Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
Today the Gospel presents the event of the Transfiguration. It is the second stage on the Lenten journey. The first was the temptation in the desert, last Sunday; the second is the Transfiguration. Jesus “takes Peter, James and John apart with him on the mountain” (Matthew 17:1). In the Bible the mountain represents a place of nearness to God and of intimate encounter with him; the place of prayer where you are in the presence of the Lord. Up on the mountain Jesus shows himself to the 3 disciples transfigured; he is luminous, beautiful; and then Moses and Elijah appear and converse with him. His countenance is so radiant and his clothing so bright that Peter is in awe, so much that he wants to stay there, he wants almost to freeze the moment. Immediately the voice of the Father speaks from above, proclaiming Jesus as his beloved Son, saying: “Listen to him” (17:5). These words are important! Our Father says to these apostles and to us too: “Listen to Jesus, because he is my beloved Son.” Let us keep these words in our head and heart this week: “Listen to Jesus!” And it is not the Pope who says this, it is God the Father who says this: to me, to you, to everyone, everyone! It is a kind of help for going forward on the road of Lent. “Listen to Jesus!” Do not forget.
This invitation of the Father is very important. We, disciples of Jesus, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take his words seriously. To hear Jesus, it is necessary to be close to him, to follow him, as the crowds in the Gospel did who walked the roads of Palestine. Jesus did not have a fixed post of instruction or pulpit, but was an itinerant teacher, who proposed his teachings along the road, the teachings given to him by the Father, taking trips that were not always predictable and sometimes not very easy. Follow Jesus to listen to him. But let us also listen to Jesus in his written Word, in the Gospel. I ask you a question: Do you read a passage of the Gospel every day? Yes, no ... yes, no ... Half and half ... Some yes, some no. But is it is important! Do you read the Gospel? It is a good thing; it is a good thing to have a little Gospel book, little, and carry it with us, in our pocket, in our bag, to read a little passage from it any time during the day. Any time during the day I take the Gospel out of my pocket and read something, a short passage. There is Jesus who speaks to us, in the Gospel! Think about this. It is not hard, nor is it necessary that it be all 4 Gospels. 1 of the Gospels, very small, with us. We should always carry the Gospel with us, because it is Jesus’ word, to listen to it.
I would like to draw 2 significant elements from this episode of the Transfiguration that I sum up in 2 words: ascent and descent. We need to go apart by ourselves, to ascend the mountain in a space of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the Lord’s voice. We do this in prayer. But we cannot remain there! The encounter with God in prayer moves us again to “descend from the mountain” and return below, to the plain, where we meet many brothers who are burdened by toil, sickness, injustice, ignorance, material and spiritual poverty. We are called to bring to these brothers who are enduring hardships the fruits of our experience with God, sharing the grace we have received. And this is curious. When we listen to Jesus’ Word, we listen to Jesus’ word and have it in our heart that Word grows. And do you know how it grows? By giving it to someone else! Jesus’ Word in us grows when we proclaim it, when we give it to others! And this is the Christian life. It is a mission for the whole Church, for all of the baptized, for all of us: listen to Jesus and offer him to others. Don’t forget: this week, listen to Jesus! And think about this thing about the Gospel. Will you do it? Will you do this? Then next Sunday you will tell me whether you have done this: having a little Gospel in your pocket or bag to read a little passage during the day.
And now let us turn to our Mother Mary, and entrust ourselves to her guidance to make this Lenten journey with faith and generosity, learning a little more to “ascend” with prayer and listen to Jesus and to “descend” with fraternal charity, announcing Jesus.
[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke again to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.]
Brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, dear faithful of Rome and pilgrims!
I greet the pilgrims from Valencia, Spain and the groups from Mannheim, Germany and Skara, Sweden.
I greet and thank the bands and singing groups from Piedmont, Liguria, Emilia and Tuscany, along with civil leaders.
I greet the Community of Pope John XXIII, founded by Don Oreste Benzi, who will lead a special “Via Crucis” along the streets in the center of Rome for women who are the victims of human trafficking. You’re great!
I invite you to remember in prayer the passengers and crew of the Malaysian airliner and their families. We are near to them in this difficult moment.
I greet the parish groups, especially the faithful from Giave, Liedolo, San Prospero, Sorrento, Codogno and Nostra Signora di Czestochowa in Rome; and the Minim Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
I salute the many schools from many parts of Italy and other countries – I cannot name all of you! – but I will mention the Catholic school “Mar Qardakh” from Erbil in Kurdistan. Let us remember this school together. It is far away, but let us remember it with our heart along with the school from the Diocese of London in Ontario, Canada.
I greet the young people of the Società di San Vincenzo De Paoli, the Rotary Club of Massafra-Mottola, the young people from Calcio and None, the children from Soliera and San Felice sul Panaro.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]