Jesus is our consoler…. and He is preparing Heaven for us…
Today, May 8th, Pope Francis gave this advice to those watching his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican News.
At the start of the Mass, Pope Francis prayed for all victims of Coronavirus, and specifically for the Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations.
“Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Let us pray for the people who work in these meritorious institutions. May the Lord bless their work that does so much good.”
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel, where Jesus consoled the disciples when they had become melancholy upon learning from the Lord, that one of them would betray Him.
Consolation, the Argentinian Pontiff observed, can come in different forms: genuine, formal, or even inauthentic.
But Jesus’s way of consoling us in times of difficulty, he clarified, is different, as it takes three forms: nearness, truth and hope.
Jesus’ consolation, he underscored, is never distant, but always close.
When Jesus consoles, He does not use empty words. He says to us “I am here; I am with you.” The force of His presence and His closeness speaks to us even though it is silent.
Reflecting on truth, Pope Francis remarked that the Gospel passage demonstrates that Jesus did not hide the truth from His disciples.
Jesus spoke the truth gently, without seeking to hurt His disciples. Jesus, the Jesuit Pope expressed, speaks the truth because he is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Turning to hope, Jesus consoled His disciples and restored their hope.
Francis reminded that Jesus said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. I am going to prepare a place for you,” (Jn. 14:2).
Jesus, the Holy Father also reassured, goes ahead of us to open the doors of heaven for all of us.
“As Jesus reassures His disciples that He would come back to take them with Him,” the Pontiff noted, “so He will come back to take us. Jesus does not promise that we will not suffer but rather that when we do, he will be close to us to console us.”
Francis acknowledged that it is “not easy to allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord.” In bad times, he noted, we may become angry with God and we do not allow Him to console us.
Pope Francis concluded, praying: Pope Francis prayed that we might allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord. His consolation “is nearness, He is truth, and He opens the doors of hope”.
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. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.
It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy 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.
On May 4th, the country entered its so-called ‘Phase 2′, where it will slowly relaxing some of the lockdown restrictions.
Public Masses in Italy with the faithful will resume on Monday, May 18th, according to a statement of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. There will continue to be various safety measures in place, in order to protect the faithful.
In Italy where nearly 30,000 people have died from COVID19, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been twelve cases of coronavirus in the Vatican, confirmed a recent statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The Vatican Museums are 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 published below.
FULL HOMILY [working translation by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester] –
This conversation of Jesus with the disciples is again at table, during supper (Cf. John 14:1-6). Jesus is sad and they are all sad: Jesus had said that one of them would betray Him (Cf. John 13:21), and all perceived that something awful would happen. Jesus begins to console His own. The Lord consoles His disciples and here we see the way that Jesus consoles. We have so many ways of consoling, from the most genuine, from the closer to the more formal, as those telegrams of condolence. “Profoundly grieved by . . . “It doesn’t console anyone, it’s a pretense; it’s a consolation of formality. But, how does the Lord console? It’s important to know this because we too, when in our life we have to pass through moments of sadness, <must>learn what the Lord’s true consolation is.
And, in this passage of the Gospel, we see that the Lord always consoles in closeness, with truth and hope. They are the three features of the Lord’s consolation, in closeness — never distant: I am here. That beautiful word: “I am here.” “I am here, with you” and, often, in silence. But we know that He is here. He is always here — that closeness that is God’s style, <which is> also in the Incarnation, making Himself close to us. The Lord consoles in closeness, and He doesn’t use empty words, rather, He prefers silence. The strength of closeness, of presence, and He speaks little, but is close.
A second feature of Jesus’ closeness, of Jesus’ way of consoling is truth: Jesus is truthful. He doesn’t say formal things that are lies: “No, stay calm, everything will pass, nothing will happen, it will pass, things pass . . . “No, He says the truth. He doesn’t hide the truth, because in this passage He Himself says: “I am the Truth” (Cf. John 14:6). And the truth is: “I’m leaving,” namely, “I will die” (Cf. vv.2-3). We are before death; it’s the truth. And He says it simply and He even says it meekly, without wounding. We are before death; He doesn’t hide the truth.
And this is the third feature: Jesus consoles in hope. Yes, it’s an awful moment. But “let not your hearts be troubled. (. . .) Believe also in Me” (v. 1). I’ll say something to you, so says Jesus: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. (. . .) ”I go to prepare a place for you” (v. 2). He goes first to open the doors, the doors of that place through which we will all pass, so I hope: “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’ (v. 3). The Lord returns every time that one of us is on the way to go from this world. “I will come and I will take you”: hope. He will come and take us by the hand and bring us <there>. He doesn’t say” “No, you won’t suffer, it’s nothing . . . “No. He says the truth: “I am close to you; this is the truth: it’s an awful moment, of danger, of death. However, don’t trouble your heart. Remain in that peace, that peace which is at the base of every consolation, because I will come and will take you by the hand where I shall be.”
It’s not easy to let oneself be consoled by the Lord. Often, in bad moments, we get angry with the Lord and we don’t let Him come and speak to us this way, with this gentleness, with this closeness, with this meekness, with this truth and with this hope.
Let us ask for the grace to allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord. The Lord’s consolation is truthful and doesn’t deceive. It’s not anaesthesia, no, but it’s close, it’s truthful and it opens to us the doors of hope.
The Pope Invited <the Faithful> to Make a Spiritual Communion with This Prayer:
My Jesus, I believe 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 now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As if You have already come, I embrace you and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.
Pope Francis ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. 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).