Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles - 18. "Still a little and convince me to become a Christian" (Acts 26,28). Paul prisoner before King Agrippa
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In reading the Acts of the Apostles, the journey of the Gospel in the world continues and the testimony of St. Paul is increasingly marked by the seal of suffering. But this is something that grows with the time in Paul's life. Paul is not only the evangelizer full of ardor, the intrepid missionary among the pagans who gives life to new Christian communities, but he is also the suffering witness of the Risen One (see Acts 9: 15-16).
The arrival of the Apostle in Jerusalem, described in chapter 21 of the Acts, unleashes a fierce hatred towards him, which reproaches him: "But, this was a persecutor! Don't trust! ". As it was for Jesus, even for him Jerusalem is the hostile city. Having gone to the temple, he was recognized, led out to be lynched and saved in extremis by Roman soldiers. Accused of teaching against the Law and the temple, he is arrested and begins his prison wanderings, first in front of the Sanhedrin, then before the Roman procurator at Caesarea, and finally before King Agrippa. Luke highlights the similarity between Paul and Jesus, both hated by the adversaries, publicly accused and recognized as innocent by the imperial authorities; and so Paul is associated with the passion of his Master, and his passion becomes a living gospel. I come from the Basilica of St. Peter and there I had a first hearing this morning with the Ukrainian pilgrims from a Ukrainian diocese. How these people were persecuted; how they suffered for the Gospel! But they did not negotiate faith. They are an example. Today in the world, in Europe, many Christians are persecuted and give their lives for their faith, or they are persecuted with white gloves, that is left aside, marginalized ... Martyrdom is the air of the life of a Christian, of a community Christian. There will always be martyrs among us: this is the signal that we are going on the road of Jesus. It is a blessing from the Lord, whether there is in the people of God, someone or someone who gives this testimony of martyrdom.
Paul is called to defend himself against accusations, and in the end, in the presence of King Agrippa II, his apologia turns into an effective witness of faith (see Acts 26,1-23).
Then Paul recounts his own conversion: the Risen Christ made him a Christian and entrusted him with the mission among the nations, "that they may turn from darkness to the light and power of Satan to God, and obtain forgiveness of sins and inheritance, in the midst of those who were sanctified by faith "in Christ (v. 18). Paul obeyed this task and did nothing but show how the prophets and Moses foretold what he now announces: that "the Christ should suffer and that, first among the resurrected from the dead, he would announce the light to the people and to the nations "(v. 23). Paul's passionate testimony touches the heart of King Agrippa, who lacks only the decisive step. And he says thus, the king: "Still a little and convince me to become a Christian!" (V. 28). Paul is declared innocent, but he cannot be released because he appealed to Caesar. Thus continues the unstoppable journey of the Word of God towards Rome. Paolo, in chains, will end up here in Rome.
From this moment on, the portrait of Paul is that of the prisoner whose chains are the sign of his fidelity to the Gospel and of the testimony given to the Risen One.
The chains are certainly a humiliating test for the Apostle, who appears to the eyes of the world as a "criminal" (2 Tim 2: 9). But his love for Christ is so strong that even these chains are read with the eyes of faith; faith that for Paul is not "a theory, an opinion on God and the world", but "the impact of God's love on his heart, [...] is love for Jesus Christ" (Benedict XVI, Homily on the occasion of the Pauline Year, 28 June 2008).
Dear brothers and sisters, Paul teaches us perseverance in the trial and the ability to read everything with the eyes of faith. Today we ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Apostle, to revive our faith and to help us be faithful to the end of our vocation as Christians, as disciples of the Lord, as missionaries
Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les jeunes venus de France. Paul nous enseigne la persévérance dans l’épreuve et la capacité de les lire avec les yeux de la foi. Demandons au Seigneur, en ce temps de l’Avent, de raviver en nous cette foi au Christ qui vient nous sauver, afin de nous aider à être toujours fidèles à notre vocation de disciples missionnaires. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. I pray that each of you, and your families, may experience a blessed Advent, in preparation for the coming of the newborn Saviour at Christmas. May God bless you!
Ein herzliches Willkommen den Pilgern deutscher Sprache. Fassen wir mit der Hilfe des Heiligen Geistes Mut, um allen den Herrn zu verkünden, der kommt, um uns von den Fesseln unserer Sünden zu befreien.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y de Latinoamérica. Pidamos a Dios nuestro Padre que nos conceda perseverar en los momentos de prueba y que nos dé también la capacidad de leer todos los acontecimientos de nuestra vida con los ojos de la fe, para mantenernos fieles en nuestra vocación de discípulos misioneros. Que Dios los bendiga.
Saúdo de coração os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os fiéis brasileiros do Instituto Dique de Santos. Queridos amigos, não vos esqueçais que todo o batizado está chamado a ser evangelizador. O Espírito Santo tornar-vos-á capazes de viver e testemunhar a vossa fé e iluminará o coração das pessoas que encontrardes. Deixai-vos guiar por Ele, sem medo daquilo que vos peça ou aonde vos mande. Nossa Senhora acompanhe e proteja a vós todos e aos vossos entes queridos!
[I cordially greet the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, in particular the Brazilian faithful of the Dique de Santos Institute. Dear friends, do not forget that every baptized person is called to be an evangelizer. The Holy Spirit will enable you to live and witness your faith and illuminate the hearts of the people you meet. Let yourself be guided by Him, without fear of what he asks of you and where he sends you. May Our Lady accompany and protect you and your loved ones!]
أرحبُ بالحاضرينَ الناطقينَ باللغة العربية، وخاصةً القادمينَ من العراق، ومن لبنان، ومن سوريا، ومن الشرق الأوسط. أدعوكم ألّا تخافوا، وأن تحافظوا على إيمانكم في وجه كلّ المحن، وأن تتحلّوا بالشَّجاعة من أجل المسيح، واثقين بأنَّ لا شدّة ولا ضيق ولا اضطهاد يفصلنا عن محبته. ليُبارِكَكم الرّبُّ جميعًا ويَحرسَكُم دائِمًا مِن الشِّرّيرِ!
[I cordially welcome the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, in particular those from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East. I invite you not to be afraid, to keep your faith in the face of all the trials and to be bold for Christ, certain that neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution could separate us from His love. May the Lord bless you all and always protect you from the evil one!]
Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Wczoraj obchodziliśmy wspomnienie Matki Bożej Loretańskiej, a w niedzielę rozpoczęliśmy Rok Jubileuszowy poświęcony Jej, jako patronce lotników i podróżujących samolotami. Życzę wam wszystkim byście uczyli się patrzeć na życie z wysoka, z perspektywy nieba, byście widzieli rzeczy oczami Boga, przez pryzmat Ewangelii. Niech Maryja opiekuje się wami i was prowadzi. Z serca wam błogosławię.
[I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Yesterday we celebrated the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto and last Sunday we started the Jubilee Year dedicated to her, as patroness of pilots and those traveling by plane. I wish all of you to learn to look at life from above, from the perspective of heaven, to see things with the eyes of God, through the prism of the Gospel. May Mary take care of you and guide you. I bless you from my heart.]
I warmly welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the Missionaries of Charity; and the parish groups, especially those of Mendicino and Faro-Fiumicino. I also greet the personnel of the Crotone Police Headquarters; the Festival Committee of Mesagne; the delegations of the Municipalities of Introd and Bolsena; the group of professionals and doctors in optometry; and the Friends of the Beata Pellesi Association, of San Michele dei Mucchietti-Sassuolo. Finally, I greet the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Next Friday is the memory of Saint Lucia, Virgin and Martyr. I wish all of you that the light of the Child Jesus, now on the horizon, invades your life with his blessing.
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation