VATICAN CITY — During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced that March 29-30 would be “24 hours for the Lord,” during which people can find special opportunities for prayer and the sacrament of confession.
“Next Friday and Saturday, we will live a special moment of penance, called ‘24 Hours for the Lord.’ It will begin with a [liturgical] celebration in the Basilica of St. Peter’s [on] Friday afternoon; then, in the evening and night, some churches in the center of Rome will be open for prayer and confessions,” he explained to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square on March 23.
“It will be — we could call it — a celebration of forgiveness, which will happen also in many dioceses and parishes of the world.”
The Holy Father then noted that “the forgiveness that the Lord gives us” should make us “celebrate like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, who, when the son returned home, had a party, forgetting all his sins.”
The Pope’s Angelus message also focused on the theme of the joy of encountering Christ despite our sinfulness.
Sunday’s Gospel recounts the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus begins a conversation with a sinful woman who is despised by society by asking her for a drink of water.
“Jesus’ simple request is the beginning of a frank dialogue, through which he, with great delicacy, enters the inner world of a person with whom, according to societal norms, he should not even say a word,” Pope Francis said.
Jesus’s thirst “was not so much for water, but for meeting a parched soul.” His request for a drink “highlighted the thirst that was within her.”
“The woman is touched by this encounter: Jesus turns to those profound questions that we have inside but often ignore. We too have many questions, but we do not have the courage to ask them of Jesus!” the Pope exclaimed.
“Lent is the appropriate time to look inside, to bring out our true spiritual needs, and ask for the Lord’s help in prayer,” he stressed.
The Samaritan woman’s response to Jesus is “enthusiastic.”
“She runs to the village, that village that judged her and rejected her, and announced that she had met the Messiah: one who changed her life.”
“Every encounter with Jesus changes our lives,” Pope Francis repeated. “Every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy.”
Like the Samaritan woman, we are called to “leave our jars” at the well and “witness to our brothers the joy of meeting Jesus and the wonders that his love accomplishes in our lives,” he urged.
The Holy Father then led the crowds in the Angelus prayer and greeted the various pilgrim groups who had traveled to pray with him.
“I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!” he concluded.