Following Christ may take a person down a path that leads to anguish, isolation, even martyrdom, but a Christian will never feel bitterness or regret because Christ never leaves his or her side, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.
In his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae on 18th October, the pope focused on the day’s reading from St Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (4:10-17) in which the apostle sadly takes note of those who deserted him. However, “the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,” the verse says.
“The life of the great Paul ends in desolation, not in resentment and bitterness, but with internal grief,” the pope said. In fact, many other martyrs like St Peter, St John the Baptist and St Maximilian Kolbe, he said, died abandoned by so many, but they drew their strength from Jesus, who they knew was by their side.
“When the apostle is faithful, he doesn’t expect an end other than that of Jesus,” he said. “This is the law of the Gospel: If the grain of wheat does not die, it does not bear fruit,” and the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church, giving birth to new Christians.
“When a pastor lives like this, he is not bitter. Perhaps he is forsaken, but he has that certainty that the Lord is by his side.”