In his last general audience before Christmas, Pope Francis said: “Jesus reveals a God who is full of compassion and tenderness.”
“We have a tender, affectionate Father who loves us, who has always loved us,” he said. “When we experience this, our heart melts and doubts, fears, and feelings of unworthiness are dissolved. This love is irresistible.”
The pope underlined that one could experience this tenderness and develop a close “friendship with God” by reading the Bible.
“For the believer, the Word of God is not simply a text to read. It is a living presence, a work of the Holy Spirit that comforts, instructs, gives light, strength, refreshment, and a zest for life,” Pope Francis said.
“Let us pick up the Gospel, take the Bible in our hands — five minutes a day … Carry a pocket-size Gospel with you, in your purse, and when you are traveling, read it a bit. Read a small passage during the day. Allow the Word of God to draw near to your heart. Do this and you will see how your lives will change, with the proximity of the Word of God,” he said.
General audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 21, 2022. Vatican Media
“God’s voice resounds in stillness, attentiveness, and silence,” the pope said. He added that it is “only in peace that we can enter profoundly into ourselves and recognize the authentic desires the Lord has placed in our hearts.”
“Many times it is not easy to enter into that peace of heart because we are so busy with this, that and the other, the entire day,” he said. “But, please, calm yourself down a little bit, enter into yourself, within yourself. Stop for two minutes. When we allow ourselves to be calm, God’s voice comes immediately. He is waiting for us to do this.“
Pope Francis gave this reflection as part of his weekly catechetical series on discernment. He said that “every day, whether we want to or not, we always perform acts of discernment concerning what we eat, read, at work, in our relationships, everything.”
“Life always presents choices to us, and if we do not make conscious choices, in the end it is life that chooses for us, taking us where we do not want to go.”