“Let us put at the center of everything the word of Christ, which illuminates events and gives us again the eyes to see the active presence of God’s love and the possibility of good even in situations where there seems to be no hope.” de Beaupré” in Quebec, Canada
As part of his apostolic visit to Canada, His Holiness Pope Francis will preside at ten o’clock Thursday morning, local time, the Divine Liturgy at the National Shrine of Saint “Anne de Beaupré” in Quebec. For our personal and ecclesiastical journey. On the path of life and the life of faith, as we carry forward the dreams, projects, expectations and hopes that reside in our hearts, we also encounter our fragility and weakness, experience defeats and disappointments, and sometimes remain captive to the sense of failure that paralyzes us. The Gospel tells us, at that very moment, that we are not alone: that the Lord comes to meet us, stands by us, and walks on our path in the calmness of a gentle pedestrian who wants to open our eyes anew and kindle our hearts anew. And when failure leaves a space in us to encounter the Lord, life is born of hope, and we can be reconciled to one another: with ourselves, with our brothers, and with God.
So let us follow the path of this journey that we can mean: from failure to hope, Pope Francis continued. First, we find the sense of failure in the hearts of these two disciples after the death of Jesus. They had pursued a dream passionately. In Jesus they had placed all their hopes and desires. But now, after a suspicious death on the cross, they turned their backs on Jerusalem to return to their home and to their previous lives. Their journey is a journey back in time, as if they want to forget that experience that filled their hearts with bitterness, because that Christ was condemned to die on the cross like criminals. They returned home frustrated, ‘depressed’: the expectations they had fed have vanished, the hopes they believed in were dashed, and the dreams they wanted to fulfill left a place of disappointment and bitterness.
The Holy Father added that it is an experience that also relates to our life and our spiritual path, every time we had to change our expectations and deal with the ambiguities of reality, the ambiguity of life, and our weakness. It happens to us every time our ideals collide with the disappointments of life, when we do not fulfill our intentions because of our fragility, when we promote good projects but then have no power to carry them out, when we experience sooner or later some defeat in the activities in which we go forward or in our relations with others, Or some error, or failure, or fall, when we see that what we believed in or were committed to has collapsed, and when we feel that we are under the burden of our sins and guilt. This is what happened to Adam and Eve in the first reading: their sin not only distanced them from God, but also separated them from each other, and each became accusing the other. We also see this in the two disciples of Emmaus, whose distress at seeing Jesus’ project collapse left room for sterile discussion. This can also happen in the life of the Church, in the congregation of the disciples of the Lord Jesus, represented by the disciples of Emmaus. Although it is the community of the Risen One, it may find itself lost and frustrated before the stumbling block of evil and the violence of Golgotha. So she can’t help but hold in her hands the feeling of failure and ask herself: What happened? Why did this happen? And how did that happen?
Brothers and sisters, the Pope continued, these are the questions that each of us asks himself, and they are also the urgent questions that resonate in the heart of this Church, which is on a pilgrimage in Canada on a difficult journey of healing and reconciliation. We too, before the stumbling block of evil and the wounded body of Christ in the body of our indigenous brothers, find ourselves in bitterness and feel the weight of failure. Allow me, therefore, to be spiritually united with the many pilgrims who walk here on the “Sacred Staircase”, which reminds us of Jesus’ ascension into the house of Pilate; And to accompany you as a Church in these questions that arise from a heart full of pain: Why did all this happen? How did this happen in the congregation of those who follow Jesus? But here, we must be wary of the experience of escape, present in the two disciples of the Gospel: going back, fleeing from the place where the events took place, trying to wrest them from our minds, and looking for a “quiet place” like Emmaus in order to stop thinking about it. There is nothing worse than running away from life’s problems rather than facing them. It is the temptation of the enemy that threatens our spiritual path and the path of the Church: it wants us to believe that this failure has become final, to paralyze us in bitterness and sorrow, to convince us that there is nothing else to do, and therefore it is not worth the trouble to find a way to start over. But the Gospel reveals to us that in situations of disappointment and pain, when we experience amazement at the violence of evil, and shame before guilt, when the river of our lives dries up because of sin and failure, when we are stripped of everything and seem to have nothing left, then the Lord comes to meet us and walks with us. On the way to Emmaus, the Lord quietly approached to share the two mournful disciples’ submissive steps. And what did he do? He did not offer them general words of encouragement, or circumstantial phrases, or easy consolations, but by revealing the secret of his death and resurrection in the Bible, he illuminated their history and the events they lived through. Thus, he opened their eyes to a new view of things. We too, who participate in the Eucharist in this basilica, can re-read many events of history. On this same land there were once three temples, and there were also those who did not flee in front of difficulties, but dreamed again in spite of their own faults and those of others. They did not allow themselves to be overcome by the devastating fire of a hundred years ago, and with courage and ingenuity, they built this temple. And those who participate in the Eucharist from the nearby “plains of Abraham” can also understand the spirit of those who did not allow themselves to be held hostage to the hatred of war, destruction and pain, but knew once more to plan for a city and a country.
Finally, Pope Francis went on to say before the two disciples of Emmaus, Jesus broke the bread, opened their eyes again and revealed himself once more as the God of love who gives his life for his loved ones. In this way, help them to resume their journey with joy, to start over, and to move from failure to hope. Brothers and sisters, the Lord also wants to do the same with each of us and with His Church. How can our eyes be opened again and how can our hearts be rekindled by the flame of the Gospel? What should we do as we are afflicted by multiple spiritual and material trials, as we search for the path towards a more just and fraternal society, as we wish to recover from our disappointments and toil, as we hope to be healed from the wounds of the past, and to be reconciled with God and with each other? There is one way, one way: it is the way of Jesus, it is the way that is Jesus. We believe that Jesus is walking beside us, so let us allow him to meet us, and let his word explain to us the history we live as individuals and as a group, and show us the path that we must follow in order to heal and reconcile with each other. And let us break the Eucharistic Bread together in faith, so that around that table we may rediscover that we are children loved by the Father and called to be all brothers. By breaking the bread, Jesus confirmed what the two disciples knew from the testimony of the women they did not want to believe: that he rose from the dead! In this basilica, in which we remember the Mother of the Virgin Mary, and in which there is also a grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, we cannot fail to highlight the role that God wanted to give to women in his plan of salvation. Saint Anna, the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and the women of Easter morning show us a new path to reconciliation: the maternal tenderness of so many women can accompany us – as a Church – towards new fertile times, in which we leave behind so much sterility and so much death, and once again put the crucified Jesus at the center The Risen One.
In fact, the Holy Father added, we cannot put at the center of our questions, the fatigue that we carry within us, the pastoral life ourselves and our failures, but we must put it at the center of our questions, the Lord Jesus. At the heart of everything. Let us put at the center of everything his word, which illuminates events and gives us again eyes to see the active presence of God’s love and the possibility of good even in situations where there seems to be no hope. And let us lay the bread of the Eucharist, which Jesus also breaks for us today, in order to share his life with ours, embracing our weakness, sustaining our weary steps, and granting us healing of the heart. As we are reconciled with God, with others, and with ourselves, we too can become instruments of reconciliation and peace in the society in which we live.
Pope Francis concluded his homily by saying, “Lord Jesus, our way, our strength and our consolation, we turn to you like the disciples of Emmaus: “Stay with us, for the evening has come and the day is long.” Stay with us, O Lord, when hope is gone and the night of disappointment is darkened. Stay with us, because the direction of the journey with you is changing, O Jesus, and from the alleys of blind distrust the astonishment of joy is reborn. Remain with us, O Lord, because the night of suffering with you turns into a bright morning of life. To put it simply: Remain with us, Lord, because if you walk alongside us, failure will open up to the hope of a new life. Trustworthy.
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