Strength and hope amid fear and storm
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - April 2, 2020 - 12:00am

From a platform within the wide but deserted St. Peter Square that dark, drizzly evening of March 27, 2020, a frail 83-year old Pope Francis stood tall, an inspiring, powerful epitome of strength and hope for God’s people.

  Before entrusting the faithful to the Lord through Mama Mary’s intercession and before delivering an extraordinary Urbi et orbi blessing for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis shared these reflections;

“It is easy to recognize ourselves among the frightened disciples who woke a sleeping Jesus when their boat was in danger of sinking one stormy evening at sea and cried out, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish? When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

“For weeks now it has been evening. 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.”

“Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

Pope Francis continued:

“Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you.”

This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted. Return to me with all your heart.” (Joel 2:12).”

“You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”

“We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives, (those) who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons”

“Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

“We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope. “

“Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.”

“Lord, You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid”.

“And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (1 Peter 5:7).

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