Let us be consoled … The Lord knocks at the door with caresses…
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on consolation, pointing out it should be the ‘normal state’ for Christians.
Recalling today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, where God says: ‘Comfort, comfort, comfort my people,’ the Pope highlighted that here we have an invitation to consolation. The Holy Father also lamented how ‘tenderness’ has also been effectively removed from the dictionary.
During the 40 days after the Risen Lord’s Resurrection, He consoled His disciples. Yet, Francis pondered, we tend to resist consolation, as if “we were safer in the turbulent waters of our problems.” He criticized our tendency to “bet on desolation, on problems, on defeat,” which was the same for the Apostles.
“We are attached to this spiritual pessimism,” Pope Francis said. He described how children who approach him during his public audiences sometimes “see me and scream, they begin to cry, because seeing someone in white, they think of the doctor and the nurse, who give them a shot for their vaccines; and [the children] think, ‘No, no, not another one!’” “And we are a little like that,” the Pope continued, but the Lord says, “Comfort, comfort my people.”
And how does the Lord give comfort? With tenderness. It is a language that the prophets of doom do not recognise: tenderness. It is a word that is cancelled by all the vices that drive us away from the Lord: clerical vices, the vices of some Christians who don’t want to move, of the lukewarm… Tenderness scares them.
“See, the Lord has His reward with Him, His recompense goes before Him” – this is how the “passage from Isaiah concludes. “Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”
The Lord comforts with tenderness, the Pope reminded, comparing this to when a child cries and their mother caresses them and calms them with tenderness.
To prepare properly for Christmas, the Pope noted, we ought to let ourselves welcome his consolation.
“The habitual state of the Christian should be consolation. Even in bad moments: The martyrs entered the Colosseum singing; [and] the martyrs of today – I think of the good Coptic workers on the beach in Libya, whose throats were cut – died saying “Jesus, Jesus!” There is a consolation within: a joy even in the moment of martyrdom.!
Consolation, the Pope clarified, is not the same as optimism. “No. Optimism is something else. But consolation, that positive base… We’re talking about radiant, positive people: the positivity, the radiance of the Christian is the consolation.”
The Pope recognized that when we suffer, we might not feel that consolation. However, a Christian will not lose interior peace “because it is a gift from the Lord,” who offers it to all, even in the darkest moments.
Therefore, in these weeks leading up to Christmas, we should ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid to allow ourselves to be consoled by Him.
The Pope, referring back to today’s Gospel according to Matthew, said we should pray: “that I too might prepare myself for Christmas at least with peace: peace of heart, the peace of Your presence, the peace given by Your caresses.”
“But [you might say] “I am a great sinner.” – Ok, but what does today’s Gospel tell us? That the Lord consoles like the shepherd who, if he loses one of his sheep, goes in search of it; like that man who has a hundred sheep, and one of them is lost: he goes in search of it. The Lord does just that with each one of us.”
“[But] I don’t want peace, I resist peace, I resist consolation… But He is at the door,” Francis said, reminding: “He knocks so that we might open our heart in order to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to allow ourselves to be set at peace. And He does it with gentleness. He knocks with caresses.”
Pope Francis concluded, giving the following reminder: “He knocks so that we might open our heart in order to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to allow ourselves to be set at peace. And He does it with gentleness. He knocks with caresses.”