04/18/2020, 14.32
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Pope: Let us pray for those who help sick people with disabilities

“One cannot be a Christian without such frankness: if it doesn’t come about, one is not a good Christian. If one doesn’t have courage, if to explain one’s position one slides into ideologies or explanations from single cases, one lacks such frankness, one lacks the Christian style, the freedom to speak, to say everything [i.e.] Courage.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis began the Mass he celebrated this morning at Casa Santa Marta by urging the faithful to pray for those who help people with disabilities affected by the coronavirus.

"Yesterday,” he said’ “I received a letter from a nun who works as a sign language interpreter for the deaf”. It describes “the difficult work that health workers, nurses, doctors do with disabled people who caught the COVID-19. Let us pray for them; they are always in the service of people with different abilities, of those who don't have the abilities we have.”

In his homily, the Pope spoke about the frankness with which Peter and John responded to the threats of the high priests (Acts 4:13-21) and about sending the apostles on a mission (Mk 16:9-15).

“The leaders, the elders, the scribes were amazed, seeing the frankness with which these men spoke, and knowing that they were uneducated, that perhaps they could not write. They did not understand: ‘This is something we cannot understand; how these people can be so brave, have such frankness.'

“This word is a very important word which turns into the style of Christian preachers, also in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: frankness. Courage. It means all that: saying things clearly. It comes from the Greek root to say everything. We too use this word many times, just the Greek word, to say this: parrhesia, frankness, courage. And they saw such frankness, such courage, such parrhesia in them and they didn't understand.”

“There is a verse in the Letter to the Hebrews that I like so much, when the author of the Letter to the Hebrews realises that there is something in the community that is declining, that something is lost, that there is a certain tepidness, that these Christians are becoming tepid. It [the verse] says this, I do not remember exactly the words; it says as follow: Remember the days past, you endured a great and hard struggle: do not throw away your confidence now' (cf. Heb 10: 32-35).

“’Recover,’ recover frankness, the Christian courage to go on. One cannot be a Christian without such frankness: if it doesn’t come about, one is not a good Christian. If one doesn’t have courage, if to explain one’s position one slides into ideologies or explanations from single cases, one lacks such frankness, one lacks the Christian style, the freedom to speak, to say everything. Courage.”

"We see that the leaders, the elderly and the scribes are victims; they are victims of such frankness, because it pins them in a corner: they don't know what to do. Realising that they were simple and uneducated people, they were amazed and recognised them as those who had been with Jesus.”

"Instead of accepting the visible truth, their hearts were so closed that they sought the path of diplomacy, the path of compromise: 'Let's scare them a little, let's tell them that they will be punished, and let's see if they keep silent'.

“They were indeed cornered by frankness: they didn't know how to get out of it. But the thought never occurred to them to say: 'But is this true?' Their heart was already closed, it was hard; their heart was corrupt. This is one of the tragedies: the power of the Holy Spirit that is manifested in frankness of preaching, in the madness of preaching, cannot enter into corrupt hearts. For this reason, we must be careful: sinners yes; corrupt, never. [Let us] not arrive at the corruption that has so many ways to manifest itself . . .”

“[T]hey were cornered and didn't know what to say. In the end, they found a compromise: 'Let us threaten them a little, let us frighten them a little', and then they invited them. They called them back and ordered them, urged them not to speak at any time nor teach in the name of Jesus. ‘Let us make peace: you go in peace, but do not speak in the name of Jesus, do not teach.'

“We knew Peter: he was not naturally brave. He was a coward, he denied Jesus. But what happens now? They replied: ‘You be the judge if it is right before God to obey you instead of God; we cannot keep silent about what we have seen and heard.’ But where does this courage come from, in this coward who denied the Lord? What happened to this man's heart? The gift of the Holy Spirit [happened]: frankness, courage, parrhesia are a gift, a grace that the Holy Spirit gives on the day of Pentecost. Right after receiving the Holy Spirit, they went out to preach: a bit brave, something new for them. This is coherence, the sign of the Christian, of the true Christian: he is courageous, he tells the whole truth because he is coherent.”

“The Lord calls people to this coherence when sending out. After Mark’s summary in the Gospel, 'risen in the morning, a summary of the resurrection, he reproached them for their unbelief and the hardness of their heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him risen'. Yet, with the power of the Holy Spirit – 'Receive the Holy Spirit' is Jesus's greeting – he said to them: 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature', go with courage, go with frankness, fear not. Do not, citing again the verse in the Letter to the Hebrews, ‘do not throw away your frankness, do not throw away this gift from the Holy Spirit.’ The mission starts right here, from this gift that makes us brave, bold in proclaiming the word.”

In his concluding prayer, Francis said: “May the Lord help us to be always like that: courageous. This does not mean imprudent – no, no. Courageous. A Christian’s courage is always prudent, yet courageous.”

At the end of the Mass, the Pope said that tomorrow, Sunday of Divine Mercy, he will celebrate Mass in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia (Church of the Holy Spirit in the Saxon District), Rome, at 11.00 am.

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