Pope Francis

The Wonder of a Beginning

“People are struck by the appearance of a man who loves Jesus Christ,” because they show us Christianity for what it is: an irreducible event. Traces takes a close-up look at Jorge Mario Bergoglio's first month as Pope.

Pope Francis

In a month since the election of Pope Francis, the world has been continually struck by his gestures and his words, which express both humility and absolute certainty. There is something radical in his person that far exceeds every interpretation or scheme we might stop to focus upon. From that very first night when he went out onto the Loggia of the Blessings and asked everyone to pray for him, to his simple way of encountering men and women everyday, we have watched him prune back everything to point to Christ. In these pages, we observe the outset of this Pontificate through some insightful contributions and a brief journey into his life and thought.

Jesus is God, but He lowered Himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother.... And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments.... We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that He accompanies us and carries us on His shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope–the hope that Jesus gives us–be stolen!
(Palm Sunday, March 24th)

We need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive, in every request, the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil.... To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment....We need to “go out,” then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering... Reality itself forces us to “put out into the deep”... out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is “unction”–not function–and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.
(Chrism Mass, March 28th)

They find the tomb empty, the body of Jesus is not there, something new has happened, but all this still doesn’t tell them anything certain: it raises questions; it leaves them confused, without offering an answer. And suddenly there are two men in dazzling clothes who say: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). What was a simple act, done surely out of love–going to the tomb–has now turned into an event, a truly life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of mankind. Jesus is not dead, He has risen, He is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, He is life itself, because He is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus is the everlasting “today” of God.
(Easter Vigil, March 30th)

God does not wait for us to go to Him but it is He who moves towards us, without calculation, without quantification. That is what God is like. He always takes the first step, He comes towards us.... Following and accompanying Christ, staying with Him, demands “coming out of ourselves,” requires us to be outgoing; to come out of ourselves, out of a dreary way of living faith that has become a habit, out of the temptation to withdraw into our own plans which end by shutting out God’s creative action. God came out of Himself to come among us, He pitched His tent among us to bring to us His mercy that saves and gives hope. Nor must we be satisfied with staying in the pen of the 99 sheep if we want to follow Him and to remain with Him; we too must “go out” with Him to seek the lost sheep, the one that has strayed the furthest. Be sure to remember: coming out of ourselves, just as Jesus, just as God came out of Himself in Jesus and Jesus came out of Himself for all of us.
(General Audience, March 27th)

We can live as children! And this is our dignity.… only by behaving as children of God, without being discouraged by our falls, can we feel loved by Him, our life will be new.... God’s hope never disappoints! How many times in our life do our hopes vanish, how many times do the expectations that we carry in our heart not come true! The hope of Christians is strong, safe and sound in this land, where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity, because it is founded on God, who is always faithful. We should never forget this; God is always faithful! Being risen with Christ through Baptism, with the gift of faith, to an imperishable inheritance, leads us to increasingly search for the things of God, to think of Him more, to pray more. Christianity is not simply a matter of following commandments; it is about living a new life, being in Christ, thinking and acting like Christ, and being transformed by the love of Christ; it is allowing Him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, to free them from the darkness of evil and sin.
(General Audience, April 10th)