A not particularly crowded St. Peter’s Square has welcomed Pope Francis in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks. Under a sky full of clouds, the Pope has called for global condemnation. “I ensure my prayers and my closeness to the dear Belgian population, the families of the victims and all the injured. I call on all people of good will: let us unite in the unanimous condemnation of these abominations, which are causing only death, terror, and horror. I ask everyone to persevere in prayer and in asking the Lord to comfort the afflicted hearts this holy week and convert the hearts of people who have been blinded by cruel fundamentalism”.
Bergoglio has also invited those who were present, about 30 thousand faithful, to recite a Hail Mary for the victims. Then he has asked for a moment of personal prayer. An eerie silence has fallen in the square. His reflection today is dedicated to the Easter Triduum. “We will live the Thursday, Friday and the Holy Saturday as strong moments that allow us to enter more and more the great mystery of our faith: the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
“These three days,” everyone “talks about mercy because it makes visible how far the love of God can reach.” Listening to the last moments of the Christ’s earthly life, “the evangelist John gives us the key to understand its deep meaning: ‘‘having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end’’. The love of God has no limits. Then, quoting from Saint Augustine, he reminds that God is love that goes till the end without end. God really offers Himself entirely for each one of us and does not spare himself at all. The great mystery celebrated during the Holy Week “is a great love story that knows no obstacles”. The Passion of Jesus will last till the end of the world, because it is a story of sharing with the suffering of all humanity, a permanent presence in the personal vicissitudes of life each one of us experiences. The Triduum we are about to experience is the “memorial of a tragic love that gives us certainty that we will never be abandoned in the trials of our life.”
When Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist, He anticipated “His sacrifice on Golgotha during the paschal banquet. To make the disciples comprehend the love that animated Him, He washed their feet – the Pope recalled -, providing once again an example of how they should have acted themselves. The Eucharist is love that becomes service.” It “is the presence of Christ who wants to feed every man”, especially the most vulnerable, “to enable them to walk a path of testimony among the difficulties of the world.” Moreover, “offering Himself as food to us, Jesus attests that we have to learn to share our food with other people, if we want it to become true life communion with those in need.”
The culmination of this extraordinary story of love will arrive on Friday. “The death of Jesus who, on the cross, abandoned himself to the Father to give salvation to the whole world, expresses love given till the end.” No one is excluded from the universal embrace Jesus offers from the cross. His love “wants to embrace everyone”, the Pope said. “A love that expands across time and space: an inexhaustible source of salvation from each one of us, sinners, can draw. If God has shown us his supreme love in Jesus’ death, we, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, can and must love one another too.”
On Saturday everything is silent, “and we must do everything in our power for it to be really a day of silence for us, as it was at the time: the day of God’s silence.” Jesus, laid in the tomb, fully shares with all humanity the tragedy of death. “This silence expresses love as solidarity with those who were abandoned forever. The Son of God reaches it, filling the void that only God’s limitless fatherly mercy can fill. God is silent, but out of love. On the Holy Saturday, love becomes silent expectation of life in the resurrection.” It is good for us to think “about Mary’s silence. She is ‘the believer’ who was silently awaiting Jesus’ Resurrection.” Virgin Mary is the icon of that distant day. She symbolizes “love that does not have doubts, but hopes in the word of the Lord, so it can manifest and shine on Easter Sunday”.
Words are insufficient to fully express this wonderful story of love. “The experience of a mystical girl who is not very well known and who wrote pages about the love of Christ, Julian of Norwich, can help us”. An illiterate girl who had visions of the Passion of Jesus. Then, after she became a recluse, she described in a very simple, but profound and intense language, the sense of that encounter. Here are her words: “Then our good Lord asked me: ‘Are you happy that I have suffered for you?’ I said, ‘Yes, good Lord, and I thank you very much; yes, good Lord, may You be blessed’. And Jesus, our good Lord, said: ‘If you are happy, so am I. Having suffered the passion for you is joy, happiness, and eternal joy for me; and if I could suffer more I would do it ‘. “This is Jesus, a friend who keeps telling us: “If I could suffer more for you, I would do so.”
“These words – the Pope said – allow us to really understand the immense and boundless love the Lord has for each one of us. Let us allow His mercy, which stretches towards us, to wrap us; these days, while our eyes are fixed on the passion and death of the Lord, let us welcome the greatness of His love to our hearth, like Mary on Saturday: in silence, waiting for His Resurrection”