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Pope Francis at the general audience speaks about the "People of God" and appeals for an end to child labour
Pope Francis at the general audience on Wednesday in St. peter’s Square continued his catechesis on the Creed, focusing on the Church as the People of God. He said through faith and baptism we become a part of God’s people. In comments in Italian on the World Day Against Child Labour, the pope called for an end to what he called a ‘real form of slavery’.
Please find below Vatican Radio's full translation of his address.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today I would like to touch briefly on another of the terms with which the Second Vatican Council defined the Church, that of “People of God" (cf. Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen Gentium, 9; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 782). I shall do so with a few questions upon which we can all reflect.
1. What does it mean to be "People of God"? First of all, it means that God does not really belong to any people; for it is He who calls us, who summons us, who invites us to be part of his people, and this invitation is open to all, without distinction, because God’s mercy “desires all people to be saved "(1 Tim 2:4). Jesus does not tell the Apostles and us to form an exclusive group, an elite group. Jesus says: Go and make disciples of all nations (cf. Mt 28:19). St Paul says that within the people of God, in the Church, "there is neither Jew nor Gentile ... for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). I would like to say to those who feel far from God and the Church, to those who are fearful or indifferent, to those who think they can no longer change: the Lord is calling you too to be part of his people and he does it with great respect and love! He invites us to be a part of this people, the people of God
2. How do you become a member of this people? It is not through physical birth, but through a new birth. In the Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be born from above, of water and of spirit to enter the Kingdom of God (cf. John 3:3-5). It is through Baptism that we are introduced to this people, through faith in Christ, the gift of God which must be nurtured and tended to throughout our whole life. Let us ask ourselves: how can I grow in the faith that I received in my Baptism? How do tend to this faith that I have received and that the people of God has? How do I make it grow? And another question.
3. What is the law of the People of God? It is the law of love, love for God and love for our neighbor according to the new commandment that the Lord left us (cf. Jn 13:34). It is a love, however, that is not sterile sentimentality or something vague, it is recognizing God as the only Lord of life and, at the same time, accepting the other as a true brother, overcoming divisions, rivalry, misunderstandings, selfishness; the two things go together. We have still so far to go to be able to live concretely according to this new law, the law of the Holy Spirit working within us, the law of charity, of love! When we see in the many wars between Christians in the newspapers or on TV, how can the people of God understand this? Within the people of God there are so many wars! And in neighborhoods, in workplaces, so many wars due to envy, jealousy. Even within the same family, there are so many internal wars. We must ask the Lord to help us understand this law of love. How good, how nice it is to love each other as true brothers. How nice that is! Let's do something today: perhaps we all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps many of us are angry with others. But at least let’s say to the Lord: "Lord, I am angry with him or with her. I pray for him and for her. I pray to you". To pray for those with whom we are angry. It's a big step in this law of love. Let's do it today!
4. What mission does this people have? To bring to the world the hope and the salvation of God: to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to be friends of His; to be the yeast that ferments the dough, the salt that gives flavour and preserves from decay, the light that brightens. Just as I said, it is enough to open a newspaper, and we see that around us there is the presence of evil, the Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice: God is stronger! Do you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it in a loud voice: God is stronger! Do you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it all together. God is stronger! All of us! And you know why He is stronger? Because He is the Lord, the only Lord. God is stronger! Good! And I would like to add that reality which is sometimes dark and marked by evil can change, if we are the first to bring the light of the Gospel especially with our lives. If in a stadium, let’s think of the Olympic Stadium in Rome, or that of San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires, if on a dark night one person lights up a lamp, you can barely see it, but if each of over seventy thousand spectators switches on his own light, the whole Stadium lights up. Let's make our lives a light of Christ; and together we will bring the light of the Gospel to the whole world.
5. What is the goal of this people? Its end is the kingdom of God, which has been begun by God Himself on earth, and which is to be further extended until it is brought to perfection by Him at the end of time, when Christ, our life, shall appear (cf. Lumen Gentium, 9). The goal then is full communion with the Lord; it’s to enter into his divine life where we will live the joy of his love without measure. That full joy.
Dear brothers and sisters, to be Church, is to be God's people, according to the Father’s great plan of love, it means to be the yeast of God in this humanity of ours, it means to proclaim and to bring God's salvation into this world, which is often lost, in need of encouraging answers, answers that give hope, that give new vigour in the journey. May the Church be a place of mercy and of hope in God, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel. And to feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, encouraged, the Church’s doors must be open, so that all may come and that we can go out of those doors and proclaim the Gospel. Thank you so much.
Speaking in Italian at the end of his catechesis, the pope made an appeal for an end to child labour on the World Day Against Child Labour. Below is the English translation by Vatican Radio
Today the World Day Against Child Labour is being celebrated all over the world, with a reference in particular to the Exploitation of Children in domestic work: Listen, it is a deplorable phenomenon which is constantly increasing, especially in poor countries. There are millions of children, mostly girls, who are victims of this hidden form of exploitation that often involves abuse, mistreatment and discrimination. This is a real form of slavery.
It is my heartfelt hope that the international community will initiate still more effective measures in addressing this authentic plague.
All children must be able to play, study, pray and grow, in their families, this in a harmonic context, in love and serenity but these people instead of playing are slaves, and this is a plague. This is their right and our duty. A serene childhood allows children to look with confidence towards life and tomorrow. Woe to those who stifle them in their joyful enthusiasm of hope!
Here is the English summary of Pope Francis' catechesis at the general audience as read by a speaker:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, today we consider the Church as the People of God, called to new life in Christ. We become part of this people through God’s gift of faith and spiritual rebirth in the waters of Baptism. Our law is the twin commandment of love for God and neighbour. Our mission is to be a leaven of the hope born of God’s love in our world wounded by sin and evil. Amid the darkness that so frequently surrounds us, we are called to be so many points of light, illumining all reality and showing the way to a better future. God’s goodness is stronger than any evil! Our destination is the Kingdom of God which Christ inaugurated on earth and which will attain its fullness in the joy of heaven. This is what it means for the Church to be God’s People, an essential part of his loving plan for our human family. May the Church always be a place where everyone can encounter God’s mercy and feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.
I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Malta, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the United States. May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord and his Church. God bless you all!