(Vatican Radio) When Jesus approaches us, He always opens the doors and gives us hope. That was the message of Pope Francis this morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said we must never fear the consolation of the Lord, but rather must ask for and seek that consolation that makes us feel the tenderness of God.
“Comfort, give comfort to my people.” Pope Francis began his homily by reflecting on the reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, the book of the consolation of Israel. The Lord, he noted, approaches His people to comfort them, “to give them peace.” And this “work of consolation” is so strong that it “draws all things.” The Lord accomplishes a true re-creation:
“He re-creates things. And the Church never tires of saying that this re-creation is more wonderful than the creation. The Lord re-creates more wonderfully. And so He visits His people: re-creating, with that power. And the people of God always had this idea, this thought, that the Lord will come to visit them. We remember the last word of Joseph to his brothers: “When the Lord will visit you, you must take my bones with you.” The Lord will visit His people. It is the hope of Israel. But He will visit them with this consolation.”
“And the consolation,” he continued, “is this drawing all things, not once, but many times, with the universe and also with us.” This “drawing of the Lord,” the Pope said, has two dimensions that it is important to emphasize. “When the Lord approaches,” he said, “He gives us hope; the Lord draws us with hope. He always opens a door. Always.” When the Lord approaches, the Pope repeated, “he doesn’t close doors, He opens [them].” The Lord “in His nearness gives us hope, this hope that is a true strength in the Christian life. It is a grace, it is a gift”:
“When a Christian forgets hope — or worse, loses hope — his life is senseless. It’s as if his life hit a wall: there’s nothing. But the Lord comforts us and draws us forward with hope. And He does it with a special closeness to each one, because the Lord comforts His people and comforts each one of us. It’s beautiful how today’s reading ends: ‘Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.’ That image of carrying the lambs in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care: that is tenderness. The Lord comforts us with tenderness.”
He continued, “God who is powerful “is not afraid of tenderness.” “He becomes tender, becomes a child, becomes small.” In the Gospel, he noted, Jesus says the same: “In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” In the eyes of the Lord, he added, “each one of us is very, very important. And He gives with tenderness.” And so He makes us “go forward, giving us hope.” This, he said again, “was the principle work of Jesus” in the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension: to comfort the disciples, to be close to them and give them consolation”:
“He was close to them and gave hope, He approached with tenderness. But we think of the tenderness He had with the Apostles, with Mary Magdalene, with those of Emmaus. He approached with tenderness: “Give me something to eat.” With Thomas: “Put your finger here.” The Lord is always this way. This is the consolation of the Lord. May the Lord give to all of us the grace to not be afraid of the consolation of the Lord, to be open: ask for it, seek it, because it is a consolation that will give us hope, and make us feel the tenderness of God the Father.”