In his Sunday Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper in the Gospel reading from John: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
Speaking to an estimated 25,000 pilgrims gathered on a bright day in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, the pope noted that Jesus also makes a point to add, “Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27).
“What is this peace that the world does not know and the Lord gives us?” Pope Francis asked.
“This peace is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit of Jesus. It is the presence of God in us, it is God’s ‘power of peace,'” he explained. “It is He, the Holy Spirit, who disarms the heart and fills it with serenity. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who loosens rigidity and extinguishes the temptations to attack others. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who reminds us that there are brothers and sisters beside us, not obstacles or adversaries.
“It is He, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to forgive, to begin again, to set out anew because we cannot do this with our own strength. And it is with Him, with the Holy Spirit, that we become men and women of peace,” Pope Francis said.
“This is the source of the peace Jesus gives us,” he added. “For no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves. No one can give peace unless that person is at peace.”
Pope Francis said, “Let us learn to say every day: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’ This is a beautiful prayer. Shall we say it together? ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’”
Again encouraging the crowd to pray with him, he said, “I didn’t hear it well. One more time: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’”
Focusing on the context of Gospel reading, Pope Francis observed that Jesus’ words to his apostles are “a sort of testament.”
The pope said, “Jesus bids farewell with words expressing affection and serenity. But he does so in a moment that is anything but serene,” referring to Judas’ unfolding betrayal and Peter’s imminent denial that he even knows Jesus.
“The Lord knows this, and yet, he does not rebuke, he does not use severe words, he does not give harsh speeches,” Pope Francis said. “Rather than demonstrate agitation, he remains kind till the end.”
He continued, “There is a proverb that says you die the way you have lived. In effect, the last hours of Jesus’ life are like the essence of his entire life. He feels fear and pain, but does not give way to resentment or protesting. He does not allow himself to become bitter, he does not vent, he is not impatient. He is at peace, a peace that comes from his meek heart accustomed to trust.”
In so doing, “Jesus demonstrates that meekness is possible,” the pope observed.
“He incarnated it specifically in the most difficult moment, and he wants us to behave that way too, since we too are heirs of his peace,” he said. “He wants us to be meek, open, available to listen, capable of defusing tensions and weaving harmony. This is witnessing to Jesus and is worth more than a thousand words and many sermons. The witness of peace.”
Pope Francis invited all disciples of Jesus to reflect on whether they behave in this way.
“Do we ease tensions, and defuse conflicts? Are we too at odds with someone, always ready to react, explode, or do we know how to respond nonviolently, do we know how to respond with peaceful actions? How do I react?” he asked.
“Certainly, this meekness is not easy,” while adding ,“How difficult it is, at every level, to defuse conflicts!”
Jesus understands this. He knows “that we need help, that we need a gift,” the pope explained.
“Peace, which is our obligation, is first of all a gift of God.”
Pope Francis said that “no sin, no failure, no grudge should discourage us from insistently asking for this gift from the Holy Spirit who gives us peace.”
“The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace,” he said.
Pope Francis invited the crowd to pray with him, “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.” He added, “And let us also ask this for those who live next to us, for those we meet each day, and for the leaders of nations.”
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