now, come at least spiritually in my heart. As if You were already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.
Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide:
Regina caeli laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
(Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia.
Christ, whom you bore in your womb, alleluia,
Is risen, as He promised, alleluia.
Pray for us to the Lord, alleluia).