By Virginia Forrester

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace, before and after praying the Angelus.

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

At this moment, the Mass is ending in Milan that the Lord Archbishop is celebrating in the Polyclinic for the sick, the doctors, the nurses, and the volunteers. The Lord Archbishop is close to his people and also close to God in prayer. There comes to mind last week’s photograph: he alone under the Duomo’s roof to pray to Our Lady. I would also like to thank all the priests for their creativity. Much news reaches me from Lombardy about this creativity. It’s true; Lombardy is very affected. Priests thinking a thousand ways how to be close to the people, so that the people don’t feel abandoned; priests with apostolic zeal who have understood well that in the times of pandemic one must not be a “doubting Thomas.” Thank you so much to you, priests.

The evangelical passage of this Third Sunday of Lent presents Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman (Cf. John 4:5-42). He is on the road with His disciples and they stop near a well in Samaria. The Samaritans were considered heretics by the Jews and very scorned, as second-class citizens. Jesus is tired and thirsty. A woman arrives to draw water and He asks her: “Give Me a drink” (v. 7). So, breaking every barrier, He begins a dialogue in which He reveals to that woman the mystery of the living water, namely of the Holy Spirit, gift of God. In fact, to the woman’s reaction of surprise, Jesus responds: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (v. 10).

Water is at the center of this dialogue. On one hand, water as an essential element to live, which slakes the body’s thirst and sustains life. On the other, water is a symbol of divine grace, which gives eternal life. In biblical tradition God is the source of living water — it’s said thus in the Psalms, in the prophets –: to estrange oneself from God, source of living water, and from His Law, entails worst thirst. It’s the experience of the people of Israel in the desert. In the long road to freedom, they, burning with thirst, protest against Moses and against God because there is no water. Then, by the Will of God, Moses makes water spring from a rock, as sign of the Providence of God, who accompanies His people and gives them life (Cf. Exodus 17:1-7).

And the Apostle Paul interprets that rock as a symbol of Christ. He said thus: “and the Rock was Christ” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:4). It’s the mysterious figure of His presence in the midst of the people of God that walks. In fact, Christ is the Temple of whom, according to the prophets’ vision, gushes the Holy Spirit, namely, the living water that purifies and gives life. One who is thirsty for salvation can draw freely from Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will become in him or in her as source of full and eternal life. The promise of living water, which Jesus made to the Samaritan woman, became a reality in His Pasch: from His pierced side “blood and water” came out (John 19:34). Christ, immolated and resurrected Lamb, is the source from which the springs the Holy Spirit, who remits sins and regenerates to new life.

This gift is also the source of witness. Like the Samaritan woman, whoever encounters Jesus alive feels the need to tell others, so that all come to confess that Jesus “is truly the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42), as that woman’s fellow-villagers then said. We too, generated to new life through Baptism, are called to witness the life and hope that are in us. If our search and our thirst find in Christ full satisfaction, we will manifest that salvation is not in the “things” of this world, which in the end cause dryness, but in Him who has loved us and always loves us: Jesus our Saviour, in the living water He offers us.

May Mary Most Holy help us to cultivate the desire for Christ, source of living water, the only One who can slake the thirst for life and love that we bear in heart.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These days St. Peter’s Square is closed, so my greeting goes to you directly, who are connected through the means of communication.

In this pandemic situation, in which we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and reflect further on the value of communion, which unites all the members of the Church. United to Christ, we are never alone, but we form one body, of which He is the Head. It’s a union that is nourished in prayer, and also in spiritual communion with the Eucharist, a greatly recommended practice when it’s not possible to receive the Sacrament. I say this for all, especially for persons that live alone.

I renew my closeness to all the sick and to those that care for them, as well as to the many operators and volunteers that help persons who can’t leave the house, and to all those that go to meet the needs of the poorest and the homeless.

Thank you so much for all the effort that each one of you makes to help in this very harsh moment. May the Lord bless you, Our Lady protect you and, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a happy Sunday and enjoy your lunch! Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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