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15) Pilgrim towards the Kingdom

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Church (16th of 16)
General Audience, Wednesday 26 November 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.
Today’s weather is a bit unpleasant but you are all brave, my compliments! Let’s hope to be able to pray together today.

In presenting the Church to the men and women of our time, the Second Vatican Council kept well in mind a fundamental truth, one we should never forget: the Church is not a static reality, inert, an end in herself, but is on a continual journey through history, towards that ultimate and marvelous end that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the Church on earth is the seed and the beginning (cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, n. 5). When we turn to this horizon, we discover that our imagination falls short, hardly able to intuit the splendour of a mystery which surpasses our senses. And several questions spontaneously rise up in us: when will that final step happen? What will the new dimension which the Church enters be like? What will become of humanity then? And of Creation around us? But these questions are not new, the disciples had already asked Jesus about them at that time: “When will this come to pass? When will the Spirit triumph over creation, over creatures, over everything...”. These are human questions, time-old questions. And we too are asking these questions.

1. The Conciliar Constitution Gaudium et Spes, faced with these questions that forever resonate in the hearts of men and women, states: “We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away; but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart” (n. 39). This is the Church’s destination: it is, as the Bible says, the “new Jerusalem”, “Paradise”. More than a place, it is a “state” of soul in which our deepest hopes are fulfilled in superabundance and our being, as creatures and as children of God, reach their full maturity. We will finally be clothed in the joy, peace and love of God, completely, without any limit, and we will come face to face with Him! (cf. 1 Cor 13:12). It is beautiful to think of this, to think of Heaven. We will all be there together. It is beautiful, it gives strength to the soul.

2. In this perspective, it is good to grasp the kind of continuity and deep communion there is between the Church in Heaven and that which is still a pilgrim on earth. Those who already live in the sight of God can indeed sustain us and intercede for us, pray for us. On the other hand, we too are always invited to offer up good works, prayer and the Eucharist itself in order to alleviate the tribulation of souls still awaiting never-ending beatitude. Yes, because in the Christian perspective the distinction is not between who is dead and who is not, but between who is in Christ and who is not! This is the point of determination, what is truly decisive for our salvation and for our happiness.

3. At the same time, Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this marvellous plan cannot but involve everything that surrounds us and came from the heart and mind of God. The Apostle Paul says it explicitly, when he says that “Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Other texts utilize the image of a “new heaven” and a “new earth” (cf. 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1), in the sense that the whole universe will be renewed and will be freed once and for all from every trace of evil and from death itself. What lies ahead is the fulfillment of a transformation that in reality is already happening, beginning with the death and resurrection of Christ. Hence, it is the new creation; it is not, therefore, the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being, of truth and of beauty. This is the design that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, willed from eternity to realize and is realizing.

Dear friends, when we think of this magnificent reality awaiting us, we become aware of how marvellous a gift it is to belong to the Church which bears in writing the highest of vocations! So, let us ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to keep constant watch over our journey and to help us to be, as she is, a joyful sign of trust and of hope among our brothers and sisters."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française. Alors que s’achève l’année liturgique, je vous invite à méditer sur la stupéfiante réalité de la vie éternelle à laquelle nous sommes appelés, et à demander le secours de la Vierge Marie pour qu’elle nous aide à y parvenir. Je vous souhaite une sainte entrée dans le temps de l’Avent. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Kenya, Nigeria, Canada and the United States. May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord and his Church. May God bless you all!

Von Herzen grüße ich die deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher wie auch die Gruppe von Hörern des katholischen Radiosenders Katholieke Radio Omroep in den Niederlanden. Angesichts des göttlichen Heilsplans werden wir uns bewusst, welch wunderbares Geschenk es ist, zur Kirche zu gehören. Die heilige Gottesmutter Maria wache über uns auf unserem Pilgerweg und führe uns zu ihrem Sohn. Der Herr segne euch alle.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España, Argentina, México, así como a los venidos de otros países latinoamericanos. Conscientes del don maravilloso de pertenecer a la Iglesia, pidamos a la Virgen María, nuestra Madre del cielo, que nos acompañe siempre y nos ayude a ser, como ella, signo gozoso de esperanza para nuestros hermanos. Muchas gracias.

Com grande afecto, saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, com votos de que possais vós todos dar-vos sempre conta do dom maravilhoso que é pertencer à Igreja. Vele sobre o vosso caminho a Virgem Maria e vos ajude a ser sinal de confiança e esperança no meio dos vossos irmãos. Sobre vós e vossas famílias desça a Bênção de Deus.

توجه بتحية مودة إلى جميع المؤمنين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة القادمين من العراق ومن الشرق الأوسط. كثيرا ما يدفعنا العنف والألم وبشاعة الخطيئة إلى التفكير في عدالة الله التي ستكافئ كل إنسان بحسب أعماله. لهذا تشددوا وتشبثوا بالكنيسة وبإيمانكم، فتطهروا هكذا العالم بثقتكم، وتحولوه برجائكم، وتعالجوه بغفرانكم، وبشهادة محبتكم وصبركم! ليبارككم الرب ويعضدكم!

Drodzy Polacy, bracia i siostry, Uroczystość Jezusa Chrystusa Króla Wszechświata przypomniała nam, że wraz z całą wspólnotą Kościoła zdążamy do „nowego nieba” i „nowej ziemi”. Nich nasze życie będzie świadectwem, że w perspektywie tych rzeczywistości, już tu na ziemi, w naszych sercach wzrasta Królestwo prawdy, sprawiedliwości, miłości i pokoju. Niech wszystkich buduje nasza ufność pokładana w Bogu i nadzieja. Z serca wam błogosławię.

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Come sapete, da venerdì prossimo a domenica mi recherò in Turchia in Viaggio Apostolico. Invito tutti a pregare perché questa visita di Pietro al fratello Andrea porti frutti di pace, sincero dialogo tra le religioni e concordia nella nazione turca.

Porgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Saluto le Suore Missionarie del Catechismo, in occasione del loro Capitolo Generale; i fedeli della Diocesi di Biella e i Silenziosi Operai della Croce. Saluto i membri dell’Eurosolar-Italia e dell’UISP-SPORT PER TUTTI, come pure i bambini di strada di Koinonìa Community. La visita alle Tombe degli Apostoli favorisca in tutti un rinnovato impegno per la pace, con Dio, con i fratelli e con il creato.

Rivolgo uno speciale pensiero ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Domenica prossima inizierà il Tempo liturgico dell’Avvento. Cari giovani, l’attesa del Salvatore riempia il vostro cuore di gioia; cari ammalati, non stancatevi di adorare il Signore che viene anche nella prova; e voi cari sposi novelli, imparate ad amare, sull’esempio di colui che per amore si è fatto uomo per la nostra salvezza."

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