VATICAN CITY – Complaining frequently and stewing over disappointments can easily become an obsession that blocks one's view of Jesus' presence in difficult situations, Pope Francis said.
Celebrating morning Mass April 3 with staff from a Vatican guesthouse for clergy, Pope Francis preached about the Gospel story about the two disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus.
"They were afraid. All of the disciples were afraid," he said. As they walked toward Emmaus and discussed everything that had happened, they were sad and complaining.
"And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall," the pope said.
The disciples had believed Jesus would redeem Israel, but they thought their hopes were destroyed, he said.
"And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining," the pope said. "Many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints."
When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, "but we don't recognize him. He walks with us, but we don't recognize him."
Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the pope said.
"Complaining seems safer. It's something certain. This is my truth: failure."
But the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.
"Jesus does this with us, too," the pope said. "Even in the darkest moments, he is always with us, walking with us."
Complaining and griping - about others and about things in one's own life - is harmful "because it dashes hope. Don't get into this game of a life of complaints."