Audiences 2005-2013 9013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Christmas season let us reflect once again on the great mystery of God who came down from heaven to enter our flesh. In Jesus God was incarnate, he became a man like us and in this way opened for us the road to his heavenly Kingdom, to full communion with him.
In these days the term the “Incarnation” of God has rung out several times in our churches, expressing the reality we celebrate at Holy Christmas: the Son of God was made man, as we say in the Creed. But what does this word, so central to the Christian faith, mean? Incarnation derives from the Latin incarnatio.St Ignatius of Antioch — at the end of the first century — and, especially, St Irenaeus used this term in reflecting on the Prologue to the Gospel according to St John, in particular in the sentence “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1,14). Here the word “flesh”, according to the Hebrew usage, indicates man in his whole self, the whole man, but in particular in the dimension of his transience and his temporality, his poverty and his contingency. This was in order to tell us that the salvation brought by God, who became man in Jesus of Nazareth, affects man in his material reality and in whatever situation he may be. God assumed the human condition to heal it from all that separates it from him, to enable us to call him, in his Only-Begotten Son, by the name of “Abba, Father”, and truly to be children of God.
St Irenaeus stated: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God” (Adversus Haereses, 3, 19, 1: cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 460).
“The Word was made flesh” is one of those truths to which we have grown so accustomed that the greatness of the event it expresses barely makes an impression on us. Effectively, in this Christmastide in which these words often recur in the Liturgy, we at times pay more attention to the external aspects, to the “colours” of the celebration rather than to the heart of the great Christian newness that we are celebrating: something that utterly defeats the imagination, that God alone could bring about and into which we can only enter with faith.
The Logos, who is with God, is the Logos who is God, the Creator of the world (cf. Jn 1,1) through whom all things were created (cf. Jn 1,3) and who has accompanied men and women through history with his light (cf. Jn 1,4-5 Jn 1,9), became one among many and made his dwelling among us, becoming one of us (cf. Jn 2,14).
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council said: “The Son of God... worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin” (Constitution Gaudium et Spes GS 22). Thus it is important to recover our wonder at the mystery, to let ourselves be enveloped by the grandeur of this event: God, the true God, Creator of all, walked our roads as a man, entering human time to communicate his own life to us (cf. 1Jn 1,1-4). And he did not do so with the splendour of a sovereign who dominates the world with his power, but with the humility of a child.
I would like to stress a second element. At holy Christmas we generally exchange a few gifts with the people closest to us. At times this may be a conventional gesture, but it usually expresses affection; it is a sign of love and esteem. In the Prayer over the Offerings at the Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Christmas the Church prays: “may the oblation of this day’s feast be pleasing to you, O Lord, we pray, that through this most holy exchange we may be found in the likeness of Christ in whom our nature is united to you. Who lives and reigns for ever”.
The idea of giving is therefore at the heart of the liturgy and makes us aware of the original gift of Christmas: on that Holy Night, in taking flesh God wanted to make a gift of himself to men and women, he gave himself for us; God made his Only Son a gift for us, he took on our humanity to give his divinity to us. This is the great gift. In our giving too it does not matter whether or not a gift is expensive; those who cannot manage to give a little of themselves always give too little. Indeed, at times we even seek to substitute money or material things for our hearts and the commitment to giving ourselves.
The mystery of the Incarnation shows that God did not do this: he did not give some thing but he gave himself in his Only-Begotten Son. We find here our model for the giving so that our relationships, especially those that are most important, may be guided by giving love freely.
I would like to offer a third thought: the event of the Incarnation, of God who became man, like us, shows us the daring realism of divine love. God’s action, in fact was not limited to words. On the contrary we might say that he was not content with speaking, but entered into our history, taking upon himself the effort and burden of human life. The Son of God truly became a man. He was born of the Virgin Mary in a specific time and place, in Bethlehem during the reign of the Emperor Augustus, under the Governor Quirinius (cf. Lc 2,1-2); he grew up in a family, he had friends, he formed a group of disciples, he instructed the Apostles to continue his mission and ended the course of his earthly life on the Cross. The way God acted gives us a strong incentive to question ourselves on the reality of our faith, which must not be limited to the sphere of sentiment, of the emotions; rather, it must enter into the practicality of our existence, that is, it must touch our everyday life and give it practical guidance. God did not stop at words, but showed us how to live, sharing in our own experience, except for sin.
The Catechism of St Pius X, which some of us studied as children answers with simple brevity the question “What must we do to live according to the will of God?”: “to live according to the will of God, we must believe the truths that he has revealed and obey his commandments with the help of his grace, which is obtained through the sacraments and through prayer”. Faith has a fundamental aspect that does not only involve our mind and heart but also our whole life.
I suggest one last element for you to think about. St John says that the Word, the Logos, was with God in the beginning and that everything was done through the Word and nothing that exists was done without him (cf. Jn 1,1-13). The Evangelist is clearly alluding to the Creation narrative in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, and reinterprets it in the light of Christ. This is a fundamental criterion in the Christian interpretation of the Bible: The Old and New Testaments should always be read together and, starting with the New, the deepest meaning of the Old Testament is also revealed. That same Word, who has always existed with God, who is God himself and through whom and for whom all things were created (cf. Col Col 1,16-17), became man: the eternal and infinite God immersed himself in human finiteness, in his creature, to bring back man and the whole of creation to himself.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “the first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendour of which surpasses that of the first creation” (n. 349). The Fathers of the Church compared Jesus to Adam, even to the point of calling him “the second Adam”, or the definitive Adam, the perfect image of God. With the Incarnation of the Son of God a new creation was brought about that gave the complete answer to the question “who is man?”. God’s plan for the human being was fully manifest in Jesus alone. He is the definitive man according to God’s will.
The Second Vatican Council reasserted this forcefully: “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.... Christ the new Adam... fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes GS 22 cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 359). In that Child, the Son of God contemplated at Christmas, we can recognize the true face not only of God but also of the human being; and only by opening ourselves to his grace and seeking to follow him every day do we fulfil God’s plan for us, for each one of us.
Dear friends, in this period let us meditate on the great and marvellous richness of the Mystery of the Incarnation, to permit the Lord to illuminate us and to change us, more and more, into an image of his Son made man for us.
To special groups:
I greet all the English-speaking visitors present, including the pilgrimage groups from Nigeria, Taiwan and Brazil. My cordial greeting goes to the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians from the United States. I also thank the choirs, including those from Saint Joseph University and from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace!
I address a special greeting to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds.Next Sunday we shall be celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a favourable opportunity for rethinking our own belonging to Christ in the faith of the Church. Dear young people, may you rediscover every day the grace that comes from the Sacrament you have received. May you, dear sick people, draw from Baptism the strength to stand up to moments of suffering and hardship. And may you, dear newlyweds, be able to express the commitments of Baptism in your journey of family life. May the Lord bless all of you.
Paul VI Audience Hall16013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council states that the intimate truth of the whole Revelation of God shines forth for us “in Christ, who is himself both the mediator and the sum total of Revelation” (n. 2). The Old Testament tells us that after the Creation — in spite of original sin, in spite of man’s arrogance in wishing to put himself in his Creator’s place — God once again offers us the possibility of his friendship, especially through the Covenant with Abraham and the journey of a small people, the People of Israel. He did not choose this people with the criteria of earthly power but simply out of love. It was a choice that remains a mystery and reveals the style of God who calls some, not in order to exclude the others, but so that they may serve as a bridge that leads to him. A choice is always a choice for the other. In the history of the People of Israel we can retrace the stages of a long journey during which God made himself known, revealed himself, and entered history with words and actions. In order to do this he used mediators, such as Moses, the Prophets and the Judges, who communicated his will to the people, reminding them of the requirement of faithfulness to the Covenant and keeping alive their expectation of the complete and definitive fulfilment of the divine promises.
At Holy Christmas we contemplated the realization of these very promises: the Revelation of God reaching its culmination, its fullness. In Jesus of Nazareth God really visited his people, he visited humanity in a manner that surpassed every expectation: he sent his Only-Begotten Son: God himself became man. Jesus does not tell us something about God, he does not merely speak of the Father but is the Revelation of God, because he is God and thus reveals the face of God. In the Prologue to his Gospel St John wrote: “no one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (Jn 1,18).
I would like to dwell on the phrase: “reveals God’s face”. In this regard St John, in his Gospel, records for us a significant event that we have just heard. When he was approaching the Passion, Jesus reassured his disciples, asking them not to be afraid and to have faith; he then begins a conversation with them in which he talks about God the Father (cf. Jn 14,2-9). At a certain point the Apostle Philip asked Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied” (Jn 14,8). Philip was very practical and prosaic, he even said what we ourselves would like to say: “we want to see him, show us the Father”, he asks to “see” the Father, to see his face. Jesus’ answer is a reply not only to Philip but also to us and it ushers us into the heart of Christological faith; the Lord affirmed: “he who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14,9). These words sum up the newness of the New Testament, that newness which appeared in the Bethlehem Grotto: God can be seen, God has shown his face, he is visible in Jesus Christ.
The theme of the “quest for God’s face”, the desire to know this face, the desire to see God as he is, is clearly present throughout the Old Testament, to the extent that the Hebrew term panîm, which means “face”, recurs 400 times, and refers to God 100 times. One hundred times it refers to God: to the wish to see God’s face is expressed 100 times. Yet the Jewish religion absolutely forbids images, for God cannot be portrayed as, on the contrary, he was portrayed by the neighbouring peoples who worshipped idols; therefore with this prohibition of images the Old Testament seems totally to exclude any “seeing” from worship and from devotion. Yet what did seeking God’s face mean to the devout Israelite, who knew that there could be no depiction of it? The question is important: there was a wish on the one hand to say that God cannot be reduced to an object, like an image that can be held in the hand, nor can anything be put in God’s place; on the other, it was affirmed that God has a face — meaning he is a “you” who can enter into a relationship — and who has not withdrawn into his heavenly dwelling place, looking down at humanity from on high. God is certainly above all things, but he addresses us, he listens to us, he sees us, he speaks to us, he makes a covenant, he is capable of love. The history of salvation is the history of God with humanity, it is the history of this relationship of God who gradually reveals himself to man, who makes himself, his face, known.
At the very beginning of the year, on 1 January, we heard in the liturgy the most beautiful prayer of blessing upon the people: “May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace (Nb 6,24-26). The splendour of the divine face is the source of life, it is what makes it possible to see reality; the light of his face is guidance for life. In the Old Testament there is a figure with whom the theme of “the face of God” is connected in a special way: Moses. The man whom God chose to set his people free from slavery in Egypt, giving him the Law of the Covenant and leading him to the Promised Land. Well, in Chapter 33 of the Book of Exodus it says that Moses had a close and confidential relationship with God: “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (v. 11). By virtue of this trust, Moses was able to ask God: “show me your glory”, and God’s response was clear: “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name”…. But he said “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.… There is a place by me.... You shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen” (vv. 18-23). Thus on the one hand there was the face-to-face conversation as between friends, but on the other, the impossibility in this life of seeing the face of God which remained hidden; sight is restricted. The Fathers said that these words, “you shall see my back”, meant you can only follow Christ and in following him you see the mystery of God from behind; God can be followed by seeing his back.
Something completely new happened, however, with the Incarnation. The search for God’s face was given an unimaginable turning-point, because this time this face could be seen: it is the face of Jesus, of the Son of God who became man. In him the process of the Revelation of God, which began with Abraham’s call, finds fulfilment in the One who is the fullness of this Revelation, because he is the Son of God, he is both “the mediator and the sum total of Revelation” (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum DV 2), the content of Revelation and the Revealer coincide in him. Jesus shows us God’s face and makes God’s name known to us. In the Priestly Prayer at the Last Supper he says to the Father: “I have manifested your name to the men... I made known to them your name” (cf. Jn 17,6 Jn 6,26). The phrase: “name of God”, means God as the One who is present among men and women. God had revealed his name to Moses by the burning bush, that is, he had made it possible to call on him, had given a tangible sign of his “being” among human beings. All this found fulfilment and completion in Jesus: he inaugurated God’s presence in history in a new way, because whoever sees him, sees the Father, as he said to Philip (cf. Jn 14,9). Christianity, St Bernard said, is the “religion of God’s word”; yet “not a written and mute word, but an incarnate and living” (Homilia Super Missus Est 4,11, pl 183, 86b). In the patristic and medieval tradition a special formula is used to express this reality: it says that Jesus is the Verbum abbreviatum (cf. Rm 9,28, with a reference to Is 10,23), the abbreviated Word, the short and essential Word of the Father who has told us all about him. In Jesus the whole Word is present.
In Jesus too the mediation between God and man attains fulfilment. In the Old Testament there is an array of figures who carried out this role, in particular Moses, the deliverer, the guide, the “mediator” of the Covenant, as he is defined in the New Testament (cf. Gal Ga 3,19 Ac 7,35 Jn 1,17). Jesus, true God and true man, is not simply one of the mediators between God and man but rather “the mediator” of the new and eternal Covenant (cf. He 8,6 He 9,15 He 12,24); “for there is one God”, Paul says, “and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tm 2,5 cf. Gal Ga 3,19-20). In him we see and encounter the Father; in him we can call upon God with the name of “Abba, Father”; in him we are given salvation.
The desire to know God truly, that is, to see God’s face, is innate in every human being, even in atheists. And perhaps we unconsciously have this wish simply to see who he is, what he is, who he is for us. However this desire is fulfilled in following Christ, in this way we see his back and, in the end, we see God too as a friend, in Christ’s face we see his face. The important thing is that we not only follow Christ in our needy moments or when we find a slot in our daily occupations, but in our life as such. The whole of our life must be oriented to meeting Jesus Christ, to loving him; and, in our life we must allocate a central place to loving our neighbour, that love which, in the light of the Crucified One, enables us to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, in the weak and in the suffering. This is only possible if the true face of Jesus has become familiar to us through listening to his word, in an inner conversation with him, in entering this word so that we truly meet him, and of course, in the Mystery of the Eucharist. In the Gospel of St Luke the passage about the two disciples of Emmaus recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread is important; prepared by the journey with him, by the invitation to stay with them that they had addressed to him and by the conversation that made their hearts burn within them, in the end they saw Jesus. For us too the Eucharist is the great school in which we learn to see God’s face, we enter into a close relationship with him; and at the same time we learn to turn our gaze to the final moment of history when he will satisfy us with the light of his face. On earth when we are walking towards this fullness, in the joyful expectation that the Kingdom of God will really be brought about. Thank you.
To special groups:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including the pilgrimage groups from Australia and the United States of America. My particular greeting goes to the pilgrims from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. I also welcome the deacons from Saint Paul Seminary and the many college and university students present. May the light of the Lord’s face shine upon all of you and fill you with his richest blessings of joy and peace!
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins the day after tomorrow, Friday, 18 January. This year its theme is: “What does God require of us?”, inspired by a passage of the Prophet Micah (cf. Mi Mi 6,6-8). I invite everyone to pray, asking God with insistence for the great gift of unity among all disciples of the Lord. May the inexhaustible power of the Holy Spirit encourage us to be sincerely committed to seeking unity so that we may all profess together that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. Many thanks.
Paul VI Audience Hall23013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Year of Faith, today I would like to begin to reflect with you on the “Creed”, that is, on the solemn profession of faith that accompanies our life as believers. The opening words of the “Creed” are: “I believe in God”. It is a fundamental affirmation, seemingly simple in its essence, but it opens on to the infinite world of the relationship with the Lord and with his mystery. Believing in God entails adherence to him, the acceptance of his word and joyful obedience to his revelation. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Faith is a personal act — the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself” (n. 166). The ability to say one believes in God is therefore both a gift — God reveals himself, he comes to meet us — and a commitment, it is divine grace and human responsibility in an experience of conversation with God who, out of love, “addresses men as his friends” (Dei Verbum DV 2) speaks to us, so that, in faith and with faith, we are able to enter into communion with him.
Where can we listen to God and to his word? Sacred Scripture, in which the word of God becomes audible to us and nourishes our life as “friends” of God, is fundamental. The entire Bible narrates God’s revelation of himself to humanity. The entire Bible speaks of faith and teaches us faith by narrating a history in which God carries out his plan of redemption and makes himself close to people, through an array of shining figures who believe in him and entrust themselves to him, to the fullness of revelation in the Lord Jesus.
Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews that we have just heard is very beautiful in this regard. Here faith is discussed and light is shed on the great biblical figures who lived it, becoming models for all believers. In the first verse the text says: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (He 11,1). The eyes of faith are thus able to see the invisible and the believer’s heart can hope beyond all hope, exactly like Abraham, of whom Paul says in the Letter to the Romans: “in hope he believed against hope” (Rm 4,18).
And it is on Abraham himself that I wish to reflect and to focus our attention, since he is the first great figure and reference for speaking of faith in God: Abraham the great patriarch, an exemplary model, father of all believers (cf. Rm 4,11-12). The Letter to the Hebrews presents it in this way: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents like Isaac and Jacob had, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has sound foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (He 11,8-10).
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews is referring here to the call of Abraham, recounted in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. What did God ask of this patriarch? He asked him to set out, leave his own country to journey to the land that he would show him: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gn 12,1).
How would we have responded to such an invitation? In fact it meant setting out with no directions, no knowledge of where God would lead him; it was a journey that demanded radical obedience and trust, to which faith alone gives access. Yet the dark unknown — to which Abraham had to go — was lit by the light of a promise; God added to his order a reassuring word that unfolded to Abraham a future, life in fullness: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great… and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (Gn 12,2).
In Sacred Scripture, the blessing is primarily linked to the gift of life that comes from God and is revealed first of all in fertility, in a life that is multiplied, passing from one generation to the next. And also linked to the blessing is the experience of the possession of a land, a permanent place in which to live and to develop in freedom and safety, fearing God and building a society of people faithful to the Covenant, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (cf. Ex Ex 19,6).
Therefore in the divine plan Abraham was destined to become “the father of a multitude of nations” (Gn 17,5 cf. Rm 4,17-18), and to enter a new land in which to dwell. Yet Sarah, his wife, was barren, she was unable to bear children; and the land to which God was leading him was far from the land of his birth, it was already inhabited by other peoples and would never really belong to him. The biblical narrator emphasizes this, although with great discretion. When Abraham arrives in the place of God’s promise: “at that time the Canaanites were in the land” (Gn 12,6). The land that God gave Abraham did not belong to him, he was a foreigner and would always remain such, with all that this implies: having no ambition to possess, ever aware of his poverty, seeing everything as a gift. This is also the spiritual condition of those who agree to follow the Lord, who decide to set out in response to his call, under the banner of his invisible but powerful blessing. And Abraham, “father of believers”, accepted this call in faith. St Paul wrote in the Letter to the Romans: “in hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, ‘so shall your descendants be’. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a 100 years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rm 4,18-21).
Faith led Abraham to take a paradoxical path. He was blessed but without the visible signs of blessing: he received the promise that he would become a great people, but with a life marked by the barrenness of his wife Sarah; he was led to a new homeland but had to live there as a foreigner; and the only land he was permitted to possess was a lot in which to bury Sarah (cf. Gn 23,1-20) Abraham was blessed because in faith he was able to discern the divine blessing, going beyond appearances and trusting in God’s presence even when God’s paths seemed mysterious to him.
What does this mean to us? When we affirm “I believe in God”, we are saying, like Abraham, “I trust in you, I entrust myself to you, O Lord”, but not as to Someone to turn to solely in times of difficulty or to whom to devote a few moments of the day or week. Saying “I believe in God” means founding my life on him, letting his Word guide it every day, in practical decisions, without fear of losing some part of myself. When, in the Rite of Baptism, the question is asked three times: “Do you believe?” — in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit — the holy Catholic Church and the other truths of the faith, the triple response is in the singular: “I do”, because it is my own life that with the gift of faith must be given a turning point, it is my life that must change, that must be converted. Every time we take part in a Baptism we should ask ourselves how we ourselves live daily the great gift of faith.
Abraham the believer teaches us faith and, as a stranger on this earth, points out to us the true homeland. Faith makes us pilgrims on earth, integrated into the world and into history, but bound for the heavenly homeland. Believing in God thus makes us harbingers of values that often do not coincide with the fashion and opinion of the moment. It requires us to adopt criteria and assume forms of conduct that are not part of the common mindset. Christians must not be afraid to go “against the current” in order to live their faith, resisting the temptation to “conform”. In many of our societies God has become the “great absent One” and many idols have supplanted him, multiform idols, especially possession and the autonomous “I”. And even the major and positive breakthroughs of science and technology have instilled in people an illusion of omnipotence and self-sufficiency, and an increasing egotism which has created many imbalances in interpersonal relations and social behaviour.
Nevertheless the thirst for God (cf. Ps 63:1-2) has not been quenched and the Gospel message continues to resonate in the words and deeds of numerous men and women of faith. Abraham, the father of believers, continues to be a father of many children who agree to walk in his footsteps and set out in obedience to the divine call, trusting in the benevolent presence of the Lord and receiving his blessing in order to become themselves a blessing for all. It is the blessed world of faith to which we are all called, in order to walk fearlessly, following the Lord Jesus Christ. And at times it is a difficult journey that also undergoes trial and death, but that opens to life in a radical transformation of reality that only the eyes of faith can perceive and enjoy to the full.
Affirming “I believe in God” impels us, therefore, to set out, to come out of ourselves, exactly as Abraham did, to bring to the daily situation in which we live the certainty that comes to us from faith: namely, the certainty of God’s presence in history today too; a presence that brings life and salvation and opens us to a future with him for a fullness of life that will know no end.
To special groups:
During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I offer a warm welcome to the faculty and students of the Bossey Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies, with cordial good wishes for their studies. I also greet the military chaplains from the United Kingdom recently returned from Afghanistan. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including the pilgrim and student groups from the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
I am following with concern the news from Indonesia, where a great flood has devastated Jakarta, the capital, claiming a heavy toll of victims, thousands of evacuees and causing extensive damage. I wish to express my closeness to the peoples hit by this natural disaster, as I assure them of my prayers, encouraging solidarity to ensure that no one lacks the necessary assistance.
I hope that in every community the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will encourage the commitment to ask the Lord insistently for the gift of unity and to live in fraternal communion.
Lastly, an affectionate thought for the young people, the sick and the newlyweds.Next Friday we shall be celebrating the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Dear young people, may the Apostle Paul be for you a model of life in integrity and radical faith. Dear sick people, offer up your sufferings for the cause of the unity of Christ’s Church. And you, dear newlyweds, draw inspiration from the life of the Apostle to the Gentiles, recognizing the primacy of God and his love for your family life. Thanks and best wishes to you all.
Paul VI Audience Hall
Audiences 2005-2013 9013