St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles: 2. "He was associated with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:26).
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
We have begun a journey of catechesis that will follow the "journey": the journey of the Gospel narrated by the book of the Acts of the Apostles, because this book certainly shows the journey of the Gospel, how the Gospel has gone beyond, beyond, beyond ... Everything starts from the Resurrection of Christ. This, in fact, is not an event among others, but is the source of new life. The disciples know this and - obedient to Jesus' command - remain united, united and persevering in prayer. They huddle to Mary, the Mother, and prepare to receive the power of God not in a passive way, but consolidating the communion between them.
That first community was formed by 120 brothers and sisters more or less: a number that carries within itself the 12, emblematic for Israel, because it represents the twelve tribes, and emblematic for the Church, because of the twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus. now, after the painful events of the Passion, the Apostles of the Lord are no longer twelve, but eleven. One of them, Judas, is no longer there: he has taken his life crushed by remorse.
He had already begun to separate himself from communion with the Lord and with others, to do alone, to isolate himself, to cling to money to the point of exploiting the poor, to lose sight of the horizon of gratuitousness and self-giving, up to to allow the pride virus to infect his mind and heart, transforming him from a "friend" (Mt 26,50) into an enemy and into "leader of those who arrested Jesus" (Acts 1:16). Judas had received the great grace of being part of the group of intimate people of Jesus and of participating in his own ministry, but at a certain point he pretended to "save" his own life with the result of losing it (see Lk 9:24 ). He has ceased to belong to Jesus with his heart and has placed himself outside of communion with him and his own. He stopped being a disciple and placed himself above the Master. He sold it and with the "price of his crime" he bought land, which produced no fruit but was imbued with his own blood (see Acts 1: 18-19).
If Judas preferred death to life (see Dt 30:19; Sir 15.17) and followed the example of the wicked whose way is like darkness and goes to ruin (see Pr 4.19; Ps 1, 6), the Eleven instead choose life, the blessing, they become responsible in making it flow in turn in history, from generation to generation, from the people of Israel to the Church.
The evangelist Luke shows us that in the face of the abandonment of one of the Twelve, who has created a wound to the community body, it is necessary that his assignment pass to another. And who could hire him? Peter indicates the requirement: the new member must have been a disciple of Jesus from the beginning, that is, from baptism in the Jordan, to the end, that is, to ascension to Heaven (see Acts 1: 21-22). The group of the Twelve needs to be reconstituted. At this point the practice of community discernment is inaugurated, which consists in seeing reality with the eyes of God, in the perspective of unity and communion.
There are two candidates: Giuseppe Barsabba and Mattia. Then the whole community prays as follows: "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two you have chosen to take the place ... which Judas has abandoned" (Acts 1: 24-25). And, by fate, the Lord indicates Mattia, who is associated with the Eleven. Thus the body of the Twelve is re-established, a sign of communion, and communion wins over divisions, isolation, the mentality that absolutizes the private space, a sign that communion is the first witness that the Apostles offer. Jesus had said it: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another" (Jn 13:35).
The Twelve manifest the style of the Lord in the Acts of the Apostles. They are the accredited witnesses of Christ's work of salvation and do not manifest their presumed perfection to the world but, through the grace of unity, they bring out an Other who now lives in a new way among his people. And who is this? It is the Lord Jesus. The Apostles choose to live under the lordship of the Risen One in the unity among the brothers, which becomes the only possible atmosphere of the authentic gift of self.
We too need to rediscover the beauty of witnessing to the Risen, emerging from self-referential attitudes, renouncing holding back the gifts of God and not yielding to mediocrity. The reunification of the apostolic college shows how in the DNA of the Christian community there is unity and freedom from oneself, which allow us not to fear diversity, not to attach ourselves to things and gifts and to become martyres, that is luminous witnesses of God alive and active in history.
Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Wiem, że wielu z was i tysiące waszych rodaków uczestniczyło w niedzielę w Marszach dla Życia, niosąc przesłanie, że życie jest święte, ponieważ jest darem Boga. Jesteśmy wezwani, by go bronić i służyć mu, już od poczęcia w łonie matki, aż po to starcze, często schorowane i cierpiące. Nie wolno życia niszczyć, czynić przedmiotem eksperymentów lub fałszywych koncepcji. Proszę módlcie się o szacunek dla życia ludzkiego, o zachowanie wartości ewangelicznych i rodzinnych. Z serca błogosławię wam i waszym bliskim.
I heartily greet Polish pilgrims. I know that many of you and thousands of your countrymen attended Sunday in March for Life, bearing the message that life is holy because it is God's gift. We are called to defend and serve him, from the conception in the womb of the mother, until she is old, often sick and suffering. You must not destroy life, make experiments or false ideas. Please, pray for respect for human life, for the preservation of evangelical and family values. I bless you and your loved ones from my heart.