Here is a ZENIT translation of the Vatican’s prepared text of the address Pope Francis gave January 1, 2019, 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 and Happy New Year to all!
Today, the eighth day after Christmas, we celebrate the Holy Mother of God. As the shepherds of Bethlehem, we remain with our gaze fixed on Her and on the Child she has in her arms. Thus, showing us Jesus, Saviour of the world, She, the Mother, blesses us. She blesses the path of every man and every woman in this year that begins, and which will be good in fact in the measure in which each one will have received God’s goodness, which Jesus came to bring to the world.
In fact, it’s God’s blessing that gives substance to all the good wishes that are exchanged in these days. And today the liturgy refers to the very ancient blessing with which the Jewish priests blessed the people. It states: “The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26). The priest repeated God’s name, “Lord,” thrice, extending his hand over the assembled people. In the Bible, in fact, a name represents the reality itself that is invoked and so, “to put the name” of the Lord on a person, a family, a community means to offer them the beneficial strength that flows from Him.
In this same formula, the Lord’s “face” is mentioned twice. The priest prays that God “make it shine” and “turn” it towards His people, and thus grant them mercy and peace.
We know that, according to the Scriptures, God’s face is inaccessible to man: no one can see God and remain in life. This expresses God’s transcendence, the infinite grandeur of His glory. But God’s glory is all Love and, therefore, although remaining inaccessible, as a Sun that can’t be looked at, He radiates His grace on every creature, especially on men and women, in whom in the main He is reflected. “When the time had fully come” (Galatians 4:4), God revealed Himself in the face of a man, Jesus, “born of woman.” And here we return to the icon of today’s feast, from which we started: the icon of the Holy Mother of God, who shows us the Son, Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world. He is the Blessing for every person and for the whole human family. He is the source of grace, mercy, and peace. Therefore, the holy Pope Paul VI decided that the first of January should be the World Day of Peace; and today we celebrate the fifty-second Day, whose theme is: Good Politics Is at the Service of Peace. We must not think that politics is reserved only to rulers: we are all responsible for the life of the “city,” of the common good; and politics is also good in the measure in which each one does his part at the service of peace. May the Holy Mother of God help us in this daily commitment.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On Christmas Day I addressed a message of fraternity to Rome and to the world. Today I renew it with the wish for peace and prosperity.
I thank Mister President of the Italian Republic for the good wishes he addressed to me yesterday evening. May the Lord always bless his high and precious service to the Italian people.
My cordial greetings go especially to you, dear Romans and pilgrims who are here in St. Peter’s Square. I greet the participants in the “Peace in All Lands” manifestation, organized by Sant’Egidio Community. And here I want to express my appreciation and my closeness to the innumerable initiatives of prayer and commitment to peace that on this Day are being held everywhere in the world, promoted by ecclesial communities. I remember in particular the one that took place yesterday evening at Matera.
Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, may the Lord grant us to be architects of peace every day of the New Year, and please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican