Jesus invites us to live with him in the present and not to get stuck in the disappointments and ‘what ifs’ of the past, Pope Francis said in his message before the Regina coeli antiphon on Sunday.
Like the disciples Jesus met on the road to Emmaus, as his disciples today we have “opposite directions” we could go, the pope said April 26 via livestream from the Vatican’s apostolic palace.
There are those who “let themselves be paralyzed by the disappointments of life and go forward sad,” the pope stated. “And there is the way of those who do not put themselves and their problems first.” These people put Jesus and their brothers and sisters before themselves, he said.
In his message, Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel, Luke 24:13-35, when Jesus appears to the two disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
The first journey to Emmaus “occurs in sadness,” but the disciples’ return to Jerusalem occurs “in joy,” he explained. “In the first they are discouraged and hopeless; in the second, they rush to bring to others the good news of the encounter with the Risen Jesus.”
He said, “here is the turning point: to stop orbiting your own ego, the disappointments of the past, the unfulfilled ideals, and so many bad things that happened in one’s life.”
“Move from thoughts about myself to the reality of my God,” he urged.
“Go on looking at the greatest and truest reality of life,” he encouraged. “Jesus is alive, Jesus loves me. This is the greatest reality. And I can do something for others. It is a beautiful, positive, cheerful reality!”
According to Francis, it is important to move past the “what ifs” of the past and thoughts like: “what if God had listened to me, if life had gone as I wanted, if I had this and that other thing…”
Move to “yes,” he urged: “yes, the Lord is alive, he walks with us. Yes, now, not tomorrow, we are back on the road to announce it…”
The pope suggested three steps anyone can take right now, in their homes, to stop dwelling on the past and find God in the present.
The first step, he said, is to open your heart to Jesus, entrusting him with the burdens, the struggles, the disappointments of life.
The next step is listening to Jesus through reading today’s Gospel passage in Luke; and the third recommendation the pope made is to pray with the words of the disciples: “Lord, ‘stay with us.’”
“Lord, stay with me, Lord stay with us all because we need you to find the way,” he said.
After praying the Marian Easter antiphon, the Regina coeli, Pope Francis made an appeal for reading Scripture every day.
“I have told you many times and I would like to say it again, how important it is to get into the habit of reading the Gospel, a few minutes, every day,” he advised.
The pope also spoke about a short letter he published Saturday inviting Catholics to pray the rosary during May, adding in one of the two additional prayers he also made available.
“Our Mother will help us to face the time of trial we are going through with more faith and hope,” he encouraged.
Earlier in the morning April 26, Pope Francis offered Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, his Vatican residence.
In his homily, he spoke about the restlessness of the heart, which thirsts for encounter with God.
“Many times we have heard that Christianity is not just a doctrine, it is not a way of behaving, it is not a culture,” Francis stated. “Yes, it is all of this, but more important and first, it is a meeting. A person is Christian because he met Jesus Christ, he allowed himself to be ‘met by him.’”
The pope’s intention for the Mass was people who are experiencing sadness, “because they are alone or because they do not know what future awaits them or because they cannot support their family because they have no money, because they have no work.”
“We pray for them today,” he said before the start of Mass.