In his homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on the gift of peace promised by Christ to His Apostles as He prepared to leave them. That peace does not come from the world, but from the Holy Spirit. It remains during trial, and even gives us courage to go forward with a smile in our hearts.
Pope Francis’ homily considered the question of how we can reconcile the ‘tribulations’ and persecutions suffered by St Paul, related in the first reading; with the peace that Jesus promised to His disciples in His final words during the Last Supper, ‘I leave you peace, my peace I give you’, which are recorded in the day’s Gospel.
‘Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you’
Although a ‘life of persecution and tribulations seems to be a life without peace’, Pope Francis recalled the last of the Beatitudes: ‘Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account’.
The peace of Jesus goes with this life of persecution, of tribulation. A peace that is deep down, deep down, very profound to all these things. A peace that no one can touch, a peace that is a gift, like the sea that deep down is tranquil, while on the surface there are waves. Living in peace with Jesus is having this experience within, which remains during all trials, all difficulties, all ‘tribulations’.
The Christian carries the burdens of life without losing peace
This, the Pope said, is the only way we can understand how so many saints lived their final moments without losing peace, to the point that witnesses would say they went to their martyrdom ‘like guests to a wedding’. This is the gift of the ‘peace of Jesus’, he said, that we cannot obtain through human means, like going to a doctor or taking anti-anxiety drugs. This peace is something different, which comes from ‘the Holy Spirit within us’, and that brings with it ‘strength’.
Pope Francis gave the example of a hard-working man he met who, because of an illness, had to give up all his plans, but managed to remain at peace. ‘This is a Christian’, the Pope explained.
Peace, the peace of Jesus, teaches us to go forward in life. It teaches us to endure. To endure: a word we don’t understand well, a very Christian word, it means to carry a burden. To endure, to carry the burden of life, the difficulties, the labour, everything, without losing peace; but rather bearing the burden and having the courage to go forward. This can only be understood when there is the Holy Spirit within, who gives us the peace of Jesus.
On the other hand, Pope Francis said, if we get caught up in a kind of ‘fervent nervousness’ and lose this peace, ‘there is something that isn’t working’.
Peace doesn’t mean losing a sense of humour
The Holy Father encouraged us to face the greatest difficulties of life with this ‘gift promised by Jesus’, instead of that false peace that comes from the world, or from having money in the bank. Going beyond the day’s readings, Pope Francis invited us to go forward in life with an even greater capacity, the ability to ‘make the heart smile’.
The person who lives this peace never loses their sense of humour. They know how to smile at themselves, at others, even when things are dark they know how to smile at everything… this sense of humour which is very close to the grace of God. The peace of Jesus in daily life, the peace of Jesus in tribulations and with that little sense of humour that helps us breathe easier. May the Lord grant us this peace that comes from the Holy Spirit, this peace that comes precisely from Him, and that helps us to endure, to carry, the many difficulties in life.