By Hannah Brockhaus
Pope Francis Sunday recalled the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. Pope John Paul II, saying his predecessor is remembered “with much affection and gratitude.”
“From heaven he continues to intercede for the People of God and peace in the world,” Francis said, noting that he will offer Mass at the altar of the Polish pope’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the occasion May 18.
In his Regina coeli address May 17, Francis said God’s commandments are “a light to our footsteps,” not a “sort of mirror, in which we can see our miseries and inconsistencies reflected.”
Speaking from the library of the apostolic palace due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “the Word of God is given to us as the Word of life, which transforms, which renews, which does not judge to condemn, but heals and has forgiveness as its goal.”
He pointed out that Jesus connects love for him to observance of the commandments, saying: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” and “whoever accepts my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”
According to Francis, Jesus wants our love for him to lead to more than warm and fuzzy feelings. “It requires the willingness to follow his path, that is, the will of the Father,” he said.
Jesus “did not say: ‘Love me, as I have loved you,’ but ‘love each other as I have loved you.’”
To make this possible, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to guide his apostles and us, Pope Francis explained: “The Spirit himself guides them, enlightens them, strengthens them, so that everyone can walk in life, even through adversity and difficulty, in joys and sorrows, remaining in the way of Jesus.”
The Holy Spirit helps us not to give into error and sin, he said. “This is possible precisely by keeping docile to the Holy Spirit. so that, with his active presence, he can not only console but transform hearts, open them to truth and love.”
After praying the Regina Coeli, the traditional Marian antiphon, Pope Francis noted that some countries are beginning to have public liturgies again or are evaluating the possibility following the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Italy public Masses will begin May 18.
“But please go forward [following] the rules, the prescriptions they give us so as to safeguard the health of everyone and of the people,” he urged.
The pope also specially addressed all the boys and girls whose First Communions have been postponed because of the pandemic.
He invited the children “to live this waiting time as an opportunity to better prepare yourself: praying, reading your catechism book to deepen knowledge of Jesus, growing in goodness, and in service to others.”
Pope Francis’ Mass Sunday morning was offered for garbage collectors, street cleaners, and hospital janitors.
“A job nobody sees, but it is a job that is necessary to survive,” he said. “May the Lord bless them, help them.”
In his homily, the pope spoke about Jesus’ promise to his disciples to not leave them orphans by sending the Holy Spirit.
There is a strong feeling of being orphans in the world today, he said. Despite having many things, “the Father is missing.”
“Today we can say that we live in a society where the Father is missing, a sense of being orphans that affects one’s belonging and fraternity,” he said.
Francis said the Holy Spirit reminds us we have a Father in heaven who is not far away, but accessible to us.
“Only with this awareness of children who are not orphans can we live in peace among us,” he stated: War is one of the consequences of not having the awareness of a loving Father, because without a Father, “brotherhood is lost.”
“We ask the Holy Spirit to remind us always, always, of this access to the Father.”