St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Greetings to the sick in the Paul VI Hall
Raining outside. Here you will be quiet, you can follow the hearing from the big screen, quiet, in peace, without getting wet. This is good. Thank you for this visit. For me it is a joy when I see that you come this way, with so many difficulties, but out of love for the Church, to say that you love the Church. This is good for all those who see you; it's good for me. Thanks.
And now I go to the other group that is in the square; it will be a little wet, but you stay here. We are united through the big screen. now I would like to give you all the blessing. Everyone, let's pray to Our Lady first. [Recites Hail Mary and Blessing]
Pray for me and thank you for coming!
Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles - 16. "Priscilla and Aquila took him with them" (Acts 18:26). A couple at the service of the Gospel
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
This audience is held in two groups: the sick are in the Paul VI Hall - I have been with them, I have greeted them and blessed them; will be around 250. There they will be more comfortable for the rain - and us here. But they look at us from the big screen. Let us greet both groups with applause.
The Acts of the Apostles narrate that Paul, as a tireless evangelizer as he is, after the stay in Athens, carries on the Gospel race in the world. New stage of his missionary journey is Corinth, capital of the Roman province of Achaia, a commercial and cosmopolitan city, thanks to the presence of two important ports.
As we read in chapter 18 of the Acts, Paul finds hospitality with a married couple, Aquila and Priscilla (or Prisca), forced to move from Rome to Corinth after the emperor Claudius had ordered the expulsion of the Jews (see At 18, 2). I would like to make a parenthesis. The Jewish people have suffered so much in history. He was chased away, persecuted ... And, in the last century, we saw so many, so many brutalities that they did to the Jewish people and we were all convinced that this was over. But today, the habit of persecuting Jews begins to be reborn here and there. Brothers and sisters, this is neither human nor Christian. Jews are our brothers! And they should not be persecuted. I got it? These spouses prove to have a heart full of faith in God and generous towards others, capable of making room for those who, like them, experience the condition of a foreigner. This sensitivity of theirs leads them to decentralize themselves to practice the Christian art of hospitality (see Rom 12: 13; Heb 13.2) and open the doors of their home to welcome the Apostle Paul. Thus they welcome not only the evangelizer, but also the proclamation that he brings with him: the Gospel of Christ which is "the power of God for the salvation of whoever believes" (Rom 1:16). And from that moment their home is imbued with the fragrance of the "living" Word (Heb 4:12) that vivifies the hearts.
Aquila and Priscilla also share the professional activity with Paolo, that is the construction of tents. Paul, in fact, greatly valued manual labor and considered it a privileged space of Christian witness (see 1 Cor 4:12), as well as a just way of maintaining oneself without being a burden to others (see 1 Thess 2: 9; 2 Thess 3: 8) to the community.
The house of Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth opens its doors not only to the Apostle but also to the brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, Paul can speak of the "community that gathers in their home" (1Cor 16,19), which becomes a "house of the Church", a "domus ecclesiae", a place to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist. Even today in some countries where there is no religious freedom and there is no freedom for Christians, Christians gather in a home, a little hidden, to pray and celebrate the Eucharist. Even today there are these houses, these families that become a temple for the Eucharist.
After a year and a half in Corinth, Paul leaves that city with Aquila and Priscilla, who stop at Ephesus. There, too, their home becomes a place of catechesis (see Acts 18:26). Finally, the two spouses will return to Rome and will be recipients of a splendid eulogy that the Apostle inserts in the letter to the Romans. His heart was grateful, and so Paul wrote about these two spouses in the letter to the Romans. Listen: "Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. To save their lives, they risked their heads, and I am not only grateful to them, but all the churches of the pagan world" (16,4). How many families in times of persecution risk their heads to keep the persecuted hidden! This is the first example: family hospitality, even in bad times.
Among the many collaborators of Paul, Aquila and Priscilla emerge as "models of a conjugal life responsibly committed to the service of the whole Christian community" and remind us that, thanks to faith and commitment to the evangelization of so many lay people like them, the Christianity has come down to us. In fact "in order to take root in the land of the people, to develop strongly, the commitment of these families was necessary. But think that from the beginning Christianity was preached by the laity. You too are responsible for your baptism to carry on the faith. It was the commitment of many families, of these spouses, of these Christian communities, of lay faithful who offered the "humus" to the growth of faith "(Benedict XVI, Catechesis, 7 February 2007). This phrase of Pope Benedict XVI is beautiful: the laity give humus to the growth of faith.
Let us ask the Father, who has chosen to make the spouses his "true living" sculpture "(Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 11) - I believe that here there are new spouses: listen to your vocation, you must be the true living sculpture - to pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they will be able to open the doors of their hearts to Christ and to their brothers and transform their homes into domestic churches. Beautiful word: a house is a domestic church, where to live communion and offer the cult of life lived with faith, hope and charity. We must pray to these two saints Aquila and Prisca, so that they teach our families to be like them: a domestic church where there is humus, so that faith may grow.