As children we are taught that bragging is bad, especially when we do it to people who have less than us, however, for Pope Francis, there is one thing we should never hesitate to flaunt to whoever we meet: our hope in Christ.
Speaking of bragging, the Pope said Feb. 15 that contrary to the typical effect boasting has, “the hope that we have been given (in Christ) does not separate us from others,” and nor does it lead us “to discredit or marginalize them.”
“Instead, it is an extraordinary gift for which we are called to become ‘channels,’ with humility and simplicity, for all.”
Continuing his catechesis on the theme of hope, Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during the general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall, reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans in which the saint speaks of boasting “in hope of the glory of God.”
“So our greatest pride is to have as a Father a God who has no favorites, who does not exclude anyone, but who opens his home to all human beings, beginning with the last and the distant, because as his children we learn to console and support each other,” he said.
In the passage from Romans, St. Paul tells us to boast about the abundance of grace we receive from Christ Jesus, Francis observed. “Paul wants us to understand that if we learn to read everything by the light of the Holy Spirit, we realize that all is grace! Everything is a gift!”
If we learn to pay attention to everything, both in history and in our own lives, we begin to notice how God is “above everything,” and how we can see his hand in everything, he said.
The Pope said we are all called to recognize this point, to accept it with gratitude and to turn it back to God “in praise, blessing and great joy.” This, he said, is what will help us to experience true peace and freedom.
“And then this peace extends to all areas and to all the relationships in our lives: we are at peace with ourselves, we are at peace in the family, in our community, at work and with the people we meet every day on our way,” he said.
St. Paul also encourages us to boast of our sufferings, he said, noting that this can at times seem to be at odds with the peace found in recognizing our blessings and the grace present in our lives.
However, boasting of our sufferings is what makes our praise “the most authentic, the most true,” he said.
“In fact,” the Pope added, the peace the Lord offers us “should not be understood as the absence of worries, disappointments, failures and the causes of suffering.”
If this were true, then our peace would be very short-lived, he said, adding that “the peace that comes from faith is instead a gift…it is the grace to experience that God loves us” and there is always a guarantee that “he does not leave us alone even for a moment of our lives.”
It is the knowledge of the security of God’s love for us that helps us to bear suffering patiently, even in the most difficult moments, because “the mercy and goodness of the Lord are the greatest of all things and nothing will tear us from his hands.”
Our boast is that “God loves me,” Pope Francis said, and had pilgrims repeat with him the prayer “God loves me. God loves me.”
“That’s why Christian hope is solid, why it does not disappoint,” he concluded. It isn’t based on what we do or on what we believe, but on “the love that God has for each of us.”
With this in mind, “now we understand why the Apostle Paul exhorts us to always boast about all this.”