During the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis calls on Christians to take away the stones from their hearts, and let the Word of God restore life where there is death.
During his Angelus, on this Fifth Sunday of Lent, livestreamed from the Library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis took inspiration from the day’s Gospel; the resurrection of Lazarus.
The Pope recalled the desperation of Martha and Mary who said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
Pope Francis reflected that Jesus, according to the Gospel, is moved by the tears of the sisters and cries aloud for Lazarus to come out of the tomb, which he does, wrapped in strips of linen.
God gives life and takes life
The Pontiff noted that in the Gospel passage, “we are able to touch with our hand the fact that God is life and gives life, yet takes on the drama of death.”
“Jesus could have avoided the death of His friend Lazarus,” explained the Pope, “but He wanted to share in our pain for the death of people dear to us, and above all He wished to demonstrate God’s dominion over death.”
In the Gospel, said Pope Francis, “we see that man’s faith and the omnipotence of God’s love seek each other and finally meet.”
Amid grief, continue to have faith
God’s response to the women’s cry of ‘if you had been here,’ is not a speech, Pope Francis underlined; it is Jesus saying, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’… have faith.
“Amid grief, continue to have faith, even when it seems that death has won. Take away the stone from your heart! Let the Word of God restore life where there is death.”
Take away the stone
The Pope pointed out, that even today “Jesus repeats to us: ‘Take away the stone.’”
“Therefore, Pope Francis continued, “we are called to take away the stones of all that smacks of death,” such as the marginalisation of the poor, and the hypocrisy with which faith is lived.
“The Lord asks us to take away these stones from our hearts,” said the Pope, “and life will then flourish again around us.”
In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that “the Virgin Mary would help us to be compassionate like her Son Jesus, who made our pain His own.” “May each of us,” the Pope said, “be close to those who are in difficulty, becoming for them a reflection of God’s love and tenderness, which liberates us from death and makes life victorious.
Pope appeals for global ceasefire amid COVID pandemic
In words following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis highlighted an appeal launched by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres this week calling for an ‘immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world,’ amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Cessation of hostilities
From the Library of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope said he joined all those who had made this call and he invited everyone “to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability.”
Unity and Solidarity
“May our joint fight against the pandemic bring everyone to recognise the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family,” the Pope said.
“In particular, may it inspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries among leaders of nations and those parties involved. Conflicts are not resolved through war.”
Antagonism and differences, Pope Francis underlined, “must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace.”
Prisoners and groups
He also had a special mention for all those at this time who have to live in groups, such as those in nursing homes and barracks.
The Pope also drew attention to those who are in prison. In a special way, Pope Francis said, “I would like to mention people in prisons. I have read an official memo from the Human Rights Commission which talks about the problem of overcrowded prisons which could become a tragedy. I call on the authorities to be sensitive to this serious problem and to take the necessary measures to prevent future tragedies.”
Vatican News – Pope Angelus: Take away the stones to new life
Vatican News – Angelus: Pope appeals for global ceasefire amid COVID pandemic