FRANCIS AT SANTA MARTA: ”THE CHRISTIAN IS LIKE A SPORTSMAN. (S)HE WORKS HARD TO REACH JESUS” During morning Mass, the Pope exhorts everyone to start off from small things to get to heaven

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“The effort of the Christian stretches to open their heart’s door to the Holy Spirit”. With this sentence can be summed up Pope Francis’ homily during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope has pointed out that for the Christian conversion “is a task and an every-day work” which leads towards Jesus. Bergoglio draws inspiration from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans, to emphasize that, in order to move from the service to iniquity to sanctification, we must strive on a daily basis.

The apostle uses “the image of the sportsman”, that is, of a man who “trains to prepare for the game and makes a huge effort”. He says: “But if to win a game takes so much effort, how are we going to achieve the great victory of the Sky? Saint Paul has the answer and “urges us insistently to carry on this effort: ah, Father, we can think that sanctification comes for my efforts, as victory in sports for those who train’. No. The effort we make, only the daily work which consists in serving the Lord with our whole life opens the door to the Holy Spirit. It is He who enters inside us and saves us! On the contrary, we will be like fakirs: no, we are not fakirs. We, with our effort, open the door”.

A difficult task, he has recognized, “because our weakness, the original sin, the devil, always pull us back. Paul – he added – warns us against this temptation to step back, and exhorts us not to go back, not to give up. We must go forward – he urges – always: little by little, every day even when there is great difficulty. Some months ago, I met a woman. A young mother of a family, of a beautiful family, who had cancer. A bad cancer. But she moved with happiness, as if she were healthy. And talking about this attitude, she said to me: ‘Father, I really fight with all my strength to defeat this cancer!’ The same must do the Christian. We, who have received this gift in Jesus and have gone from sin to life in Christ’s gift, we must do the same. Step  by step, every day”.

Then Bergoglio indicated some temptations such as “desire to chat” against someone. “In that case – he said – we must strive to keep silent. Or, we feel asleep and have no desire to pray, then we pray a bit”. We need to start off from small things, reiterated Francis: “They help us to not give up, not to step back, not to return to unfairness, but to go forward toward this gift, this promise of Jesus that will be exactly the encounter with Him. Let us ask the Lord this grace: to be good at this workout of life toward the meeting, because we have received the gift of justification, the gift of grace, the gift of the Spirit in Jesus Christ”.

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