“Jesus is the way that leads to happiness that does not perish”
The Holy Father’s words before Regina Coeli
At 12 noon today, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, the Holy Father Francis looked out of the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Regina Coeli with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
These are the Pope’s words as he introduced the Marian prayer:
The Pope’s words
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
The Gospel of today’s Liturgy (Jn 14:1-12) is taken from Jesus’ last discourse before his death. The disciples’ hearts are troubled, but the Lord speaks reassuring words to them, inviting them not to be afraid, do not be afraid. He is not abandoning them, but is going to prepare a place for them and to guide them towards that destination. The Lord today thus shows us all the wonderful place to go, and, at the same time, tells us how to get there, shows us the way. He tells us where to go and how to get there.
First of all, where to go. Jesus sees the disciples’ distress, he sees their fear of being abandoned, just as it happens to us when we are forced to be separated from someone we care for. And so, he says: “I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am you may be also” (vv. 2-3). Jesus uses the familiar image of home, the place of relationships and intimacy. In the Fathers’ house – he says to his friends, and to each one of us – there is space for you, you are welcome, you will always be received with the warmth of an embrace, and I am in Heaven to prepare a place for you! He prepares for us that embrace with the Father, the place for all eternity.
Brothers and sisters, this Word is a source of consolation, and it is a source of hope for us. Jesus does not separate from us, but has opened the way for us, anticipating our final destination: the encounter with God the Father, in whose heart there is a place for each one of us. So, when we experience fatigue, bewilderment and even failure, let us remember where our life is headed. We must not lose sight of the destination, even if we run the risk of of overlooking it, of forgetting the final questions, the important ones: where I am going? Where I am I walking towards? What is it worth living for? Without these questions, we compress our life into the present, we think we must enjoy it as much as possible and end up living day by day, without purpose, without a goal. Our homeland, instead, is in heaven (cf. Phil 3:20); let us not forget the greatness and the beauty of our destination!
Once we have discovered the target, we too, like the apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel, wonder: how can we get there, what is the way? At times, especially when there are major problems to face and there is the sensation that evil is stronger, we ask ourselves: what should I do, what path should I follow? Let us listen to Jesus’ answer: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). “I am the way”. Jesus himself is the way to follow to live in truth and to have life in abundance. He is the way and therefore faith in him is not a “package of ideas” in which to believe, but rather a road to be travelled, a journey to undertake, a path with him. It is following Jesus, because he is the way that leads to unfailing happiness. Following Jesus and imitating him, especially with deeds of closeness and mercy towards others. This is the compass for reaching Heaven: loving Jesus, the way, becoming signs of his love on earth.
Brothers and sisters, let us live the present, let us take the present in hand, but let us not be overwhelmed; let us look up, let us look to Heaven, let us remember the goal, let us think that we are called to eternity, to the encounter with God. And, from Heaven to the heart, let us renew today the choice of Jesus, the choice to love him and to walk behind him. May the Virgin Mary, who following Jesus has already arrived at the goal, sustain our hope.