Gradually the Samaritan woman comes to realize that the one who has asked her for a drink is able to slake her own thirst. Jesus in effect tells her that he is the source of living water which can satisfy her thirst for ever (cf. John 4:13-14). Our human existence is marked by boundless aspirations: we seek truth, we thirst for love, justice and freedom. These desires can only be partially satisfied, for from the depths of our being we are prompted to seek “something more”, something capable of fully quenching our thirst. The response to these aspirations is given by God in Jesus Christ, in his paschal mystery. From the pierced side of Jesus there flowed blood and water (cf. John 19:34). He is the brimming fount of the water of the Holy Spirit, “the love of God poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5) on the day of our baptism. By the working of the Holy Spirit, we have become one in Christ, sons in the Son, true worshipers of the Father. This mystery of love is the deepest ground of the unity which binds all Christians and is much greater than their historical divisions. To the extent that we humbly advance towards the Lord, then, we also draw nearer to one another.
Her encounter with Jesus made the Samaritan women a missionary. Having received a greater and more important gift than mere water from a well, she leaves her jar behind (cf. John 4:28) and runs back to tell her townspeople that she has met the Christ (cf. John 4:29). Her encounter with Jesus restored meaning and joy to her life, and she felt the desire to share this with others. Today there are so many men and women around us who are weary and thirsting, and who ask us Christians to give them something to drink. It is a request which we cannot evade. In the call to be evangelizers, all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation. For this to be effective, we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 131). Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms. All of us are at the service of the one Gospel!
In this moment of prayer for unity, I would also like to remember our martyrs, the martyrs of today. They are witnesses to Jesus Christ, and they are persecuted and killed because they are Christians. Those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong. They are Christians and for that they are persecuted. This, brothers and sisters, is the ecumenism of blood.
Mindful of this testimony given by our martyrs today, and with this joyful certainty, I offer a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communions gathered here to celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. I am also pleased to greet the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, and I offer them my best wishes for the fruitfulness of the plenary session to be held in these coming days. I also greet the students from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, and the young recipients of study grants from by the Committee for Cultural Collaboration with the Orthodox Churches, centred in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Also present today are men and women religious from various Churches and Ecclesial Communities who have taken part in an ecumenical meeting organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to mark the Year for Consecrated Life. Religious life, as prophetic sign of the world to come, is called to offer in our time a witness to that communion in Christ which transcends all differences and finds expression in concrete gestures of acceptance and dialogue. The pursuit of Christian unity cannot be the sole prerogative of individuals or religious communities particularly concerned with this issue. A shared knowledge of the different traditions of consecrated life, and a fruitful exchange of experiences, can prove beneficial for the vitality of all forms of religious life in the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities.
Dear brothers and sisters, today all of us who thirst for peace and fraternity trustingly implore from our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our one priest and mediator, and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostle Paul and all the saints, the gift of full communion between all Christians, so that “the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2) may shine forth as the sign and instrument of reconciliation for the whole world. Amen.
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
The Gospel today presents to us the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry in Galilee. St Mark stresses that Jesus began to preach “after John [the Baptist] was arrested” (1:14). Precisely at the moment in which the prophetic voice of the Baptist, who proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, was silenced by Herod, Jesus begins to travel the roads of his land to bring to all, especially the poor, “the gospel of God” (cf. ibid.). The proclamation of Jesus is like that of John, with the essential difference that Jesus no longer points to another who must come: Jesus is Himself the fulfilment of those promises; He Himself is the “good news” to believe in, to receive and to communicate to all men and women of every time that they too may entrust their life to Him. Jesus Christ in his person is the Word living and working in history: whoever hears and follows Him may enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is the fulfilment of divine promises for He is the One who gives to man the Holy Spirit, the “living water” that quenches our restless heart, thirsting for life, love, freedom and peace: thirsting for God. How often do we feel, or have we felt that thirst in our hearts! He Himself revealed it to the Samaritan woman, whom he met at Jacob’s well to whom he says: “Give me a drink” (John 4:7). These very words of Christ, addressed to the Samaritan, have constituted the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which is concluding today. This evening, with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome and with the Representatives of different Churches and ecclesial communities, we will gather together in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls to pray intensely that the Lord may strengthen our commitment to bring about the full unity of all Christians. That Christians remain divided is a very bad thing! Jesus wants us to be united: one body. Our sins, history, have divided us and that is why we must pray that the same Holy Spirit unite us anew.
God, in becoming man, made our thirst his own, a thirst not only for water itself, but especially for a full life, a life free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time by his Incarnation God placed his own thirst — because God too thirsts — in the heart of a man: Jesus of Nazareth. God thirsts for us, for our hearts, for our love, and placed this thirst in the heart of Jesus. Therefore, human and divine thirst meet in Christ’s heart. And His disciples’ desire for unity is part of this thirst. We find it expressed in the prayer raised to the Father before the Passion: “That they may all be one” (John 17:21). That is what Jesus wanted: the unity of all! The devil — we know — is the father of division, the one who always divides, always makes war, does so much evil.
May Jesus’ thirst become ever more our own thirst! Let us continue, therefore to pray and commit ourselves to the full unity of the disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us by the power of his Spirit so that we may bring this goal closer. And let us entrust this our prayer to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, that she may unite us all like a good mother.
After the Angelus:
I am following with deep concern the escalation of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which continues to claim many victims in the civilian population. As I assure you of my prayer for all who suffer, I renew a heartfelt appeal that dialogue may be resumed and an end be put to all hostilities.
Now let’s continue with some companions [two children from Catholic Action of Rome join the Pope].
Dear brothers and sisters, today is the World Leprosy Day. I express my closeness to all the people who suffer from this contagion, as well as to those who care for them, and to those who struggle to remove the causes of the disease, that is, to say, living conditions unworthy of man. Let us renew our commitment of solidarity to these brothers and sisters!
I greet with affection all of you, dear pilgrims who have come from different parishes in Italy and other countries, as well as associations and school groups.
In particular, I greet the Filipino community of Rome. Dearest friends, the Filipino people are marvellous for their strong and joyful faith. May the Lord always sustain you who live far from your homeland. Thank you for your witness! And thank you for all the good you do for us, because you spread the faith among us, you bear a beautiful witness of faith. Thank you very much!
Now, I would like to address the boys and girls of Catholic Action of Rome. Dear children, this year too, accompanied by the Cardinal Vicar and by Bishop Mansueto [Bianchi], you have come in great numbers at the end of your “Caravan of Peace”. I thank you, and encourage you to proceed with joy on the Christian path, bearing to all people the peace of Jesus. Now let us listen to the message that your friends here beside me will read....
At the end of the message hundreds of balloons symbolizing peace were released
Here are the balloons that stand for ‘peace’.
Thank you, children! To everyone I wish a good Sunday and a good lunch. And please, please do not forget to pray for me. Arrivederci!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.