In today’s Gospel Christ assures us that He will be with us until the end of time, that is, every day, every moment and until the end of our life He will be with us. However, many of us find it difficult to recognize his closeness as the first-born brother that he is and as the best companion of our existence and in sickness.
He helps us in our successes, but also in failures, in health and in sickness. Christ supports us in everything. As St. Paul says in the hymn to charity: “He bears all things. In Christ when he is with his disciples after the resurrection, on a mountain, there he is expressing that he wants to be our friend, if you and I really want it.
Why is Christ on that mountain? It is a first sign of Christ’s Ascension to heaven. There is a moment when after speaking with the disciples He goes away from the earth, but something is telling to each one of us. How we move away from ourselves, that is, from our tendencies, defects, attachments. What is it that really prevents me from ascending to the heart of the Father?
But to reach this friendship Christ takes the first step and tells us that He will never abandon us, no matter what. But he also asks us to come closer to him, to recognize him as the risen Christ. A Christ who is present in the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist, and that we truly love him, as he loves us.
Friendship with Christ will take us very far, and with this friendship we will find clear signs of peace and light. He will take us to the heart of the Father. This is the sign of the Ascension. He says: “I will go and prepare a dwelling place for you in heaven”. But there are many who do not recognize the Risen Christ, they doubt Him when they perceive His presence in their innermost being. They do not know, they are not educated to perceive how He is present in us. Others sadly do not want to know him, and we must know him particularly in prayer, in the Eucharist and in the Gospel.
Many look at Christ as a kind of historical figure from the past. We forget that He came to this earth so that we might have life, moreover, abundant life. Christ is not the author of prohibitions and heavy burdens. At one point he tells us that he wants to take away that heavy burden and put on a light one, which is practically weightless, is the burden of love, because all love always requires an effort.
Christianity is not a calculating machine of good and evil, absolutely not. Christ is love, let’s get close to Him. He is pure generosity and pure friendship. There are Christians who, for example, do not know how to forgive and why don’t they know how to forgive? Because they don’t know how to love. So what’s wrong? Well, in our heart there is resentment, envy, which corrodes us from within.
It is this self-poisoning that destroys us and only forgiveness resolves resentment, frees us from the prison we are in, because someone has hurt us. He calls us, he calls us to be holy, that is, to love in fullness, not to be mediocre, as our Father is Holy. Christ gives us the grace, He will give it to us, He gives us the strength, which I do not have, the energy, the capacity to love in the image and likeness of our Father in heaven.
He is our joy, He is not our sorrow. That joy we share with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Patriarch of Peace, Saint Joseph. Let us express to him our love, our adoration, like Martha, like the blind man from birth, like the centurion, with the same faith as them. Let us confess this faith and this love to our families, to our friends, to our co-workers.
How do we approach this Christ who leads us to the heart of the Father and who loves us madly? Even though we have many faults. Well, He only asks us to be patient and to allow Him, through the Holy Spirit, to purify us. He’s going to clean us up, he’s going to take that burden off us, if we really let him. And how am I going to let him? First, with the gospel.
The gospel is a love letter addressed to you, addressed to me. It is a book of meditation, it is a book of reflection, it is a book of contemplation, in short, of love, which teaches me to take up the cross and follow Him.
The other pillar that allows me to really love Christ, to follow him, and to let myself be purified is the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving. And from the Eucharist only the word thanksgiving can spring. That is why bitterness and resentment disappear; it is incompatible with the Eucharist, with Christ himself, that truly glorious Christ. When a person, for example, is grateful, it is very difficult for him to think and desire negative, bad things about other people.
In the Eucharist Christ waits for us to receive him. It is true that we have to go through the sacrament of reconciliation. The Eucharist leaves us in a state of grace and our friendship and trust with him grows. The Eucharist transforms us, changes us and distances us from the things of this world. It is a form of ascension because we are approaching that glorified Christ and we are moving away from our selfishness, our vanity and our pride. It seems to be a lie, it is something unheard of. Please, let’s try it.
And finally, the prayer, the other column, the continuous prayer. And why is it continuous? Because Christ says so. And why does Christ say so? Because prayer is love, and love must be continuous. If a parent listens to me, they will know that no one ever says they love their son or daughter for a little while in the morning and a little while in the afternoon.
Parents carry their children deep in their own guts. But prayer, I say again, transforms our negative thoughts into positive ones and vices into virtue. And what do I have to do? Offer them to Christ every day, nothing else, and He will transform them. That is to be truly Christian, to let oneself be changed, to let oneself be purified by the Holy Spirit, and not to offer resistance. He takes away that heavy and overwhelming burden that we carry throughout our lives.
Dialogue with Christ must arise from silence. Silence to what? To every useless, inopportune, obsessive thought. That’s why I said: if we could have a minute’s silence every day or so, at home or in church, wherever we can!
Because that minute is a sacred moment and Christ multiplies it and has wonderful effects on our lives. Even effects like nervousness, tension, that tendency to shout at people we really love, disappear and then we repent. Prayer brings balance to the soul, it brings serenity, in short, it brings peace.