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Pope: Lent is an opportunity to draw near to Christ

new 01 Pope Lent PAGEPope Francis uses incense during a Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 17. The pope was one of 95 priests and bishops listening to confessions and granting absolution. After the reading of a Gospel passage, the pope did not give a homily. Instead, he and the thousands of people gathered in the basilica prayed in absolute silence for 10 minutes. The pope spent about four minutes kneeling before a priest in one of the wooden confessionals before he walked to one nearby, put on a purple stole and waited for the first penitent to approach. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

March 23, 2017
Vatican Radio

VATICAN CITY – “Perhaps we have not yet encountered Jesus personally,” Pope Francis said in his angelus address March 19 in St. Peter’s Square. “Perhaps we have not recognized him as our savior.”

The pope was commenting on the day’s Gospel, which relates the “dialogue” between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Because of the great respect Jesus shows her — despite her being a Samaritan, and despite her disordered life — she is open to the words of Christ, when he speaks to her about the true faith. She recognizes him as a prophet, and intuits that he could be the messiah, and Jesus tells her plainly that ne is, in fact, the messiah — something that happens very rarely in the Gospels, the pope said.

“Dear brothers,” Pope Francis continued, “the water that gives eternal life was poured out in our hearts on the day of our baptism.” On that day, he said, “God transformed us and filled us with his grace.”

However, the pope said, we sometimes forget about the grace of our baptism, or treat it merely as a piece of biographical data. When that happens we go looking for “wells” filled with water that cannot quench our thirst. “And so this Gospel is for us!” the pope said, “not just for the Samaritan woman.”

Lent, he said, is a good opportunity for us “to draw near” to Jesus, “to encounter him in prayer in a heart-to-heart dialogue … to see His face in the face of a brother or a sister who is suffering.” In this way, the pope said, “we can renew within ourselves the grace of baptism, quenching our thirst at the font of the word of God and of the Holy Spirit; and thereby discovering, too, the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and instruments of peace in our daily lives.”

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