This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, 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 Acts of the Apostles, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “as Peter came by . . . “(Acts 5:15); Peter, the Risen One’s principal witness.” (Biblical passage: from the Acts of the Apostles, 5:12.15-16).
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!
The ecclesial community described in the Acts if the Apostles lives of such richness, which the Lord puts at its disposition — the Lord is generous! –, that it experiences numerical growth and a great ferment, despite outside attacks. To show us this vitality, Luke points out to us also significant places, such as Solomon’s Portico (Cf. Acts 5:12), meeting point for believers. The Portico (stoa) is an open gallery that acts as a shelter, but also as a place of meeting and of witness. It’s a place where Jesus went during the great feasts (Cf. John 10:23); where the healed lame man walks next to Peter and John and where Peter evangelizes the people, explaining that faith in Jesus’ name made that healing possible (Cf. Acts 3:11). Therefore, this Portico is a place where the Christ event is communicated through the word, which moves hearts and which can also touch and heal bodies. In fact, Luke insists on the signs and prodigies that accompany the Apostles’ word and on the special care of the sick to which they dedicate themselves.
In Chapter 5 of the Acts, the nascent Church shows herself as a “field hospital,” which receives the weakest people, namely, the sick. Their suffering attracts the Apostles, who have “no silver and gold” (Acts 3:6) — so says Peter to the lame man — but they are strong in Jesus’ name. To their eyes, as to the eyes of Christians of all times, the sick are the privileged recipients of the happy proclamation of the Kingdom; they are brothers in whom Christ is present in a particular way, to let themselves be sought and found by all of us (Cf. Matthew 25:36.40). The sick are the privileged of the Church, of the priestly heart, of all the faithful. They are not to be rejected; on the contrary, they are to be taken care of and looked after. They are the object of the Christian concern.
Among the Apostles, Peter emerges, who has pre-eminence in the apostolic group given his primacy (Cf. Matthew 16:18) and the mission received from the Risen One (Cf. John 21:15-17). It is he who opens the way for the preaching of the kerygma on the day of Pentecost (Cf. Acts 2:14-41) and who at the Council of Jerusalem, carries out a directive function (Cf. Acts 15 and Galatians 2:1-10).
Peter approaches the stretchers and passes among the sick, as Jesus did, taking on Himself their infirmities and sicknesses (Cf. Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:4). The fisherman of Galilee, called to gather no longer the nets but the hearts of those that receive Christ’s life; he isn’t the protagonist. He passes, but he lets Another manifest Himself: the living and operating Christ! In fact, a witness is one who manifests Christ, be it with words, be it with corporal presence, which enables him to relate and to be prolongation of the Word made flesh in history. Peter is he who carries out the Master’s works (Cf. John 14:12: looking at him with faith, Christ Himself is seen. Filled with the Spirit of his Lord, Peter passes and, without his doing anything, his shadow becomes healing “caress,” communication of health, effusion of the tenderness of the Risen One, who bends over the sick and restores life, salvation, dignity. Thus, God manifests His closeness and makes of His children’s wounds “the theological place of His tenderness” (Morning meditation, St. Martha’s, 14.12.2017). In the wounds of the sick, in illnesses that are impediments to go forward in life, there is always Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ wound. It is Jesus who calls each one of us to attend to them, to support them, to cure them. Peter’s healing action arouses the hatred and envy of the Sadducees, who imprisoned the Apostles and, distraught by their mysterious liberation, prohibit them to teach. These people saw the miracles that the Apostles did not by magic, but in Jesus’ name, but they didn’t want to accept it and put them in prison; they beat them. Then they were freed miraculously, but the Sadducees’ heart was so hard that they didn’t want to believe what they saw. Then Peter responds, offering a key of Christian life: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), because they — the Sadducees — said: “You must not go ahead with these things; you must not cure.” “I obey God before I do men,” which is the great Christian answer. This means to listen to God without reservations, without delays, without calculations; to adhere to Him to become capable of alliance with Him and with those we meet on our way.
Let us also ask the Holy Spirit for the strength not to get scared before those that ask us to be silent, who slander us and even attempt against our life. Let us ask Him to reinforce us interiorly to be certain of the loving and consoling presence of the Lord by our side.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
I greet the participants in Ukraine’s pilgrimage [The faithful respond with a greeting in Ukrainian].
I’m happy to receive the Sisters of Saint Anne; the Handmaids of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin and the participants in the summer meeting for Seminarians, organized by the Opus Dei.
I greet the Confirmation youngsters of the Diocese of Verona; those of the Diocese of Chiavari with the Bishop, Monsignor Alberto Tanasino; and those of the Diocese of Lucca with the Bishop, Monsignor Paolo Giulietti.
I greet the faithful of the parishes of Ficulle and of Dragonara di Potenza; and the Oncologic Hemopathic Child Association.
A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. I invite all to let themselves be inspired by his holiness and his doctrine. Together with him, rediscover the interior way that leads to God and to your neediest neighbour.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]