(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

Pope Francis presided over Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on the Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter. It is also the day the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima.

At the beginning of the celebration he turned his thoughts to students and teachers:

“We pray today for students, the boys and girls who study, and for their teachers who need to find new ways to continue educating. May the Lord help them on this path and grant them courage and success”.

In his homily, the Pope commented on Wednesday’s Gospel (Jn 15:1-8), in which Jesus says to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit”.

“Remaining” in Jesus

Christian life, explained Pope Francis, means “remaining” in Jesus. This “remaining he went on to say, is not passive; it is an active and mutual remaining.

Pope Francis emphasised that Jesus “remaining” in us is one of the beautiful mysteries of life.

The Pope noted that what Jesus is saying is that, “branches without life can do nothing because they need the sap to grow and bear fruit. But the vine also needs branches: it is a reciprocal need to bear fruit”.

Christian life, underlined Pope Francis, means fulfilling the commandments, living the beatitudes and doing works of mercy. It is more than that, however, he said: it is this mutual “remaining”.

We can do nothing without Jesus

“We can do nothing without Jesus”, stressed the Pope, “and it seems that without us – allow me to say this – the Lord Jesus can do nothing”.

In this fruitful bond, he continued, Jesus needs our testimony. “Jesus needs us to bear witness to His name, because the Gospel grows by our testimony.”

The Lord is present in us

The Lord “remains in us to give us this strength of witness with which the Church grows”, the Pope said.

“It is a relationship of intimacy, it is mystical, and without words: it is not only for the mystics, it is for all of us”.

In that intimate dialogue, highlighted Pope Francis, “The Lord is present, the Lord is present in us, the Father is present in us, the Spirit is present in us; they remain in us. But I must remain in them”.

May the Lord, the Pope concluded, help us to understand and feel this mysticism of “remaining”: of the branches that need to remain on the vine, and the vine that needs the branches to bear fruit.

Francis to offer final live-streamed Mass May 18

In the meanwhile, the Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis’ morning Mass on Monday, 18 May, will be the last in a series that has daily accompanied millions of people around the world for more than two months.

Public Masses in Italy are being allowed to resume that same day. For that occasion, the Pope has decided to interrupt the live broadcast of his morning Mass.

The last Mass will be a special one, because 18 May also marks the 100th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s birth. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the altar over the tomb of his predecessor.

Karol Wojtyła was born in 1920, elected Bishop of Rome in 1978, died in 2005, and was canonised in 2014.

Final live-streamed Mass

The live video, radio and streaming transmission of the celebration of morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta during this period of quarantine was an unexpected and beautiful gift.

Many people – even those far away from the Church – felt accompanied and supported by the Pope, who quietly knocked on the doors of their homes at the beginning of each day.

Many discovered the importance and comfort of the daily encounter with the Gospel. Many had never before followed the weekday liturgy on TV, one offered without commentary and with a few minutes of silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

The beauty and simplicity of the Pope’s off-the-cuff homilies allowed us all to enter the pages of the Gospel, as if we were present when those events took place.

During the emergency that has confined us within the walls of our homes, the importance of the Pope’s daily teaching was confirmed, and made even more decisive in these moments filled with uncertainty, suffering, anguish, and many questions about the future.

Papal magisterium and service

The homilies given at Santa Marta represent a significant aspect of Pope Francis’s service as Bishop of Rome.

Many people were already accustomed to following them through the summaries offered by Vatican Media and the volumes of the Vatican Publishing House, which collects them in an annual edition.

Over the last two months, however, the experience has been different, because the live broadcast has offered the possibility of participating – albeit at a distance – in these daily celebrations, watching the Pope as he preached and reflected on the Scriptures.

Millions participated

Several million people have come into contact with these Masses every day. Many have written to give thanks. Now, as celebrations in Italian churches resume with a congregation, a new phase begins.

People around the world – one can be sure – will miss this daily appointment. But, as Pope Francis himself once said, we need to return to communal familiarity with the Lord that can be found in the sacraments, as we participate personally in the liturgy.

And let us not forget another of Pope Francis’s invitations: that we “visit” the pages of the Gospel every day, with the same fervour and closeness to which we have grown accustomed in the televised Masses from the Casa Santa Marta.

Click here to download Strong in the Face of Tribulation: the digital volume of the LEV which collects most of the homilies preached by the Pope at Santa Marta during this time of crisis.

Novena’s full coverage of the Pope’s daily Santa Marta Masses:

12/5: Santa Marta Mass: On International Nurses Day, Francis gives thanks for “heroism” of those who have “vocation” of nursing

11/5: Santa Marta Mass: Pope laments reality of COVID-19 jobless, “illegally” employed

10/5: Pope prays in Santa Marta Mass that Europe might grow in “fraternal unity of diversity”

9/5: In Santa Marta Mass, Pope denounces “behind the power of this world lies money”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.