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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

General Audience on sharing the certainty of hope

This morning's General Audience began at 9:25am (Rome time) in Saint Peter's Square.  The Holy Father, Pope Francis met there with groups of pilgrims and the faithful from Italy and from every corner of the world.

Before making his way to the square, at 9:00am, Pope Francis went to the Paul VI Hall to greet the sick and their families who were gathered there.

In his speech, the Pope focused on the theme: Beloved children, certainty of hope (cf Lk 15:20-24a).

Following the customary summaries of His catechesis offered in various languages, the Holy Father offered greetings to each group of the faithful in attendance.

The General Audience concluded with the chanting of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic blessing.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
offered to the sick who were attending
today's General Audience

Good morning to all of you!
Make yourselves comfortable, make yourselves comfortable ...

Today, we will hold the audience in two different places, but we are united through the jumbo-tron.  In this way, you will be more comfortable, because the heat is beating down on the Square.  It will be a Turkish bath today ...

Thank you very much for coming.  I invite you to listen to what I have to say, and with your hearts united to those of the people in the Square: this is what it means to be Church.  One group is here, another one is there, another one there, but we are all together.  Who unites the Church?  The Holy Spirit.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to unite all of us today, in this audience.

Come, Holy Spirit ...
Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...

And now I will give you my blessing.


Thank you very much.  Please pray for me: don't forget!  And let us continue ... see you later ...

Catechesis of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, we are holding this audience in two places, but we are united through the jumbo-trons: the sick are in the Paul VI Hall so that they won't suffer from the heat, and we are here, but we are together, united by the Holy Spirit, who always creates unity.  Let us greet those who are in the Paul VI Hall!

No one among us can live without love.  It is a terrible slavery that we can fall into: to believe that love can be earned.  Perhaps much of the suffering being endured by modern-day mankind is a result of this: believing that if we are not strong, attractive and beautiful, no one will pay us any attention.  Many people today want to be seen only so that they can make up for an inner sense of emptiness: as though we were people eternally in need of assurance.  Can you imagine a world where everyone has to constantly look for reasons to attract the attention of others, where no one is able to freely love another person?  Imagine what a world like that would be like: a world without the freedom to love!  It would look like a human world but it would actually be hell!  Much of mankind's narcissism is rooted in a feeling of solitude and being orphaned.  Behind such seemingly inexplicable behaviour one question arises: is it possible that I am not good enough to be called by name, to be loved?  Love always calls us by name ...

When we are not loved, or when we don't feel that we are loved as teenagers, violence can arise.  Behind many forms of social hatred and mischief, there is often a heart that has not been recognized.  There are no bad children, there are no bad teenagers, there are only unhappy people.  And what can make us happy if not the hope of love freely given and received?  The life of a human being is an exchange of glances: someone who is looking at us will see our first smile, and we who freely smile at those who are closed in upon themselves by sadness, this is the way we open a path so that they can escape from their sadness.  Exchanging glances: look people in the eyes and open a door to their hearts.

The first step that God takes toward us is to love us unconditionally.  God always loves us first.  God does not love us because there is a reason for us to merit love.  God loves us because He himself is love, and love tends to spread and give by its very nature.  God does not even connect his goodness to the degree of our conversion: as though our goodness were a condition of God's love.  Saint Paul says it perfectly: God showed his love for us in the fact that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).  While we were still sinners.  Unconditional love.  We were distant, like the prodigal son in the parable: While he was still a long way off, his father saw him, had compassion for him ... (Lk 15:20).  Out of love for us, God went outside of himself, to come in search of us, in this land that was unaware of him passing through.  God loved us even when we were doing wrong.

Who among us loves in this way, if not a father or a mother?  A mother continues to love her children even when those children are in prison.  I remember many mothers, who would stand in line waiting to enter the prisons, in my former diocese ... and they were not ashamed.  Their sons were in prison, but they were still their sons.  These mothers would suffer so much humiliation and persecution before they entered the prisons, but: He is my son! ... But madam, your son is a delinquent! ... He is my son!  Only this love of a mother or a father can help us to understand the love of God.  A mother does not ask for human justice to be cancelled, because every error requires some kind of restitution, but a mother will never stop suffering for her son.  She will love him even if he is a sinner.  God does the same thing with each one of us: we are his beloved children!  Can it be that God has some children who he does not love?  No.  We are all God's children.  There is no curse on our lives, only the good word spoken by God, who has created our existence out of nothing.  The truth is that the relationship of love that connects the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit is a relationship in which we also are freely welcomed.  In Him, in Christ Jesus, we are wanted, loved, desired.  There is Someone who has imprinted in us a primordial beauty, which no sin, no bad choice can ever nullify.  We are always, in the eyes of God, little fountains made to gush forth good water.  Jesus says this to the Samaritan woman: The water that I will give (you) will become in (you) a spring of water, gushing up to eternal life (Jn 4:14).

What is the best medicine for changing the heart of someone who is unhappy?  What is the best medicine for changing the heart of a person who is not happy? (The crowd responds: love).  Louder! (Crying: love!)  Bravo!  Good for you, good!  And how do we let someone know that he is loved?  First we have to give him a hug.  Help him to feel that he is desirable, that he is important, so that he can stop feeling sad.  Love calls forth love, in a more convincing way than hatred calls forth death.  Jesus is not dead, he rose, for our sakes, so that our sins may be forgiven.  Therefore, this is a time of resurrection for all of us: a time to raise the poor out of their discouragement, especially those who lie in tombs for a period of time much longer than three days.  There is a wind of liberation that blows upon our faces.  The gift of hope is planted here.  And this hope is the gift of God the FAther who loves us as we are: loves every one of us, always.  Thank you!

The Holy Father's catechesis was then summarized in various languages and His Holiness offered greetings to each group of the faithful in attendance.  To English-speaking pilgrims, he said:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Sweden, Hong Kong, Pakistan, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, 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.
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