Today's morning homily will bring you a couple chuckles, and some great advice!
The pope reflected on the First Reading, from the prophet Isaiah (Is 35:1-10), in which the Lord promises to console His people. “The Lord came to console us,” the pope said. St. Ignatius “tells us that it is good to contemplate the consoling role of Christ.”
All we have to do is think about the morning of the Resurrection in the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus appears to the apostles, and they were so happy they couldn’t believe it. “Many times, the Lord’s consolation seems marvelous to us,” Pope Francis said.
“However, it’s not easy to let yourself be consoled; it’s easier to console others than to allow yourself to be consoled. Because, very often, we cling to what’s negative. We hold on to the wound of sin inside us, and quite frequently, we prefer to stay there, alone, on the stretcher, like the man in the Gospel, isolated, there, and not get up. ‘Get up’ is what Jesus says, always: ‘Get up.'”
Pope Francis uses two examples to explain this: when we prefer “resentfulness” and “we stew our feelings” in the broth of resentment; and when we have a “a bitter heart,” and our treasure is our bitterness.
His thoughts went to the paralytic by the pool of Siloam: He spent 38 years in his bitterness, saying that when the waters moved, no one helped him. “For these bitter hearts, bitterness is more beautiful than what is sweet.” Many people prefer it, Pope Francis observed. There is a “bitter root,” which “carries us along with the memory of original sin. And this is precisely one way of not letting ourselves be consoled.”
Then, there is bitterness that “always leads to complaints”: people who complain to God instead of praising Him. Complaints are like music that accompanies their lives. Pope Francis then spoke of Saint Teresa, who said, “Woe to the nun who says to me, ‘They weren’t fair to me, the treated me unreasonably.'”
He then referred to the prophet Jonah, whom the pope defined as “the winner of the Nobel prize for complaints.” He fled from God because he complained that God would do something to him; then, he sank in the ocean, and was swallowed by a fish, and then he returned to his mission. And instead of rejoicing on account of the people’s conversion, he complained because God saved them.
“There are also contradictions in complaints,” he emphasized, recounting how he once knew a priest who was good, but who complained about everything: “He had the habit of finding the fly in the milk.”
“He was a good priest; they said that in the confessional, he was very merciful. He was elderly by then, and his companions in the priesthood said that when he died and went to heaven, ‘the first thing he’ll say to Saint Peter, instead of greeting him, is, ‘Where’s hell?’—always focusing on the negative. And Saint Peter will show him hell. ‘But, how many condemned are there?’ – ‘Just one.’ – ‘Ah, what a disaster salvation is!’…” “This always happens. In the face of bitterness, resentfulness, complaints … the Church says today, ‘courage,’ ‘courage.'”
Isaiah, in fact, invites us to be brave, because God “is coming to save us,” the pope said. He then returned to today’s Gospel (Luke 5:17-26), which tells how some people go up on the roof because there is a large crowd, and they lower a paralytic down to place him before Jesus. They don’t think about the fact that the scribes and other people are there; they only want that man to be cured.
The message of today’s liturgy—the pope concluded—is that we must allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord.
“It’s not easy, because in order to allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord, we must strip ourselves of our expressions of egoism, which are our treasure—both bitterness and complaints. It will do each one of us good today, to make an examination of conscience: How is my heart? Do I have some bitterness? Some sadness? How is my language? Is it one of praising God, and of beauty, or of constant complaints? We should ask the Lord for the grace of courage, because He comes in courage to console us. We should ask the Lord: Lord, come console us.”