‘Easter joy brings Christian obedience, witness, realism.’
According to Vatican News, during his Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on these three traits that are born from Easter joy.
The Holy Father warned that this, as seen to some, ‘bothersome’ witness to the Lord Jesus, often leads to Christian persecutions.
Recalling that the fifty days of Easter before Pentecost were a “time of joy” for the Apostles because of Christ’s Resurrection, the Jesuit Pope noted that while it was a true joy, it also contained doubt and fear.
Only after Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said the Apostles’ joy became courageous, since they now understood the meaning of the Paschal mystery.
Obedience, said Pope Francis, is doing the Will of God, which is the path “opened up for us” by Jesus. The Christian, he said, must obey God.
Witness, the Pope continued, is the Apostles’ second characteristic, noting their witness annoyed their contemporaries just as Christian witness does today for some.
While acknowledging that this happens perhaps because we seek compromise between the world and ourselves, Francis stressed: “Christian witness knows no path of compromise,” and it “is patient when guiding others who don’t think like us or share our faith; it tolerates and accompanies, but never sells the truth.”
“First, obedience, and second, witness, which is such a nuisance to some. There have been so many persecutions since that time. Think about Christians persecuted in Africa and the Middle East. There are more today than in early Christianity: people in prison, killed, and hanged all to witness to Jesus. They are witnesses to the end.”
Warning against being ‘watered down Christians,’ Pope Francis went on to say that the third aspect of Easter joy is realism. He noted the Apostles did not speak of ‘fairytales’ but of concrete things, because they had ‘seen and touched’ the Lord, like each of us does in our daily lives
“It often happens that sins, compromises, or fears make us forget this first encounter, the one that changed our lives,” he said. “We carry a memory with us that gets watered down to make us ‘rose-water’ Christians: watered-down and superficial. We must ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit of realism. Jesus has entered into my life and my heart. So has the Holy Spirit. I may have forgotten it, but the grace of the first encounter lives on in me.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying for this Easter joy: “Let us pray for it for one another: the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit: the joy of Easter obedience, the joy of Easter witness, and the joy of Easter realism.”