Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.
The Liturgy last Sunday presented to us Jesus in the desert, tempted by Satan, but victorious over temptation. In the light of this Gospel we have become aware again of our condition as sinners, but also of the victory over evil offered to all those who undertake the journey of conversion and, like Jesus, want to do the will of God. In this Second Sunday of Lent, the Church points out to us the end of this journey of conversion, namely, participation in the glory of Christ, on whose face shines that of the obedient Servant, dead and risen for us.
The Gospel page narrates the event of the Transfiguration, which is at the height of Jesus’ public ministry. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the “Servant of God” will be fulfilled and his redeeming sacrifice will be carried out. The crowds did not understand this: in front of a Messiah that was opposed to their earthly expectations, they abandoned him. They thought that the Messiah would be a Liberator from the dominion of the Romans, a Liberator of the homeland and they did not like Jesus’ perspective so they left him. The Apostles also did not understand the words with which Jesus announces the success of his mission in his glorious Passion; they did not understand! Jesus then decided to show Peter, James and John an anticipation of his glory, that which he would have after the Resurrection, to confirm them in the faith and encourage them to follow him on the way of trial, on the way of the Cross. And thus, on a high mountain, immersed in prayer, he is transfigured before them: his face and his whole person shine with a resplendent light. The three disciples are frightened, while a cloud overshadows them, and – as in the Baptism at the Jordan – the Father’s voice resounds from on High: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). Jesus is the Son who made himself Servant, sent into the world to realize, through the cross, the plan of salvation, to save all of us. His full adherence to the will of the Father renders his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is Love.
Thus Jesus reveals himself as the perfect icon of the Father, radiation of his glory. It is the fulfilment of revelation; therefore, next to him transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear, who represent the Law and the Prophets, to signify that everything ends and begins in Jesus, in his Passion and his glory.
The task for the disciples and for us is this: “Listen to him!” Listen to Jesus. He is the Savior: follow him. In fact, to listen to Christ entails assuming the logic of his Paschal Mystery, to walk with him to make of our own existence a gift of love to others, in docile obedience to the will of God, with an attitude of detachment from worldly things and of interior freedom. In other words, we must be ready to: “lose our life” (Cf. Mark 8:35), giving it so that all men are saved: thus we will meet in eternal happiness. Jesus’ way always leads us to happiness; do not forget this! Jesus’ way always leads to happiness. There will always be a cross and trials in the midst, but in the end it always leads to happiness. Jesus does not deceive us; he has promised us happiness and he will give it to us if we go on his ways.
With Peter, James and John we will also go up today on the mountain of the Transfiguration and pause in contemplation of Jesus’ face, to receive his message and translate it into our life, because we can also be transfigured by Love. In reality, love is able to transfigure everything. Love transfigures everything! Do you believe this? May the Virgin Mary, whom we now invoke with the Angelus prayer, support us on this path.
Following the Angelus, the Pope said:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Unfortunately, tragic news does not cease to arrive from Syria and Iraq, related to the violence, kidnapping of persons and abuses that harm Christians and other groups. We want to assure all those involved in these situations that we do not forget them, so that an end will be put as soon as possible to the intolerable brutality of which they are victims. Together with the members of the Roman Curia, last Friday I offered the last Holy Mass of the Spiritual Exercises for this intention. At the same time I ask everyone, in keeping with their possibilities, to do their utmost to alleviate the sufferings of all those being tried, often only because of the faith they profess. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters that suffer for the faith in Syria and Iraq … Let us pray in silence …
I also wish to remember Venezuela, which is living again moments of acute tension. I pray for the victims and, in particular, for the boy killed a few days ago at San Cristobal. I exhort all to reject violence and to respect the dignity of every person and the sacredness of human life, and I encourage them to undertake again a common path for the good of the country, reopening sincere and constructive areas of encounter and dialogue. I entrust that dear Nation to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto.
I give you all a cordial greeting – families, parish groups, associations – pilgrims of Rome, of Italy and of different countries.
I greet the faithful from San Francisco, California and the young people from the parishes of the Isola di Formentera.
I greet the groups of Fontaneto d’Agogna and Montello; the fire-fighters of Tassullo and the youngsters of Zambana.
I cordially greet the seminarians of Pavia together with the Rector and Spiritual Father. They have just finished their Spiritual Exercises and are returning today to their dioceses. Let us ask for them and for all seminarians the grace to become good priests.
I wish all a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and good-bye!