From Tabor, the mountain of the Transfiguration, our Lenten journey leads us to Golgotha, the mountain of the supreme sacrifice of the one Priest of the new and eternal Covenant. In that sacrifice is contained the greatest power for transforming man and history. Taking upon himself all the consequences of evil and sin, Jesus would rise on the third day and emerge from this dramatic experience as the conqueror of death, hell and Satan. Lent prepares us to participate personally in this great mystery of faith which we celebrate in the Triduum of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.


Let us ask the Lord that we might prepare ourselves suitably: “Jesus, beloved Son of the Father, grant that we may listen to you and follow you to Calvary, to the Cross, to share with you in the glory of the Resurrection”.




Sunday, 23 February 1997



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. On this Second Sunday of Lent the liturgy presents us with the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. It is the revelation of glory, which precedes the supreme trial of the Cross and anticipates the victory of the Resurrection.


Peter, James and John were witnesses of this extraordinary event. Today’s Gospel recounts that Jesus took them apart and led them with him up a high mountain (Mark 9:2).


The disciples’ ascent to Tabor spurs us to reflect on the penitential journey of these days. Lent is also an upward path. It is an invitation to rediscover the calming and regenerating silence of meditation. It is an effort to purify the heart of the sin that burdens it. It is certainly a demanding journey, but one that leads us towards a goal rich in beauty, splendour and joy.


2. In the Transfiguration the heavenly Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son; listen to him (Mark 9:7). These words contain the whole programme for Lent: we must listen to Jesus. He reveals the Father to us, because, as the eternal Son, he is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). But at the same time, as true “Son of man”, he reveals what we are, he reveals man to man (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 22). So let us not be afraid of Christ! In raising us to the heights of his divine life, he does not take away our humanity, but on the contrary, he humanizes us, giving our personal and social life full meaning. We are also urged to this ever more invigorating rediscovery of Christ by the prospect of the Great Jubilee, which in this first year of immediate preparation is principally centred on the contemplation of Christ: a contemplation that must be nourished by the Gospel and prayer, and must always be accompanied by authentic conversion and the constant rediscovery of love as the law of daily life.


3. Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to Mary, the Virgin who listens, who was always prepared to welcome and to treasure in her heart her divine Son’s every word (cf. Luke 2:51). The Gospel says of her: “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). May the heavenly Mother of God help us enter into deep harmony with the Word of God so that Christ may become the light and guide of our whole life.

4. God the Father “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all (Romans 8:32). By his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham foreshadows Christ's sacrifice for the world's salvation. The actual carrying out of the sacrifice, which Abraham is spared, will take place with Jesus Christ. It is he who tells the Apostles this: coming down from the mount of the Transfiguration, he orders them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. The Evangelist adds: “They kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant” (Mark 9:10).


The disciples realized that Jesus is the Messiah and that salvation is achieved in him. But they do not understand why he speaks of suffering and death: they do not accept that the love of God can be hidden behind the Cross. Yet, where men see only death, God will manifest his glory by raising his Son; where men speak words of condemnation, God will work his mystery of salvation and love for the human race.


This is the lesson that every Christian generation must learn anew. Every generation: even our own! This is the reason for our journey of conversion in this special time of grace. The Jubilee enlightens all human life and experience. Even the efforts and the burden of daily work receive a new light of hope  from faith in the dead and risen Christ. They are revealed as significant elements of the saving plan that the heavenly Father is accomplishing through the Cross of his Son.


5. Strong in this knowledge, dear craftsmen, you can give new strength and practical expression to those values which have always marked your activity: quality, a spirit of initiative, the promotion of artistic skills, freedom and cooperation, the correct relationship between technology and the environment, devotion to family, good neighbourly relations. In the past, the culture of crafts has created great occasions for bringing people together and has bequeathed wonderful syntheses of culture and faith to later generations.


The mystery of the life at Nazareth, of which St Joseph, patron of the Church and your protector, was the faithful guardian and wise witness, is the icon of this wonderful  synthesis of faith life and human work, of personal growth and commitment to  solidarity.


Dear craftsmen, you have come here today to celebrate your Jubilee. May the light of the Gospel shine ever more brightly on your daily work. The Jubilee gives you an opportunity to meet Jesus, Joseph and Mary, to enter their home and the humble workshop of Nazareth. At the extraordinary school of the Holy Family we learn the essential realities of life and acquire a deeper understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Nazareth teaches us to overcome the apparent tension between the active and contemplative life; it invites us to grow in love of the divine truth that radiates from Christ's humanity and to exercise courageously the demanding service of safeguarding Christ who is present in every human person (cf. Redemptoris custos, n. 27).


6. Let us make a spiritual pilgrimage, then, across  the threshold of the house of Nazareth, the poor dwelling which I will have the joy of visiting, God willing, next week during my Jubilee pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Let us pause to contemplate Mary, who witnessed the fulfilment of the Lord's promise “to Abraham and to his posterity for ever” (Luke 1:54-55).


With Joseph, her chaste husband, may she help you, dear craftsmen, to listen constantly to God, combining prayer and work. May they support you in your jubilee resolutions of renewed Christian fidelity and ensure that God's creative and provident work is in some way continued through your hands.


May the Holy Family, a place of understanding and love, help you to make acts of solidarity, peace and forgiveness. In this way you will be heralds of the infinite love of God the Father, who is rich in mercy and goodness to all. Amen.




Sunday, 19 March 2000



1. Before concluding this solemn Holy Mass, let us prepare to recite the Angelus prayer in spiritual union with St Joseph, the husband of Mary and guardian of the Redeemer. Although this year his liturgical feast has been postponed until tomorrow, it is in homage to the Patron of Workers that you, dear craftsmen, have celebrated your Jubilee today. I greet you all affectionately and ask you to bring my blessing to your homes and workplaces.


The feast of St Joseph also invites us to have a special thought for fathers, who find in him a superb evangelical model. I would like to promise a special prayer for every father of a family, from older ones who have known the joy of becoming grandfathers, to young men who are perhaps anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. May all fathers be just men like Joseph, ready to make any sacrifice for the good of their families. And may the love of their wives and children reward them for all their efforts!


2. Dear brothers and sisters, I would now like to ask you to pray for several special intentions. Next Friday, 24 March, we will remember the missionaries who have shed their blood for the Gospel with a special day of prayer and fasting. The year 1999 was also marked by the sacrifice of over 30 brothers and sisters: priests, religious, seminarians and lay people actively involved in evangelization. From their witness a prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation rises to God; may their example be an encouragement and support to everyone on the journey of conversion of the Holy Year. Let us remember them in our prayer, as well as everyone who continues to work courageously on the front lines of evangelization.


I also ask you to pray for my jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which will begin tomorrow. I invoke the protection of Blessed Mary and St Joseph in particular on this highly significant apostolic journey. With deep emotion I will go to the places where the Word became flesh, and lived, died and rose for our salvation. May this visit, inspired only by religious motives, bring the good fruits we desire for the entire Church!


To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:


I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking craftsmen and workers taking part in this Jubilee celebration. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Before concluding, the Holy Father said extemporaneously:


We have often remembered St Joseph on this day, but perhaps he has never been remembered before at such a large festive gathering. Thank you all!



Sunday, 16 March 2003  



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. Yesterday, our retreat in the Apostolic Palace came to an end. We lived days of intense recollection and listening to the Word of God.


The theme of the meditations that were preached was the central truth of the Christian faith, "God is Love". In the silence of prayer we were able to contemplate at length this Good News, of which the world is always in need. In the face of a humanity marked by serious imbalances and so much violence, we must not lose confidence. Over this world is reflected faithfully and mercifully the love of God, that shines in fullness upon the face of Christ.


2. Only Christ can renew hearts and again give hope to peoples. Today's liturgy, in presenting the mysterious event of the Transfiguration, allows us to experience the power of his light, that overcomes the darkness of doubt and evil.


From this perspective of faith, I wish to renew an urgent appeal to intensify the commitment to prayer and penance, to invoke from Christ the gift of his peace. There is no peace without conversion of heart.


The next few days will be decisive for the outcome of the Iraqi crisis. Let us pray, then, that the Lord inspire in all sides of the dispute courage and farsightedness.


The political leaders of Baghdad certainly have the urgent duty to collaborate fully with the international community to eliminate every reason for armed intervention. To them I direct my urgent appeal:  the fate of your fellow-citizens should always have priority.


But I would also like to remind the member countries of the United Nations, and especially those who make up the Security Council, that the use of force represents the last recourse, after having exhausted every other peaceful solution, in keeping with the well-known principles of the UN Charter.


That is why, in the face of the tremendous consequences that an international military operation would have for the population of Iraq and for the balance of the Middle East region, already sorely tried, and for the extremisms that could stem from it, I say to all:  There is still time to negotiate; there is still room for peace, it is never too late to come to an understanding and to continue discussions.


To reflect on one's duties, to engage in energetic negotiations does not mean to be humiliated, but to work with responsibility for peace.


Moreover, we Christians are convinced that real and lasting peace is not only the fruit of necessary political agreements and understandings between individuals and peoples, but is the gift of God to all those who submit themselves to him and accept with humility and gratitude the light of his love.


I belong to that generation that lived through World War II and, thanks be to God, survived it. I have the duty to say to all young people, to those who are younger than I, who have not had this experience: "No more war" as Paul VI said during his first visit to the United Nations. We must do everything possible. We know well that peace is not possible at any price. But we all know how great is this responsibility. Therefore prayer and penance.


3. Let us go forward confidently, dear Brothers and Sisters, in our Lenten journey. May the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain for us that this Lent may not be remembered as a sad time of war, but as a period of courageous effort for conversion and peace. We entrust this intention to the special intercession of St Joseph whose Solemnity we will celebrate next Wednesday.



Saint Peter's Square
Second Sunday of Lent, 12 March 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Yesterday morning marked the end of the week of Spiritual Exercises preached by Cardinal Marco Cé, Patriarch emeritus of Venice, Italy, here in the Apostolic Palace. They were days dedicated entirely to listening to the Lord, who always speaks to us but expects our still greater attention, especially during this time of Lent.


Today's Gospel reading also reminds us of this, re-proposing to us the episode of the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. Awestruck at the sight of the transfigured Lord who was speaking with Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John were suddenly overshadowed by a cloud, out of which came a voice which proclaimed:  "This is my beloved Son on whom my favour rests; listen to him" (Mark 9: 7).

When one has the grace to live a strong experience of God, it is as if one is living an experience similar to that of the disciples during the Transfiguration:  a momentary foretaste of what will constitute the happiness of Paradise.
These are usually brief experiences that are sometimes granted by God, especially prior to difficult trials.


No one, however, is permitted to live "on Tabor" while on earth. Indeed, human existence is a journey of faith and as such, moves ahead more in shadows than in full light, and is no stranger to moments of obscurity and also of complete darkness. While we are on this earth, our relationship with God takes place more by listening than by seeing; and the same contemplation comes about, so to speak, with closed eyes, thanks to the interior light that is kindled in us by the Word of God.

Mary's pilgrimage of faith


The Virgin Mary herself, among all human creatures the closest to God, still had to walk day after day in a pilgrimage of faith (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 58), constantly guarding and meditating on in her heart the Word that God addressed to her through Holy Scripture and through the events of the life of her Son, in whom she recognized and welcomed the Lord's mysterious voice.


And so, this is the gift and duty for each one of us during the season of Lent:  to listen to Christ, like Mary. To listen to him in his Word, contained in Sacred Scripture. To listen to him in the events of our lives, seeking to decipher in them the messages of Providence. Finally, to listen to him in our brothers and sisters, especially in the lowly and the poor, to whom Jesus himself demands our concrete love. To listen to Christ and obey his voice:  this is the principle way, the only way, that leads to the fullness of joy and of love.


After the Angelus: 


I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus, especially the group of pilgrims from Ontario, Canada. On this Second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of St Mark presents to us an account of the Transfiguration. God the Father instructs us to listen to Jesus, his beloved Son. Let us pray that our Lenten journey will open our hearts to Christ and his saving message! He leads us through his suffering and death to a share in his glorious Resurrection. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant Blessings and wish you a good Sunday!


I wish a blessed Sunday to everyone!



Saint Peter's Square
Second Sunday of Lent, 8 March 2009



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


In the past few days, as you know, I have been doing Spiritual Exercises together with my collaborators in the Roman Curia. It was a week of silence and prayer: our minds and hearts could be entirely focused on God, listening to his word, meditating on the mysteries of Christ. To summarize, it is a bit like what happened to the Apostles Peter, James and John when Jesus took them with him up a high mountain, and while he prayed he was "transfigured": his Face and his garments became luminous, glistening. Once again, the liturgy proposes this well-known episode on this very day, the Second Sunday of Lent (cf. Mk 9: 2-10). Jesus wanted his disciples in particular those who would be responsible for guiding the nascent Church to have a direct experience of his divine glory, so that they could face the scandal of the Cross. Indeed, when the hour of betrayal came and Jesus withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemani, he kept the same disciples Peter, James and John close to him, asking them to watch and pray with him (cf. Matthew 26: 38). They were not to succeed in doing so, but the grace of Christ was to sustain them and help them to believe in the Resurrection.


I wish to emphasize that the Transfiguration of Jesus was essentially an experience of prayer (cf. Luke 9: 28-29). Indeed, prayer reaches its culmination and thus becomes a source of inner light when the spirit of the human being adheres to that of God and their respective wills merge, as it were, to become a whole. When Jesus went up the mountain, he was immersed in contemplation of the loving plan of the Father, who had sent him into the world to save humanity. Elijah and Moses appeared beside Jesus, meaning that the Sacred Scriptures were in concordance with the proclamation of his Paschal Mystery; that in other words Christ had to suffer and die in order to enter into his glory (cf. Luke 24: 26, 46). At that moment Jesus saw silhouetted before him the Cross, the extreme sacrifice necessary in order to free us from the dominion of sin and death. And in his heart, once again, he repeated his "Amen". He said yes, here I am, may your loving will be done, O Father. And as had happened after his Baptism in the Jordan, from Heaven there came signs of God the Father's pleasure: the light that transfigured Christ and the voice that proclaimed him "my beloved Son" (Mark 9: 7).


Together with fasting and works of mercy, prayer is the backbone of our spiritual life. Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you to find in this Lenten Season prolonged moments of silence, possibly in retreat, in order to review your own lives in the light of the loving plan of the heavenly Father. Let yourselves be guided in this more intense listening to God by the Virgin Mary, a teacher and model of prayer. Even in the thick darkness of Christ's Passion, she did not lose the light of her divine Son but rather treasured it in her heart. For this we call on her as Mother of Trust and Hope!



After the Angelus :


Today, 8 March, [editor's note: in Italy, Women's Day] invites us to reflect on the condition of women and to renew our commitment to ensure that every woman always and everywhere may live and express her abilities to the full, obtaining complete respect for her dignity. The Second Vatican Council and the papal Magisterium, especially the Apostolic Letter, Mulieris dignitatem of the Servant of God John Paul II (15 August 1988), said the same in this regard. However, the witness borne by Saints is worth even more than documents and our epoch has known the witness of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a humble daughter of Albania who through God's grace became an example for the whole world of the practice of charity and service to human advancement. How many other women work quietly every day for the good of humanity and for the Kingdom of God! Today I assure all women of my prayers that their dignity may be increasingly respected and their positive potential appreciated.


Dear brothers and sisters, in the atmosphere of more intense prayer that distinguishes Lent, I entrust to your remembrance the two Apostolic journeys which, please God, I shall be making shortly.

Next week,
from 17 to 23 March, I shall go to Africa, first to Cameroon and then to Angola, as a practical expression of my closeness and that of all the Church to the Christians and peoples of that continent which is particularly dear to me. Then from 8 to 15 May I shall be making a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visiting the places sanctified by his earthly passage, in order to ask the Lord for the precious gift of unity and peace for the Middle East and for all humanity. From this moment I am counting on the spiritual support of all of you, so that God may accompany me and fill with his graces all those I meet on my way.


I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. On this, the Second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel invites us to ponder the mystery of Christ's Transfiguration, to acknowledge him as the incarnate Son of God, and to follow him along the way that leads to the saving mystery of his Cross and Resurrection. During this Lenten Season, may you grow closer to the Lord in prayer, and may he shed the light of his face upon you and your families!

I wish you all a good Sunday.




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12 April 2015, 3:00pm SGT