“This is a plague, a hidden cry which must be heard by us all and which we cannot continue to pretend not to see and hear”.

Pope Francis called for prayer for “all the young victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and war”, at the end of the Angelus on 12 March in Saint Peter’s Square.

The Pontiff was referring in particular to the victims of the “serious and sad fire which broke out inside the Casa Refugio Virgen de la Asunción” in Guatemala. He expressed his closeness to the people of Central America and his solidarity with the injured young women. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope spoke about the Gospel of the second Sunday in Lent which focused on the Transfiguration of Jesus. “The “brightness” which characterized this extraordinary event, he explained symbolizes its purpose: “to enlighten the minds and hearts of the disciples so that they could understand clearly who their Teacher is. It is a flash of light which suddenly opens onto the mystery of Jesus and illuminates his whole person and his whole story”.

epa05843699 Demonstrators protest during a vigil in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 11 March 2017. Dozens of Guatemalan protesters demanded President Jimmy Morales to step down after a fire in a care center killed 38 girls on 08 March. EPA/Edwin Bercian

The event is part of the journey which leads Christ ”toward Jerusalem where he will be sentenced to death by crucifixion”. Jesus wanted to prepare his [disciples] for this scandal, the scandal of the Cross which is too strong for their faith and, at the same time, forewarn his Resurrection. It is “an upturned revelation of God” in which “the most bewildering sign is the cross”.

However, the Pontiff explained that “it is through the cross that Jesus will reach glorious Resurrection”. “Transfigured on Mount Tabor, Jesus wanted to show his disciples his glory, not to avoid them passing through the Cross, but to show them where the Cross takes you”; to the Resurrection. It is a “message of hope” from the “Christian Cross” which is “not [like] the furnishings of a house or an ornament to wear, but rather, the Christian Cross is a call to the love with which Jesus sacrificed himself to save humanity”. The Holy Father ended by calling Christians to contemplate “the image of the Crucifix with devotion” over this Lenten period and to ensure that the Cross will “mark the stages of our Lenten journey”.

The Holy Father continued the same theme in the afternoon, during his homily at a Mass celebrated in Saint Magdalene of Canossa. During his pastoral visit to the parish church in Ottavia, the Pope also met the community and engaged in a question and answer session of memory and reflection with a group of children, which became a moment of catechesis: meeting Jesus? He always takes the first step; Is it better to be Pope or Parish Priest? Both, the important thing is to do what God wishes, well; What is the Pope afraid of? Of evil, of gossip which is like dropping a bomb; The most beautiful moments? Many, going to a football match on Sunday afternoon with my father and sometimes with my mother too and meeting with old school friends. Mobile phones and television? Technology helps to communicate, but we are no longer capable of dialogue and listening to others.

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