Speaking days after the death of a homeless man on the streets of Rome, Pope Francis during Mass on Monday reflected on the challenge of trusting in God in a world where the innocent suffer.
“Three days ago a homeless person died here, on the street,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio's translation: “he died of cold.”
Observing how the man had the opportunity to receive the necessary care, he asked: “Why, Lord? Not even a caress ... But I entrust myself to you because you never let me down.”
Pope Francis' March 14 homily at the chapel of the Vatican's Santa Marta residence touched on other recent tragedies as well, including the recent murder of four Missionaries of Charity in Yemen. He spoke about those suffering in Italy's Campania region, where high cancer rates have been linked to the illegal burning of toxic waste. The Pope also cited the number of refugees who are denied shelter.
“Even when we do not understand,” — for instance, in the case of a sick child — “let us put ourselves in the hands of the Lord who never abandons his people” he said.
He also said we should think of those who die without being caressed one last time.
The Pope centered his reflection on the day's reading from the Book of Daniel, in which Susanna is “soiled” by the “evil desires” of two judges who try to seduce her. He recalled that Susanna trusted in God rather than succumbing to their advances.
Likewise, we must trust in God when we find ourselves in a “valley of darkness,” the Roman Pontiff said.
Whether they are sufferings we cannot control or are the result of something we have done, there is the tendency to ask: “Lord, where are you?”
The Pope considered the "the many dark valleys,” and “misfortunes,” and “the fact there are so many people dying of hunger, there is war, there are so many children with disabilities” — some of whom are suffering from a “rare disease.”
“When you look at all this you ask: ‘where is the Lord’, ‘where are you?’ ‘Are you walking with me?’”
“Look at those four slain [Missionaries of Charity]: they were serving with love; they ended up murdered in hatred!” he said.
Similarly, with refugees: “When you see that doors are being closed to refugees who are left out in the cold… you say: ‘Lord, where are You?’ "
Pope Francis acknowledged the difficulty in understanding why these tragedies occur.
“How can I entrust myself to God when I see all these things? And when things happen to me, each of us may say: how can I entrust myself to You?”
“Why does a child suffer? I do not know: it is a mystery to me,” he said.
Pope Francis turned to Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his last words on the cross: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
“To trust in God who walks with me, walks with his people, walks with the Church: this is an act of faith,” the Pope said: “To entrust myself. I cannot explain it, but I place myself in your hands. You know why.” “He who entrusts himself to the Lord our Shepherd, shall lack nothing.”
The Roman Pontiff explained that when he finds himself going through a “valley of darkness,” he knows God is with him.
We must ask for the grace to trust in God during these difficult times, he added.
“Lord, teach me to place myself in your hands, to trust in your guidance, even in bad times, in the darkest moments, in the moment of death.”
“We would do well, today, to think about our lives, about the problems we have, and ask for the grace to place ourselves into the hands of the Lord.”
“Lord,” Pope Francis concluded, “I do not understand you. This is a beautiful prayer. Without understanding, I place myself in your hands.”