.- Pope Francis on Sunday invited members of Rome's homeless community to join volunteers in handing out copies of the Gospel to pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square, a reminder of how God's Word is found among the poorest of society.
“Even in this we see a very beautiful gesture, which pleases Jesus,” the Pope said, moments after leading the crowds in the recitation of the Angelus on March 22: “those most in need are those who give us the word of God.”
The volunteers, who included homeless persons living on the streets of Rome, handed out small copies of the Gospel in Italian to those who had braved the chilly and wet morning to come and pray with the Holy Father. Meanwhile the Roman Pontiff reiterated the importance of always carrying a copy of the Scriptures to read throughout the day.
“The word of God is light for our journey!” he said.
Opening his Angelus address to mark the fifth Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel passage, in which a group of Greeks come to Jerusalem for passover and approach the apostles wishing to see Christ.
“We wish to see Jesus.” These words, the Pope said, “reveal a desire which crosses epochs and cultures, a desire present in the heart of many persons who have heard Christ speak, but have not yet encountered him.”
Christ responds to this request “indirectly” by prophesying his own death and resurrection. “The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those believe in him,” Pope Francis said.
The prophesy continues with Christ saying that unless the “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
This image, the Pope said, recalls “another aspect of the Cross of Christ: that of fertility.”
“The death of Jesus, in fact, is an inexhaustible source of new life, because it carries in itself the regenerative power of God's love.”
Pope Francis went on to list three criteria to fulfill for those who “wish to see Jesus”: the Gospel, the Crucifix, and witness.
The Holy Father placed particular emphasis on this third element of witness, stressing the importance of aligning the life we live with that which we preach: “coherence between our faith and our life, between our words and our actions.”
After leading the crowds in the recitation of the Marian prayer, Pope Francis remarked that March 22 is International Water Day, sponsored by the United Nations. He urged the international community to work in conserving water so that no one is prevented from access to it.