MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE
The air of the Church
Monday, 30 September 2013
(by L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n.
41, 9 October 2013)
Peace and joy “is the air of the Church”. Commenting on the daily Readings at
Mass on Monday morning, 30 September, in the Santa Marta Chapel, Pope Francis
focused on the atmosphere that reigns when the Church is aware of the Lord’s
constant presence. It is an atmosphere of peace where the joy of the Lord
The Holy Father drew from the book of Zechariah (8:1-8) — specifically the
prophecy that Jerusalem’s streets were to be filled with the elderly holding
canes, portraying longevity, alongside the young people, who play joyfully,
portraying the joy of God’s people — and the Gospel passage from Luke (9:46-50),
which tells of the dispute among the apostles over who among them was the
The Pope said that these two accounts bring to mind an exchange of views on
the organization of the Church. But, he said, “the Lord likes to surprise”, and
so “he shifts the centre of the discussion”; and looking to the child next to
him , so he says, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me. For
whoever is the least among all of you, is the greatest”.
“In the First Reading”, the Holy Father said, “we heard God’s promise to his
people: I will return to Zion, I will dwell in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be
called the faithful city. The Lord will return”. But, he asked, “what are the
signs that the Lord is returning? Perfect organization? A government that moves
along smoothly with everything perfect?”. To answer this question the Holy
Father used the image of the crowded square of Jerusalem filled with the elderly
Therefore “those who are left aside when we think of an organization
program”, he said, “they will be the sign of God’s presence: they are the
elderly and the children. The elderly for they bring wisdom, the wisdom of their
life, the wisdom of tradition, the wisdom of history, the wisdom of God’s law;
and children for they are the strength, the future, the ones who will bring
forward the future with their strength and with their lives”.
A people’s future, the Pope said, “is precisely here, in the elderly and the
children. And a people who do not take care of their elderly and their children
have no future because they will not have memory and will not have a promise”.
He also recalled that “the only commandment which brings with it a blessing is
the fourth, the commandment which regards honouring our parents and the
The disciples naturally wanted “the Church to move forward without any
problems”. But the Pontiff warned that this “can become a temptation for the
Church: to be a Church of functionalism, a well-organized Church, with
everything in its place”. Yet this would be a Church “without memory and without
“The Prophet”, continued the Pope “speaks about the Church’s vitality.
However, he does not tell us: I will be with you every week and you’ll have a
document to think over; every month we will have a meeting to plan”. All of this
is necessary, he said, but it is not the sign of God’s presence. The Lord points
to the sign when he says: “The elderly will sit still in the streets of
Jerusalem, each with their cane representing longevity. And the streets of the
city will be filled with boys and girls playing in the squares... Peace and joy,
this is the air of the Church”.