At midday on Sunday, March 15, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to recite the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and, as usual, commented on day’s Gospel reading, which this Sunday was Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son”. “God loves us!” exclaimed the Pope. “He loves us truly, and he loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that summarizes the whole of the Gospel, all faith, all theology: God loves, us, with freely given and boundless love”.
“At the origin of the world there is only the Father’s free and gratuitous love”, affirmed Pope Francis, cited the words of St. Irenaeus who, in his work “Adversus haereses”, wrote: “In the beginning God formed Adam, not because He was in need of humans, but so He might have someone to receive His benefits”. And after the fall, He did not abandon man to the power of death, but instead rescued him with His mercy. “As in creation”, explained Francis, “also the subsequent stages in the history of salvation emphasize the gratuity of God’s love: the Lord chooses His people not because they were deserving, but because it was the smallest among all the peoples. And, in the fullness of time, although men have broken the covenant many times, instead of abandoning them God makes a new bond with them, in the blood of Jesus – the bond of the new and everlasting covenant – a bond that nothing can ever break”.
The Cross of Christ is “the supreme proof of God’s love for us: Jesus has loved us ‘unto the end’, meaning not up to the final moment of his earthly life, but until the extreme limit of love. If in creation the Father has given us the proof of his great love by giving us life, in the passion of His Son He has given us the proof of all proofs: He has come to suffer and die for us. And this love that is so great is God’s mercy, because He loves us, He forgives us. With his mercy, God forgives all and God always forgives”.
“May Mary, Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certainty that we are loved by God. May She be close to us in the moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of Her Son, so that our Lenten itinerary may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome and of charity”.