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Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Let us pray for the people who work in these worthy organizations, that the Lord would bless their work, which does so much good.
This was Pope Francis’ intention for morning Mass on May 8.
His homily focused on the day’s Gospel, which has the following verses:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. … In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. … I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
The pope reflected on three aspects in the way that Christ consoles his followers.
There are many ways to console, from the most authentic … to the most formal, like those telegrams with condolences: ‘Deeply sorrowed by …’ They don’t console anyone, they are fiction. It is a formality of consolation. But how does the Lord console? It’s important to know, because when we have to pass through a moment of sadness in our lives, we should learn to perceive what the true consolation of the Lord is.
Pope Francis said that this passage of the Gospel shows that the Lord always consoles with three elements: closeness, truth, and hope. “These are the three characteristics of the Lord’s consolation.”
Regarding his closeness, the pope said, many times it is “in silence, but we know he is there.”
That closeness which is God’s style, even in the Incarnation. To make himself close to us. The Lord consoles with closeness. And he doesn’t use empty words. Instead, he prefers silence. The strength of closeness, of presence. He speaks little. But he’s close.
Then, the pope said, Jesus always consoles with truth. He doesn’t use formalities that aren’t true.
‘Don’t worry, it will be all right. Nothing’s wrong. Everything will be fine.’ No. He tells the truth and he doesn’t hide the truth. He says in this passage, ‘I am the truth.’ And the truth is, ‘I’m leaving,’ which is to say, ‘I’m going to die.’ We face death. This is true. He says it simply and also meekly, without wounding: We are facing death. He doesn’t hide the truth.
Nevertheless, Francis continued, Jesus gives consolation with hope. He admits that they are in a difficult moment, but adds, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” And he promises to come get us to bring us to the Father’s house.
He will be the first one to open the doors of this dwelling where he wants to bring us. … The Lord comes back every time that one of us in on the journey that leads out of this world. ‘I will come back again and I will take you.’ Hope. He will come and he will take us by the hand and he will bring us with him. He doesn’t say, ‘No, no you won’t suffer. Nothing’s wrong.’ No. He tells the truth. ‘I am close to you.’ This is the truth. This is a bad moment, of danger, of death, but don’t permit your hearts to be troubled. Remain in peace, this peace that is the foundation of every consolation, because I will come and take you by the hand to lead you where I am.
Francis acknowledged that it isn’t easy to allow oneself to be comforted by the Lord. Many times, he admitted, we get angry with him, and we don’t allow him to come and speak to us like this, “with this sweetness, with this closeness, with this meekness, with this truth, with this hope.”
“Let us ask for the grace,” he said, “to learn to allow ourselves to be consoled by the Lord. The consolation of the Lord is true. It doesn’t trick us. It doesn’t anesthetize us. Instead it’s close, it’s truthful, and it opens the gates of hope.”
Why do the innocent suffer? Pope Francis gives this answer