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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Angelus with thoughts about salt and light

At noon today, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

During these Sundays, the liturgy presents the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew's gospel.  After having present the Beatitudes last Sunday, today we focus on Jesus' words describing the mission of his disciples in the world (cf Mt 5:13-16).  He uses the metaphor of salt and light, and his words are directed to the disciples of every time, including us as well.

Jesus invites us to be a reflection of his light, through the witness of good works.  He says: In this way, your light will shine before men, for they will see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Mt 5:16).  These words point out the fact that we are recognized as true disciples of the One who is the Light of the world, not in words, but through our actions.  In fact, above all, it is our behaviour - in good or in bad actions - that we give signs to others.  Therefore, ours is a task and a responsibility entrusted by the gift we have received: the light of faith, which has been entrusted to us by Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit, should not be kept by us as though it is our property.  Instead, we are called to let our light shine throughout the world, to share it with others through our good works.  And how much the world needs the light of the gospel that is capable of transforming, healing and ensuring salvation to those who welcome it!  We must bear this light, carrying it and sharing it through our good works.

The light of our faith, the faith that has been entrusted to us, is never expended as it is shared - rather it is strengthened.  Instead, it can be diminished if it is not nourished with love and works of charity.  In this way, the image of light encounters the image of salt.  In fact, the gospel account tells us that, like Christ's disciples, we are also the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13).  Salt is something which gives flavour, preserves food and prevents it from being spoiled - in the time of Jesus there were no refrigerators!  Similarly, the Christian's mission in society is that of giving flavour to life through the faith and love that Christ has given, and at the same time, to keep away from the sinful germs of selfishness, envy, slander and so on.  These germs ruin the fabric of our communities, which should be resplendent as places of welcome, solidarity and reconciliation.  To fulfill the mission, we ourselves must first be freed from the corrupting influence of the world which is contrary to Christ and to the gospel; and this purification never ends, it should be continual, it should be done every day!

All of us are called to be light and salt in our own environments and in our daily lives, persevering in the task of enlivening human reality in the spirit of the gospel and in the hope of the coming kingdom of God.  There is always help for us in the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first of Jesus' disciples and a model for all believers today and throughout history of the vocation and mission of God's people.  May our Mother help us to remain always open to being purified and illuminated by the Lord, in order to become salt for the earth and light for the world.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Italy, we celebrate the Day for Life, focusing on the theme: Women and men for life in the shadow of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  I am united with the Italian Bishops in wishing you all courage in education efforts which favour human life.  Every life is sacred!  Let us continue building a culture of life that responds to the logic of indifference and the declining demographics; let us stand close to and pray with and for children who are in danger of losing their lives because their mother's pregnancies are to be terminated, as well as those who are at the end of their lives - every life is sacred! - no one should be left alone; love defends the meaning of life.  Let us remember the words of Mother Teresa: Life is beauty, let us admire it; life is life, let us defend it!, whether in the case of children who are about to be born or of persons who are close to death: every life is sacred!

I greet all those who are working for life, teachers in the Roman universities and those who are working toward the formation of new generations, so that they will be capable of building a welcoming society where every person is considered worthy.

I greet all the pilgrims, families, parish groups and associations who have come from various parts of the world.  In particular, I greet the faithful from Vienna, Granada, Melilla, Acquaviva delle Fonti and Bari; as well as students from Penafiel (Portugal) and Badajoz (Spain).

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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