Pope Francis this morning lived out this Jubilee of Mercy he has proclaimed for the Church, crossing a holy door at the Shrine of John Paul II in Krakow, hearing the confessions of a handful of young people, and celebrating Mass for Polish priests and religious, encouraging them to “draw life from [God’s] forgiveness in order to pour it out with compassion on our brothers and sisters.”
The Pope this evening will celebrate the prayer vigil of World Youth Day before Sunday’s closing Mass with more than a million youth expected to participate in the final events of WYD.
At today’s Mass, the Holy Father reminded his fellow priests and consecrated persons and seminarians that “Jesus directs us to a one-way street: that of going forth from ourselves. It is a one-way trip, with no return ticket. It involves making an exodus from ourselves, losing our lives for his sake and setting out on the path of self-gift.”
Furthermore, the Pope added, Jesus doesn’t like “journeys made halfway, doors half-closed, lives lived on two tracks. He asks us to pack lightly for the journey, to set out renouncing our own security, with him alone as our strength.”
This life of service to others, Francis explained, has no “closed spaces or private property for our own use.”
A priest, a consecrated person, does not choose where he lives or where they are sent; they don’t put their security in wealth or worldly power, he said.
“They love to take risks and to set out, not limited to trails already blazed, but open and faithful to the paths pointed out by the Spirit. Rather than just getting by, they rejoice to evangelize.”
Searching and finding
Francis also reflected on the apostle named in today’s Gospel: Thomas.
Somewhat stubborn, and a bit like us, “we find him likeable,” the Pope remarked.
Thomas, he said, gives us a great gift: “he brings us closer to God, because God does not hide from those who seek him.”
Drawing from Poland’s St. Faustina, the Holy Father offered some concrete advice for following in Thomas’ footsteps and seeking the Lord.
“For us who are disciples, it is important to put our humanity in contact with the flesh of the Lord, to bring to him, with complete trust and utter sincerity, our whole being. As Jesus told Saint Faustina, he is happy when we tell him everything: he is not bored with our lives, which he already knows; he waits for us to tell him even about the events of our day (cf. Diary, 6 September 1937). That is the way to seek God: through prayer that is transparent and unafraid to hand over to him our troubles, our struggles and our resistance. Jesus’ heart is won over by sincere openness, by hearts capable of acknowledging and grieving over their weakness, yet trusting that precisely there God’s mercy will be active.”
The Pontiff suggested that Thomas’ prayer when he “found” Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” — these “magnificent words” — would be a good prayer for each day … “to say to the Lord: You are my one treasure, the path I must follow, the core of my life, my all.”
Writing the Gospel
Finally, Pope Francis recalled an image he has offered before, drawing from the final verse of John’s Gospel, which says that the book of the gospel does not contain the “many other signs that Jesus worked.”
“There is room left for the signs needing to be worked by us, who have received the Spirit of love and are called to spread mercy,” the Pope suggested. “It might be said that the Gospel, the living book of God’s mercy that must be continually read and reread, still has many blank pages left. It remains an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practise.”
“Let me ask you this,” Francis said. “What are the pages of your books like? Are they blank? May the Mother of God help us in this. May she, who fully welcomed the word of God into her life give us the grace to be living writers of the Gospel.”
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