April 24, 2015
Jesus never forgets the day we encountered Him for the first time; we should ask God for the “grace of memory” so that we can always remember it. That was the Pope’s hope for us in the homily at Mass on Friday morning at the Casa Santa Marta.
An encounter is the means chosen by Jesus to change lives. A good example of this is Paul of Tarsus, the anti-Christian persecutor who, by the time he reached Damascus, had already become an Apostle. Pope Francis spoke about the celebrated episode in the first reading of the day’s liturgy, and related it to the many encounters that appear in the Gospel narratives.
The first encounter
More precisely, Francis considered the “first encounter” with Jesus – the encounter that “changes the life” of those who meet Him: John and Andrew, who stayed with the Master throughout the night; Simon who immediately became “the rock” of the new community; and then the Samaritan, the leper who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, the sick woman who was healed when she touched Christ’s tunic: these, the Pope said, are decisive encounters that should prompt a Christian to never forget his own first encounter with Christ.
“He never forgers, but we forget the encounter with Christ. And this would be a good assignment to do at home, to consider: ‘When have I really felt that the Lord was close to me? When have I felt the need to change my life, or to become better, or to forgive someone? When have I felt the Lord asking something of me? When have I encountered the Lord?’ Because our faith is an encounter with Jesus. This is the foundation of our faith: I have encountered Jesus, as Saul did.”
Pope Francis said we should look inside ourselves sincerely and ask: “When did you say something to me that changed my life, or invited me to take a step forward in my life?”:
“This is a beautiful prayer, and I recommend saying it every day. And when you remember, rejoice in it, in that memory, which is a memory of love. One more beautiful assignment would be to take the Gospels and look at the stories there and see how Jesus encountered the people, how He chose the Apostles… So many encounters with Jesus are there. Maybe one of them is similar to mine. Each one of us has his own.”
Let us remember the first love
And we should not forget, the Pope said, that Christ intends the “relationship with us” in the sense of a predilection, a relationship of love “of you and for you”:
“Pray and ask for the grace of memory. ‘When, Lord, was that first encounter, that first love?’ – so that we might not hear the complaint the Lord makes in Revelation: ‘I have this against you, that you have forgotten your first love’.”