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
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
“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