Today’s Gospel speaks of something very important. This discourse of Christ to his disciples at the last supper, as Pope Francis tells us, “The Lord consoles his disciples”, and here we see the way to console. “We have many ways of consoling,” says the Holy Father, “from the closest to the most formal. These are the words of Pope Francis yesterday in the catechesis. “Christ consoles in closeness, with truth and hope.” Christ is always with us, he never abandons us. He is present in silence, sometimes it seems that he is asleep, as in the passage of the boat with his disciples. Christ consoles us in a very close way. And, following the Holy Father, “Christ consoles not only in closeness, but in truth”.
For example, he says, “I’m leaving.” I mean, he’s saying, “I’m gonna die!” We are facing death, this is the truth, but he also tells us with the voice of hope that “I will prepare a place for you”. He opens the gates of heaven for us and says “I will come back, I will take you with me, so that where I am, you will be too.” At the moment of death He comes down and takes us by the hand and leads us to the Father. It’s like a kidnapping. That is the true hope. He also tells us, with Pope Francis, that in the transit to heaven we will not suffer. He tells us that he is with us to overcome this difficult moment, without disturbing or distressing us. And if we ask him to forgive us, he forgives us with the sign of peace and serenity.
As the Holy Father says: “we do not always allow ourselves to be consoled by him”, especially in bad moments, in moments that are difficult like the one we are living now. Some, of course, get angry with him, but he still comes with gentleness and great tenderness. In the Acts of the Apostles we see how Christ prepares a place for those who love him and offers himself sometimes in the midst of pain. For example the case of St. Stephen at the time he was being stoned says the gospel: “filled with the Holy Spirit, he looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. He is always at our side, He is our advocate, He is our mediator before the Father and He consoles us.
Heaven is where the divine persons are, it is where God is, it is where our heavenly Father is. And to be in heaven, certainly, we can already live it here on earth, but we have to overcome some difficulties. But He gives us grace and is always by our side so that we are never discouraged. “To see Christ is to see the Father”, as today’s Gospel says. Thomas asks him, Philip asks him and He says: “but so long with you, don’t you realize?” Every time we see Christ heal, perform miracles, humble Himself washing the feet of the disciples, in so many moments, in that Christ is our Heavenly Father.
The important thing is to know that Christ is always by our side, especially, as I said, in the painful moments. In the moments that are difficult for us, all the more so, he does not turn away from us and he is with us, knowing that we have difficulties. That’s why his closeness, that’s why his truth. He does not tell us words to lessen the danger, the suffering, absolutely not, his peace and his hope are part of life.