Dear brothers and sisters,
In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the evangelist John draws our attention with a curious detail: some “Greeks”, of the Hebrew religion, who were in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, turn to Philip and said to him: “We would like to see Jesus” (Jn. 12,21). In the holy city, where Jesus had gone to for the last time, there were many people. There are the little ones and the simple ones, who warmly welcomed the prophet of Nazareth, recognizing in Him the messenger of the Lord. There are the High Priests and the leaders of the people, who want to eliminate him because they consider him a heretic and dangerous. There are also people, like those “Greeks”, who are curious of seeing Him and knowing more about His person and on the works He fulfilled, the last of which – the resurrection of Lazarus – made quite a stir.
“We would like to see Jesus”: these words, like so many others in the Gospel, go beyond this particular episode and express something universal; they reveal a desire present in the ages and cultures, a desire present in the heart of so many people who have heard of Christ, but have not yet met him.
Responding indirectly, in a prophetic way, to the request to see Him, Jesus pronounces a prophecy that reveals His identity and shows the path to know Him truly: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn. 12,23). It is the hour of the Cross! It is the hour of Satan’s defeat, prince of evil, and the definitive triumph of the merciful love of God. Christ declares that He will be “lifted up from the earth” (v. 32), an expression with a dual meaning: “lifted” because He is crucified, and “lifted” because He is exalted by the Father in the Resurrection, to draw everyone to him and to reconcile mankind with God and among themselves. The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those who believe in Him.
Continuing in the prophecy of His imminent Passover, Jesus uses a simple and suggestive image, that of the “grain of wheat” that, once fallen in the earth, dies in order to produce fruit (cfr v.24). In this image we find another aspect of the Cross of Christ: that of fruitfulness. The death of Jesus, in fact, is an inexhaustible source of new life, because it carries within itself the regenerating strength of the love of God. Immersed in this love through Baptism, Christians can become “grains of wheat” and produce much fruit if they, like Jesus, “lose their own life” for the love of God and for the brothers and sisters (cfr. V.25)
For this, to those who also today “want to see Jesus”, to those who are searching for the face of God; to those who have received a catechesis when they were little and then have not gone more in depth, maybe even losing their faith; to so many who have not yet encountered Jesus personally…; to all these people we can offer three things: the Gospel, the crucifix and the witness of our faith, poor but sincere. The Gospel: there we can encounter Jesus, listen to Him, know Him. The crucifix: sign of the love of Jesus who has given Himself for us. And then a faith that is translated in simple gestures of fraternal charity. But mainly, in the coherence of life, between what we say and what we do. Coherence between our faith and our life, between our words and our actions: Gospel, Crucifix and Witness.
May Our Lady help us to bring forward these three things.
After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis gave the following address:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Despite the awful weather many of you have come. Congratulations! You are very brave. Even the marathon runners are very brave. I greet you affectionately!
Yesterday, I was in Naples on a pastoral visit. I want to once again thank all Neapolitans for their very warm welcome, they were so good. Thank you so much!
Today marks the World Day of Water promoted by the United Nations. Water is the most essential element for life, the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it. I therefore encourage the international community to ensure that the planet’s waters may be adequately protected and that no one be excluded or discriminated against in the use of this good par excellence. With St. Francis of Assisi, we say: “Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, / which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.” (Canticle of the Sun).
I greet all the pilgrims present, in particular the Choir from the “Professional Conservatory of Music” of Orihuela (Spain), the youth from the Collège Saint-Jean de Passy of Paris, the faithful from Hungary, and the musical group from Canton Ticino (Switzerland). I greet the Secular Franciscan Order of Cremona, the UNITALSI of Lombardy, and the group named after the martyred Bishop Oscar Romero, who will soon be proclaimed Blessed; as well as the faithful of Fiumicino, the children of First Communion from Sambuceto, the youth of Ravenna, Milan and Florence who have recently received Confirmation or are about to receive it.
And now we will repeat a gesture already fulfilled last year: according to the ancient tradition of the Church, the Gospel is delivered during Lent to those who are preparing for Baptism; thus I offer to you who are in the Square today a pocket-sized Gospel. It will be distributed for free by some homeless people who live in Rome. Even in this we see a very beautiful gesture that Jesus likes: the ones most in need are the ones who give us the Word of God. Take this Gospel; carry it with you, to read it often, every day. Carry it in your purse, in your pocket, but read it often. A verse, a passage every day. The Word of God is a light for our path! It will do you well. Read it.
I wish you all a Good Sunday, Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!