Francis continues catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles
"There is no room for egoism in the soul of a Christian". Pope Francis emphasized this to the faithful who had gathered in Saint Peter's Square and in the Paul VI Hall for the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 26 June . Continuing his series of catecheses on the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope focused on the narrative of the first Christian community regarding love of God and love of brethren. The following is a translation of the Holy Father's reflection, which he shared in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The fruit of Pentecost, the powerful outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the first Christian community, was that many people felt their heart pierced by the Good News — the kerygma — of salvation in Christ, and they freely adhered to him, converting, receiving baptism in his name and in turn, welcoming the gift of the Holy Spirit. About 3,000 people joined that fraternity which is the habitat of believers and is the ecclesial leaven for the work of evangelization. The warmth of the faith of these brothers and sisters in Christ makes their lives the landscape of God’s work which, through the Apostles, is manifested with miracle and signs. What is extraordinary becomes ordinary, and everyday life becomes the site of the manifestation of living Christ.
The evangelist Luke narrates this to us by showing us the Church of Jerusalem as the paradigm for every Christian community, as the icon of a fraternity which attracts and should neither be idealized nor minimized. The narrative in the Acts of the Apostles allows us to look within the walls of the domus where the first Christians gather as God’s family, the space for koinonia, that is, of the communion of love among brothers and sisters in Christ. We can see that they live in a very precise way: they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The Christians listen assiduously to the didaché, the apostolic teaching; they apply a high level of quality in their interpersonal relationships also through sharing spiritual and material goods; they remember the Lord through the “breaking of bread”, that is, the Eucharist, and they dialogue with God in prayer. These are the attitudes of a Christian, the four marks of a good Christian.
Unlike human society which tends to follow its own interests regardless or even to the detriment of others, the community of believers rejects individualism in favour of sharing and solidarity. There is no room for egoism in a Christian’s soul: if your heart is selfish you are not Christian, you are worldly and only seek your own favour, your own advantage. And Luke tells us that the believers are together (cf. Acts 2:44). Closeness and unity are the style of believers: close, concerned for each other, not to speak ill of the other, no, but to help, to get closer.
The grace of Baptism thus reveals the intimate bond between the brothers and sisters in Christ who are called to share, to empathize with others and to give “as any had need” (Acts 2:45), that is, generosity, charity, concern for the other, visiting the sick, visiting those in need who need comforting.
And this fraternity, precisely because it chooses the way of communion and attention to the needy, this fraternity that is the Church can live an authentic and true liturgical life. Luke says: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47).
Lastly, the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that the Lord guarantees the growth of the community (cf. 2:47); the believers’ perseverance in a genuine covenant with God and with their brothers and sisters becomes an attractive force that fascinates and wins over many (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 14), a principle that, thanks to which, the community of believers of all times lives.
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit that he make our communities places in which to gather and exercise the new life, works of solidarity and of communion, places in which liturgies are an encounter with God that becomes communion with brothers and sisters, places that are open doors to the heavenly Jerusalem.
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28 June 2019, page 3
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