“What does Sunday, the day of the Lord, mean for us? It is a day for rest and for family, but first of all a day for Him”, tweeted Pope Benedict XVI this Sunday shortly after concluding the midday Angelus prayer with the thousands of pilgrims – mostly Romans – who had flocked to St Peter’s Square.
It was a day with many important anniversaries: International Holocaust Remembrance Day, World Day of Prayer for the Holy Land, and World Leprosy Day. The Holy Father spoke of how Sunday is a propitious day for people to entrust themselves, their prayers and intentions to the Lord, because on Sunday, through the Eucharist and living to His life-giving Word, we have a direct channel of communication to the Lord.
Below is a translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus address:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today's liturgy presents to us, brought together, two separate pieces of the Gospel of Luke. The first (1:1-4) is the prologue, addressed to a certain "Theophilus", as this name in Greek means "friend of God", we can see him in every believer who opens himself to God and wants to know the Gospel. The second passage (4.14 to 21), however, presents us with Jesus who "through the power of the Spirit" goes to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath. As a true believer, the Lord does not avoid the weekly liturgical rhythm and joins the assembly of his fellow citizens in prayer and in listening to the Scriptures. The ritual involves the reading of a text from the Torah or the Prophets, followed by a comment. On that day, Jesus stood up to read and found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that begins: "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners"(61:1-2). Origen says: "It is no coincidence that he opened the scroll and found the chapter of the reading that prophesies about him, this was the work of God's providence" (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 32, 3). Jesus, in fact, after the reading, in a silence full of attention, said, " Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing" (Lk 4:21). St. Cyril of Alexandria says that '"today", located between the first and the final coming of Christ, is related to the ability of the believer to listen and repent (cf. PG 69, 1241). But, in an even more radical sense, Jesus himself is the "today" of salvation in history, because he brings he completes the fullness of redemption. The word "today", very dear to Saint Luke (cf. 19.9, 23.43), brings us back to the Christological title preferred by the Evangelist, that of "savior" (sōtēr). Already in the infancy narratives, it is present in the words of the angel to the shepherds: " For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord" (Lk 2:11).
Dear friends, this Gospel passage also challenges us "today". First of all, it makes us think about how we live Sunday: as a day of rest and for the family, moreover as the day to devote to the Lord, by participating in the Eucharist, in which we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ and his life-giving Word. Second, in our scattered and distracted era, this Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about our ability to listen. Before we can speak of God and with God, we need to listen, and the liturgy of the Church is the "school" of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us. Finally, he tells us that every moment can be propitious for our conversion. Every day (kathçmeran) can become the today of our salvation, because salvation is a story that continues for the Church and for every disciple of Christ. This is the Christian meaning of "carpe diem": seize the day in which God is calling you to give you salvation!
May the Virgin Mary always be our model and our guide to recognize and welcome the presence of God our Savior and of all humanity every day of our lives.
Greetings in English
I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy in his own person, as he proclaims new sight to the blind and freedom to captives. In this Year of Faith, especially through the Sacraments, may we deepen our confidence in Christ and embrace his grace which sets us free. May God bless you and your loved ones!