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FULL TEXT of Pope Francis’ homily for the Extraordinary Urbi et Orbi (To the City [of Rome] to the World)

“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost.

Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this. 

On this boat… are all of us.

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40). 

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement. 

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity. 

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters. 

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”. 

Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.

We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.

In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons. 

Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons. 

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we flounder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies. 

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.

We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.

The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled. 

We have an anchor… We have a rudder… We have a hope

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.

By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope. 

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace.

Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).

41 Comments

  1. Ireneo Reyes Leongson, Ofs

    Thanks be to GOD. We trust i you JESUS Christ alone…we love you Lord, Thanks for remembering us in times of difficulty and doubts in our fears. But now I know i have a big GOD im calling now. In the Mighty Name of JESUS Christ of Nazareth…we will be saves us all..wearing the battle of Faith, hope and Love…we are ready to face and renew the new world. Amen.

  2. Lydia Padilla-Rinne

    The LORD is my anchor, that keeps me safe on the sea of life. but “Why are you afraid . Have you No FAITH ??
    In this moment of anxiety & turbulent phase in our life because of COVID-19,a Pandemic that sit us into HALT..QUARANTINE….Silent moment of uncertainties.panic buying…mundane SELFishness,.This is a time of RECKONing, and SELF questioning.; Who am I ??.Why have I done this in my life,When can I stop running away What is my purpose in this world? …Being with our Pope Francis tonight March 28,2020.hearing his Homily for the extraordinary URBI et ORBI…,I realized I am the child of the Creator,,that comes to life as an image of GOD and NO need to run away from His love for my sole purpose is to be HOLY..No need to fear for anything because GOD is everything.,giving me my everyday blessings sharing to the needy with love & prayers & respect in prayer UNITY with my brothers all over the world,feeling the lightness of the Holy Spirit within me for the HEALING of the land..GOD will make the way for MIRACLES in the making in JESUS Mercy with Mother MARY mantle of protection to all her children all over the Earth Amen…
    ….greetings of GODs blessing of better health to all from Finland,Helsinki City….the Tolo Magdadaro Capuyan Padilla clan,migrant of the Philippines……….GOD bless the Pope.praying for us & PEACE all over the world..

  3. Wendy Eustaquio

    So fitting gospel story and homily in a time of tubulence. Pope’s message is strong yet gentlt said. May all eho heard and all who will read be inspired and guided.

  4. Jose R Reyes

    Thank you Holy Father Pope Francis for cementing the very faith of each of God’s children and everyone for that matter. Indeed you are rightly the one to lead us in His Glorious Kingdom. The love and hope from our dear Jesus we felt and solidify our Trust in Him!

    Again we thank you and pray for your continued health dear Pope Francis all through the Almighty Father together with the wonderful, loving, caring and sweet name of Jesus with our beloved and never forgeting Mother Mary and intercession of the Holy Ghost! Amen

  5. Nette Madrid

    God bless all your efforts in making things possible to the brethren to participate and be one in prayer with one another especially the Pope May God be praised forever amen

  6. George C. Dee

    The Pope’s message to the world is deeply consoling in the midst of the corona 19 crisis that caught us unprepared to confront a faceless and inivisible enemy. I personally felt the
    Warm and sincere heart of our Pope to invigorate, to give life to the value of the current
    hardship and life-threatening pandemic as an opportunity to reawaken our weakening faith in the Lord. The Pope’s message is likewise truly comforting as it avoided any direct idea that this cisis is a divine chastisement for the world, whicjc is hyprocritical approach. I treasure this message as a worthy reflect iyon. I Love it! Amen.

  7. Hedeliza Yason

    Thank you po! When I watched the Urbit et Orbi this 1 am, even though I don’t understand the language, I felt the heart of our dear Pope. Now I understand more his message.” Be not afraid” Amen.

  8. Emelita C. Aguinaldo

    Jesus is our anchor, our rock, our salvation. Let’s remain faithful and trust Him for He is an ever present help in times of trouble. He promised not yo leave nor forsake us. Praises and glory to God- Fsthrr, Son and Holy Spirit.

  9. Virginia June T Sta Maria

    HolyFather, thank you for the beautful reminder that Jesus is our hope n in Him alone we should trust. My biggest conçern is my sick sister. She is on peritoneal diälysis but has not been abłe to purchase the solution now for 2 wks. By God’s grace she is still survivinģ. May our LORD have mercy n be her Doctor at this trying times. I have surrendered her to our Lord . I trust in His will for her. P

  10. Ronan Zane

    It is true that our faith is weak and we are fearful that’s why we fall short…Tell us again and again Lord, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:5)

  11. Cecile O. Geronga

    I am so blessed and enlightened. I feel so calm now after so many days of worrying about this crisis. “On this boat…are all of us”. Thank you our dear Pope Francis for this message, it calms my heart knowing that I am not fighting this war alone. Our Pope Francis, may God continue to bless you with good health so that you may also continue to inspire and guide us. Maraming salamat po, from the Philippines. Mabuhay po kayo!!!

  12. Josie S. Abanilla

    Lord Father you are our creator, our healer our everything, we entrust to you Father this world were we live to cover us with your mantel. Let this pandemic be washed out with your precious blood. Father plz heal our land and we the people. This we ask in the Mighty name of Jesusnour Lord and Savior together with Mama Mary and Papa Joseph AMEN. . . .

  13. Luisa Igos

    We should be faithful to God and would put our trust in him alone…we need to focus to our mission and shouldn’t be shaken by earthly desires…God hell me strengthen my faith and let me be a living example of your love…Amen.

  14. Lase Garcia

    We whole heartedly receive and welcome your blessings and savoring the graces like a holy mantel protecting us from our own fears, anxieties and iniquities. Thank you Holy Father for Thy LOVE is truly great!! YESHUA HALLELUJAH!

  15. Laze Garcia

    Now more than ever our family bonding in prayer is strong and solid. Thank you Papa Francesco for giving us a deeper understanding of appreciation for our family amidst this coronavirus pandemic and crisis. Amen dear Holy Father.

  16. Ma. Martha L. Serra

    Truly, Holy Father Pope Francis… you gave us a very encouraging words of Hope, Faith and Love from God 🙏
    “Do not be afraid, trust in the Lord “!!!

  17. Lilia Abustan

    Thank you dear Holy Father!
    May the Lord bless and keep us faithful, trust in Him, we pray, because His love alone will save us from this pandemic and save us from ourselves!!

  18. Mercedita Q.Baldostamon

    Thank you Pope Francis for helping us to have more faith and trust in God. For God is our ultimate destiny and the reason for our existence is to praise our God alone.

  19. Ruby dela Cruz

    Lord, we trust in You. We will not be afraid and we are certain to be under the mantle of your protection. Amen.

  20. Pauline Warburton

    Thank you Holy Father for your comforting and timely words. You are always in my prayers

    God bless you for your loving guidance at this testing time.

    Love and prayers to you

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