During the Angelus, Pope Francis said that "The Church, in every age, is called to do what John the Baptist did – show Jesus to the people." The pontiff warned though, “Woe, woe to the Church when it proclaims itself, for it loses its compass, and does not know where it goes.” On the World Day of Migrants and refugees, dedicated to migrant children, “It is necessary to take every possible measure to ensure protection and defence to migrant children, as well as their integration." Speaking to ethnic communities, he expressed his hope that they will “live peacefully in the towns that welcome you, respecting their laws and traditions and, at the same time, maintaining the values of your cultures of origin.” He thanked the Migrantes Office and cited the example of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, patron saint of migrants.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Church "does not proclaim itself, it proclaims Christ; it does not bring itself, it brings Christ,” said Pope Francis today in meeting with pilgrims before the Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square, as he commented on this Sunday’s Gospel (the second in the Liturgical Year A, Jn 1:29-34), in which John the Baptist shows Jesus as "the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". After the Marian prayer, the pope mentioned that today is also the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, whose theme this year is ‘Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless’.
In his address, the Pope focused on the description of the Gospel scene. "Jesus appeared on the riverbank, amid people, the sinners, like all of us. This is his first public act, the first thing he does when he leaves home in Nazareth, at the age of 30. He goes down into Judea, goes to the Jordan and was baptised by John.
“We know what happens – we celebrated it last Sunday. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father declares him his beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:16-17). It is a sign that John was waiting for. It is him! Jesus is the Messiah. John is baffled, because he showed himself in an unthinkable way: among sinners, baptised like them, in fact, for them.
“But the Spirit illuminates John and lets him know that God’s justice unfolds, his plan of salvation unfolds: Jesus is the Messiah, the King of Israel, but not with the power of this world, but as the Lamb of God, who takes upon himself the sin of the world and takes it away. This is how John shows him to the people and his disciples. Because John had a large circle of disciples, who had chosen him as their spiritual guide, and indeed some of them will become the first disciples of Jesus."
"Dear brothers and sisters,” the Holy Father went on to say, “why did we dwell at length on this scene? Because it is decisive! It is not an anecdote; is a decisive historical fact. It is decisive for our faith; and it is also decisive for the mission of the Church. The Church, in every age, is called to do what John the Baptist did – show Jesus to people saying, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ He is the only saviour, he is the Lord, humble, among sinners, but he is not another person with power . . .
“These are the words that we priests repeat every day, during Mass, when we present to the people the bread and wine that have become the Body and Blood of Christ. This liturgical gesture represents the whole mission of the Church, which does not proclaim itself. Woe, woe to the Church when it proclaims itself for it loses its compass, and does not know where it goes. The Church proclaims Christ; it does not bring itself; it brings Christ. Because it is He and He alone who saves His people from sin, delivers them and guides them to the land of true freedom.
“Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lamb of God, help us believe in him and follow him."
After the Angelus prayer, citing the theme of the World Day of Migrants ‘Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless’," Francis said: "These our brothers, especially if unaccompanied, are exposed to many dangers. I assure you, there are many! It is necessary to take all possible measure to ensure protection and defense to child migrants, as well as their integration."
The Pope then greeted the representatives of different ethnic communities in the square. "Dear friends,” he said, “I would like to wish you to live peacefully in the towns that welcome you, respecting their laws and traditions and, at the same time, maintaining the values of your cultures of origin.
“The meeting of different cultures is always an enrichment for everyone! I thank the Migrantes Office of the Diocese of Rome and those who work with migrants, welcoming and accompanying them in their difficulties, and I encourage you to continue this work, citing the example of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of migrants, whose death a century ago we mark this year.
“This courageous nun dedicated her life to bring Christ’s love to those who were far from home and family. May her testimony help us take care of our foreign brothers and sisters in whom Jesus is present, often suffering, rejected and humiliated. Many times the Lord ask us in the Bible to welcome migrants and foreigners, reminding us that we too were strangers!"