The Gift of Consolation
Dear brothers and sisters, our life and our journey are frequently marked by difficulty, misunderstanding and suffering. We all know it. In a faithful relationship with the Lord, in constant, daily prayer, we too can feel tangibly the consolation that comes from God. And this strengthens our faith, because it enables us to have an actual experience of God’s “yes” to man, to us, to me, in Christ. It makes us feel the fidelity of his love which even extended to the gift of his Son on the Cross. St Paul says, “for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:19–20). The “yes” of God is not halved, it is not somewhere between “yes” and “no”, but is a sound and simple “yes”. And we respond to this “yes” with our own “yes”, with our “amen”, and so we are sure of the “yes” of God.
Faith is not primarily a human action but rather a freely given gift of God which is rooted in his faithfulness, in his “yes”, which makes us understand how to live our life, loving him and our brethren. The whole history of salvation is a gradual revelation of this faithfulness of God, in spite of our infidelity and negation, in the certainty that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable!”, as the Apostle declares in his Letter to the Romans (11:29).
Dear brothers and sisters, God’s way of acting—very different from ours—gives us comfort, strength and hope because God does not withdraw his “yes”. In the face of stressful human relations, even in the family, we often fail to persevere in freely given love which demands commitment and sacrifice. Instead, God does not grow tired of us; he never wearies of being patient with us and, with his immense mercy, always leads the way and reaches out to us first: his “yes” is absolutely reliable.
In the event of the Crucifixion he offers us the measure of his love which does not count the cost and knows no bounds. St Paul writes in his Letter to Titus: “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared” (Tit 3:4). And because this “yes” is renewed every day, “it is God who … has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor 1:21b–22).
Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit who makes God’s “yes” in Jesus Christ constantly present and alive and creates in our hearts the desire to follow him so as to enter totally into his love, one day, when we will receive a dwelling-place in heaven not built by human hands. There is no one who has not been touched and called into question by this faithful love, which is also capable of waiting even for all those who continue to respond with the “no” of rejection or of the hardening of their hearts. God waits for us, he always seeks us out, he wants to welcome us into communion with him to give to each one of us fullness of life, hope and peace.
Dear friends, prayer is the encounter with a living Person to listen to and with whom to converse; it is the meeting with God that renews his unshakeable fidelity, his “yes” to man, to each one of us, to give us his consolation in the storms of life and to enable us to live, united to him, a life full of joy and goodness, which will find fulfillment in eternal life.
In our prayers we are called to say “yes” to God, to respond with this “amen” of adherence, of faithfulness to him throughout our life. We can never achieve this faithfulness by our own efforts; it is not only the fruit of our daily striving; it comes from God and is founded on the “yes” of Christ who said: my food is to do the will of the Father (cf. Jn 4:34).
It is into this “yes” that we must enter, into this “yes” of Christ, into adherence to God’s will, in order to reach the point of saying with St Paul that it is not we who live but Christ himself who lives in us. Then the “amen” of our personal and community prayers will envelop and transform the whole of our life into a life of God’s consolation, a life immersed in eternal and steadfast love. Thank you.
Excerpts from the General Audience Teaching of May 30, 2012 - Pope Benedict XVI