This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 in St. Peter’s Square, where Pope Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (cf. Matthew 28:20): The Promise that Gives Hope.”
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.
Below is a ZENIT working translation of Pope Francis’ address this morning:
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The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
“I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The last words of Matthew’s Gospel recall the prophetic proclamation that we find at the beginning: “His name shall be called Emmanuel, which means, God with us” (Matthew 1:23; cf. Isaiah 7:14). God will be with us, every day, to the close of the age. The whole Gospel is enclosed in these two quotations, words that communicate the mystery of a God whose name, whose identity is to be-with: He is not an isolated God; He is a God-with, in particular, with us, namely, with the human creature. Our God is not an absent God, sequestered in a very distant heaven; instead, He is a God “passionate” for man, so tenderly loving as to be incapable of separating Himself from him. We humans are clever in cutting off bonds and bridges. He, instead, is not. If our heart becomes cold, His remains always incandescent; our God accompanies us always, even if, unfortunately, we were to forget Him. Decisive on the ridge that divides incredulity from faith is the discovery of being loved and accompanied by our Father, of never being left alone by Him.
Our existence is a pilgrimage, a journey. Even all those who are moved by a simply human hope perceive the seduction of the horizon, which drives them to explore worlds they still do not know. Our spirit is a migrant spirit. The Bible is full of stories of pilgrims and travelers. Abraham’s vocation began with this command: “Go from your country” (Genesis 12:1). And the Patriarch left that piece of the world that he knew well and that was one of the cradles of the civilization of his time. Everything conspired against the good sense of that trip. Yet Abraham left. We do not become mature men and women if we do not perceive the attraction of the horizon: that limit between heaven and earth, which calls to be reached by a people of walkers.
In his journey on earth, man is never alone. The Christian especially never feels abandoned, because Jesus assures us that He does not only wait for us at the end of our long journey, but that He accompanies us in every one of our days.
Until when will God’s care continue in His dealings with man? Until when will the Lord Jesus, who walks with us, until when will He care for us? The Gospel’s answer leaves no room for doubt: to the close of the age! The heavens will pass away, the earth will pass away, human hopes will be cancelled, but the Word of God is greater than all and will not pass away. And He will be the God with us, the God Jesus who walks with us. There will be no day in our life in which we will cease to be of concern for God’s heart. But someone might say: “But what are you saying?” I say this: there will be no day in our life in which we will cease to be of concern for God’s heart. He is concerned about us, and walks with us. And why does He do this? — Simply because He loves us. Is this understood? He loves us! And God will surely provide for all our needs; He will not abandon us in the time of trial and of darkness. This certainty calls for being nested in our spirit to never be extinguished. Some call it with the name “Providence,” that is, God’s closeness, God’s love, God’s walking with us is also called “God’s Providence”: He provides for our life.
It is no accident that among the Christian symbols of hope there is one that I like so much: the anchor. It expresses that our hope is not vague; it is not confused with the changing sentiment of one who wishes to improve the things of this world in an unrealistic way, relying only on his will power. Christian hope finds its root in fact not in the attraction of the future but in the certainty of what God has promised us and realized in Jesus Christ. If He has guaranteed that He will never abandon us, if the beginning of every vocation is a “Follow Me,” with which He assures us that He will always stay ahead us, then why fear? With this promise, Christians can walk everywhere, also going across portions of the wounded world, where things are not going well, we are among those that even there continue to hope. The Psalm says: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4). It is precisely where the darkness increases that it is necessary to have a light lit. Let us return to the anchor. Our faith is the anchor in heaven. We have our life anchored in heaven. What must we do? <We must> grip the cord: it is always there. And we go ahead because we are sure that our life has as an anchor in heaven, on that shore where we will arrive.
If we entrusted ourselves only to our strength, we would certainly have reason to feel disappointed and defeated, because the world often shows itself refractory to the laws of love. So often it prefers the laws of egoism. However, if the certainty survives in us that God does not abandon us, that God loves us and this world tenderly, then the perspective changes immediately. “Homo viator, spe erectus,” said the ancients. Along the way, Jesus’ promise “I am with you” makes us stand, erect, with hope, confident that the good God is already working to bring about what humanly seems impossible, because the anchor is on heaven’s beach.
The holy faithful people of God are people that stand – “homo viator” — and walk, but stand, “erectus,” and walk in hope. And, wherever they go, they know that God’s love has preceded them: there is no part of the world that escapes the victory of the Risen Christ. And what is the victory of the Risen Christ? <It is> the victory of love. Thank you[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to receive the youngsters of the Profession of Faith of Treviso and the couples of the Archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo, who are observing their 50th wedding anniversary: I hope that this pilgrimage will arouse in each one the rediscovery of the Sacraments received, efficacious signs of God’s grace in our life. And you, who observe your 50th wedding anniversary, say to young people that it is beautiful: beautiful is the life of Christian marriage!
I greet the participants in the congress on the anti-earthquake building industry in Latin America at the Italo-Latin American Institute promoted by the European University; the third-age Divine Word Fathers; the Blue Telephone Association; the Choir of Clusone; the faithful of Cardito, Belvedere and Pellezzano, as well as the “Soccer Priests” sports society and those of Andria and Oriolo. May the visit to the tombs of the Apostles foster in all the sense of belonging to the ecclesial family.
A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist. May his discipleship in following Saint Paul be an example for you, dear young people, to put yourselves in the following of the Savior; may his intercession support you, dear sick, in the difficulty and trial of sickness; and may his brief and incisive Gospel remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of prayer in the matrimonial course you have undertaken.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]