Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pope: Be followers of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away (and upon himself) the sins of the world

"Be a disciple of Jesus, the Lamb of God" : this is the task that Pope Francis entrusted to the whole Church and Christians speaking to tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square today for the Angelus prayer. 

Taking a cue from the liturgy of the day, on the testimony of John the Baptist, who calls Jesus "the Lamb of God," Francis explained ( and he repeated it twice ), what it means to be disciples of the Lamb "replacing malice with innocence , force with love, pride with humility, prestige with service".

Following the Angelus, he recalled International Migrants Day celebrated today, and asked those present to recite a prayer for them, thanking "all those who work with migrants, becoming migrants themselves", in particular the Scalabrinian fathers and sisters.
The Pope's reflection before the Angelus was rich in theological explanations . Quoting the words of John the Baptist ( "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world " Jn 1:29) , the Pope states that " The verb that is translated as 'take away ' , literally means 'lift' , 'take upon oneself.' Jesus came into the world with a specific mission: to free us from the bondage of sin , taking upon himself the sins of mankind. How? Through love . There is no other way to overcome evil and sin if not with the love that prompts the giving of ones life for others".


Jesus, he continued, "is the true paschal lamb, which is immersed in the river of our sin, to cleanse us . The Baptist sees before him a man who stands in line with sinners to be baptized, though he does not need to. A man that God sent into the world as a sacrificial lamb".
"This image of the lamb - he added - might surprise; an animal not known for its strength and robustness takes upon its shoulders an oppressive burden. The enormous mass of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature that is a symbol of obedience, docility and helpless love, which arrives at a self- sacrifice. The lamb is not a dominator, but docile; it is not aggressive, but peaceful; it does not bear its claws or teeth in the face of attack but puts up with it and is submissive".


And he asked: "What does it mean for the Church, for us, today, to be disciples of Jesus the Lamb of God?". "It means - he replied - replacing malice with innocence, force with love, pride with humility, prestige with service. Being disciples of the  Lamb means not living as if we were a 'besieged citadel ' , but as a city set on a mountain, open, welcoming and supportive. It means not assume an attitude of closure, but bringing the Gospel to all , bearing witness with our lives that following Jesus makes us freer and more joyful".

After the Angelus, Pope Francis recalled the International Migrants Day, which this year has the theme " Migrants and refugees: Towards a better world", which the pontiff developed into a Message a few months ago.

"I extend a special greeting - he added - to the representatives of various ethnic communities gathered here , in particular the Catholic community in Rome. Dear friends, you are close to the heart of the Church, because the Church is a people on a journey towards the Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ has brought into our midst. Do not lose hope for a better future ! I hope you live in peace in countries that welcome you , keeping the values ​​of your culture of origin. "
" At this time - he concluded - we think of so many migrants, those without documents , without work, we think of their suffering. And we think of those who are committed to defending them from those who Blessed Scalabrini called 'the merchants of human flesh .'" 


"I want to thank - added - the Congregation of St. Charles he founded, the Scalabrini men and women religious who become migrants themselves among migrants ."
And he asked everyone for " a prayer for migrants and refugees living in the most serious and difficult situations".

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