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!
The Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Lent (cf. Jn 8.1 to 11) is so beautiful, I really like to read it and re-read it. It presents the story of the adulterous woman, highlighting the theme of the mercy of God, Who never wants death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. The scene takes place in the area of the temple. Imagine [as if it were] there, in the Square [of St. Peter’s] Basilica. Jesus is teaching the people, and here comes some of the scribes and Pharisees, dragging before Him a woman caught in adultery. That woman is in the middle, between Jesus and the crowd (cf. v. 3), between the mercy of the Son of God and violence, the rage of her accusers. In fact, they have not come to the Master to ask for His opinion – for they were bad people – but to try to trap Him. In fact, if Jesus will follow the severity of the law, approving the stoning of the woman, He will lose His reputation for gentleness and kindness that so fascinates the people; if He wants to be merciful, He will have to go against the law, that He Himself said He did not want to destroy, but to make (cf. Mt 5:17). And Jesus is put in this situation.
Their bad intention is hiding under the question put to Jesus, “So what do you say?” (V. 5). Jesus does not answer, He is silent and makes a mysterious gesture: “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.” (v. 7). Maybe He was making a drawing, some say He was writing the sins of the Pharisees … anyway, he wrote, as if He were somewhere else. In this manner, He invites everyone to be calm, not to act out of impulsiveness, and to seek God’s justice. But those, who were bad, insist and expect an answer from Him. It seemed they had a thirst for blood. Then, Jesus looks up and says, ““Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (v. 7). This response displaces the accusers, disarming them all, in the true sense of the word: all of them laid down their “weapons,” that is, the stones ready to be hurled, both those visibly against the woman, and those hiding that they were against Jesus. And as the Lord continues to draw on the earth, doing drawings, I do not know …, the accusers leave one after the other, with heads down, beginning with the oldest, more aware of not being without sin. How well it does to make us aware that we are sinners! When we speak badly of others – all things that we know well – do we have the courage to drop the stones on the ground that we have ready to throw at others, and think a bit about our sins!
Only the woman and Jesus remained there: misery and mercy, facing each other. And this, as often happens to us when we stop in front of the confessional, with shame, to make seen our misery and ask forgiveness! “Woman, where are they?” (V. 10), Jesus says to her. And just this fact, and His eyes full of mercy, full of love, to make that person feel – perhaps for the first time – that she has a dignity, that she is not her sin, but has the dignity of a person; that she can change her life, can exit from her bondage and walk in a new way.
Dear brothers and sisters, this woman represents all of us, that we are sinners, adulterers before God, traitors of His loyalty. And her experience is God’s will for each of us: not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus. He is the grace that saves us from sin and death. He wrote in the ground, in the dust of which every human being is made (cf. Gen 2.7), God’s judgment: “I do not want you to die, but that you live.” God does not nail us to our sin, does not identify us with the wrongs we have committed. We have a name, and God does not identify this name with the sin we have committed. He wants to free us, and wants that we want to be together with Him. He wants that our freedom is converted from evil to good, and this is possible – you can! – with His grace.
May the Virgin Mary help us to entrust ourselves fully to God’s mercy, to become new creatures.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet all of you who have come from Rome, Italy and other countries, in particular the pilgrims from Seville, Freiburg (Germany), Innsbruck and Ontario (Canada).
I greet the volunteers of the “Mater Dei” house of Vittorio Veneto. I greet the numerous parish groups, including the faithful of Boiano, Power, Calenzano, Zevio and Agropoli. As well as young people from many parts of Italy: I cannot name them all, but I remember those of Compiobbi and Mozzanica, those of Catholic Action of the Diocese of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno, and the candidates of Scandicci and Milano-Lambrate.
And now I would like to renew the gesture of giving you a pocket-sized Gospel. It is the Gospel of Luke, that we read on the Sundays of the liturgical year. The booklet was entitled as follows: “The Gospel of the Mercy of St. Luke”; In fact, the Evangelist reports the words of Jesus: “Be merciful, as your Father” (6.36 is merciful), that inspired the theme of this Jubilee Year. They will be distributed, free of charge by volunteers of the “Santa Marta” pediatric dispensary in the Vatican, along with some elderly and grandparents of Rome. How deserving are the grandfathers and grandmothers who transmit the faith to their grandchildren! I invite you to take this Gospel and read it, a song every day; in order that the mercy of the Father will dwell in your heart and you will bring it to everyone you meet. And finally, on page 123, there are the seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual works of mercy. It would be nice if you learn them by heart, so it is easier to do them! I invite you to take this Gospel, in order that the mercy of the Father is done and works in you. And you, volunteers, grandfathers and grandmothers, who distribute the Gospel, think of the people who are in Piazza Pio XII – you see that could not enter – in order that they also receive this Gospel.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]