Pope Francis at GENERAL AUDIENCE
Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, 21 August 2019
Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles: 6. "Among them all was common" (Acts 4:32).
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The Christian community is born from the overabundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit and grows thanks to the leaven of sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a dynamism of solidarity that builds the Church as God's family, where the experience of koinonia is central. What does this strange word mean? It is a Greek word that means "to put in communion", "to put in common", to be like a community, not isolated. This is the experience of the first Christian community, that is, sharing, "sharing", "communicating, participating", not isolating oneself. In the early Church, this koinonia, this community refers above all to participation in the Body and Blood of Christ. For this reason, when we take communion we declare "we communicate", we enter into communion with Jesus and from this communion with Jesus we arrive at communion with our brothers and sisters. And this communion with the Body and Blood of Christ that is made at Holy Mass translates into fraternal union, and therefore also to what is most difficult for us: to pool goods and collect money for the collection in favor of the Mother Church of Jerusalem (see Rom 12: 13; 2 Cor 8: 9) and of the other Churches. If you want to know if you are good Christians you must pray, try to approach communion, with the sacrament of reconciliation. But that signal that your heart has converted is when the conversion comes to the pockets, how much it affects one's interest: there is where you see if one is generous with others, if one helps the weakest, the poorest. When the conversion arrives there, you are sure that it is a real conversion. If it remains only in words it is not a good conversion.
The Eucharistic life, the prayers, the preaching of the Apostles and the experience of communion (see Acts 2:42) make believers a multitude of people who have - says the Book of the Acts of the Apostles - have "one heart and one soul alone "and that they do not consider their property what they possess, but keep everything in common (see Acts 4:32). It is such a strong model of life that it helps us to be generous and not tiring. For this reason, "nobody [...] among them was needy, because those who possessed - says the Book - owned fields or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold and placed it at the feet of the apostles; then it was distributed to each according to his need "(Acts 4,34-35). The Church has always had this gesture of the Christians who stripped themselves of the things they had in addition, of things that were not necessary to give them to those who needed them. And not just money: even time. How many Christians - you, for example, here in Italy - how many Christians are volunteers! But this is beautiful! It is communion, sharing my time with others, to help those in need. And so the voluntary service, the works of charity, the visits to the sick; one must always share with others, and not just look for one's own interests.
The community, or koinonia, thus becomes the new mode of relationship between the disciples of the Lord. Christians experience a new way of being among themselves, of behaving. And it is the Christian way, to the point that the pagans looked at Christians and said: "Look how they love each other!" Love was the mode. But not love of words, not fake love: love of works, of helping each other, concrete love, the concreteness of love. The bond with Christ establishes a bond between brothers that flows together and expresses itself also in the communion of material goods. Yes, this way of being together, this way of loving oneself reaches the pockets, it also gets to shed the impediment of money to give it to others, going against one's own interest. Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible for each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible for each other. "But look at that, the problem he has: I don't care, it's his thing." No, among Christians we cannot say: "Poor person, he has a problem at home, he is going through this family difficulty". But, I must pray, I take it with me, I am not indifferent ”. This is being a Christian. This is why the strong support the weak (see Rom 15: 1) and no one experiences the indigence that humiliates and disfigures human dignity, because they live this community: having the heart in common. They love each other. This is the signal: concrete love.
James, Peter and John, who are the three apostles as the "columns" of the Church of Jerusalem, establish in a communional manner that Paul and Barnabas evangelize the pagans while they evangelize the Jews, and only ask, Paul and Barnabas, which is the condition: not to forget the poor, remember the poor (see Gal 2: 9-10). Not only the poor materials, but also the spiritual poor, the people who have problems and need our closeness. A Christian always starts from himself, from his heart, and approaches others as Jesus approached us. This is the first Christian community.
A concrete example of sharing and communion of goods comes to us from the testimony of Barnabas: he owns a field and sells it to deliver the proceeds to the Apostles (see Acts 4,36-37). But next to his positive example another sadly negative one appears: Ananias and his wife Sapphira, having sold a piece of land, decide to hand over only one part to the Apostles and to hold the other for themselves (see Acts 5: 1-2). This cheating interrupts the chain of free sharing, the serene, disinterested sharing and the consequences are tragic, are fatal (Acts 5: 5.10). The apostle Peter exposes the impropriety of Ananias and his wife and tells him: "Why did Satan fill your heart, so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and held back a portion of the proceeds from the camp? [...] You have not lied to men but to God "(Acts 5: 3-4). We could say that Ananias lied to God because of an isolated conscience, of a hypocritical conscience, that is because of a "negotiated", partial and opportunist ecclesial belonging. Hypocrisy is the worst enemy of this Christian community, of this Christian love: that pretending to love each other but only looking for one's own interest.
To fail in the sincerity of sharing, in fact, or to fail in the sincerity of love, means cultivating hypocrisy, moving away from the truth, becoming selfish, extinguishing the fire of communion and turning to the cold of inner death. Those who behave in this way pass through the Church as a tourist. There are many tourists in the Church who are always passing by, but never enter the Church: it is spiritual tourism that makes them believe they are Christians, while they are only tourists from the catacombs. No, we must not be tourists in the Church, but brothers of each other. A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes inner death. And how many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops, while they are only looking for their own interest. These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church!
The Lord - I ask for all of us - pours over us his Spirit of tenderness, which overcomes all hypocrisy and puts into circulation that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity, which, far from being a social assistance activity, is the an inalienable expression of the nature of the Church, the tender mother of all, especially the poorest.
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier un groupe de prêtres jubilaires du Séminaire Pontifical Français de Rome, accompagnés de Mgr Pierre Antoine Bozo et de Mgr Matthieu Rougé. La solidarité chrétienne, bien différente d’une simple assistance sociale, fait partie de la nature de l’Eglise. Que l’Esprit Saint nous aide à vivre en vérité la solidarité que demande l’Evangile. Que Dieu vous bénisse.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Malta, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache. Der Herr ist bereit, seinen Geist des Lebens über uns auszugießen, wenn wir ehrlich darum bemüht sind, dem Nächsten zu dienen. Ich wünsche euch einen frohen und angenehmen Aufenthalt in der Ewigen Stadt. Der Herr segne euch und eure Familien!
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Pido al Señor que nos conceda su Espíritu para vencer toda hipocresía y colocar al centro de nuestra vida la verdad, que alimenta la solidaridad cristiana, y está llamada a ofrecer a todos el amor de Dios con obras concretas. Que Dios los bendiga.Dirijo uma cordial saudação de boas-vindas aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, concretamente àqueles vindos de Portugal e do Brasil! Queridos irmãos e irmãs, o Senhor Jesus nos ensina que estender a mão a quem é necessitado significa acolher a Ele mesmo. Abri os vossos corações, para que se deixem permear pelo Espírito e sejam conduzidos pelas estradas do amor que levam aos irmãos. O Senhor vos abençoe!
[I cordially welcome the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, in particular those from Portugal and Brazil! Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord Jesus teaches us that to reach out to those in need is to welcome Himself. Open your hearts so that they may allow themselves to be imbued with the Spirit and bring love to the roads that lead to the brothers. The Lord bless you!]
أرحب بالحاضرين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من لبنان، ومن الأردن، ومن الشرق الأوسط. إن الشَرِكة مع الله تترجم إلى شَرِكة وإلى مُشارِكة مع الإخوة، لأنَّه "إِذا قالَ أَحَد: «إِنِّي أُحِبُّ الله»، وهو يُبغِضُ أَخاه كانَ كاذِبًا لأَنَّ الَّذي لا يُحِبُّ أَخاه، وهو يَراه، لا يَستَطيعُ أَن يُحِبَّ اللهَ وهو لا يَراه" (1 يو 4، 20). ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم دائما من الشرير!
[I cordially welcome the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, in particular those from Lebanon, Jordan and the Middle East. Communion with God is translated into communion and sharing with the brothers, because "if one said:" I love God ", and hated his brother, he is a liar. Whoever does not love his brother who sees, cannot love God who does not see "(1 Jn 4:20). May the Lord bless you and always protect you from the evil one!]
Serdecznie witam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, wasze pielgrzymowanie do Rzymu, do grobów Apostołów i świętych, jest okazją, by ponownie przyjąć ich świadectwo i uczyć się jak żyć z oddaniem Chrystusowi i braciom w duchu komunii miłości. Wy również dajcie przykład braterskiej wrażliwości i hojności, przez konkretne gesty dzielenia się z potrzebującymi. Niech Pan wam błogosławi! Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!
[I cordially welcome the Polish pilgrims. Dear brothers and sisters, your pilgrimage to Rome, to the tombs of the Apostles and Saints, is an opportunity to grasp their witness again and learn how to live with dedication to Christ and to the brothers in the spirit of the communion of love. You too give an example of sensitivity and fraternal generosity, through the concrete gestures of sharing with those in need. The Lord bless you! Praised be Jesus Christ!]
I warmly welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims.
[The Holy Father refers to a girl who, while he was speaking catechesis, approached him]
I would like to start by making a reflection. We have all seen this beautiful girl - she is beautiful, because she is beautiful - and poor, victim of an illness and does not know what she is doing. I ask one thing, but everyone answers in his heart: I prayed for her, seeing her, did I pray so that the Lord will cure her, keep her? Did I pray for his parents and his family? Whenever we see some suffering person we must pray. May this situation always help us to ask this question: have I prayed for this person whom I saw, who can be seen suffering?
I am pleased to welcome the parish realities, in particular that of Villafranca Padovana.
I greet the "Leonati" family home of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Sales of Padua.
I am particularly interested in young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
Following the example of the Holy Pontiff Pius X, whose feast is today, I invite you to go to meet Jesus Christ with listening to his Gospel and with good works. May the Holy Spirit sustain you on your path.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial translation
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial translation