VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christian faith is not an “anesthetic” that prevents believers from feeling pain, but it is a source of joy and hope that assures them suffering will pass and new life will come, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.
The Gospel reading May 6 was Jesus’ telling his disciples before the crucifixion that they would face a time of weeping and grieving, “but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
In the passage from St. John’s Gospel, Jesus compares their situation to that of a woman in labor, who experiences real pain, but who forgets that pain once her child is born.
At the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis said the image Jesus used “should help us a lot in (times of) difficulty, difficulties that often are terrible, horrible difficulties that even can make us doubt our faith. But with joy and hope we go on.”
In the Gospel, he said, “the Lord tells us that there will be problems” and that the joy and hope he is promising “is not a carnival — it’s something else.”
Faith brings “joy and hope together in our lives when we are in tribulation, when we have problems, when we suffer,” Pope Francis said. “It is not an anesthetic. Pain is pain, but lived with joy and hope it opens the door to the joy of new fruit.”
In the Christian life, he said, joy and hope should go together. “Joy without hope is simply fun, a passing happiness. A hope without joy is not hope — it does not go beyond a healthy optimism.”
Joy strengthens hope and hope blossoms when one rejoices, he said. “Human joy can be taken away by anything, but some little difficulty,” he said. But Jesus preaches a lasting joy, one that endures “even in the darkest moments.”