EXTRAORDINARY MOMENT OF PRAYER PRESIDED OVER BY POPE FRANCIS
Sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica Friday, 27 March 2020
“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.
My God, My Mercy…
St. Vincent Pallotti
To All the Superiors and Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate
On our calendars, spring has just begun. Outside appears as if nothing has happened…, blue skies embracing the earth, sun's rays peeking into the windows bringing warmth, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and a warm spring breeze delicately blows around. We all love spring because it comes to us in light colors, with hope, with a smile, with new life and warmth. Such is a nature: faithful to God’s law and grows and develops according to its own natural rhythm.
I would like to share with you some thoughts from the "front" of the fight against the pandemic, this invisible opponent. As we all know, the situation throughout Italy is critical and unfortunately also in Rome, which is a completely different city than as we know it, is increasing in incidences. Statistics on infection, recovery and mortality are far from giving hope that the epidemic will end soon.
Most loving God, Creator of us all, we turn to you to care for your people in need. We thank you for your presence among us and the peace you offer us. Send us your Spirit to fill us with courage and hope, so that we might be your instruments of love and assistance for others in need. Through this crisis, may we come together, as people of faith in a crisis so often do by your grace, and may we come out of it more united and more determined to care for those most in need. Thank you for your fidelity and the graces we need these days.
Ezekiel 37:21-28; John 11:45-56
On the cusp of Holy Week, today’s readings give us some hint of what the new creation, which we’ll celebrate at the Easter Vigil, actually looks like. We will be one. In the readings from Ezekiel and the psalm from Jeremiah, we hear God promising to gather the scattered remnants of Israel, and in the Gospel, John, interpreting the high priest’s comments, sees Jesus gathering “into one the dispersed children of God”. In both readings it is God who acts. Plainly we can’t do it ourselves. Humans divide. It is God who unifies. What we need to hear and understand is that unity is what God wants. Though we can’t do it ourselves, we certainly can impede it, and we desperately need to understand how doing that would be completely contrary to God’s will.
Jeremiah 20:10-13; John 10: 31-42
Remember the old cliché, “Talk’s cheap”? Perhaps you quoted it to someone you knew. It’s been quoted to me more than once. It seems in today’s Gospel it is the approach that the Pharisees are using in trying to discredit Jesus who has told them that he is the Son of God.
Since they know his origin and his occupation, as the carpenter at Nazareth, there is no way that he can be anything more than one of them. As for claiming to be God’s son, they accuse him of blasphemy and decide that he should be stoned to death. Jesus counters by letting them know that if they don’t believe what he says, then they ought to look at his works for proof of who he is. His opponents were well aware of the miraculous healings of the deaf, the blind and the lame, along with his teachings, his forgiving of sins, his advice to the disconsolate, and the myriad of other services he did for people. But they object, that it’s not for the works that they want to stone him, it’s rather for the fact that he continues to claim to be the Son of God.
Genesis 17:3-9; John 8:51-59
“Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
The well known “I AM.” The Jews knew that God used those words as a name when speaking to Moses. In today’s gospel John presents an insulting man from Nazareth using those same words to identify himself. “Surely he must be crazy” is a believable and likely response for the typical Jew expecting a triumphant savior. Instead the Jews get a lowly person who rebukes their religious practices and the structure they created for their followers. I like to believe that I would have recognized Jesus as the savior if I was alive during those times, but that is wishful thinking. More likely, I would have been like the many other Jews missing the true identity and teachings of Jesus. Do you think you would have embraced Jesus if you were present during his life? No matter what our answers are, we have opportunities to embrace the “I AM” in the midst of our daily lives.
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; John 8:31-42
Today’s scriptures are an incredible contrast in how people accept God’s guidance and do His will. From Daniel, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (you gotta love those names). A story of incredible faith in the face of certain death. Three men whose love for God gives them the resolve to face the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar (another great name). Even the king marvels that these men would rather die than worship another god. And in the Gospel of John, the story of proud, stiff-necked Jews who refuse to listen, let alone believe, when the Son of God stands in front of them. Jesus tries to advise and guide them, but they are so focused on themselves as descendants of Abraham that they refuse to see. I wonder where I am between these two groups.