TO those who wish to see Jesus, the Church offers three things: the Gospel, the Crucifix and the witness of faith, Pope Francis says.
This was the central theme of the Pope’s Angelus address yesterday (March 22) to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square.
Low temperatures and cold rain didn’t stop thousands of faithful from trying to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father the day after his pastoral visit to Naples. “Despite the awful weather many of you have come,” the Pope said. “You are very brave. Even the marathon runners are very brave. I greet you affectionately!”
During his address, the Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel, which recalled several Greeks who, while in Jerusalem for Passover, asked the apostle Philip to see Jesus. The Holy Father noted that their desire to see Jesus went beyond this particular event and was a universal desire “present in the hearts of so many people who have heard of Christ but have not yet met him”.
Jesus, he said, reveals the path to know Him in His response to their request: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
“It is the hour of the Cross!” the Pope said. “It is the hour of Satan’s defeat, prince of evil, and the definitive triumph of the merciful love of God. Christ declares that He will be ‘lifted up from the earth’.”
The 78-year-old Pontiff explained that Christ’s prophecy that He would be “lifted” carried a dual meaning: first because He will be raised in his crucifixion and death as well as exalted in His Resurrection. “The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those who believe in Him,” he said.
Pope Francis reflected on another image given by Christ in the Gospel: that of the “grain of wheat” that must die in order to give fruit. This image, he said, was meant to teach the fruitfulness of the Cross of Christ.
“The death of Jesus, in fact, is an inexhaustible source of new life, because it carries within itself the regenerating strength of the love of God,” he said. “Immersed in this love through Baptism, Christians can become ‘grains of wheat’ and produce much fruit if they, like Jesus, ‘lose their own life’ for the love of God and of the brothers and sisters.”
The Pope explained to the faithful that there were three things offered by the Church to those, like the Greeks, who wished to encounter Jesus: the Gospel, the Crucifix and the witness of faith.
“The Gospel: there we can encounter Jesus, listen to Him, know Him. The crucifix: sign of the love of Jesus who has given Himself for us,” he said. “And then, a faith that is translated in simple gestures of fraternal charity.”
Before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St Peter’s, the Pope exhorted them to live a coherent life that was balanced between faith and life, as well as words and actions.
Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis greeted the faithful and offered them a gift that he has often had distributed in the past: a pocket-sized Gospel. According to the Office of Papal Charities, more than 300 homeless pilgrims were among the volunteers who distributed the Gospels in Square. The office also said they had 50,000 pocket-sized Gospels ready for distribution.
“Even in this we see a very beautiful gesture that Jesus likes: the ones most in need are the ones who give us the word of God,” the Pope said.