Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Present today also were the youngsters of Catholic Action of the Diocese of Rome, who, with the “Caravan of Peace,” ended the month of January, traditionally dedicated by them to the theme of peace. At the end of the Angelus prayer two of the youngsters, belonging to two different Roman parishes and invited to the papal apartment, read a message in the name of Catholic Action of Rome.

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel (Cf. Matthew 4:12-23) presents to us the beginning of Jesus’ public mission. This occurred in Galilee, land of the periphery in regard to Jerusalem, and regarded with suspicion because of the mixture with pagans. Nothing good or new was expected from that region; instead, it was precisely there that Jesus, who grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, began His preaching. He proclaimed the central nucleus of His teaching, synthesized in the appeal: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (v. 17). This proclamation is like a powerful light beam that pierces the darkness and the fog, and recalls Isaiah’s prophecy read on Christmas Eve: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined (9:2). With the coming of Jesus, light of the world, God the Father has shown humanity His closeness and friendship. They were given gratuitously beyond our merits. God’s closeness and God’s friendship aren’t a merit of ours; they are a gratuitous gift of God; we must cherish this gift.

The appeal to repentance, which Jesus addresses to all men of good will, is fully understood precisely in the light of the event of the manifestation of the Son of God, on which we meditated in past Sundays. So often it’s impossible to change life, to abandon the way of egoism, of evil, to abandon the way of sin, because the commitment to conversion is centered on oneself and on one’s own strength, and not on Christ and His Spirit. However, our adherence to the Lord cannot be reduced to a personal effort, no. To believe this would also be a sin of pride. Our adherence to the Lord cannot be reduced to a personal effort; instead, it must be expressed in a confident openness of the heart and of the mind to receive Jesus’ Good News. It’s this — the Word of Jesus, the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel –that changes the world and hearts! Therefore, we are called to trust the word of Christ, to open ourselves to the Father’s mercy and to allow ourselves to be transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. . It’s from here that the true path of conversion begins, precisely as it happened to the first disciples: the encounter with the divine Teacher, with His gaze, with His word, gave them the thrust to follow Him, to change their life, putting themselves concretely at the service of the Kingdom of God.

The surprising and decisive encounter with Jesus started the journey of the disciples, transforming them into heralds and witnesses of the love of God for His people. In imitation of these first heralds and messengers of the Word of God, may each one of us be able to move our steps in the footsteps of the Saviour, to offer hope to those that thirst for it.

May the Virgin Mary, to whom we turn in this Angelus prayer, sustain us in these resolutions and confirm them with Her maternal intercession.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate for the first time the Sunday of the Word of God, instituted to celebrate and receive ever better the gift that God made and makes daily of His Word to His People. I thank the Dioceses <and> I thank the communities that have proposed initiatives to recall the centrality of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church.

Observed tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. In face of this huge tragedy, of this atrocity, indifference isn’t admissible and memory is a duty. Tomorrow we are all invited to engage in a moment of prayer and recollection, each one saying in his own heart: never again, never again!

Being held today is the Wold Day of Hansen’s disease patients. We are close to all persons affected by it and to all those that, in different ways, take care of them. I also wish to be close and to pray for the persons sick with the virus that has spread in China. May the Lord receive the deceased in His peace, comfort the families and sustain the great commitment of the Chinese community, already implemented to combat the epidemic.

I greet all of you from Italy and from several countries, in particular the pilgrims of Valencia, Salamanca, Burgos, Santander and Valladolid; the students and the teachers od Murcia, Cuenca, Badajoz and those of Panama.

I greet the faithful of Tursi and the UNITALSI group of Lazio, which facilitates the participation of disabled persons in the General Audiences and in the Angelus, and which today is distributing the Missal with the Word of God for every day.

Now the companions have arrived [two youngsters of ACR next to the Pope]. I greet affectionately the boys and girls of Catholic Action, of the parishes and the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Rome! — also accompanied this year by the Auxiliary Bishop, Monsignor Selvadagi, by your parents and teachers and by the assistant priests, numerous ones of you have come at the end of the “Caravan of Peace.”  I thank you for this initiative. And now we will listen together to the message of your friends, here next to me, who will read.

[Reading of the message at the end of the release of balloons]

I wish you all a happy Sunday. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!


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