To those who wish to see Jesus, the Church offers three things: the Gospel, the Crucifix and the witness of faith. This was the central theme of Pope Francis Angelus address this morning to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Low temperatures and cold rain didn’t stop thousands of faithful from trying to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father the day after his pastoral visit to Naples yesterday. “Despite the awful weather many of you have come,” the Pope said. “You are very brave. Even the marathon runners are very brave. I greet you affectionately!”
The Holy Father also thanked the people of Naples as well: “I want to once again thank all Neapolitans for their very warm welcome, they were so good. Thank you so much!”
During his address, the Pope reflected on today’s Gospel, which recalled several Greeks who, while in Jerusalem for Passover, asked the apostle Philip to see Jesus. The Holy Father noted that their desire to see Jesus goes beyond this particular event and is a universal desire “present in the hearts of so many people who have heard of Christ but have not yet met him.”
Jesus, he continued, reveals the path to know Him in his response to their request: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
“It is the hour of the Cross!” the Pope exclaimed. “It is the hour of Satan’s defeat, prince of evil, and the definitive triumph of the merciful love of God. Christ declares that He will be ‘lifted up from the earth'”.
The 78 year old Pontiff explained that Christ’s prophecy that He will be “lifted” carries a dual meaning: first because He will be raised in his crucifixion and death as well as exalted in His Resurrection. “The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those who believe in Him,” he said.
Coherence Between Faith and Life
Continuing his address, Pope Francis reflected on another image given by Christ in the Gospel: that of the “grain of wheat” that must die in order to give fruit. This image, he said, is meant to teach the fruitfulness of the Cross of Christ.
“The death of Jesus, in fact, is an inexhaustible source of new life, because it carries within itself the regenerating strength of the love of God,” he said. “Immersed in this love through Baptism, Christians can become ‘grains of wheat’ and produce much fruit if they, like Jesus, “lose their own life” for the love of God and of the brothers and sisters.”
The Jesuit Pope explained to the faithful that there are three things offered by the Church to those, like the Greeks, wish to encounter Jesus: the Gospel, the Crucifix and the witness of faith.
“The Gospel: there we can encounter Jesus, listen to Him, know Him. The crucifix: sign of the love of Jesus who has given Himself for us,” he said. “And then, a faith that is translated in simple gestures of fraternal charity.”
Before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s, the Pope exhorted them to live a coherent life that is balanced between faith and life, as well as words and actions.
Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis greeted the faithful and offered them a gift that he has often had distributed in the past: a pocket-sized Gospel. According to the Office of Papal Charities, over 300 homeless pilgrims were among the volunteers who distributed the Gospels in Square. The office also stated that they had 50,000 pocket-sized Gospels ready for distribution.
“Even in this we see a very beautiful gesture that Jesus likes: the ones most in need are the ones who give us the word of God,” the Pope said.