Excerpts from Pope Francis’ March 8 Angelus address on the third Sunday of Lent.

In this time of Lent we are preparing for the celebration of Easter, when we will renew the promises of our baptism. Let us walk in the world as Jesus did, and let us make our whole existence a sign of our love for our brothers, especially the weakest and poorest, let us build for God a temple of our lives.

And so we make it “encounterable” for those who we find along our journey. If we are witnesses of the living Christ, so many people will encounter Jesus in us, in our witness. But, we ask — and each one of us can ask ourselves — does the Lord feel at home in my life?

Do we allow him to “cleanse” our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of greed, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, those habits of gossiping and tearing down others? Do I allow Him to cleanse all the behaviors that are against God, against our neighbor and against ourselves?

Each one can answer for him/herself, in the silence of his/her heart: “Do I allow Jesus to make my heart a little cleaner?” “Oh Father, I fear the rod!” But Jesus never strikes. Jesus cleanses with tenderness, mercy, love.

Mercy is his way of cleansing. Let us, each of us, let us allow the Lord to enter with his mercy — not with the whip, no, with his mercy — to cleanse our hearts. With us, Jesus’ whip is his mercy. Let us open to him the gates so that he will make us a little purer.

Every Eucharist that we celebrate with faith makes us grow as a living temple of the Lord, thanks to the communion with his crucified and risen Body. Jesus recognizes what is in each of us, and knows well our most ardent desires: that of being inhabited by him, only by him.

Let us allow him to enter into our lives, into our families, into our hearts. May Mary most holy, the privileged dwelling place of the Son of God, accompany us and sustain us on the Lenten journey, so that we might be able to rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ, the only one who frees us and saves us.