On March 27, 2020, something both simple and significant happened.
That late afternoon, Saint Peter’s Square was incredibly deserted. As the flashing blue lights of police cars bounced off the colonnade, Pope Francis – alone – entered the square to give the world a special blessing.
At the height of the international COVID-19 lockdowns, in the pouring rain, Pope Francis united the entire world in prayer.
The Pope proclaimed from the steps of the basilica, our ancient place of pilgrimage and worship, the Holy Father directed us to meditate on the Biblical story of the disciples caught in a storm at sea.
Pope Francis told us,
Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we flounder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them.
The mystery of the cross
The Pope then directed our attention to the mystery of the cross. He told us,
We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.
Imparting his blessing
The Pope concluded by offering an exhortation of faith, saying,
Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).