Pope Francis blesses an almost empty St. Peter’s Square May 10, 2020. Credit: Vatican Media
We must always remember that we are made for heaven, Pope Francis said in his Regina Coeli address Sunday.
Speaking in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pope said May 10: “God is in love with us. We are his children. And for us, He has prepared the most worthy and beautiful place: paradise.”
“Let us not forget: the dwelling place that awaits us is paradise. Here we are passing through. We are made for heaven, for eternal life, to live forever.”
In his reflection before the Regina Coeli, the pope focused on Sunday’s Gospel reading, John 14:1-12, in which Jesus addresses his disciples at the Last Supper.
He said: “At such a dramatic moment Jesus began by saying: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.’ He says this to us too in the dramas of life. But how can we make sure that our hearts are not troubled?”
He explained that Jesus offers two remedies for our turmoil. The first is an invitation to us to have faith in him.
“He knows that in life, the worst anxiety, turmoil, comes from the feeling of not being able to cope, from feeling alone and without reference points before what happens,” he said.
“This anxiety, in which difficulty is added to the difficulty, cannot be overcome alone. That is why Jesus asks us to have faith in Him, that is, not to lean on ourselves, but on Him. Because liberation from anguish passes through trust.”
The Pope said that Jesus’ second remedy is expressed in his words “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places … I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
“This is what Jesus did for us: He reserved us a place in heaven,” he said. “He took upon Himself our humanity to take it beyond death, to a new place, in heaven, so that where He is, we might be there also.”
He continued: “Forever: it’s something we can’t even imagine now. But it is even more beautiful to think that this forever will be all in joy, in full communion with God and with others, without any more tears, without rancour, without division and upheaval.”
“But how to reach Paradise? What is the way? Here is the decisive phrase of Jesus. Today he says: ‘I am the way’ [John 14:6]. To ascend to heaven, the way is Jesus: it is to have a living relationship with Him, to imitate Him in love, to follow in His footsteps.”
He urged Christians to ask themselves which way they were following.
“There are ways that do not lead to heaven: the ways of worldliness, the ways of self-assertion, the ways of selfish power,” he said.
“And there is the way of Jesus, the way of humble love, of prayer, of meekness, of trust, of service to others. It is to go ahead every day asking: ‘Jesus, what do you think of my choice? What would you do in this situation, with these people?’”
“It will do us good to ask Jesus, who is the way, the directions for heaven. May Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, help us to follow Jesus, who opened heaven for us.”
After reciting the Regina Coeli, the pope recalled two anniversaries.
The first was the 70th anniversary on May 9 of the Schuman Declaration, which led to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community.
“It inspired the process of European integration,” he said, “enabling the reconciliation of the peoples of the continent after the Second World War and the long period of stability and peace from which we benefit today.”
“The spirit of the Schuman Declaration cannot fail to inspire all those with responsibilities in the European Union, called upon to face the social and economic consequences of the pandemic in a spirit of harmony and cooperation.”
The second anniversary was that of St. John Paul’s first visit to Africa 40 years ago. Francis said that on May 10, 1980, the Polish pope “gave voice to the cry of the people of the Sahel, harshly tried by drought.”
He praised an initiative by young people to plant a million trees in the Sahel region, forming a “Great Green Wall” to combat the effects of desertification.
“I hope that many will follow the example of solidarity of these young people,” he said.
The pope also noted that May 10 is Mother’s Day in many countries.
He said: “I want to remember all mothers with gratitude and affection, entrusting them to the protection of Mary, our heavenly Mother. My thoughts also go out to the mothers who have passed to the other life and accompany us from heaven.”
He then called for a moment of silent prayer for mothers.
He concluded: “I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye for now.”
Afterwards, he offered his blessing while overlooking an almost empty St. Peter’s Square.