Angelus Address: On the Power of God's Word

«Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change life! Do not forget this! That is the good news that transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it.»

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

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (cfr Mk. 1, 21-28) presents Jesus, who, with his little community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived and which in that time was the biggest city of Galilee. And he entered the city.

Mark the Evangelist tells us that Jesus, being that day the Sabbath, went quickly to the synagogue and He began to teach (cfr v.21). This makes us think of the primacy of the Word of God, a word to listen, to receive and to announce.

Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not send the announcement of the Gospel, He does not think of the logistical planning, while surely necessary, of his little community. He does not linger in prganizing. His main concern is that of communicating the Word of God with the strength of the Holy Spirit. And the people in the synagogue are struck, because Jesus «taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.» (v. 22)

What does «with authority» mean? It means that in the human word of Jesus the strength of the Word of God was felt, the same authoritativeness of God was felt, inspirer of the Holy Scripture. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that it carries out that which it says. Because the word of God corresponds with His will. Instead, we often pronounce empty words, without roots or superfluous words, words that do not correspond with the truth. The Word of God, instead, corresponds to the truth and is united to His will and does what He says.  In fact, Jesus, after having preached, quickly demonstrates His authority by freeing a man, present in the synagogue, who was possessed by a demon (cfr Mk. 1,23-26). It was precisely the divine authority of Christ that brought out Satan’s reaction, hidden within that man; Jesus, for his part, immediately recognizes the voice of evil and «rebuked him and said, ‘Quiet! Come out of him!'» (v.25) With only the strength of His word, Jesus frees the person from evil. And once again those present were astonished. «But this man, where does He come from? He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.» The word of God astonishes us with that strength. It astonishes us well.

The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are enslaved by so many evil spirits in this world: vanity, the attachment to money, pride, sensuality…The Gospel changes the heart, the Gospel changes the heart! It changes life; it transforms the inclination to evil to resolutions of good. The Gospel is capable of changing the hearts of the people. Therefore it is the duty of Christians to spread everywhere the redeeming power, becoming missionaries and heralds of the Word of God. It is suggested by the very passage from today’s reading which closes with a missionary aperture: «His fame – Jesus’ fame – spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.» (v. 28) The new doctrine taught with authority by Jesus is that which the Church brings to the world, together with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God becomes the words of salvation and the gestures of love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change life! Do not forget this! That is the good news that transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. That is why I ask you always to have daily contact with the Gospel. To read it every day; a passage. To meditate upon it and also, to carry it with you everywhere, in your pocket, in your purse. That is, to nourish yourselves every day from this inexhaustible source of salvation. Do not forget, read a passage from the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, that transforms us, it changes life and it changes the heart.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, with Her who received the word and generated it for the world, for all mankind. May She teach us to be assiduous listeners and authoritative announcers of the Gospel of God.

Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope said:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to announce that on Saturday, June 6th, God-willing, I will go to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. I ask today that you pray so that my visit to that dear population be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, arouse ferments of good and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, of interreligious dialogue and friendship. I greet the families, the parishes, the associations and all those who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, the pilgrims from Lebanon and Egypt, the student of Zafra and Badajoz (Spain); the faithful of Sassari, Salerno, Verona, Modena, Scano Montiferro and Taranto.

Today in Italy we celebrate the Day for Life, which has as its theme «Solidarity for life». I extend my appreciation to the associations, the movements and to all those who defend human life. I unite myself with the Italian bishops in calling for «a renewed recognition of the human person and a more adequate care for life, from conception to its natural end.» (Message for the 37th National Day for Life). When we open ourselves to life and life is served, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. (cfr Evangelii Gaudium, 288), beginning a new humanism: the humanism of solidarity. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the university professors of Rome and all those who are dedicated to promoting a culture of life.

To all I wish a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]
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