VATICAN CITY -- On Tuesday, Pope Francis focused on the importance of giving hope to the world by imitating Jesus Christ’s closeness to God’s people.
“When God visits his people, he restores hope to them. Always,” Pope Francis said in his Sept. 16 homily at his Casa Santa Marta residence.
“You can preach the word of God brilliantly: There have been many excellent preachers throughout history. But if these preachers have failed to sow hope, that sermon is useless. It is mere vanity.”
The Pope’s homily commented on the Gospel reading of the day, in which Jesus came upon a funeral procession for the only son of a widow in the city of Nain.
“God visits his people in the midst of his people and draws near to them,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio. “Proximity: This is how God works.”
He noted that Jesus was “deeply moved” at the funeral procession of the young man.
“Closeness and compassion: This is how the Lord visits his people. And when we want to proclaim the Gospel, to bring forth the word of Jesus, this is the path.”
He contrasted this path with “the other path” of the doctors of the Law, the scribes and the Pharisees, who “distanced themselves from the people with their words.”
“They taught the law well. But they were distant,” he said. Their path was “not a visit of the Lord,” but “something else.”
“The people did not feel this to be a grace, because it lacked that closeness; it lacked compassion; it lacked that essence of suffering with the people,” he said.
Pope Francis noted that when Jesus visited his people, “the dead man sat up and began to speak,” and Jesus “restored him to his mother.”
The Pope closed with a prayer: “We ask for the grace that our Christian witness be a witness that brings the closeness of God to his people, that closeness that sows hope.”