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Jesus is hope

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

It is sad to see priests who have lost hope. For this reason at the Mass he celebrated at Santa Marta this morning, Monday,9 September, Pope Francis addressed to the priests present an invitation to cultivate this virtue, “which for Christians has the name of Jesus”. “I see many priests here today”, he said, “and I am prompted to tell you something, It's a bit sad when one comes across a priest without hope, without that enthusiasm which gives hope; and it is so beautiful when one comes across a priest who is reaching the end of his life still filled with that hope, not with optimism, but with hope, and who is sowing hope”. “For it means”, he said further, that “this priest is attached to Jesus Christ. And the People of God need us priests to give them this hope in Jesus which makes all things new, is capable of making all things new and is doing so: at every Eucharist he remakes the Creation, in every act of charity he remakes his love within us”.

The Pontiff spoke of hope, linking his reflection today with those of the previous days, in which he held Jesus up as fullness, as the centre of Christian life, the one Bridegroom of the Church. Thus today he reflected on the concept expressed in St Paul's Letter to the Colossians (1:24-2, 3): Jesus “a mystery, a hidden mystery, God”. A mystery, that of God, who “appeared in Jesus”, who is “our hope: he is our all, he is the centre and he is also our hope”.

Unfortunately, however, the Bishop of Rome noted, “hope is a virtue commonly” considered “second class. We believe so much”, he explained, “in hope: we speak of faith and charity, but hope,, as a French writer said, is a somewhat humble virtue, the servant of the virtues; and we do not understand it well”.

Optimism, he explained, is a human attitude that depends on so many things; but hope is something else: “it is a present, a gift of the Holy Spirit and for this reason Paul was to say that it never disappoints”. It also has a name; and “this name is Jesus”. It is impossible to say one hopes in life unless one hopes in Jesus. “It would not be a question of hope”, he clarified, “but rather, it would be good humour or optimism, as in the case of those sunny, positive people who always see the glass half full and not half empty”.

The Pope identified in Luke's Gospel (6:6-11), in the reference to the theme of freedom, a confirmation of this concept. Luke's narrative sets before our eyes a twofold form of slavery: the slavery of the man “with the paralysed hand, a slave of his disease”, and the slavery “of the Pharisees and scribes, who were slaves of their rigid, legalistic outlook”. Jesus sets them both free: he makes those who are rigid see that rigidity is not the way to freedom; and he liberates the man with the paralysed hand from his illness”. What does he want to show? That “freedom and hope go hand in hand; that wherever there is no hope there can be no freedom”.

Nevertheless the true teaching to draw from today's Liturgy is that Jesus “is not a healer, he is a man who recreates life. And this”, the Bishop of Rome underlined, “gives us hope, for Jesus came precisely to work this great miracle, to recreate all things”. To the extent that the Church says in a most beautiful prayer: “you, Lord, who were so great, so marvellous in the Creation but even more marvellous in the redemption...”. So it is, the Pope added, that “the great wonder is the great reform of Jesus. And this gives us hope: Jesus, who recreates all things”. And when we join Jesus in his Passion”, the Pope concluded, “together with him we remake the world, we make it new”.

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