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Pope’s General Audience: On the Acts of the Apostles (Full Text)

‘In the Acts of the Apostles, the Twelve manifest the Lord’s style. They are accredited witnesses of Christ’s work’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:10 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: He “was enrolled with the eleven” Apostles (Biblical passage: From the Acts of the Apostles 1:21-22.26).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greeting to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

Here is a ZENIT working-translation of the Pope’s full General Audience:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

We began a series of catecheses that will follow the “journey”: the journey of the Gospel, narrated in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, because this Book certainly makes one see the journey of the Gospel, how the Gospel went beyond, beyond, beyond . . . . It all starts from the Resurrection of Christ. This, in fact, is not an event among others, but is the source of the new life. The disciples know it and — obedient to Jesus’ command — they remain united, in agreement and persevering in prayer. They stay close to Mary, the Mother, and they prepare to receive the power of God, not passively but consolidating the communion among them.

That first community was made up of 120 brothers and sisters more or less: a number that bears within it <the number> 12, emblematic for Israel, because it represents the twelve tribes, and emblematic for the Church, through the twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus. However, now, after the painful events of the Passion, the Lord’s Apostles are no longer twelve, but eleven. One of them, Judas, is no longer: he took his life, crushed by remorse.

He had already begun before to separate himself from communion with the Lord and with the others, to make do on his own, to isolate himself, to attach himself to money up to instrumentalizing the poor, to losing sight of the horizon of the gratuitousness and the gift of self, to permitting the virus of pride to infect his mind and heart transforming him from “friend” (Matthew 26:50) into enemy and  “guide to those who arrested Jesus: (Acts 1:16). Judas had received the great grace of being part of the group of Jesus’ intimates and of taking part in his same ministry but, at a certain point, he claimed to save his own life by himself with the result of losing it (Cf. Luke 9:24). He ceased to belong to Jesus with his heart and put himself outside of communion with Him and His own. He ceased to be a disciple and put himself above the Master. He sold Him and with the “reward of his wickedness” bought a field, which did not produce fruits but was permeated with his own blood (Cf. Acts 1:18-19).

If Judas preferred death to life (Cf. Deuteronomy 30:19; Sirach 15:17) and followed the example of the wicked whose way is darkness and goes to ruin (Cf. Proverbs 4:19; Psalm 1:6), the Eleven, instead, chose life and blessing, becoming responsible in making it flow in turn in history, from generation to generation, from the people of Israel to the Church.

The evangelist Luke makes us see that in face of the abandonment of one of the Twelve, which created a wound in the community’s body, it’s necessary that his task pass to another. And who could assume it? Peter indicates the requisite: the new member must have been a disciple of Jesus from the beginning, namely, from the Baptism in the Jordan, until the end, namely, the Ascension to Heaven (Cf. Acts 1:21-22. It’s necessary to reconstitute the group of the Twelve. At this point, the practice begins of community discernment, which consists in seeing the reality with the eyes of God, from the viewpoint of unity and communion.

There are two candidates: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. Then all the community prayed thus: “Lord, who knows the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place . . . from which Judas turned aside” (Acts 24-25). And, through casting lots, the Lord indicated Matthias, who was enrolled with the Eleven. Thus, the body of the Twelve was reconstituted, sign that communion wins over divisions, over isolation, over the mentality that absolutizes private space, sign that communion is the first testimony that the Apostles offer. Jesus had said to them: “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Twelve manifest the Lord’s style. They are accredited witnesses of Christ’s work of salvation and they don’t manifest to the world their presumed perfection but, through the grace of unity, they make Another emerge, who now lives in a new way in the midst of His people. And who is this? It is the Lord Jesus. The Apostles chose to live under the lordship of the Risen One in unity among brothers, which becomes the only atmosphere possible for the genuine gift of self.

We are also in need of rediscovering the beauty of witnessing to the Risen One, coming out of self-referential attitudes, renouncing to hold back the gifts of God and not yielding to mediocrity. The regrouping of the Apostolic College shows how in the DNA of the Christian community there is unity and freedom from oneself, which enables one not to fear diversity, not to attach oneself to things and gifts and to become martyrs, luminous witnesses of the God living and operating in history.

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

In Italian

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I’m happy to received the Institutes holding their respective General Chapters: the Sisters of the Holy Cross, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis.

I welcome the parish groups, especially those of Corridonia, Latina and Andria.

I greet affectionately the new priests of Brescia and the Delegation of Russian Orthodox Priests.

A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow is the Liturgical Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, outstanding preacher and Patron of the poor and the suffering. May his intercession help you to experience the relief of Divine Mercy.

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

 

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