Morning Homilies III, Pope Francis
Each morning Pope Francis says Mass and offers a short homily for fellow residents and guests in the chapel of St. Martha’s Guesthouse, where he has chosen to live.
Those in attendance vary, including other residents, curial officials, dignitaries, or others who manage daily life in the Vatican, including the gardening and waste collection staff.
As with previous volumes in this ongoing series, this volume is based on the accounts published each day in L’Osservatore Romano.
Through these accounts it is possible for those not present to experience and enjoy the pope’s lively manner of speaking and his capacity to engage his listeners and their daily lives with the joy of the Gospel.
Here is a sample:
Don’t Be Afraid of Joy
Reflecting on how the disciples reacted with fear to the appearance of the risen Jesus, afraid that they were seeing a ghost:
There’s a word in this Gospel passage which explains very well what had happened at that moment. We read in the Gospel text: “They disbelieved for joy…” That’s the point: the disciples couldn’t believe because they were afraid of joy. …
Fear of joy is a Christian disease. We too are afraid of joy and we tell ourselves that it’s better to think, yes, God exists, but he’s out there. Jesus is risen; he’s out there! As if to say: let’s keep our distance. That thus we’re afraid of Jesus coming too close, because that gives us joy.
That attitude also explains why there are so many lugubrious Christians, whose lives are like a continual funeral. Christians who prefer gloom to joy: they’d rather go about in the dark than in the light of joy. Just like those creatures who only risk going out at night but do nothing in daylight. Like bats! Jokingly, we can call them “bat-Christians,” who prefer the dark to the light of the Lord’s presence.
We’re afraid of joy, and by his resurrection Jesus gives us joy, the joy of being a Christian, the joy of following him closely, the joy of walking the way of the beatitudes, the joy of being with him. . . . It matters little if Jesus is absent. But rather, we should ask ourselves: Do you talk to Jesus? Do you say to him, “Jesus, I believe you are alive, that you have risen, that you are close to me, that you won’t abandon me”? That conversation with Jesus is the real Christian life, realizing that Jesus is always with us, always with our problems, our difficulties, our good works.
May the Lord open our minds and make us understand that he’s a living reality, that he has a body, that he’s with us and keeps us company, that he has won. Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to be afraid of joy.