Thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on a sunny Spring-like day to hear the words of Pope Benedict XVI at his weekly Angelus address. The Holy Father examined the mortality of all men and reminded those present that true conversion is the only path to conquering evil and death.
The Holy Father focused on Jesus' comments about two current events of his time, one involving the unjust death of a few Galileans at the hands of Pontius Pilate, the other a disaster in which several people in Siloam were crushed under a falling building.
Jesus asked those around him, "Do you think those Galileans were the worst sinners in all of Galilee…or that those 18 people were the most blameworthy of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem? (Lk 13:2,4)" Jesus’ answer to both questions, the Pope pointed out, is the same: "No, I say to you, if you do not convert you will perish in the same way. (Lk 13: 3,5)"
"This, then, is the point that Jesus wants to make to his listeners: the necessity of conversion,” the Pope said.
"True wisdom is understanding the precariousness of life and assuming an attitude of responsibility." That is, he clarified, "doing penance and improving our lives."
Cautioning all those listening to his words, the Pope added that all must undertake such penance and conversion, "otherwise, we will perish, we will all perish in the same way."
According to Pope Benedict, this conversion takes place not only on the personal level, but applies to all society as well. "In effect, people and societies that live without ever questioning themselves about these things have the same final destiny: total ruin."
"Conversion, then, though it will not preserve us from problems, will allow us to confront them in a different way," he added. Concretely, this means that conversion "allows us to conquer evil with good, if not always in a material sense, then certainly on the spiritual level."
Before closing with a Marian prayer, the Pope synthesized his address, reemphasizing for all present that "conversion conquers evil at its root, which is sin, even if it does not always avoid its consequences."
In his closing prayer, the Pope asked Mary to "accompany us and sustain us on our Lenten journey so that all Christians may rediscover the greatness and the beauty of conversion."