Pope Francis celebrated the feast of Saint George at the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace this morning. The Holy Father, whose name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, celebrated the memorial liturgy of his namesake along with cardinals residing in Rome.
The 76 year old pontiff began his homily thanking the cardinals for their presence at the mass. Reflecting on the first reading of the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis commented on the “apostolic fervor” of the apostles who announced the Gospel in Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch especially during a time of persecution.
“And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity,” the Pope said.
“But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church.”
Quoting Paul VI words on the “absurd dichotomy” of trying to follow the Lord with the Church, Pope Francis contemplated on the beauty of the identity of belonging that the Church gives all faithful.
Pope Francis continued his reflection on the reading saying that the joy evangelizing begins with persecution, which begins with sadness and ends in joy.
“The Church’s journey,” the Pope said, “always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.”
The Holy Father concluded his homily calling those present to reflect on the missionary work of the Church in today’s world, comparing it to those apostles who proclaimed Jesus Christ to the Greeks, which he said was “an almost scandalous thing at the time.”
“Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church,” the Pope said.
“Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: ” But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.” If we are not “sheep of Jesus,” faith does not come to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance.”
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