On the Lamb of God

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

With the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated last Sunday, we have entered into the liturgical time that we call “ordinary.” On this second Sunday, the Gospel presents to us the scene of the meeting between Jesus and John the Baptist at the Jordan River. The narrator is the eye witness, John the Evangelist, who, before he was a disciple of Jesus was a disciple of the Baptist, together with his brother James, with Simon and Andrew, all are from Galilee, all are fisherman. So, John the Baptist sees Jesus, who steps forward from the crowd and, inspired from above, sees in Jesus the one sent by God. For this reason he points him out with theses words: “Behold the lamb of God, he who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The word that is translated with “take away” literally means “to relieve,” “to take upon onself.” Jesus has come into the world with a precise mission: to free it from the slavery of sin, taking humanity’s faults upon himself. In what way? By loving. There is no other way to defeat evil and sin than with the love that moves one to give the gift of his life for others. In the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus is given the traits of the Servant of the Lord, who “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), to the point of dying on the cross. He is the true Passover lamb, who immerses himself in the river of our sin, to purify us.

The Baptist sees before him a man who gets in line with sinners to be baptized even though he does not need to. He is the man who God sent into the world as the sacrificial lamb. The word “lamb” appears several times in the New Testament and always in reference to Jesus. This image of the lamb might surprise us: an animal that is certainly not characterized by its strength and hardiness takes upon himself such an oppressive weight. The enormous mass of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature, who is a symbol of obedience, docility and defenseless love, who goes to the point of sacrificing himself. The lamb is not an oppressor but is docile; he is not aggressive but peaceful; he does not show his claws or teeth in the face of an attack, but endures it and is submissive. And this is how Jesus is! This is how Jesus is! He is like a lamb.

What does it mean for the Church, for us, today to be disciples of Jesus the Lamb of God? It means putting innocence in the place of malice, love in the place of force, humility in the place of pride, service in the place of prestige. It is good work! We Christians must do this: put innocence in the place of malice, love in the place of force, humility in the place of pride, service in the place of prestige. Being disciples of the Lamb means that we must not live like a “city under siege,” but like a city on a hill, open, welcoming, solidary. It means not having an attitude of closedness, but proposing the Gospel to everyone, testifying with our life that following Jesus makes us more free and more joyful.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the World day of Migrants and Refugees on the theme of “Migrants and Refugees: Toward a Better World,” which I developed in a message that was published some time ago. I offer a special greeting to the representatives of the different ethnic communities who have come here, especially to the Catholic communities of Rome. Dear friends, you are near to the heart of the Church because the Church is a people on a journey toward the Kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ brought among us. Do not lose hope for a better world! I hope you will live in peace in the countries that receive you, bringing the values of your culture of origin with you. I would like to thank those who work with migrants, who welcome them and accompany them in their difficult moments, to defend them against those whom Bl. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini called “the merchants in human flesh,” who want to enslave the migrants. In a special way I want to thank the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, the Scalabrini priests and sisters, who do much good for the Church and become migrants with the migrants.

At this time we think of the many migrants, the many refugees, of their sufferings, of their life, often without work, without documents, with such grief. And we can together say a prayer for the migrants and the refugees who live in the worst and most difficult situations: Hail Mary…

I greet with affection all of you, dear faithful, from different parishes in Italy and other countries, and the associations and various groups. In particular I greet the Spanish pilgrims from Pontevedra, La Coruña, Murcia and the students from Badajoz. I greet the Opera Don Orione group, the Associazione Laici Amore Misericordioso (Lay Association of Divine Mercy), and the San Francesco choir of Montelupone.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]
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