Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address during the General Audience this morning in Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. This is his first audience since he had taken a pause from audiences during the month of July.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In the previous catechesis, we saw how the Church constitutes a people — a people prepared with patience and love by God, to whom we are all called to belong. Today, I would like to make evident the novelty that characterizes this people: it is truly a new people, who are founded on the New Covenant established by the Lord Jesus with the gift of his life. This novelty does not deny the previous way nor is it opposed to it; rather, it carries it forward, it leads it to fulfillment.
There is a very significant figure, which is the hinge between the Old and the New Testament: that of John the Baptist. For the Synoptic Gospels, he is the “precursor,” the one who prepares the Lord’s coming, predisposing the people to conversion of heart and the reception of God’s now close consolation. For John’s Gospel, he is the “witness,” in as much as he makes us recognize in Jesus He who comes from on high, to forgive our sins and to make his people his Bride, first fruit of the new humanity. As “precursor” and “witness,” John the Baptist has a central role within the whole of Scripture, in as much as he is a bridge between the promise of the Old Testament and its fulfillment, between the prophesies and their realization in Jesus Christ. With his witness, John indicates Jesus to us, he invites us to follow him, and he tells us in no uncertain terms, that this requires humility, repentance and conversion: it is an invitation that he makes, to humility, to repentance and to conversion. As Moses stipulated regarding the Covenant with God in accordance with the law received on Sinai, so Jesus, from a hill on the shore of Lake Galilee, gives to his disciples and to the crowd a new teaching that begins with the Beatitudes. Moses gave the Law on Sinai and Jesus, the new Moses, gives the Law on that hill, on the shore of Lake Galilee. The Beatitudes are the path that God indicates as an answer to the desire of happiness inherent in man, and perfects the Commandments of the Old Covenant. We are used to learning the Ten Commandments – you certainly all know them, your learned them in catechism – but we are not used to repeating the Beatitudes. Let us try to recall them and to imprint them, in our hearts. Let’s do this: I will say them one after the other and you will repeat them. Agreed?
First: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Hall repeats]
“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” I will help you: [the Pope repeats with the people] “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven.” [Hall repeats]
Good! But let’s do something: I give you a task for home, a task to do at home. Take the Gospel, the one you carry with you … Remember that you must always carry a small Gospel with you, in your pocket, bag, always; the one you have at home. Carry the Gospel; and, the Beatitudes are in the first chapters of Matthew – I believe in the 5th. And today, tomorrow read them at home. Will you do it? [Hall: yes!] Not to forget them, because it is the Law that Jesus gives us! Will you do it? Thank you.
In these words is all the novelty brought by Christ, and the whole novelty of Christ is in these words. In fact, the Beatitudes are Jesus’ portrait, his way of life, and they are the way of true happiness, which we also can live with the grace that Jesus gives us.
In addition to the new Law, Jesus also gives us the “protocol” on which we will be judged. We will be judged at the end of the world. And what will be the questions we will be asked there? What will be the questions? What is the protocol on which the Judge will judge us? It is the one we find in the 25th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Today, the task is to read the 5th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, where the Beatitudes are, and to read Chapter 25 where the protocol is, the questions we will be asked on Judgment Day. We won’t have titles, credits or privileges to put forward. The Lord will recognize us if, in turn, we recognized him in the poor, the hungry, the indigent and marginalized, in the suffering… This is one of the fundamental criteria to verify our Christian life, against which Jesus invites us to measure ourselves every day. I read the Beatitudes and I think how my Christian life should be, and then I do my examination of conscience with this Chapter 25 of Matthew. Every day: I did this, I did this, and I did this … It will do you good. They are simple things, but concrete.
Dear friends, the New Covenant consists, in fact, of this: in recognizing ourselves in Christ, enveloped by mercy and the compassion of God. This is what fills our heart with joy, and it is this that makes our life a beautiful and credible testimony of the love of God for all the brothers we meet every day. Remember the tasks! Fifth chapter of Matthew and Chapter 25 of Matthew. Thank you![Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Summary of the Catechesis and Greeting in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In today’s Audience, we resume our catechesis on the Church, the People of God. Prepared for in the Old Testament and established by Christ in the fullness of time, the Church is a new people, founded on a new covenant. The newness brought by Christ does not set aside what went before, but brings it to completion. In the Scriptures, Saint John the Baptist is a bridge between the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament and their fulfilment in the New. John points to Jesus and calls us to follow him in repentance and conversion. The new law which Jesus gives in the Sermon on the Mount perfects the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us the way in which, with his grace, we can attain authentic happiness. He tells us, in the Gospel of Matthew, that our Christian life will be judged on how we treat him in the least of our brethren. At the heart of the new covenant is our realization that, in Christ, we are embraced by God’s mercy and compassion, and that our lives must bear witness to his love for all our brothers and sisters.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from the United Kingdom, Norway, Zimbabwe, Japan and the United States. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus.[Original text: English]
Greeting in Italian:
Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims: Welcome! I am happy to receive the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – Ravasco Institute –, the Theatine Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Reparation Handmaids of Mary and the Franciscan Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross, gathered here on the occasion of their respective General Chapters. I greet the parish groups, the young people who carried the torch of Hope for the tent cities of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother and the families taking part in the third Franciscan March from Sicily to Assisi. May the visit to the tombs of the Apostles increase your determination in manifesting your faith in the Lord, in concrete works of charity.
Our thought goes today to the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI, on the anniversary of his death which occurred on August 6, 1978. We remember him with affection and admiration, considering how he lived totally dedicated to the service of the Church, which he loved with his whole being. May his example as a faithful servant of Christ and of the Gospel be of encouragement and stimulation to us all.
A particular thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. May the feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration help us all to never lose hope, but to abandon ourselves into the hands of Christ who, without our merit, has saved and redeemed us. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Appeal for the Populations Stricken by the Earthquake in China:
I express my closeness to the population of the Chinese province of Yunnan, stricken last Sunday by an earthquake that caused numerous victims and great damages. I pray for the deceased and their families, for the wounded and for all those who have lost their homes. May the Lord give them comfort, hope and solidarity in their trial.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]