Spread Christ's joy as did St Jose de Anchieta, Pope urges

Pope Francis embraces a concelebrant at the Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Jose de Anchieta, SJ, at St. Ignatius of Loyola parish, Rome, April 24, 2014. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.

During a Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of St. Jose de Anchieta, Pope Francis spoke Thursday on the theme of joy, saying that while it can be intimidating, it is a gift of God which ought to be spread.

St. Jose de Anchieta, the 'Apostle of Brazil', “found out how to communicate that which he experienced with the Lord,” Pope Francis said during a April 24 Mass said at Rome's St. Ignatius of Loyola parish.

“He had so much joy, so much happiness that founded a nation. He laid the cultural foundations for a nation, in Jesus Christ,” the Pope said, adding that his legacy is “his holiness.”

On April 3, Pope Francis extended the liturgical cult of three blesseds to the universal Church in a process known as “equivalent canonization.” In addition to Jose de Anchieta, Francois de Laval and Marie of the Incarnation were also recognized as saints that day.

St. Jose de Anchieta founded several Brazilian cities, including Sao Paulo. He was born in Spain's Canary Islands in 1534 and studied at the Jesuit College at Coimbra in Portugal. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1550 and arrived in Brazil three years later.

He built hospitals and educational institutions, with a primary focus on helping to teach and defend indigenous Brazilians, and served as the Jesuit superior in Brazil for 10 years. He died June 9, 1597.

Continuing his homily, Pope Francis noted that St. Jose “was not afraid of joy,” drawing attention to the Spanish Jesuit's strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“She wasn’t afraid of joy” either, he reflected, saying, “she is our companion on this pilgrimage, inviting all to rise, to renounce paralysis, to enter together into the peace and joy that the Resurrected Jesus has given to us.”

Pope Francis had begun his homily reflecting on the Gospel reading in which Christ appears to his disciples after his resurrection, saying that joy “is what we have seen in Scripture today. The joy of encountering Jesus Christ.”

When Christ first appeared to them, “many feelings erupt in the hearts of the disciples,” he said. “Fear, surprise, and at the end, joy: a great joy, a joy that they couldn’t imagine having.”

He drew attention to how Christ asked them for something to eat, and then began to slowly explain to them what was taking place “so that they can understand it,” and that “in this moment of stupor from the encounter with Jesus,” it is difficult for the disciples to savor “the pleasure and the joy” of the moment.

Calling to mind how the disciples at first thought Christ was a ghost, he noted that we often have the “temptation to refuge ourselves in the acceptance” that this joy isn’t that big, and explained that “it’s easier to believe in a fantasy than in the living Christ.”

It’s easier to have a romantic idea about the future “than to trust in hope, in Christ triumphant, in a Christ raised from the dead,” the Pope continued; “an idea, an imagination” is easier to believe “than the docility of this Lord who was raised from the dead and (goes to make known) to what he invites you.”

“The reality of the encounter with Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis said, “in a sense distills us … in the environment of fear, in the environment of excessive security, from wanting to control the encounter ourselves.”

“The disciples were afraid of joy. And we are too.”

He then reflected on Peter and John's encounter with a paralytic before the temple, whom they could give neither silver nor gold, but healed instead.

“He who (was outside) the door, now enters on foot, giving thanks, praising God, celebrating his marvels,” the Pope exclaimed, adding, “his joy is contagious.”

While at first we might have “so much fear” in receiving this great joy, “ it is contagious. And it screams the announcement” of the Risen Lord, the Pope highlighted, emphasizing that this gladness “makes the Church grow.”

The Church grows “because of attraction, the attraction of testimony, of this joy that Jesus Christ announced … the paralytic believed the Church. He didn’t believe because of prosthetics.”

“It grows because of attraction, the attraction of testimony, of this joy that Jesus Christ announced.”

Such joy is “the founding joy,” the Pope explained, adding that “without this happiness, without this joy, you cannot found a Church, you cannot found a Christian community. It’s an apostolic joy … that expands.”

Pope Francis then encouraged the congregation to question themselves, asking “am I capable of feeling together with a brother, and to explain slowly the gift of the Word I have received? Of infecting them with my joy?”

“Am I capable of summoning around me an enthusiasm of … a new life born from an encounter with Christ?”


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October 21, 2014

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