VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Receive Communion every Sunday and read the Gospel every day to keep discouragement and the blues away, Pope Francis said.
“The word of God and the Eucharist always fill us with joy!” the pope said in his address to people gathered in St. Peter’s Square May 4 to pray the “Regina Coeli” with him.
The pope spoke about the day’s reading from the Gospel of St. Luke (24:13-35), in which two of Jesus’ disciples left Jerusalem, saddened and dejected by Christ’s death.
Failing to grasp the truth of the prophets, the despairing disciples did not recognize the risen Christ when he appeared before them on the road to the village of Emmaus. However, when Jesus explained the Scriptures, and blessed and broke bread with them, their “eyes were opened” and their hearts started “burning” with joy and hope.
Often the same thing happens to people today, the pope said. Life’s difficulties and disappointments take their toll and people head to Mass burdened with problems and worries.
“Life sometimes hurts us and we go there, toward our ‘Emmaus,’ feeling sad with our backs to God’s plan. We distance ourselves from God,” he said.
But when people open themselves to the word of God, “Jesus explains the Scriptures to us and rekindles the warmth of faith and hope in our hearts, and, in Communion, he gives us strength,” the pope said.
“Be sure to remember this: Read a passage of the Gospel every day and go to Communion every Sunday to receive Jesus,” he said. “Don’t forget! When you are sad, pick up the word of God. When you’re feeling down, pick up the word of God and go to Sunday Mass to take Communion, to participate in the mystery of Jesus.”
The word of God is always there to give direction and guidance “after our lapses” and Christ is always present in the Eucharist “to help us go forward on our journey,” despite the fatigue and let-downs in life, he said.
Earlier in the day, the pope focused on the same Gospel reading in his homily during a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. John Paul.
Speaking to Rome’s Polish community at the parish of St. Stanislaus, the pope said St. John Paul never lost hope or faith because his eyes were always fixed on God.
It’s true that everyone is a pilgrim on earth, Pope Francis said, but there is a difference between being a traveler heading toward a precise place with a trustworthy guide and an errant wanderer who lacks purpose and direction.
“The Polish people know well that to enter into God’s glory you need to experience the passion and the cross,” Pope Francis said. St. John Paul followed this path “in an exemplary way” so that “his flesh, too, dwells in hope.”
He said Christians become witnesses of hope when they encounter the risen Christ, who travels all roads in an effort meet people on their journeys.
“Jesus is the risen traveler who walks with us. Jesus is here today, he is here among us. He is here in his word, he is here on the altar, he walks with us,” the pope said.
When Christian’s hearts are warmed by the word of God and their faith and hope are strengthened by the Eucharist, they can walk the world like Jesus, encountering and accompanying people, “who are sad and desperate, warming their hearts with the Gospel and breaking the bread of fraternity with them.”