DON’T BE FAINTHEARTED. GO FORWARD IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE FOSTERING HOPE.
(VATICAN RADIO) god frees us from the sin that paralyzes us as Christians: faintheartedness, being afraid of everything, which keep us from having memory, hope, courage, and patience. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday (Jan. 27, 2017).
Remembering the God’s work of salvation in my life
Pope Francis said the day’s Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to live the Christian life with three points of reference: the past, the present, and the future. First, it invites us to remember, because “the Christian life does not begin today: it continues today.” Remembering is “to recall everything”: the good things, and those that are less good, and putting my own story “before the sight of God”: without covering up or hiding it:
“‘Brothers, call to mind those first days’: the days of enthusiasm, of going forward in the faith, when you began to live the faith, the anguished trials… You don’t understand the Christian life, even the spiritual life of each day, without memory. Not only do you not understand: You can’t live in a Christian way without memory. The memory of the salvation of God in my life, the memory of my troubles in my life; but how has the Lord saved me from these troubles? Memory is a grace: a grace to ask for. ‘Lord, may I not forget your step in my life, may I not forget the good moments, also the ugly; the joys and the crosses.’ The Christian is a man of memory.”
Living in the hope of encountering Jesus
The author of the Letter then makes us understand that “we are on the journey in expectation of something,” in expectation of “arriving at a point: an encounter; encountering the Lord.” “And he exhorts us to live by faith”:
“Hope: Looking to the future. Just as one cannot live a Christian life without memory of the steps taken, one cannot live a Christian life without looking to the future with hope… of the encounter with the Lord. And he uses a beautiful phrase: ‘just a brief moment…’ Eh, life is a breath, eh? It passes. When one is young, he thinks he has so much time before him, but then life teaches us that those words that we all say: ‘But how time passes! I knew this person as a child, now they’re getting married! How time passes!’ It comes soon. But the hope of encountering it is a life in tension, between memory and hope, the past and the future.”
Living in the present with courage and patience
Finally, the Letter invites us to live in the present, “often times painful and sad,” with “courage and patience”: that is, with frankness, without shame, and enduring the events of life. We are sinners, the Pope explained – all of us. “He who is first, and he who is later… if you want, we can make the list later, but we are all sinners. All of us. But we go forward with courage and patience. We don’t remain there, stopped, because this would not make us grow.”
The sin that paralyzes Christians: Faintheartedness
Finally, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews urges us not to commit the sin that takes away memory, hope, courage, and patience: faintheartedness (It.: pusillanimità, “pusillanimity”). “It is a sin that doesn’t allow us to go forward, through fear.” Jesus, though, says, “Don’t be afraid.” The fainthearted are those “who always go backward, who guard themselves too much, who are afraid of everything”:
“‘Not taking risks, please, no… prudence…’ All the commandments, all of them… Yes, it’s true, but this paralyzes you too, it makes you forget so many graces received, it takes away memory, it takes away hope, because it doesn’t allow you to go forward. And the present of a Christian, of such a Christian, is how when one goes along the street and an unexpected rain comes, and the garment is not so good and the fabric shrinks… Confined souls… This is faintheartedness: this is the sin against memory, courage, patience, and hope. May the Lord make us grow in memory, make us grow in hope, give us courage and patience each and free us from that which is faintheartedness, being afraid of everything… Confined souls in order to save ourselves. And Jesus says: ‘He who wills to save his life will lose it.’