At midday, following the Mass celebrated with the cardinals in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Francis returned to the theme of his homily, Christ's compassion and mercy when faced with any type of ailment of the body or spirit, based on the Gospel narrative of the healing of the leper.
“God's mercy overcomes every barrier, and Jesus' hand touches the leper. He does not keep a safe distance and does not act by proxy, but rather He directly exposes Himself to contagion by our malady; and it is precisely our malady that becomes the locus of contact: He, Jesus, takes our ailing humanity from us and we take His healthy, restorative humanity from Him. This happens every time that we receive a Sacrament with faith: the Lord Jesus 'touches' us and gives us His grace. In his case, we think especially of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which cures us from the leprosy of sin”.
“Once again the Gospel shows us what God does when faced with our sickness: God does not come to 'give a lecture' on pain; neither does He come to eliminate suffering and death from the world; rather, He comes to take upon Himself the burden of our human condition, to bear it unto the end, to free us in a radical and definitive way. Thus Christ vanquishes the ills and sufferings of the world: by taking them upon Himself and defeating them with the strength of God's mercy”.
Today, the Gospel passage of the healing of the leper tells us that if we wish to be “true disciples of Christ, we are required to become, joined with Him, instruments of His merciful love, setting aside every type of marginalization. To be 'imitators of Christ' before the poor or sick, we must not be afraid to look them in the eye and to draw closer with tenderness and compassion, to touch and embrace them”, explained the Pope, adding that he often asks those who help others to do so “looking them in the eye, without being afraid to touch them, so that the gesture of aid may also be a gesture of communication”.
“We too need to be accepted by them”, he continued, “A gesture of tenderness, a gesture of compassion. … If evil is contagious, so is good. Therefore, good must increasingly abound in us. Let us be 'infected' by good, and spread good to others!”.
Following the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father expressed his desire for hope and peace to all the men and women of the Far East and in the other parts of the world that celebrate the new lunar year. “This celebrations offer them the happy occasion to rediscover and live intensely fraternity, the precious bond of family life and the foundation of social life. May this annual return to the roots of the person and the family help these peoples to build a society in which relationships based on respect, justice and charity may be woven”.
Finally, he greeted all those who have come to Rome for the consistory and to accompany the new cardinals, and thanked the countries that had sent official delegations. Pope Francis concluded by asking the faithful and pilgrims in the Square to applaud the new cardinals.
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