Following is the full text of the Holy Father’s April 18, 2020, homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. It is a Zenit translation of the transcript provided by Vatican News in Italian.
The rulers, the Elders, the Scribes, seeing these men and the boldness with which they spoke, and knowing that they were uneducated people, perhaps they didn’t know how to write, were astonished. They didn’t understand: “But it’s something we can’t understand, how these people are so courageous, have this boldness” (Cf. Acts 4:13). This word is a very important word, which becomes the style proper of the Christian preachers, also in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: boldness, courage, it means all that. To say clearly, comes from the Greek root to say all, and we also use this word many times, precisely the Greek word, to indicate this: parrhesia, boldness, courage. And they saw this boldness, this courage, this parrhesia in them and they didn’t understand.
Boldness. The courage and the boldness with which the first Apostles preached … For instance, the Book of the Acts is full of this: it says that Paul and Barnabas sought to explain boldly to the Jews the mystery of Jesus and they preached the Gospel with boldness (Cf. Acts 13:46).
However, there is a verse in the Letter to the Hebrews, which I like very much, when the author of the Letter to the Hebrews realizes that there is something in the community that is going down, that something is being lost, that there is a certain warmth, that these Christian are becoming tepid. And it says this — I don’t remember the quotation well — it says this: “Remember the early days, you waged a great and hard fight: don’t throw away your boldness now” (Cf. Hebrews 10:32-35). “Revive,” revive boldness, the Christian courage to go forward. We can’t be Christians without having this boldness: if you don’t have it, you are not a good Christian. If you don’t have the courage, if to explain your position you slide into ideologies or case explanations, you are lacking that boldness, you are lacking that Christian style, the freedom to speak, to say all — the courage.
And then, we see that the rulers, the Elders, and the Scribes are victims, they are victims of this boldness, because they are cornered; they don’t know what to do. Perceiving “that they were simple, uneducated persons, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition” (Acts 4:13-14). Instead of accepting the truth as it was seen, their heart was so closed that they sought the way of diplomacy, the way of compromise: “Let’s scare them a bit; let’s say to them that they will be punished and let’s see if then they are silent” (Cf. Acts 4:16-17). They were truly cornered by boldness and didn’t know how to come out of it. However, it didn’t come to their mind to say: “But, could this be true?” Their heart was already closed, it was hard: their heart was corrupt. This is one of the tragedies: the strength of the Holy Spirit, which is manifested in this boldness of preaching, in this madness of preaching, cannot enter into corrupt hearts. Therefore, let’s be careful: sinners yes, corrupt never. And not arrive at this corruption that has so many ways of manifesting itself . . .
However, they were cornered and didn’t know what to say. And, in the end, they found a compromise: “Let’s threatened them a bit, let’s scare them a bit,” and they invite them, they call them back and order them, they invite them not to speak at any time or to teach in the name of Jesus (Cf. Acts 4:18). We know Peter; he wasn’t a courageous born <man>. He was a coward, he denied Jesus. But what happened now? They answer: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). But, where does this courage come from, to this coward who denied the Lord? What happened in this man’s heart? The gift of the Holy Spirit: boldness, courage, parrhesia is a gift, a grace that the Holy Spirit gives on the day of Pentecost. In fact, after receiving the Holy Spirit they went out to preach: somewhat courageous, it was a new thing for them. This is coherence, the sign of a Christian, of a true Christian: he is courageous; he says the whole truth because he is coherent. And, in sending them, the Lord calls for this coherence. After this synthesis that Mark does in the Gospel: “When He rose early in the morning . . . “(16:9) — a synthesis of the Resurrection — He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen” (v. 14). But Jesus’ greeting has the power of the Holy Spirit: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) — and He says to them: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). Go with courage, go with boldness, don’t be afraid.
No — taking up the verse of the Letter to the Hebrews — “do not throw away your boldness, don’t throw away those gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Cf. Hebrews 10:35). In fact, the mission is born from here, from this gift that makes us courageous, bold in the proclamation of the word.
May the Lord help us to be courageous always. This doesn’t mean <to be> imprudent. No, no. Courageous — Christian courage is always prudent, but it is courage.
The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting <the faithful> to make a Spiritual Communion.
Here is the Prayer Recited by the Pope:
I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness and in your holy Presence. I adore You in the Sacrament of your Love, the Eucharist. I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You; while waiting for the happiness of Sacramental Communion, I want to possess You in spirit. Come to me, O Jesus, that I may come to You. May your Love be able to inflame my whole being in life and in death. I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You.
Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide:
Regina caeli laetare, alleuia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alllelua.
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
(Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
Christ, whom you bore in your womb, alleluia,
Is risen, as He promised, alleluia.
Pray for us to the Lord, alleluia).
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester