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Pope Francis Talks about Joy 16.04.20


Pope Francis Talks about Joy 16.04.20



Pope Francis  16.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Easter Thursday    Acts 3: 11-26,     Luke 24: 35-48

Pope Francis talks about Joy 16.04.20

In these days they have reproached me because I forgot to thank a group of people who are also working. I thanked the doctors, nurses, volunteers... "But you forgot about pharmacists": they too work hard to help the sick get better from the disease. Let us also pray for them.

In these days, in Jerusalem, people had so many feelings: fear, amazement, doubt. "In those days, while the healed crippled man clung to Peter and John, all the people, hurried in amazement ... " (Acts 3:11): it was not a tranquil environment because things happened that were not understood. The Lord went to his disciples. They too knew that he had already risen, even Peter knew it because he had spoken to him that morning. These two who had returned from Emmaus knew this, but when the Lord appeared they were frightened. "Startled and terrified, they thought they were seeing a ghost" (Luke 24:37); the same experience they had had on the lake, when Jesus came walking on the water. But at that time Peter, feeling courageous, bet on the Lord, he said: "If it is you, let me walk on the water" (cf. Mt 14:28). This day Peter was silent, he had spoken to the Lord that morning, and no one knows what they had said in that dialogue, and that is why he was silent. But they were so full of fear, upset, they thought they saw a ghost. And Jesus says, "Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands, and my feet...", he shows the wounds (cf. Luke 24:38-39). That treasure of Jesus that he brought up to Heaven to show the Father for him to intercede for us. "Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones."

And then comes a phrase that gives me so much consolation and for this reason, this passage of the Gospel is one of my favourites: "But out of joy they still did not believe in him..." (cf. Luke 24: 41), and they stood there dumbfounded, the joy impeded them from believing. Their joy was so great, there was so much joy that "no, this can't be true. This joy is not real, it is too much joy." And that kept them from believing. Joy. Moments of great joy. They were full of joy but paralyzed because of joy. And joy is one of Paul's desires for his people in Rome: "May the God of hope fill you with joy" (cf. Rm 15:13) he tells them. Filled with joy, be full of joy. It is the experience of the highest consolation, when the Lord makes us understand that this is something else from being cheerful, positive, enlightened. No, it's something else. Being joyful. Yes, it's filled with light but full of joy, an overflowing joy that really takes hold of us. And for this reason Paul wishes that "the God of hope fills you with joy", to the Romans.

And that word, that expression, to be filled with joy is repeated, many, many times. For example, what happens in the prison and Paul saves the life of the guard who was about to commit suicide because the doors had opened with the earthquake and then proclaimed the Gospel; he baptized him, and the guard, says the Bible, was "full of joy" at having come to faith (cf. Acts 16:29-34). The same is true with the Minister of Economy of Candàce, when Philip Baptised him, he continued on his way "full of joy" (cf. Acts 8:39). The same happened on Ascension Day: the disciples returned to Jerusalem, the Bible says, "full of joy". It is the fullness of consolation, the fullness of the Lord's presence. Because, as Paul says to the Galatians, "joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Gal 5:22), it is not the consequence of emotions that break out for a wonderful thing. No, it's more than that. This joy, this joy that fills us, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, you cannot have this joy. Receiving the joy of the Spirit is a grace.

I am reminded of the last numbers, the last paragraphs of Paul VI's Evangelii Nuntian speech (cf. 79-80), when he talks about joyful Christians, joyful evangelizers, and not those who always live down, depressed. Today is a good day to read it. Full of joy. This is what the Bible tells us: "But because of joy they did not believe ...", it was so great that they did not believe.

There is a passage from the book of Nehemiah that will help us today in this reflection on joy. The people returned to Jerusalem found the book of the law, it was discovered again - because they knew the law by heart, but they hadn't found the book of the law - it was a great feast and all the people gathered to listen to the priest Ezra who read the book of the law. The people were so moved they wept, they cried with joy because they had found the book of the law and they wept, it was joyful, the tears... Finally, when the priest Ezra finished, Nehemiah said to the people, "Do not be sad, and do not weep, preserve this joy, because the joy in the Lord is your strength" (cf. 8:1-12). This word from Nehemiah's book will help us today.

The great strength that we have to transform ourselves, to proclaim the gospel, to move forward as witnesses of the good news is the joy of the Lord that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and today we ask Him to grant us this fruit.