Any of you who watched the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi Message on Friday, March 27th, would agree, I think, that it was one of the most eerie scenes ever seen on livestream. A movie director couldn’t have made it up!
It was 6 pm in Rome, so it was getting dark there; it was raining, there was the flickering light from four fires that were in containers behind the Pope. But here’s the thing that really got me. When the camera panned out you could see the vast expanse of Piazza San Pietro, empty. Just the Holy Father and another priest in assistance. And there he was delivering a message of hope to a city and to a world that is reeling from something that we have never experienced before. At first I thought, there’s the Pope all alone, no one there to listen to his message. But that was not the reality. Millions were listening via the wonders of our modern technology to his message of hope.
The Holy Father evoked the image of the boat caught in the storm from Mark’s gospel. Here’s what he said: “We have realized that we are in 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.”
We are rowing, but remember who has the rudder.
And today we are given another message, the one for the Fifth Sunday of Lent for this year: the story of Lazarus! Here’s what Lazarus is all about—-here’s what it has to do with us: That act of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead shows you what God is really like. God is faithful. He knows what you are going through. He is right there beside you. And if you choose, you can pray to him for strength, perseverance—-endurance, and you will receive those very things.
The difficulties you are experiencing now will help you to mature as his faithful followers. You realize that you are not Superman or Wonder Woman, but you also realize that you don’t have to be—-that you don’t have to solve your own problems. And a certain peace can come from knowing that! Christ can take you to a new place in your lives where you feel closer to him and experience his helping hand.
“Fear is useless; What is needed is trust.” These are Jesus’ own words. Say them over and over to yourself throughout the day. Say them when you find your heart racing, or feel trapped and lonely, or worried about a loved one. Ask for the grace to stand by his word.
Trust Him. These are Christ’s words so believe them. Don’t try to figure this all out, just present your situation to the Lord and ask for his help. And if sin is a burden, bring it to Confession when you are able. Jesus took all of our sins to the cross for a reason. The cross becomes our anchor, our rudder, our hope. Cast your cares on the Lord and do not grow weary.
I’d like to close with the final words of Pope Francis from Friday’s Extraordinary Moment of Prayer:
Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. 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”.