Pope: Aquila and Priscilla, persecuted Jews and Christians, lay evangelizers
At the general audience, Pope Francis warns against the resurgences of anti-Semitism and also remembers that "even today" there are Christians who live the faith "secretly in their homes". An appeal for Burkina Faso, after several attacks cost the lives of 100 people. The audience took place in two places: in the square and in the Paul VI hall where the sick were gathered, due to bad weather.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Jews are our brothers and sisters and should not be persecuted!": This is the resounding reminder that Pope Francis gave today during the general audience with the faithful in St. Peter's Square, after noting that, in addition to the persecutions in the history and those of the last century, "today the persecution of the Jews is rising up once again here and there".
The pontiff's commentary was related to the theme of today's catechesis: "Priscilla and Aquila took him with them" (Acts 18:26). A couple at the service of the Gospel (linked to the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, 18, 1-3). The Jewish couple had in fact moved from Rome to Corinth after "after the emperor Claudius had ordered the expulsion of the Jews (see Acts 18: 2)". Hence the emphasis of Francis against the re-emergence of anti-Semitism that reappears "here and there" in Europe and the United States.
Recalling that the Christians gathered at Aquila and Priscilla's home and that their house was a first "domestic church", the pontiff commented: "Even today there are Christians who are persecuted and who gather in secret in their homes and these houses become a temple ". The Pope did not mention any particular nation, but the reference to the Christian communities hidden in China and in several Islamic countries is evident.
Before going to St. Peter's Square and greeting the pilgrims from the popemobile, Francis went to the Paul VI hall where, due to bad weather, the sick were gathered, wishing to attend the audience.
Continuing his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles and on the commitment of St. Paul, which "carries forward the journey of the Gospel in the world", Francis recalled of Paul’s journey to Corinth and how Aquila and Priscilla welcomed him to their home.
"These spouses - he said - show that they have a heart full of faith in God and generous towards others, capable of making room for those who, like them, experience the condition of being a foreigner. This sensitivity of theirs leads them to decentralize themselves to practice the Christian art of hospitality (see Rom 12: 13; Heb 13.2) and open the doors of their home to welcome the Apostle Paul. Thus they welcome not only the evangelizer, but also the proclamation that he brings with him: the Gospel of Christ which is "the power of God for the salvation of whoever believes" (Rom 1:16). And from that moment their home is imbued with the perfume of the "living" Word (Heb 4:12) that vivifies hearts ".
"The house of Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth opens its doors not only to the Apostle but also to the brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, Paul can speak of the "community that gathers in their home" (1Cor 16,19), which becomes a "domus ecclesiae", a place to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist ". Here the Pope recalled the Christians who "even today" are persecuted and "gather in secrecy in their homes and these houses become a temple".
"After a year and a half in Corinth, Paul leaves that city with Aquila and Priscilla, who stop at Ephesus. There, too, their home becomes a place of catechesis (see Acts 18:26). Finally, the two spouses will return to Rome and will be the recipients of a splendid eulogy which the Apostle inserts in the letter to the Romans: "Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them"(16,4)".
Here too the pontiff commented briefly: "How many families in times of persecution risk their heads to defend the persecuted? Aquila and Priscilla are the first of a series".
"Aquila and Priscilla - he concluded - emerge as" models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the whole Christian community "and remind us that, thanks to the faith and commitment to the evangelization of so many lay people like them, Christianity has arrived to us today. In fact "in order to take root in people's land and develop actively, the commitment of these families, these spouses, these Christian communities, of these lay faithful was necessary in order to offer the "humus" for the growth of the faith. As always, it is only in this way that the Church grows." (BENEDICT XVI, Catechesis , 7 February 2007) ".
"We ask the Father, who has chosen to make the spouses his" true "sculpture" of life "(Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 11), to pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they may know how to open the doors of their hearts to Christ and to their brothers and sisters and transform their homes into domestic churches where they live communion and offer the cult of life lived with faith, hope and charity ".
Turning then to newlyweds who were attending the hearing, he reiterated. "A home is a domestic church. We must pray to Aquila and Priscilla to also teach our families to be humus so that faith grows" and they become a" living "sculpture".
After the various greetings in the different languages, Francis launched an appeal for Burkina Faso, where jihadist attacks against the population and foreigners in the country have been going on for years. "I address a special thought to dear Burkina Faso - the Pope said - for some time tried by recurrent violence, and where recently an assassination attempt cost the lives of nearly a hundred people. I entrust to the Lord all the victims, the wounded, the numerous displaced persons and those who suffer from these tragedies. I appeal for the protection of the most vulnerable; and I encourage civil and religious authorities and all those who are motivated by good will to multiply their efforts, in the spirit of the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity, to promote interreligious dialogue and harmony ".
Before the final prayer of the Our Father, the pontiff asked everyone to pray for his imminent trip to Thailand and Japan (19-24 November) "so that the Lord grants the visited peoples copious gifts of grace".