Monday 15 April 2024

Pope Francis: Sharing our encounter with Christ makes our encounters ‘even more beautiful’

Pope Francis Regina Caeli

Pope Francis expressed his concern over escalating tensions in the Middle East following Iran’s missile attack Saturday against Israel, a concern he raised after imploring Christians to share their stories of encountering Christ, which he said would create a richer and more beautiful environment for all.

“I follow in prayer and with concern, even pain, the news that has arrived in the last few hours on the worsening of the situation in Israel due to the intervention by Iran,” the pope said to all those gathered before him in St. Peter’s Square on April 14.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to stop any action that could fuel a spiral of violence with the risk of dragging the Middle East into an even greater conflict of war. No one should threaten the existence of others,” he added.

On Saturday evening Iran launched over 300 drones and missiles on military targets in Israel in retaliation for an Israeli attack on the Iranian Embassy in Syria's capital Damascus on April 1, which killed seven.  

Pope Francis also renewed his exhortation for peace as the Israel-Hamas war continues unabated, calling for “the Israelis and Palestinians to live in two states, side by side, in security, it is their deep and legitimate desire, and it is their right.”

Before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the pope also exhorted Christians to share their personal encounters with Christ, noting that it is “the most beautiful thing we have to tell.”

The pope made this reflection against the backdrop of today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, where two disciples, returning from Emmaus, meet with the apostles in the upper room and recount their encounter with Christ. 

“Jesus arrives precisely while they are sharing the story of the encounter with him,” a message, the pope observed, that for us today underscores “the importance of sharing the faith.”

The pope observed that today, this message is often drowned out by the frenzy of messages, which are often “superficial” and “useless,” and which often reveal “an indiscreet curiosity or, worse still, arise from gossip and malice.”

“They are news that have no purpose, on the contrary, they do harm,” the pope continued.

Amid the deluge of counterproductive messages, Pope Francis called on Christians to share their personal testimonies of encountering Christ, “not by being a lecturer to others, but by sharing the unique moments in which we perceived the Lord alive and close.”

While acknowledging that it can often be a “struggle” to discuss these encounters with family, friends, and the broader community, the pope advocated persistence in doing so as it will make our personal “encounters” and social environments “even more beautiful.”

In closing his address, the pope called upon all Christians to conduct a series of interior examinations, asking ourselves: “Have I ever spoken about it with someone? Have I ever simply made a gift of it to family members, colleagues, loved ones, and those I associate with? And finally: Am I, in turn, interested in listening to what others have to tell me about their encounter with Christ?”