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Christians without fear shame or triumphalism

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

There are “so many Christians without resurrection”. During the Mass Pope Francis celebrated this morning, Tuesday, 20 September at Santa Marta, he asked the faithful to rediscover the way to the Risen Jesus, letting themselves be “moved by him and by his strength”, for Christ “is not a spiritual notion” but is alive. And by his Resurrection “he conquered the world”.

Commenting on the readings of the day's Liturgy, the Pope recalled several passages of the Letter to the Colossians in which St Paul speaks of the figure of Jesus. From time to time St Paul describes him as “the fullness, the centre, hope, because he is the Bridegroom”. In today's passage (2:6-15), the Apostle goes further, describing Christ as the “conqueror”, the one who triumphed over death, sin and the devil. The Pauline message contains an invitation to walk with the Risen Lord, firmly rooted, and built on him, on his victory, firm in faith.

Jesus is “the one who conquers, he is the Risen One”. And yet, the Bishop of Rome warned, “we often don't hear him, we don't listen properly”; while the Resurrection of Jesus “is the key point” of our faith. The Pontiff referred in particular to those “Christians without the Risen Christ”, those who “accompanied Jesus to the tomb, who wept, who loved him so much”, but were unable to move on. And in this regard he identified three categories: the fearful, those who were ashamed and the triumphalistic.

The first, he explained, “are those of Emmaus who on the morning of the Resurrection, depart because they are afraid”; they are “the apostles who close themselves in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews”; they are even “those good women who weep”, such as Mary Magdalene in tears, “for they have taken away the Body of the Lord”. Moreover, “the fearful are like this: they are afraid to think of the Resurrection”. And the Apostles were shocked as they face Jesus who appeared in the Upper Room, they were afraid, fearing that they were looking at a ghost”.

The second category is that of those “who were ashamed, and for whom professing that Christ has risen brings a little shame to this world which is so advanced in the sciences”. In Pope Francis' opinion it is they whom Paul thinks of when he warns: “be careful that no one makes prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe and not according to Christ”. In practice these are the Christians who distort the reality of the Resurrection: for them “it is a spiritual resurrection that does the whole world good, a blessing of life”; but basically “they are ashamed to say that Christ with his flesh and his wounds is risen”.

Lastly the third group are Christians who in their inner depths “do not believe in the Risen One and want for themselves a more majestic resurrection than that of Jesus”. The Pope described them as “the triumphalistic”, since “they have an inferiority complex” and put on triumphalistic airs in their life, in their discourses, in their pastoral work and in the liturgy”.

Pope Francis therefore considers it necessary to recover awareness that Jesus is the Risen One. And for this reason Christians are called “without fear or timidity and without triumphalism” to look at “his beauty”, to put their finger in the wounds of the Risen One, of that Christ “who is all, who is fullness; Christ who is the centre, Christ who is hope”, because the Bridegroom is the conqueror. And “a conqueror”, he added, “remakes the whole of the Creation”.

Referring to Gospel passage from Luke (6:12-19), the Holy Father recalled the image of Jesus in the crowd of men and women who had flocked “to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Even those tormented by impure spirits were healed”, he said. “All the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all”. In this, Pope Francis sees the premiss of Christ's final victory which “heals the whole universe” and is his Resurrection. This is why, he concluded, we need to rediscover the beauty of going towards the Risen Christ, of letting ourselves be touched by him, by his power.

At the end of the celebration the Pope recalled Archbishop Peter Paul Prabhu, Apostolic Nuncio, who died in the night between Monday the 9th and Tuesday the 10th of September in the Pius XI Clinic, and who had lived in the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican.

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