"Being sensitive to the many shipwrecked people of history who arrive exhausted on our shores, so that we too know how to welcome them with that brotherly love that comes from our encounter with Jesus".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A prayer for "the Lord to help the people of Australia in this difficult moment with that blaze. I am close to the people of Australia" concluded today's general audience, in which the Pope resumed the cycle of catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, in particular on Paul's journey by sea from Caesarea to Rome.
This also gave Francis occasion to invite prayers for us "to be sensitive to the many shipwrecked people of history who arrive exhausted on our shores, so that we too know how to welcome them with that brotherly love that comes from the encounter with Jesus".
“The navigation encounters unfavourable conditions right from the start. The journey becomes dangerous.” “The plan that guides Paul towards Rome saves not only the apostle, but also his travelling companions; and the shipwreck transforms from a situation of misfortune to a providential opportunity for the proclamation of the Gospel.”
“The shipwreck is followed by the landing on the island of Malta, whose inhabitants show a caring welcome. The Maltese are good, they are meek, they were already welcoming at that time. It rains and is cold, and they light a bonfire to provide the shipwrecked crew with some warmth and relief. Here, too, Paul, as a true disciple of Christ, places himself in service to feed the fire with some branches. During these operations he is bitten by a viper but does not suffer any damage: the people, looking at this, say; “But he must be a great wrongdoer if he escapes shipwreck and ends up being bitten by a viper!” They waited for the moment in which he dropped down dead, but does not suffer any damage and is even mistaken for a deity. In reality, this benefit comes from the Risen Lord Who assists him, according to the promise made before ascending to heaven and addressed to believers: “They will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover”. (Mk 16: 18). The story tells us that from that moment onwards there have been no more vipers in Malta: this is God’s blessing for the welcome given by this good people.”
“In fact, the stay in Malta becomes for Paul a propitious occasion to give “flesh” to the word he announces and to thus exercise a ministry of compassion in the healing of the sick. This is a law of the Gospel: when a believer experiences salvation he does not keep it for himself, but puts it into circulation. “Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 9). A Christian who has suffered can certainly become closer to those who suffer, as he knows what suffering is, and make his heart open and sensitive to solidarity with others.
Paul teaches us to live through trials by staying close to Christ, in order to develop the “conviction that God is able to act in every situation, even amid apparent setbacks” and the certainty “that all those who entrust themselves to God in love will bear good fruit” (ibid., 279).”
“Let us ask the Lord today to help us to live every trial sustained by the energy of faith; and to be sensitive to the many shipwrecked people in history who come to our shores exhausted, because we too know how to welcome them with that fraternal love which comes from the encounter with Jesus. This is what saves us from the frost of indifference and inhumanity.”
At the end of the audience, after his thoughts and solidarity expressed for Australia, ravaged by raging fires, and a performance by the Aqua circus, Francis asked the faithful to remember their date of Baptism. “I would like each of us to know the date of the baptism: surely we know the date of the birthday, the date of nd I would like each one of us to find out the date of baptism: we know the date of our birthday, the date of our birth; but how many of you know your date of baptism? Few... since it is not celebrated, it is forgotten. I will give you some homework to do at home: Ask your parents, grandparents, uncles, friends: “When was I baptized? When was I baptized?” And always carry that date of baptism in your heart to thank the Lord for the grace of baptism. Will you do that? ".