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"Allow Him to Make All Things New," Says Pope on Feast of St. Paul's Conversion

During Homily at Vespers Closing 50th Week of Christian Unity, Francis Prays for Future in Which Divisions Can Be Overcome and Believers Will Be ‘Fully and Visibly One’

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«Let us allow Him, Who makes all things new, to unveil before our eyes a new future, open to the hope that does not disappoint, a future in which divisions can be overcome and believers, renewed in love, will be fully and visibly one.»
Pope Francis gave this encouragement during his homily last evening on the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul at the celebration of Vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls for the conclusion of the 50th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The week, on the theme «Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” closed with this Vespers, which brought together the leaders of many Christian communities in Rome.
Encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, Francis recalled, radically transformed the life of Saint Paul, making him experience a new life, one in the Spirit.
By the power of the risen Lord, Francis stressed, Paul came to know forgiveness, confidence and consolation. He could not keep this newness to himself and was compelled by grace to proclaim the good news of the love and reconciliation that God offers fully in Christ to all humanity.
For the Apostle of the Gentiles, reconciliation with God, is a gift from Christ, Francis said, highlighting the evidence of this in the Second Letter to the Corinthians which inspired the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20).
“The love of Christ”: this is not our love for Christ, but rather Christ’s love for us. Nor is the reconciliation to which we are compelled simply our own initiative,» the Pope clarified, stressing, «Before all else it is the reconciliation that God offers us in Christ. Prior to any human effort on the part of believers who strive to overcome their divisions, it is God’s free gift.»
Proclaiming Gospel of Reconciliation
As a result of this gift, the Jesuit Pope said, each person, forgiven and loved, is called in turn to proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation into word and deed, in order to live and bear witness to a reconciled life.
«Today, in the light of this, we can ask: How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation after centuries of division? Paul himself helps us to find the way,» the Pope said, noting it means sacrifice, namely that we no longer live for ourselves and interests, but for Him.
«For the Church, for every Christian confession,» the Pope said, this is an invitation «not to be caught up with programs, plans and advantages, not to look to the prospects and fashions of the moment, but rather to find the way by constantly looking to the Lord’s Cross,» and «to leave behind every form of isolation, to overcome all those temptations to self-absorption that prevent us from perceiving how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings.»
Old Passes Away
«Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other’s gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first.»
If we experience this dying to ourselves for Jesus’ sake, Francis said, «our old way of life will be a thing of the past,» and, like Saint Paul, we will pass over to a new form of life and fellowship.
«With Paul, we will be able to say: “the old has passed away” (2 Cor 5:17).»
To look back,» Francis admitted, is helpful and necessary at times, «but to be fixated on the past, lingering over the memory of wrongs done and endured, and judging in merely human terms, can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present,» he warned.
New Life
While the Word of God encourages us to draw strength from memory and to recall the good things the Lord has given us, he stressed, it also asks us «to leave the past behind in order to follow Jesus today and to live a new life in him.»
Pope Francis concluded, imploring from God the gift of reconciliation with him and with one another, and praying for the gift of Christian unity and communion.
«May we never tire of asking God for this gift,» he prayed, saying, «let us press forward in our journey of reconciliation and dialogue, encouraged by the heroic witness of our many brothers and sisters, past and present, who were one in suffering for the name of Jesus.»
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Pope’s Homily: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-vespers-on-solemnity-of-conversion-of-st-paul/

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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