Sunday, February 18, 2018

Angelus for the first Sunday of Lent

At noon today (6:00am EST), the first Sunday of Lent, 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 recalls the themes of temptation, conversion and Good News.  The evangelist Mark writes: The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert and he remained in the desert for forty days, where he was tempted by Satan (Mk 1:12-13).  Jesus goes to the desert in order to prepare for his mission in the world.  He has no need for conversion, but as a man, he must go through this trial, both for himself - to obey the will of the Father - and for us - to give us the grace of overcoming temptation.  This preparation consists in fighting against the spirit of evil, which is to say against the devil.  For us too, Lent is a time of spiritual agonizing, of spiritual fighting: we are called to face the Evil One through prayer in order to be able, with the help of God, of overcoming his temptations in our daily lives.  We know this, evil is unfortunately a part of our existence and it is all around us, where violence, rejection of others, focus on self, war and injustices are many.  All these are the work of the devil, evidence of evil.

Immediately following his temptation in the desert, Jesus begins to preach the gospel, the Good News, the second word.  The first word was temptation, the second is Good News.  And this Good News necessitates our conversion - a third word - and faith.  Jesus proclaims: The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near at hand; then he calls out: Repent and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15), which is to say believe this Good News that the kingdom of God is near.  In our lives, we constantly need conversion - every day! - and the Church helps us to pray for this gift.  In fact, we are never sufficiently focused on God and we continually need to direct our minds and hearts to Him.  In order to do this, we have to have the courage to reject everything that leads us astray, false values that deceive us by sneakily attracting our selfishness.  Instead, we must trust in the Lord, in his goodness and his loving plan for each of us.  Lent is a time of penance, yes, but it is not a time for sadness!  It is a time for penance, but not a time for sadness, for fighting.  It is a joyous and serious commitment to riding ourselves of our egotism, of the old man within us, and for renewing ourselves according to the grace of our Baptism.

Only God can give us true happiness: it is useless for us to waste our time looking for it in other places, in riches, in pleasures, in power, in careers.  The kingdom of God is the fulfillment of all our hopes, because it is also the salvation of mankind and the glory of God.  On this first Sunday of Lent, we are invited to listen attentively and to welcome the call of Jesus to repent and to believe the gospel.  We are encouraged to begin our journey toward Easter with commitment, in order to welcome more and more the grace of God who wishes to transform the world and make it a kingdom of justice, peace and fraternity.

May Blessed Mary help us to live this Lent with faithfulness in the Word of God and with intense prayer, like Jesus did in the desert.  It is not impossible!  It is a matter of living each day with a desire to welcome the love that comes from God, love that can transform our lives and the entire world.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

In a month's time - from 19 to 24 March - 300 young people from various parts of the world will be here in Rome for a preparatory meeting in anticipation of next October's Synod.  I is my hope that all young people should take part in this preparation.  For this reason, young people will be able to participate on line in linguistic groups that will be moderated by other young people.  Contributions from network groups will be added to the input from the meetings that take place here in Rome.  Dear young people, you can find the necessary information on the website of the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops.  Thank you for your contribution to helping us walk together!

I greet you all, families, parish groups, associations and all the pilgrims who have come from various parts of Italy and from other countries.  I greet the faithful from Murcia, Vannes, Warsaw and Breslavia; as well as those from Erba, Vignole, Fontaneto d''Agogna, Silvi and Troina.  I greet the young boys from Baggio (Milan) ad those from Melito Porto Salvo.

At the beginning of Lent, which - as I have said - is a journey of conversion and fighting against evil, I want to offer a special wish to people who are in prison: dear brothers and sisters who are imprisoned, I encourage each of you to live the season of Lent as an occasion for reconciliation and renewal of your own lives under the Lord's merciful gaze.  He never grows tired of forgiving us.

I ask you all to remember me in your prayers, as well as my collaborators in the Roman Curia.  This evening, we will begin the week of Spiritual Exercises (a traditional Lenten retreat).

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

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