Audiences 2005-2013 11008

Wednesday, 1st October 2008 - Saint Paul (6): The "Council" of Jerusalem and the Incident in Antioch.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Paul's relationship with the Twelve was always one of respect and veneration that did not fail when he defended the truth of the Gospel, which is nothing if not Jesus Christ, the Lord. Let us reflect today on two episodes that show the veneration and at the same time the freedom with which the Apostle addresses Cephas and the other Apostles: the so-called "Council" of Jerusalem and the incident in Antioch, Syria, mentioned in the Letter to the Galatians (cf.
Ga 2,1-10 Ga 2,11-14).

In the Church, every Council and Synod is an "event of the Spirit" which considers the petitions of all the People of God as it takes place. This was experienced first-hand by all those who received the gift of participating in the Second Vatican Council. For this reason, St Luke, in telling us about the Church's First Council, held in Jerusalem, introduces the Letter which the Apostles sent on that occasion to the Christian communities in the diaspora: "It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Ac 15,28). The Spirit, who works in the whole Church, takes the Apostles by the hand, leading them on new roads to implement his plans; he is the principal artisan who builds the Church.

And the Assembly of Jerusalem also took place at a time of no small tension in the primitive community. It was a matter of settling the question of whether or not circumcision was compulsory for the Gentiles who were adhering to Jesus Christ, the Lord, or whether it was lawful for them not to be bound by the Mosaic law, that is, the observance of the norms required in order to be upright, law-abiding people, and especially, not to be bound by those norms that concerned religious purification, clean and unclean foods and the Sabbath. Paul also refers to the Assembly of Jerusalem in Ga 2,1-10, 14 years after his encounter with the Risen One at Damascus - we are in the second half of the 40s A.D. - Paul set out with Barnabas from Antioch in Syria, taking with him Titus, his faithful collaborator who, although he was a Greek, had not been obliged to be circumcised in order to join the Church. On that occasion Paul explained to the Twelve, whom he describes as those who were "of repute", his Gospel of freedom from the Law (cf. Gal Ga 2,6). In the light of the encounter with the Risen Christ, Paul realized that as soon as they adhered to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gentiles no longer needed as a hallmark of justice either circumcision or the rules that governed food and the Sabbath: Christ is our justice and all things that conform to him are "just". No other signs are necessary in order to be just. In the Letter to the Galatians, St Paul tells in a few lines how the assembly went. He says enthusiastically that the Gospel of freedom from the Law was approved by James, Cephas and John, "the pillars", who offered him and Barnabas the right hand of ecclesial communion in Christ (cf. Ga 2,9). Since, as we have noted, for Luke the Council of Jerusalem expresses the action of the Holy Spirit, for Paul it represents the crucial recognition of freedom shared among all who participate in it: a freedom from the obligations that derive from circumcision and from the Law; that freedom for which "Christ has set us free" so that we might stand fast and not submit again to a yoke of slavery (cf. Gal Ga 5,1). The two accounts of Paul and Luke of the Assembly of Jerusalem have in common the liberating action of the Spirit, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom", Paul was to say in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (cf. 2Co 3,17).

However, as very clearly appears in St Paul's Letters, Christian freedom is never identified with libertinage or with the will to do as one pleases; it is actuated in conformity to Christ and hence in authentic service to the brethren and above all to the neediest. For this reason Paul's account of the Assembly ends by recalling the Apostles' recommendation to him: "only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do" (Ga 2,10). Every Council is born from the Church and returns to the Church: in this case it returns with an attention for the poor who are primarily of the Church of Jerusalem, as seen in various annotations in Paul's Letters. In his concern for the poor, to which he testifies in particular in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (cf. 8-9), and in the final part of his Letter to the Romans (cf. Rm Rm 15), Paul demonstrates his fidelity to the decisions made at the Assembly.

Perhaps we are no longer able to understand fully the meaning that Paul and his communities attributed to the collection for the poor of Jerusalem. It was a completely new initiative in the area of religious activities: it was not obligatory, but free and spontaneous; all the Churches that were founded by Paul in the West took part. The collection expressed the community's debt to the Mother Church of Palestine, from which they had received the ineffable gift of the Gospel. The value that Paul attributes to this gesture of sharing is so great that he seldom calls it merely a "collection". Rather, for him it is "service", "blessing", "gift", "grace", even "liturgy" (cf. 2Co 9).
Particularly surprising is the latter term which gives a value that is even religious to a collection of money: on the one hand it is a liturgical act or "service" offered by every community to God and on the other, it is a loving action made for people. Love for the poor and the divine liturgy go hand in hand, love for the poor is liturgy. The two horizons are present in every liturgy that is celebrated and experienced in the Church which, by her nature, is opposed to any separation between worship and life, between faith and works, between prayer and charity for the brethren. Thus, the Council of Jerusalem came into being to settle the question of how to treat Gentiles who came to the faith, opting for freedom from circumcision and from the observances imposed by the Law, and it was settled by the ecclesial and pastoral need that is centred on faith in Jesus Christ and love for the poor of Jerusalem and the whole Church.

The second episode is the well known incident in Antioch, Syria, that attests to the inner freedom Paul enjoyed: how should one behave when eating with believers of both Jewish and Gentile origin?
Here the other epicentre of Mosaic observance emerges: the distinction between clean and unclean foods which deeply separated practising Jews from Gentiles. At the outset Cephas, Peter, shared meals with both; but with the arrival of certain Christians associated with James, "the Lord's brother" (Ga 1,19), Peter began to avoid contact with Gentiles at table in order not to shock those who were continuing to observe the laws governing the cleanliness of food and his decision was shared by Barnabas. This decision profoundly divided the Christians who had come from circumcision and the Christians who came from paganism. This behaviour, that was a real threat to the unity and freedom of the Church, provoked a passionate reaction in Paul who even accused Peter and the others of hypocrisy: "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" (Ga 2,14). In fact, the thought of Paul on the one hand, and of Peter and Barnabas on the other, were different: for the latter the separation from the Gentiles was a way to safeguard and not to shock believers who came from Judaism; on the contrary, for Paul it constituted the danger of a misunderstanding of the universal salvation in Christ, offered both to Gentiles and Jews. If justification is only achieved by virtue of faith in Christ, of conformity with him, regardless of any effect of the Law, what is the point of continuing to observe the cleanliness of foods at shared meals? In all likelihood the approaches of Peter and Paul were different: the former did not want to lose the Jews who had adhered to the Gospel, and the latter did not want to diminish the saving value of Christ's death for all believers.

It is strange to say but in writing to the Christians of Rome a few years later (in about the middle of the 50s a.D.), Paul was to find himself facing a similar situation and asked the strong not to eat unclean foods in order not to lose or scandalize the weak: "it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble" (Rm 14,21). The incident at Antioch thus proved to be as much of a lesson for Peter as it was for Paul. Only sincere dialogue, open to the truth of the Gospel, could guide the Church on her journey: "For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rm 14,17). It is a lesson that we too must learn: with the different charisms entrusted to Peter and to Paul, let us all allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, seeking to live in the freedom that is guided by faith in Christ and expressed in service to the brethren. It is essential to be conformed ever more closely to Christ. In this way one becomes really free, in this way the Law's deepest core is expressed within us: love for God and neighbour. Let us pray the Lord that he will teach us to share his sentiments, to learn from him true freedom and the evangelical love that embraces every human being.

To special groups

I offer a warm welcome to the new students of the Pontifical Irish College. May your priestly formation in the Eternal City prepare you to be generous and faithful servants of God's People in your native land. I also greet the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary on the occasion of their General Chapter. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Ireland, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and the United States, I invoke God's abundant Blessings.

My thoughts go lastly to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Today we are commemorating St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a young cloistered nun of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church and Patroness of missions. May her evangelical witness sustain you, dear young people, in your commitment of daily faithfulness to Christ; may it encourage you, dear sick people, to follow Jesus on the path of trial and suffering; may it help you, dear newlyweds, to make your family the place of growth in love for God and for your brothers and sisters.

St. Peter's Square

Wednesday, 8 October 2008 - Saint Paul (7): The Relationship with the Historical Jesus.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the last Catecheses on St Paul, I spoke of his encounter with the Risen Christ that profoundly changed his life and then of his relationship with the Twelve Apostles called by Jesus - especially his relationship with James, Cephas and John - and of his relationship with the Church in Jerusalem.
The question remains as to what St Paul knew about the earthly Jesus, about his life, his teachings, his Passion. Before entering into this topic, it might be useful to bear in mind that St Paul himself distinguishes between two ways of knowing Jesus, and more generally, two ways of knowing a person. He writes in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: "from now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer" (
2Co 5,16). Knowing "from a human point of view", in the manner of the flesh, means knowing solely in an external way, by means of external criteria: one may have seen a person various times and hence be familiar with his features and various characteristics of his behaviour: how he speaks, how he moves, etc. Although one may know someone in this way, nevertheless one does not really know him, one does not know the essence of the person. Only with the heart does one truly know a person. Indeed, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were externally acquainted with Jesus, they learned his teaching and knew many details about him but they did not know him in his truth. There is a similar distinction in one of Jesus' sayings. After the Transfiguration he asked the Apostles: "who do men say that the Son of man is?", and: "who do you say that I am?". The people know him, but superficially; they know various things about him, but they do not really know him. On the other hand, the Twelve, thanks to the friendship that calls the heart into question, have at least understood in substance and begun to discover who Jesus is. This different manner of knowing still exists today: there are learned people who know many details about Jesus and simple people who have no knowledge of these details but have known him in his truth: "Heart speaks to heart". And Paul wants to say that to know Jesus essentially in this way, with the heart, is to know the person essentially in his truth; and then, a little later, to get to know him better.

Having said this the question still remains: what did St Paul know about Jesus' practical life, his words, his Passion and his miracles? It seems certain that he did not meet him during his earthly life.
Through the Apostles and the nascent Church Paul certainly must have come to know the details of Jesus' earthly life. In his Letters, we may find three forms of reference to the pre-Paschal Jesus. In the first place, there are explicit and direct references. Paul speaks of the Jesus' Davidic genealogy (cf. Rm Rm 1,3), he knows of the existence of his "brethren" or kin (1Co 9,5 Ga 1,19), he knows the sequence of events of the Last Supper (cf. 1Co 11,23) and he knows other things that Jesus said, for example on the indissolubility of marriage (cf. 1Co 7,10 with Mc 10,11-12), on the need for those who proclaim the Gospel to be supported by the community since the labourer deserves his wages (cf. 1Co 9,14, with Lc 10,7). Paul knows the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper (cf. 1Co 11,24-25, with Lc 22,19-20), and also knows Jesus' Cross. These are direct references to words and events of Jesus' life.

In the second place, we can glimpse in a few sentences of the Pauline Letters various allusions to the tradition attested to in the Synoptic Gospels. For example, the words we read in the First Letter to the Thessalonians which say that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1Th 5,2), could not be explained with a reference to the Old Testament prophesies, since the comparison with the nocturnal thief is only found in the Gospels of Matthew and of Luke, hence it is indeed taken from the Synoptic tradition. Thus, when we read: "God chose what is foolish in the world..." (1Co 1,27-28), one hears the faithful echo of Jesus' teaching on the simple and the poor (cf. Mt 5,3 Mt 11,25 Mt 19,30). Then there are the words that Jesus spoke at the messianic jubilee: "I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to babes". Paul knows - from his missionary experience - how true these words are, that is, that the hearts of the simple are open to knowledge of Jesus. Even the reference to Jesus' obedience "unto death", which we read in Philippians Ph 2,8, can only recall the earthly Jesus' unreserved readiness to do his Father's will (cf. Mc 3,35 Jn 4,34). Paul is thus acquainted with Jesus' Passion, his Cross, the way in which he lived the last moments of his life. The Cross of Jesus and the tradition concerning this event of the Cross lies at the heart of the Pauline kerygma. Another pillar of Jesus' life known to St Paul is the "Sermon on the Mount", from which he cited certain elements almost literally when writing to the Romans: "love one another.... Bless those who persecute you.... Live in harmony with one another... overcome evil with good...". Therefore in his Letters the Sermon on the Mount is faithfully reflected (cf. Mt 5-7).

Lastly, it is possible to individuate a third manner in which Jesus' words are present in St Paul's Letters: it is when he brings about a form of transposition of the pre-Paschal tradition to the situation after Easter. A typical case is the theme of the Kingdom of God. It was certainly at the heart of the historical Jesus' preaching (cf. Mt 3,2 Mc 1,15 Lc 4,43). It is possible to note in Paul a transposition of this subject because, after the Resurrection, it is obvious that Jesus in person, the Risen One, is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom therefore arrives where Jesus is arriving. Thus the theme of the Kingdom of God, in which Jesus' mystery was anticipated, is transformed into Christology. Yet, the same attitudes that Jesus requested for entering the Kingdom of God apply precisely to Paul with regard to justification through faith: both entry into the Kingdom and justification demand an approach of deep humility and openness, free from presumptions, in order to accept God's grace. For example, the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (cf. Lc 18,9-14), imparts a teaching that is found exactly as it is in Paul, when he insists on the proper exclusion of any boasting to God. Even Jesus' sentences on publicans and prostitutes, who were more willing to accept the Gospel than the Pharisees (cf. Mt 21,31) and his decision to share meals with them (cf. Mt 9,10-13 Lc 15,1-2) are fully confirmed in Paul's teaching on God's merciful love for sinners (cf. Rm Rm 5,8-10 and also Ep 2,3-5). Thus the theme of the Kingdom of God is reproposed in a new form, but always in full fidelity to the tradition of the historical Jesus.

Another example of the faithful transformation of the doctrinal nucleus imparted by Jesus is found in the "titles" he uses. Before Easter he described himself as the Son of man; after Easter it becomes obvious that the Son of man is also the Son of God. Therefore Paul's favourite title to describe Jesus is Kýrios, "Lord" (cf. Phil Ph 2,9-11), which suggests Jesus' divinity. The Lord Jesus, with this title, appears in the full light of the Resurrection. On the Mount of Olives, at the moment of Jesus' extreme anguish, (cf. Mc 14,36), the disciples, before falling asleep, had heard him talking to the Father and calling him "Abbà Father". This is a very familiar word equivalent to our "daddy", used only by children in talking to their father. Until that time it had been unthinkable for a Jew to use such a word in order to address God; but Jesus, being a true Son, at that moment of intimacy used this form and said: "Abba, Father". Surprisingly, in St Paul's Letters to the Romans and to the Galatians, this word "Abba", that expresses the exclusivity of Jesus' sonship, appears on the lips of the baptized (cf. Rm Rm 8,15 Ga 4,6) because they have received the "Spirit of the Son". They now carry this Spirit within them and can speak like Jesus and with Jesus as true children to their Father; they can say "Abba" because they have become sons in the Son.

And finally, I would like to mention the saving dimension of Jesus' death that we find in the Gospel saying, according to which: "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mc 10,45 Mt 20,28). A faithful reflection of these words of Jesus appears in the Pauline teaching on the death of Jesus as having been bought at a price (cf. 1Co 6,20), as redemption (cf. Rm Rm 3,24), as liberation (cf. Gal Ga 5,1), and as reconciliation (cf. Rm Rm 5,10 2Co 5,18-20). This is the centre of Pauline theology that is founded on these words of Jesus.

To conclude, St Paul did not think of Jesus in historical terms, as a person of the past. He certainly knew the great tradition of the life, words, death and Resurrection of Jesus, but does not treat all this as something from the past; he presents it as the reality of the living Jesus. For Paul, Jesus' words and actions do not belong to the historical period, to the past. Jesus is alive now, he speaks to us now and lives for us. This is the true way to know Jesus and to understand the tradition about him. We must also learn to know Jesus not from the human point of view, as a person of the past, but as our Lord and Brother, who is with us today and shows us how to live and how to die.

To special groups

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, and in a special way, diaconal candidates from the Pontifical North American College with their families: may the grace of Holy Orders enliven you to preach the Gospel of Christ with conviction and love! I also welcome pilgrims from the Diocese of Hamilton, members of Christ Teens Malaysia, ecumenical pilgrims from Norway, as well as visitors from Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia, Sweden, England, Scotland, Ireland, and The Netherlands. God bless you all!

I greet lastly the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear brothers and sisters, may the month of October, dedicated to the Holy Rosary, be a precious opportunity to appreciate this traditional Marian prayer. I urge you all to recite the Rosary every day, abandoning yourselves with trust in Mary's hands.

St. Peter's Square

Wednesday, 15 October 2008 - Saint Paul (8): Paul's Ecclesiological Dimension.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In last Wednesday's Catechesis I spoke of Paul's relationship with the pre-Paschal Jesus in his earthly life. The question was: "What did Paul know about Jesus' life, his words, his Passion?". Today I would like to speak about St Paul's teaching on the Church. We must start by noting that this word "Chiesa" in Italian as in French "Église" and in Spanish "Iglesia" comes from the Greek "ekklesia". It comes from the Old Testament and means the assembly of the People of Israel, convoked by God. It particularly means the exemplary assembly at the foot of Mount Sinai. This word now means the new community of believers in Christ who feel that they are God's assembly, the new convocation of all the peoples by God and before him. The term ekklesia comes for the first time from the pen of Paul, the first author of a Christian text. It makes its first appearance in the incipit of his First Letter to the Thessalonians, where Paul textually addresses "the Church of the Thessalonians" (cf. also "the Church of the Laodiceans" in
Col 4,16). In other Letters he speaks of the Church of God which is at Corinth (1Co 1,2 2Co 1,1) and of the Churches of Galatia (Ga 1,2, etc.) particular Churches therefore but he also says he persecuted "the Church of God": not a specific local community, but "the Church of God". Thus we see that this word, "Church", has a multi-dimensional meaning: it indicates a part of God's assembly in a specific place (a city, a country, a house) but it also means the Church as a whole. And thus we see that "the Church of God" is not only a collection of various local Churches but that these various local Churches in turn make up one Church of God. All together they are "the Church of God" which precedes the individual local Churches and is expressed or brought into being in them.

It is important to observe that the word "Church" almost always appears with the additional qualification "of God": she is not a human association, born from ideas or common interests, but a convocation of God. He has convoked her, thus, in all her manifestations she is one. The oneness of God creates the oneness of the Church in all the places in which she is found. Later, in the Letter to the Ephesians, Paul richly elaborated the concept of the Church's oneness, in continuity with the concept of the People of God, Israel, considered by the prophets as "God's bride" called to live in a spousal relationship with him. Paul presents the one Church of God as "Christ's bride" in love, one body and one spirit with Christ himself. It is well known that as a young man Paul was a fierce adversary of the new movement constituted by the Church of Christ. He was opposed to this new movement because he saw it as a threat to fidelity to the tradition of the People of God, inspired by faith in the one God. This fidelity was expressed above all in circumcision, in the observance of the rules of religious purity, abstention from certain foods and respect for the Sabbath. The Israelites had paid for this fidelity with the blood of martyrs in the period of the Maccabees, when the Hellenistic regime wanted to force all peoples to conform to the one Hellenistic culture. Many Israelites spilled their blood to defend the proper vocation of Israel. The martyrs paid with their lives for the identity of their people who expressed themselves through these elements. After his encounter with the Risen Christ, Paul understood that Christians were not traitors; on the contrary, in the new situation the God of Israel, through Christ, had extended his call to all the peoples, becoming the God of all peoples. In this way fidelity to the one God was achieved. Distinctive signs constituted by special rules and observances were no longer necessary since all were called, in their variety, to belong to the one People of God in the "Church of God" in Christ.

One thing was immediately clear to Paul in his new situation: the fundamental, foundational value of Christ and of the "word" that he was proclaiming. Paul knew not only that one does not become Christian by coercion but also that in the internal configuration of the new community the institutional element was inevitably linked to the living "word", to the proclamation of the living Christ through whom God opens himself to all peoples and unites them in one People of God. It is symptomatic that in the Acts of the Apostles Luke twice uses, also with regard to Paul, the phrase "to speak the word" (cf. Ac 4,29) evidently with the intention of giving the maximum emphasis to the crucial importance of the "word" of proclamation. In practice this word is constituted by the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ in which the Scriptures found fulfilment. The Paschal Mystery, which brought the Apostle to the turning point in his life on the road to Damascus, obviously lies at the heart of his preaching (1Co 2,2 1Co 15,14). This Mystery, proclaimed in the Word, is brought about in the Sacraments of Baptism and of the Eucharist and then becomes reality in Christian love. Paul's only goal in his work of evangelization is to establish the community of believers in Christ. This idea is inherent in the actual etymology of the term ekklesia, which Paul, and with him all Christendom, preferred to the term "synagogue": not only because the former is originally more "secular" (deriving from the Greek practice of the political assembly which was not exactly religious), but also because it directly involves the more theological idea of a call ab extra, and is not, therefore, a mere gathering; believers are called by God, who gathers them in a community, his Church.

Along these lines we can also understand the original concept of the Church exclusively Pauline as the "Body of Christ". In this regard it is necessary to bear in mind the two dimensions of this concept. One is sociological in character, according to which the body is made up of its elements and would not exist without them. This interpretation appears in the Letter to the Romans and in the First Letter to the Corinthians, in which Paul uses an image that already existed in Roman sociology: he says that a people is like a body with its different parts, each of which has its own function but all together, even its smallest and seemingly most insignificant parts are necessary if this body is to be able to live and carry out its functions. The Apostle appropriately observes that in the Church there are many vocations: prophets, apostles, teachers, simple people, all are called to practise charity every day, all are necessary in order to build the living unity of this spiritual organism. The other interpretation refers to the actual Body of Christ. Paul holds that the Church is not only an organism but really becomes the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, where we all receive his Body and really become his Body. Thus is brought about the spousal mystery that all become one body and one spirit in Christ. So it is that the reality goes far beyond any sociological image, expressing its real, profound essence, that is, the oneness of all the baptized in Christ, considered by the Apostle "one" in Christ, conformed to the Sacrament of his Body.

In saying this, Paul shows that he knows well and makes us all understand that the Church is not his and is not ours: the Church is the Body of Christ, it is a "Church of God", "God's field, God's building... God's temple" (1Co 3,9). This latter designation is particularly interesting because it attributes to a fabric of interpersonal relations a term that commonly served to mean a physical place, considered sacred. The relationship between church and temple therefore comes to assume two complementary dimensions: on the one hand the characteristic of separateness and purity that the sacred building deserved is applied to the ecclesial community, but on the other, the concept of a material space is also overcome, to transfer this quality to the reality of a living community of faith. If previously temples had been considered places of God's presence, it was now known and seen that God does not dwell in buildings made of stone but that the place of God's presence in the world is the living community of believers.

The description "People of God" would deserve a separate commentary. In Paul it is applied mainly to the People of the Old Testament and then to the Gentiles who were "the non-people" but also became People of God thanks to their insertion in Christ through the word and sacrament.
And finally, one last nuance. In his Letter to Timothy Paul describes the Church as the "household of God" (1Tm 3,15); and this is a truly original definition because it refers to the Church as a community structure in which warm, family-type interpersonal relations are lived. The Apostle helps us to understand ever more deeply the mystery of the Church in her different dimensions as an assembly of God in the world. This is the greatness of the Church and the greatness of our call; we are a temple of God in the world, a place in which God truly dwells, and at the same time we are a community, a family of God who is love. As a family and home of God, we must practise God's love in the world and thus, with the power that comes from faith, be a place and a sign of his presence. Let us pray the Lord to grant us to be increasingly his Church, his Body, the place where his love is present in this world of ours and in our history.

To special groups

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience including the members of the English and Welsh Bishops' Committee for Christian Unity and the representation of Government Officials from the Philippines. I also greet the Mill Hill Missionaries and school groups present from England and Scotland. May your visit to Rome strengthen your commitment to share God's word with others. Upon all of you, I invoke the Lord's Blessings of peace and joy.

Lastly, my thoughts go to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear friends, today we are celebrating the Feast of St Teresa of Avila. To you, dear young people, this great Saint witnesses that true love cannot be separated from the truth; she shows you, dear sick people, that the Cross of Christ is a mystery of redeeming love; for you, dear newlyweds, she is a model of faithfulness to God, who entrusts a special mission to each one.

St. Peter's Square

Audiences 2005-2013 11008