Pope Francis rides through St. Peter's Square after delivering his General Audience catechesis on Wednesday, June 12.
is the address delivered by Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience in
St. Peter’s Square June 12, as translated by Vatican Radio.
brothers and sisters, good morning!
I would like to touch briefly on another of the terms with which the Second
Vatican Council defined the Church, that of “People of God” (cf. Dogmatic
Constitution. Lumen Gentium, 9; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 782). I shall
do so with a few questions upon which we can all reflect.
What does it mean to be “People of God”? First of all, it means that God does
not really belong to any people; for it is He who calls us, who summons us, who
invites us to be part of his people, and this invitation is open to all,
without distinction, because God’s mercy “desires all people to be saved” (1
Tim 2:4). Jesus does not tell the Apostles and us to form an exclusive group,
an elite group. Jesus says: Go and make disciples of all nations (cf. Mt
28:19). St Paul says that within the people of God, in the Church, “there is
neither Jew nor Gentile…for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). I
would like to say to those who feel far from God and the Church, to those who
are fearful or indifferent, to those who think they can no longer change: the
Lord is calling you too to be part of his people and he does it with great
respect and love! He invites us to be a part of this people, the people of God.
How do you become a member of this people? It is not through physical birth,
but through a new birth. In the Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be
born from above, of water and of spirit to enter the Kingdom of God (cf. John
3:3-5). It is through Baptism that we are introduced to this people, through faith
in Christ, the gift of God which must be nurtured and tended to throughout our
whole life. Let us ask ourselves: how can I grow in the faith that I received
in my Baptism? How do tend to this faith that I have received and that the
people of God has? How do I make it grow? And another question.
What is the law of the People of God? It is the law of love, love for God and
love for our neighbor according to the new commandment that the Lord left us
(cf. Jn 13:34). It is a love, however, that is not sterile sentimentality or
something vague, it is recognizing God as the only Lord of life and, at the
same time, accepting the other as a true brother, overcoming divisions,
rivalry, misunderstandings, selfishness; the two things go together. We have
still so far to go to be able to live concretely according to this new law, the
law of the Holy Spirit working within us, the law of charity, of love! When we
see in the many wars between Christians in the newspapers or on TV, how can the
people of God understand this? Within the people of God there are so many wars!
And in neighborhoods, in workplaces, so many wars due to envy, jealousy. Even
within the same family, there are so many internal wars. We must ask the Lord
to help us understand this law of love. How good, how nice it is to love each
other as true brothers. How nice that is! Let’s do something today: perhaps we
all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps many of us are angry with others.
But at least let’s say to the Lord: “Lord, I am angry with him or with her. I
pray for him and for her. I pray to you.” To pray for those with whom we are
angry. It’s a big step in this law of love. Let’s do it today!
What mission does this people have? To bring to the world the hope and the
salvation of God: to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to be friends
of His; to be the yeast that ferments the dough, the salt that gives flavor and
preserves from decay, the light that brightens. Just as I said, it is enough to
open a newspaper, and we see that around us there is the presence of evil, the
Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice: God is stronger! Do
you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it in a loud voice: God is
stronger! Do you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it all together.
God is stronger! All of us! And you know why He is stronger? Because He is the
Lord, the only Lord. God is stronger! Good! And I would like to add that
reality which is sometimes dark and marked by evil can change, if we are the
first to bring the light of the Gospel especially with our lives. If in a
stadium, let’s think of the Olympic Stadium in Rome, or that of San Lorenzo in
Buenos Aires, if on a dark night one person lights up a lamp, you can barely
see it, but if each of over seventy thousand spectators switches on his own
light, the whole Stadium lights up. Let’s make our lives a light of Christ; and
together we will bring the light of the Gospel to the whole world.
What is the goal of this people? Its end is the kingdom of God, which has been
begun by God Himself on earth, and which is to be further extended until it is
brought to perfection by Him at the end of time, when Christ, our life, shall
appear (cf. Lumen Gentium, 9). The goal then is full communion with the Lord;
it’s to enter into his divine life where we will live the joy of his love
without measure. That full joy.
brothers and sisters, to be Church, is to be God’s people, according to the
Father’s great plan of love, it means to be the yeast of God in this humanity
of ours, it means to proclaim and to bring God’s salvation into this world,
which is often lost, in need of encouraging answers, answers that give hope,
that give new vigor in the journey. May the Church be a place of mercy and of
hope in God, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged
to live the good life of the Gospel. And to feel welcomed, loved, forgiven,
encouraged, the Church’s doors must be open, so that all may come and that we
can go out of those doors and proclaim the Gospel. Thank you so much.
At the end of his address, Pope Francis also delivered the
on the World Day Against Child Labor”:
the World Day Against Child Labor is being celebrated all over the world, with
a reference in particular to the exploitation of children in domestic work:
Listen, it is a deplorable phenomenon which is constantly increasing,
especially in poor countries. There are millions of children, mostly girls, who
are victims of this hidden form of exploitation that often involves abuse,
mistreatment and discrimination. This is a real form of slavery.
is my heartfelt hope that the international community will initiate still more
effective measures in addressing this authentic plague.
All children must be able to play, study, pray and grow, in their
families, this in a harmonic context, in love and serenity but these people
instead of playing are slaves, and this is a plague. This is their right and
our duty. A serene childhood allows children to look with confidence towards
life and tomorrow. Woe to those who stifle them in their joyful enthusiasm of