Pope Francis explains Jesus loves his Church "...with absolute fidelity, despite our mistakes and betrayals." Full Text

SOLEMNITY of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

Pope Francis


St. Peter's Square
Saturday, June 29, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Saints Peter and Paul, which we celebrate today, in the icons are sometimes depicted holding up the Church building. This reminds us of the words of today's Gospel, in which Jesus says to Peter: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16:18). It is the first time that Jesus pronounces the word "Church", but rather than on the noun I would like to invite you to think of the adjective, which is a possessive, "mine": my Church. Jesus does not speak of the Church as an external reality, but expresses the great love he has for her: my Church. He is attached to the Church, to us. Saint Paul writes: "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her" (Eph 5:25), that is, explains the Apostle, Jesus loves the Church as his bride. For the Lord we are not a group of believers or a religious organization, we are his bride. He looks at his Church with tenderness, he loves it with absolute fidelity, despite our mistakes and betrayals. Like that day to Peter, today he says to all of us: "my Church, you are my Church".

And we too can repeat it: my Church. We do not say this with a sense of exclusive belonging, but with an inclusive love. Not to differentiate ourselves from others, but to learn the beauty of being with others, because Jesus wants us united and open. The Church, in fact, is not "mine" because it responds to my self, to my desires, but because I pour you my affection. It is mine to take care of it, because, like the Apostles in the icon, I also support it. Such as? With brotherly love. With our brotherly love we can say: my Church.

In another icon, Saints Peter and Paul are portrayed as they hug each other in an embrace. Among them they were very different: a fisherman and a Pharisee with life experiences, characters, ways of doing things and very different sensibilities. Conflicting opinions and frank debates were not lacking among them (see Gal 2:11 ff.). But what united them was infinitely greater: Jesus was the Lord of both, together they said "my Lord" to Him who says "my Church". Brothers in the faith, they invite us to rediscover the joy of being brothers and sisters in the Church. In this feast, which unites two so different Apostles, it would be nice for each one of us to say: "Thank you, Lord, for that person other than me: it is a gift for my Church". We are different but this enriches us, it is brotherhood. It is good to appreciate the qualities of others, to recognize the gifts of others without malice and without envy. Envy! Envy causes bitterness inside, it is vinegar on the heart. The envious ones have a bitter look. So many times, when one finds an envious person, does one want to ask: but with whom did he have breakfast today, with latte or vinegar? Because envy is bitter. Makes life bitter. How nice it is to know that we belong to each other, because we share the same faith, the same love, the same hope, the same Lord. We belong to one another and this is splendid, to say: our Church! Brotherhood.

At the end of the Gospel Jesus says to Peter: "Feed my sheep" (Jn 21:17). Talk about us and say "my sheep" with the same tenderness with which my Church used to say. With how much love, how much love Jesus loves us! He hears his. Here is the affection that builds the Church. Today, through the intercession of the Apostles, we ask for the grace to love our Church. We ask eyes that know how to see in it brothers and sisters, a heart that knows how to welcome others with the tender love that Jesus has for us. And we ask for the strength to pray for those who do not think like us - this thinks otherwise, I pray for him - to pray and to love, which is the opposite of speaking against, perhaps behind. Never talk, pray and love. Our Lady, who brought harmony between the Apostles and prayed with them (cf. Acts 1:14), guard us as brothers and sisters in the Church.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this feast of the principal patrons of Rome I wish the Romans and all those who live in this city all good. I urge everyone to react with a civic sense to the problems of society.

I renew my gratitude to the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and I send a cordial and fraternal greeting to my brother His Holiness Bartholomew I.

I affectionately greet the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the Metropolitan Archbishops for whom I blessed the Palli this morning.

I warmly thank the master flower makers and all the collaborators who made the historic flower display promoted by the Roman Pro Loco.
I greet all of you, dear pilgrims, especially those from Vietnam, Slovakia, El Paso (Texas), Kansas City and Germany. I greet the "Yago School" of Seville, with the large children's choir, and the Colegio "Ahlzahir" of Cordoba; the Radio Group "Voix de la Charité" of Lebanon and that of the Eucharistic Movement Juvenil de España; and the Resurrectionist priests.

I greet the faithful of Donori, Forlì, Lanciano, Brindisi and Castelfranco Veneto, and the Piccolo Coro Francesco d’Assisi from Mesagne.

I wish you all a happy feast and I ask you, please, a prayer for me through the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul. Good lunch and goodbye!