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Pope Francis Talks about Courage as a Christian 18.04.20


Pope Francis Talks about Courage as a Christian 18.04.20



Pope Francis   18.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Easter Saturday     Acts 4: 13-21,     Mark 16: 9-15

Pope Francis talks about courage as a Christian 18.04.20

Yesterday I received a letter from a sister, who works as a sign language translator for the deaf, and she told me about the difficult work of health workers, nurses, and doctors with disabled patients who have caught Covid-19. We pray for them who are always at the service of these people with various disabilities, who don't have the same abilities that we have.

The leaders, the elders, the scribes, seeing these men and the frankness with which they spoke, and knowing that they were people without education, perhaps they could not write, were amazed. They did not understand: "But it is something that we cannot understand, how are these people so courageous, have this boldness" (cf. Acts 4:13). This word is a very important word that becomes the style of Christian preachers, especially in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: frankness, boldness, courage. It means all of that. It comes from the Greek root that says all of this, and we too use this word so many times, just the Greek word, to indicate this: parrhesìa, frankness, courage. And they saw this frankness, this courage in them and they did not understand.

Boldness. The courage and frankness with which the first apostles preached ... For example, the Acts of the Apostles is full of it: it says that Paul and Barnabas tried to explain to the Hebrews frankly the mystery of Jesus and preached the Gospel boldly (cf. Acts 13:46).

But there is a verse that I like so much in the Letter to the Hebrews, when the author of the Letter to the Hebrews realizes that there is something in the community that is beginning to decrease, that's beginning to be lost, that there was a certain warmth, that these Christians are becoming lukewarm. And he says this – I do not remember the quote well ... He says this: "Remember the first days, you endured a great and difficult battle: do not throw away your confidence now" (cf. Heb 10:32-35). "Take it back," resume your boldness, have Christian courage to move forward. You cannot be a Christian without this boldness: if you do not have it, you are not a good Christian. If you don't have courage, if you slip and slide on ideologies or case explanations to explain your position, you lack that confidence, you lack that Christian style, the freedom to speak, to say everything. Courage.

And then, we see that the leaders, the elderly and the scribes are victims, they are victims of this frankness, because it puts them in the corner: they do not know what to do. Realizing "that they were simple and uneducated people, they were astonished and recognized them as those who had been with Jesus. Seeing the man who had been healed standing next to them, they did not know what to say in reply" (Acts 4:13-14). Instead of accepting the truth as seen, they had such a closed heart that they sought the path of diplomacy, the way to compromise: "Let's scare them a little, let's tell them they will be punished and let's see if they are so silent" (cf. Acts 4:16-17). Really, they're cornered by the boldness: they didn't know how to get out of it. But they didn't think to say, "But could this be true?" Because their hearts were already closed, they were hard: their hearts were corrupt. This is one of the tragedies: the strength of the Holy Spirit that manifests itself in this boldness of preaching, cannot enter corrupt hearts. For this reason, let us be careful: sinners yes, but never the corrupt. And never arrive at this corruption that has so many ways of manifesting itself ...

But, they were in the corner and didn't know what to say. And in the end, they found a compromise: "Let us threaten them a little, scare them a little", and invite them and call them back and order them, invite them not to speak at any time nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "Let us make peace: you go in peace, but do not speak in the name of Jesus, do not teach" (cf. Acts 4:18). Peter we know : he was not born courageous. He was a coward, he renounced Jesus. But what happened now? They answer: "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges; we cannot remain silent about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20). But this courage, where does it come from, from this coward who has renounced the Lord? What happened in this man's heart? The gift of the Holy Spirit: boldness, courage, parrhesia is a gift, a grace given by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Just after receiving the Holy Spirit they went to preach: a little courageous, a new thing for them. It's consistency, the sign of a Christian, of the true Christian: he is courageous, he tells the whole truth because he is consistent.

And the Lord announces this consistency in sending them out; in the synthesis that Mark makes in the Gospel: a synthesis of the resurrection "He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen him risen" (Mark 16:14) . But with the strength of the Holy Spirit - it is Jesus' greeting: "Receive the Holy Spirit" - and he said to them: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), go with courage, go with boldness, do not be afraid. Do not, as I repeat the verse of the Letter to the Jews, "do not throw away your confidence, do not throw away this gift of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Heb 10:35). The mission comes from here, from this gift that makes us courageous, bold in the proclamation of the word.

May the Lord always help us to be like this: courageous. That's not reckless: no, no. Courageous. Christian courage is always prudent, but it is courageous.