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"Just a little longer and persuade me to become a Christian!" (Acts 26, 28). Paul prisoner before king Agrippa

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Acts of the Apostles (18)
Paul VI Audience Hall, General Audience, Wednesday 11 December 2019 - also in Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
In the Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Gospel’s journey throughout the world continues and Saint Paul’s witness becomes increasingly marked by the seal of suffering. However, this is something that grows over time in Paul’s life. Paul is not only an evangelizer filled with ardour, the fearless missionary among the Gentiles who gives life to the new Christian communities, but also the suffering witness of the Risen One (cf. Acts 9: 15-16).

The Apostle’s arrival to Jerusalem, described in Chapter 21 of the Acts, unleashes fierce hatred against him. They reproach him: “But he was a persecutor! Do not trust him!”. As it was for Jesus, Jerusalem is a hostile city to him too. Having gone to the Temple, he is recognized, led outside to be lynched and saved in extremis by Roman soldiers. He is accused of teaching against the Law and the Temple, is arrested and thus begins his pilgrimage as a prisoner, first before the Sanhedrin, then before the Roman Governor in Caesarea, and finally before King Agrippa. Luke highlights the similarities between Paul and Jesus: both despised by their adversaries, publicly accused and recognised as innocent by the empire’s authorities. And thus, Paul becomes associated with the passion of his Teacher and his passion becomes a living Gospel. I have come here from Saint Peter’s Basilica where I had my first audience this morning with Ukrainian pilgrims, from a diocese in the Ukraine. How persecuted these people have been; how much they have suffered for the Gospel! But they did not negotiate their faith. They are an example. In the world today, in Europe, many Christians are persecuted and give their life for their own faith, or they are persecuted with white gloves, that is, left aside, marginalized ... Martyrdom is the air in the life of Christians and Christian communities. There will always be martyrs among us. This is the sign that we are on Jesus’ path. It is the Lord’s Blessing that there be among the People of God, someone who can offer this witness of martyrdom.

Paul is called to defend himself from the accusations and, in the end, in the presence of King Agrippa II, his apologia turns into an effective proclamation of faith (Acts 26: 1-23).

Paul then tells of his own conversion: the Risen Christ had made him a Christian and entrusted him with the mission among the people: “that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith” in Christ (v. 18). Paul had accepted this responsibility and had done nothing but reveal that the prophets and Moses had foretold what he was now announcing: that “Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles” (v. 23). Paul’s passionate witness touches the heart of King Agrippa who is only missing the definitive step. And the king says: “In a short time you think to make me a Christian” (v. 28). Paul is declared innocent but he cannot be released because he has appealed to Caesar. Thus continues the unstoppable journey of the Word of God towards Rome. Paul, in chains, will end up here in Rome.

From this moment onwards, Paul’s figure becomes that of a prisoner whose chains mark his fidelity to the Gospel and the witness made to the Risen One.

The chains are certainly a humiliating trial for the Apostle who appears before the world as a “criminal” (2 Tim 2:9). However, his love for Christ is so strong that these chains too are read through the eyes of faith, a faith which for Paul “is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world” but rather “the impact of God's love in his heart ... love for Jesus Christ” (Benedict XVI, Homily for the opening of the Pauline year, 28 June 2008).

Dear brothers and sisters, Paul teaches us to have perseverance during trials and the ability to read everything through the eyes of faith. Let us ask the Lord today for the Apostle’s intercession, to revive our faith and help us to be faithful to the end, to our vocation as Christians, disciples of the Lord, missionaries."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les jeunes venus de France. Paul nous enseigne la persévérance dans l’épreuve et la capacité de les lire avec les yeux de la foi. Demandons au Seigneur, en ce temps de l’Avent, de raviver en nous cette foi au Christ qui vient nous sauver, afin de nous aider à être toujours fidèles à notre vocation de disciples missionnaires. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare i giovani della Francia. Paolo ci insegna la perseveranza nella prova e la capacità di leggerla con gli occhi della fede. Chiediamo al Signore, in questo tempo di Avvento, di ravvivare in noi la fede in Cristo che viene per salvarci e per aiutarci ad essere sempre fedeli alla nostra vocazione. Dio vi benedica!]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. I pray that each of you, and your families, may experience a blessed Advent, in preparation for the coming of the newborn Saviour at Christmas. May God bless you!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente i gruppi provenienti dagli Stati Uniti d’America. A ciascuno di voi e alle vostre famiglie giunga l’augurio di un fecondo cammino di Avvento, per arrivare a Natale ad abbracciare nel Bambino il Salvatore del mondo. Dio vi benedica!]

Ein herzliches Willkommen den Pilgern deutscher Sprache. Fassen wir mit der Hilfe des Heiligen Geistes Mut, um allen den Herrn zu verkünden, der kommt, um uns von den Fesseln unserer Sünden zu befreien.

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca. Con l’aiuto dello Spirito Santo prendiamo coraggio ad annunciare a tutti il Signore, che viene per liberarci dalle catene dei nostri peccati.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y de Latinoamérica. Pidamos a Dios nuestro Padre que nos conceda perseverar en los momentos de prueba y que nos dé también la capacidad de leer todos los acontecimientos de nuestra vida con los ojos de la fe, para mantenernos fieles en nuestra vocación de discípulos misioneros. Que Dios los bendiga.

Saúdo de coração os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os fiéis brasileiros do Instituto Dique de Santos. Queridos amigos, não vos esqueçais que todo o batizado está chamado a ser evangelizador. O Espírito Santo tornar-vos-á capazes de viver e testemunhar a vossa fé e iluminará o coração das pessoas que encontrardes. Deixai-vos guiar por Ele, sem medo daquilo que vos peça ou aonde vos mande. Nossa Senhora acompanhe e proteja a vós todos e aos vossos entes queridos!

[Saluto di cuore i pellegrini di lingua portoghese, in particolare i fedeli brasiliani dell’Istituto Dique di Santos. Cari amici, non dimenticate che ogni battezzato è chiamato ad essere evangelizzatore. Lo Spirito Santo vi renderà capaci di vivere e testimoniare la vostra fede e illuminerà il cuore delle persone che incontrerete. Lasciatevi guidare da Lui, senza paura di cosa vi chieda e dove vi mandi. La Madonna accompagni e protegga voi tutti e i vostri cari!]

أرحبُ بالحاضرينَ الناطقينَ باللغة العربية، وخاصةً القادمينَ من العراق، ومن لبنان، ومن سوريا، ومن الشرق الأوسط. أدعوكم ألّا تخافوا، وأن تحافظوا على إيمانكم في وجه كلّ المحن، وأن تتحلّوا بالشَّجاعة من أجل المسيح، واثقين بأنَّ لا شدّة ولا ضيق ولا اضطهاد يفصلنا عن محبته. ليُبارِكَكم الرّبُّ جميعًا ويَحرسَكُم دائِمًا مِن الشِّرّيرِ!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dall’Iraq, dal Libano, dalla Siria e dal Medio Oriente. Vi invito a non avere paura, a mantenere la vostra fede di fronte a tutte le prove e a essere audaci per Cristo, certi che né tribolazione, né angoscia, né persecuzione potrebbero separarci dal Suo amore. Il Signore vi benedica tutti e vi protegga ‎sempre dal‎ maligno‎‎‎‏!]

Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Wczoraj obchodziliśmy wspomnienie Matki Bożej Loretańskiej, a w niedzielę rozpoczęliśmy Rok Jubileuszowy poświęcony Jej, jako patronce lotników i podróżujących samolotami. Życzę wam wszystkim byście uczyli się patrzeć na życie z wysoka, z perspektywy nieba, byście widzieli rzeczy oczami Boga, przez pryzmat Ewangelii. Niech Maryja opiekuje się wami i was prowadzi. Z serca wam błogosławię.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini polacchi. Ieri abbiamo celebrato la memoria della Beata Vergine Maria di Loreto e domenica scorsa abbiamo iniziato l’Anno Giubilare a Lei dedicato, come patrona dei piloti e di coloro che viaggiano in aereo. Auguro a tutti voi di imparare a guardare la vita dall’alto, dalla prospettiva del cielo, vedere le cose con gli occhi di Dio, attraverso il prisma del Vangelo. Che Maria abbia cura di voi e vi guidi. Vi benedico di cuore.]

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto le Missionarie della Carità; e i gruppi parrocchiali, specialmente quelli di Mendicino e di Faro-Fiumicino. Saluto inoltre il personale della Questura di Crotone; il Comitato Feste di Mesagne; le delegazioni dei Comuni di Introd e di Bolsena; il gruppo di professionisti e dottori in optometria; e l’Associazione Amici della Beata Pellesi, di San Michele dei Mucchietti-Sassuolo. Saluto infine i giovani, gli anziani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli. Venerdì prossimo ricorre la memoria di Santa Lucia, Vergine e Martire. Auguro a tutti voi che la luce del Bambino Gesù, ormai all’orizzonte, invada con la sua benedizione la vostra vita.