Sunday, March 11, 2018

Angelus for Laetare Sunday

At noon today (7:00am EDT), 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 His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On this fourth Sunday of Lent, which is called Laetare Sunday, which means rejoice, because this word appears in the entrance antiphon for the Eucharistic liturgy which invites us to joy: Rejoice, Jerusalem ... - it is a call to joy - Exult and rejoice, you who once were sad.  This is how the Mass begins.  What is the reason for this joy?  The reason is the great love of God for humanity, as the gospel points out today: For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16).  These words, spoken by Jesus during his conversation with Nicodemus, synthesize a theme that is central to the Christian proclamation: even when situations seem desperate, God intervenes, offering salvation and joy to mankind.  In fact, God does not stand aside and watch; he enters into humanity's history, mixes himself into our lives; he enters in order to enliven our lives with his grace and to save us.

We are called to pay attention to this proclamation, to reject the temptation to consider ourselves as sure of ourselves, of wanting to live apart from God, of claiming absolute freedom from Him and from his Word.  When we find the courage to recognize ourselves for who we are - it takes courage to do even that! - we realize that we are people who are called to deal with our own fragility, our own limits.  It can happen that we are seized by anguish, anxiety about tomorrow, fear of illness and death.  This explains why many people, who are looking for a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts such as drugs or certain superstitions or ruinous magical rituals.  It is good to know our own limits, our own fragility, we need to know these things, but not for the sake of despairing, rather in order to offer our limits to the Lord; He helps us to make our way along the path of healing, he takes us by the hand, and he never leaves us alone, never!  God is with us and this is the reason why I rejoice, why we rejoice today: Rejoice, Jerusalem, we say, because God is with us.

And we have true and great hope in God the Father, who is rich in mercy, who has given us his Son in order to save us, and this is our joy.  We also have many sadnesses, but when we are true Christians, there is always hope which is a little joy that grows and gives us security.  We should not be discouraged when we recognize our limits, our sins, our weaknesses: God is there, beside us; Jesus is on the cross in order to heal us.  This is the love of god.  Look to the crucifix and say to yourself: God loves me.  It is true, there are always limits, weaknesses, we always know our sins, but He is greater than our limits, our weaknesses, our sins.  Don't forget this: God is greater than our weaknesses, greater than our infidelities, greater than our sins.  Let us take the Lord by the hand, look to the crucifix and keep going.

Mary, our Mother of mercy, puts into our hearts the certainty that we are loved by God.  She is near to us when we feel alone, when we feel tempted to give in to the difficulties of life.  May she always share with us the sentiments of her Son Jesus, so that our Lenten journey may become an experience of forgiveness, welcome and charity.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims who have come from Italy and from other countries, especially the faithful from Agropoli, Padua, Troina, Foggia and Caltanissetta, and the young people from the parish of Saint Anthony of Padua in Serra di Pepe.

I greet the Brazilian community resident here in Rome, those from Tivoli who have recently been Confirmed, along with your Bishop, and the young people from Avigliano and from Saronno.

I offer a special greeting to the university students from various parts of the world who are here for the first Vatican Hackathon, which has been organized by the Dicastery for Communications: dear young people, it is good to place your intelligence, which is a gift from God, at the service of truth and of those who are in need.

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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