Pope Francis has prayed today in the Angelus that the “very important” UN-backed summit Sunday in Berlin on Libya “is the start of a path towards the cessation of violence and a negotiated solution, which leads to peace and the much-desired stability of the country”.

Full text of the Pope’s words before the Angelus prayer

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

This Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is placed in continuity with Epiphany and with the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. The evangelical passage (Cf. John 1:29-34) speaks to us again of Jesus’ manifestation. In fact, after being baptized in the River Jordan, He was consecrated by the Holy Spirit who rested on Him and was proclaimed Son of God by the Heavenly Father’s voice (Cf. Matthew 3:16-17). The Evangelist John, as opposed to the other three Evangelists, doesn’t describe the event, but proposes to us John the Baptist’s testimony. He was the first witness of Christ. God had called him and prepared him for this.

The Baptist couldn’t hold back the urgent desire to give witness of Jesus and declares: “I have seen and have borne witness” (v. 34). John has seen something overwhelming, namely, the beloved Son of God solidary with sinners; and the Holy Spirit made him understand the unheard-of novelty, a true upheaval.

In fact, whereas in all religions it is man who offers and sacrifices something to God, in the event Jesus is God who offers His own Son for humanity’s salvation.

John manifests his astonishment and his consensus to this novelty brought by Jesus, through a pregnant expression that we repeat every time in the Mass: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (v. 29).”

John the Baptist’s testimony invites us to always begin again our journey of faith: to begin again from Jesus Christ, Lamb full of mercy that the Father has given for us. To let ourselves be surprised again by God’s choice to be on our side, to make Himself solidary with us sinners, and to save the world from evil taking charge of it totally.

We learn from John the Baptist not to presume to know Jesus already, to know already everything about Him (Cf. v. 31). No, it’s not like that.

Let us pause on the Gospel, contemplating perhaps also an icon of Christ, a “Holy Face.” We contemplate it with our eyes and even more with our heart, and we allow ourselves be instructed by the Holy Spirit, who says to us within: It is He! It is the Son of God made Lamb, immolated out of love. He, He alone has borne, has suffered, has expiated the sin, the sin of each one of us, the sin of the world, and also my sins — all. He took them all on Himself and took them away from us, so that we could finally be free, no longer slaves of evil. Yes, we are still poor sinners but not slaves, no, not slaves but children, children of God!

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the strength to render witness to Her Son Jesus; to proclaim Him joyfully with a life freed from evil and a word full of amazed and grateful faith.

Full text of the Pope’s greetings after the prayer

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Being held today in Berlin is a Conference to discuss the crisis in Libya. I earnestly hope that this very important summit is the start of a path towards the cessation of violence and a negotiated solution, which leads to peace and the much-desired stability of the country.

I greet you all, dear pilgrims and Roman faithful, in particular the members of some Confraternities of Seville, Spain; the faithful of Bielsko-Biala and of Poznan, Poland; the students of “Loras College” of Dubuque, the United States, and those of the Vila Pouca de Aguiar, in Portugal.

I greet the parish groups of Scandicci and Quarto d’Altino, those of San Giuseppe al Trionfale and of San Melchiade in Rome, as well as the altar servers of Corva, diocese of Concordia-Pordenone, with their families.

It gives me pleasure that 2020 has been designated, at the international level, as “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.”

The nurses are the most numerous and closest health workers to the sick, and the midwives carry out, perhaps, the most noble among the professions. Let us pray for all of them, so that they can carry out to the best their precious work.

(Source: ZENIT; translation Virginia M. Forrester)

Francis hails Italian fishermen’s efforts to rid ocean of plastic

Meanwhile, on Saturday morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience a delegation of fishermen from San Benedetto del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno).

The following is the Pope’s address to those present:

Full text of the Greeting of the Holy Father to Italian fishermen

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am pleased to meet you and I greet you all warmly. I thank your bishop for his words, as well as the priests present here, who spiritually accompany your work and your families. Along the coast of the Marches, you go out in good and bad weather to take from the sea what is necessary to live, with great passion, many sacrifices and also some danger. And your loved ones share the difficulties and the precariousness that your type of live involves.

You are a significant category in the social life of your territory. In the progress that characterizes modern society, the fisherman may at times be tempted by the desire for a stable job on dry land. Yet those who are born by the sea can never remove the sea from their heart. I urge you not to lose hope in the face of the hardships and uncertainties you are unfortunately facing: you are not lacking in courage! At the same time, your often risky and hard work needs to be valued, and your rights and your legitimate aspirations need to be supported.

For my part, I would like to express my particular appreciation for the seabed reclamation activity that you have undertaken with the support of other associations and the collaboration of the competent authorities. This initiative is very important, both on account of the large amount of waste, especially plastic waste, that you have recovered, and –I would say above all – because it can and is already becoming a model that can be repeated in other areas of Italy and abroad. The operation “A Pesca di Plastica” (“Fishing for Plastic”) which you have carried out on a voluntary basis, is an example of how local civil society can and must contribute to tackling issues of global importance, without subtracting from, on the contrary stimulating, the responsibility of institutions.

Dear friends, yours is an ancient job. Even in the Gospel we read a series of events related to the life and world of fishermen. Jesus’ first disciples were “your colleagues”, and He called them to follow Him just as they were setting up their nets on the shore of the Lake of Galilee. I like to think that even today, those of you who are Christians feel the spiritual presence of the Lord beside you. Your faith animates precious values: popular religiosity which is expressed in trust in God, in the sense of prayer and in the Christian education of children; esteem for the family; a sense of solidarity, so that you feel the need to help one another and to help each other in need. Do not lose these values!

With these wishes, I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate as “Our Lady of the Sea”, and of your patron Saint Francis of Paola. I invoke the Lord’s blessing upon you, your families and your work. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you!

(Source: Vatican Press Office)

Next on Novena:

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.