Pope: Small beloved flock of Georgia, receive the consolation of the Good Shepherd
At Mass in Meskhi Stadium, Pope Francis points to the mothers and grandmothers, who transmitted the faith and consolation to their children. "There is, however, an underlying condition to receiving God’s consolation… to become little like children". "The Church is the house of consolation." An invitation to all Christians: "Receiving and bringing God’s consolation: this mission of the Church is urgent”.
Tbilisi (AsiaNews) - "Little and beloved flock of Georgia, who are so committed to works of charity and education, receive the encouragement of the Good Shepherd, you who are entrusted to him who takes you on his shoulders and consoles you": This is how Pope Francis addressed the faithful gathered in the Mikheil Meskhi stadium in Tbilisi for the celebration of Mass.
And indeed, there were no huge crowds at Mass, just, perhaps, a few thousand. The liturgy took place in a half empty stadium. On the other hand, across the country – which is not very populous – there are only 120 thousand Catholics and the majority of the population is Orthodox. Delegations of the various Christian denominations in Georgia attended the celebration: Armenian Apostolic, Orthodox, Chaldean, Syro-Malankara, ..
For the Pope, this "littleness", or "simplicity," is the sign of a gospel truth. The Gospel shows us how great wonders are accomplished with small things: with a few loaves and two fishes (cf. Mt 14:15-20), with a tiny mustard seed (cf. Mk4:30-32), with a grain of wheat that dies in the earth (cf. Jn 12:24), with the gift of just a single glass of water (cf. Mt 10:42), with the two coins of a poor widow (cf. Lk 21:1-4), with the humility of Mary, the servant of the Lord (cf. Lk1:46-55)".
This "smallness" is an expression of being "child". " The true greatness of man consists in making himself small before God. For God is not known through grand ideas and extensive study, but rather through the littleness of a humble and trusting heart. To be great before the Most High does not require the accumulation of honour and prestige or earthly goods and success, but rather a complete self-emptying. A child has nothing to give and everything to receive. A child is vulnerable, and depends on his or her father and mother. The one who becomes like a little child is poor in self but rich in God".
And again: " This is the surprising greatness of God, of a God who is full of surprises and who loves surprises: let us always keep alive the desire for and trust in God’s surprises! It will help us to remember that we are constantly and primarily his children: not masters of our lives, but children of the Father; not autonomous and self-sufficient adults, but children who always need to be lifted up and embraced, who need love and forgiveness. Blessed are those Christian communities who live this authentic gospel simplicity! Poor in means, they are rich in God. Blessed are the Shepherds who do not ride the logic of worldly success, but follow the law of love: welcoming, listening, serving. Blessed is the Church who does not entrust herself to the criteria of functionalism and organizational efficiency, nor worries about her image".
"Become like little children," said Francis, it is the "underlying condition for receiving the consolation of God."
"The consolation we need, amid the turmoil we experience in life, is precisely the presence of God in our hearts. God’s presence in us is the source of true consolation, which dwells in us, liberates us from evil, brings peace and increases our joy. For this reason, if we want to experience his consolation, we must give way to the Lord in our lives. And in order for the Lord to abide continually in us, we must open the doors of our hearts to him and not keep him outside. There are doors of consolation which must always be open, because Jesus especially loves to enter through them: the Gospel we read every day and carry around with us, our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist. It is through these doors that the Lord enters and gives new flavour to reality. When the door of our heart is closed, however, his light cannot enter in and everything remains dark. We then get accustomed to pessimism, to things which aren’t right, to realities that never change. We end up absorbed in our own sadness, in the depths of anguish, isolated. If, on the other hand, we open wide the doors of consolation, the light of the Lord enters in!
Yet God does not console us only in our hearts; through the prophet Isaiah he adds: “You shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (66:13). In Jerusalem, that is, in the city of God, in the community: it is when we are united, in communion, that God’s consolation works in us. In the Church we find consolation, the Church is the house of consolation: here God wishes to console us. We may ask ourselves: I who am in the Church, do I bring the consolation of God? Do I know how to welcome others as guests and console those whom I see tired and disillusioned? Even when enduring affliction and rejection, a Christian is always called to bring hope to the hearts of those who have given up, to encourage the downhearted, to bring the light of Jesus, the warmth of his presence and his forgiveness which restores us. Countless people suffer trials and injustice, and live in anxiety. Our hearts need anointing with God’s consolation, which does not take away our problems, but gives us the power to love, to peacefully bear pain".
Hence the appeal to more fraternal unity among all Christians: "Receiving and bring the consolation of God: this mission of the Church is urgent. Dear brothers and sisters, let us feel called to this: not to fossilize in what is wrong around us or to mourn for some disharmony that we see among us. It's not good to get used to a . Receiving and bringing God’s consolation: thismission of the Church is urgent. Dear brothers and sisters, let us take up this call: to not bury ourselves in what is going wrong around us or be saddened by the lack of harmony between us. It is not good for us to become accustomed to a closed ecclesial “micro-environment”; it is good for us to share wide horizons open to hope, having the courage to humbly open our doors and go beyond ourselves "
He cited as witnesses of God's consolation the mothers and grandmothers of Georgia "who unceasingly defend and pass on the faith that was sown in this land of Saint Nino; and they bring the fresh water of God’s consolation to countless situations of barrenness and conflict".
And he pointed to the Saint that the Church remembers today, Therese of Lisieux, patroness of the Carmelite missions. "The young saint and Doctor of the Church, rather, was an expert in the “science of love” (ibid), and teaches us that “perfect charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice”; she reminds also that “charity cannot remain hidden in the depths our hearts” (Autobiography, Manuscript C). Together let us all implore today the grace of a simple heart, of a heart that believes and lives in the gentle strength of love; let us ask to live in peaceful and complete trust in God’s mercy”.