At the audience in St Peter's Square a reflection on the "Cross, source of hope". Thoughts for the mothers of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers killed in the war who are "like Mary at the foot of the cross".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Just as on the cross Jesus shows his wounds and transforms pain into "source of light", so too each one of us is called in the mystery of Easter to allow ourselves to be healed of sadness, making our own wounds become occasions to love others. This is the message that Pope Francis delivered this morning to the faithful present in St Peter's Square for the General Audience on the eve of the rites of the Easter Triduum.
Taking his cue for his reflection from the account of the Passion read in its entirety on Palm Sunday, the pontiff dwelt on the disciples' discouragement before Jesus' death on the cross, the apparent "end of hope".
"In us too," he commented, "dark thoughts and feelings of frustration gather: why so much indifference towards God? Why so much evil in the world? Why do inequalities continue to grow and the longed-for peace does not arrive?"
But it is also true for everyone's heart: "how many expectations vanished, how many disappointments. And that feeling that times gone by were better and that in the world, perhaps even in the Church, things are not going as they once were... In short, even today hope sometimes seems sealed under the stone of mistrust".
But the very cross of Jesus teaches that "the hope of God is born and reborn in the black holes of our disappointed expectations". And so Easter returns to ask us to look at "the tree of the cross to be healed of the sadness that ails us, of the bitterness with which we pollute the Church and the world".
"The cross,' Francis recalled, 'is the place where God "who has everything lets himself be deprived of everything. God thus overcomes our appearances". We, on the other hand, "clothe ourselves with outward things that we seek and care for. We adorn ourselves with appearances, with superfluous things; but in this way we find no peace. Jesus stripped of everything reminds us that hope is reborn by making truth of us".
"Today, when everything is complex and there is the risk of losing the thread," the Pope added, "we need simplicity, we need to rediscover the value of sobriety, of renunciation, of cleaning out what pollutes the heart and makes us sad. It is good to strip oneself of useless things,' he added, recalling an experience he had at Casa Marta, "and all of this [unwanted items - ed] went to the poor, to people in need. Look at your wardrobe, even that of the soul: how many useless things you have, how many stupid illusions'.
Jesus on the cross also shows his wounds. 'We too are wounded,' the pontiff commented, 'who is not wounded in life? Who does not bear the scars of past choices, of misunderstandings, of pains that remain inside and are hard to overcome?"
But what makes the difference is that God shows his wounds "to show us that at Easter a new passage can be opened: Jesus who on the cross does not recriminate, but loves. He loves and forgives those who wound him. Thus he converts evil into good, thus he transforms pain into love".
"The point," Francis continued, "is whether we have been wounded a little or a lot by life, but what to do with our wounds". The pontiff invited us to think about the many young people today who cannot tolerate their wounds and seek a way out in drugs or even suicide.
"What do you do with your wounds? - the pope asked again. "I can let them fester in resentment and sadness or I can unite them with those of Jesus, so that my wounds, too, become bright. They can become sources of hope when, instead of weeping over ourselves, we wipe away the tears of others; when, instead of harbouring resentment for what is taken from us, we care for what is lacking in others; when, instead of brooding within ourselves, we bend down over those who suffer; when, instead of thirsting for love for ourselves, we quench the thirst of those who need us. For only if we stop thinking of ourselves do we find ourselves".
The greetings to the groups of pilgrims present at this audience in preparation for the Easter Triduum were finally the occasion for a new invitation not to forget in these days "all the victims of war crimes".
"Let us raise a supplication to God so that the hearts of all may be converted," added Francis. Looking at Mary before the Cross, my thoughts go to the mothers of the Ukrainian soldiers and the Russian soldiers who were killed in the war. They are mothers of dead sons. Let us pray for these mothers".