Jesus asks us to draw near each other, says pope; since we can't be physically near each other, let us renew our nearness in prayer
“Today we pray for the deceased, those who have died because of the virus,” Pope Francis said, as he began morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on March 18. He asked that we pray with him for “for health care providers who have given their lives in service of the sick.”
In his reflection on the readings, the Holy Father spoke of how marvelously God gives us the law. In fact, Moses marvels at how near God is, and that no other nation “has its God so near as the Lord our God is whenever we call to Him,” Pope Francis quoted.
The Lord gives His people the law by drawing near to them. They weren’t prescriptions given by a far-off governor who then distances himself, or from a dictator. …. And we know through revelation that it was the paternal nearness of a father accompanying His people, giving them the gift of the law. A God who is near.
God protects His people on their journey through the desert, through the cloud and the pillar of fire. God journeys with His people, he said.
He is not a God who leaves the prescriptions of the law in writing and then goes His own way. He writes the prescriptions with His own hand on the rock. Then He gives them, hands them over to Moses. He doesn’t give them and then go on His own way.
God draws near; we hide
But humans are the opposite, as we see from the first pages of the Bible. The more God draws near, the more we tend to distance ourselves from Him. The first way of distancing ourselves is to hide ourselves, the second is killing others as Cain did, the pope said.
Sin leads us to hide ourselves, to not want nearness. So many times we adopt a theology thinking that He’s a judge. And so I hide myself, I am afraid…. [These are] two types of reactions that inhibit every type of nearness. Man rejects God’s nearness. He wants to be in control of relationships. And relationships always bring with them some type of vulnerability. God draws near making Himself weak. And the closer He comes, the weaker He seems to be. When He comes to live among us, He makes Himself man, one of us. He makes Himself weak. He bears that weakness even unto death, the most cruel death.
God’s nearness demonstrates His humility, the Holy Father continued. “God humiliates Himself to walk with us, to help us.”
As Moses said, He is not a God somewhere up in the heavens. “He’s in the house.” Jesus shows us this. Jesus, God-made-man, “accompanies,” teaching his disciples and lovingly correcting them.
Jesus asks us to draw near to each other rather than to distance ourselves from each other.
Pope Francis emphasized that there are many ways of drawing near to each other that are not physical in nature.
In this moment of crisis because of the pandemic we are experiencing, this nearness asks to be manifested more… Perhaps we cannot draw near physically to others because of the fear of contagion, but we can reawaken in ourselves a habit of drawing near to others through prayer, through help. There are many ways of drawing near.
The reason why we need to be near each other is because God made Himself near to accompany us. The “inheritance we have received from the Lord” is that we are neighbors, we do not live in isolation, Francis insisted.
Let’s ask the Lord the grace of being near to each other, not to hide ourselves from each other, not to wash our hands as Cain did….