Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pope Francis on Palm Sunday: "A Christian Can Never be Sad"

In his homily for Palm Sunday today, Pope Francis reminded us:

"Do not be men and women of sadness. A Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus."

This is a message much needed in a world where, for many people, happiness is measured by how many possessions they have - or do not have. That message, promoted constantly by the media, has become so much a part of the culture that some people who do not have much struggle to fill their lives with "stuff" instead of what they really need. It is a symptom of the pervasive consumerism that has taken over our culture, telling us that happiness is rooted in how much we have. Pope Francis, who has captured the world with his obvious joy and commitment to the way of the Gospel, while spurning the trappings and material perks of the papacy, is certainly a man who understands that true happiness comes from something deeper - walking with Jesus Christ and imitating his example by being counter-cultural.

His message certainly hits home for many of us - and today, as we accompany Jesus to the Cross, we might do well to reflect on the connection between submitting to God's will and our own priorities, especially if those priorities include the accumulation of  inanimate objects. 

A dear friend of mine used to remind me when I said that I loved something that you should "like" things, not "love" them. Love, he insisted, should be a feeling reserved for other people - and God - but never things. Pope Francis would say that in that lies happiness - in understanding that when we encounter Christ, we are in relationship with the one who suffered and laid down his life at the will of the Father to show us that evil can be overcome. The great evil of the Cross was transformed, at the Resurrection, into the joy of everlasting life.

That is what Pope Francis means when he says "A Christian can never be sad." Today, as you reflect on what Jesus did for us on the Cross, consider trading your sorrows - for the joy of the Lord.

No comments:

Post a Comment