By Virginia Forrester

The Pope’s January 15, 2020, General Audience was held in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the series of catecheses on the Acts of the Apostles, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: ”Paul welcomed all who came to him, preaching the Kingdom of God . . . quite openly and unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31); Paul’s imprisonment at Rome and the fruitfulness of the proclamation (Biblical passage: From the Acts of the Apostles 28:16.30-31).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

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The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We conclude today the catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles with Saint Paul’s last missionary stage, namely, Rome (Cf. Acts 28:14).

Paul’s journey, which was one with that of the Gospel, is the proof that men’s routes, if lived in faith, can become areas of transit of God’s salvation, through the Word of the faith, which is an active ferment in history, capable of transforming situations and of opening ever new ways. The account of the Acts of the Apostles ends with Paul’s arrival in the heart of the Empire, which doesn’t close with Paul’s martyrdom, but with the abundant sowing of the Word. The end of Luke’s account pivoted on the Gospel’s journey in the world, contains and recapitulates all the dynamism of the Word of God, unstoppable Word that wants to run to communicate salvation to all.

At Rome, Paul met first of all his brothers in Christ, who received him and infused courage in him (Cf. Acts 28:15), and whose warm hospitality lets one think how much his arrival was awaited and desired. Then he was allowed to stay by himself under military guard, namely, with a soldier that guarded him. He was in house arrest. Despite his condition of prisoner, Paul could meet with the Jewish leaders to explain why he was forced to appeal to Caesar and to speak to them of the Kingdom of God. He sought to convince them in regard to Jesus, starting from the Scriptures and showing the continuity between the novelty of Christ and the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20) Paul acknowledges himself profoundly Jewish and he sees in the Gospel he preaches, namely, in the proclamation of Christ dead and risen, the fulfillment of the promises made to the Chosen People.

After this first informal meeting, which finds the Jews well disposed, a more official one follows during which, for a whole day, Paul proclaims the Kingdom of God and tries to open his interlocutors to faith in Jesus, beginning “from the law of Moses and from the Prophets” (Acts 28:23). As not all of them were convinced, he laments the hardness of heart of the People of God, cause of their condemnation (Cf. Isaiah 6:9-10), and celebrates passionately the salvation of the nations that, instead, show themselves sensitive to God and capable of listening to the Word of the Gospel of life (Cf. Acts 28:28).

At this point of the narrative, Luke concludes his work showing us not Paul’s death but the dynamism of his preaching, of a Word that “is not fettered” (2 Timothy 2:9) – Paul doesn’t have the freedom to move but he is free to speak because the Word isn’t chained — it’s a Word ready to let itself be sown with full hands by the Apostle. Paul does so “quite openly and unhindered” (Acts 28:31), in a house where he receives all those that want to receive the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and know Christ. This house, open to all searching hearts, is the image of the Church that, although persecuted, misunderstood and chained, never tires of receiving every man and every woman with a maternal heart, to proclaim to them the love of the Father who made Himself visible in Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, at the end of this itinerary, lived together following the course of the Gospel in the world, may the Spirit revive in each one of us the call to be courageous and joyful evangelizers. May He also make us capable, as Paul, to permeate our homes with the Gospel and make them cenacles of fraternity, where the living Christ is received, who “comes to meet us in every man and in every time” (Cf. Preface of Advent).

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the Alcantarine Franciscan Sisters — these Sisters make noise! — who are holding their General Chapter, and I encourage them to put their charism increasingly at the service of the Church. In addition, I greet the Padre Pio Prayer Group of Pariana, of San Carlo Terme and of Antona; the participants in the meeting organized by BMW Italy; the Italian Ophthalmological Society and the Kim Association.

Finally, I greet the young people, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds. Open your heart to the needs of the Church and, on the example of Jesus, be close to brothers, building a more just world.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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