Pope Francis: We must not give in to sadness

Rome (Monday, December 14, 2015, Gaudium Press) On Sunday, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door at St John Lateran Basilica. After that ceremony, during the Mass, the Pope stressed the importance of not giving into sadness, despite our concerns in light of many forms of violence.

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In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the readings for the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, saying that the Lord’s coming “must fill our hearts with joy.”

“We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason to be, with many concerns and the many forms of violence which hurt our humanity.”

“In a historical context of great abuse and violence, especially by men of power, God knows that He will reign over his people, who would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and will free them from all anxiety.”

The Pope spoke of the Holy Door opened at the beginning of Mass, not only in the Basilica but around the world. He said, “even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness.”

In a few off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis stressed the importance of God’s tenderness. “God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything (is) done with the tenderness of the Father.” Pope Francis called those who will cross the door to be “instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this.. The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries.”

Vatican Radio’s translation of Pope Francis’ homily follows:

The invitation extended by the Prophet to the ancient city of Jerusalem is also addressed today to the whole Church and each one of us: “Rejoice … exault!” (Zephaniah 3:14). The reason for joy is expressed with words that inspire hope, and which can look to the future with serenity. The Lord has annulled every condemnation and chose to live among us.

This third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason (for sadness), with many concerns and the many forms of violence which hurt our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy. The prophet Zephaniah, in whose very name is inscribed the content of this announcement, opens our hearts to trust: “God protects” His people. In a historical context of great abuse and violence, especially by men of power, God knows that He will reign over his people, who would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and will free them from all anxiety. Today, we are asked not to let our “hands grow weak” because of doubt, impatience or suffering.

The Apostle Paul takes with force the teaching of the prophet Zephaniah and reiterates: “The Lord is near” (Phil 4,5). Because of this we should rejoice always, and with our affability give all witness of closeness and care that God has for each person.

We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything done with the tenderness of the Father. We too, like the crowds asked John, “What do we do?” (Lk 3:10). The response of the Baptist was immediate. He invites us to act justly and to look after the needs of those in need. What John demands of his representatives, however, it is what is reflected in the law. We, however, are prompted toward a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door we are called to cross, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. He who is baptized knows he has a greater commitment. Faith in Christ leads to a journey that lasts for a lifetime: to be merciful, like the Father. The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries. It is from this infinite love that we are responsible, in spite of our contradictions.

We pray for us and for all who pass through the Door of Mercy, that we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, recreates, transforms and reforms life.”

Elsewhere, in Rome at the same time as the Mass at St John Lateran Basilica, the Holy Door of the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls was opened by Cardinal James Harvey, Archpriest of the Basilica.

The Holy Door of the Basilica of S. Paul Outside-the-Walls carries a design honouring the Holy Trinity, and bears the Latin inscription ‘Ad sacram Pauli cunctis venientibus aedem – sit pacis donum perpetuoquoe salus,’ which means “Those who come to the holy temple of Paul are given the gift of peace and eternal salvation.”

After the Mass for the opening of the Holy Door, a concert was given by The New Chamber Singers, under the direction of Maestro Darren Everhart.

Pope Francis will pass through the Holy Door at St Paul Outside-the-Walls during an ecumenical service next month, on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul on January 25, 2016.

Source: Vatican Radio

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