Meditating on the Gospel and on Christ’s holy face is a good way to know Jesus better, especially as the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for the sins of the world, Pope Francis said Sunday.
Reflecting on John the Baptist’s testimony in the Gospel of John is an invitation “to start afresh on our journey of faith: to start afresh from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy that the Father has given for us,” he said Jan. 19.
“We learn from the Baptist not to presume that we already know Jesus, that we already know everything about him,” he continued. “It is not so. Let’s stop on the Gospel, perhaps even contemplating an icon of Christ, a ‘holy face.’
The Holy Face of Manoppello, held in a church in an Italian village, is believed to be an image of the face of Christ, perhaps from the Veil of Veronica.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, celebrated Mass at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello Jan. 19. At the conclusion of the Mass, the cardinal led a procession with the image.
The Mass and procession were to mark the feast of “Omnis Terra,” which recalls Pope Innocent III’s procession with the Holy Face in 1208, when the image was held at the Vatican.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the protectors of the Holy Face of Manoppello, were also present at the Mass and procession with Cardinal Koch.
At his Angelus address, Pope Francis said we contemplate Christ with the eyes but even more so with the heart. We “let ourselves be instructed by the Holy Spirit, who tells us inside: It is He! He is the Son of God made lamb, immolated for love,” he said.
“He alone suffered, atoned for sin, the sin of each of us, the sin of the world, and also my sins, all. He carried them all on himself and took them away from us, so that we could finally be free, no longer slaves to evil,” Francis stated. “Yes, we are still poor sinners, but not slaves, no, not slaves: children, children of God!”
The pope explained that the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is a continuation of the feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. It continues to speak about Jesus, who after his baptism was “consecrated by the Holy Spirit,” he said.
He urged Catholics to “be surprised again by God’s choice to be on our side, to be in solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking charge of it totally.”
After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reminded Catholics that 2020 has been designated the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” by the World Health Organization.
“Nurses are the most numerous health workers, and midwives are perhaps the most noble of the professions,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them, so that they can do their best at the valuable work.”
The pope also expressed his desire that a high-level summit in Berlin on the crisis in Libya “will be the start of a path towards the cessation of violence and a negotiated solution that will lead to peace and the much desired stability of the country.”