When we find ourselves needing encouragement, Pope Francis says, the way to find it is by turning to God, since he “never tires of encouraging us.”
The pope said this today during his weekly audience open to the public.
He picked up with the theme he’s been reflecting on for the last several weeks: Christian hope. This is “not optimism,” he said. “It is something else,” and St. Paul helps us to understand this.
Drawing from a verse in Romans, the pope spoke of “steadfastness” — which he said is basically the same as patience — and “encouragement,” which he defined as “the grace to be able to grasp and show, in every situation, the compassionate presence and action of God.”
We can get these two qualities, Francis said in explaining Paul’s teaching, by spending time with the Bible.
“[S]teadfastness and encouragement are transmitted to us in a special way through the Scriptures,” he explained.
In reading the Bible, Francis said, we first get to know Jesus and come to resemble him more, and we find the Lord who “is truly ‘the God of steadfastness and encouragement.’”
“He never tires of loving us!” the Pope said. “… He also never tires of encouraging us.”
Francis said that this sheds light on Paul’s description of the faithful as “we who are strong.”
This phrase “might seem presumptuous,” the pope reflected, “but according to the logic of the Gospel we know that it is not. Indeed, it is just the opposite, because our strength does not come from ourselves but from the Lord. … If we remain close to the Lord, we will have the strength to be close to the weakest, the neediest, and to encourage and strengthen them.”
And what goes around comes around, the pope suggested.
“For even those who are ‘strong’ sooner or later experience their frailty and the need to be comforted by others; and likewise, in weakness one can always offer a smile or a hand to a brother in difficulty.”
Read the full text of the audience here.
And watch a video clip below.