Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, we find three parables of mercy: that of the sheep (vv. 4-7), that of the coin found (vv. 8-10), and the great parable of the prodigal son, or rather, the merciful father (vv. 11-32). Today, it would do us well for each of us to open the Gospel, this Chapter 15 of Luke, and read the three parables. Inside the Lenten itinerary, the Gospel presents to us this last parable of the merciful Father, featuring a father with his two sons. The story makes us understand some features of this father as a man always ready to forgive and to hope against hope. It affects primarily his tolerance before the younger son’s decision to leave home: he could resist, knowing that he is still immature, a young boy, or seek some lawyer to not give him his inheritance, still being alive. Instead, he allows him to leave, having predicted some possible risks. God works with us like this: He lets us be free, even to make mistakes, because in creating us, He has given us the great gift of freedom. It is for us to put it to good use. This gift of freedom that God gives us always amazes me!
But the separation from his son is only physical; for his father always carries him in his heart; confidently, he awaits his return; he scans the road in the hope of seeing him. And one day he sees him appear in the distance (cf. v. 20). But this means that this father, every day, climbed on the roof to see if his son came back! Then he is moved to see him, he runs toward him, embraces him, kisses him. How much tenderness! And this son had made big [errors]! But the father welcomes him so.
The same attitude the father also reserves for the eldest son, who has remained at home, and is now indignant and protests because he does not understand and does not share in all that goodwill toward his brother that had wronged. The father comes out also to meet this child and reminds him that they were always together, they share everything (v. 31), but you have to accept with joy your brother who has finally returned home. And this makes me think of something: When one feels they are a sinner, they feel like they are nothing, as I’ve heard someone say — many–: ‘Father, I am a little piece of dirt,’ and therefore, this is the moment to go to the Father. Instead, when one feels righteous– ‘I always did the right thing …’ —, equally, the Father comes to seek us, because this attitude of feeling ‘right,’ is evil: it is pride. It comes from the devil. The Father waits for those that recognize themselves sinners and goes to search those who feel themselves ‘right.’ This is our Father!
In this parable, you can also take a glimpse at a third child. A third child? ..Where? He’s hidden! And it is, ‘Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … (Phil 2: 6-7).’ This Son-Servant is Jesus!
He is ‘the extension of the arms and heart of the Father: He welcomed the prodigal Son and washed his dirty feet; He has prepared the feast for the feast of forgiveness. He, Jesus, teaches us to be “merciful as the Father.”
The figure of the Father in the parable reveals the heart of God. He is the Merciful Father who, in Jesus, loves us beyond all measure, always awaits our conversion every time we wrong; He awaits our return when we turn away from him thinking, we can do without Him; He is always willing to open up His arms no matter what happened. As the Father of the Gospel, God also continues to consider them His children, even when they are lost, and comes to us with tenderness when we return to Him. He speaks to us so kindly when we believe we are right. The errors we commit, even if large, do not scratch away the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can always start out afresh: He welcomes us, gives us the dignity of being His children and tells us: “Go ahead! Be at peace! Get up, go ahead!”
In this stretch of Lent that still separates us from Easter, we are called to intensify the inner journey of conversion. Let us reach by loving gaze of our Father and return to Him with all your heart, rejecting any compromise with sin. May the Virgin Mary accompany us until the regenerating embrace with Divine Mercy.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I express my closeness to the Missionaries of Charity for the great loss they had two days ago with the killing of four Sisters in Aden, Yemen, where they were assisting the elderly. I pray for them and for the other people killed in the attack, and for their family members. These are the martyrs of today! Not the covers of newspapers … [they] are not the news: [It is rather that] they that give their blood for the Church. These people are victims of the attack of those who killed them and of indifference, of this globalization of indifference, which doesn’t care …May Mother Teresa, accompany her martyr daughters of charity in Heaven, and intercede for peace and sacred respect for human life.
As a concrete sign of commitment to peace and life, I want to mention and express admiration for a humanitarian initiative for refugees, launched recently in Italy. This pilot project, which combines solidarity and security, allows you to help people fleeing war and violence, as refugees have already moved to Italy, including sick children, disabled people, war widows with children, and the elderly. I also welcome this initiative because it is ecumenical, being supported by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Italian Federation of Evangelical Churches, and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches.
I greet all of you pilgrims who have came from Italy and from many countries, in particular the faithful of the Catholic Mission of Hagen (Germany), as well as those of Timisoara (Romania), Valencia (Spain) and Denmark.
I greet the parish groups from Taranto, Avellino, Dobbiaco, Fane (Verona) and Rome; the boys of Milan, Almenno San Salvatore, Verdellino-Zingonia, Latimer, and the youth of Vigonovo; Schools “Don Carlo Costamagna” Busto Arsizio “Immaculate” Soresina; the prayer groups “Santa Maria degli Angeli and Hope”; the National Confederation of Alumni of Catholic Schools.
I ask, please, for your prayers for me and my staff, who from tonight until Friday, we will retreat.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Good lunch and goodbye![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]