"Today we ask for the grace to be amazed by the surprises of God, not to hinder His creativity, but to recognize and favor the ever new ways through which the Risen One pours His Spirit into the world and attracts hearts making Himself known as the" Lord of all "(Acts 10:36)".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Those who want to announce the Gospel "cannot be an impediment to God's creative work, which "wants all men to be saved "(1 Tim 2: 4), but one that favors the encounter of hearts with the Lord”. This is around this theme that Pope Francis addressed at today's general audience, continuing the cycle of catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles. And in his greeting to the French he stressed: "In this extraordinary missionary month, we ask the grace of the Holy Spirit to be evangelizers, builders of bridges between people and the Lord, not obstacles and barriers to salvation".
Speaking to the 20 thousand people present in St. Peter's Square, Francis said that "the journey of the Gospel in the world, which St. Luke recounts in the Acts of the Apostles, is accompanied by the supreme creativity of God which manifests itself in a surprising manner. He wants His children to overcome every particularism to open up to the universality of salvation. God wants everyone to be saved. Those who are reborn from water and the Spirit are called to go out of themselves and open themselves to others, to live in proximity, the style of living together, which transforms every interpersonal relationship into an experience of fraternity (see Ev. Exhortation gaudium, 87) ".
"Peter is a witness of this process of "brotehr and sisterhood" that the Spirit wants to trigger in history. He is the protagonist in the Acts of the Apostles with Paul. After witnessing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost and announcing their descent on whoever invokes the name of the Lord (see Acts 2,17.21; Gl 3,1.5), Peter lives an event that marks a decisive turning point in his life. While he is praying, he receives a vision that serves as a divine "provocation" to arouse in him a change of mentality. He sees a large cloth descending from above, containing various animals: quadrupeds, reptiles and birds, and he hears a voice inviting him to feed on those meats. He, as a good Jew, reacts by claiming that he has never eaten anything impure, as required by the Law of the Lord (see Lv 11). Then the voice strongly replies: "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (Acts 10:15) ".
"The Lord wants Peter to no longer evaluate events and people according to the categories of pure and impure, but to learn to go further, to look at the person and the intentions of his heart. What makes man impure, in fact, does not come from outside but only from within, from the heart (see Mk 7:21) ".
"After that vision, God sends Peter to the home of an uncircumcised foreigner, Cornelius," a centurion of the so-called Italica, [...] a religious and God-fearing cohort "who gives alms to the people and prays to God always (see Acts 10, 1-2). Prepared already from the vision and the divine teaching, Peter agrees to do what "a Jew is not lawful" (Acts 10:28), that is, to enter the house of uncircumcised men and eat with them. His is not a courtesy visit, but a bringing of the Word of salvation to those who have not yet heard it. In that house of pagans, Peter preaches the crucified and risen Christ and the forgiveness of sins to whoever believes in Him. And while Peter speaks, the Holy Spirit is poured out over Cornelius and his family. And Peter baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ (see Acts 10:48). The fact is known in Jerusalem, where the brothers, scandalized by Peter's behavior, harshly rebuke him (see Acts 11: 1-3). It is at this point that the effect brought about by prayer emerges in the heart of an evangelizer: "When an evangelizer emerges from prayer, his heart has become more generous, he has freed himself from the isolated conscience and is eager to do good and to share life with others "(Esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium 282). In fact, after the encounter with Cornelius, Peter is freer from himself and more in communion with God and others, because he saw the will of God. He can therefore understand that the election of Israel is not the reward for merit , but the sign of the gratuitous call to be the mediation of the divine blessing among the pagan peoples ".
"Dear brothers, from the Prince of the Apostles we learn that an evangelizer cannot be an impediment to God's creative work, which" wants all men to be saved "(1 Tim 2: 4), but one that favors the meeting of the hearts with the Lord. And how do we behave with our brothers and sisters, especially those who are not Christians? Are we an obstacle? Do we hinder their encounter with the Father or do we facilitate it? Let us ask today for the grace to allow ourselves to be surprised by God's surprises, not to hinder his creativity, but to recognize and favor the ever new ways through which the Risen One pours his Spirit into the world and attracts hearts making himself known as the "Lord of all "(Acts 10:36)".
Finally, in greeting the Poles, he recalled the anniversary of the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to the See of Peter. "We thank the Lord for every good that has been accomplished in the Church, in the world and in human hearts through the words of John Paul II, his works and his holiness. Let us remember that his call to open our hearts to Christ is always timely ".