“In a wounded world people feel the need to search for innocence”, these words by Pope Francis were addressed to Bishop Antonio Marto and shared by the latter in his homily celebrating the feast day of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto on the 20th February this year.
In fact, our times marked by “a display of widespread evil, of sin, frightening us and leading us to lose hope in the goodness of life” as Bishop Antonio said, encourage us to look at the shepherd children as children who project innocence, much like a filter, enabling us to believe in love once again. The characteristic innocence of the shepherd children becomes like the cry of the prophets at a time when faith in God dwindled amongst the People of Israel.
Of Francisco and Jacinta one can say they “compass the altar because they have washed their hands in innocence” (Cf. Ps 26:6) Having been shown to the shepherd children the sight of “hell and the monstrosity of evil” (Bishop Antonio Marto), their reaction was to compass the altar of the Lord, compass His presence, because “experiencing the loss of humanity, of kindness, of tenderness and even of holiness” they come up with an answer, imitating God’s way: mercy and compassion.
In fact, only those who “compass the altar” and share the intimacy of the Eucharistic table of Christ, can hear the wisdom the Father reveals to the little ones. “Children are the voice of innocence that does everyone good” says Pope Francis, “they show us their innocence when they are happily loved by us, by God and Jesus, and as such can still believe in the goodness of life.”(Bishop Antonio Marto).
A heart like the shepherd children’s gives life a shade of God, it also allows the heart to look at the world in a new way, an “innocent” look that compasses the altar, as the shepherd children, consoling the Hidden Jesus.
“The heart of the shepherd children allowed itself to be touched by the tender and maternal heart of Our Mother, who leads us to God.” (Bishop António Marto). Immersed in that light which is God, the holiness of their lives contributes to prevent the world from self-destruction through the triviality of evil.
Sr. Sophie, asm
Francisco and Jacinta Foundation