Consolation

Pope Francis          11.12.18 Holy Mass  Santa Marta    Isaiah 40:1-11,      Matthew 18: 12-14 
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The first reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (40,1-11), is an invitation to consolation: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God,” because “her guilt is expiated.” This, refers to the “consolation of salvation,” to the good news that “we are saved.” The Risen Christ, in those forty days after His Resurrection, did just that with His disciples: He consoled them. But, we tend to resist consolation, as if we were safer in the turbulent waters of our problems. We bet on desolation, on problems, on defeat; the Lord works very hard to console us, but encounters resistance. This can be seen even with the disciples on the morning of Easter, who needed to be reassured, because they were afraid of another defeat.

We are attached to this spiritual pessimism. Children who approach me during my 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, 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.” This is the way the Lord comforts: with tenderness. Tenderness consoles. When a child cries, a mom will caress them and calm them with tenderness: a word that the world today has practically removed from the dictionary.

The Lord invites us to allow ourselves to be consoled by Him; and this is also helpful in our preparation for Christmas. And today, in the opening prayer from the Mass, we asked for the grace of a sincere joyfulness, of this simple but sincere joy.

And indeed, I would say that 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. The habitual state of the Christian should be consolation, which 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.

When we suffer, we might not feel that consolation; but 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. And so, 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. Referring back to the Gospel of the day (Mt 18,12-14), he 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. 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   10.12.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Isaiah 40:1-11,    Matthew 18: 12-14
Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent Year A

The Lord guides His people, comforts them but also corrects them and punishes them with the tenderness of a father, a shepherd who carries the lambs in His bosom and leads the ewes with care.

The first reading from the Book of Isaiah speaks about God’s consolation for His people Israel as a proclamation of hope. "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated."

The Lord always
consoles us as long as we allow ourselves to be consoled. And God corrects with consolation, but how? "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." "In His bosom". But this is an expression of tenderness! How does the Lord console? With tenderness. How does the Lord correct? With tenderness. Can you imagine, being in the bosom of the Lord, after having sinned?

The Lord leads, the Lord leads His people, the Lord corrects; I would also say: the Lord punishes with tenderness. The tenderness of God, the caresses of God. It is not a didactic nor diplomatic attitude of God; it comes from within, it is the joy that He has when a sinner approaches. And joy makes Him tender.

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father saw his son from afar: because he was waiting for him, he went up on the terrace to see if his son returns. The heart of the father. And when he arrives and begins that speech of repentance he cuts his son's speech off short and starts celebrating. The Lord's tenderness.

In the Gospel, the shepherd returns, the one who has a hundred sheep and
one that is lost. "Will he not leave the 99 in the hills and go in search for the one that's lost?" And if he can find her he will rejoice over it more than the 99 that were not lost. This is the joy of the Lord before the sinner, before us when we allow ourselves to be forgiven, we approach Him to forgive us. A joy that makes tenderness and that tenderness comforts us.

Many times, we complain about the difficulties we have: the devil wants us to fall into the spirit of sadness, embittered by life or our sins. I met a person who was consecrated to God who they called "Complaint", because he couldn't do anything other than complain, it was the Nobel Prize for complaints.

But how often do we complain, we complain, and we often think that our sins, our limitations cannot be forgiven. And it is then that the voice of the Lord comes and says, "I
comfort you, I am near you", and He holds us tenderly. The powerful God who created the heavens and earth, the God-hero to put it this way, our brother, who allowed Himself to be brought to the cross to die for us, is able to caress us and say, "Do not cry".

With what tenderness, the Lord would have caressed the widow of Nain when he told her "Don't cry". Maybe, in front of her son’s coffin, He caressed her before He said, "Don't cry". Because there was a disaster there. We must believe this consolation of the Lord, because afterwards there is the grace of forgiveness.

"Father, I have so any sins, I have made so many mistakes in my life" - But let yourself be consoled - by the Lord - Ask for
forgiveness: go, go! Be brave. Open the door. And He will caress you. He will approach with the tenderness of a father, a brother: "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", so the Lord comforts us.




Pope Francis  08.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter       John 14: 1-6

Pope Francis - Consolation - 08.05.20

Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Let us pray for the people who work in these worthy institutions: that the Lord bless their work that does so much good.

This conversation of Jesus with the disciples takes place at the table, again at the last supper (John 14: 1-6). Jesus is sad and everyone is sad: Jesus said that he would be betrayed by one of them ( John 13:21) and everyone senses that something bad would happen. Jesus begins to console them: because one of the offices, "of the works" of the Lord is consoling. The Lord consoles his disciples and here we see what Jesus' way of consoling is. We have many ways of comforting, from the most authentic, to the those that are more formal, such as those telegrams of condolences: "Deeply saddened for...". It doesn't console anyone, it's a sham, it's the consolation of formality. But how does the Lord console ? This is important to know, because we too, when we have to go through moments of sadness in our lives, learn to perceive what the true consolation of the Lord is. 

And in this passage of the Gospel we see that the Lord always consoles in closeness, with truth and hope. These are the three features of the Lord's consolation. In close proximity, never distant. The beautiful words: "I am here." "I am here, with you." And so often in silence. But we know he's there. He's always there. That closeness that is the style of God, even in the Incarnation, to be close to us. The Lord consoles in closeness. And he does not use empty words, indeed: he prefers silence. The power of closeness, of presence. And he speaks little. But he's close.

A second feature of Jesus' closeness, of Jesus' way of consoling, is the truth: Jesus is truthful. He doesn't say formal things that are lies: "No, don't worry, everything will pass, nothing will happen, it will pass, things pass...".No. He says the truth. He doesn't hide the truth. Because he himself in this passage says: "I am the truth" (John 14:6). And the truth is, "I'm going to go," that is, "I'm going to die" (14: 2-3). We are facing death. It's the truth. And he says it simply and he also says it gently, without hurting: we are facing death. He doesn't hide the truth.

And this is the third feature: Jesus consoles through hope. Yes, it's a bad time. But "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith also in me" (14: 1). I going to tell you something Jesus says, "There are many rooms in my Father's house. I'm going to prepare a place for you" (14: 2). He goes first to open the doors, the doors of that place through which we will all pass, so I hope: "I will come back again and take you with me, so that where I am you may be too" (14: 3). The Lord returns whenever any of us are on our way out of this world. "I will come and I will take you": hope. He will come and take us by the hand and take us. He doesn't say: "No, you will not suffer: it is nothing...". No. He tells the truth: "I am close to you, this is the truth: it is a bad moment, of danger, of death. But do not let your heart be troubled, remain in peace, that peace that is the basis of all consolation, because I will come and take you by the hand to where I will be."

It is not easy to be consoled by the Lord. Many times, in bad times, we get angry with the Lord and do not let him come and speak to us like this, with this tenderness, with this closeness, with this gentleness, with this truth and with this hope.

Let us ask for the grace to learn to allow ourselves be consoled by the Lord. The Lord's consolation is truthful, not deceiving. It's not anaesthesia, no. But it is close, it is truthful and he opens the doors of hope for us.