TURIN, Italy — Pope Francis has challenged Christians to seek safety in God’s transformative power and not in the world.
“Do we believe that the Lord is faithful?” the Holy Father asked thousands at Mass in Turin’s Piazza Vittorio. “How do we live the newness of God, who transforms us every day? How do we live the steadfast love of the Lord, who puts up a secure barrier against the waves of pride and false newness?”
“The spirit of the world is always in search of newness, but only the fidelity of Jesus is capable of true newness, of making us into new men,” he said.
The June 21 Mass was one of the major events of Pope Francis’ two-day visit to the northern Italian city.
The visit coincides with two events: a rare exposition of the Shroud of Turin, the relic reputed to be the burial cloth of Jesus; and the bicentenary of the birth of the city’s beloved saint, St. John Bosco.
In his homily, the Pope reflected on the Psalm from the day’s readings, which invites the faithful to give thanks to the Lord, whose “love is everlasting.”
“It is a love which does not disappoint, which never fails,” the Holy Father said. Jesus, who incarnates this love, “never tires of loving us, of supporting us, of forgiving us, and thus accompanies us on the journey through life.”
It was out of love that Jesus became man, died and was risen and is always with us through good times and difficulties, the Pope said. “Jesus loves us always, until the end, without limit or measure.”
Pope Francis turned to the day's second reading, from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, which discusses how God’s love “re-creates everything” and makes “all things new.”
The Pope explained that by recognizing our limitations and weakness, we allow ourselves to be open to God’s forgiveness, whereby we can be “re-created.”
“Salvation is able to enter into the heart when we open ourselves to the truth and recognize our mistakes, our sins,” he said, recalling how Jesus did not come for the healthy and the righteous, but for the sick and the sinners.
Pope Francis turned his reflection to the day’s Gospel reading, in which St. Mark recounts Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
“God’s love is stable and secure, like the rocky cliffs, which protect against the violence of the waves,” he said.
The disciples were afraid, the Pope recounted, but Jesus “opened their hearts to the courage of faith.”
“How often do we feel as though we cannot do it anymore? But he is next to us with hand outstretched and heart opened.”
Pope Francis challenged the faithful to ask themselves if they are secure on this “rock” of God’s love or if fear of the future drives them to seek safety that is ultimately impermanent.
“Even we Christians run the risk of allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear of the future and look for security in things which pass, or in a closed model of society, which tends to exclude more than include.”
Recalling the witness given by the saints and blesseds who accepted God’s love, the Pope said we can follow their example, living the joy of the Gospel by practicing mercy.
“We can share the difficulties of many people, of families, especially those who are most fragile and marked by the economic crisis,” he said, echoing his remarks earlier in the day to a group of workers from Turin.
“Families need to feel the maternal caress of the Church in order to go forward in the conjugal life, in the education of children, in caring for the elderly and in the transmission of faith to young generations.”
He added that God’s peace is “for everyone, as well as for our many brothers and sisters fleeing war and persecution in search of peace and freedom.”
Pope Francis concluded with a Marian prayer and a mention of the local feast day for Turin’s Sanctuary for the Virgin of the Consolation, which took place June 20.
“We entrust our ecclesial and civil journey to our Mother: She helps us to follow the Lord in being faithful, to allow ourselves to remain steadfast in love.”