Library of the Apostolic Palace
Sunday, 10 May 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel passage (cf. Jn 14:1-12), we hear the beginning of Jesus’ so-called “Farewell discourse”. They are the words he addresses to the disciples at the end of the Last Supper, just before facing the Passion. In such a dramatic moment Jesus began by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (v. 1). He says it to us too, in life’s troubles. But how can we ensure that our hearts are not troubled? Because the heart does become troubled.
The Lord indicates two remedies for being troubled. The first is: “Believe in me” (v. 1). It would seem to be rather theoretical, abstract advice. Instead, Jesus wants to tell us something precise. He knows that, in life, the worst anxiety, anguish, arises from the sensation of not being able to cope, of feeling alone and without points of reference when faced with events. We cannot overcome this anguish alone, when one difficulty is added to another. We need Jesus’ help, and this is why Jesus asks us to have faith in him, that is, to lean not on ourselves but on him. Because liberation from being troubled depends upon entrusting ourselves. Entrusting ourselves to Jesus, taking the “leap”. And this is liberation from feeling troubled. Jesus is risen and lives precisely to be always by our side. We can thus say to him, “Jesus, I believe that you rose again and are beside me. I believe that you listen to me. I bring to you what upsets me, my troubles; I have faith in you and I entrust myself to you”.
There is then a second remedy for being troubled, which Jesus expresses with these words: “My Father’s house has many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you” (v. 2). This is what Jesus did for us: he reserved a place in Heaven for us. He took our humanity upon himself to carry it beyond death, to a new place, to Heaven, so that we might also be where he is. It is the certainty that comforts us: there is a place reserved for each of us.
There is a place for me too. Each of us can say: there is a place for me. We do not live aimlessly and without destination. We are awaited. We are precious. God is in love with us, we are his children. And he has prepared for us the most worthy and beautiful place: Paradise. Let us not forget this: the dwelling place that awaits us is Paradise. We are in transit here. We are made for Heaven, for eternal life, to live forever. Forever: it is something we cannot even imagine now. But it is even more beautiful to think that this forever will be entirely in joy, in full communion with God and with others, without any more tears, without resentment, without division or turmoil.
But how can we reach heaven? What is the way? Here is Jesus’ decisive phrase. He says to us today: “I am the Way” (v. 6). Jesus is the way to go up to Heaven: to have a living relationship with him, to imitate him in love, to follow in his footsteps. And I, a Christian, you, a Christian, every one of us Christians, can ask ourselves: “Which way do I follow?”. There are ways that do not lead to Heaven: the ways of worldliness, the ways of self-affirmation, the ways of selfish power. And there is Jesus’ way, the way of humble love, of prayer, of meekness, of trust, of service to others. It is not the way of my self-centredness. It is the way of Jesus, who is the protagonist of my life. It is to go forth every day, asking him: “Jesus, what do you think of the choice I made? What would you do in this situation, with these people?”. It will do us good to ask Jesus, who is the way, for the directions to reach Heaven. May Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, help us to follow Jesus, who opened Heaven for us.
After the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father continued:
My thoughts today turn to Europe and Africa. To Europe, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950. It inspired the process of European integration, enabling the reconciliation of the peoples of the continent, after the Second World War and the long period of stability and peace from which we benefit today. May the spirit of the Schuman Declaration never fail to inspire those who hold responsibility in the European Union, called to face the social and economic consequences caused by the pandemic in a spirit of harmony and collaboration.
And our gaze also turns to Africa, because on 10 May 1980, 40 years ago, during his first pastoral visit to the continent, Saint John Paul II gave voice to the cry of the people of the Sahel, who were harshly tested by drought. Today I congratulate the young people who are working for the initiative “Laudato Si’ Alberi” (Laudato Si’ Trees). The goal is to plant at least one million trees throughout the Sahel region, which will become part of the “Great Green Wall of Africa”. I hope that many will follow the example of solidarity shown by these young people.
And today, Mother’s Day is being celebrated in many countries. I would like to remember all mothers with gratitude and affection, entrusting them to the protection of Mary, our heavenly Mother. My thoughts also turn to mothers who have passed on to the other life, and who accompany us from Heaven. Let us be silent a moment so each one of us can remember our mother. [Silent pause].
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