Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
If Pope Benedict XVI is recognized especially for his intellectual gifts as a scholar, Pope Francis is perhaps best known for emphasizing what he calls “the reasons of the heart,” which alone “can help us understand the mystery which embraces our loneliness.”
“Reason by itself,” says Francis, “is not capable of making sense of our deepest feelings, appreciating the grief we experience and providing the answers we are looking for.”
Like the paradoxical truth at the heart of the Gospel—“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies”—Pope Francis is unwavering in his insistence that suffering and even death places us on the path to new life and hopefulness. Why? How?
With our tears, suggests Francis, we shed the illusion of independence, and surrender to our profound need for God and for one another. When we dare to weep, we water the seeds of promise already buried in our confrontation with loneliness, suffering, and death.
“This is our poverty but also our grandeur: to plead for the consolation of God, who in his tenderness comes to wipe the tears from our eyes” (Pope Francis).
—Christopher Pramuk is the University Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination and an associate professor of theology at Regis University.
What weaknesses did you see in us that made you decide to call us, in spite of everything, to collaborate in your mission? We give you thanks for having called us, and we beg you not to forget your promise to be with us to the end of time. . .
Enlighten our minds and our hearts, and do not forget to make us smile when things do not go as we wished. At the end of the day, of each one of our days, make us feel more united with you and better able to perceive and discover around us greater joy and greater hope.
We ask all this from our reality. We are weak and sinful persons, but we are your friends.
—Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!