VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis reflected Friday on the mission given to each of us by God, stating that when the Lord asks us to do something, he always prepares us through a personal process.
“When the Lord wants to give us a mission, wants to give us a task, he prepares us. He prepares us to do it well, as he prepared Elijah,” the Pope explained in his June 13 daily Mass.
“The most important part of this … is the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission the Lord entrusts to us.”
Speaking to those present in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, the Holy Father centered his address on the day’s first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, in which the prophet Elijah searches for the Lord and finds him only in a small breeze.
Observing how, oftentimes, we can be courageous servants of God one moment and afterward become depressed when something in our mission frightens us, the Pope explained that it is always up to God to balance the extremes of human strength and fragility.
Elijah is an example of the story of every human being, he noted, recalling how he first searched for God in a strong wind, an earthquake and a fire, but did not find him until there was a soft breeze.
“The Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, the fire, but in that whisper of a light breeze, in the peace, or, as the original says, the true original, a beautiful expression, it says: ‘The Lord was in a thread of silent sound,’” the Pope stated.
Although the finding of God in “that thread of silent sound” might seem “to be a contradiction,” Elijah knew “how to discern where the Lord was,” the Pope continued, “and the Lord prepared him with the gift of discernment. And then he gave him the mission.”
Describing how Elijah’s mission was to anoint the new king of Israel as well as the prophet called to succeed himself, Pope Francis called attention to the delicate and sensitive way in which the prophet’s task was appointed to him, having once been courageous and zealous but who now seemed defeated.
“The Lord prepares the soul, prepares the heart,” he said, “and he prepares it in trial; he prepares it in obedience; he prepares it in perseverance.”
Emphasizing how God always prepares us when he wants to give us a task, the pontiff explained that the most important element of our preparation is not necessarily our initial encounter with God, but “the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission” he has given us.
“And this is the difference between the apostolic mission given us by the Lord and a common task: ‘Ah, you have to complete this task; you have to do this or that …’ a human duty, honest, good.”
“But when the Lord gives a mission,” he noted, “he always has us enter into a process, a process of purification, a process of discernment, a process of obedience, a process of prayer.”
The Holy Father further pointed out that to be faithful in this process means “allowing ourselves to be led by the Lord,” just as Elijah did when he overcame his fear of the queen Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him.
Recalling how Jezebel was “a wicked queen, and she killed her enemies,” Pope Francis explained that, although Elijah was afraid, “the Lord is more powerful.”
However, going through this process of fear makes the prophet understand “that they, the great and the good, also need the help of the Lord and the preparation for the mission,” he observed.
“We see this: He walks, obeys, suffers, discerns, prays. … He finds the Lord,” the Pope concluded, praying that the Lord give each of us “the grace to allow ourselves to prepare every day the way of our life, so that we can bear witness to the salvation of Jesus.”