God offers many ways to face life’s challenges, choices, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Believers do not need to be afraid of obstacles, struggles and choices in life because God is always near, offering his love and guidance, Pope Francis said.
“We can often have a distorted idea about God, thinking of him as a sullen, harsh judge, ready to catch us in the act,” the pope said Dec. 21 at his weekly general audience. “On the contrary, Jesus reveals a God who is full of compassion and tenderness for us, ready to sacrifice himself so he can come to us.”
Speaking with visitors in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope continued his series of talks about the process of spiritual discernment.
The process may seem complicated, he said, but “in reality, it is life that is complicated and, if we do not learn how to read it, as complicated as it is, we risk wasting our lives, living it with strategies that end up disheartening us.”
“There is no need to be afraid,” he said, because God offers many “aids” to help people with this process.
Discernment is needed, he said, because “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.”
“The goal of discernment is to recognize the salvation God is working in my life,” he said. “It reminds me that I am never alone and that, if I am struggling, it is because the stakes are high.”
God helps people, first of all, with sacred Scripture and Church doctrine, Pope Francis said.
“They help us read what is stirring in our hearts, learning to recognize God’s voice and to distinguish it from other voices that seem to vie for our attention, but leave us confused in the end,” he said.
Christians, he said, should take time every day to read a few verses from the Bible and quietly reflect on it, letting the word enter into and touch their hearts.
God is waiting for people to stop and be silent, he said, because God’s voice is “discreet, respectful” and humble, “and it is only in peace that we can enter profoundly into ourselves and recognize the authentic desires the Lord has placed in our hearts.”
“The Word of God is not simply a text to read. The Word 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.