Christians are called to bear trials and tribulations with courage and patience, but this does not mean they are masochists, Pope Francis said Tuesday morning.
The Pope built his reflection around Saint Paul’s example and his appeal to the early disciples of Jesus to be steadfast in the face of ordeals. The first Bible reading at the Pope’s morning Mass spoke of Paul being stoned and left for dead and his declaration that it “is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”
However, Francis said, “this is not a sadomasochistic attitude,” but merely “the Christian struggle” against the prince of this world, who tries to separate us “from Christ’s Word, from faith and from hope.”
To bear with hardships, Francis said, “means more than just having patience; it means bearing the weight of tribulation on one’s shoulders. And the Christian life has moments like this. But Jesus tells us: ‘In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
Jesus’ Word encourages us “to go out in the most difficult moments of life, those moments that make us suffer,” he said.
St. Paul is persecuted, but despite a thousand trials remains firm in the faith and encourages his brothers and sisters to hope in the Lord, Francis said.
The Pope said that the key to bearing hardships is to trust in the Lord. “A Christian can carry on in the midst of tribulations and even persecutions by trusting in the Lord,” he said. “He alone is able to give us strength, perseverance in faith, and hope.”
To entrust something to the Lord—like a difficult moment—or to entrust ourselves, our families and our friends to the Lord,” Francis said, means saying to the Lord, “Take care of them; they are yours.”
The prayer of trust “is a beautiful Christian prayer,” the Pope said. It is an “attitude of trust in the power of the Lord, and in the tenderness of God who is Father,” he said.
When a person makes this prayer from the heart, then he feels certain because the Lord “never disappoints,” Francis said. Tribulation makes us suffer, but trust in the Lord brings hope and peace, he said.
Francis reminded his hearers of the words of Jesus: “I leave you peace. My peace I give you.” And Christ’s peace, he said, is not mere tranquility, but a peace that “penetrates and gives strength.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.