(Vatican Radio) Below, please find Vatican Radio's translation of the full text of Pope Francis' address at the Regina Coeli on Sunday:
17 April 2016
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
The Gospel of today (Jn 10:27-30) offers us some expressions pronounced by Jesus during the feast of the dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem, which is celebrated at the end of December. He is found in the area of the Temple, and perhaps that enclosed sacred space suggested to Him the image of the sheepfold and the shepherd. Jesus is presented as ‘the Good Shepherd,’ and says, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can take them out of My hand’ (vv. 27-28). These words help us to understand that no one can call himself a follower of Jesus, if he does not listen to His voice. And this “listening” should not be understood in a superficial way, but in an engaged manner, to the point of making possible a true mutual comprehension, from which one can come to a generous following, expressed in the words, ‘and they follow me’ (v. 27). It concerns a listening not only of the ears, but a listening of the heart!
And so, the image of the shepherd and the sheep indicates the close relationship that Jesus wants to establish with each one of us. He is our guide, our teacher, our friend, our model, but above all He is our Saviour. In fact, the following expressions from the Gospel passage affirm, ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can take them out of My hand’ (v. 28). Who can say that? Only Jesus, because the ‘hand’ of Jesus is one single thing with the ‘hand’ of the Father, and the Father is ‘greater than all’ (v. 29).
These words communicate to us a sense of absolute security and of immense tenderness. Our life is fully secure in the hands of Jesus and the Father, which are one single thing: one unique love, a unique mercy, revealed once for all in the sacrifice of the Cross. To save the lost sheep which we all are, the Shepherd is made a lamb, and is allowed to be immolated to take upon Himself and to take away the sin of the world. In this way He has given us life, life in abundance (cfr. Jn 10:10)! This mystery is renewed, in an always surprising humility, on the Eucharistic table. It is there that the sheep are gathered to nourish themselves; it is there that they become one thing, between themselves and with the Good Shepherd.
Because of this we are no longer afraid: our life is now saved from perdition. Nothing and no one can take us from the hands of Jesus, because nothing and no one can overcome His love. The love of Jesus is invincible. The evil one, the great enemy of God and of His creatures, attempts in many ways to take eternal life from us. But the evil one can do nothing if we ourselves do not open to him the doors of our hearts, following his deceitful enticements.
The Virgin Mary has listened to and followed docilely the voice of the Good Shepherd. May she help us to welcome with joy the invitation of Jesus to become His disciples, and to live always in the certainty of being in the paternal hands of the Father.
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