A group of elderly persons and the “grandparents of Rome” distributed copies of Luke’s Gospel at the Vatican on Sunday after Pope Francis delivered his Angelus address, which touched on the human dignity of the sinner.
“How deserving grandfathers and grandmothers who transmit the faith to their grandchildren!”, the Pope said as he introduced the elderly men and women, who were assisted by volunteers of the Vatican’s Santa Marta pediatric dispensary.
Delivering his remarks to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the fifth Sunday of Lent, the pontiff encouraged those present to read the Gospel daily in order that “the mercy of the Father may dwell in your heart, and you may bring it to everyone you meet.”
“I invite you to take this Gospel, because the mercy of the Father is done works in you,” he said.
In addition to containing the entire Gospel of Luke, the booklets include the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
“It would be nice that you learned by heart,” to make it easier to follow them, the Pope added.
It has become a custom of Pope Francis to call on volunteers from a particular group to distribute copies of the Gospel during Lent. On March 22, 2015, also the fifth Sunday of Lent, a group of homeless persons helped to distribute the Gospels.
Pope Francis centered his pre-Angelus address on Sunday’s Gospel account of Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery.
He recounted the scene from John’s Gospel, in which the woman is brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees. They attempt to trap him by asking whether they should stone her according to the law, or show her mercy: if Jesus follows the law, he loses his reputation, whereas if he shows her clemency, he goes against the law.
The Scribes and Pharisees “seemed to have had a thirst for blood,” the Pope observed.
However, Jesus disarmed them of their intentions, and said: whoever is without sin, cast the first stone. This prompted them to walk away in shame.
In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope observed how effectively this scene helps us to be aware of our own sinfulness.
How good it is to “have the courage to drop the stones we have for throwing at others, and to think a little about our sins,” he said.
After the Scribes and Pharisees leave the scene, Jesus turns to the woman with “eyes full of mercy and full of love” and asks her where her accusers have gone.
Observing that Jesus treated her with dignity “perhaps for the first time,” the Pope said: “she is not her sin; she has the dignity of a person.”
Such treatment “can change lives,” and help a person leave behind slavery and take “a new path.”
The scene highlights “the theme of the mercy of God, who never wants the death of the sinner, but that she be converted and live.”
The woman caught in adultery “represents all of us,” Pope Francis said: “that we are sinners, adulterers before God, traitors of his loyalty.”
“Her experience is God's will for each of us: not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus. He is the grace that saves us from sin and death.”
“God does not nail down our sin,” nor does he “identify us with the wrongs we have done. We have a name, and God does not identify this name with the sin we have committed.”
“He wants that our freedom is converted from evil to good, and this is possible - you can! - With his grace.”