St. Peter's Square
4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare), 11 March 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On this fourth Sunday of Lent, called Sunday "laetare", that is "rejoice", because this is the antiphon of entry of the Eucharistic liturgy that invites us to joy: "Rejoice, Jerusalem [...]. - so, it is a call to joy - Exult and rejoice, you who were in sadness ». Thus begins the Mass. What is the reason for this joy? The reason is God's great love for humanity, as the Gospel of today tells us: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not be lost, but may have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). These words, spoken by Jesus during the conversation with Nicodemus, summarize a theme that is at the center of the Christian proclamation: even when the situation seems desperate, God intervenes, offering man salvation and joy. God, in fact, does not stand aside, but enters the history of humanity, "immircles" himself in our life, enters, to animate it with his grace and save it.
We are called to listen to this announcement, rejecting the temptation to consider ourselves as sure of ourselves, of wanting to do without God, claiming absolute freedom from him and his Word. When we find the courage to recognize ourselves for what we are - it takes courage for this! -, we realize that we are people called to deal with our fragility and our limits. Then it can happen to be taken by anguish, anxiety for tomorrow, the fear of illness and death. This explains why many people, looking for a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts such as the drug tunnel or that of superstitions or ruinous magic rituals. It is good to know one's limits, one's own frailties, we must know them, but not to despair, but to offer them to the Lord; and He helps us in the path of healing, takes us by the hand, and never leaves us alone, ever! God is with us and for this I "rejoice", we "rejoice" today: "Rejoice, Jerusalem", he says, because God is with us.
And we have the true and great hope in God the Father, rich in mercy, who has given us his Son to save us, and this is our joy. We also have so many sadnesses, but when we are true Christians, there is that hope which is a little joy that grows and gives you security. We must not be discouraged when we see our limitations, our sins, our weaknesses: God is nearby, Jesus is on the cross to heal us. This is the love of God. Look at the Crucifix and say inside: "God loves me". It is true, there are these limits, these weaknesses, these sins, but He is greater than the limits and weaknesses and sins. Do not forget this: God is greater than our weaknesses, our infidelities, our sins. And let's take the Lord by the hand, let's look at the Crucifix and go forward.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, puts us in the heart the certainty that we are loved by God. She stays near us when we feel alone, when we are tempted to surrender to the difficulties of life. May you communicate to us the sentiments of his Son Jesus, so that our Lenten journey may become an experience of forgiveness, welcome and charity.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims from Italy and from different countries, in particular the faithful of Agropoli, Padua, Troina, Foggia and Caltanissetta, and the youth of the parish of Saint Anthony of Padua, in Serra di Pepe.
I greet the Brazilian Community of Rome, the cresimandi of Tivoli with their Bishop, the youth of Avigliano and the boys of Saronno.
A special greeting to university students from different parts of the world and gathered in the first "Vatican Hackathon", promoted by the Dicastery for Communication: dear young people, it is nice to put the intelligence that God gives us, at the service of truth and more needy.
I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!