Pope Francis centered his Angelus message this Sunday on the image of a Christian whose faith is like a burning lamp that brings light to the darkness.
“We must carry the light of Christ with the witness of a genuine love,” encouraged the Pope on Feb. 9. “The Christian must be a luminous person who carries the light, a light that comes from one that his not his own, but a gift of God, a gift of Jesus. We carry this light forward!”
If a Christian loses this light, “his life doesn’t make sense. He is a Christian in name only,” Pope Francis cautioned.
Departing from his prepared remarks, the pontiff turned to query the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “I want to ask you now, how do you want to live? As a lamp that is lit, or one that is off?”
“I can’t hear your response!” he said, urging the crowd to reply louder.
“A lit lamp!” he affirmed, “This is the Christian vocation!”
Sunday’s gospel passage recounted Jesus’ encouragement to his disciples, “you are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.”
This story might “surprise us a little,” noted Pope Francis, “if we think of who was in front of Jesus when he said these words.”
The disciples were mere “fishermen, simple people...but Jesus saw them with the eyes of God.”
Christ “wanted to say to them: if you will be poor in spirit, if you will be gentle, if you will be pure of heart, if you will be merciful, you will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!”
Such a calling extends to all Christians, the Pope explained. “All of us who are baptized are missionary disciples and we are called to become a living gospel in the world: with a holy life we will give ‘flavor’ to diverse settings and preserve them from decay, as salt does.”
After leading the crowds in the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis noted that Tuesday, Feb. 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day for the Sick.
“The dignity of of the person is never reduced to his faculties or capacities, and does not diminish when the person himself is weak, handicapped, and in need of help,” affirmed the pontiff.
He went on to thank health care workers for their “invaluable work,” and acknowledge the many letters he receives from families who have very ill members.
“So many write to me, and today I want to assure all of these families of a prayer, and I say to them: don’t be afraid of frailty! Help one another with love, and feel the consoling presence of God.”
Pope Francis then expressed his well wishes for those participating in the Winter Olympics in Sochi and greeted the many pilgrim groups who had travelled to St. Peter’s Square.
Before concluding with his usual “I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch,” the Pope paused for a moment to ask again, “A lit lamp, or a lamp that is off? Which do you want?”
“A lit lamp!” the crowd enthusiastically replied.
“A Christian carries the light!” he affirmed. “He is a lit lamp. Always forward with the light of Jesus!”