Sunday, 7 March 1999


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. This Lenten Sunday is made joyful by the proclamation of several new blesseds. In their witness shines the paschal light of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the light of love that conquers selfishness and makes human life a gift for God and for one's brothers and sisters. Their example encourages us to direct our steps resolutely towards the holiness to which we all are called by Baptism.


May Mary, ever present in the lives of these new blesseds, help us not to lose heart in the face of difficulties and to make us worshipers of the Father in spirit and truth.


2. I affectionately greet the Spanishspeaking Bishops and faithful and the Augustinian Recollects who have come for the beatification of the martyrs of Motril. I invite everyone not to forget the eloquent witness of their faith, since the blood of martyrs makes the Church fruitful and gives her vitality as she prepares with hope to confront the great challenges of evangelization in the third millennium.


I extend a fraternal greeting to the French-speaking pilgrims, particularly those who have come for the beatification of Fr Barré. Through education and spiritual direction, he proclaimed the Good News of salvation. Dear pilgrims, I hope you will follow his example and always nurture the same enthusiasm for the Gospel.


I cordially greet the German-speaking faithful, especially the pilgrims from the Diocese of Regensburg. Just as the Eucharist was the source of her strength, so the Rosary was Anna Schäffer's constant companion. May the example of this new blessed from your homeland give you the courage to grow more and more in contemplative prayer!


3. Now, as we turn our thoughts to Mary in the Angelus prayer, I invite everyone to quicken their steps on the path of the Gospel, strengthened by the examples of the saints and blesseds. They show that it is possible to follow Christ in every state of life and to draw from him the "living water" of the Holy Spirit, a source of inner renewal, patience, joy and peace.




After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted other pilgrim groups and spoke of International Women's Day:


"Women's Day" will be celebrated tomorrow, 8 March. I hope that this event will be an occasion for renewed reflection on the dignity and role of women in the family, in civil society and in the ecclesial community.



Third Sunday of Lent
3 March 2002


1. "Lord ... give me this water, that I may not thirst " (John 4:15 ; cf. Gospel Acclamation). The request of the Samaritan woman marks a crucial turning-point in her long and intense conversation with Jesus that takes place at Jacob's well, near the city of Sychar. St John recounts it in today's Gospel.


Christ asks the woman "Give me a drink" (v. 7). His material thirst symbolizes a far deeper reality:  it expresses his ardent desire that his dialogue partner and her fellow-citizens will open themselves to faith. The Samaritan woman, when she asks Christ for water, is basically revealing the need for salvation present in every heart. And the Lord is revealed as the one who offers the living water of the Spirit, that satisfies forever the infinite thirst of every human being.


The liturgy for this Third Sunday of Lent presents a splendid commentary on the Johannine episode when it says in the preface that Jesus "so deeply thirsted" for the salvation of the Samaritan woman that "he set on fire in her the flame of God's love".

2. The episode of the Samaritan woman charts the journey of faith that we are all called to pursue. Even today Jesus continues "to thirst", namely, to desire humanity's faith and love. From our personal encounter with him, if we recognize and receive him as the Messiah, come our attachment to his message of salvation and the desire to spread it in the world.


This is what happens in the rest of the Gospel passage. The bond with Jesus totally transforms the life of the woman who hurries without delay to proclaim the good news to the people in the nearby village: "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:29).

Revelation received with faith asks to become a word proclaimed to others, witnessed in the concrete choices of life. This is the mission of believers, coming from and growing in their personal meeting with the Lord.

3. Dear brothers and sisters of the Parish of St Gelasius! I cordially greet Cardinal Ruini, Vicar of Rome, the Auxiliary Bishop of the sector, Fr Albino Marin, your dear parish priest, the curate, and all of you, members of the parish community who are celebrating your 30th anniversary this year. I warmly greet all who live of this densely populated area of Rebibbia.


I congratulate you on what you are doing, above all, in the work of catechesis, the liturgy and charity. In fact, they are the permanent pillars of Christian life and are to be developed with the aid of the support and services of organization and formation offered by pastoral offices of the Vicariate. Indeed, every parish community grows more united and active when it walks in affective and effective communion with its legitimate Pastors and the entire diocesan family.


Pay special attention to families, so that they may fully realize their vocation. Even if they should encounter difficulties in conjugal life or in the education of their children, may they never cease to remember the fundamental "yes" that husband and wife declared on their wedding day. God never lets those who trust in him lack the support of grace.

4. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, continue to carry out with dedication that specific apostolic work that is so necessary for the life of the Church:  the permanent Mission. This is a precious heritage, the result of the City Mission and the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Taking on the problems of those who live in this area gives you the possibility of offering them the concrete witness of God's infinite love. In addition to the visits to families and the efforts to build friendly relations with people, may you also take pains to intensify fruitful experiences of formation that benefit children and young people, such as the children's choir and the after-school recreation centre. If you inculcate confidence in these boys and girls, they will be generous apostles among their peers and actively cooperate in the parish projects.


Dear young people, I make an appointment with you along with your other friends from other Roman parishes, for the meeting we will celebrate in St Peter's Square 21 March to prepare for the World Youth Day that will take place in Toronto this July. There is also the Diocesan Ecclesial Convention in June on the subject of vocations. Your parish community is preparing for this event with community reflection and, above all, prayer. May God raise up among you many holy priestly, religious and missionary vocations, that are essential for the life and future of the Church.

"Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5).


The words of the Apostle Paul in the second reading refer to the gift of the Spirit, symbolized by the living water, that Jesus promises to the Samaritan woman. The Spirit is the "pledge" of the definitive salvation that God has promised to us. Man cannot live without hope. Many hopes go down when they crash against the rocks of life. However Christian hope "does not disappoint" because it is based on the solid foundation of faith in the love of God revealed in Christ.


To Mary, Mother of hope, I entrust your parish and the Lenten journey towards Easter. May Mary, who followed her Son Jesus to the Cross, help us all to be faithful disciples of the one who makes well up in our hearts the water for eternal life (cf. John 4,14).



Third Sunday of Lent
3 March 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. With this Sunday of Lent we enter into the heart of this special season of conversion and spiritual renewal, that will lead us to Easter.

In fact, the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent form a stimulating baptismal journey, that goes back to the first centuries of Christianity, when by norm Baptism was conferred Holy Saturday night during the Easter Vigil. The "catechumens", after about three years of structured catechesis, in the last weeks of Lent achieved the final stages of their journey, receiving symbolically the Creed, the Our Father and the Gospel. This is why even today the liturgy of these Sundays is defined by the three passages from the Gospel of John proposed in an ancient order: Jesus promises living water to the Samaritan woman, gives sight to the man born blind, raises from the tomb his friend Lazarus. The baptismal perspective is explicit: through the water, symbol of the Holy Spirit, the believer receives the light and is born in faith to a new and eternal life.

2. Unfortunately, in many areas of ancient Christian tradition, the genuine religious sense is effectively disappearing. It has become urgent for Christians to regain the consciousness of their own identity. In other words, it is necessary that they rediscover their Baptism, cherishing the inexhaustible spiritual vigour of the sanctifying grace received in it in order to take it everywhere where their personal and social life takes them.


The "source of water that springs up to eternal life" (John 4,14), mentioned in the Gospel passage today, is present in every baptized person, but has to be continually cleared of the noxious weeds of sin so that it will not be suffocated or dried up.


3. For this reason our collaboration is indispensable. Let us accept the invitation of the liturgy to drink deeply at the sources of eternal life. May Our Lady, Mother of the Church, help those who prepare to receive Baptism and those who have already received it to achieve in these weeks a journey of radical inner renewal.

In a special way I greet the faithful of the parish of St Gelasius I, which I would have liked to visit this morning. Dear parishioners, I assure you that I was spiritually present at your celebration of the Eucharist, and that I continue to follow you in prayer. Hoping to come among you in the future, I warmly bless you.




After the Angelus the Holy Father asked for heartfelt prayer.


The news that comes from Madagascar creates in my spirit great worry and deep regret. While I trust in the traditional composure and non-violence of the Malagasy people, I beg the leaders to embark with confidence and courage on the paths of dialogue for a rapid solution of the serious crisis for the sake of the common good. I especially invite the Christian communities of the Great Island to raise fervent prayers to beg from the Lord the gift of peace in justice and in mutual respect.


Even the latest news from Jerusalem saddens me greatly. Violence, death and retaliation cannot but push the civilian population, Israeli or Palestinian, even more towards desperation and hatred. May an immediate cease fire together with a renewed sense of humanity, with respect for international law, silence the guns and make the voice of reason heard. For this reason I invite you to join me in prayer.



Third Sunday of Lent, 27 February 2005



Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, read the Holy Father's Address to pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square. He also led the recitation of the Angelus and imparted the final Blessing on behalf of the Pope. The Holy Father himself greeted and blessed pilgrims from a window at Gemelli Hospital.


1. Once again, dear brothers and sisters, I address you from the "Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic". I warmly thank you and feel you all close to me in spirit. I think of you, individuals and groups who are gathered today in St Peter's Square, and all those from all over the world who are concerned about me. I ask that you continue to assist me, especially with your prayers.


2. The penitential season of Lent that we are living helps us to understand better the value of suffering, which in one way or another touches us all. It is in looking at Christ and following him with patient trust that we are able to understand how every human form of suffering contains a divine promise of salvation and joy. I desire that this message of comfort and hope reaches everyone, especially those who are going through difficult moments and to those who suffer in body and in spirit.


3. To Mary, Mother of the Church, I once again entrust myself: Totus tuus! May she help us to fulfil God's will in every moment of life.


Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us. 




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