Pope Francis Faith in times of Crisis 02.05.20
But there are times without peace, in the early Church: times of persecution, difficult times, times that put believers in crisis. Times of crisis. And a time of crisis is what the Gospel of John tells us about today (John 6: 60-69). This passage of the Gospel is the end of an entire episode that began with the multiplication of loaves, when they wanted to make Jesus king, Jesus goes to pray, they do not find him the next day, they go to look for him, they find him and Jesus reproaches them for looking for him to give food and not for the words of eternal life ... and that whole story ends here. They say to him, "Give us this bread," and Jesus explains that the bread he will give is his own body and his own blood.
At that time, many of Jesus' disciples, after hearing this, said, "This word is hard: who can accept it?" (John 6: 60) Jesus had said that those who did not eat his body and blood would not have eternal life. Jesus said, "If you eat my body and my blood, you will rise again on the last day." (:54) These are the things that Jesus said and this word is hard, it is too hard. Something's not right here. This man has gone beyond the limits. And this is a moment of crisis. There were moments of peace and moments of crisis. Jesus knew that the disciples were murmuring: here there is a distinction between the disciples and the apostles. The disciples were those 72 or more, the apostles were the Twelve. Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him. And for this reason, in the face of this crisis, he reminds them: "That is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father." (:65) He repeats being attracted by the Father: the Father draws us to Jesus. And that's how the crisis is resolved.
And from that moment, many of his disciples left and did not go with him anymore. They distanced themselves. "This man is a little dangerous, a little ... But these doctrines ... yes, he is a good man, preaches and heals, but when it comes to these strange things ... please, let's go." And so did the disciples of Emmaus, on the morning of the resurrection. Ah, yes, a strange thing: the women who say that the tomb is empty ... "but it doesn't smell good," they said, "let's go quickly because the soldiers will come and crucify us." ( Luke 24: 22-24). So did the soldiers who guarded the tomb: they had seen the truth, but then they preferred to sell their secret and "we are safe: let's not put ourselves in the middle of this story, which is dangerous" (Matthew 28: 11-15).
A moment of crisis is a moment of choice, it is a moment that puts us in front of the decisions that we have to make: we have all had and will have moments of crisis in our lives. Family crises, marriage crises, social crises, crisis in work, many crises . This pandemic is also a time of social crisis.
How do we react in that moment of crisis? "At that moment, many of his disciples left and no longer accompanied him." (:66) Jesus makes the decision to question the apostles: "Then Jesus said to the Twelve: "Do you want to leave too? Make a decision." (:67)" And Peter makes his second confession: "Simon Peter answered him: "Lord, who shall we go to? You have the words of eternal life and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (: 68,69)Peter confesses, on behalf of the Twelve, that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the Son of God. The first confession – "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" – and immediately after, when Jesus began to explain the passion that would come, he stops him: "No, no, Lord, not this!", and Jesus reproaches him (Matthew 16: 16-23). But Peter has matured a little and here he does not reproach him. He does not understand what Jesus is saying, "eat my flesh, drink my blood" (cf 6: 54-56): he does not understand. But he trusts the Lord. Trust. And he makes this second confession: "But to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life"(v 68).
This helps us all to live in times of crisis. In my land there is a saying that says: "When you ride a horse and you have to cross a river, please do not change horses in the middle of the river." In times of crisis, be very firm in your conviction of faith. These who left, changed horses, looked for another teacher who wasn't as tough; as they said to him. In times of crisis there is perseverance, silence; stay where we are, firm. This is not the time to make changes. It is a time of fidelity, of fidelity to God, of fidelity to the things we have chosen before; also, it is the time of conversion because this fidelity will inspire in us some changes for the better, but not to distance ourselves from good.
Moments of peace and moments of crisis. We Christians must learn to manage both. Both. Some spiritual fathers say that the moment of crisis is like passing through fire to become strong. May the Lord send us the Holy Spirit to be able to resist temptations in times of crisis, to know how to be faithful to the first words, with the hope of living afterward in moments of peace. Let us think of our crises: family crises, neighbourhood crises, crises in work, social crises of the world, of the country ... so many crises, so many crises.
May the Lord allow us the strength – in times of crisis – not to sell our faith.
The first Reading begins: "In those days the Church was at peace throughout Judea, Galilee and Samarìa. It was being built up and walked in fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers." (Acts 9: 31) A time of peace. And the Church grows. The Church is quiet, it has the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it is in consolation. The good times. Then follows the healing of Aeneas, then Peter resurrects Gazzella, Tabitha ... things that are done in peace.
Let us pray today for the leaders who have the responsibility to take care of their people in these times of crisis: heads of state, presidents of government, legislators, mayors, presidents of regions. For the Lord to help them and give them strength, because their work is not easy. And that when there are differences between them, may they understand that, in times of crisis, they must be very united for the good of the people, because unity is superior to conflict.