The Acts

Chapter 1-5

Chapter 1

 Chapter 1

1-11



Pope Francis       

Ascension of Jesus into Heaven     

Acts 1: 2-9      Matthew 28: 16-20 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning.

Today, in Italy and in other Countries, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, 40 days after Easter. The Acts of the Apostles recounts this episode, the final separation of the Lord Jesus from his disciples and from this world (cf. Acts 1:2-9). The Gospel of Matthew, however, reports Jesus’ mandate to his disciples: the invitation to go out, to set out in order to proclaim to all nations his message of salvation (cf. Mt 28:16-20). “To go” or, better, “depart” becomes the key word of today’s feast: Jesus departs to the Father and commands his disciples to depart for the world.

Jesus departs, he ascends to Heaven, that is, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent to the world. He finished his work, thus, he returns to the Father. But this does not mean a separation, for he remains forever with us, in a new way. By his ascension, the Risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles — and our gaze — to the heights of Heaven to show us that the end of our journey is the Father. He himself said that he would go to prepare a place for us in Heaven. Yet, Jesus remains present and active in the affairs of human history through the power and the gifts of his Spirit; he is beside each of us: even if we do not see him with our eyes, He is there! He accompanies us, he guides us, he takes us by the hand and he lifts us up when we fall down. The risen Jesus is close to persecuted and discriminated Christians; he is close to every man and woman who suffers. He is close to us all; he is here, too, with us in the square; the Lord is with us! Do you believe this? Then let’s say it together: the Lord is with us!

When Jesus returns to Heaven, he brings the Father a gift. What is the gift? His wounds. His body is very beautiful, no bruises, no cuts from the scourging, but he retains his wounds. When he returns to the Father he shows him the wounds and says: “behold Father, this is the price of the pardon you have granted”. When the Father beholds the wounds of Jesus he forgives us forever, not because we are good, but because Jesus paid for us. Beholding the wounds of Jesus, the Father becomes most merciful. This is the great work of Jesus today in Heaven: showing the Father the price of forgiveness, his wounds. This is the beauty that urges us not to be afraid to ask forgiveness; the Father always pardons, because he sees the wounds of Jesus, he sees our sin and he forgives it.

 But Jesus is present also through the Church, which He sent to extend his mission. Jesus’ last message to his disciples is the mandate to depart: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). It is a clear mandate, not just an option! The Christian community is a community “going forth”, “in departure”. More so: the Church was born “going forth”. And you will say to me: what about cloistered communities? Yes, these too, for they are always “going forth” through prayer, with the heart open to the world, to the horizons of God. And the elderly, the sick? They, too, through prayer and union with the wounds of Jesus. 

To his missionary disciples Jesus says: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (v. 20). Alone, without Jesus, we can do nothing! In Apostolic work our own strengths, our resources, our structures do not suffice, even if they are necessary. Without the presence of the Lord and the power of his Spirit our work, though it may be well organized, winds up being ineffective. And thus, we go to tell the nations who Jesus is. 

And together with Jesus Mary our Mother accompanies us. She is already in the house of the Father, she is the Queen of Heaven and this is how we invoke her during this time; as Jesus is with us, so too she walks with us; she is the Mother of our hope. 

01.06.14

 

Chapter 1

1-11

cont.



Pope Francis       

13.05.18  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square     

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord      

Acts 1: 1-11,      Mark 16: 15-20   

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, in Italy and in many other countries, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is being celebrated. This Solemnity embraces two elements. On the one hand it directs our gaze toward heaven, where the glorified Jesus is seated at the right hand of God (cf. Mk 16:19). On the other, it reminds us of the mission of the Church: why? Because Jesus, Risen and Ascended into heaven, sends his disciples to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Therefore, the Ascension exhorts us to lift our gaze toward heaven, in order to return it immediately to the earth, to implement the tasks that the Risen Lord entrusts to us.

It is what we are invited to do in the day’s Gospel passage, in which the event of the Ascension occurs immediately after the mission that Jesus entrusts to the disciples. It is a boundless mission — that is, literally without boundaries — which surpasses human strength. Jesus says, in fact: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). The task which Jesus entrusts to a small group of common men lacking great intellectual capacity seems truly too bold! Yet this small company, insignificant compared to the great powers of the world, is sent to bring the message of Jesus’ love and mercy to every corner of the earth.

But this plan of God can be accomplished only with the strength that God himself grants to the Apostles. In this sense, Jesus assures them that their mission will be supported by the Holy Spirit. And he says this: “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is how this mission was able to be accomplished, and the Apostles began this work which was then continued by their successors. The mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles has continued through the centuries, and continues still today: it requires the cooperation of all of us. Each one, in fact, by the power of the Baptism that he or she received, is qualified in turn to proclaim the Gospel. Baptism is precisely what qualifies us and also spurs us to be missionaries, to proclaim the Gospel.

The Lord’s Ascension into heaven, while inaugurating a new form of Jesus’ presence among us, calls us to keep eyes and hearts open to encounter him, to serve him and bear witness to him to others. It is a matter of being men and women of the Ascension, that is, those who seek Christ along the paths of our time, bringing his word of salvation to the ends of the earth. On this journey we encounter Christ himself in our brothers and sisters, especially in the poorest, in those who suffer in their very flesh the harsh and humiliating experience of old and new forms of poverty. As at the beginning the Risen Christ sent his Apostles with the power of the Holy Spirit, so too does he send all of us today, with the same power, so as to establish concrete and visible signs of hope. Because Jesus gives us hope. He went to heaven and opened the gates of heaven and the hope that we will reach it.

May the Virgin Mary who, as Mother of the dead and Risen Lord, enlivened the faith of the first community of disciples, help us too to “lift up our hearts”, as the Liturgy exhorts us to do. And at the same time may she help us to keep our “feet on the ground”, and to bravely sow the Gospel in the practical situations of life and of history.

13.05.18

 


Chapter 1

1-11

cont.



Pope Francis          

29.05.19   General Audience, St Peter's Square   

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles  

Acts 1: 1-8 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a journey of catechesis through the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This biblical book, written by St. Luke the Evangelist, talks about the journey – a journey: but what journey? The journey of the Gospel in the world and shows us the wonderful combination of the word of God and the Holy Spirit that opens the time of evangelization. The protagonists of the Acts are precisely a lively and effective couple: the word of God and the Holy Spirit.

God sends upon the Earth his message and his Word runs quickly, says Psalm (147.4). The word of God runs, it is dynamic, irrigating every ground on which it falls. And what is its force? St. Luke tells us that the human Word becomes effective not thanks to rhetoric, which is the art of speaking well, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, which is  the dynamic of God, his strength, which has the power to purify the word , to make it the bearer of life. For example, in the Bible there are stories, human words; But what is the difference between the Bible and a history book? That the words of the Bible are filled by the Holy Spirit which gives it a huge strength, a different force and helps us as a seed of holiness and life and is effective. When the spirit visits the human word it becomes dynamic, like dynamite, capable of lighting up hearts and making strategies, resistances and walls of division break down, opening new routes and expanding the boundaries of God's people. And this is what happens through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, this new series of catechesis.

This gives vibrant sound and incisiveness to our human words which are so fragile, capable even of lying and dodging ones own responsibilities, it is only the Holy Spirit, through which the Son of God was created; the spirit who anointed and supported the mission; the spirit thanks to which he chose his Apostles and that ensured the announcement, perseverance and fertility.

The Gospel ends with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles begins precisely here, from the overabundance of the life of the risen one transfused in the Church. St. Luke tells us that Jesus "presented himself alive after His passion to them by many proofs, for forty days, appearing ... and speaking of the things about the Kingdom of God "(At 1.3). The risen Christ, the risen Jesus accomplishes very human acts such as sharing a meal with his friends, and invites them to live confident in the expectation of the fulfilment of the promise of the Father: "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (At 1.5).

The baptism in the Holy Spirit, in fact, is the experience that allows us to enter into a personal communion with God and to participate in His universal salvific will, by acquiring the gift of speaking candidly, courage, the ability to pronounce a word as a son of God, not just men, not just humanity but children of God: clear, open, effective words, full of love for Christ and for our brothers and sisters.

There is therefore nothing to fight for to achieve or merit this gift of God. Everything is given free of charge and in its time. The Lord gives everything for free. Salvation is not bought, you do not pay for it: it is a free gift. Before the anxiety of knowing in advance the time when the events will happen that he has announced, Jesus responds to those around him: "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth "(At 1.7 -8).

The risen one invites his friends to not live with anxiety of the present but to make an alliance with time to know how to wait for the unravelling of a sacred story that hasn't stopped but that advances, it always goes forward; and to be able to await the steps of God, the Lord of time and space. The risen Christ invites those around him to not fabricate from their own creation the mission, but to wait for the Father to dynamise their hearts with his spirit, in order to involve them in a missionary testimony capable of radiating from Jerusalem to Samaria and to beyond the boundaries of Israel to the peripheries of the world.

This expectation, the Apostles live it together, living as family of the Lord, in the upper room or cenacol, whose walls are still witnesses of the gift that Jesus gave himself to those around him in the Eucharist. And how do we await the strength, dýnamism of God? Praying with perseverance, as if we were not many but one. Praying in unity and with perseverance. It is through prayer that you defeat solitude, temptation, suspicion and opens ones hearts to communion. The presence of the women and of Mary the mother of Jesus, intensifies this experience: they learned first from the teacher to bear witness to the faithfulness of love and to the force of communion that overcomes every fear.

Let us ask the Lord for the patience to wait for his steps, to not want to fabricate ourselves his work and to remain docile, praying, invoking the spirit and cultivating the art of ecclesial communion.

29.05.19

 


Chapter 1

1-11

cont.




Pope Francis          


06.01.22 Message for World Mission Day on 23rd October 2022


Acts 1: 8 

“You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8)

Dear brothers and sisters!

These words were spoken by the Risen Jesus to his disciples just before his Ascension into heaven, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (1:8). They are also the theme of the 2022 World Mission Day which, as always, reminds us that the Church is missionary by nature. This year World Mission Day offers us the opportunity to commemorate several important events in the Church’s life and mission: the fourth centenary of the founding of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide, now the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and the second centenary of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. A hundred years ago, the latter, together with the Society of the Holy Childhood and the Society of Saint Peter the Apostle, was granted the title “Pontifical”.

Let us reflect on the three key phrases that synthesize the three foundations of the life and mission of every disciple: “You shall be my witnesses”, “to the ends of the earth” and “you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit”.

1. “You shall be my witnesses” – The call of every Christian to bear witness to Christ

This is the central point, the heart of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples, in view of their being sent forth into the world. The disciples are to be witnesses of Jesus, thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit that they will receive. Wherever they go and in whatever place they find themselves. Christ was the first to be sent, as a “missionary” of the Father (cf. Jn 20:21), and as such, he is the Father’s “faithful witness” (cf. Rev 1:5). In a similar way, every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ.  And the Church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ.  To evangelize is the very identity of the Church.

A deeper look at the words, “You shall be my witnesses”, can clarify a few ever timely aspects of the mission Christ entrusted to the disciples. The plural form of the verb emphasizes the communitarian and ecclesial nature of the disciples’ missionary vocation. Each baptized person is called to mission, in the Church and by the mandate of the Church: consequently, mission is carried out together, not individually, in communion with the ecclesial community, and not on one’s own initiative. Even in cases where an individual in some very particular situation carries out the evangelizing mission alone, he must always do so in communion with the Church which commissioned him. As Saint Paul VI taught in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, a document dear to my heart: “Evangelization is for no one an individual and isolated act; it is one that is deeply ecclesial. When the most obscure preacher, catechist or pastor in the most distant land preaches the Gospel, gathers his little community together or administers a sacrament, even alone, he is carrying out an ecclesial act, and his action is certainly attached to the evangelizing activity of the whole Church by institutional relationships, but also by profound invisible links in the order of grace. This presupposes that he acts not in virtue of a mission which he attributes to himself or by a personal inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name” (No. 60). Indeed, it was no coincidence that the Lord Jesus sent his disciples out on mission in pairs; the witness of Christians to Christ is primarily communitarian in nature. Hence, in carrying out the mission, the presence of a community, regardless of its size, is of fundamental importance.

In addition, the disciples are urged to live their personal lives in a missionary key: they are sent by Jesus to the world not only to carry out, but also and above all to live the mission entrusted to them; not only to bear witness, but also and above all to be witnesses of Christ.  In the moving words of the Apostle Paul, “[we are] always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10). The essence of the mission is to bear witness to Christ, that is, to his life, passion, death and resurrection for the love of the Father and of humanity. Not by chance did the apostles look for Judas’ replacement among those who, like themselves, had been witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection (cf. Acts 1:21). Christ, indeed Christ risen from the dead, is the One to whom we must testify and whose life we must share. Missionaries of Christ are not sent to communicate themselves, to exhibit their persuasive qualities and abilities or their managerial skills. Instead, theirs is the supreme honour of presenting Christ in words and deeds, proclaiming to everyone the Good News of his salvation, as the first apostles did, with joy and boldness.

In the final analysis, then, the true witness is the “martyr”, the one who gives his or her life for Christ, reciprocating the gift that he has made to us of himself. “The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him” (Evangelii Gaudium, 264).

Finally, when it comes to Christian witness, the observation of Saint Paul VI remains ever valid: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41). For this reason, the testimony of an authentic Christian life is fundamental for the transmission of the faith. On the other hand, the task of proclaiming Christ’s person and the message is equally necessary. Indeed, Paul VI went on to say: “Preaching, the verbal proclamation of a message, is indeed always indispensable…  The word remains ever relevant, especially when it is the bearer of the power of God. This is why Saint Paul’s axiom, “Faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17), also retains its relevance: it is the word that is heard which leads to belief” (ibid., 42).

In evangelization, then, the example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable. One is at the service of the other. They are the two lungs with which any community must breathe, if it is to be missionary. This kind of complete, consistent and joyful witness to Christ will surely be a force of attraction also for the growth of the Church in the third millennium. I exhort everyone to take up once again the courage, frankness and parrhesía of the first Christians, in order to bear witness to Christ in word and deed in every area of life.

2. “To the ends of the earth” – The perennial relevance of a mission of universal evangelization

In telling the disciples to be his witnesses, the risen Lord also tells them where they are being sent: “…in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Here we clearly see the universal character of the disciples’ mission. We also see the “centrifugal” geographical expansion, as if in concentric circles, of the mission, beginning with Jerusalem, which Jewish tradition considered the centre of the world, to Judea and Samaria and to “the ends of the earth”. The disciples are sent not to proselytize, but to proclaim; the Christian does not proselytize. The Acts of the Apostles speak of this missionary expansion and provide a striking image of the Church “going forth” in fidelity to her call to bear witness to Christ the Lord and guided by divine providence in the concrete conditions of her life.  Persecuted in Jerusalem and then spread throughout Judea and Samaria, the first Christians bore witness to Jesus everywhere (cf. Acts 8:1, 4).

Something similar still happens in our own day. Due to religious persecution and situations of war and violence, many Christians are forced to flee from their homelands to other countries. We are grateful to these brothers and sisters who do not remain locked in their own suffering but bear witness to Christ and to the love of God in the countries that accept them. Hence, Saint Paul VI encouraged them to recognize the “responsibility incumbent on immigrants in the country that receives them” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 21). More and more, we are seeing how the presence of faithful of various nationalities enriches the face of parishes and makes them more universal, more Catholic. Consequently, the pastoral care of migrants should be valued as an important missionary activity that can also help the local faithful to rediscover the joy of the Christian faith they have received.

The words “to the ends of the earth” should challenge the disciples of Jesus in every age and impel them to press beyond familiar places in bearing witness to him. For all the benefits of modern travel, there are still geographical areas in which missionary witnesses of Christ have not arrived to bring the Good News of his love. Then too no human reality is foreign to the concern of the disciples of Jesus in their mission. Christ’s Church will continue to “go forth” towards new geographical, social and existential horizons, towards “borderline” places and human situations, in order to bear witness to Christ and his love to men and women of every people, culture and social status.  In this sense, the mission will always be a missio ad gentes, as the Second Vatican Council taught. The Church must constantly keep pressing forward, beyond her own confines, in order to testify to all the love of Christ. Here I would like to remember and express my gratitude for all those many missionaries who gave their lives in order to “press on” in incarnating Christ’s love towards all the brothers and sisters whom they met.

3. “You will receive power” from the Holy Spirit – Let us always be strengthened and guided by the Spirit.

When the risen Christ commissioned the disciples to be his witnesses, he also promised them the grace needed for this great responsibility: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). According to the account in Acts, it was precisely following the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples that the first act of witnessing to the crucified and risen Christ took place. That kerygmatic proclamation – Saint Peter’s “missionary” address to the inhabitants of Jerusalem – inaugurated an era in which the disciples of Jesus evangelized the world. Whereas they had previously been weak, fearful and closed in on themselves, the Holy Spirit gave them the strength, courage and wisdom to bear witness to Christ before all.

Just as “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3), so no Christian is able to bear full and genuine witness to Christ the Lord without the Spirit’s inspiration and assistance. All Christ’s missionary disciples are called to recognize the essential importance of the Spirit’s work, to dwell in his presence daily and to receive his unfailing strength and guidance. Indeed, it is precisely when we feel tired, unmotivated or confused that we should remember to have recourse to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Let me emphasize once again that prayer plays a fundamental role in the missionary life, for it allows us to be refreshed and strengthened by the Spirit as the inexhaustible divine source of renewed energy and joy in sharing Christ’s life with others. “Receiving the joy of the Spirit is a grace. Moreover, it is the only force that enables us to preach the Gospel and to confess our faith in the Lord” (Message to the Pontifical Mission Societies, 21 May 2020).  The Spirit, then, is the true protagonist of mission. It is he who gives us the right word, at the right time, and in the right way.

In light of this action of the Holy Spirit, we also want to consider the missionary anniversaries to be celebrated in 2022. The establishment of the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide in 1622 was motivated by the desire to promote the missionary mandate in new territories. A providential insight! The Congregation proved to be crucial for setting the Church’s evangelizing mission truly free from interference by worldly powers, in order to establish those local Churches which today display such great vigour. It is our hope that, as in its past four centuries, the Congregation, with the light and strength of the Spirit, will continue and intensify its work of coordinating, organizing and promoting the Church’s missionary activities.

The same Spirit who guides the universal Church also inspires ordinary men and women for extraordinary missions. Thus it was that a young French woman, Pauline Jaricot, founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith exactly two hundred years ago. Her beatification will be celebrated in this jubilee year. Albeit in poor health, she accepted God’s inspiration to establish a network of prayer and collection for missionaries, so that the faithful could actively participate in the mission “to the ends of the earth”. This brilliant idea gave rise to the annual celebration of World Mission Day, in which the funds collected in local communities are applied to the universal fund with which the Pope supports missionary activity.

In this regard, I think too of the French Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson, who established the Association of the Holy Childhood to promote the mission among children, with the motto “Children evangelize children, children pray for children, children help children the world over”. I also think of Jeanne Bigard, who inaugurated the Society of Saint Peter the Apostle for the support of seminarians and priests in mission lands. Those three Mission Societies were recognized as “Pontifical” exactly a hundred years ago. It was also under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit that Blessed Paolo Manna, born 150 years ago, founded the present-day Pontifical Missionary Union, to raise awareness and encourage missionary spirit among priests, men and women religious and the whole people of God. Saint Paul VI himself was part of this latter Society, and gave it papal recognition. I mention these four Pontifical Mission Societies for their great historical merits, but also to encourage you to rejoice with them, in this special year, for the activities they carry out in support of the mission of evangelization in the Church, both universal and local. It is my hope that the local Churches will find in these Societies a sure means for fostering the missionary spirit among the People of God.

Dear brothers and sisters, I continue to dream of a completely missionary Church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities. I repeat Moses’ great desire for the people of God on their journey: “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets!” (Num 11:29). Indeed, would that all of us in the Church were what we already are by virtue of baptism: prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the ends of the earth! Mary, Queen of the Missions, pray for us!

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 6 January 2022, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

 FRANCIS

06.01.22

 Chapter 1

12-14



Pope Francis       

24.03.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace 

Catechesis on prayer - 27. To pray in communion with Mary       

Acts 1: 12-14


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today the catechesis is dedicated to prayer in communion with Mary. It occurs precisely on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation. We know that the main pathway of Christian prayer is the humanity of Jesus. In fact, the confidence typical of Christian prayer would be meaningless if the Word had not become incarnate, giving us in the Spirit His filial relationship with the Father. We heard in the Scripture of the gathering of the disciples, the pious women and Mary, praying after Jesus’s Ascension. The first Christian community was awaiting Jesus’s gift, Jesus’s promise.

Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). He is the only Redeemer: there are no co-redeemers with Christ. He is the only one. He is the Mediator par excellence. He is the Mediator. Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place: there is no other name by which we can be saved: Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and humanity (see Acts 4:12).

Due to Christ’s one mediation, other references that Christians find for their prayer and devotion take on meaning, first among them being the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

She occupies a privileged place in the lives of Christians, and therefore, in their prayer as well, because she is the Mother of Jesus. The Eastern Churches have often depicted her as the Odigitria, the one who “shows the way”; and the way is her Son, Jesus Christ. The beautiful, ancient painting of the Odigitria in the Cathedral of Bari comes to my mind. It is simple. The Madonna who shows Jesus, naked; then they put a shirt on him to cover his nakedness, but the truth is that Jesus is naked, he himself, man, born of Mary, is the Mediator. And she indicates the Mediator: she is the Odigitria. Her presence is everywhere in Christian iconography, sometimes very prominently, but always in relation to her Son and in connection with Him. Her hands, her eyes, her behavior are a living “catechism”, always indicating the hinge, she always points out the center: Jesus. Mary is completely directed toward Him (see CCC, 2674) to such an extent that we can say she is more disciple than Mother. The directions she gave at the wedding at Cana: Mary says "do whatever he will tell you”. She always refers to Christ. She is the first disciple.

This is the role Mary fulfilled throughout her entire earthly life and which she forever retains: to be the humble handmaid of the Lord, nothing more. At a certain point in the Gospels she almost seems to disappear; but then she reappears in the more crucial moments, such as at Cana, when her Son, thanks to her caring intervention, performs his first “sign” (see Jn 2:1-12), and then on Golgotha at the foot of the cross.

Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross. From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon – sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers’, like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother. It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things. But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the Saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma – some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.

And so, we began to pray to her using several expressions present in the Gospels directed to her: “full of grace”, “blessed are you among women” (see CCC, 2676f.). Sanctioned by the Council of Ephesus, the title “Theotokos”, “Mother of God”, was soon added to the Hail Mary. And, analogously as with the Our Father, after the praise we add the supplication: we ask that Mary pray for us sinners, that she might intercede with her tenderness, “now and at the hour of our death”. Now, in the concrete situations of life, and in the final moment, so that she might accompany us – as Mother, as the first disciple – in our passage to eternal life.

Mary is always present at the bedside of her children when they depart this world. If someone is alone and abandoned, she is Mother, she is there, near, as she was next to her Son when everyone else abandoned him.

Mary was and is present in these days of the pandemic, near to the people who, unfortunately, have concluded their earthly journey all alone, without the comfort of or the closeness of their loved ones. Mary is always there next to us, with her maternal tenderness.

Prayers said to her are not in vain. The Woman who said “yes”, who promptly welcomed the Angel’s invitation, also responds to our supplications, she hears our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts that haven’t the strength to be uttered but which God knows better that we ourselves do. She listens as Mother. Just like, and more than, every good mother, Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. To pray with us. Why? Because she is our Mother. 

24.03.21

 


Chapter 1

15-26




Pope Francis  

     

17.05.15 Holy Mass and the Rite of Canonization of Blesseds, 

St Peter's Square,    7th Sunday of Easter Year B 


Acts 1: 15-17,20a,20c-26,   

1 John 4: 11-16,   John 17: 11b-19 

The Acts of the Apostles have set before us the early Church as she elects the man whom God called to take the place of Judas in the college of the Apostles. It is has to do not with a job, but with service. Indeed, Matthias, on whom the choice falls, receives a mission which Peter defines in these words: “One of these men... must become a witness with us to his resurrection”, the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:21-23). In this way Peter sums up what it means to be part of the Twelve: it means to be a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The fact that he says “with us” brings us to realize that the mission of proclaiming the risen Christ is not an individual undertaking: it is to be carried out in common, with the apostolic college and with the community. The Apostles had a direct and overwhelming experience of the resurrection; they were eyewitnesses to that event. Thanks to their authoritative testimony, many people came to believe; from faith in the risen Lord, Christian communities were born and are born continually. We too, today, base our faith in the risen Lord on the witness of the Apostles, which has come down to us through the mission of the Church. Our faith is firmly linked to their testimony, as to an unbroken chain which spans the centuries, made up not only by the successors of the Apostles, but also by succeeding generations of Christians. Like the Apostles, each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to his resurrection, above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident.

If this is to happen, we need to remain in the risen Christ and in his love, as the First Letter of Saint John has reminded us: “He who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). Jesus had repeated insistently to his disciples: “Abide in me… Abide in my love” (Jn 15:4, 9). This is the secret of the saints: abiding in Christ, joined to him like branches to the vine, in order to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:1-8). And this fruit is none other than love. This love shines forth in the testimony of Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve, who consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love.

A relationship with the risen Jesus is – so to speak – the “atmosphere” in which Christians live, and in which they find the strength to remain faithful to the Gospel, even amid obstacles and misunderstandings. “Abiding in love”: this is what Sister Maria Cristina Brando also did. She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord. From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love.

An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father. Today too, in the Gospel, we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Holy Spirit made her also a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world. So too, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another.

To abide in God and in his love, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all. This is what the four women Saints canonized today did. Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians. How do I bear witness to the risen Christ? This is a question we have to ask ourselves. How do I abide in him? How do I dwell in his love? Am I capable of “sowing” in my family, in my workplace and in my community, the seed of that unity which he has bestowed on us by giving us a share in the life of the Trinity?

When we return home today, let us take with us the joy of this encounter with the risen Lord. Let us cultivate in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love. Let us remain united to him and among ourselves, and follow in the footsteps of these four women, models of sanctity whom the Church invites us to imitate.

17.05.15

Chapter 2

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind”, and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power”.

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness,   harmony  and mission.

   1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness - God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.

   2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – “Ipse harmonia est”. He is indeed harmony. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are very dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community – the Apostle John tells us in his Second Letter - and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn v. 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

   3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission? Today let us remember these three words: newness, harmony and mission.

   Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.


19.05.13

 Chapter 2

1-11

cont.




Pope Francis       

08.06.14  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica      

Solemnity of Pentecost       

Acts 2: 1-11 

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).

Speaking to the Apostles at the Last Supper, Jesus said that after he left this world he would send them the gift of the Father, that is, the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 15:26). This promise was powerfully fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, who were gathered in the Upper Room. This extraordinary outpouring was not limited solely to that moment, but was an event that was renewed and still continues to be renewed. Christ glorified at the right hand of the Father continues to fulfill his promise, sending upon the Church the life-giving Spirit, who teaches us, reminds us, and lets us speak.

The Holy Spirit teaches us: he is the Interior Master. He guides us along the right path, through life’s challenges. He teaches us the path, the way. In the early times of the Church, Christianity was called “the way” (cf. Acts 9:2), and Jesus himself is the Way. The Holy Spirit teaches us to follow him, to walk in his footprints. More than a master of doctrine, the Holy Spirit is a master of life. And he surely takes part in life as well as in knowledge, but within the broadest and most harmonious horizons of Christian existence.

The Holy Spirit reminds us, he reminds us of all that Jesus said. He is the living memory of the Church, and when he reminds us, he helps us to understand the words of the Lord.

This remembrance in the Spirit and by virtue of the Spirit is not reduced to a mnemonic fact; it is an essential aspect of Christ’s presence within us and within his Church. The Spirit of truth and charity reminds us of all that Christ said, and helps us to enter ever more fully into the meaning of his words. We all have this experience: one moment, in any situation, there is an idea and then another connects with a passage from Scripture .... It is the Spirit who leads us to take this path: the path of the living memory of the Church. And he asks us for a response: the more generous our response, the more Jesus’ words become life within us, becoming attitudes, choices, actions, testimony. In essence the Spirit reminds of the commandment of love, and calls us to live it.

A Christian without memory is not a true Christian but only halfway there: a man or a woman, a prisoner of the moment, who doesn’t know how to treasure his or her history, doesn’t know how to read it and live it as salvation history. With the help of the Holy Spirit, however, we are able to interpret interior inspirations and life events in light of Jesus’ words. And thus, within us grows the knowledge of memory, knowledge of the heart, which is a gift of the Spirit. May the Holy Spirit rekindle the Christian memory within all of us! And there that day with the Apostles was our Lady of Memory, who from the beginning meditated on all those things in her heart. Mary, our Mother, was there. May she help us on this path of memory.

The Holy Spirit teaches us, reminds us, and — another aspect — lets us speak, with God and with men. There are no muted Christians, mute of soul; no, there’s no place for this.

He lets us speak with God in prayer. Prayer is a gift that we freely receive; dialoguing with him in the Holy Spirit, who prays in us and allows us to address God, calling him Father, Dad, Abba. (cf. Rm 8:15; Gal 4:4); and this is not merely an “expression” but a reality: we truly are children of God. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rm 8:14).

He lets us speak in the act of faith. Without the Holy Spirit, none of us is able to say: “Jesus is Lord” — we heard this today. It is the Spirit who lets us speak with people in fraternal dialogue. He lets us speak with others, recognizing them as brothers and sisters; to speak with friendship, with tenderness, with compassion, understanding the heartaches and hopes, the sorrows and joys of others.

But there’s more: the Holy Spirit also lets us speak to men through prophecy, making us humble and docile “channels” of God’s Word. Prophecy is made with candour, to openly demonstrate the contradictions and injustices, but always with compassion and constructive intent. Charged with the Spirit of love, we can be signs and instruments of God who loves, who serves, who gives life.

In summary: the Holy Spirit teaches us the way; he reminds us of and explains Jesus’ words; he lets us pray and say “Father” to God, and lets us speak to men and women in fraternal dialogue and lets us speak in prophecy.

The day of Pentecost, when the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit”, was the baptism of the Church, which was born in “going out”, in “departure” to proclaim the Good News to everyone. The Mother Church, who departs in order to serve. Let us remember the other Mother, our Mother who sets out in haste to serve. Mother Church and Mother Mary: both virgins, both mothers, both women. Jesus was peremptory with the Apostles: do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait until you have received the power of the Holy Spirit from above (cf. Acts 1:4-8). Without Him there is no mission, there is no evangelization. For this, with the whole Church, with our Mother Catholic Church, let us implore: Come, Holy Spirit! 

08.06.14

 Chapter 2

1-11

cont.




Pope Francis          

04.06.17 Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica      

Solemnity of Pentecost      

Acts 2: 1-11,      

John 20: 19-23 

Today concludes the Easter season, the fifty days that, from Jesus’ resurrection to Pentecost, are marked in a particular way by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is in fact the Easter Gift par excellence. He is the Creator Spirit, who constantly brings about new things. Today’s readings show us two of those new things. In the first reading, the Spirit makes of the disciples a new people; in the Gospel, he creates in the disciples a new heart. 

A new people. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down from heaven, in the form of “divided tongues, as of fire… [that] rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages” (Acts 2:3-4). This is how the word of God describes the working of the Spirit: first he rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship. To each he gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity. In other words, the same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church. First, in a way both creative and unexpected, he generates diversity, for in every age he causes new and varied charisms to blossom. Then he brings about unity: he joins together, gathers and restores harmony: “By his presence and his activity, the Spirit draws into unity spirits that are distinct and separate among themselves” (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XI, 11). He does so in a way that effects true union, according to God’s will, a union that is not uniformity, but unity in difference.

For this to happen, we need to avoid two recurrent temptations. The first temptation seeks diversity without unity. This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than others, or always in the right, when we become so-called “guardians of the truth”. When this happens, we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church. We become avid supporters for one side, rather than brothers and sisters in the one Spirit. We become Christians of the “right” or the “left”, before being on the side of Jesus, unbending guardians of the past or the avant-garde of the future before being humble and grateful children of the Church. The result is diversity without unity. The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity. Here, unity becomes uniformity, where everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike. Unity ends up being homogeneity and no longer freedom. But, as Saint Paul says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

So the prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive his unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves his Church, our Church. It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion. It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.

Now we come to the second new thing brought by the Spirit: a new heart. When the risen Jesus first appears to his disciples, he says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (Jn 20:22-23). Jesus does not condemn them for having denied and abandoned him during his passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness. The Spirit is the first gift of the risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins. Here we see the beginning of the Church, the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness. Because forgiveness is gift to the highest degree; it is the greatest love of all. It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens. Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh. Forgiveness gives hope; without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

The spirit of forgiveness resolves everything in harmony, and leads us to reject every other way: the way of hasty judgement, the cul-de-sac of closing every door, the one-way street criticizing others. Instead, the Spirit bids us take the two-way street of forgiveness received and forgiveness given, of divine mercy that becomes love of neighbour, of charity as “the sole criterion by which everything must be done or not done, changed or not changed” (ISAAC OF STELLA, Or. 31). Let us ask for the grace to make more beautiful the countenance of our Mother the Church, letting ourselves be renewed by forgiveness and self-correction. Only then will we be able to correct others in charity.

The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins. Let us ask him: “Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come! Like water, we need you to live. Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us. Amen”. 

04.06.17

 Chapter 2

1-11

cont.




Pope Francis       

20.05.18  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica    

Solemnity of Pentecost Year B     

Acts 2: 1-11,      Galatians 5: 16-25,       

John 15: 26-27, 16: 12-15 

In the first reading of today’s Liturgy, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is compared to “the rush of a violent wind” (Acts 2:2). What does this image tell us? It makes us think of a powerful force that is not an end in itself, but effects change. Wind in fact brings change: warmth when it is cold, cool when it is hot, rain when the land is parched… this is way it brings change. The Holy Spirit, on a very different level, does the same. He is the divine force that changes the world. The Sequence reminded us of this: the Spirit is “in toil, comfort sweet; solace in the midst of woe”. And so we beseech him: “Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; wash the stains of guilt away”. The Spirit enters into situations and transforms them. He changes hearts and he changes situations.

The Holy Spirit changes hearts. Jesus had told his disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). That is exactly what happened. Those disciples, at first fearful, huddled behind closed doors even after the Master’s resurrection, are transformed by the Spirit and, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “they bear witness to him” (cf. Jn 15:27). No longer hesitant, they are courageous and starting from Jerusalem, they go forth to the ends of the earth. Timid while Jesus was still among them, they are bold when he is gone, because the Spirit changed their hearts.

The Spirit frees hearts chained by fear. He overcomes all resistance. To those content with half measures he inspires whole-hearted generosity. He opens hearts that are closed. He impels the comfortable to go out and serve. He drives the self-satisfied to set out in new directions. He makes the lukewarm thrill to new dreams. That is what it means to change hearts. Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever completely satisfy the human heart. Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different. It does not revolutionize life around us, but changes our hearts. It does not free us from the weight of our problems, but liberates us within so that we can face them. It does not give us everything at once, but makes us press on confidently, never growing weary of life. The Spirit keeps our hearts young – a renewed youth. Youth, for all our attempts to prolong it, sooner or later fades away; the Spirit, instead, prevents the only kind of aging that is unhealthy: namely, growing old within. How does he do this? By renewing our hearts, by pardoning sinners. Here is the great change: from guilty he makes us righteous and thus changes everything. From slaves of sin we become free, from servants we become beloved children, from worthless worthy, from disillusioned filled with hope. By the working of the Holy Spirit, joy is reborn and peace blossoms in our hearts.

Today, then, let us learn what to do when we are in need of real change. And who among us does not need a change? Particularly when we are downcast, wearied by life’s burdens, oppressed by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and loving seems impossible. In those moments, we need a powerful “jolt”: the Holy Spirit, the power of God. In the Creed we profess that he is the “giver of life”. How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life! To say when we wake up each morning: “Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day”.

The Spirit does not only change hearts; he changes situations. Like the wind that blows everywhere, he penetrates to the most unimaginable situations. In the Acts of the Apostles – a book we need to pick up and read, whose main character is the Holy Spirit – we are caught up in an amazing series of events. When the disciples least expect it, the Holy Spirit sends them out to the pagans. He opens up new paths, as in the episode of the deacon Philip. The Spirit drives Philip to a desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza… (How heartrending that name sounds to us today! May the Spirit change hearts and situations and bring peace to the Holy Land!) Along the way, Philip preaches to an Ethiopian court official and baptizes him. Then the Spirit brings him to Azotus, and then on to Caesarea, in constantly new situations, to spread the newness of God. Then too, there is Paul, “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 20:22), who travels far and wide, bringing the Gospel to peoples he had never seen. Where the Spirit is, something is always happening; where he blows, things are never calm.

When, in the life of our communities, we experience a certain “listlessness”, when we prefer peace and quiet to the newness of God, it is a bad sign. It means that we are trying to find shelter from the wind of the Spirit. When we live for self-preservation and keep close to home, it is not a good sign. The Spirit blows, but we lower our sails. And yet, how often have we seen him work wonders! Frequently, even in the bleakest of times, the Spirit has raised up the most outstanding holiness! Because he is the soul of the Church, who constantly enlivens her with renewed hope, fills her with joy, makes her fruitful, and causes new life to blossom. In a family, when a new baby is born, it upsets our schedules, it makes us lose sleep, but it also brings us a joy that renews our lives, driving us on, expanding us in love. So it is with the Spirit: he brings a “taste of childhood” to the Church. Time and time again he gives new birth. He revives our first love. The Spirit reminds the Church that, for all her centuries of history, she is always the youthful bride with whom the Lord is madly in love. Let us never tire of welcoming the Spirit into our lives, of invoking him before everything we do: “Come, Holy Spirit!”

He will bring his power of change, a unique power that is, so to say, both centripetal and centrifugal. It is centripetal, that is, it seeks the centre, because it works deep within our hearts. It brings unity amid division, peace amid affliction, strength amid temptations. Paul reminds us of this in the second reading, when he writes that the fruits of the Spirit are joy, peace, faithfulness and self-control (cf. Gal 5:22). The Spirit grants intimacy with God, the inner strength to keep going. Yet, at the same time, he is a centrifugal force, that is, one pushing outward. The one who centres us is also the one who drives us to the peripheries, to every human periphery. The one who reveals God also opens our hearts to our brothers and sisters. He sends us, he makes us witnesses, and so he pours out on us – again in the words of Paul – love, kindness, generosity and gentleness. Only in the Consoler Spirit do we speak words of life and truly encourage others. Those who live by the Spirit live in this constant spiritual tension: they find themselves pulled both towards God and towards the world.

Let us ask him to make us live in exactly that way. Holy Spirit, violent wind of God, blow upon us, blow into our hearts and make us breathe forth the tenderness of the Father! Blow upon the Church and impel her to the ends of the earth, so that, brought by you, she may bring nothing other than you. Blow upon our world the soothing warmth of peace and the refreshing cool of hope. Come Holy Spirit, change us within and renew the face of the earth. Amen.

20.05.18

 


Chapter 2

1-11

cont.





Pope Francis          

19.06.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square   

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles         

Acts 2: 1-4  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Fifty days after Easter, in that upper room that is now their home and where the presence of Mary, mother of God, is the element 0f cohesion, the Apostles live an event that exceeds their expectations. Gathered in prayer – prayer is the "Lung" continually gives breath to His disciples; without prayer you cannot be a disciple of Jesus; without prayer we cannot be Christians! It is the air, it is the lung of Christian life –, they are surprised by Gods powerful entry. This is an entry-that penetrates closed doors; opens the door through the force of a wind that is the Spirit, the primordial breath, and fulfils the promise of the "strength" made by the Risen before His departure (cf. At 1.8). Suddenly, from above, "a roar, like a rushing wind that comes crashing down, and it filled the whole house where they were" (At 2.2).

To the wind is then added the fire that recalls the burning Bush and the Sinai with the gift of the ten commandments (cf. Es 19.16 -19). In the biblical tradition fire accompanies the manifestation of God. In the fire God delivers his living and energetic word(cf. Heb 4.12) that opens up to the future; the fire symbolically expresses his work of warming, illuminating and testing hearts, his care in testing the resistance of human works, in purifying and revitalising them. While at Sinai God's voice is heard, in Jerusalem, on the feast of Pentecost, Peter speaks, the rock on which Christ chose to build his Church. His word, weak and incapable of denying the Lord, crossed by the fire of the spirit acquires strength, becomes capable to of piercing hearts and move to conversion. For God choses what is weak in the world to confuse the strong (cf. 1Cor 1.27).

The Church is therefore born from the fire of love and as a fire that burns at Pentecost and which manifests the power of the word of the risen one imbued with the Holy Spirit. The new and definitive Covenant is founded no longer on a law written on tablets of stone, but on the action of God's spirit which makes all things new and is etched into the hearts of the flesh.

The word of the Apostles is imbued with the spirit of the risen one and becomes a new different word, which can be understand, as if it were translated simultaneously into all languages: in fact each one heard them speaking in his own language (At 2.6). It is about the language of truth and love, which is the universal language: even the illiterate can understand it. It is a language of truth and love that everyone can understand. The truth is in your heart, it is in sincerity, and in love, everyone understands it. Even if you can't speak, but with a caress, which is truthful and loving.

The Holy Spirit not only manifests itself through a Symphony of sounds that harmoniously unites and composes diversity but he also presents himself as the conductor who plays the scores of the praises for the "mighty works" of God. The Holy Spirit is the author of communion, is the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove the barriers between Jews and Greeks, among slaves and free, to make it one body. He builds up the community of believers by harmonising the unity of the body and the multiplicity of its members. He makes the Church grow by helping it to go beyond human limits, sins and any scandal.

The wonder is so great, and some people wonder if those men are drunk. Then Peter intervenes on behalf of all the Apostles and reads that event in the light of Joel 3, where he announces a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The followers of Jesus are not drunk, but live with what Saint Ambrose calls "the sober intoxication of the spirit, which re-kindles the prophesy among the people of God through dreams and visions. This prophetic gift is not reserved only to some, but to all who those who invoke the name of the Lord.

From that moment, the spirit of God moves our hearts to welcome salvation which comes through a person, Jesus Christ, the one who men have nailed to the wood of the cross and whom God raised from the dead "freeing Him from pains of death (At 2.24). It is he who poured out that spirit who orchestrated the polyphony of praise that everyone can hear. As Benedict XVI said, "Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through him God himself comes to us and draws us into himself" (Homily, 3 June 2006). The spirit works the divine attraction: God seduces us with his love and so involves us, to move history and start processes by which it filters the new life. Only the Spirit of God has the power to humanize and fraternize every context, starting from those who receive it.

Let us ask the Lord to let us experience a new Pentecost that opens our hearts and tunes our feelings with those of Christ, so that we are able to announce without shame His transforming word.

19.06.19

 Chapter 2

1-11

cont.




Pope Francis       

02.09.20  General Audience San Damaso courtyard

Catechesis: “Healing the world” - 5. Solidarity and the virtue of faith      

Acts 2: 1-4 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

After many months we meet each other again our face to face, rather than screen to screen. Face to face. This is good! The current pandemic has highlighted our interdependence: we are all linked to each other, for better or for worse. Therefore, to come out of this crisis better than before, we have to do so together; together, not alone. Together. Alone no, because it cannot be done. Either it is done together, or it is not done. We must do it together, all of us, in solidarity. I would like to underline this word today: solidarity.

As a human family we have our common origin in God; we dwell in a common home, the garden-planet, the earth where God placed us; and we have a common destination in Christ. But when we forget all this, our interdependence becomes dependence on others, we lose this harmony of interdependence and solidarity and we become dependent - the dependence of some on a few, on others - increasing inequality and marginalisation; it weakens the social fabric and the environment deteriorates. It is always the same. The same way of acting.

Therefore, the principle of solidarity is now more necessary than ever, as Saint John Paul II taught (cf. Sollicitudo rei socialis, 38-40). In an interconnected world, we experience what it means to live in the same “global village”; this expression is beautiful, isn’t it? The big wide world is none other than a global village, because everything is interconnected, but we do not always transform this interdependence into solidarity. There is a long journey between interdependence and solidarity. Selfishness - individual, national and power-groups - and ideological rigidities instead sustain "structures of sin” (ibid., 36).

“The word ‘solidarity’ is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts - the odd sporadic act - of generosity". Much more! “It presumes the creation of a new mindset; a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 188). This is what “solidarity” means. It is not merely a question of helping others - it is good to do so, but it is more than that - it is a matter of justice (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1938-1949). Interdependence, in order to be in solidarity and to bear fruit, needs strong roots in the humanity and nature created by God; it needs respect for faces and for the land.

The Bible, from the very beginning, warns us of this. Think of the account of the Tower of Babel (see Gen 11: 1-9), which describes what happens when we try to reach heaven - that is, our destination - ignoring our bond with humanity, creation and the Creator. It is a figure of speech. This happens every time that someone wants to climb up and up, without taking others into consideration. Just myself, no? Think about the tower. We build towers and skyscrapers, but we destroy community. We unify buildings and languages, but we mortify cultural wealth. We want to be masters of the Earth, but we ruin biodiversity and ecological balance. In another audience I spoke about those fishermen from San Benedetto del Tronto, who came this year, and they told me that this year: “We have taken 24 tonnes of waste out of the sea, half of which was plastic”. Just think! These people have the task of catching fish - yes - but also refuse, and of taking it out of the water to clean up the sea. But this is ruining the earth - not having solidarity with the earth, which is a gift - and the ecological balance.

I remember a medieval account of this “Babel syndrome”, which occurs when there is no solidarity. This medieval account says that, during the building of the tower, when a man fell - they were slaves, weren’t they? - and died, no-one said anything, or at best, “Poor thing, he made a mistake and he fell”. Instead, if a brick fell, everyone complained. And if someone was to blame, he was punished. Why? Because a brick was costly to make, to prepare, to fire… All of this. It took time to produce a brick, and work. A brick was worth more than a human life. Every one of us, think about what happens today. Unfortunately, something of the type can happen nowadays too. When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news - we have seen it in the newspapers in these days. Thousands of people fall due to hunger and poverty, and no-one talks about it.

Pentecost is diametrically opposed to Babel (see Acts 2: 1-3), we heard at the beginning of the audience. The Holy Spirit, descending from above like wind and fire, sweeps over the community closed up in the Cenacle, infuses it with the power of God, and inspires it to go out and announce the Lord Jesus to everyone. The Spirit creates unity in diversity; He creates harmony. In the account of the Tower of Babel, there is no harmony; only pressing forward in order to earn. There, others are simply instruments, mere “manpower”, but here, in Pentecost, each one of us is an instrument, but a community instrument that participates fully in building up the community. Saint Francis of Assisi knew this well, and inspired by the Spirit, he gave all people, indeed creatures, the name of brother or sister (see LS 11; see Saint Bonaventure, Legenda maior, VIII, 6: FF 1145). Even brother wolf, remember.

With Pentecost, God makes Himself present and inspires the faith of the community united in diversity and in solidarity. Diversity and solidarity united in harmony, this is the way. A diversity in solidarity possesses “antibodies” that ensure that the singularity of each person - which is a gift, unique and unrepeatable - not sicken with individualism, with selfishness. Diversity in solidarity also possesses antibodies that heal social structures and processes that have degenerated into systems of injustice, systems of oppression (see Compendium of the social doctrine of the Church, 192). Therefore, solidarity today is the road to take towards a post-pandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social sicknesses. There is no other way. Either we go ahead along the road of solidarity, or things will worsen. I want to repeat this: one does not come out of a crisis the same as before. The pandemic is a crisis. We emerge from a crisis either better or worse than before. It is up to us to choose. And solidarity is, indeed, a way of coming out of the crisis better, not with superficial changes, with a fresh coat of paint so everything looks fine. No. Better!

In the midst of crises, a solidarity guided by faith enables us to translate the love of God in our globalised culture, not by building towers or walls - and how many walls are being built today! - that divide, but then collapse, but by interweaving communities and sustaining processes of growth that are truly human and solid. And to do this, solidity helps. I would like to ask a question: do I think of the needs of others? Everyone, answer in your heart.

In the midst of crises and tempests, the Lord calls to us and invites us to reawaken and activate this solidarity capable of giving solidity, support and meaning to these hours in which everything seems to be wrecked. May the creativity of the Holy Spirit encourage us to generate new forms of familiar hospitality, fruitful fraternity and universal solidarity. Thank you. 

02.09.20

 Chapter 2

1-11

cont.




Pope Francis       

23.05.21  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square     

Solemnity of Pentecost     Year B         

Acts 2: 1-11 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good afternoon!

The book of the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:1-11) recounts what happens in Jerusalem 50 days after the Passover of Jesus. The disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, and the Virgin Mary was with them. The Risen Lord had told them to remain in the city until they received the gift of the Spirit from on High. And this was revealed with a “sound” they suddenly heard come from heaven, like the “rush of a mighty wind” that filled the house they were in (cf. v. 2). Thus, it concerns a real but also symbolic experience. Something that happened but also gives us a symbolic message for our whole life.

This experience reveals that the Holy Spirit is like a strong and freely flowing wind; that is, he brings us strength and brings us freedom: a strong and freely flowing wind. He cannot be controlled, stopped, nor measured; nor can his direction be foreseen. He cannot be understood within our human exigencies – we always try to frame things – he does not let himself be framed in our methods and our preconceptions. The Spirit proceeds from God the Father and from his Son Jesus Christ and bursts upon the Church; he bursts upon each one of us, giving life to our minds and our hearts. As the Creed states: he is “the Lord, the giver of life”. He has power because he is God, and he gives life.

On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were still disoriented and fearful. The did not yet have the courage to go out in the open. We too, at times, prefer to remain within the protective walls of our surroundings. But the Lord knows how to reach us and open the doors to our hearts. He sends upon us the Holy Spirit who envelops us and overpowers all our hesitations, tears down our defences, dismantles our false certainties. The Spirit makes us new beings, just as he did that day with the Apostles: he renews us, new beings.

After having received the Holy Spirit they were no longer as they were before – he changed them, but they went out and began to preach Jesus, to preach that Jesus is risen, that the Lord is with us, in such a way that each one understood them in his or her own language. Because the Spirit is universal; he does not remove cultural differences, differences of thought, no. He is for everyone, but each one understands him in his or her own culture, in his or her own language. The Spirit changes the heart, broadens the view of the disciples. He enables them to communicate to everyone the great, limitless works of God, surpassing the cultural confines and religious confines within which they were accustomed to thinking and living. The Apostles, he enables them to reach others, respecting their possibilities of listening and understanding, in the culture and language of each one (vv. 5-11). In other words, the Holy Spirit puts different people in communication, achieving the unity and universality of the Church.

And today this truth tells us so much, this reality of the Holy Spirit, where in the Church there are small groups who always seek division, to separate themselves from others. This is not the Spirit of God. The spirit of God is harmony, is unity, unites differences. A good Cardinal, who was the Archbishop of Genoa, said that the Church is like a river: the important thing is to be inside; if you are a little on that side and a little on the other side is not important; the Holy Spirit creates unity. He used the figure of a river. The important thing is to be inside, in the unity of the Spirit, and not look at the pettiness that you are a little on this side and a little on that side, that you pray in this way or the other…. This is not of God. The Church is for everyone, for everyone, as the Holy Spirit showed on the day of Pentecost.

Today let us ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to intercede so that the Holy Spirit descends in abundance, fills the hearts of the faithful and kindles the fire of his love in everyone. 

23.05.21


Chapter 2

1-11

cont.



Pope Francis       

28.05.23 Holy Mass,  St Peter's Basilica  

The Feast of Pentecost Year A   

Acts 2: 1-11

1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13

John 20: 19-23

Today the word of God shows us the Holy Spirit in action.  We see him acting in three ways: in the world he created, in the Church, and in our hearts.

1.  First, in the world he created, in creation.  From the beginning, the Holy Spirit was at work.  We prayed with the Psalm (104:30): “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created”.  He is in fact the Creator Spiritus (cf. SAINT AUGUSTINE, In Ps. XXXII, 2.2), the Creator Spirit: for centuries the Church has invoked him as such.  Yet we can ask ourselves: What does the Spirit do in the creation of the world?  If everything has its origin from the Father, and if everything is created through the Son, what is the specific role of the Spirit?  One great Father of the Church, Saint Basil, wrote: “if you attempt to remove the Spirit from creation, all things become confused and their life appears unruly and lacking order” (De Sancto Spiritu, XVI, 38).  That is the role of the Spirit: at the beginning and at all times, he makes created realities pass from disorder to order, from dispersion to cohesion, from confusion to harmony.  We will always see this way of acting in the Church’s life.  In a word, he gives harmony to the world; in this way, he “directs the course of time and renews the face of the earth” (Gaudium et Spes, 26; Ps 104:30).  He does renew the earth, but listen carefully: He does this not by changing reality, but rather by harmonizing it.  That is his “style”, because in himself he is harmony: ipse harmonia est (cf. SAINT BASIL, In Ps. XXIX, 1).

In our world today, there is so much discord, such great division.  We are all “connected”, yet find ourselves disconnected from one another, anesthetized by indifference and overwhelmed by solitude.  So many wars, so many conflicts: it seems incredible the evil of which we are capable!  Yet in fact, fueling our hostilities is the spirit of division, the devil, whose very name means “divider”.  Yes, preceding and exceeding our own evil, our own divisions, there is the evil spirit who is “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 12:9).  He rejoices in conflict, injustice, slander; that is his joy.  To counter the evil of discord, our efforts to create harmony are not sufficient.  Hence, the Lord, at the culmination of his Passover from death to life, at the culmination of salvation, pours out upon the created world his good Spirit: the Holy Spirit, who opposes the spirit of division because he is harmony, the Spirit of unity, the bringer of peace.  Let us invoke the Spirit daily upon our whole world, upon our lives and upon any kind of division!

2.  Along with his work in creation, we see the Holy Spirit at work in the Church, beginning with the day of Pentecost.  We notice, however, that the Spirit does not inaugurate the Church by providing the community with rules and regulations, but by descending upon each of the apostles: every one of them receives particular graces and different charisms.  Such an abundance of differing gifts could generate confusion, but, as in creation, the Holy Spirit loves to create harmony out of diversity.  The harmony of the Spirit is not a mandatory, uniform order; in the Church, there is indeed an order, but it is “structured in accordance with the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts” (SAINT BASIL, De Spiritu Sancto, XVI, 39).  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends in tongues of fire: he bestows upon each person the ability to speak other languages (cf. Acts 2:4) and to understand in his or her own language what is spoken by others (cf. Acts 2:6.11).  In a word, the Spirit does not create a single language, one that is the same for all.  He does not eliminate differences or cultures, but harmonizes everything without reducing them to bland uniformity.  And this must make us stop and reflect at this current time, when the temptation of “back-stepping” seeks to homogenise everything into merely apparent disciplines lacking any substance.  Let us think about this: the Spirit does not begin with a clearly outlined programme, as we would, who so often become caught up in our plans and projects.  No, he begins by bestowing gratuitous and superabundant gifts.  Indeed, on that day of Pentecost, as the Scripture emphasizes, “all were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).  All were filled: that is how the life of the Church began, not from a precise and detailed plan, but from the shared experience of God’s love.  That is how the Spirit creates harmony; he invites us to experience amazement at his love and at his gifts present in others.  As Saint Paul tells us: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:4.13).  To see each of our brothers and sisters in the faith as part of the same body of which I am a member: this is the harmonious approach of the Spirit, this is the path that he points out to us!

And the Synod now taking place is – and should be – a journey in accordance with the Spirit, not a Parliament for demanding rights and claiming needs in accordance with the agenda of the world, nor an occasion for following wherever the wind is blowing, but the opportunity to be docile to the breath of the Spirit.  For on the sea of history, the Church sets sail only with him, for he is “the soul of the Church” (SAINT PAUL VI, Address to the Sacred College, 21 June 1976), the heart of synodality, the driving force of evangelization.  Without him, the Church is lifeless, faith is mere doctrine, morality mere duty, pastoral work mere toil.  Sometimes we hear so-called thinkers or theologians, who suggest seemingly mathematical theories that leave us cold because they lack the Spirit within.  With the Spirit, on the other hand, faith is life, the love of the Lord convinces us, and hope is reborn.  Let us put the Holy Spirit back at the centre of the Church; otherwise, our hearts will not be consumed by love for Jesus, but by love for ourselves.  Let us put the Spirit at the start and heart of the Synod’s work.  For “it is he above all whom the Church needs today!  Let us say to him each day: Come!” (cf. ID., General Audience, 29 November 1972).  And let us journey together because, as at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit loves to descend when “all come together” (cf. Acts 2:1).  Yes, to manifest himself to the world, he chose the time and place where all were gathered together.  The People of God, in order to be filled with the Spirit, must therefore journey together, “do Synod”.  That is how harmony in the Church is renewed: by journeying together with the Spirit at the centre.  Brothers and sister, let us build harmony in the Church!

3.  Finally, the Holy Spirit creates harmony in our hearts.  We see this in the Gospel, where Jesus, on the evening of Easter, breathes upon the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22).  He bestows the Spirit for a precise purpose: to forgive sins, to reconcile minds and to harmonize hearts wounded by evil, broken by hurts, led astray by feelings of guilt.  Only the Spirit restores harmony in the heart, for he is the one who creates “intimacy with God” (SAINT BASIL, De Spiritu Sancto, XIX, 49).  If we want harmony let us seek him, not worldly substitutes.  Let us invoke the Holy Spirit each day.  Let us begin our day by praying to him.  Let us become docile to him!

And today, on his feast, let us ask ourselves: Am I docile to the harmony of the Spirit?  Or do I pursue my projects, my own ideas, without letting myself be shaped and changed by him?  Is my way of living the faith docile to the Spirit or is it obstinate?  Am I stubbornly attached to texts or so-called doctrines that are only cold expressions of life?  Am I quick to judge?  Do I point fingers and slam doors in the face of others, considering myself a victim of everyone and everything?  Or do I welcome the Spirit’s harmonious and creative power, the “grace of wholeness” that he inspires, his forgiveness that brings us peace?  And in turn, do I forgive?  Forgiveness is making room for the Spirit to come.  Do I foster reconciliation and build communion, or am I always on the lookout, poking my nose into problems and causing hurt, spite, division and breakdown?  Do I forgive, promote reconciliation and build communion?  If the world is divided, if the Church is polarized, if hearts are broken, let us not waste time in criticizing others and growing angry with one another; instead, let us invoke the Spirit.  He is able to resolve all of this.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus and of the Father, inexhaustible wellspring of harmony, to you we entrust the world; to you we consecrate the Church and our hearts.  Come, Creator Spirit, harmony of humanity, renew the face of the earth.  Come, Gift of gifts, harmony of the Church, make us one in you.  Come, Spirit of forgiveness and harmony of the heart, transform us as only you can, through the intercession of Mary.

28.05.23 m



Chapter 2

1-11

cont.



Pope Francis       

30.09.23 Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals, Saint Peter's Square  

Acts 2: 1-11


Thinking of this celebration and particularly of you, dear brothers, who would become Cardinals, a text from the Acts of the Apostles came to mind (cf. 2:1-11). It is a fundamental text: the story of Pentecost, the baptism of the Church… But my thoughts were really drawn to one detail: the expression spoken by the Jews who “were dwelling in Jerusalem” (v. 5). They said: We are “Parthians and Medes and Elamites” (v. 9) and so on. This long list of peoples made me think of the Cardinals, who thanks be to God, are from all parts of the world, from the most diverse nations. That is the reason I chose this biblical passage.

Meditating on this, I became aware of a kind of “surprise” hidden in this association of ideas, a surprise in which, with joy, I seemed to recognize the humor of the Holy Spirit, so to speak. Please excuse the expression.

What is this “surprise”? It consists in the fact that normally we pastors, when we read the account of Pentecost, identify ourselves with the Apostles. It is natural to do so. Instead, those “Parthians, Medes, Elamites” et cetera, associated in my mind with the Cardinals, do not belong to the group of disciples. They are outside the Upper Room; they are part of the “crowd” that “gathered” upon hearing the noise of the rushing wind (cf. v. 6). The Apostles were “all Galileans” (cf. v. 7), while the people who gathered were “from every nation under heaven” (v. 5), just like the Bishops and Cardinals of our time.

This kind of role reversal gives us pause for thought and, when we look closely, it reveals an interesting perspective, which I would like to share with you. It is a matter of applying to ourselves – I will put myself first – the experience of those Jews who by a gift of God found themselves protagonists of the event of Pentecost, that is of the “baptism” by the Holy Spirit that gave birth to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I would summarize the perspective in this way: to rediscover with amazement the gift of having received the Gospel “in our own tongues” (v.11), as the Jews said. To think back with gratitude on the gift of having been evangelized and having been drawn from various peoples who, each in their own time received the Kerygma, the proclamation of the mystery of salvation, and in welcoming it, were baptized in the Holy Spirit and became part of the Church. Mother Church, who speaks all languages, is One and is Catholic.

This word from the Acts of the Apostles makes us reflect that, before being “apostles”, before being priests, Bishops, Cardinals, we are “Parthians, Medes, Elamites”, et cetera, et cetera. And this should awaken awe and gratitude in us for having received the grace of the Gospel among our respective peoples of origin. I think this is very important and not to be forgotten. Because there, in the history of our people, I would say in the “flesh” of our people, the Holy Spirit has worked the wonder of communicating the mystery of Jesus Christ who died and rose again. And this came to us “in our language”, from the lips and the gestures of our grandparents and our parents, of catechists, priests, and religious… Every one of us can remember concrete voices and faces. The faith is transmitted “in dialect”. Don’t forget this: the faith is transmitted in dialect, by mothers and grandmothers.

Indeed, we are evangelizers to the extent we cherish in our hearts the wonder and gratitude of having been evangelized, even of being evangelized, because this is really a gift always present, that must be continually renewed in our memories and in faith. Evangelizers who have been evangelized, not functionaries.

Brothers and sisters, dearest Cardinals, Pentecost – like the Baptism of each one of us – is not a thing of the past; it is a creative act that God continually renews. The Church – and each of her members - lives this ever-present mystery. She does not live “off of her name”, still less does she live off of an archeological patrimony, however precious and noble. The Church, and every baptized member, lives the today of God, through the action of the Holy Spirit. Even the act we are carrying out now makes sense if we live it from this perspective of faith. And today, in the light of the Word, we can grasp this reality: you new Cardinals have come from different parts of the world, and the same Spirit that made the evangelization of your peoples fruitful now renews in you your vocation and mission in and for the Church.

From this reflection, drawn from a fruitful "surprise”, I would simply like to draw a consequence for you, brother Cardinals, and for your College. I would like to express this with an image, that of the orchestra: the College of Cardinals is called to resemble a symphony orchestra, representing the harmony and synodality of the Church. I also say "synodality", not only because we are on the eve of the first Assembly of the Synod that has precisely this theme, but also because it seems to me that the metaphor of the orchestra can well illuminate the synodal character of the Church.

A symphony thrives on the skillful composition of the timbres of different instruments: each one makes its contribution, sometimes alone, sometimes united with someone else, sometimes with the whole ensemble. Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design. This is why mutual listening is essential: each musician must listen to the others. If one listens only to himself, however sublime his sound may be, it will not benefit the symphony; and the same would be the case if one section of the orchestra did not listen to the others, but played as if it were alone, as if it were the whole. In addition, the conductor of the orchestra is at the service of this kind of miracle that is each performance of a symphony.  He has to listen more than anyone else, and at the same time his job is to help each person and the whole orchestra develop the greatest creative fidelity: fidelity to the work being performed, but also creative, able to give a soul to the score, to make it resonate in the here and now in a unique way.

Dear brothers and sisters, it does us good to reflect upon ourselves as the image of the orchestra, in order to learn to be an ever more symphonic and synodal Church. I propose this especially to you, members of the College of Cardinals, in the consoling confidence that we have the Holy Spirit – he is the protagonist – as our master: the interior master of each one of us and the master of walking together. He creates variety and unity; He is harmony itself.  Saint Basil was looking for a synthesis when he said: “Ipse harmonia est”, he is harmony itself. We entrust ourselves to his gentle and strong guidance, and to the gracious care of the Virgin Mary.

30.09.23



Chapter 2

1-11

cont.



Pope Francis       

19.05.24 Holy Mass, St Peter's Basilica  

Feast  of Pentecost  Year B 

Acts 2: 1-11

Galatians 5: 16-25

The account of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1-11) shows us two areas of the Holy Spirit’s working in the Church: in us and in mission, with two characteristics: power and gentleness.

The Spirit’s work in us is powerful, as symbolized by the signs of wind and fire, which are often associated with God’s power in the Bible (cf. Ex 19:16-19). Without such power we would never be able to defeat evil on our own, nor overcome the “desires of the flesh” that Saint Paul refers to, those drives of the soul: “impurity, idolatry, dissension, and envy” (cf. Gal 5:19-21). They can be overcome with the Spirit who gives us the power to do so, for he enters into our hearts that are “parched, stiff and cold” (cf. Sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus). These drives spoil our relationships with others and divide our communities, yet the Spirit enters into our hearts and heals everything.

Jesus too shows us this when, prompted by the Spirit, he withdraws for forty days and is tempted in the desert (cf. Mt. 4:1-11). During that time his humanity also grows, is strengthened and prepared for mission.

At the same time, the Paraclete’s working in us is also gentle: powerful and gentle. The wind and the fire do not destroy or reduce to ashes whatever they touch: the one fills the house where the disciples are, and the other rests gently, in the form of flames, on the head of each. This gentleness, too, is a feature of God’s way of acting, one that we frequently encounter in the Scriptures.

It is reassuring to see how the same sturdy, calloused hand that first breaks up the clods of our passions, then gently, after planting the seeds of virtue, “waters” them and “tends” them (cf. Sequence). He lovingly protects these virtues, so that they can grow stronger and so that, after the toil of combatting evil, we may taste the sweetness of mercy and communion with God. The Spirit is like this: powerful, giving us the power to overcome, and also gentle. We speak about the anointing of the Spirit, the Spirit anoints us for he is with us. As a beautiful prayer of the early Church says: “Let your gentleness, O Lord, and the fruits of your love, abide with me” (Odes of Solomon, 14:6).

The Holy Spirit, who descended upon the disciples and remained at their side, that is, as the “Paraclete”, transformed their hearts and instilled in them “a serene courage which impelled them to pass on to others their experience of Jesus and the hope which motivated them” (SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Missio, 24). Peter and John would later testify before the Sanhedrin, after being told “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18): “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (v. 20). And they possessed the power of the Holy Spirit to speak of these things.

This is also true of us, who received the Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. From the “Upper Room” of this Basilica, like the Apostles, we too are being sent forth, particularly at the present time, to proclaim the Gospel to all. We are sent into the world “not only geographically but also beyond the frontiers of race and religion, for a truly universal mission” (Redemptoris Missio, 25). Thanks to the Spirit, we can and must do this with his own power and gentleness.

With the same power: that is, not with arrogance and impositions – a Christian is not arrogant, for his or her power is something else, it is the power of the Spirit – nor with calculation and cunning, but with the energy born of fidelity to the truth that the Spirit teaches us in our hearts and causes to grow within us. Consequently, we surrender to the Spirit, not to worldly power. We tirelessly proclaim peace to those who desire war, proclaim forgiveness to those who seek revenge, we proclaim welcome and solidarity to those who bar their doors and erect barriers, we proclaim life to those who choose death, we proclaim respect to those who love to humiliate, insult and reject, we proclaim fidelity to those who would sever every bond, thereby confusing freedom with a bleak and empty individualism. Nor are we intimidated by hardship, derision or opposition, which, today as always, are never lacking in the apostolate (cf. Acts 4:1-31).

At the same time that we act with this power, our proclamation seeks to be gentle, welcoming to everyone. Let us not forget this: everyone, everyone, everyone. Let us not forget the parable of those who were invited to the feast but did not want to go: “Go therefore to the streets and bring everyone, everyone, everyone, both the bad and the good, everyone” (cf. Mt 22:9-10). The Spirit grants us the power to go forth and call everyone with gentleness, he grants us the gentleness to welcome everyone.

All of us, brothers and sisters, are in great need of hope, which is not optimism; no, it is something else. We need hope. Hope is depicted as an anchor, there at the shore, and in clinging to its rope, we move toward hope. We need hope, we need to lift our gaze to horizons of peace, fraternity, justice and solidarity. This alone is the way of life, there is no other. Naturally, it is not always easy; indeed, there are times that the path is winding and uphill. Yet we know that we are not alone, we have the certainty that, by the help of the Holy Spirit and by his gifts, we can walk together and make that path more and more inviting for others as well.

Brothers and sisters, let us renew our faith in the presence of the Comforter, who is at our side, and continue to pray:

Come, Creator Spirit, enlighten our minds,

fill our hearts with your grace, guide our steps,

grant your peace to our world. Amen.

19.05.24 m

Chapter 2

14-23




Pope Francis   

04.05.14  Holy Mass Polish National Church of Saint Stanislaus, Rome 

Holy Mass for the Polish Community, Third Sunday of Easter 

Acts 2: 14,22-23,       1 Peter 1: 17-21,     

Luke 24: 13-35 

In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles we heard the voice of Peter, who with power announces the Resurrection of Jesus. Peter is a witness to hope in Christ. And in the Second Reading it is Peter again who confirms the faithful in faith in Christ, writing: “Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead... so that your faith and hope are in God” (Pet 1:21). Peter is the community’s firm reference point, because he is founded on the Rock that is Christ. As was John Paul II, a true stone anchored to the great Rock.

One week after the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, we are gathered in this church of the Poles in Rome to thank the Lord for the gift of the holy Bishop of Rome who was a son of your nation. This church to which he came more than 80 times! He always came here, at various times in his life and in the life of Poland. In times of sadness and dejection, when all seemed lost, he did not lose hope, because his faith and hope were fixed in God (cf. 1 Pet 1:21). And thus he was a foundation stone, a rock for this community that prays here, that listens to the Word here, prepares for the Sacraments and administers them, welcomes those in need, sings and celebrates, and from here returns to the outskirts of Rome....

Brothers and sisters, you belong to a people that has been severely tried throughout its history. The Polish people know well that in order to enter into glory one must pass through the Passion and the Cross (cf. Lk 24:26). And it knows it not because it has studied it, it knows it because it has lived it. St John Paul II, as a worthy son of his earthly fatherland, followed this path. He followed it in an exemplary way, having received from God to be totally stripped of self. That is why his “flesh will dwell in hope” (cf. Acts 2:26; Ps 19:9).

And us? Are we ready to follow this road?

You, dear brethren, who today form the Polish Christian community in Rome, do you want to follow this road?

St Peter, also through the voice of John Paul II, tells you: Conduct yourselves with fear of God throughout the time of your exile here below (cf. 1 Pet 1:17). It is true, we are wayfarers, but we are not wanderers! On a journey, but we know where we are going! Wanderers do not know where. We are pilgrims, but not vagabonds — as St John Paul II would say.

At the outset the two disciples of Emmaus were wanderers, they did not know where they would end up, but on their return, not so! On their return they were witnesses of the hope that is Christ! For they had met Him, the Risen Wayfarer. This Jesus, he is the Risen Wayfarer who walks with us. Jesus is here today, he is among us. He is here in his Word, he is here on the altar, he walks with us, he is the Risen Wayfarer.

We too can become “risen wayfarers”, if his Word warms our hearts, and his Eucharist opens our eyes to faith and nourishes us with hope and charity. We too can walk beside our brothers and sisters who are downcast and in despair, and warm their hearts with the Gospel, and break with them the bread of brotherhood.

May St John Paul II help us to be “risen wayfarers”. Amen. 

04.05.14

 Chapter 2

42-47





Pope Francis       

27.04.14 St Peter's Square  Holy Mass and Rite of Canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II    

Second Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday    

Acts 2: 42-471 Peter 1: 3-9,  

John 20: 19-31 

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we have heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. Thomas was also present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we have heard in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47). It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, Saint John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, guided by the Holy Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; for this reason I like to think of him as the the pope of openness to the Holy Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, Saint John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.

27.04.14

 Chapter 2

42-47

cont.




Pope Francis 

         

26.06.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square, Rome

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles  

Acts 2: 42-47    

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The fruit of Pentecost, the mighty outpouring of the spirit of God upon the first Christian community, was that many people felt pierced in their hearts by the good news – the kerygma – of the salvation in Christ and they joined him freely, converting, receiving baptism in His name and in turn, welcoming the gift of the Holy Spirit. About three thousand people entered to become a part of that fraternity and that habitat of believers and the ecclesial ferment of the work of evangelisation.

The warmth of the faith of these brothers and sisters in Christ makes in their lives the scene of the work of God that is manifested with wonders and signs through the Apostles. The extraordinary becomes ordinary and everyday life becomes a space for the manifestation of the living Christ.

The evangelist Luke tells us showing us the church of Jerusalem as a paradigm of every Christian community, as the icon of a fraternity that fascinates and shouldn't be idealised but also should not be minimized. The account of the Acts allows us to look within the walls of the house where the first Christians gathered together as God's family, the space of koinonia, that is of communion and love between brothers and sisters in Christ. You can see that they live in a very specific way: "they are devoted to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life of the breaking of bread and to the prayers" (Acts 2.42). Christians listen assiduously to the "didache" or apostolic teaching; practicing high quality interpersonal relationships through the communion of spiritual and material goods; they make memory of the Lord through the "breaking of bread", that is, the Eucharist, and they dialogue with God in prayer. These are the attitudes of the Christian; the four tracks of a good Christian: First - assiduously listen to the apostolic teaching. Second, - practice a high quality of interpersonal relations also through communion of spiritual and material goods. Third, - make memory of the Lord through the breaking of bread the Eucharist. And Fourth, - the dialogue with God in prayer. Those are the signs of a good Christian.

Different from human society, where we tend to make our own interests and even overlook or even do things to the detriment of others, the community of believers banishes individualism to encourage sharing and solidarity. There is no room for selfishness in the soul of a Christian: If your heart is selfish you're not a Christian, you're a liar, that only looks for your favour, for what's in it for you. And Luke tells us that the Christians are together (cf. Acts 2.44). The closeness and unity are the style of the redeemed: they are close, concerned for each other, they do not speak poorly of others, no, they help them to be closer.

The grace of baptism is therefore the intimate connection between brothers in Christ who are called to share, to empathize with others and to give "according to the need of every one" (Acts 2.45), That is, generosity, charity, being concerned about the others, visiting the sick, visit those in need, those who need consolation.

And this is precisely because the fraternity chooses the path of communion and of attention to the needy. This fraternity that is the Church can live a true and authentic liturgical life. Luke says, that "every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and to breaking bread in their homes, they ate their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favour with all the people" (Acts 2.46 -47).

Finally, the account of the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that the Lord ensures the growth of the Community (cf. 2.47): perseverance and a genuine alliance with God and with our brothers and sisters becomes the attractive force that fascinates and captivates many (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 14), this is a principle to which the community of believers has lived to throughout all time.

Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to make our communities places which welcome and practice a new life, the work of solidarity and communion, places where the liturgy is an encounter with God that becomes communion with our brothers and sisters, places where the doors are open to the celestial Jerusalem. 

26.06.19

 Chapter 2

42-47

cont.




Pope Francis       

19.04.20  Holy Mass, Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia

Divine Mercy Sunday   

Acts 2: 42-47,       1 Peter 1: 3-9,       

John 20: 19-31 

Last Sunday we celebrated the Lord’s resurrection; today we witness the resurrection of his disciple. It has already been a week, a week since the disciples had seen the Risen Lord, but in spite of this, they remained fearful, cringing behind “closed doors” (Jn 20:26), unable even to convince Thomas, the only one absent, of the resurrection. What does Jesus do in the face of this timorous lack of belief? He returns and, standing in the same place, “in the midst” of the disciples, he repeats his greeting: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19, 26). He starts all over. The resurrection of his disciple begins here, from this faithful and patient mercy, from the discovery that God never tires of reaching out to lift us up when we fall. He wants us to see him, not as a taskmaster with whom we have to settle accounts, but as our Father who always raises us up. In life we go forward tentatively, uncertainly, like a toddler who takes a few steps and falls; a few steps more and falls again, yet each time his father puts him back on his feet. The hand that always puts us back on our feet is mercy: God knows that without mercy we will remain on the ground, that in order to keep walking, we need to be put back on our feet.

You may object: “But I keep falling!”. The Lord knows this and he is always ready to raise you up. He does not want us to keep thinking about our failings; rather, he wants us to look to him. For when we fall, he sees children needing to be put back on their feet; in our failings he sees children in need of his merciful love. Today, in this church that has become a shrine of mercy in Rome, and on this Sunday that Saint John Paul II dedicated to Divine Mercy twenty years ago, we confidently welcome this message. Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “I am love and mercy itself; there is no human misery that could measure up to my mercy” (Diary, 14 September 1937). At one time, the Saint, with satisfaction, told Jesus that she had offered him all of her life and all that she had. But Jesus’ answer stunned her: “You have not offered me the thing is truly yours”. What had that holy nun kept for herself? Jesus said to her with kindness: “My daughter, give me your failings” (10 October 1937). We too can ask ourselves: “Have I given my failings to the Lord? Have I let him see me fall so that he can raise me up?” Or is there something I still keep inside me? A sin, a regret from the past, a wound that I have inside, a grudge against someone, an idea about a particular person… The Lord waits for us to offer him our failings so that he can help us experience his mercy.

Let us go back to the disciples. They had abandoned the Lord at his Passion and felt guilty. But meeting them, Jesus did not give a long sermon. To them, who were wounded within, he shows his own wounds. Thomas can now touch them and know of Jesus’ love and how much Jesus had suffered for him, even though he had abandoned him. In those wounds, he touches with his hands God’s tender closeness. Thomas arrived late, but once he received mercy, he overtook the other disciples: he believed not only in the resurrection, but in the boundless love of God. And he makes the most simple and beautiful profession of faith: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). Here is the resurrection of the disciple: it is accomplished when his frail and wounded humanity enters into that of Jesus. There, every doubt is resolved; there, God becomes my God; there, we begin to accept ourselves and to love life as it is.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the time of trial that we are presently undergoing, we too, like Thomas, with our fears and our doubts, have experienced our frailty. We need the Lord, who sees beyond that frailty an irrepressible beauty. With him we rediscover how precious we are even in our vulnerability. We discover that we are like beautiful crystals, fragile and at the same time precious. And if, like crystal, we are transparent before him, his light – the light of mercy – will shine in us and through us in the world. As the Letter of Peter said, this is a reason for being “filled with joy, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials” (1 Pt 1:6).

On this feast of Divine Mercy, the most beautiful message comes from Thomas, the disciple who arrived late; he was the only one missing. But the Lord waited for Thomas. Mercy does not abandon those who stay behind. Now, while we are looking forward to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind. The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference. A virus spread by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me. It begins there and ends up selecting one person over another, discarding the poor, and sacrificing those left behind on the altar of progress. The present pandemic, however, reminds us that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer. We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: the time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family! Let us learn from the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. It received mercy and lived with mercy: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45). This is not some ideology: it is Christianity.

In that community, after the resurrection of Jesus, only one was left behind and the others waited for him. Today the opposite seems to be the case: a small part of the human family has moved ahead, while the majority has remained behind. Each of us could say: “These are complex problems, it is not my job to take care of the needy, others have to be concerned with it!”. Saint Faustina, after meeting Jesus, wrote: “In a soul that is suffering we should see Jesus on the cross, not a parasite and a burden... [Lord] you give us the chance to practise deeds of mercy, and we practise making judgements” (Diary, 6 September 1937). Yet she herself complained one day to Jesus that, in being merciful, one is thought to be naive. She said, “Lord, they often abuse my goodness”. And Jesus replied: “Never mind, don’t let it bother you, just be merciful to everyone always” (24 December 1937). To everyone: let us not think only of our interests, our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future, a future for all without discarding anyone. Because without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone.

Today the simple and disarming love of Jesus revives the heart of his disciple. Like the apostle Thomas, let us accept mercy, the salvation of the world. And let us show mercy to those who are most vulnerable; for only in this way will we build a new world.

19.04.20

Chapter 3

 Chapter 3

1-6




Pope Francis       

07.08.19  General Audience  Paul VI Audience Hall, Rome

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles    

Acts 3: 1-6 

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In our continuing catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we now see how the Apostles preached the Gospel of salvation not only in words but in concrete actions.

The first account of healing in Acts bears witness to this. Peter and John encounter a man born lame at the entrance to the Temple. This poor beggar, who represents the excluded and discarded members of society, is looking for alms. The two Apostles fix their gaze on him, inviting him to a different way of seeing things.

They offer him not silver or gold, but the greatest gift of all: the salvation to be found in Jesus Christ.

They create a relationship with him, for this is how God desires to reveal himself: through a loving encounter between people. Saint John Chrysostom saw in this act of raising up a lame person an image of the resurrection. It is also an image of the Church, called to look for those in need and to lift them up.

As we also strive to help others, let us, like Peter and John, always recognise our own need for that greatest treasure, which is our relationship with the Risen Lord.

And we – all of us – what do we own? What is our wealth, how much is our treasure? With what we can make others rich? We ask the Father for the gift of a gratitude in remembering the benefits of his love in our lives, to give everyone the testimony of praise and gratitude.

Let us not forget: the outstretched hand and to always help each other to get up; It is the hand of Jesus through our hand that helps others to stand up. 

07.08.19

 Chapter 3

11-26




Pope Francis       

19.04.15 Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square         

3rd Sunday of Easter Year B     

Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19,       Luke 24: 35-48 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

In the Bible Readings of today’s liturgy the word “witnesses” is mentioned twice. The first time it is on the lips of Peter who, after the healing of the paralytic at the Door of the Temple of Jerusalem, exclaims: You “killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15). The second time it is on the lips of the Risen Jesus. On the evening of Easter he opens the minds of the disciples to the mystery of his death and Resurrection, saying to them: “You are witnesses to these things” (Lk 24:48). The Apostles, who saw the Risen Christ with their own eyes, could not keep silent about their extraordinary experience. He had shown himself to them so that the truth of his Resurrection would reach everyone by way of their witness. The Church has the duty to continue this mission over time. Every baptized person is called to bear witness, with their life and words, that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus is alive and present among us. We are all called to testify that Jesus is alive.

We may ask ourselves: who is a witness? A witness is a person who has seen, who recalls and tells. See, recall and tell: these are three verbs which describe the identity and mission. A witness is a person who has seen with an objective eye, has seen reality, but not with an indifferent eye; he has seen and has let himself become involved in the event. For this reason, one recalls, not only because she knows how to reconstruct the events exactly but also because those facts spoke to her and she grasped their profound meaning. Then a witness tells, not in a cold and detached way but as one who has allowed himself to be called into question and from that day changed the way of life. A witness is someone who has changed his or her life.