“In this situation of pandemic, in which we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and deepen the value of the communion that unites all the members of the Church.”
Pope Francis offered that invitation in his remarks after the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
Union in Christ
This week has seen a raft of border closures, flight bans, and declarations of national emergencies as the Covid-19 coronavirus continues to spread around the world.
The Pope recalled that “United to Christ we are never alone, but we form one single Body, of which He is the Head.”
Pope Francis called it “a union that is nourished with prayer, and also with the spiritual communion in the Eucharist, a practice that is highly recommended when it is not possible to receive the Sacrament.”
The Holy Father said he was speaking to everyone, especially those who live alone.
Pope Francis then renewed his closeness to the sick and all the medical personnel caring for them.
He also mentioned the many volunteers who are helping the elderly, the poor, and the homeless.
“Thank you for all the efforts each of you are making to help in this extremely difficult moment,” said the Pope. “May the Lord bless you, Our Lady watch over you, and please don’t forget to pray for me.”
Gratitude to priests
Ahead of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff and thanked priests around the world for their “creativity” in dealing with the measures put in place to contain the coronavirus.
“So much news arrives to me from Lombardy about this creativity”, Francis said, mentioning in particular one of the Italian regions hardest-hit by the disease outbreak.
“Priests who think of a thousand ways to be close to the people, in order that the people do not feel abandoned; priests with apostolic zeal, that understood well that in times of a pandemic, one should not be Don Abbondio [a timid character in the Italian work of literature Promessi Sposi]”, the Pope reflected, thanking priests once again for finding ways to keep the faith alive and their people encouraged in the time of this public health emergency.
Churches throughout Italy remain open to the public for private prayer, but Masses can only be held without a congregation.
The Pope’s catechesis: “We are called to testify to the hope that is in us”
Meanwhile, in his catechesis, the Pope began by recalling how Jesus was on a journey with His disciples when He decided to take a break in Samaria near a well.
“Jesus is tired. He is thirsty”, said the Pope. When a woman arrives to draw water, He asks her for a drink.
By doing so, added Pope Francis, Jesus broke every barrier, because the Samaritans were despised by the Jews.
The mystery of living water
“Jesus initiates a dialogue in which He reveals the mystery of living water to this woman, of the Holy Spirit, God’s gift”, continued Pope Francis.
“The focus of this dialogue is water”, he added.
“On the one hand, water as an essential element that slakes the body’s thirst and sustains life. On the other, water as a symbol of divine grace which gives eternal life”.
God is the source of living water
“In the biblical tradition, God is the source of living water”, explained the Pope: “distancing oneself from Him and His Law brought on the worst type of drought”.
Pope Francis gave the example of the people of Israel in the desert, and how “God willed that Moses made water flow from a rock, as a sign of God’s providence”.
The spring from which the Spirit flows
“The Apostle Paul, too, interprets that rock as a symbol of Christ”, continued the Pope.
“Those who thirst for salvation can draw freely from Jesus”, he said. “The promise of living water that Jesus made to the Samaritan woman becomes a reality in His Passion”, added Pope Francis.
“Christ, the Lamb, immolated and risen, is the spring from which flows the Holy Spirit who remits sins and regenerates to new life”.
Testifying to life and hope
“Like the Samaritan woman”, continued the Pope, “whoever personally encounters the living Jesus feels the need to talk about Him to other so that everyone might arrive at the point of professing that Jesus ‘is truly the Savior of the world’”.
“We too are called to testify to the life and hope that are within us”, concluded Pope Francis.
“May Mary, Most Holy, help us cultivate a desire for Christ, source of living water, the only one who can satisfy the thirst for life and love which we bear in our hearts”.
(With reporting by Vatican News and ZENIT)