Pope: Don’t dwell on suffering, let Jesus heal you

Pope Francis embraces a man at the Wednesday General Audience March 29 2017 Credit Lucia Ballester CNA Pope Francis embraces a man at the Wednesday General Audience March 29, 2017. | Lucia Ballester/CNA.

On Sunday, Pope Francis said that each of us carries some kind of tomb inside our heart, whether from sin or suffering, and we can either stay bogged down in misery, focusing only on ourselves, or we can allow Jesus to come into that place and heal it. 

"In front of the big 'why' of life we have two paths," the Pope said April 2, "to stay to watch gloomily the tombs of yesterday and of today, or to bring Jesus to our tombs."

"Yes, because each of us has a small tomb, some area that is a little bit dead inside the heart: a wound, an injury suffered or done (to us), a bitterness that does not let up, remorse that returns, a sin that you cannot overcome."

"We identify these today, our little tombs we have inside and invite Jesus there," he said.

Francis presided over Mass Sunday in the northern Italian town of Carpi, where he was making a day trip.

Often, the Pope said, we can be tempted to hide our weaknesses and sins from God, dwelling on them. "It's strange, but often we prefer to be alone in the dark caves that we have inside," he said.

"Instead, invite Jesus; we are tempted to always look to ourselves, brooding and sinking in anguish, licking our wounds, rather than going to him, who says, 'Come to me you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'"

Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel which tells the story of Lazarus' death, the sorrow of Jesus, and the miracle of Lazarus' raising.

"Even Jesus is shaken by the dramatic mystery of the loss of a loved one," he said. But in the midst of this suffering, he also shows us how to act. "Despite suffering himself, Jesus was not carried away by anxiety."

Jesus didn't try to escape the suffering, but he also didn't get bogged down in pessimism or gloom, Francis said. Instead, he brings hope, proclaiming: "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in me, though he die, shall live."

"So he says: 'Take away the stone' and to Lazarus shouts loudly: 'Come out!'"

This is what Jesus also says to us: "Get up, get up!" the Pope said.

"In following Jesus we learn not to tie our lives close to the problems that tangle: there will always be problems always, and, when we solve one, promptly another one arrives," he pointed out.

What we can do, however, is tie ourselves to the one thing that is stable and unchanging – Jesus, he continued. "With him joy dwells in the heart, hope is reborn, pain is transformed into peace, fear into confidence, proof of the gift of love."

We have to decide which path to take, he said: "the side of the tomb or the side of Jesus." It doesn't matter how heavy our past sins, shame or hurt may be, with Christ's grace, we can roll away the stone that is keeping him from our hearts.

"This is a favorable time to remove our sin, our attachment to worldly vanity, the pride that stops us the soul," he said.

"Visited and freed by Jesus, we ask for the grace to be witnesses of life in this world that is thirsty, witnesses that arouse and raise the hope of God in hearts weary and weighed down by sadness."

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He concluded: "Our announcement is the joy of the living Lord, who still says, as in Ezekiel: 'Behold, I will open your graves, I will make you get up out of your graves, O my people.'"

Immediately following Mass, Pope Francis led pilgrims in the Angelus, praying for people in the region of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he said there continue to be reports of deadly armed clashes.

The violence has also caused displacement and affected people and property, he said, including causing damage to schools, hospitals and churches.

"I assure you of my closeness to this nation and urge you all to pray for peace so that the hearts of the architects of such crimes do not remain slaves of hatred and violence, which always…destroys."

He also prayed for victims of a mudslide in Colombia on Saturday, which has killed more than 230 people, according to the New York Times.

The Pope also said he is following what is happening in the countries of Venezuela and Paraguay. "I pray for those people, so dear to me, and I urge everyone to persevere tirelessly, avoiding any violence in the search for political solutions."

Francis concluded by thanking everyone for being there at Mass, especially the sick and the suffering who were present, as well as those who helped with the Mass. He also blessed four stones which will be used to form cornerstones of four new diocesan buildings being erected.

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