Pope Francis reflected on the maternal courage of the Church to defend Her children during today’s morning Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The Holy Father cited the day’s Gospel regarding Jesus’ encounter with the widow of Naim, who he said shows she’s willingness “to be close to our sufferings and make them His own.”
“Jesus knew what it meant to be a widow at that time,” the Pope said while noting that Christ has a special love for widows. “Reading this passage of the Gospel, the widow is “an icon of the Church , because the Church is in a sense widow.”
“The Bridegroom is gone and she walks in history, hoping to find him, to meet with Him – and she will be His true bride. In the meantime she – the Church – is alone! The Lord is nowhere to be seen. She has a certain dimension of widowhood … and that makes me makes me think of the widowhood of the Church. This courageous Church, which defends her children, like the widow who went to the corrupt judge to [press her rights] and eventually won. Our Mother Church is courageous! She has the courage of a woman who knows that her children are her own, and must defend them and bring them to the meeting with her Spouse.”
The Pope cited the examples of widows in the Bible, in particular the Maccabean widow whose seven sons were martyred before her eyes. “The Bible says this woman spoke to her sons “in the local dialect, in their first language,” the Pope said. In the same way, he noted, our Mother Church speaks to us in dialect, in “that language of true orthodoxy, which we all understand, the language of catechism,” that, “gives us the strength to go forward in the fight against evil.”
“This dimension of widowhood of the Church, who is journeying through history, hoping to meet, to find her Husband… Our Mother the Church is thus! She is a Church that, when she is faithful, knows how to cry. When the Church does not cry, something is not right. She weeps for her children, and prays! A Church that goes forward and does rear her children, gives them strength and accompanies them until the final farewell in order to leave them in the hands of her Spouse, who at the end will come to encounter her. This is our Mother Church! I see her in this weeping widow. And what does the Lord say to the Church? “Do not cry. I am with you, I’ll take you, I’ll wait for you there, in the wedding, the last nuptials, those of the Lamb. Stop [your tears]: this son of yours was dead, now he lives.”
Christ, he continued, just he told the widow’s son to rise up, also does the same to us “when we are dead because of sin. When Jesus forgives, “he returns us to our Mother.”
“Our reconciliation with the Lord ends in the dialogue ‘You, me and the priest who gives me pardon’; it ends when He restores us to our mother,” the Pope said. “There ends reconciliation, because there is no path of life, there is no forgiveness, there is no reconciliation outside of Mother Church. So, seeing this poor widow, all these things come to me somewhat randomly – But I see in this widow the icon of the widowhood of the Church who is on a journey to find her Bridegroom. I get the urge to ask the Lord for the grace to be always confident of this “mommy” who defends us, teaches us, helps us grow and [teaches] us to speak the dialect.”