POPE FRANCIS LAETARE SUNDAY 2018: REJOICE BECAUSE GOD IS WITH US!
Before the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In this fourth Sunday of Lent, called “Laetare” Sunday, that is, “Rejoice,” because so <reads> the Entrance Antiphon of the Eucharistic Liturgy, which invites us to joy: “Rejoice, Jerusalem [… .] — so it’s a call to joy — be glad and rejoice, you who mourned for her.” The Mass begins thus. What is the reason for this joy? The reason is the great love of God for humanity, as today’s Gospel points out: “God, in fact, so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). These words, pronounced by Jesus during the conversation with Nicodemus, summarize a theme that is at the center of the Christian proclamation: even when a situation seems desperate, God intervenes, offering man salvation and joy. God, in fact, doesn’t stand apart, but enters into the history of humanity, He “involves” Himself in our life; He enters it, to animate it with His grace and to save it.
We are called to listen to this proclamation, rejecting the temptation to consider ourselves secure in ourselves, wanting to do away with God, claiming absolute freedom from Him and from His Word. When we rediscover the courage to recognize ourselves for what we are — courage is needed for this! — we realize we are persons called to take account of our fragility and our limitations. Then it can happen that we are gripped by anguish, by anxiety for tomorrow, by fear of sickness and death. This explains why so many people, seeking a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts as, for instance, the tunnel of drugs or that of superstitions and ruinous rituals of magic. It’s good to know one’s limitations, one’s fragilities, we must know them, but not to despair, but offer them to the Lord, and He helps us on the way to healing, He takes us by the hand, and never leaves us alone – never! God is with us; therefore I “rejoice,” we “rejoice” today: “Rejoice, Jerusalem,” it says because God is with us.
And we have a true and great hope in God the Father, rich in mercy, who has given us His Son to save us, and this is our joy. We also have much sadness, but, when we are true Christians, there is that hope, which is a small joy that grows and gives one security. We must not get discouraged when we see our limitations, our sins <and> our weaknesses: God is there, close, Jesus is on the cross to heal us. This is God’s love. Look at the Crucifix and say to yourself: “God loves me.” It’s true, there are these limitations, these weaknesses, these sins, but He is greater than the limitations and the weaknesses and the sins. Don’t forget this.” God is greater than our weaknesses than our infidelities than our sins. And we take the Lord by the hand, we look at the Crucifix and we go on.
May Mary, Mother of Mercy, put in our heart the certainty that God loves us; may she be close to us in moments when we feel alone when we are tempted to surrender to life’s difficulties. May she communicate to us the sentiments of her Son Jesus so that our Lenten journey becomes an experience of forgiveness, hospitality, and charity.
© Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims from Italy and from different countries, in particular, the faithful of Agropoli, Padua, Troina, Foggia and Caltanissetta, and the young people from the parish of Saint Anthony of Padua, in Serra di Pepe.
I greet the Brazilian Community of Rome, the Confirmation candidates of Tivoli with their Bishop, the young people of Avigliano and the youngsters of Saronno. A special greeting goes to the university students from different parts of the world, gathered in the first “Vatican Hackathon,” promoted by the Dicastery for Communication. Dear young people, it’s good to put the intelligence, which God gives us, at the service of truth and of the neediest.
I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia m. Forrester]