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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On the Commandments (V)

‘No matter what we have done, because the name of each one of us is on Christ’s shoulders, He carries us!’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the series of catecheses on the Commandments, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on “Respecting the name of the Lord” (Biblical passage: Book of Exodus 20:7; Gospel according to John 17:25-26).

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 Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Continuing the catecheses on the Commandments, today we reflect on the Commandment “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). We rightly read this Word as an invitation not to offend God’s name and to avoid using it inopportunely. This clear meaning prepares us to reflect further on these precious words, of not using the name of God in vain  –inopportunely.  Let us listen to them better. The version “”You shall not take” translates an expression that means literally, in Hebrew and in Greek, “Do not take upon yourself, do not bear.”

The expression “in vain” is clearer and it means: “void, vainly.” It refers to an empty shell, to a form deprived of content. It’s the characteristic of hypocrisy, of formalism and of lies, of using words or using the name of God, but emptily, without truth.

A name in the Bible is the profound truth of things and especially of people. A name often represents a mission. For instance: Abraham in Genesis (Cf. 17:5) and Simon Peter in the Gospels (Cf. John 1:42) received a new name to point out the change of direction of their life. And to truly know the name of God leads to the transformation of one’s life: from the moment Moses knows the name of God his story changes (Cf. Exodus 3:13-15).

In the Hebrew rites, the name of God is proclaimed solemnly on the Day of the Great Pardon, and the people are forgiven because, through the name, one is in contact with very life of God, who is mercy.

So “to take upon yourself the name of God” means to assume upon ourselves His reality, to enter into an intense relationship, into a close relationship with Him. For us Christians, this Commandment is a reminder to remember that we are baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” as we affirm every time we make the sign of the cross on ourselves, to live our daily action in heartfelt and real communion with God, namely, in His love. And on this <question>, of making the sign of the cross, I would like to confirm once again: teach the children to make the sign of the cross. Have you seen how children make it? Children are told: “Make the sign of the cross,” and they do something that they don’t know what it is. They don’t know how to make the sign of the cross! Teach them to make it in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It’s a child’s first act of faith. It’s a task for you, a task to do: to teach children to make the sign of the cross.

We can ask ourselves: is it possible to take upon oneself the name of God in a hypocritical way, as a formality, in a vacuum? Unfortunately, the answer is positive: yes, it’s possible. One can live a false relationship with God. Jesus said it of those Doctors of the Law; they did things, but they didn’t do what God wanted. The talked about God, but they didn’t do the Will of God. And the counsel that Jesus gives is: “Do what they say, but not what they do.” One can live a false relationship with God, as those people.  And this Word of the Decalogue is in fact an invitation to a relationship with God that isn’t false, <that is> without hypocrisy, a relationship in which we entrust ourselves to Him with all that we are. At the end, until the day in which we don’t risk existence with the Lord, experiencing that life is found in Him, we only engage in theories.

This is the Christianity that touches hearts. Why are Saints so able to touch hearts? Because Saints don’t just talk but move! Our heart is moved when a holy person speaks to us, says things to us. And they are able, because in the Saints we see what our heart profoundly desires: authenticity, true relationships, <and> radicalism. And this is also seen in those “next-door saints: who are, for instance, the many parents that give their children the example of a coherent, simple, honest and generous life.

If Christians are multiplied who taken upon themselves the name of God without falsity — thus practicing the first question of the Our Father, “hallowed be your name” — the proclamation of the Church is more heeded and more credible. 444If our concrete life manifests the name of God, we see how beautiful Baptism is and what a great gift the Eucharist is! — as the sublime union there is between our body and the Body of Christ: Christ in us and we in Him! United! This isn’t hypocrisy; this is truth. This isn’t to speak or pray as a parrot, this is to pray with the heart, to love the Lord.

From the Cross of Christ and thereafter, no one can be scornful of himself and think badly of his existence – no one and never! No matter what we have done, because the name of each one of us is on Christ’s shoulders, He carries us! It’s worthwhile to take the name of God upon ourselves because He has taken charge of our name until the end, also of the evil that is in us. He has taken charge of it to forgive us, to put His love in our heart. Therefore in the Commandment God proclaims: “take Me upon yourself, because I have taken you upon myself.”

Anyone can invoke the holy name of the Lord, who is faithful and merciful Love, in whatever situation he finds himself. God will never say “no” to a heart that invokes Him sincerely. And we return to the task to do at home: teach the children to make well the sign of the cross.

[Original text: Italian] [[ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester} 

In Italian

In greeting the Italian-speaking pilgrims, my thought goes to the tragedy that happened in past days in Calabria by the Raganello flood, where excursionists from various regions of Italy lost their life. While I entrust to God’s merciful goodness those that died tragically, I express my spiritual closeness to their families, as also to the wounded.

I’m happy to receive the Dominican Missionary Sisters of Saint Sixtus, on the occasion of their General Chapter, and the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Mother. I greet the parish groups, the “16art” Association of Foglianise and the “Harmony” Choir of Credera and Moscazzano.

A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Observed today is the liturgical Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May the Mother of God be your refuge in the more difficult moments and teach you to love her Son with the same tenderness and exclusivity with which She loved him. Pray for me also, so that my forthcoming trip to Dublin, this coming August 25-26, on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families, may be a moment of grace and of listening to the voice of the Christian families of the whole world. May God bless you all!

[Original text: Italian}  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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