Familiarity with the Lord

Pope Francis

17.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Easter Friday

John 21 1-14

The disciples were fishermen: Jesus had called them specifically while they were working. Andrew and Peter were working with their nets. They left the nets and followed Jesus. John and James, the same: they left their father and the people who worked with them and followed Jesus. They received their call precisely as they were doing their work as fishermen. And this passage of today's Gospel, this miracle, of miraculous fishing makes us think of another miraculous catch, the one that Luke tells, (Luke 5:1-11): the same happened there too. They had a catch when they thought they didn't have any. After Jesus had preached he said, "Go out" and they told him "But we worked all night and we caught nothing!" and Jesus said "Go on out." and Peter said "On your word, we will cast the nets." There was so a quantity of fish, the Gospel says, that "they were filled with amazement" by that miracle. Today, in this other catch of fish there is no mention of amazement. One sees a certain naturalness, one sees that there has been progress, a journey of knowing the Lord, of intimacy with the Lord; I will say the right word: familiarity with the Lord. When John saw this, he said to Peter, "But it is the Lord!" and Peter tucks his garment in, and jumps into the sea to go to the Lord. The first time, he knelt before him and said: "Go away from me, Lord, because I am a sinner." This time he says nothing, it had become natural. No one asked, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord, it had become natural, these encounters with the Lord. The apostles' familiarity with the Lord had grown.

We Christians too, in our journey of life, are in this state of walking, of progressing in familiarity with the Lord. The Lord, I might say, takes us by hand a little, but takes us by hand because he walks with us, we know that it is him. No one asked him, here, "who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. A daily familiarity with the Lord is that of the Christian. And surely, they had breakfast together, with fish and bread, they certainly talked about so many things with naturalness.

This familiarity with the Lord, of Christians, is always communal. Yes, it's intimate, it's personal but in community. A familiarity without community, a familiarity without bread, a familiarity without the Church, without the people, without the sacraments is dangerous. It can become a familiarity – we say – gnostic, a familiarity for me only, detached from the people of God. The familiarity of the apostles with the Lord was always in a community, always at the table, a sign of the community. It was always with sacraments, with the bread.

I say this because someone has made me reflect on the danger that this moment that we are experiencing, this pandemic that has made us all communicate religiously through the media, through the media, also this Mass, we are all communicating, but not together, spiritually together. The people gathered are few. There is a great people: we are together, but not together. Even the Sacrament: today you will have it, the Eucharist, but the people who are connected with us, only have Spiritual Communion. And this is not the Church: this is the Church of a difficult situation, which the Lord allows, but the ideal of the Church is always with the people and with the Sacraments. Always.

Before Easter, when the news came out that I would celebrate Easter in an empty St. Peter's, a bishop wrote to me – a good bishop: good – and he scolded me. "But why, St. Peter's is so big, why don't you put at least 30 people, so that people can be seen? ...". I thought, "But, what's in his head, to tell me this?" I didn't understand at the time. But since he is a good bishop, very close to the people, he had something he wanted to tell me. When I find him, I'm going to ask him. Then I realized. He said to me, "Be careful not to viralize the Church, not to viralize the sacraments, not to viralize the people of God." The Church, the sacraments, the people of God are concrete. It is true that at this moment we must make this familiarity with the Lord in this way, but to get out of the tunnel, not to remain there. And this is the familiarity of the apostles: not gnostic, not viralized, not selfish for each of them, but a concrete familiarity, among the people. Familiarity with the Lord in daily life, familiarity with the Lord in the sacraments, in the midst of the people of God. They have made a journey of progress in familiarity with the Lord: let us learn to do this as well. From the first moment, they realized that that familiarity was different from what they imagined, and they came to this. They knew he was the Lord, they shared everything: the community, the sacraments, the Lord, peace, celebration.

May the Lord teach us this intimacy with him, this familiarity with him but in the Church, with the sacraments, with the holy faithful people of God.