By Linda Bordoni
Explaining that the liturgy of the day is linked to the Epiphany and to the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, celebrated last Sunday, Pope Francis said today’s Gospel continues to speak to us of the manifestation of Jesus, and invites us to never cease to be surprised by God’s love for us.
He reflected on the reading that tells of how John the Baptist, after having witnessed the Spirit coming down from heaven and consecrating Jesus “by remaining upon him”, cannot hold back the urgent desire to bear witness to Christ.
John, the Pope said, saw something shocking: He saw the beloved Son of God in solidarity with sinners.
And the Holy Spirit, he continued, made him understand this “unheard-of novelty”, which is a real revolution.
In fact, the Pope noted, in many religions it is man who offers and sacrifices something to God. In this case, “it is God who offers his Son for the salvation of humanity.”
He said John’s astonishment is expressed through the meaningful words we repeat during Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sin of the world!”
An invitation to begin anew our journey of faith
John the Baptist's testimony, Pope Francis said, invites us to begin anew our journey of faith: “to begin anew from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy whom the Father has given for us.”
“Let us be surprised once again by God's choice to be on our side, to show solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking the burden totally upon Himself,” he said.
And another thing to take away from this reading, the Pope said, is to learn from the Baptist “not to assume that we already know Jesus, that we already know everything about Him”.
He invited the faithful to pause and perhaps contemplate an icon of Christ, a "Holy Face", one of the many wonderful rich representations of the history of art that exist in the East and in the West.
“Let us contemplate with our eyes and even more with the heart; and let us allow ourselves to be instructed by the Holy Spirit,” he said.
The Son of God made lamb, the Pope concluded, was sacrificed out of love: “He alone carries, suffers, atones for the sins of the world, and for my sins. (…) He took them away from us, so that we would finally be free, no longer slaves to evil.”
“Still poor sinners, but not slaves: children, children of God!”
In greetings after the recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis mentioned in particular a conference being held Sunday in Berlin to discuss the crisis in Libya.
He expressed the hope that this summit, "which is so important, will be the start of a path towards an end to violence and a negotiated solution leading to peace and the much-desired stability in the country.”
The Pope also recalled that 2020 has been designated internationally as the "Year of the Nurse and Midwife".
Nurses, he said, are the most numerous health workers, and midwifery is perhaps the noblest of the professions: “Let us pray for all of them, that they may do their precious work in the best possible way.”