Pope Francis explains "....the impact of his love that can only make a heart of stone a heart of flesh, capable of embracing "the same sentiments of Christ Jesus " Full Text


Wednesday, 9 October 2019
Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles - 11. "The instrument I have chosen for me" (Acts 9:15). Saul, from persecutor to evangelizer.

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Starting from the episode of the stoning of Stephen, a figure appears who, next to that of Peter, is the most present and incisive in the Acts of the Apostles: that of "a young man, called Saul" (Acts 7,58). He is described at the beginning as one who approves the death of Stephen and wants to destroy the Church (see Acts 8: 3); but then it will become the instrument chosen by God to proclaim the Gospel to the nations (see Acts 9:15; 22.21; 26.17).

With the authorization of the high priest, Saul chases the Christians and captures them. You who come from some peoples who have been persecuted by dictatorships, you understand well what it means to hunt down people and capture them. So did Saul. And this he does thinking of serving the Law of the Lord. Luke says that Saul "breathed" "threats and massacres against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9: 1): in him there is a breath that smacks of death, not of life.

The young Saul is portrayed as an intransigent, that is, one who shows intolerance towards those who think differently from him, absolutizes his political or religious identity and reduces the other to a potential enemy to fight. An ideologue. In Saul, religion had turned into ideology: religious ideology, social ideology, political ideology. Only after having been transformed by Christ, then will he teach that the true battle "is not against the flesh and blood, but against [...] the rulers of this dark world, against the spirits of evil" (Eph 6:12). He will teach that people should not be fought, but the evil that inspires their actions.

The angry condition - because Saul was angry - and Saul's conflictual situation invites everyone to ask themselves: how do I live my life of faith? Do I go to meet others or am I against others? Do I belong to the universal Church (good and bad, everyone) or do I have a selective ideology? Do I love God or do I love dogmatic formulations? What is my religious life like? Does professing faith in God make me friendly or hostile towards those who are different from me?

Luke says that while Saul is intent on rooting out the Christian community, the Lord is on his trail to touch his heart and convert it to himself. It is the method of the Lord: it touches the heart. The Risen One takes the initiative and manifests himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, an event that is narrated three times in the Book of Acts (see Acts 9: 3-19; 22.3-21; 26,4-23) . Through the binomial «light» and «voice», typical of theophanies, the Risen One appears to Saul and asks him to account for his fratricidal fury: «Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?» (Acts 9,4). Here the Risen One manifests his being one with those who believe in Him: to strike a member of the Church is to strike Christ himself! Even those who are ideologues because they want the "purity" - in quotation marks - of the Church, strike Christ.

The voice of Jesus tells Saul: "Get up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do" (Acts 9: 6). Once standing, however, Saul no longer sees anything, he has become blind, and from a strong, authoritative and independent man he becomes weak, needy and dependent on others, because he does not see. The light of Christ has dazzled and blinded him: "Thus also appears externally what was his inner reality, his blindness to the truth, to the light that is Christ" (Benedict XVI, General Audience, 3 September 2008).

From this "body to body" between Saul and the Risen one begins a transformation that shows the "personal Easter" of Saul, his passage from death to life: what before was glory becomes "garbage" to be rejected to buy the true gain that is Christ and life in Him (see Phil 3: 7-8).

Paul receives baptism. Baptism thus marks for Saul, as for each of us, the beginning of a new life, and is accompanied by a new gaze on God, on himself and on others, who from being enemies become brothers in Christ.

Let us ask the Father to let us too, like Saul, experience the impact of his love that can only make a heart of stone a heart of flesh (see Ez 11,15), capable of embracing "the same sentiments of Christ Jesus "(Phil 2,5).
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les personnes venues de Haïti, du Burkina Faso, de Suisse et de France. Demandons au Père, à la suite de Paul, de nous apprendre à ne plus combattre les personnes mais le mal qui les inspire, à ne plus aller contre les autres mais à leur rencontre. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Nigeria, Uganda, Belize, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Korea, Canada, and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!
Ein herzliches Willkommen den Pilgern deutscher Sprache. Ich grüße insbesondere die Schulgemeinschaft Walburgisgymnasium und -realschule Menden sowie die Teilnehmer an der Informationswoche der Päpstlichen Schweizer Garde. Bitten wir den Herrn um die Gnade der persönlichen Begegnung mit ihm und einer wahren Bekehrung des Herzens.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española. A todos los invito a experimentar, como Saulo, el impacto del amor de Dios en nuestra vida, que transforma nuestro corazón de piedra en un corazón de carne, capaz de acoger los sentimientos de Cristo y hacerlos llegar a los que nos rodean. Que Dios los bendiga.
De coração saúdo todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, com menção particular dos fiéis brasileiros de Naviraí e Erexim. Encorajo-vos a cultivar um olhar de fé para com o próximo, procurando estar junto de todos, incluindo aqueles que são diferentes de nós. Vele sobre o vosso caminho a Virgem Maria e vos ajude a ser sinal deste amor sem condições no meio dos vossos irmãos. Sobre vós e vossas famílias desça a Bênção de Deus.
[I warmly greet all Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, especially the Brazilian faithful of Naviraí and Erexim. I encourage you to cultivate a look of faith towards others, trying to be close to everyone, even those who are different from us. May the Virgin Mary watch over your path and help you to be this sign of love without conditions among your brothers. May God's Blessing descend upon you and your families.]
أرحب بالحاضرين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من لبنان، ومن الأراضي المقدسة، ومن الشرق الأوسط. إن التحول من شاول إلى بولس، من المضطهد إلى رسول الخبر السار، يعلمنا أن اللقاء مع القائم من بين الأموات يتوب القلب. لقد غمر نور المسيح وجود بولس وأضاءه، ووجه حماسه لخدمة الله والشريعة نحو خدمة الآخرين وكلمة الله. لنطلب من الرب القائم من بين الأموات أن ينير ويحول جميع الأشخاص الذين ما زالوا اليوم يضطهدون المؤمنين، معتقدين أنهم بهذا يتممون مشيئة إلههم. ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم دائما من الشرير!
[I cordially welcome the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, in particular those from Lebanon, the Holy Land and the Middle East. Saul's conversion to Paul, from a persecutor to the Apostle of the Good News, teaches us that the encounter with the Risen One changes the heart. The light of Christ has filled and illuminated Paul's existence, directing his zeal to serve God and the Law towards the service of others and of the Word of God. We ask the Risen Lord to enlighten and convert all the people who still today they persecute believers, believing they are doing the will of their God. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from the evil one!]
Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. W poniedziałek obchodziliśmy wspomnienie Najświętszej Maryi Panny Różańcowej. Objawiając się w Polsce, w Gietrzwałdzie, Matka Boża poleciła: „Życzę sobie, abyście codziennie odmawiali różaniec”. Zapewniała, że łaski wyproszone przez tę modlitwę będą zbawienne i doprowadzą ludzi do szczęścia w niebie. Pamiętajcie o tym szczególnie teraz, w październiku, w miesiącu Różańca świętego. Przez wstawiennictwo Maryi, Pośredniczki łask, wypraszajcie pokój dla świata, mądrość dla rządzących oraz wiarę i jedność dla rodzin. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.
[I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Last Monday we celebrated the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary. During her apparitions in Gietrzwałd, Poland, Our Lady recommended: "It is my desire that you recite the rosary every day". He assured that the graces impregnated by this prayer would be salvific and would lead men to happiness in heaven. Remember these words, especially now, in October, dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Through the intercession of Mary Mediatrix of Graces, ask for peace for the world, wisdom for the rulers, and faith and unity for families. Praised be Jesus Christ.]
Od srca pozdravljam hrvatske hodočasnike, osobito studente Katoličkoga bogoslovnog fakulteta Sveučilišta u Splitu. U ovom Izvanrednom misijskom mjesecu pozivam vas da hrabro odgovorite na Božji poziv, kako biste, po studiju i molitvi, rasli u nadnaravnim darovima vjere, nade i ljubavi na dobrobit braće i sestara. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!
[I cordially greet Croatian pilgrims, in particular the students of the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Split. In this Extraordinary Mission Month, I invite you to respond courageously to the divine vocation so that you grow, through study and prayer, in the supernatural gifts of faith, hope and charity for the good of the brothers and sisters. Praised be Jesus and Mary!]
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I warmly welcome the Italian-speaking faithful.

I am pleased to welcome the International Military Pilgrimage Commission; the Brothers of St. Gabriel; the Religious of the Major Union of Italy; and the members of the Institute of the Daughters of Jesus, from the Diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla; and of the Institute of the Sons of Providence, by the Diocese of Milan.

I greet the Cresimati of the Diocese of Faenza-Modigliana, with the Bishop, Mons. Mario Toso; the Parishes, in particular those of Bosto and Andria. I also greet the participants in the Golf Open of Italy; the soldiers of the "Julia" Brigade; and the Delegation of the Municipality of Cervia.

I am particularly interested in young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. These that make noise are the newlyweds ... I call them "the brave", because it takes courage to get married today. They're good! In this Marian month, imitate the zeal and missionary zeal of the Madonna, make yourselves proclaimers of Christ in your every environment of life.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Tranlsation