Pope at Angelus: We become witnesses through gift of the Spirit

10 March 2020
Pope Francis during his Sunday Angelus, streamed live in St Peter's Square. Image: ANSA/Vatican News.


In his reflection on the day’s Gospel, Pope Francis reminds the faithful that we are called to be Christ’s witnesses through a gift of the Spirit, and not on account of our own merits.

On the Second Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel account of the Transfiguration, when Jesus revealed His glory to the Apostles Peter, James, and John.

The Holy Father delivered his Sunday Angelus address from the Library in the Apostolic Palace, rather than from the balcony in St Peter’s Square, at the request of Italian authorities. The notice came from the Holy See Press office on Friday, who explained that such measures were necessary in order to “avoid the risk of the spread of the COVID-19,” due to the large groups that gather at security checks for access to the Square.

The Pope explained that Jesus takes the disciples “and goes up a high mountain, symbol of closeness to God, to open them to a fuller understanding of the mystery of His Person, Who must suffer, die, and then rise again.” Through the “wondrous event of the Transfiguration,” he said, “the three disciples are called to recognise in Jesus the Son of God shining with glory.”

Pope Francis emphasised that the choice of Peter, James, and John to witness the Transfiguration was not made according to human criteria: Peter, in fact, would deny Jesus during the Passion; and the brothers James and John ambitiously sought the first place in Jesus’ kingdom. Instead, Jesus chose them “according to His plan of love.” It is “a free, unconditional choice,” the Pope said, “a free initiative, a divine friendship that asks for nothing in return.”

We are called in the same way, the Pope said, to be witnesses of Jesus. That is, our calling is a gift that we have not deserved; and although “we may feel inadequate… we cannot back out with the excuse of our incapacity.”

Although we have not seen “with our own eyes the face of Jesus shining like the sun,” we must nonetheless be prepared to bear witness to Christ. Despite the burdens and worries of everyday life, the Pope said, “we must not forget that the Baptism and Confirmation we have received have made us witnesses, not because of our capacity, but as a result of the gift of the Spirit.”

The Pope concluded his reflection with the prayer that “in the favourable time of Lent, the Virgin Mary might obtain for us that docility to the Spirit which is indispensable for setting out resolutely on the path of conversion.”

During his Angelus address on Sunday the Pope’s thoughts turned to the people of Syria. He began by greeting all those who had “come together to express their solidarity with the Syrian people,” in particular, he said, “those who live in Idlib, and in Northwest Syria.”

In a heartfelt appeal, Pope Francis reiterated his “great apprehension for the inhumane situation of these defenceless people, among whom so many are children whose lives are at risk.”

Pope Francis concluded his appeal in prayer, urging that this situation be given “priority in respect to every other interest” and stressing the importance that we do “not look away from this humanitarian crisis.”

Pope Francis assured “those suffering from the current coronavirus epidemic and to all those who are caring for them” of his prayers.

The Pope explained that he dedicated much thought to those suffering from this crisis during his retreat over the past week. “I unite myself to my brothers Bishops in encouraging the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength of the faith, the certainty of hope and the ardour of charity,” he said.

After the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis surprised the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square by appearing at the window of the Apostolic Palace, there he waved and blessed those who had previously watched him from the screens.


Vatican News – Pope at Angelus: We become witnesses through gift of the Spirit

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