Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The book of the Acts of the Apostles states that after a first violent persecution, the Christian community of Jerusalem, except for the Apostles, spread to the surrounding areas. Philip, one of the deacons, arrived in a city of Samaria. There he preached the Risen Christ, and his proclamation was supported by numerous healings, so that the outcome of the episode was very positive: “there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).
We are repeatedly impressed in a profound way by this expression, which in essence communicates a sense of hope, as if saying: It is possible! It is possible for humanity to know true joy, because wherever the Gospel comes, life flourishes, just as arid ground, irrigated by rain, immediately turns back to green.
With the strength of the Holy Spirit, Philip and the other disciples accomplished in the villages of Palestine what Jesus had done: They preached the Good News and worked miraculous signs. It was the Lord who acted through them. As Jesus proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, so the disciples proclaimed the Risen Jesus, professing that he is the Christ, the Son of God, baptizing in his name and driving out every illness of body and spirit.
“There was much joy in that city”. Reading this passage, one thinks spontaneously of the healing power of the Gospel, which throughout the centuries has “watered” so many populations, like a beneficent river. Several great men and women saints brought hope and peace to entire cities — we think of Charles Borromeo in Milan at the time of the plague, of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and of so many missionaries, whose names are known by God, who have given their lives to bring the proclamation of Christ and make profound joy flower among men. While the powers of this world sought to conquer new territories for political and economic interests, Christ’s messengers went everywhere with the aim of bringing Christ to men and men to Christ, knowing that he alone can give true freedom and eternal life. Today too the Church’s vocation is evangelization: whether it be to populations which have not yet been “irrigated” by the living water of the Gospel, or to those that, though having ancient Christian roots, are in need of new nourishment to bear new fruit and rediscover the beauty and joy of the faith.
Dear friends, Bl. John Paul II was a great missionary, as an exhibition open now in Rome also documents. He re-launched the mission ad gentes and, at the same time, promoted the new evangelization. Let us entrust both to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. May Christ’s Mother accompany the proclamation of the Gospel always and everywhere, so that the places where men rediscover the joy of living as children of God will multiply and spread in the world.
After the Regina Caeli:
I address my greeting to all the Poles. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Primate of the Millennium. Invoking the gift of his Beatification, let us learn from him total abandonment to the Mother of God. May his trust, expressed in the words, “I have put everything in Mary”, be a particular example for us. We recall this at the end of the month of May which is dedicated in a particular way to Our Lady. I bless you from my heart.
I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims at today’s Regina Caeli, especially those from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In the Gospel today, our Lord declares: “I will not leave you orphans”, promising that the gift of the Holy Spirit will make us adopted children of God. Let us pray that we may be faithful to that gift and live fully the new life that Christ offers us. May God bless you all!
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