Vatican City ( AsiaNews ) - The " thirst for God", the soul's longing for the Lord "unites all people of the world. God is also 'thirsty for us ' , he wants to be with us. Without this thirst, faith grows stale. Never forget that Jesus loves you, and make no mistake, he will never betray you". These were the words spoken by Pope Francis at Mass during which he welcomed hundreds of catechumens from all over the world. 500 from 47 different countries in a rite of admission that is the penultimate event of the Year of Faith, which closes tomorrow with a solemn Mass in St. Peter's.
Welcoming the group in the atrium of the basilica, the Bishop of Rome said: " It gives me great joy to receive you here in the basilica that houses the relics of the Apostle Peter, to whom we all look to be confirmed in the faith . The Word of God is made flesh to reach the man, bewildered by his pride in sin. You too have been touched by His passionate search and now you are preparing to receive His mercy. The Church urges you to reach the fullness of communion with Him. " Mahmoud Farah, Romina , Yoko (who wore a traditional Japanese robe and exchanged a few words with the Pope before receiving the sign of the cross on her forehead) , Olzi , Rami, Francesca , Kriztof , Mimosa , Zhao are some of the names that are pronounced before the Pope's questions: "What do you ask of the Church? Faith. And what does faith give? Eternal life ." Immediately after the rites of entry into the catechumenate , Francis invited the group into the basilica to begin the Mass.
In his homily , the pope said : "Dear catechumens , this culmination of the Year of Faith sees you gathered here , with your catechists and family members, representing also many other men and women who are making , in different parts of the world , your same journey of faith . Spiritually , we are all connected at this time. You come from many different countries , from different cultural traditions and experiences . Yet , tonight we feel we have many things in common among us. We have one in particular : the desire for God. This desire is evoked by the words of the Psalmist : " As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When can I enter and see the face of God? "(Ps 42.2 to 3 .) How important it is to keep alive this desire, this longing to meet the Lord and experience Him , his love , his mercy. If this thirst the living God is missing, faith is likely to become habit, like a fire that is not rekindled. It is likely to become stale, meaningless".
The Gospel story, the Pope noted , "shows John the Baptist who indicates Jesus to his disciples as the Lamb of God.Two of them follow the Master, and then, in turn , become ' mediators ' who allow others to meet the Lord , to know and to follow him. There are three moments in this story that evoke the experience of the catechumenate . Firstly, there is the listening. The two disciples heard the testimony of John the Baptist . Even you, dear catechumens , you listened to those who spoke of Jesus and you have proposed you to follow him and become his disciples by Baptism . In the tumult of many voices that echo around us and inside of us , you have heard and received the voice that indicated Jesus as the only one who can give full meaning to your life. "
The second moment is encounter:
"The two disciples encounter the Master and remain with him. After
encountering him, they immediately notice something new in their hearts : the
need to convey their joy to others, so that they too can encounter Him. Andrew,
in fact, met his brother Simon and leads him to Jesus. It does us good to contemplate this! It reminds us that God did not create us to be
alone, locked within ourselves, but in order to encounter him and to be open to
encountering others . God first comes to each of us, and this is wonderful! He
comes to meet us. In the Bible God always appears as the one who takes the
initiative to encounter man : it is He who is
looking for man , and usually just as the man is in the midst of bitter experiences
and tragic betrayal of God, fleeing from Him. God does not wait to look for him:
he goes immediately to look for him. Our Father is a patient seeker, He goes before us and is always
when he encounters us, said Francis, "it is never a hurried meeting ,
because God wishes to stay with us at length, to support us, to console us , to
give us His joy. God hastens to meet us. But He is never in a hurry to leave
us , He stays with us . Just as we yearn for Him and desire Him, He too desires
to be with us, because we belong to Him, we are His, we are His creatures. He
too thirsts for us,
to meet us. Our God thirsts for us. This is the heart of God, and it is nice to
hear that. "
The last part of the story is the journey: " The two disciples walk toward Jesus and then journey a stretch of road with Him. This is an important lesson for all of us . Faith is a journey with Jesus .. always remember this: faith is to walk with Jesus, a journey that lasts a lifetime . Eventually there will be an ending . Of course, in some moments of this journey we feel tired and confused. But faith gives us the certainty of the constant presence of Jesus in every situation, even the most painful or difficult to understand. We are called to journey deeper and deeper into the mystery of the love of God that is all encompassing and enables us to live with peace and hope. "
In conclusion, the Pope entrusted the group to support the Church and Mary, the perfect disciple , and encouraged them to never forget "the day , the hour in which you were with Jesus for the first time, you felt his gaze on of you . Never forget that Jesus' gaze is on you , you, you ... it's a look of love! You are always assured the faithful love of the Lord. He is faithful, and make no mistake : He will not let you down ever. And after the prayer of the faithful, he concluded " go in peace and with joy, because the Lord has seen you and loves you ."