St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles - 14. "Come to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16: 9). The Christian faith arrives in Europe
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Reading the Acts of the Apostles we see how the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church's mission: it is he who guides the path of the evangelizers showing them the way to follow.
We see this clearly when the apostle Paul, having reached Troas, receives a vision. A Macedonian begs him: "Come to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16: 9). The people of Northern Macedonia are proud of this, they are so proud to have called Paul to be Paul to announce Jesus Christ. I remember so much that beautiful people who welcomed me with such warmth: let them keep this faith that Paul preached to them! The Apostle did not hesitate and left for Macedonia, certain that it was God himself who sent him, and he arrived at Philippi, "Roman colony" (Acts 16:12) on the Egnatia way, to preach the Gospel. Paolo stops there for several days. There are three events that characterize his stay in Filippi, during these three days: three important events. 1) Evangelization and the baptism of Lidia and her family; 2) the arrest he suffers, together with Sila, after having exorcised a slave woman exploited by her masters; 3) the conversion and baptism of his jailer and his family. We see these three episodes in the life of Paul.
The power of the Gospel is addressed, first of all, to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lydia, a merchant of purple, of the city of Thyatira, a believer in God to whom the Lord opens his heart "to adhere to the words of Paul" (Acts 16 , 14). Lidia, in fact, welcomes Christ, receives baptism together with her family and welcomes those who are of Christ, hosting Paul and Silas in her home. Here we have the testimony of the landing of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that lasts even today. He entered from Macedonia.
After the heat experienced at Lidia's home, Paolo and Sila then find themselves dealing with the harshness of the prison: they pass from the consolation of this conversion of Lidia and her family, to the desolation of the prison, where they are thrown for having freed in the name of Jesus "a slave who had a spirit of divination" and "brought much gain to her masters" with the trade of guess (Acts 16:16). His masters earned so much and this poor slave did this that they make the fortune-tellers: she guessed the future, she read your hands - as the song says, "take this hand, gypsy", and for this the people paid. Even today, dear brothers and sisters, there are people who pay for it. I remember in my diocese, in a very large park, there were more than 60 tables where there were soothsayers and soothsayers, who read your hand and people believed these things! And he paid. And this also happened at the time of Saint Paul. His masters, in retaliation, denounce Paul and lead the Apostles to magistrates on charges of public disorder.
What's happening? Paolo is in prison and during his imprisonment, however, a surprising event occurs. It is in desolation, but instead of complaining, Paolo and Sila sing a praise to God and this praise releases a power that frees them: during the prayer an earthquake shakes the foundations of the prison, the doors open and everyone's chains fall ( see Acts 16,25-26). Like the prayer of Pentecost, even that done in prison causes prodigious effects.
The jailer, believing that the prisoners had fled, was about to commit suicide, because the jailors paid with their lives if they fled a prisoner; but Paul shouts to him: "We are all here!" (Acts 16:27-28). Then he asks: "What must I do to be saved?" (V. 30). The answer is: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved" (v. 31). At this point the change takes place: in the middle of the night, the jailer listens to the word of the Lord with his family, welcomes the apostles, washes his wounds - because they had been beaten - and together with his parents receives baptism; then, "full of joy with all his people for having believed in God" (v. 34), he prepares the table and invites Paul and Silas to stay with them: the moment of consolation! In the middle of the night of this anonymous jailer, the light of Christ shines and defeats darkness: the chains of the heart fall and a joy never felt in him and in his family. Thus the Holy Spirit is doing the mission: from the beginning, from Pentecost onwards He is the protagonist of the mission. And it carries us forward, we need to be faithful to the vocation that the Spirit moves us to do. To bring the Gospel.
We also ask the Holy Spirit today for an open heart, sensitive to God and hospitable to his brothers, like that of Lydia, and a bold faith, like that of Paul and Silas, and also an opening of heart, like that of the jailer who lets himself be touched by the Holy Spirit.
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française, en particulier ceux qui participent au pèlerinage des élus et autres acteurs du monde politique de Martinique, accompagnés par Monseigneur David Macaire ; les Missionnaires de Jésus Sauveur qui célèbrent leur premier jubilé. La prédication et le témoignage de Paul, sous la mouvance de l’Esprit Saint, font jaillir au cœur des ténèbres illuminées par le Christ l’espérance du salut. Demandons la grâce d’être remplis de l’Esprit Saint, pour vivre dans l’hospitalité et pour avoir une foi audacieuse qui brise les barrières et libère la joie du vivre ensemble.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Korea, Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, 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. God bless you!
Ein herzliches Willkommen den Pilgern deutscher Sprache, insbesondere der Gruppe aus der Pfarrei Sankt Martin Deggendorf in Begleitung von Weihbischof Josef Graf. Bitten wir den Heiligen Geist um ein offenes Herz, das empfänglich für Gott und gastfreundlich gegenüber den Brüdern und Schwestern ist. Bitten wir auch um einen mutigen Glauben, der uns wirklich frei macht.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, venidos de España y de Latinoamérica. Pidamos al Espíritu Santo que nos dé un corazón abierto a Dios y acogedor con los demás, con una fe audaz capaz de romper las cadenas que nos oprimen a nosotros y a los demás. Que Dios los bendiga.
Dirijo uma cordial saudação aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, nomeadamente aos fiéis brasileiros de São Bernardo do Campo, Santo André e Sorocaba. Agradeço a vossa presença e encorajo-vos a continuar a dar o vosso fiel testemunho cristão na sociedade. Deixai-vos guiar pelo Espírito Santo para crescerdes repletos dos seus frutos. De bom grado abençoo a vós e aos vossos entes queridos.
[I extend a cordial greeting to the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, in particular to the Brazilian faithful of São Bernardo do Campo, Santo André and Sorocaba. In thanking you for your presence, I encourage you to continue your faithful Christian witness in society. Let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit to grow full of its fruits. I gladly bless you and your loved ones!]أرحبُ بالحاضرينَ الناطقينَ باللغة العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الأراضي المقدسة وتحديدًا من مدرسة راهبات الناصرة في حيفا، ومنَ الشرقِ الأوسط. إن الروحَ القدسَ هو مَن يُحيي الكنيسةَ ويرشِدَها في رسالتِها. وقد نِلناهُ نحنُ أيضًا في سِرّي المعموديّة والتثبيت. إن فتَحنا قلبَنا له وأصغَينا لإرشادِهِ، فسوف يقودُنا إلى خلاصِ نفوسِنا ويمنَحَنا القوّةَ لإعلانِ البشارةِ من أجل خلاصِ النفوسِ أجمَعين. ليُبارِكْكُم الربُّ جميعًا ويَحرُسْكُم دائمًا من الشرير!
[I extend a cordial welcome to the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, in particular to the school group of the Sisters of Nazareth of Haifa in the Holy Land, and to all those coming from the Middle East. It is the Holy Spirit that animates the Church and guides it in its mission. We also received this Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. If we open our hearts to him and allow him to guide us, he will lead us to the salvation of our souls and give us the strength to announce the Gospel for the salvation of all souls. May the Lord bless you all and always protect you from the evil one!]
Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, zbliżamy się do uroczystości Wszystkich Świętych i do wspomnienia wszystkich wiernych zmarłych. Jak mówił św. Jan Paweł II, te dni „zachęca nas, byśmy skierowali wzrok ku niebu, które jest celem naszej ziemskiej pielgrzymki. Tam oczekuje nas radosna wspólnota świętych. Tam spotkamy się z naszymi drogimi zmarłymi”, za których teraz zanosimy modlitwę. Przeżywajmy tajemnicę świętych obcowania z nadzieją, która rodzi się ze zmartwychwstania Pana naszego Jezusa Chrystusa. Z serca wam błogosławię.
[I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Dear brothers and sisters, we are approaching the solemnity of All Saints and the memory of all the faithful departed. As Saint John Paul II said, these days "invite us to turn our gaze to Heaven, the goal of our earthly pilgrimage. There awaits the festive community of saints. There we will meet with our dear departed ", for which our prayer is now raised. We live the mystery of the communion of saints with the hope that springs from the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I bless you heartily!]
Dear brothers and sisters, my thoughts turn to the beloved Iraq, where protests during this month have caused numerous deaths and injuries. While I express my condolences for the victims and closeness to their families and the wounded, I invite the Authorities to listen to the cry of the population that asks for a dignified and peaceful life. I urge all Iraqis, with the support of the international community, to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation and to seek the right solutions to the challenges and problems of the country. I pray that those battered people will find peace and stability after so many years of war and violence, where they have suffered so much.
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I warmly welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the Maestre Pie Venerini, who celebrate their general chapter and encourage them to follow the charism of Christian teaching with renewed enthusiasm, especially for the little ones. I greet the novices of the Sacred Family Congregation of Nazareth; and the parish groups, especially those of Quarto di Grossolengo, with the Bishop of Piacenza-Bobbio, Mons. Gianni Ambrosio, and those of Fondi. I greet the boys and girls of Teramo, who came today with their parish priest: welcome. I also greet the Municipal Council of Mileto, accompanied by the Bishop, Mons. Luigi Renzo; the San Camillo-Forlanini Hospital in Rome; the Italian Union blind and partially sighted; and the Liceo Galilei of Mondragone. Finally, I greet the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. We see that they are many ... At the end of October we invoke Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother. Learn to address yourself by praying to her with the prayer of the Rosary. May Our Lady be your support on the path of following her Son, Jesus Christ.