Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Christ fights the evils and sufferings of the world taking them on and defeating them with the power of God's mercy," Pope Francis told the pilgrims present in St Peter's Square for the Angelus.
In his address, the pontiff spoke about the Gospel in today's liturgy (Mk 1: 40-45), which describes how Jesus healed a leper by reaching out and touching him. He had emphasised similar ideas in the Mass he celebrated this morning in St Peter's Basilica along with the 20 new cardinals he created in yesterday's consistory, and to whom he indicated "the way of Jesus, mercy and reinstatement."
Speaking before some 50,000 faithful, the Holy father focused on the same topics - the "compassion of Jesus" and the notion of "suffering with" - but with a touch of irony.
"God's mercy overcomes all barriers and Jesus' hand touches the leper." Christ "does not act from a safe distance, nor does He act by proxy, but is exposed directly to the contagion of our evil. So, our own evil becomes the place of contact: He, Jesus, takes our sick humanity from us and we take from Him His healing and healthy humanity."
"The Gospel shows us what God does with our evil. He does not give a 'lecture' on pain; he does not even come to eliminate suffering and death from the world. Instead, he takes upon himself the weight of our human condition, and carries it to the end in order to free us in a radical and definitive way."
"To us," Francis added, "the Gospel of healing the leper tells us today that, if we want to be true disciples of Jesus, we are called to become, united with him, instruments of his merciful love, overcoming all forms of marginalisation. In order to be 'imitators' of Christ (cf. 1 Cor, 11:1) towards the poor or the sick, we should not be afraid to look them in the eyes and get closer with tenderness and compassion and touch and hug them."
Putting his written speech aside, the pontiff addressed the pilgrims directly, asking them "When you help others, do you look them in the eyes, do you welcome them without fear of touching them? Do you welcome them with tenderness? Do you help them from a distance, or do you embrace them tenderly?"
"If evil is contagious," he explained, "so is goodness. Therefore, we must allow goodness to abound in us, more and more. Let us be infected by goodness, and let us spread the good contagion."
Following the Marian prayer, Francis sent his greetings to the peoples and countries that will celebrate the lunar New Year in the next few days (starting on 19 February): China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and Thailand.
"These festivities," the pope noted, "offer the happy occasion to rediscover and live intensely the fraternity that is the precious bond of family life and the foundation of social life. This annual return to the roots of the person and of the family can help all the peoples celebrating the lunar New Year build a society in which interpersonal relations are woven with respect, justice and charity."
Similarly, the pontiff greeted the faithful, who came from different parts of the world to celebrate the 20 new cardinals. He asked them to give the new princes of the Church a round of applause, and they responded with a thunderous applause and whistles of celebration.