Life in abundance means being in communion with true life, with infinite love. It is in this way that we truly enter into the abundance of life and also become messengers of life for others.
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our Lenten journey we have reached the Fifth Sunday, characterized by the Gospel of the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11: 1-45). It concerns the last "sign" fulfilled by Jesus, after which the chief priests convened the Sanhedrin and deliberated killing him, and decided to kill the same Lazarus who was living proof of the divinity of Christ, the Lord of life and death. Actually, this Gospel passage shows Jesus as true Man and true God. First of all, the Evangelist insists on his friendship with Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. He emphasizes that "Jesus loved" them (John 11: 5), and this is why he wanted to accomplish the great wonder. "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him out of sleep" (John 11: 11), he tells his disciples, expressing God's viewpoint on physical death with the metaphor of sleep. God sees it exactly as sleep, from which he can awaken us. Jesus has shown an absolute power regarding this death, seen when he gives life back to the widow of Nain's young son (cf. Luke 7: 11-17) and to the 12 year-old girl (cf. Mark 5: 35-43). Precisely concerning her he said: "The child is not dead but sleeping" (Mark 5: 39), attracting the derision of those present. But in truth it is exactly like this: bodily death is a sleep from which God can awaken us at any moment.
This lordship over death does not impede Jesus from feeling sincere "com-passion" for the sorrow of detachment. Seeing Martha and Mary and those who had come to console them weeping, Jesus "was deeply moved in spirit and troubled", and lastly, "wept" (John 11: 33, 35). Christ's heart is divine-human: in him God and man meet perfectly, without separation and without confusion. He is the image, or rather, the incarnation of God who is love, mercy, paternal and maternal tenderness, of God who is Life. Therefore, he solemnly declared to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die". And he adds, "Do you believe this?" (John 11: 25-26). It is a question that Jesus addresses to each one of us: a question that certainly rises above us, rises above our capacity to understand, and it asks us to entrust ourselves to him as he entrusted himself to the Father. Martha's response is exemplary: "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world" (John 11: 27). Yes, O Lord! We also believe, notwithstanding our doubts and darkness; we believe in you because you have the words of eternal life. We want to believe in you, who give us a trustworthy hope of life beyond life, of authentic and full life in your Kingdom of light and peace.
We entrust this prayer to Mary Most Holy. May her intercession strengthen our faith and hope in Jesus, especially in moments of greater trial and difficulty.
After the Angelus:
In recent days, violence and horror have again stained the Holy Land, nurturing a spiral of destruction and death that seems endless. While I invite you to insistently implore the All-Powerful Lord for the gift of peace for that region, I wish to entrust the many innocent victims to his mercy and express my solidarity with their families and the injured.
Furthermore, I encourage the Israeli and Palestinian Authorities in their proposal to continue to build, through negotiations, a peaceful and just future for their Peoples, and I ask all in God's Name to leave the twisted ways of hate and vengeance and to responsibly walk the path of dialogue and trust.
My greetings to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially to the members of the European Parents Association and to the staff and students of Saint Patrick’s Evangelization School from Soho, London. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. We also hear how Martha, in the midst of her grief, was able to make her great profession of faith: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world." As we approach the season of Our Lord’s Passion, we pray that our own faith may be strengthened, so that we too can place all our hope in him who is the resurrection and the life. Upon all of you here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
This is also my hope for Iraq, while we still tremble for the fate of Archbishop Rahho and of many Iraqi people who continue to undergo a blind and absurd violence, certainly contrary to God's will.
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There are only two weeks to go until Easter and the Bible Readings of this Sunday all speak about resurrection. It is not yet that of Jesus, which bursts in as an absolute innovation, but our own resurrection, to which we aspire and which Christ himself gave to us, in rising from the dead. Indeed, death represents a wall as it were, which prevents us from seeing beyond it; yet our hearts reach out beyond this wall and even though we cannot understand what it conceals, we nevertheless think about it and imagine it, expressing with symbols our desire for eternity.
The Prophet Ezekiel proclaimed to the Jewish people, exiled far from the land of Israel, that God would open the graves of the dead and bring them home to rest in peace (cf. Ezekiel 37:12-14). This ancestral aspiration of man to be buried together with his forefathers is the longing for a “homeland” which welcomes us at the end of our earthly toil. This concept does not yet contain the idea of a personal resurrection from death, which only appears towards the end of the Old Testament, and even in Jesus’ time was not accepted by all Judeans. Among Christians too, faith in the resurrection and in life is often accompanied by many doubts and much confusion because it also always concerns a reality which goes beyond the limits of our reason and requires an act of faith.
In today’s Gospel — the raising of Lazarus — we listen to the voice of faith from the lips of Martha, Lazarus’ sister. Jesus said to her: “Your brother will rise again,” and she replies: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:23-24). But Jesus repeats: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25-26). This is the true newness which abounds and exceeds every border! Christ pulls down the wall of death and in him dwells all the fullness of God, who is life, eternal life. Therefore death did not have power over him and the raising of Lazarus is a sign of his full dominion over physical death which, before God, resembles sleep (cf. John 11:11).
However there is another death, which cost Christ the hardest struggle, even the price of the Cross: it is spiritual death and sin which threaten to ruin the existence of every human being. To overcome this death, Christ died and his Resurrection is not a return to past life, but an opening to a new reality, a “new land” united at last with God’s Heaven. Therefore St Paul writes: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
Dear brothers and sisters, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, who previously shared in this Resurrection, so that she may help us to say faithfully: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God” (John 11:27), to truly discover that he is our salvation.
After the Angelus:
I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Lenten Angelus prayer, including those from the Cathedral School of Skara, Sweden. In today’s Gospel, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead as a sign that he himself is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Let us renew our faith in Christ’s promises as we prepare to unite ourselves to the Church’s celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings! I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. I thank you all, have a good Sunday!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Today’s Three Readings speak to us about the Resurrection, they speak to us about life. This beautiful promise from the Lord: “Behold I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves” (Ezekiel 37:12), is the promise of the Lord who possesses life and has the power to give life, that those who are dead might regain life. The Second Reading tells us that we are under the Holy Spirit and that Christ in us, his Spirit, will raise us. And in the Third Reading of the Gospel, we saw how Jesus gave life to Lazarus. Lazarus, who was dead, has returned to life.
I would simply like to say something very briefly. We all have within us some areas, some parts of our heart that are not alive, that are a little dead; and some of us have many dead places in our hearts, a true spiritual necrosis! And when we are in this situation, we know it, we want to get out but we can’t. Only the power of Jesus, the power of Jesus can help us come out of these atrophied zones of the heart, these tombs of sin, which we all have. We are all sinners! But if we become very attached to these tombs and guard them within us and do not will that our whole heart rise again to life, we become corrupted and our soul begins to give off, as Martha says, an “odour” (John 11:39), the stench of a person who is attached to sin. And Lent is something to do with this. Because all of us, who are sinners, do not end up attached to sin, but that we can hear what Jesus said to Lazarus: “He cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come out’” (John 11:43).
Today I invite you to think for a moment, in silence, here: where is my interior necrosis? Where is the dead part of my soul? Where is my tomb? Think, for a short moment, all of you in silence. Let us think: what part of the heart can be corrupted because of my attachment to sin, one sin or another? And to remove the stone, to take away the stone of shame and allow the Lord to say to us, as he said to Lazarus: “Come out!”. That all our soul might be healed, might be raised by the love of Jesus, by the power of Jesus. He is capable of forgiving us. We all need it! All of us. We are all sinners, but we must be careful not to become corrupt! Sinners we may be, but He forgives us. Let us hear that voice of Jesus who, by the power of God, says to us: “Come out! Leave that tomb you have within you. Come out. I give you life, I give you happiness, I bless you, I want you for myself”.
Continue next page …
20 April 2014