"Do we allow the Lord to do a 'cleansing' in our hearts and to drive out the idols?"

During his Angelus address to the faithful in St. Peter's Square today at noon, Pope Francis urged pilgrims to consider this question as he reflected on today's Gospel which presented the episode of Jesus kicking out the vendors from the temple (Jn 2: 13-25).

Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple, "with the sheep and oxen, the money, everything," Francis recalled. Stressing this gesture aroused strong reactions, in the people and in the disciples, the Pope clarified that when Jesus said he would raise up the temple on the third day, what he really was speaking about, was His body.

According to John, this was the first announcement of the death and Resurrection of Christ, the Pope said. "Jesus' body," he added, "destroyed by the violence of sin on the Cross, in the Resurrection, would become the meeting place between God and men."

"And the Risen Christ is really the universal meeting place for everyone! Between God and men! For this, His humanity is the true temple, where God is revealed, speaks, meets; and the true worshipers of God are not the guardians of the material temple, the holders of power and religious knowledge, but are those who worship God 'in spirit and truth,'" he said.

In this Lenten season, the Holy Father reminded those gathered that we are preparing for Easter, "when we renew the promises of our Baptism."

"We walk into the world as Jesus did and we are to make our whole existence be a sign of His love for our brothers, especially the weakest and the poorest." In our lives, he said, we must build a temple to God, in order to make it possible for others to encounter Him.

"But, we ask ourselves and each of us may wonder: Does the Lord feel truly at home in my life? Do we allow Him to do a 'cleansing' in our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of greed, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, that habit of gossiping and tearing down others?"

"Do we allow Him to do a cleaning of all behaviors against God, against others and against ourselves?" he added.

Jesus, he highlighted, does not "cleanse our hearts with a whip," but "with tenderness, with mercy, with love."

Francis also prayed that each of us "let the Lord enter with His mercy" and that Mary accompany and sustain us this Lent, so "we can rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ, which frees us and saves us."

After the midday prayer, the Holy Father, to commemorate International Women’s' Day, gave a special greeting to women worldwide.

"Today, March 8th, I salute all the women who daily work to build a more human and welcoming society" he said, giving thanks for the thousands of ways women witness the Gospel and work in the Church. 

"A world where women are marginalized is a barren world," he said. "They send us the ability to understand the world through different eyes, to hear things with more creative, more patient, more tender hearts."

Before wishing the pilgrims a good Sunday and lunch, Pope Francis gave a final special greeting to all women, and again asked all pilgrims to pray for him.


On ZENIT's Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-angelus-address--3