Pope Francis has invited the faithful to rejoice as we approach Easter and to open our hearts to the Lord’s gift of salvation and joy.
By Linda Bordoni
(Vatican News) Addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which – Pope Francis reminded them – is called “Laetare” Sunday from the first words of the antiphon of the Eucharistic liturgy and that mean “to rejoice”, he said we are invited to rejoice in God’s great love for humanity.
Christians, the Pope explained, are strong in the knowledge that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to give us eternal life. They are strong, he continued, because even when the situation appears desperate, they know that God will intervene offering man salvation and joy.
God does not stand aside
“God, does not stand aside, but enters the history of humanity to animate it with his grace and to save it” he said.
Thus, the Pope invited believers to reject the temptation of thinking they can do without God claiming absolute freedom from Him and His Word.
“When we find the courage to recognize ourselves for what we are, we realize that we are called to deal with our fragility and our limits. Then it can happen that we become overcome by anguish, by the anxiety for tomorrow, by the fear of illness and death” he said.
This explains, he continued, “why many people, searching for a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts such as the tunnel of drugs or that of superstitions or ruinous magic rituals”.
Christianity does not offer easy solutions
Pope Francis said that Christianity does not offer easy consolations: “it is not a shortcut, it requires faith and a strong moral standing, which rejects evil, selfishness, corruption”.
But, he said, it also gives us the true and great hope in God the Father, who is rich in mercy and who has given us his Son, thus revealing to us his immense love.
“This is why we rejoice today: because God is always there to take us by the hand” he said.
Lent is a time to open our hearts to God’s gift
The Pope said the time of Lent is a time in which to open our hearts even more to this gift: “Only in this way can we live a life that is animated by justice and charity, and we will become witnesses to this divine love, a love that is not given only to those who deserve it, that does not ask for rewards, but offers itself freely, without conditions”.
He concluded with a prayer to Mary, Mother of Mercy, to help us feel that we are loved by God, to be close to us when we feel alone and when we are tempted to surrender to the difficulties of life.
“May she enable us to understand the sentiments of her Son Jesus, so that our Lenten journey may become an experience of forgiveness, welcome and charity” he said.
Greetings for ‘Vatican Hackathon’ students
And greeting the different groups of pilgrims present in the Square for the Angelus prayer, Francis has special words for University students from different parts of the world who are gathered for the first “Vatican Hackathon” promoted by the Secretariat for Communication saying “dear young people, it is a beautiful thing to put the intelligence that God has given us to the service of truth and to the needy”.