Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
The Gospel of this fifth Sunday of Lent tells us of the resurrection of Lazarus. It is the culmination of the miraculous “signs” worked by Jesus: it is a gesture that is to great, too clearly divine to be tolerated by the high priests, who, once they found out about it, decided to kill Jesus (cf. John 11:53).
Lazarus was dead for 3 days already when Jesus arrived; and to his sisters Martha and Mary he spoke words that have forever impressed themselves on the memory of the Christian community. Jesus speaks thus: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” From this word of the Lord we believe that the life of whoever believes in Jesus and follows his commandment, after death will be transformed into a new, full and immortal life. Just as Jesus rose with his own body but did not return to an earthly life, we too will rise with our bodies, which will be transfigured and glorious bodies. He awaits us with the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit, which had raised him up, will also raise those who are united with him.
Before the sealed tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth” (11:43-44). This commanding cry is addressed to every man, because we are all marked for death, all of us; it is the voice of he who is the Lord of life and desires that all “have it in abundance” (John 10:10). Christ has not resigned himself to the tombs that we have created with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He does not resign himself to this! He invites us, he almost commands us, to come out of the tombs in which our sins have buried us. He insistently calls us out of the darkness of the prison in which we have shut ourselves, contenting ourselves with a false, egoistic and mediocre life. “Come out!” he tells us, “Come out!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to let ourselves be seized by these words of Jesus that he repeats to each one of us today. It is an invitation to remove the “burial shroud,” the burial shroud of pride. Pride makes us slaves, slaves to ourselves, slaves of many idols, of many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey this command of Jesus, going out into the light, into life; when the masks fall from our face – often we are masked by sin, the masks must fall! – and we rediscover the courage of our true face, created in the image and likeness of God.
Jesus’ gesture, which raises Lazarus, shows how far the power of God’s Grace can go and how far our conversion can go, our change. But listen well: there is no limit to divine mercy offered to all! There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all! Remember this well. And we can say it all together: “There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all!” Let us say it together: “There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all!” The Lord is always ready to remove the stone from the tomb of our sins, which separate us from him, from the light of the living.[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke again to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]
I greet all the pilgrims present, in particular the participants in the Congress of the Educational Commitment Movement of Italian Catholic Action. Investing in education means investing in hope!
I greet the faithful of Madrid and Menorca; those from the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone; the Brazilian group “Fraternidade e tráfico humano”; the students from Canada, Australia, Belgium and from Cartagena-Murcia; the Alpini of Como and Rome.
I greet the groups of young people who have received or are preparing to receive Confirmation, the young people of various parishes and the numerous students.
Exactly 5 years have passed since the earthquake that struck Aquila and the surrounding area. In this moment we would like to unite ourselves with that community, which has suffered so much, which still suffers, struggles and hopes, with much confidence in God and in Our Lady. Let us pray for all the victims: may they live forever in the Lord’s peace. And let us pray for the journey of resurrection of the people of Aquila: may solidarity and spiritual rebirth be the power of material reconstruction.
Let us also pray for the victims of the Ebola virus, which has broken out in Guinea and nearby countries. May the Lord sustain the efforts to combat this beginning of an epidemic to insure care and help for all those in need.
And now I would like to do a simple thing for you. On the past Sundays I suggested to all of you to get yourself a little Gospel to carry with you during the day to be able to read often. Then I thought about the ancient tradition of the Church, during Lent, of giving the Gospel to catechumens, to those who are preparing for Baptism. So, today I would like to offer to you who are in the piazza – but as a sign for everyone – a small book of the Gospels [he shows the people the book]. It will be given to you gratis. There are places in the piazza to distribute it. I see them there, there, there… Go to these posts and get the Gospel. Get it, take it with you, and read it every day: it is Jesus, in fact, who speaks to you there! It is Jesus’ Word: this is Jesus’ Word!
And as he says: freely you have received, freely give, give the message of the Gospel! But maybe some of you think that this is not free. “But how much does it cost? How much must I pay, Father?” Let us do something: in exchange for this gift, do an act of charity, a gesture of gratuitous love, a prayer for enemies, an act of reconciliation, something…
Today you can read the Gospel with many technological instruments too. You can carry the whole Bible in a telephone, in a tablet. The important thing is to read the Word of God, with all the means, but read the Word of God: it is Jesus who speaks there! And welcome it with an open heart. The good seed bears fruit!
I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch! Good bye![Translation by Joseph Trabbic]