(Source: CD/Vatican News)

Pope Francis on Sunday said that, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, “we must continue the effort to prevent and cure malaria, which threatens millions of persons in many countries”.

The United Nations observes World Malaria Day each year on April 25.

Following the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father said he is close “to all who are sick”, and to their caregivers, and to those working to ensure that “every person might have access to basic health care”.

National Scripture Reading Day in Poland

The Pope also offered special greetings to the people of Poland who are participating in National Scripture Reading Day.

Pope Francis regularly encourages the reading of the Bible, and once again stressed the importance of having the habit of reading the Gospel, “a few minutes every day”.

He also once again suggested that the faithful carry a copy of the Gospels wherever they go, so that the Word of God might always be near us, “even physically”.

An invitation to pray the Rosary

Finally, Pope Francis spoke again about the month of May, which is “dedicated in a particular way to the Virgin Mary”.

He called attention to his letter, published on Saturday, in which he invited the faithful to pray the Holy Rosary in their homes throughout May, adding to the chaplet one of the two new prayers attached to the letter.

He prayed, “May our Mother help us to face with more faith and hope this time of trial that we are living”.

“Let us choose the way of God, not of the self”

Earlier Sunday, in his catechesis at the Regina Caeli, the Pope reflected on the Gospel account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

“It is a story which begins and ends on the move”, the Pope said.

On the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, the disciples are sad, although the Lord, whom they do not recognise, is walking beside them. On the return journey, they are joyful, because, although they no longer see Jesus, they feel Him near them.

Two different paths

Pope Francis said that these “two different paths” show us “that in life, we have two opposite directions in front of us”.

One is the path of those who “let themselves be paralysed by life’s disappointments”, and the other is that of those who put Jesus, and their brothers and sisters, in first place.

“Here is the turning point”, the Pope said: “to stop orbiting around oneself, the disappointments of the past, the unrealised ideals, and to go on looking at the greatest and truest reality of life: Jesus is alive and loves me”.

Moving from “if” to “yes”

Commenting on a play on words in the Italian, the Holy Father said we are called to move from “if” (se) to “yes” ().

We often think “if God had freed us, if God had listened to me, if life had gone as I wanted, if I had this or that”.

That was the disciples’ attitude that first Easter evening. Yet “they pass to the ‘yes'”, the Pope said: “Yes, the Lord is alive, He walks with us. Yes, now, not tomorrow, we are on our way to announce it”.

For the two disciples of Emmaus, this change occurred by meeting Jesus.

Pope Francis explained that, for us too, there are three steps we can take in our own homes: opening our hearts to Jesus, listening to Jesus, and praying to Jesus.

“In life, we are always journeying”, the Pope reminded us. “And we become what we go towards. Let us choose the way of God, not of the self… We will discover that there are no unexpected events, no uphill path, no night that cannot be faced with Jesus”.

Prayers for those suffering financially and those out of work because of the coronavirus

Finally, before the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis celebrated Mass today at the Casa Santa Marta chapel and prayed for those who are sad. In his homily, he reminded the faithful that Jesus is near to all who feel distress and dissatisfaction.

“Today in this Mass, we pray for all those who are suffering from sadness, because they are alone or because they do not know what to expect in the future”, the Pope said, introducing his Mass.

He once again listed families who are suffering financially and may be without work.

Christians have met Jesus

Pope Francis began his sermon with a description of a Christian: “A person is Christian because he or she has met Jesus and has allowed Jesus to meet them”.

The Lord interacts with us in just the same way that He interacted with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Pope continued.

We are thirsty for God

It begins with the “seed of dissatisfaction” that we are born with, the Pope explained.

Many times, we are not aware of the thirst in our souls for fulfillment.

We take many wrong roads seeking what in the end never satisfies us. What we are really thirsting for is “the encounter with God”, Pope Francis stated.

God is thirsty for us

At the same time, God thirsts to meet us. This is why God sent Jesus so that He could draw near and satisfy this thirst.

Jesus is extremely respectful of “our personal situation”, “He moves slowly”, “He is respectful of our readiness”, “He is patient”, “He doesn’t rush ahead”, Pope Francis explained.

Jesus accompanies us at our side and invites us to talk about what bothers us, even to the point of feigning ignorance.

“The Lord likes to hear us speak so He can understand us well and to give the correct response to our dissatisfaction. The Lord does not accelerate. He always goes at our own pace… He waits for us to take the first step.

“And when it is the right moment, He asks us a question… Then He responds. He explains up until the right point… Then He pretends to go farther, to see how deep our dissatisfaction is…

At the moment when our dissatisfaction meets Jesus, the life of grace and fullness of life begins there”.

What did Jesus say?

Pope Francis said that he has always been curious to know what Jesus said to those two disciples “so as to do the same”.

“It must have been a beautiful catechesis”, he said.

Jesus accompanies us along the entire journey, even when we are not aware of His presence.

“We meet Jesus in the darkness of our doubts, even in the horrible darkness of our sins.

“The Lord is always there to help us in our distress. He’s always with us… The Lord accompanies us because He desires to meet us. This is the core of Christianity”.

The Pope’s prayer

The Pope’s concluding prayer was “that Jesus might grant to each one of us the grace of meeting Him every day, to knowing and to specifically recognise that He walks with us in every moment. He is our companion along the pilgrim way”.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.