PAPAL RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC
 
Pope Francis’ ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Homily (full text in Appendix 1)
Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday Homily (full text in Appendix 2)

A Call for a Global Spiritual Reformation
Calming the Storm
 
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Homily of Pope Francis
(Shortened for easy reading, full text in the Appendix)

 

Pope Francis begins his homily by addressing Jesus. “You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.”

 

Pope Francis explains that we are in the middle of a storm in a boat, all of us together, just like the disciples. They were scared so they woke Jesus up, who calmed the wind and the waters. Then Jesus asked the stabbing question, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

 

Pope Francis explains how the storm exposes our weaknesses, our greed and selfishness. Suddenly, “we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities.” The storm wakes us up from our stupor.

 

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P169 when the storm looms

 

“We have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: ‘Wake up, Lord!’.

 

“’Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. ‘Return to me with all your heart’ (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.

 

“It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.” Pope Francis asks us to row together the boat we are all in.

 

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“’Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”

 

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“Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope. I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us.’”

 

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P314 psalm 51

 

P271 9/11 after the ruins

 
By Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Blogger / retired Inquirer columnist / healing ministry
Facebook “Bernie Lopez” / “Eastwind Journals”
 
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APPENDIX 1
Full Text of the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Homily
 
“You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.

 

“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.

 

“It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: ‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ (v. 40).

 

“Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: ‘Teacher, do you not care if we perish?’ (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: ‘Do you not care about me?’ It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.

 

“The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our pre-packaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly ‘save’ us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

 

“In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

 

“’Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: ‘Wake up, Lord!’.

 

“’Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: ‘Be converted!’, ‘Return to me with all your heart’ (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: ‘That they may all be one’ (Jn 7:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

 

“’Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ Faith begins when we realize we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

 

“The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

 

“Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

 

“’Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us’ (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).” [Original text: Italian]
 
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APPENDIX 2
Full Text of Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday Homily
 
Pope Francis opened Holy Week celebrating the Palm Sunday liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica without a congregation. The full text of his homily follows.
Saint Peter’s Basilica, Sunday, 5 April 2020

In front of the Miraculous Crucifix

Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7).  Let us allow these words of the Apostle Paul to lead us into these holy days, when the word of God, like a refrain, presents Jesus as servant: on Holy Thursday, he is portrayed as the servant who washes the feet of his disciples; on Good Friday, he is presented as the suffering and victorious servant (cf. Is 52:13); and tomorrow we will hear the prophecy of Isaiah about him: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold” (Is 42:1).  God saved us by serving us.  We often think we are the ones who serve God.  No, he is the one who freely chose to serve us, for he loved us first.  It is difficult to love and not be loved in return.  And it is even more difficult to serve if we do not let ourselves be served by God.

But how did the Lord serve us?  By giving his life for us.  We are dear to him; we cost him dearly.  Saint Angela of Foligno said she once heard Jesus say: “My love for you is no joke”.  His love for us led him to sacrifice himself and to take upon himself our sins.  This astonishes us: God saved us by taking upon himself all the punishment of our sins.  Without complaining, but with the humility, patience and obedience of a servant, and purely out of love.  And the Father upheld Jesus in his service.  He did not take away the evil that crushed him, but rather strengthened him in his suffering so that our evil could be overcome by good, by a love that loves to the very end.
 
The Lord served us to the point of experiencing the most painful situations of those who love: betrayal and abandonment.
 
Betrayal.  Jesus suffered betrayal by the disciple who sold him and by the disciple who denied him.  He was betrayed by the people who sang hosanna to him and then shouted: “Crucify him!” (Mt 27:22).  He was betrayed by the religious institution that unjustly condemned him and by the political institution that washed its hands of him.  We can think of all the small or great betrayals that we have suffered in life.  It is terrible to discover that a firmly placed trust has been betrayed.  From deep within our heart a disappointment surges up that can even make life seem meaningless.  This happens because we were born to be loved and to love, and the most painful thing is to be betrayed by someone who promised to be loyal and close to us.  We cannot even imagine how painful it was for God who is love.
 
Let us look within.  If we are honest with ourselves, we will see our infidelities.  How many falsehoods, hypocrisies and duplicities!  How many good intentions betrayed!  How many broken promises!  How many resolutions left unfulfilled!  The Lord knows our hearts better than we do.  He knows how weak and irresolute we are, how many times we fall, how hard it is for us to get up and how difficult it is to heal certain wounds.  And what did he do in order to come to our aid and serve us?  He told us through the Prophet: “I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them deeply” (Hos 14:5).  He healed us by taking upon himself our infidelity and by taking from us our betrayals.  Instead of being discouraged by the fear of failing, we can now look upon the crucifix, feel his embrace, and say: “Behold, there is my infidelity, you took it, Jesus, upon yourself.  You open your arms to me, you serve me with your love, you continue to support me… And so I will keep pressing on”.
 
Abandonment.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus says one thing from the Cross, one thing alone: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).  These are powerful words.  Jesus had suffered the abandonment of his own, who had fled.  But the Father remained for him.  Now, in the abyss of solitude, for the first time he calls him by the generic name “God”.  And “in a loud voice” he asks the most excruciating question “why”: “Why did you too abandon me?”.  These words are in fact those of a Psalm (cf. 22:2); they tell us that Jesus also brought the experience of extreme desolation to his prayer.  But the fact remains that he himself experienced that desolation: he experienced the utmost abandonment, which the Gospels testify to by quoting his very words: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
Why did all this take place?  Once again, it was done for our sake, to serve us.  So that when we have our back to the wall, when we find ourselves at a dead end, with no light and no way of escape, when it seems that God himself is not responding, we should remember that we are not alone.  Jesus experienced total abandonment in a situation he had never before experienced in order to be one with us in everything.  He did it for me, for you, to say to us: “Do not be afraid, you are not alone.  I experienced all your desolation in order to be ever close to you”.  That is the extent to which Jesus served us: he descended into the abyss of our most bitter sufferings, culminating in betrayal and abandonment.  Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: “Courage, open your heart to my love.  You will feel the consolation of God who sustains you”.
 
Dear brothers and sisters, what can we do in comparison with God, who served us even to the point of being betrayed and abandoned?  We can refuse to betray him for whom we were created, and not abandon what really matters in our lives.  We were put in this world to love him and our neighbours.  Everything else passes away, only this remains.  The tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others.  For life is measured by love.  So, in these holy days, in our  homes, let us stand before the Crucified One, the fullest measure of God’s love for us, and before the God who serves us to the point of giving his life, and let us ask for the grace to live in order to serve.  May we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need.  May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others.
 
Behold my servant, whom I uphold.  The Father, who sustained Jesus in his Passion also supports us in our efforts to serve.  Loving, praying, forgiving, caring for others, in the family and in society: all this can certainly be difficult.  It can feel like a via crucis.  But the path of service is the victorious and lifegiving path by which we were saved.  I would like to say this especially to young people, on this Day which has been dedicated to them for thirty-five years now.  Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.  Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line.  Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others; it pays!  For life is a gift we receive only when we give ourselves away, and our deepest joy comes from saying yes to love, without ifs and buts.  As Jesus did for us.
 
amdg