As visitors to Rome can testify, one of the “big events” of the week is the recitation of the Sunday Angelus with the Holy Father, speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. On March 8, 2020, the event was a little different.
The Pope, recovering from a cold, spoke from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace. A sparse crowd in the square watched on the jumbotrons in St. Peter’s Square. And those not present in person could watch Vatican News via streaming.
The Vatican said on Saturday that the decision to use remote broadcasting was necessary in order to avoid the risk of the spread of COVID-19 due to the gathering of people during security controls for access to the square, as requested by the Italian authorities.
The unusual circumstances didn’t discourage Pope Francis from delivering his commentary on the gospel of the day from the 17th chapter of Matthew: the Transfiguration. It was that remarkable moment when Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain and prayed, being transfigured before the disciples.
“Through the wonderful event of the Transfiguration, the three disciples are called to recognize in Jesus, the Son of God shining with glory,” the Pope explained. “Thus, they advance in the knowledge of their Master, realizing that the human aspect does not express His whole reality; in their eyes, the afterlife and divine dimension of Jesus is revealed. And from above, a voice resounds that says: ‘This is my Son, my beloved […]. Listen to Him ‘(v. 5). It is the heavenly Father who confirms the ‘investiture’ of Jesus already made on the day of His Baptism in the Jordan and invites the disciples to listen and follow Him.
“We have not been to Mount Tabor, we have not seen with our eyes the face of Jesus shining like the sun,” Francis continued. “However, the Word of Salvation has also been given to us, faith has been given and we have experienced, in different ways, the joy of meeting with Jesus. Jesus too says to us: ‘Stand up and do not be afraid’ (Mt 17, 7). In this world, marked by selfishness and greed, the light of God is clouded by everyday concerns. We often say: I don’t have time to pray, I am not able to carry out a service in the parish, to respond to the requests of others … But we must not forget that Baptism and Confirmation we received made us witnesses, not because of our ability, but by the gift of the Spirit.”