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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Angelus for the first Sunday of Lent

At noon today (Rome time), 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!

On this first Sunday of Lent, the gospel introduces us to the journey toward Easter, showing Jesus who remained for forty days in the desert, subject to the devil's temptations (cf Mt 4:1-11).  This incident takes place at a precise moment in Jesus' life: immediately after his baptism in the river Jordan and before his public ministry.  He has just received the solemn investiture: the spirit of God has descended upon him, the Father has declared from heaven: This is my son, the beloved (Mt 3:17).  Jesus is now ready to begin his mission: and since he has a declared enemy, who is Satan, he faces him immediately, face to face.  The devil acts precisely on the title Son of God, by keeping Jesus from discharging his mission: If you are the Son of God ..., he repeats (Mt 4:3, 6) and proposes that miraculous things can be done - that he can do magic - like transforming stones into bread to satisfy his own hunger, and throwing himself off the walls of the temple so that he can be saved by angels.  In addition to these two temptations, there follows a third: adore him, the devil, in order to have dominion over the whole world (Mt 4:9).

By means of this triple temptation, Satan intends to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and to humiliate him - for he knows that in this way, by following this path, evil will be defeated - and he takes him on a short path toward success and glory.  But the devil's poison arrows are all deflected by Jesus who uses the shield of the Word of God (Mt 4:4, 7, 10) which expresses the will of the Father.  Jesus does not say any words of his own: he responds only with the Word of God.  In this way, the Son, who is filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit, triumphs in the desert.

During the forty days of Lent, we Christians are invited to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to fight the spiritual battle against evil with the strength of the Word of God.  Not with our own words, which are useless.  The Word of God: it has the strength to defeat Satan.  We have to become familiar with the Bible: read it often, meditate upon it, make it part of us.  the Bible contains the Word of God, which is always present and active.  Someone said: what would happen if we were to treat the bible like we treat our cell phones?  If we always carried it with us, or at least a small pocket-sized bible, what would happen?; if we were to turn back when we had forgotten it like we turn back when we have forgotten our cell phones -oh!, I don't have it, go back so we can search for it; if we were to open it at various times of the day; if we were to read the messages from God contained in the bible like we read the messages on our cell phones, what would happen?  Clearly, the comparison is paradoxical, but it makes us think.  In effect, if we had the Word of God always with us, in our hearts, no temptation could ever distance us from God, and no obstacle could ever make us stray from the path of goodness; we would know how to overcome daily suggestions toward evil that exist within and around us; we would be more able to live a risen life according to the Spirit, welcoming and loving our brothers, especially those who are weak and in need, and even our enemies.

May the Virgin Mary, perfect icon of obedience to God and of unconditional trust in his will, support us on our Lenten journey, so that we may be docile and listen to the Word of God, and that it may bring about a true conversion of hearts.



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

Dear brothers and sisters,

I offer a cordial greeting to all families, parish groups, associations and to all pilgrims who have come from Italy and from other countries.

I greet the faithful from the Dioceses of Madrid, Córdoba and Warsaw; as well as from Belluno and Mestre.  I greet the young people from the deanery of Baggio (Milan) and those who are participating in the meeting organized by the Filipino Religion Teachers.

A few days ago, we began the season of Lent, which is the journey of God's people toward Easter, a journey of conversion, of fighting against evil with the armor of prayer, fasting and works of charity.  I hope that all of you will have a Lenten journey that is rich in fruitfulness; and I ask you to remember me in your prayer, as well as all my collaborators in the Roman Curia.  This week, we will be spending the week on retreat.  Thank you with all my heart for your prayers.

And please don't forget - don't forget! - what would happen if we were to treat our bibles like we treat our cell phones.  Think about it.  Having a bible always with us, close to us!

I wish you a good Sunday!  Enjoy your lunch.  Good bye!
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