Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
At the heart of today’s Gospel is this word of John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29) — a word, accompanied by a look and gesture of the hand that indicates Him, Jesus.
We imagine the scene. We are on the bank of the river Jordan. John is baptizing; there are so many people, men and women of different ages, who have come there, to the river, to receive Baptism from the hands of that man who reminded many of Elias, the great prophet who nine centuries before had purified the Israelites of idolatry and led them back to true faith in the God of the Covenant, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob.
John preaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is close, that the Messiah is about to manifest Himself and that it is necessary to prepare oneself, to be converted and to behave with justice; and he begins to baptize in the Jordan to give the people a concrete means of penance (cf. Matthew 3:1-6). These people were coming to repent of their sins, to do penance, to begin their life again. He knows, John knows that the Messiah, the Lord’s consecrated, is now close, and the sign to recognize Him will be that the Holy Spirit will alight on Him; in fact He will bring the true Baptism, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf. John 1:33).
And behold, the moment arrives: Jesus appears on the bank of the river, in the midst of the people, of sinners — as all of us –. And His first public act, the first thing he does when He leaves the house of Nazareth at thirty years of age: He goes down to Judea, goes to the Jordan and has John baptize Him. We know what happens — we celebrated it last Sunday –: the Holy Spirit alights on Jesus in the shape of a dove and the voice of the Father proclaims Him beloved Son (cf. Matthew 3:16-17). It is the sign John was awaiting. It is He! Jesus is the Messiah. John is disconcerted, because He manifested Himself in an unthinkable way: amid sinners, baptized like them, rather, by them. However, the Spirit illumines John and makes him understand that in this way God’s justice is fulfilled, His plan of salvation is accomplished: Jesus is the Messiah, the King of Israel, but not with the power of this world, but rather as Lamb of God, who takes upon Himself and takes away the sin of the world.
John Indicates Him thus to the people and to his disciples, because John had a numerous circle of disciples, who had chosen him as spiritual guide, and some of them in fact would become the first disciples of Jesus. We know well their names: Simon later called Peter, his brother Andrew, James and his brother John — all fishermen, all Galileans, like Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, why have we paused at length on this scene? Because it is decisive! It is not an anecdote. It is a decisive historical fact! This scene is decisive for our faith, and it is also decisive for the mission of the Church. The Church is called at all times to do what John the Baptist did, to point out Jesus to the people, saying: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He is the only Savior! He is the Lord, humble, in the midst of sinners, but it is He, He: there is no other powerful one coming; no, no, it is He!
And these are the words that we priests repeat every day during the Mass, when we present to the people the bread and wine that have become the Body and Blood of Christ. This liturgical gesture represents the whole mission of the Church, which does not proclaim herself. Woe betide, woe betide when the Church proclaims herself; she loses her compass, knows not where she is going! The Church proclaims Christ; she does not bring herself, she brings Christ. Because it is He and He alone who saves His people from sin, who frees them and guides them to the land of true freedom.
May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lamb of God, help us to believe in and to follow Him.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is being observed, dedicated to the theme “Minor migrants, vulnerable and voiceless.” These little brothers of ours, especially if they are not accompanied, are exposed to so many dangers. And I tell you, there are so many! It is necessary to adopt every possible measure to guarantee to minor migrants protection and defense, as well as their integration.
A special greeting goes to the representations of different ethnic communities gathered here. Dear friends, I hope you can live serenely in the localities that receive you, respecting their laws and traditions and, at the same time, protecting the values of your native cultures. The encounter of various cultures is always an enrichment for all! I thank the Migrants Office of the Diocese of Rome and all those that work with migrants to receive and accompany them in their difficulty, and I encourage them to continue in this work, recalling the example of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patroness of migrants, the centenary of whose death is observed this year. This courageous Sister dedicated her life to bring the love of Christ to all those who were far from their homeland and their family. May her testimony help you to take care of your foreign brother, in whom Jesus is present, often suffering, rejected and humiliated. How many times in the Bible the Lord asks us to welcome migrants and foreigners, reminding us that we are also foreigners!
I greet you all affectionately, dear faithful from the different parishes of Italy and of other countries, as well as the associations and various groups, in particular, the students of the Melendez Valdes de Villafranca de los Barros Institute of Spain.
I wish you all a good Sunday and good lunch. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]