VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today before the recitation of the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reminds us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We hear this consoling announcement at a time when painful armed confrontations threaten the hope of humanity in a better future. “God so loved the world,” Jesus affirmed. Therefore, the love of the Father reaches every human being who lives in the world.
How can one not see the commitment that springs from such an initiative of God? Conscious of such a great love, the human being cannot but open himself, in fraternal acceptance, toward his fellow men.
2. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son.” This is what happened in the sacrifice of Calvary: Christ died and resurrected for us, sealing with his blood the new and final covenant with humanity.
The sacrament of the Eucharist is the perpetual memorial of this supreme testimony of love. In it, Jesus, Bread of eternal life and true “manna,” sustains believers on the way through the “desert” of history toward the “Promised Land” of Heaven (see John 6:32-35).
3. I wished to dedicate, precisely to the subject of the Eucharist, the encyclical that, God willing, next Holy Thursday, I will sign during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. I will hand it symbolically to the priests instead of the Letter that I usually address to them and, through them, to all the People of God on that occasion.
From this moment I entrust to Mary this important document, which is centered on the intrinsic value and importance for the Church of the sacrament that Jesus left us as a living memorial of his death and resurrection.
We also turn to Mary, to pray for the victims of the conflicts that are taking place. With afflicted and trusting insistence, we invoke her intercession for peace in Iraq and in every region of the world.
[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father added in Italian:]
I greet the numerous followers of the Focolare Movement, from various European nations, who are participating in their annual meeting at Castel Gandolfo. May the prayer of the rosary always sustain your commitment to the Church and to society.
[Translation by ZENIT]