Pope Francis rebuked Christians who are “afraid of joy” and “mournful,” encouraging them to remember that Jesus Christ accompanies them. “We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy,” he said in his homily during Easter Thursday Mass at the Santa Marta Residence in the Vatican, Vatican Radio reports. He said there are Christians whose lives “seem to be a perpetual funeral” and who “prefer sadness to joy.” “They move about in the shadows, not in the light of joy,” he said, comparing them to night-time animals like bats. The Pope joked that there are “Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.” Instead, the Pope advised, Christians should look to the joy of the Resurrection. “Do you talk with Jesus? Do you say to Jesus: ‘I believe that You are alive, that You are risen, that You’re near me. That You will never abandon me’?” the Pope asked. “A Christian life should be this: a dialogue with Jesus, because — this is true — Jesus is always with us, always there alongside us with our problems and our difficulties, with our good works.” He suggested that mournful Christians have been “burnt by the drama of the Cross” and feel that it is better to keep God at a distance. “We ask the Lord to do for all of us what he did for the disciples who were afraid of joy: to open our minds,” Pope Francis said, citing the Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus opened their minds “to understand the Scriptures.” “Let Him open our minds and help us understand that He is a living reality, that He has a body, that He is with us, that He accompanies us and He has won,” the Pope said. “We ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid of joy.”
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