At the general audience, Francis said that those who are "Strengthened by this covenant” with the Holy Spirit are not afraid of proclaiming the Gospel. “Think also today of today's empires,” the pontiff noted, “they will collapse, if God is not with them, because the strength that men have in themselves is not enduring.” The pope also made an appeal for World Alzheimer’s Day.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In In his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles at his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis told the 30,000 people present in St Peter’s Square that fidelity to God’s word and discernment help understand “God’s timetable” and that “only what comes from God lasts”.
For the pontiff, “The persecution of Christians is always the same: people who do not want Christianity feel threatened and thus bring death to Christians.” However, those who, since the times of the Apostles, have proclaimed the Gospel have no fear. “Strengthened by this covenant, [. . .] They do not go retreat on their path as intrepid witnesses of the Risen Jesus, like the martyrs of all times, including ours.” Like the Egyptians who had their throats cut, “the last word they said was ‘Jesus’.”
“Human projects always fail; they have a time limit, like we do. Think of so many political projects, and how they change from one side to the other, in all countries. Think of the great empires, think of the dictatorships of the last century: they believed they were very powerful, they thought they dominated the world. And then they all collapsed. Think also today of today's empires: they will collapse, if God is not with them, because the strength that men have in themselves is not enduring. Only God’s strength lasts.”
At the end of the audience, Francis said, “This coming 21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day, a disease that affects many men and women who, because of this disease, are often victims of violence, abuse and mistreatment that trample their dignity. Pray for the conversion of hearts and for those affected by Alzheimer’s, for their families and for those who care for them with love. I also remember in prayer those affected by cancer, so that they too may be increasingly supported, both in the prevention and in the treatment of this disease.”
Earlier, the Pope, citing the Acts of the Apostles, noted that “Faced with the prohibition of the Jews to teach in Christ’s name, Peter and the Apostles respond with courage that they cannot obey those who wish to stop the Gospel’s journey in the world.”
“The Twelve thus show that they possess that ‘obedience of faith’ which they will then wish to stir up in all men (cf. Rom 1:5). Since Pentecost, in fact, they are no longer men who are ‘alone’. They experience that special synergy which makes them shift their focus from themselves, and makes them say: ‘we … and the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 5: 32) or ‘the Holy Spirit and us’. (At 15.28). They feel that they cannot say ‘I’ alone, they are men who are not wrapped up in themselves. Strengthened by this covenant, the Apostles do not let themselves be intimidated by anyone.”
Although they were “cowards” and fled when they came to take Jesus, “They do not retreat on their path as intrepid witnesses of the Risen Jesus, like the martyrs of all times, including ours.”
"The Easter of death and resurrection of Christ must be told and made known by those who were THEIR direct witnesses, together with the Spirit of God. This is why the Word of the Gospel cannot be chained (cfr 2Tm 2:9), nor silenced.” Indeed, “The Apostles are the ‘megaphones’ of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Risen One to spread promptly and without hesitation the Word that gives salvation.”
“Let us ask the Holy Spirit to act in us so that, both personally and in community, we may acquire the habitus of discernment. Let us ask Him to always be able to see the unity of salvation history through the signs of God’s passage in our time and on the faces of those around us, so that we may learn that time and human faces are messengers of the living God.”