Sunday, March 8, 2020

Pope Francis says "I am close with prayers to people who suffer from the current Coronavirus epidemic and to all those who are caring for them”

Full Text - ANGELUS
St. Peter's Square (Apostolic Palace Library)
Sunday, March 8, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This prayer of today's Angelus is a little strange, with the Pope "caged" in the library, but I see you, I am close to you. And I would also like to begin by thanking that group [present in the Piazza] who manifests and fights "For the forgotten of Idlib". Thank you! Thanks for what you do. But we do this way of praying the Angelus today to carry out preventive provisions, so as to avoid small crowds of people, which can favor the transmission of the virus.
The Gospel of this second Sunday of Lent (cf Mt 17: 9-9) presents the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. He takes Peter, James and John with him and climbs a high mountain, a symbol of closeness to God, to open them to a fuller understanding of the mystery of his person, who will have to suffer, die and then rise again. In fact, Jesus had started talking to them about the suffering, death and resurrection that awaited him, but they could not accept that prospect. For this reason, on reaching the top of the mountain, Jesus plunges into prayer and transfigures before the three disciples: "his face - says the Gospel - shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light" (v. 2) .

Through the wonderful event of the Transfiguration, the three disciples are called to recognize in Jesus the Son of God shining with glory. Thus they advance in the knowledge of their Master, realizing that the human aspect does not express its whole reality; in their eyes the afterlife and divine dimension of Jesus is revealed. And from above a voice resounds that says: "This is my Son, my beloved [...]. Listen to him "(v. 5). It is the heavenly Father who confirms the "investiture" - let's call it that - of Jesus already made on the day of his baptism in the Jordan and invites the disciples to listen and follow him.

It should be emphasized that, in the midst of the group of the Twelve, Jesus chooses to take Peter, James and John with him to Mount. Reserve them the privilege of witnessing the transfiguration. But why does he make this election out of these three? Why are they the holiest? No. Yet Peter, in the hour of trial, will deny him; and the two brothers James and John will ask to have the first places in his kingdom (cf Mt 20,20-23). However, Jesus does not choose according to our criteria, but according to his plan of love. Jesus' love has no measure: it is love, and he chooses with that plan of love. It is a free, unconditional choice, a free initiative, a divine friendship that asks for nothing in return. And as he called those three disciples, so also today he calls some to be close to him, in order to testify. Being witnesses of Jesus is a gift that we have not deserved: we feel inadequate, but we cannot hold back with the excuse of our inability.

We have not been to Mount Tabor, we have not seen with our eyes the face of Jesus shining like the sun. However, the Word of salvation has also been given to us, faith has been given and we have experienced, in different forms, the joy of meeting with Jesus. Jesus too says to us: "Stand up and do not be afraid" (Mt 17, 7). In this world, marked by selfishness and greed, the light of God is clouded by everyday concerns. We often say: I don't have time to pray, I am not able to carry out a service in the parish, to respond to the requests of others ... But we must not forget that the Baptism we received made us witnesses, not for our ability, but for the gift of the Spirit.

In the propitious time of Lent, may the Virgin Mary obtain that docility to the Spirit, which is indispensable for resolutely walking on the path of conversion.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all of you who are following this moment of prayer. I greet in particular the participants in the training course "Animators of a new way of communicating"; the faithful of Torrent, in Spain; the group of the decorated Corato; the young people of Coverciano and the children of the First Communion of Monteodorisio.

I greet the associations and groups that engage in solidarity with the Syrian people and especially with the inhabitants of the city of Idlib and north-west Syria - I am seeing you here - forced to flee from the recent developments of the war. Dear brothers and sisters, I renew my great apprehension, my pain at this inhuman situation of these defenseless people, including many children, who are risking their lives. We must not look away from this humanitarian crisis, but give it priority over any other interest. Let us pray for these people, these brothers and sisters of ours, who suffer so much in the north-west of Syria, in the city of Idlib.
I am close with prayers to people who suffer from the current coronavirus epidemic and to all those who are caring for them.” I join my brother Bishops in encouraging the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and the fervor of charity. The time of Lent helps us all to give an evangelical sense also to this moment of trial and pain.

I wish you a happy Sunday! And please, don't forget to pray for me. Now I will look out, to see you a bit in real time. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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