Wednesday, November 13, 2019

General Audience inspired by Priscilla and Aquila

This morning's General Audience began at 9:10am local time (3:10am EST) in Saint Peter's Square, where the Holy Father, Pope Francis met with groups of pilgrims and the faithful from Italy and from every corner of the world.

Before making his way to Saint Peter's Square, the Pope greeted the sick who were gathered in the Paul VI Hall as a result of bad weather.

In his speech, the Pope continued the cycle of catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, adding his meditation on the theme: Priscilla and Aquila took him with them (Acts 18:26).  A couple at the service of the Gospel (Acts 18:1-3).

After having summarized His catechesis in various languages, the Holy Father offered particular greetings to each group of the faithful in attendance.  Then, he addressed a call for the situation in Burkina Faso and expressed his closeness to the victims of recent attacks.

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 in the Paul VI Hall

Good morning to all of you!

It's raining outside.  Here, you can relax, you can follow the audience on the jumbotron, quietly, in peace, without getting wet.  This is good.  I thank you for your visit.  For me, it is a joy whenever I see that you have come, despite your difficulties, but with love for the Church, to say that you love the Church.  This is good for all of us who see it; it is good for me.  Thank you.

And now, I will go to the other group who is in the Square; it will be a bit wet, but you will stay here.  We are united via the jumbotron.  Now, I want to give all of you my blessing.  All of you, pray to Our Lady for me.

Hail Mary ...


Pray for me and thank you for coming!

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

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This audience is taking place in two groups: the sick are gathered in the Paul VI Hall - I was just there with them; I greeted them and blessed them; there are approximately 250 people there.  They will be more comfortable there, out of the rain - and we are here.  But they are watching on the jumbotron.  Let us all greet each other, both groups, with applause.

The Acts of the Apostles tells us that Paul, that untiring evangelist who, after his stay in Athens promoted the

The Acts of the Apostles tell us that Paul, who was a tireless evangelizer, after his stay in Athens, carried on the Gospel's progress in the world. A new stage of his missionary journey began in Corinth, the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, a commercial and cosmopolitan city which boasted two important ports.

As we read in chapter 18 of the Acts, Paul finds hospitality with a married couple, Aquila and Priscilla (or Prisca), who had been forced to move from Rome to Corinth after emperor Claudius had ordered the expulsion of the Jews (cf Acts 18, 2). At this point, I would like to open a parenthesis. The Jewish people have suffered so much throughout history. They have been chased away, persecuted ... And, in the last century, we saw so many, so many brutalities that were done to the Jewish people and we were all convinced that this was over. But today, the habit of persecuting Jews begins to be reborn here and there. Brothers and sisters, this is neither human nor Christian. Jews are our brothers! And they should not be persecuted. Do you understand? These spouses (Aquila and Priscilla) prove to have hearts full of faith in God and generous towards others, capable of making room for those who, like them, experience the condition of a foreigner. This sensitivity of theirs led them to decentralize themselves, to practice the Christian art of hospitality (cf Rom 12: 13; Heb 13.2) and to open the doors of their home to welcome the Apostle Paul. In fact, they welcomed not only the evangelizer, but also the proclamation that he brought with him: the Gospel of Christ which is the power of God for the salvation of whoever believes (Rom 1:16). And from that moment on, their home was imbued with the fragrance of the living Word (Heb 4:12) that vivifies the heart.

Aquila and Priscilla also shared their professional activity with Paul, that is the fabrication of tents. In fact, Paul greatly valued manual work and considered it a privileged space for Christian witness (cf 1 Cor 4:12), as well as a just way of maintaining oneself without being a burden to others (cf 1 Thess 2: 9; 2 Thess 3: 8) or to the community.

The house of Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth opens its doors not only to the Apostle but also to the brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, Paul can speak of the community that gathers in their home (1Cor 16,19), which becomes a house Church, a domus ecclesiae, a place to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist. Even today in some countries where there is no religious freedom and there is no freedom for Christians, Christians gather in homes, a little hidden, to pray and to celebrate the Eucharist. Even today there are these houses, these families who become temples for the Eucharist.

After a year and a half in Corinth, Paul left that city with Aquila and Priscilla, who stopped at Ephesus. There, too, their home became a place of catechesis (cf Acts 18:26). Finally, the two spouses would return to Rome and would be recipients of a splendid eulogy that the Apostle inserted in the letter to the Romans. His heart was grateful, and so Paul wrote about these two spouses in the letter to the Romans. Listen; he said: Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. To save their lives, they risked their heads, and I am not only grateful to them, but to all the churches of the pagan world (16,4). How many families risk their heads in times of persecution to keep those who are being persecuted hidden! This is the first example: family hospitality, even in bad times.

Among the many collaborators who worked with Paul, Aquila and Priscilla emerged as models of a conjugal life responsibly committed to the service of the whole Christian community and continues today to remind us that, thanks to faith and commitment to the evangelization of so many lay people like them, Christianity has come down to us. In fact "in order to take root in the land of the people, to develop strongly, the commitment of these families was necessary. But we can think that from the beginning, Christianity was preached by the laity. You too are responsible - by means of your baptism - to carry on the faith. It was the commitment of many families, of these spouses, of these Christian communities, of lay faithful who offered the 'humus' to the growth of faith (Benedict XVI, Catechesis, 7 February 2007). This phrase of Pope Benedict XVI is beautiful: the laity give humus to the growth of faith.

Let us ask the Father, who has chosen to make spouses his true living sculpture (Amoris Laetitia, 11) - I believe that here there are new spouses: listen to your vocation, you must be the true living sculptures. May the Lord pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they will be able to open the doors of their hearts to Christ and to their brothers and sisters, and transform their homes into domestic churches. This is a beautiful phrase: a house is a domestic church, where we strive to live in communion with each other and to offer the cult of life lived with faith, hope and charity. We must pray to these two saints Aquila and Priscilla, so that they may teach our families to be like them: a domestic church where there is humus, so that faith may grow.

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

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Denmark, Australia, Malaysia, 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!

At the conclusion of the General Audience, the Holy Father issued the following call for prayer:

I offer a special thought to dear Burkina Faso, who for some time has been tried by recurrent violence, and where recently an assassination attempt cost the lives of nearly a hundred people. I entrust to the Lord all the victims, the wounded, the numerous displaced persons and those who are suffering because of these tragedies. I appeal for the protection of the most vulnerable; and I encourage civil and religious authorities and those who are motivated by good will to multiply your efforts, in the spirit of the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Brotherhood, to promote inter-religious dialogue and harmony.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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