Library of the Apostolic Palace
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The Mass that the Archbishop is celebrating in the Polyclinic for the sick, doctors, nurses and volunteers is ending at the moment in Milan. The Archbishop is close to his people and also close to God in prayer. I am reminded of the photograph from last week: he alone on the roof of the Duomo praying to the Madonna. I would also like to thank all the priests, the creativity of the priests. A lot of news comes from Lombardy on this creativity. True, Lombardy has been very affected. Priests who think a thousand ways of being close to the people, so that the people do not feel abandoned; priests with apostolic zeal, who have understood well that in times of pandemic "Don Abbondio" should not be done. Thank you very much to you priests.
The Gospel passage of this Sunday, the third of Lent, presents the encounter of Jesus with a Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4,5-42). He is on the way with his disciples and they stop at a well in Samaria. The Samaritans were considered heretics by the Jews, and highly despised, as second-class citizens. Jesus is tired, he is thirsty. A woman comes to get water and he asks her: "Give me a drink" (v. 7). Thus, breaking every barrier, a dialogue begins in which he reveals to that woman the mystery of the living water, that is, of the Holy Spirit, a gift of God. In fact, to the woman's surprise reaction, Jesus replies: «If you knew the gift of God and who is he who says to you: "Give me a drink!", You would have asked him and he would have given you living water "(v. 10).
At the heart of this dialogue is water. On the one hand, water as an essential element for living, which satisfies the thirst of the body and supports life. On the other, water as a symbol of divine grace, which gives eternal life. In the biblical tradition, God is the source of living water - as it is said in the psalms, in the prophets -: moving away from God, the source of living water, and from his Law involves the worst drought. It is the experience of the people of Israel in the desert. On the long road to freedom, it, burned with thirst, protests against Moses and against God because there is no water. Then, at the behest of God, Moses makes water flow from a rock, as a sign of God's providence which accompanies his people and gives them life (cf. Ex 17: 17-7).
And the apostle Paul interprets that rock as a symbol of Christ. He will say thus: "And the rock is Christ" (cf. 1 Cor 10: 4). It is the mysterious figure of his presence among the walking people of God. Indeed, Christ is the Temple from which, according to the vision of the prophets, the Holy Spirit gushes forth, that is, the living water that purifies and gives life. Those who thirst for salvation can draw freely from Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will become in him or her a source of full and eternal life. The promise of the living water that Jesus made to the Samaritan woman became reality on his Easter: "blood and water" came out of his pierced side (Jn 19:34). Christ, the immolated and risen Lamb, is the source from which the Holy Spirit springs, who forgives sins and regenerates to new life.
This gift is also the source of testimony. Like the Samaritan woman, anyone who meets Jesus alive feels the need to tell others about it, so that everyone comes to confess that Jesus "is truly the savior of the world" (Jn 4:42), as the woman's countrymen then said. We too, born of new life through Baptism, are called to witness the life and hope that are in us. If our search and our thirst find full fulfillment in Christ, we will show that salvation does not lie in the "things" of this world, which ultimately produce drought, but in the One who loved us and always loves us: Jesus our Savior, in the living water that He offers us.
May Mary Most Holy help us to cultivate the desire of Christ, the source of living water, the only one who can satisfy the thirst for life and love that we carry in our hearts.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
these days Piazza San Pietro is closed, so my greeting goes directly to you who are connected through the media.
In this pandemic situation, in which we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and deepen the value of the communion that unites all members of the Church. United with Christ we are never alone, but we form a single Body, of which He is the Head. It is a union that is nourished with prayer, and also with spiritual communion in the Eucharist, a highly recommended practice when it is not possible to receive the sacrament. I say this for everyone, especially for people who live alone.
I renew my closeness to all the sick and those who care for them. As well as to the many operators and volunteers who help people who cannot leave the house, and to those who meet the needs of the poorest and homeless.
Thank you so much for all the effort each of you make to help in this very hard time. May the Lord bless you, Our Lady guard you; and please don't forget to pray for me. Happy Sunday and good lunch! Thank you.