Pope Francis said Holy Week is a time for moving beyond a “dull or mechanical” way of living the faith and to bring the joy of Christ to those who are most distant or in need.
“Holy Week is not so much a time of sorrow, but rather a time to enter into Christ’s way of thinking and acting,” Pope Francis said March 27 at his first general audience.
“It is a time of grace given us by the Lord so that we can move beyond a dull or mechanical way of living our faith, and instead open the doors of our hearts, our lives, our parishes, our movements or associations, going out in search of others so as to bring them the light and the joy of our faith in Christ,” he told the thousands of pilgrims.
He explained that this means helping those “especially those furthest away, forgotten, those in need of understanding, consolation and help.”
Since Catholics are observing Holy Week this week, Pope Francis said that after Easter he would resume the “witness” he received from his “beloved predecessor Benedict XVI,” referring to the series of teachings for the Year of Faith.
The Argentinian Pope addressed pilgrims only in Italian, unlike Benedict XVI and John Paul II. However, a summary of his remarks was delivered in French, English, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and Arabic by different presenters.
“It’s so necessary to carry Jesus’ living presence, who is merciful and full of life,” to others, said the Pope.
“Living Holy Week is always entering further into God’s logic, into the logic of the cross, which isn’t firstly about pain and death but about love and self-giving, which gives life,” he added.
The Pope explained that coming out of one’s self means “entering the logic of the Gospel, following Jesus Christ and staying with him.”
“I hope that you all might live these days by courageously following the Lord, carrying within you a ray of his love to all the people you meet,” said the Pope as he reflected on Holy Week.
We too, if we want to stay with him, “should not simply remain in our own secure world, that of the ninety-nine sheep who never strayed from the fold, but we should go out, with Christ, in search of the one lost sheep, however far it may have wandered,” he challenged the crowd.
“People tell me that they don’t have time and that it’s hard. And (they say) what can I do with my weakness and my sins?”
Pope Francis pointed out that when we lack the courage to carry Christ to others, we are a little like Saint Peter, to whom Jesus spoke some of the harshest words in the Gospels: ‘get behind me, Satan, because you don’t think according to God but according to men.’
“God thinks always with mercy, don’t forget this,” said the Pope.
“He thinks like the father who waits the return of his son and would watch every day to see if his son would return home,” he said. “This is our merciful God.”
According to the Pope, God also thinks like the Samaritan who doesn’t look away from the man in need, but helps him without asking for anything in return or asking whether he is Hebrew, pagan, Samaritan, rich or poor.
“He doesn’t ask these things and he doesn’t ask for anything, he just goes to his help,” underscored Pope Francis.
“We come out of ourselves with love, with God’s tenderness, with respect and patience knowing that we put our feet, our hands and our hearts into it, but it’s God who ultimately guides all of our actions,” he said.