Pope offers consolation and challenge
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Jesus calms the storm
Pope Francis has given fresh perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic. He likened the darkness of fear that's enveloped us to the storm on the waters of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus was appealed to by disciples in a wave-tossed boat. 'Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost,' he said in his Meditation last week.
Exposing our vulnerability
Pope Francis was drawing parallels from Mark's gospel during the prayer service over which he presided on the steps of St Peter's Basilica on Friday evening (27 March). He went on to say: 'The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our pre-packaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetise us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.
For the Pope, it is Jesus, more than anyone, who cares about us, and we are linked to Jesus through the Spirit: 'It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves…'
'How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer? How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all? Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.'
We're grateful to a Roman Catholic member of the Anna Chaplaincy network, Lindsay Pelloquin, who leads a team of volunteers ministering in care homes in Rugby, Warwickshire under the banner of The Gift of Years Rugby, for drawing our attention to the Pope's timely words. You can read his full text here.