Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Speaking before the Angelus, Pope Francis noted that today is the fourth Sunday of Lent, called laetare Sunday, that is “rejoice”. In his address, the pontiff said that Christianity gives hope in God the Father, who is rich in mercy, whilst many people end up taking drugs or are victims of superstitions and magic because, seeking to do without God, they can be seized by concerns for the future, sickness and death.
“The starting antiphon of the Eucharistic liturgy invites us to joy,” the pope said. “’Rejoice, Jerusalem [. . .]. Exult and rejoice, you who were in sadness.’ Thus, begins the Mass. What is the reason for this joy? It is God’s great love for humanity, as the Gospel of today tells us: ‘ For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life’ (Jn, 3:16).
“These words, which Jesus spoke during the meeting with Nicodemus, summarise a theme that is at the centre of the Christian proclamation: even when the situation seems desperate, God intervenes, offering man salvation and joy. In fact, God does not stand aside, but enters the history of humanity to animate it with his grace and save it “.
“We are called,” Francis told the 40,000 people present in Saint Peter’s Square, “to listen to this proclamation, rejecting the temptation of considering ourselves sure of ourselves, of seeking to do without God, claiming absolute freedom from Him and from his Word. When we find the courage to recognise ourselves for what we are – and it takes courage for this – we realise that we are people called to deal with our fragility and our limits. Then it can happen that we become overcome by anguish, by the anxiety for tomorrow, by the fear of illness and death.
“This explains why so many people, looking for a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts such as the tunnel of drugs or that of superstitions or ruinous magic rituals. It is good to know our own limits, not to despair but to offer them to the Lord who never leaves us on our own, who takes us by the hand and for this we rejoice. [. . .] We must not be discouraged when we see our limitations, our weaknesses” for “God is greater than our weaknesses, our sins. [. . .] Let’s look at the cross to go forward.”
“May Mary, Mother of Mercy, put in our heart the certainty that we are loved by God. May she stay near us when we feel alone, when we are tempted to surrender to the difficulties of life. May she communicate to us the sentiments of her Son Jesus, so that our Lenten journey becomes an experience of forgiveness, welcome and charity.”