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Pope's General Audience: On Beloved Children, Certainty of Hope

‘In Him, in Christ Jesus, we were willed, loved and desired’

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This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
Previously, shortly after 9 a.m. the Pope greeted the sick and their families in Paul VI Hall.
In his address in Italian, the Pontiff reflected on the theme: “Beloved children, certainty of hope” (Cf. Luke 15:20-24a).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Greeting to the Sick
Good morning to you all! Make yourselves comfortable, make yourselves comfortable . . . Today we will do the Audience in two different places, but we will be united with the giant screen, so you will be more comfortable here, because the sun in beating in the Square. It will be a Turkish bath today . . . Thank you so much for coming. And afterwards listen to what I will say, but with the heart united to those who are in the Square: the Church is like this. One group is here, another is there, and another there, but all are united. And who unites the Church? The Holy Spirit. Let us pray to the Spirit to unite us all today in this Audience.
Veni Sancte Spiritus . . . Our Father . . . Hail Mary . . .
And now I give you a Blessing. [Blessing] Thank you so much and pray for me: don’t forget! And we continue to see one another . . .
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester] * * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! Today we are doing this Audience in two places, but connected by the giant screens: the sick, so that they don’t suffer the heat so much, are in Paul VI Hall, and we here. However, we remain all together and we are connected by the Holy Spirit, who is He who always makes unity. We greet those who are in the Hall!
None of us can live without love. And an awful slavery into which we can fall is to believe that love is merited. Perhaps a good part of contemporary man’s anguish stems from this: to believe that if we are not strong, attractive and beautiful, then no one will be concerned with us. So many people today seek visibility only to fill an interior void: as if we were persons eternally in need of confirmation. However, can you imagine a world where all beg motives to awaken others’ attention, and no one is willing, instead, to freely love another person? Imagine such a world: a world without the gratuitousness of loving! It seems a human world but, in reality, it is a hell. So many narcissisms of man are born from a sentiment of solitude and orphanhood. Behind so much apparently inexplicable behavior there lies the question: is it possible that I do not deserve to be called by name, namely, to be loved? Because love always calls by name . . .
When an adolescent is not or does not feel loved, then violence can be born. Behind so many forms of social hatred and of hooliganism there is often a heart that has not been recognized. Evil children do not exist, as there are not altogether evil adolescents, but unhappy persons do exist. And what can render us happy if not the experience of love given and received? A human being’s life is an exchange of looks: someone who looking at us wrings from us the first smile, and we who freely smile at one who is closed in sadness, and thus we open to him a way out. Exchange of looks: look in the eyes and the doors of the heart open.
The first step that God took towards us was that of an anticipating and unconditional love. God loved us first. God does not love us because there is in us some reason that elicits love. God loves us because He Himself is love, and by its nature love tends to diffuse itself, to give itself. God does not even link His benevolence to our conversion: if anything this is a consequence of God’s love. Saint Paul says it perfectly: “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) – While we were yet sinners – an unconditional love We were “distant,” as the Prodigal Son of the parable: “While he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion . . .” (Luke 15:20). Out of love for us God undertook an exodus from Himself, to come to find us in this land where it was senseless that He should walk. God loved us also when we were mistaken.
Who of us loves in this way if not one who is father or mother? A mother continues to love her son even when this son is in prison. I remember so many mothers, who were in a queue to enter a prison, in my previous diocese. And they were not ashamed. The son was in prison, but it was their son And they suffered so many humiliations in the searches before entering, but: “It is my son!” “But lady, your son is a delinquent!” “He is my son!” Only this love of mother and of father makes us understand how God’s love is. A mother does not ask for the cancellation of human justice, because every error calls for a redemption, but a mother never stops suffering for her son. She loves him even when he is a sinner. God does the same thing with us: we are His beloved children! But could it be that God has some children that he does not love? No, we are all loved by God. There is no curse on our life, but only a benevolent word of God, who drew our existence out of nothing. The truth of it all is that relation of love that binds the Father with the Son through the Holy Spirit, is a relationship in which we are received by grace. In Him, in Christ Jesus, we were willed, loved <and> desired. There is Someone who has imprinted in us a primordial beauty, which no sin, no mistaken choice will ever be able to cancel altogether. Before God’s eyes, we are always little springs made to gush good water. Jesus said it to the Samaritan woman: “the water that I shall give [you] will become in [you] a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
What is the medicine to change the heart of an unhappy person? What is the medicine to change the heart of a person that is not happy? [They answer: love] Louder! [They shout: love!] Good! Good, all good! And how does one make a person feel that he is loved? It is necessary first of all to embrace him. To make him feel wanted, that he is important, and he will stop being sad. Love calls love, in a stronger way than hatred calls death. Jesus did not die and rise for Himself, but for us, so that our sins would be forgiven. Hence, it is the time of resurrection for all: time to raise the poor from discouragement, especially those lying in a sepulcher for a much longer time than three days. Blowing here, on our faces, is a wind of liberation. Germinating here is the gift of hope. And the hope is that of God the Father who loves us as we are: He loves us all and always. Thank you!
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester] In Italian
I welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I receive the new priests of the Diocese of Brescia and I encourage them to be Pastors according to God’s heart, as well as the “Charity Without Boundaries” Association of the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, on the occasion of their twenty years of activity.
I greet the Italian Union of the Blind of Rossano Calabro; the Silvana Angelucci Foundation of various regions of Italy and the Reatium Cultural Association, which is commemorating the figure of Pope Saint Zosimus. I greet the faithful of Corridonia, Altamura and Potenza. A special thought goes to the families of the military men deceased in peace missions: I am close to them with affection, comfort and encouragement.
Finally I greet young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday in the liturgy we remembered Saint Anthony of Padua, “eminent preacher and patron of the poor and the suffering.” Dear young people, imitate the linearity of his Christian life; dear sick, with his intercession, do not tire of asking God the Father for what you need; and you, dear newlyweds, [grow in your] knowledge of the Word of God.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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