Pope Francis reminded the crowd of the words of Jesus, words “words which are forever impressed upon the memory of the Christian community: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’” Because of this promise, he said, we believe that those who believe in Jesus and follow His commandments will rise to new life after death.
Jesus, the Pope said, calls to us as He called to Lazarus in his tomb: “Come forth!” This call is addressed to every human person “because we are all marked by death.” But, the Holy Father said, “Christ is not resigned to the sepulchres that we have constructed with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, our sins. [Jesus] invites us, almost orders us, to come out of the tombs into which our sins have plunged us.” This is where our resurrection begins: “when we decide to obey the command of Jesus to come into the light, to life; when the masks fall from our faces … and we rediscover the courage of our original faces, created in the image and likeness of God.”
Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that the raising of Lazarus shows us that “there is no limit to the divine mercy, which is offered to everyone… The Lord is always ready to roll away the tombstone of our sins, which separate us from Him, the light of the living.”
Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis noted the twentieth anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi people in Rwanda. After assuring the people of Rwanda of his spiritual closeness to them, he invoked “upon the dear Rwandan nation maternal protection of Our Lady of Kibeho,” before leading the crowds in the recitation of the Rosary for them.
The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims from around the world, and especially young people who have received, or are preparing to receive, the Sacrament of Confirmation.
He noted, too, the five-year anniversary of the deadly earthquake that struck the Italian city of L’Aquila, and asked for prayers for the victims of the tragedy. The Pope also called for prayers for victims of the Ebola virus, which has struck people in Guinea and the surrounding countries.
Finally, Pope Francis offered to all those in the Piazza the gift of a pocket copy of the Gospels. He reminded those in attendance that the previous Sunday he had suggested that all Christians should carry a small book of the Gospels, so they could read it often. “And then,” he said, “I thought about the ancient tradition of the Church, of giving a book of the Gospels, during Lent, to the catechumens, to those preparing for Baptism. So today I want to offer to you who are here in the Piazza — but as a sign for everyone — a pocket Gospel book.” He encouraged all those who received the Gospels to perform some act of charity for others in exchange, and called on everyone to take advantage of modern technology to carry the Bible with them every day, to read the Scriptures often, and to welcome the message of the Gospels with an open heart. Then, he said, “the good seed will bear fruit.”
The full text of Pope Francis Angelus address for Sunday, 6 April 2014, can be found below, translated by Vatican Radio:
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Gospel of this fifth Sunday of Lent tells of the resurrection of Lazarus. It is the culmination of the wonderful “signs” performed by Jesus: an act too great, too clearly divine to be tolerated by the high priests, who, aware of the fact, make the decision to kill Jesus (cf. Jn 11:53).
Lazarus had already been dead for three days when Jesus arrived; and to the sisters Martha and Mary, Jesus spoke the words which are forever impressed upon the memory of the Christian community. Jesus said this: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:25). On this Word of the Lord we believe that the life of one who believes in Jesus and follows His commandments, after death will be transformed in a new life, full and immortal. As Jesus rose with His own body, but did not return to an earthly life, so we will rise with our bodies that will be transfigured into glorious bodies. He waits for us next to the Father, and the strength of the Holy Spirit, Who raised Him, will also raise those who are united to Him.
Before the sealed tomb of His friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth” (vv. 43-44). This peremptory cry is addressed to every human person, because we are all marked by death, all of us; it is the voice of One Who is the master of life, one who will all “should have [life] more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Christ is not resigned to the sepulchres that we have constructed with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He is not resigned to this! He invites us, almost orders us, to come out from the tombs into which our sins have plunged us. He calls us insistently to come out of the darkness of the prison in which we are enclosed, contenting ourselves with a false, selfish, mediocre life. “Come forth!” He says. “Come forth!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to allow us to grab onto these words of Jesus that He repeats to each one of us today, an invitation that allows us to free ourselves from the “bands,” from the bands of pride. Because pride makes us slaves, slaves of ourselves, slaves of so many idols, slaves of so many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey the commands of Jesus to come into the light, to life; when the masks fall from our faces — so many times we are masked by sin: the masks must fall! — and we rediscover the courage of our original faces, created in the image and likeness of God.
The act of Jesus by which He raised Lazarus demonstrates the end to which the power of the Grace of God can arrive, and the end, therefore to which our conversion, our change can arrive. But listen well: there is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all! There is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all! Remember this phrase. And we can all say it together: “There is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all!” Let us say it together: “There is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all!” The Lord is always ready to take away the tombstone of our sins, which separate us from Him, the light of the living.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Tomorrow in Rwanda the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of the genocide against the Tutsi people will take place. On this occasion I want to express my paternal closeness to the Rwandan people, encouraging them to continue, with determination and hope, the process of reconciliation that has already manifested its fruits, and the commitment to the human and spiritual reconstruction of the country. To all of you I say: Do not be afraid! Construct your society on the rock of the Gospel, on love and concord, because only in this way can an enduring peace be produced. I invoke upon the dear Rwandan nation the maternal protection of Our Lady of Kibeho. I remember with affection the Rwandan bishops who were here in the Vatican this past week. And I invite all of you here, now, to pray to the Madonna, Our Lady of Kibeho.
[The Pope lead the crowd in a ‘Hail Mary.’]
I greet all the pilgrims present, in particular the participants in the Congress of the “Movimento di Impegno Educativo” [Movement for Educational Commitment] of Italian Catholic Action. Investing in education means investing in hope.
I greet the faithful of Madrid and of Menorca; [the faithful] of the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone [in Italy]; the Brazilian group “Fraternidade e tráfico humano;” the students from Canada, from Australia, from Belgium and those from Cartagena-Murcia; the “alpine” [mountaineers] from Como and from Rome.
I greet the groups of young people who have received or who are preparing for Confirmation, the youth of various parishes, and the numerous students.
Exactly five years have passed since the earthquake that struck L’Aquila and the surrounding area. In this moment we want to unite ourselves to that community which has suffered so much, that still suffers, struggles, and hopes, with such confidence in God and in the Madonna. Let us pray for all the victims, who live forever in the peace of the Lord. And let us pray for the journey of resurrection of the people of L’Aquila: that solidarity and spiritual renewal might be the strength of material reconstruction.
Let us pray also for the victims of the Ebola virus, which has spread in Guinea and in the bordering countries. May the Lord support the efforts combatting the beginnings of this epidemic and ensuring care and assistance for all the needy.
And now I want to make a simple gesture for you. Last Sunday I suggested that all of you should obtain a little book of the Gospels, to carry with you during the day, that can be read often. And then I thought about the ancient tradition of the Church, of giving a book of the Gospels, during Lent, to the catechumens, to those preparing for Baptism. So today I want to offer to you who are here in the Piazza — but as a sign for everyone — a pocket Gospel book. It is distributed to you free of charge. There are places in the Piazza for the distribution… I see them there… there… there… there, there, there. Go to these places and take the Gospel. Take it, carry it with you, and read it every day: it is Jesus Himself Who is speaking to you. It is the Word of Jesus: this is the Word of Jesus.
And as He said, I say too: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give!” Give the message of the Gospel! But maybe one or the other of you doesn’t believe this is really free. “But how much is this? What do I have to pay Father?” But let us do something in exchange for this gift: perform an act of charity, a gesture of love given freely, a prayer for an enemy, a reconciliation, something. Today you can also read the Gospel on so many technological devices. You can take the whole Bible with you on a phone, on a tablet. The important thing is to read the Word of God, by any means, but read the Word of God: It is Jesus Who speaks to us there. And welcome it with an open heart. Then the good seed will bear fruit!
I wish you a happy Sunday, and a ‘buon pranzo!’ Arrivederci