This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “Hope of the world and hope from the Cross (cf. John 12:24-25).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the signing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
Below is a Zenit working translation of the Pope’s words:
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The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last Sunday we recalled Jesus’ entrance in Jerusalem, between the festive acclamations of the disciples and a great crowd. Those people placed many hopes in Jesus: so many expected miracles and great signs from Him, manifestations of power and even of freedom from the occupying enemies. Which one of them would have imagined that from there shortly Jesus would instead be humiliated, condemned and killed on a cross? The earthly hopes of those people collapsed in face of the cross. But we believe that precisely in the Crucified our hope is reborn. Earthly hopes collapse in face of the cross, but new hopes are reborn, those that last forever. It is a different hope from those that collapse, from those of the world. But what kind of hope is this? What hope is born from the cross?
What Jesus said, in fact, after entering Jerusalem can help us understand it: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Let us try to think of a grain or a small seed, which falls into the earth. If it remains closed in itself, nothing happens; instead, if it is broken, it opens and then gives life to an ear, a bud, then a plant and the plant will give fruit.
Jesus brought a new hope to the world, and he did so in the way of a seed: He made Himself small — small, like a grain of wheat; He left His heavenly glory to come among us: He “fell to the ground.” But this was not enough yet. To bear fruit Jesus lived love to the end, letting Himself be broken by death as a seed lets itself be broken under the earth. In fact there, in the extreme point of His abasement – which is also the highest point of love – hope sprouted. If one of you asks: “How is hope born?” “From the cross. Look at the cross, look at Christ Crucified and from there hope will come to you that no longer disappears, which lasts to eternal life.” And this hope sprouted precisely by the strength of love: because a love that “hopes all, endures all” (1 Corinthians 13:7), love that is God’s life, has renewed everything it has reached. Thus at Easter, Jesus, taking our sin upon Himself, transformed it into forgiveness, our death into resurrection, our fear into trust. See why there, on the cross, our hope is born and is always reborn; see how with Jesus every darkness of ours can be transformed into light, every defeat into victory, every disappointment into hope – every, yes, every. Hope surpasses all, because it is born of the love of Jesus who made Himself like a grain of wheat in the earth and who died to give life and from that life full of love hope comes.
When we choose Jesus’ hope, little by little we discover that the winning way of living is that of the seed, that of humble love. There is no other way to overcome evil and to give hope to the world. But you might say to me: “No, it’s a losing logic!” It would seem so, that it is a losing logic, because one who loves loses power. Have you thought of this? One who loves loses power, one who gives, dispossesses himself of something and to love is a gift. In reality the logic of the seed that dies, of humble love, is the way of God, and only this way gives fruit. We see it also in us: to possess always pushes us to want something else: I have obtained something for myself and I immediately want something greater, and so on, and I am never satisfied. That is an awful thirst! The more you have, the more you want. One who is voracious is never sated. And Jesus says it clearly: “he who loves his life loses it” (John 12:25). You are voracious, you want to have so many things but . . . you will lose everything, also your life, that is: one who loves himself and lives for his interests is puffed up with himself and loses. Instead, one who accepts, is available and serves lives God’s way: then he is victorious, saves himself and others; becomes seed of hope for the world. But it is good to help others, to serve others . . . perhaps we will get tired! But life is like this and the heart is filled with joy and hope. This is love and hope together: to serve and to give.
This true love certainly passes through the cross, sacrifice, as it did for Jesus. The cross is the obligatory passage but it is not the aim, it is a passage: the aim is glory, as Easter shows us. And here another very beautiful image comes to our aid, which Jesus left His disciples during the Last Supper. He says: “When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21). See: to give life, not to possess it. And this is what mothers do: they give another life, they suffer, but then they are joyful, happy because they have given birth to another life. It gives joy; love gives birth to life and even gives meaning to sorrow. Love is the engine that makes our hope go on. I repeat: love is the engine that makes our hope go on. And each one of us can ask himself: “Do I love? Have I learned to love? Do I learn every day to love more?” – because love is the engine that makes our hope go on.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, during these days, days of love, let us allow ourselves to be enveloped by the mystery of Jesus that, dying as grain of wheat, dying gives us life. He is the seed of our hope. Let us contemplate the Crucified, source of hope. Little by little we will understand that to hope with Jesus is to learn to see already the plant in the seed, Easter in the cross, life in death. I would now like to give you a task to do at home. It will do us all good to pause before the Crucifix – all of you have one at home — and look at Him and say to Him: “With you nothing is lost. With you I can always hope. You are my hope.” Let us now imagine the Crucifix and all together let us say to Jesus Crucified three times: “You are my hope.” All: ‘You are my hope.” Louder! “You are my hope.” Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Zenit, Virginia M. Forrester]
Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims welcome! I am happy to receive the participants in the 50th congress for university students promoted by the Opus Dei Prelature, dedicated to reflection on the theme of the world in movement. I greet the members of the Scopigno Cup Sports Association, accompanied by the Bishop of Rieti, Monsignor Domenico Pompili and the students of the Saint Vincent de Paul Institute of Reggio Emilia, who are observing the anniversary of the foundation of the first school. May the visit to the Eternal City, on the occasion of Easter, be a propitious occasion to rediscover the joy of giving, which fills the heart more than having.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday we remembered Saint Gemma Galgani, apostle of Jesus’ Passion. Dear young people, live the Easter Triduum in her school, reflecting on the love of Jesus who was immolated on the cross for us; dear sick, may Holy Friday teach you patience also in discomfort; and you, dear newlyweds, live in hope even in the difficult moments of your new family.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Zenit, Virginia M. Forrester]