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Monday, March 6, 2017

0518: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Lent
by Pope Francis



Entry 0518: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Lent   

by Pope Francis (Updated 18 February 2018) 


Ofour occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Second Sunday of Lent, on 16 March 2014, 1 March 2015, 21 February 2016, and 12 March 2017. Here are the texts of four reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and two homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 March 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today the Gospel presents the Transfiguration. It is the second stage of the Lenten journey: the first was the temptation in the desert, last Sunday; the second, the Transfiguration. Jesus “took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart” (Mt 17:1). The mountain in the Bible represents a place close to God and an intimate encounter with Him, a place of prayer where one stands in the presence of the Lord. There up on the mount, Jesus is revealed to the three disciples as transfigured, luminescent and most beautiful. And then Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Him. His face is so resplendent and his robes so white that Peter, awe-struck, wishes to stay there, as if to stop time. Suddenly from on high the voice of the Father resounds proclaiming Jesus to be his most beloved Son, saying “listen to him” (v. 5). This word is important! Our Father said this to these Apostles, and says it to us as well: “listen to Jesus, because he is my beloved Son.” This week let us keep this word in our minds and in our hearts: “listen to Jesus!” And the Pope is not saying this, God the Father says it to everyone: to me, to you, to everyone, all people! It is like an aid for going forward on the path of Lent. “Listen to Jesus!” Don’t forget.

This invitation from the Father is very important. We, the disciples of Jesus, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take his words seriously. To listen to Jesus, we must be close to him, to follow him, like the crowd in the Gospel who chase him through the streets of Palestine. Jesus did not have a teaching post or a fixed pulpit, he was an itinerant teacher, who proposed his teachings, teachings given to him by the Father, along the streets, covering distances that were not always predictable or easy. Follow Jesus in order to listen to him. But also let us listen to Jesus in his written Word, in the Gospel. I pose a question to you: do you read a passage of the Gospel everyday? Yes, no, yes, no, half of the time, some yes, some no. It is important! Do you read the Gospel? It is so good; it is a good thing to have a small book of the Gospel, a little one, and to carry in our pocket or in our purse and read a little passage in whatever moment presents itself during the day. In any given moment of the day I take the Gospel from my pocket and I read something, a short passage. Jesus is there and he speaks to us in the Gospel! Ponder this. It’s not difficult, nor is it necessary to have all four books: one of the Gospels, a small one, with us. Let the Gospel be with us always, because it is the Word of Jesus in order for us to be able to listen to him.

From the event of the Transfiguration I would like to take two significant elements that can be summed up in two words: ascent and descent. We all need to go apart, to ascend the mountain in a space of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord. This we do in prayer. But we cannot stay there! Encounter with God in prayer inspires us anew to “descend the mountain” and return to the plain where we meet many brothers weighed down by fatigue, sickness, injustice, ignorance, poverty both material and spiritual. To these brothers in difficulty, we are called to bear the fruit of that experience with God, by sharing the grace we have received. And this is curious. When we hear the Word of Jesus, when we listen to the Word of Jesus and carry it in our heart, this Word grows. Do you know how it grows? By giving it to the other! The Word of Christ grows in us when we proclaim it, when we give it to others! And this is what Christian life is. It is a mission for the whole Church, for all the baptized, for us all: listen to Jesus and offer him to others. Do not forget: this week listen to Jesus! And think about the matter of the Gospel: will you? Will you do this? Then next Sunday you tell me if you have done this: that you have a little book of the Gospel in your pocket or in your purse to read in little stages throughout the day.

And now let us turn to our Mother Mary, and entrust ourselves to her guidance in pursuing with faith and generosity this path of Lent, learning a little more how to “ascend” with prayer and listen to Jesus and to “descend” with brotherly love, proclaiming Jesus.


PASTORAL VISIT TO THE PARISH
 SANTA MARIA DELL’ORAZIONE

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Rome, Sunday, 16 March 2014

In the prayer at the beginning of the Mass we asked the Lord for two graces: “To listen to Your beloved Son,” so that our faith might be nourished by the Word of God, and another grace—“to purify the eyes of our spirit, so that we might one day enjoy the vision of glory.” To listen, the grace to listen, and the grace to purify our eyes. This is directly related to the Gospel we heard. When the Lord is transfigured before Peter, James and John, they hear the voice of God the Father say: “This is my beloved Son! listen to him!” The grace to listen to Jesus. Why? To nourish our faith with the Word of God. And this is the duty of the Christian. What are the duties of the Christian? Perhaps you will say to me: to go to Mass on Sundays; to fast and abstain during Holy Week; to do this. Yet the first duty of the Christian is to listen to the Word of God, to listen to Jesus, because he speaks to us and he saves us by his word. And by this word he makes our faith even stronger and more robust. Listen to Jesus! “But, Father, I do listen to Jesus, I listen a lot!” “Yes? What do you listen to?” “I listen to the radio, I listen to the television, I listen to people gossip.” We listen to so many things throughout the day, so many things. But I ask you a question: do we take a little time each day to listen to Jesus, to listen to Jesus’ word? Do we have the Gospels at home? And do we listen to Jesus each day in the Gospel, do we read a passage from the Gospel? Or are we afraid of this, or unaccustomed to reading it? To listen to Jesus’ word in order to nourish ourselves! This means that Jesus’ word is the most nourishing food for the soul: it nourishes our souls, it nourishes our faith! I suggest that each day you take a few minutes and read a nice passage of the Gospel and hear what happens there. Hearing Jesus, and each day Jesus’ word enters our hearts and makes us stronger in faith. I also suggest that you have a little Gospel, very little, to carry in your pocket, in your purse, and when we have a little time, perhaps on the bus, when it’s possible on the bus, because on the bus it’s often a bit difficult to keep our balance and guard our pockets, isn’t it?. But when you are seated, here or there, you can also read during the day. Take the Gospel and read two little words. Having the Gospel with us always! It was said that several of the early martyrs—Saint Cecilia for example—always carried the Gospel with them: they carried the Gospel; she, Cecilia, carried the Gospel. Because it is truly our basic meal, it is Jesus’ word, which nourishes our faith.

And then the second grace we requested was the grace of purifying our eyes, the eyes of our spirit, to prepare the eyes of the spirit for eternal life. Purifying the eyes! I am invited to listen to Jesus, and Jesus manifests himself, and by his Transfiguration he invites us to gaze at him. And looking at Jesus purifies our eyes and prepares them for eternal life, for the vision of heaven. Perhaps our eyes are a little sick because we see so many things that are not of Jesus, things that are even against Jesus: worldly things, things that do not benefit the light of the soul. And in this way, this light is slowly extinguished, and without knowing it, we end up in interior darkness, in spiritual darkness, in a darkened faith: darkness, because we are unaccustomed to looking and imagining the things of Jesus.

This is what we asked today of the Father, who teaches us to listen to Jesus and to gaze at Jesus. To listen to his word, and think about what I was telling you about the Gospel: it is very important! And to see, when I read the Gospel imagining and looking at what Jesus was like, how he did things. And thus our minds, our hearts go forward on the journey of hope on which the Lord places us, as we heard he did to our father Abraham. Always remember: to listen to Jesus, to make our faith stronger; to gaze at Jesus, to prepare our eyes for the beautiful vision of his Face, where we all—may the Lord grant us the grace—will be at a Mass without end. So be it.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

Last Sunday the Liturgy presented Jesus tempted by Satan in the desert, but victorious over temptation. In the light of this Gospel, we are again made aware of our condition as sinners, but also of the victory over evil for those who undertake the journey of conversion and, like Jesus, want to do the Father’s will. In this second Sunday of Lent, the Church points out to us the end of this journey of conversion, namely participation in the glory of Christ, which shines on the face of the obedient Servant, who died and rose for us.

The Gospel page recounts the event of the Transfiguration, which takes place at the height of Jesus’ public ministry. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the “Servant of God” and his redemptive sacrifice are to be fulfilled. The crowds did not understand this: presented with a Messiah who contrasted with their earthly expectations, they abandoned Him. They thought the Messiah would be the liberator from Roman domination, the emancipator of the homeland, and they do not like Jesus’ perspective and so they leave Him. Neither do the Apostles understand the words with which Jesus proclaims the outcome of his mission in the glorious passion, they do not understand! Jesus thus chooses to give to Peter, James and John a foretaste of his glory, which He will have after the Resurrection, in order to confirm them in faith and encourage them to follow Him on the trying path, on the Way of the Cross. Thus, on a high mountain, immersed in prayer, He is transfigured before them: his face and his entire person irradiate a blinding light. The three disciples are frightened, as a cloud envelops them and the Father’s voice sounds from above, as at the Baptism on the Jordan: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mk 9:7). Jesus is the Son-made-Servant, sent into the world to save us all through the Cross, fulfilling the plan of salvation. His full adherence to God’s will renders his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is love.

Jesus thus reveals Himself as the perfect icon of the Father, the radiance of his glory. He is the fulfillment of revelation; that is why beside Him appear transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear; they represent the Law and the Prophets, so as to signify that everything finishes and begins in Jesus, in his passion and in his glory.

Their instructions for the disciples and for us is this: “Listen to Him!” Listen to Jesus. He is the Savior: follow Him. To listen to Christ, in fact, entails taking up the logic of his Pascal Mystery, setting out on the journey with Him to make of oneself a gift of love to others, in docile obedience to the will of God, with an attitude of detachment from worldly things and of interior freedom. One must, in other words, be willing to “lose one’s very life” (see Mk 8:35), by giving it up so that all men might be saved: thus, we will meet in eternal happiness. The path to Jesus always leads us to happiness, don’t forget it! Jesus’ way always leads us to happiness. There will always be a cross, trials in the middle, but at the end we are always led to happiness. Jesus does not deceive us, He promised us happiness and will give it to us if we follow His ways.

With Peter, James and John we too climb the Mount of the Transfiguration today and stop in contemplation of the face of Jesus to retrieve the message and translate it into our lives; for we too can be transfigured by Love. In reality, love is capable of transfiguring everything. Love transfigures all! Do you believe this? May the Virgin Mary, whom we now invoke with the prayer of the Angelus, sustain us on this journey.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 February 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The second Sunday of Lent presents us the Gospel of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

The apostolic visit that I made to Mexico some days ago was an experience of transfiguration for all of us. How so? Because the Lord has shown us the light of his glory through the body of the Church, of his holy people that live in this land. It is a body so often wounded, a people so often oppressed, scorned, violated in its dignity. Therefore the various encounters we experienced in Mexico were truly full of light: the light of a faith that transfigures faces and illumines our path.

The spiritual “center of gravity” of my pilgrimage was the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To remain in silence before the image of the Mother was my principal aim. I thank God that he gave me this opportunity. I contemplated and I allowed myself to be gazed upon by she who carries imprinted in her eyes the gaze of all her children, gathering up the sorrows caused by violence, kidnapping, assassinations, the violence against so many poor people, against so many women. Guadalupe is the most visited Marian shrine in the world. From all over the Americas, people go to pray where la Virgen Morenita appeared to the Indian, Saint Juan Diego, which set in motion the evangelization of the continent and its new civilization, a fruit of the encounter between diverse cultures.

This is precisely the inheritance that the Lord has entrusted to Mexico: to care for the richness of diversity, and at the same time, to manifest the harmony of a common faith, a sincere and robust faith, accompanied by a great force of vitality and humanity. Like my predecessors, I also went to confirm the Mexican people in their faith, and at the same time to be confirmed. My hands are full of this gift so that it goes out as a benefit to the universal Church.

A luminous example of what I am saying was given by families: the Mexican families received me with joy as a messenger of Christ, pastor of the whole Church. At the same time, they presented to me strong and clear testimonies, testimonies of a living faith, a faith that transfigures life, and this to edify all of the Christian families of the world. The same can be said about the youth, the consecrated, the priests, the workers, the imprisoned.

Thus I give thanks to the Lord and to the Virgin of Guadalupe for the gift of this pilgrimage. I also thank the President of Mexico and the other civil authorities for their warm welcome. I deeply thank my brothers in the episcopate and all of the people who collaborated in various ways.

We raise up special praise to the Most Holy Trinity for having wanted on this occasion to bring about in Cuba the encounter between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, our dear brother Kirill. It was an encounter also much desired by my predecessors. This event is also a prophetic light of resurrection, which the world today needs more than ever. May the Holy Mother of God continue to guide us on the path of friendship and unity. Let us pray to the Virgin of Kazan, of whom Patriarch Kirill gave me an icon.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 12 March 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
The Gospel of this second Sunday of Lent presents the narrative of the Transfiguration of Jesus. (see Mt 17:1-9). Taking aside three of the Apostles, Peter, James and John, He led them up a high mountain. And that is where this unique phenomenon took place: Jesus’ face “shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light” (v. 2). In this way, the Lord allowed the divine glory which could be understood through faith in his preaching and his miraculous gestures, to shine within Him. The Transfiguration was accompanied by the apparition of Moses and Elijah who were “talking with him” (v. 3).

The ‘brightness’ which characterizes this extraordinary event symbolizes its purpose: to enlighten the minds and hearts of the disciples so that they may clearly understand 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.

By now decisively headed toward Jerusalem, where he will be sentenced to death by crucifixion, Jesus wanted to prepare his own for this scandal—the scandal of the Cross—this scandal which is too intense for their faith and, at the same time, to foretell his Resurrection by manifesting himself as the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus was preparing them for that sad and very painful moment. In fact, Jesus was already revealing himself as a Messiah different from their expectations, from how they imagined the Messiah, how the Messiah would be: not a powerful and glorious king, but a humble and unarmed servant; not a lord of great wealth, a sign of blessing, but a poor man with nowhere to rest his head; not a patriarch with many descendants, but a celibate man without home or nest. It is truly an overturned revelation of God, and the most bewildering sign of this scandalous overturning, is the cross. But it is through the Cross that Jesus will reach the glorious Resurrection, which will be definitive, not like this Transfiguration which lasted a moment, an instant.

Transfigured on Mount Tabor, Jesus wanted to show his disciples his glory, not for them to circumvent the Cross, but to show where the Cross leads. Those who die with Jesus, shall rise again with Jesus. The Cross is the door to Resurrection. Whoever struggles alongside him will triumph with him. This is the message of hope contained in Jesus’ Cross, urging us to be strong in our existence. The Christian Cross is not the furnishings of a house or adornments to wear but rather, the Christian Cross is a call to the love with which Jesus sacrificed himself to save humanity from evil and sin. In this Lenten season, we contemplate with devotion the image of the Crucifix, Jesus on the Cross: this is the symbol of Christian Faith, the emblem of Jesus, who died and rose for us. Let us ensure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey in order to understand ever better the seriousness of sin and the value of the sacrifice by which the Savior has saved us all.

The Blessed Virgin was able to contemplate the glory of Jesus hidden in his humanness. May she help us stay with Him in silent prayer, to allow ourselves to be enlightened by his presence, so as to bring a reflection of his glory to our hearts through the darkest nights.


PASTORAL VISIT TO THE PARISH
SANTA MADDALENA DI CANOSSA

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Rome, Sunday, 12 March 2017

In this Gospel passage (see Mt 17:1-9), reference is made twice to the beauty of Jesus, of Jesus-God, of luminous Jesus, of Jesus full of joy and life. First, in the vision: “And he was transfigured”. He was transfigured before them, his disciples: “his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light”. And Jesus is transformed; he is transfigured. The second time, as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to speak of this vision before He had Risen from the dead, meaning the Resurrection Jesus was to have—did have, but at that moment he had not yet risen—the same bright, shining face will be like this! But what did he mean? That between this Transfiguration so beautiful, and that Resurrection, there will be another face of Jesus: there will be a face not so beautiful, disfigured, tortured, despised, bloodied by the crown of thorns. Jesus’ whole body will be just as something to be discarded. Two Transfigurations, and between them Jesus Crucified, the Cross. We must really look at the Cross! It is Jesus-God—“this is my Son,” “this is my beloved Son!”—Jesus, Son of God, God himself, with whom the Father is well pleased: He is completely destroyed in order to save us! To use too strong a word, too strong, perhaps one of the strongest words of the New Testament, a word which Paul uses: He made him to be sin (see 2 Cor 5:21). Sin is the most terrible thing; sin is an offense to God, a slap in the face to God, it is saying to God: “You do not matter to me; I prefer this.” So Jesus became sin, he annihilated himself, he debased himself to that point. And in order to prepare the disciples not to be scandalized to see him like this, on the cross, he appeared Transfigured.

We are accustomed to speaking about sins: when we confess “I did this sin; I did that sin;” and also in Confession, when we are forgiven, we feel that we are forgiven because He took this sin upon himself in the Passion: He became sin. We are used to speaking about the sins of others. It is a bad thing. Instead of speaking about others’ sins, I am not saying to make ourselves sin, because we cannot, but to look at our own sins and at the One who became sin.

This is the journey toward Easter, toward the Resurrection: with the certainty of this Transfiguration, to go forward; to see this face so bright, so beautiful, which will be the same one in the Resurrection and the same that we will find in Heaven, and also to see this other face, which is made sin, which paid in this way, for all of us. Jesus is made sin, he becomes the curse of God, for us: the blessed Son, in the Passion, became the accursed because he took our sins upon himself (see Gal 3:10-14). Let us think about this. How much love! What love! And let us also think about the beauty of the transfigured face of Jesus that we will meet in Heaven.

May this contemplation of the two faces of Jesus—the one transfigured and the one made to be sin, made a curse—encourage us to go forward on the journey of life, on the journey of Christian life. May it encourage us to ask forgiveness for our sins, not to sin so much. May it encourage us above all to have faith, because if He was made to be sin it is because He took ours upon himself. And He is always willing to forgive us. We need only to ask for it. 



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For reflections on the Second Sunday of Lent

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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