This month I have taken my inspiration from his homily at Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta residence on April 24. Pope Francis spoke of Christians who are afraid of the joy of Christ’s resurrection.He compared them to bats hiding in dark caves that prefer the shadows and avoid the light.
“This is a Christian’s disease. We’re afraid of joy. It’s better to think: Yes, yes, God exists, but He is there. Jesus has risen and He is there. Somewhat distant. We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy. And this is why there are so many ‘funeral’ (mournful) Christians, isn’t it? Those whose lives seem to be a perpetual funeral. They prefer sadness to joy. They move about better in the shadows, not in the light of joy, like those animals who only come out at night, not in the light of day, who can’t see anything. Like bats. And with a little sense of humor we can say that there are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.” – Pope Francis
Bats are nocturnal animals. They fly and seek their food at night, and during the day they want a safe place to sleep.Caves often are the place of choice for many bats as they provide the protected shelter that they bat can thrive in. Some species live in large cave colonies that have millions of members, even up to 20 million in one cave. When they go out and fly in the dark they use echolocation, a process by which sound waves bounce off objects and back to the bat. They use this as their way to locate food and avoid obstacles in the dark. Bats have the ability to create and hear noises that humans cannot hear. It is those sound waves bouncing back that help them to judge the size and distance of objects around them. These subsonic noises vary in length and pulse frequency, and are unique to the individual. Each bat recognizes its own pulse reflections, just like we recognize another human voice.Bats recognize and use their voice, that personal pulse frequency, to navigate where things are around them and distinguish their “voice” from other bat “voices.”
After dark, the bats will leave in large groups.But Before leaving they prepare themselves for this departure by flying around inside the cave. Flying around with thousands of other bats inside a cave creates a chaotic amount of noise!When bats are paying attention to their sonar signals, they can navigate without crashing into things. In the cave while in this pre-departure madness before they take off they choose not to listen to their personal voice even though their echolocators are on. So what would happen if a person suddenly appeared in their cave among these flying bats?The bats would crash into them. The famous bat expert, Dr. Donald. R. Griffin, called this phenomenon the "Andrea Doria effect." The Andrea Doria, as you may well remember, sank when it crashed into another ship out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Are you starting to see some parallels?
We too can hide in our safe caves choosing the darkness over the light of Christ. We can chose to not listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit that guides us and instead just fly chaotically around in our caves where we eventually just crash and sink.
As Christians, we can choose to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit over the noise and chaos of the world. We need to come out of our caves and soar into the light, unafraid of joy, and living as intentional disciples of Christ.