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Hope, the Strength of the Martyrs

Catechesis by Pope Francis on Christian Hope      
General Audience, Wednesday 28 June 2017 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we are reflecting upon Christian hope as the strength of the martyrs. When in the Gospel Jesus sends his disciples on mission, he does not delude them with mirages of easy success; on the contrary, he clearly warns them that the announcement of the Kingdom of God always involves an opposition. And he also uses an extreme expression: “You will be hated — hated — by everyone on account of my name” (Mt 10, 22). Christians love, but they are not always loved. Right away Jesus puts us in front of this reality: to a greater or lesser degree, the confession of faith takes place in a climate of hostility.

Christians are thus men and women "against the current”. This is normal: because the world is marked by sin, which manifests itself in various forms of selfishness and injustice, the one who follows Christ walks in the opposite direction. Not out of a polemical spirit, but out of fidelity to the logic of the Kingdom of God, which is a logic of hope, and which translates into a lifestyle based on Jesus's indications.

And the first indication is poverty. When Jesus sends his disciples on mission, it seems that he takes more care to “strip them" than to “cloth them"! In effect, a Christian who is not humble and poor, detached from wealth and power and above all detached from himself, does not resemble Jesus. The Christian travels his road in this world with the essentials for the journey, but with a heart full of love. The true defeat for him or for her is to fall into the temptation of revenge and violence, responding to evil with evil. Jesus tells us: “I send you out like sheep among wolves” (Mt 10, 16). Thus without fangs, without claws, without weapons. Rather, the Christian must have to be prudent, at times even cunning: these are virtues accepted by the logic of the Gospel. But never violence. In order to overcome evil, the methods of evil cannot be shared.

The only strength of the Christian is the Gospel. In difficult times, we must believe that Jesus is before us and does not cease to accompany his disciples. Persecution is not a contradiction to the Gospel, but is part of it: if our Master was persecuted, how can we hope that we will be spared the fight? However, in the very middle of the whirlwind, the Christian must not lose hope, thinking he has been abandoned. Jesus reassures his disciples saying: “Even the hairs on your head have all been counted” (Mt 10, 30). As if to say that none of the sufferings of man, not even the most minute and hidden, are invisible to the eyes of God. God sees, and he surely protects; and he will give his redemption. There is indeed in our midst Someone who is stronger than evil, stronger than the mafias, than the dark plots. than those who profit on the backs of the desperate, than those who crush others with brutality.... Someone who has always heard the voice of Abel’s blood which shouts from the earth.

Christians must therefore always be found on the “other side” of the world, the one/that chosen by God: not persecutors, but persecuted; not arrogant, but gentle; not sellers of smoke/charlatans, but submissive to the truth; not imposters, but honest.

This fidelity to the style of Jesus — which is a style of hope — all the way to death, was
to be called a very beautiful name by the first Christians: “martyrdom”, which means “testimony”. There were so many other possibilities offered by the vocabulary: it could have been called heroism, abnegation, self-sacrifice. And instead the early Christians called it a name that is scented with discipleship. The martyrs do not live for themselves, they do not fight so as to assert their own ideas, and they accept to have to die solely through fidelity to the Gospel. Martyrdom is not even the supreme ideal of Christian life, because above it there is charity, that is, the love towards God and towards neighbour. The Apostle Paul says it so well in the hymn to charity: “If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, it serves me nothing” (1 Cor 13, 3). The idea that suicide bombers can be called “martyrs” is repugnant to Christians: there is nothing in their end that can come close to the attitude of the children of God.

Sometimes, in reading the stories of so many martyrs of yesterday and today — who are more numerous than the martyrs of the first times — we are amazed in front of the strength with which they have faced the test. This strength is sign of the great hope which animated them: the certain hope that nothing and no one could separate them from the love of God given to us in Jesus Christ (cf Rom 8, 38-39).

May God always give us the strength to be his witnesses. May He give us the gift to live Christian hope above all in the hidden martyrdom of doing well and with love
our duties of each day. Thank you."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier la fanfare La Rosablanche, et les personnes venues de Suisse et de France. Je vous invite à lire la vie des martyrs, d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, pour découvrir avec quelle force ils ont affronté les épreuves. A leur exemple, mettons toute notre espérance en Jésus qui nous donne la force, dans l’abnégation et le sacrifice de soi, de faire le bien et d’accomplir notre devoir tous les jours de notre vie. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States of America. I especially greet the participants in the Conference for the promotion of the new Programme of Priestly Formation, with the assurance of my prayers for their important ministry. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sehr herzlich grüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache, insbesondere die Jugendlichen aus dem Oldenburger Münsterland. Liebe Freunde, die Märtyrer haben alles für den Herrn gegeben. Bitten wir Gott, auch uns die Kraft zu schenken, seine Zeugen zu sein, vor allem im „verborgenen Martyrium des Alltags“, wenn wir unsere Aufgaben und Pflichten gut und mit Liebe zu erfüllen. Der Herr mache uns stark in der Hoffnung.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Saludo también al grupo argentino que ha trabajado sobre la encíclica Laudato Si’ y el diálogo interreligioso, y al integrante islámico de ese grupo: ¡feliz cumpleaños! Mañana celebraremos la solemnidad de los apóstoles san Pedro y san Pablo, que dieron su vida por amor a Cristo. Pidamos a Dios por su intercesión que nos concesa el don de la fortaleza para seguirle y ser sus testigos viviendo la esperanza cristiana, sobre todo en ese martirio continuo y escondido de hacer bien y con amor nuestras obligaciones de cada día. Muchas gracias.

Amados peregrinos vindos do Brasil e doutros países lusófonos, a todos saúdo, agradecido pelo afeto e as orações com que diariamente sustentais o meu ministério de Sucessor de Pedro. À nossa Mãe comum, a Virgem Maria, confio as vossas vidas e famílias, para elas implorando a graça de crescerem na intimidade com o seu divino Filho, fonte da verdadeira vida.

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصّةً بالقادمينَ من الشّرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، الشهداء هم أولئك الرجال والنساء الأمناء لقوّة الحب الوديع وصوت الروح القدس، والذين يسعون في حياتهم اليومية لمساعدة الإخوة ومحبّة الله بدون تحفظات؛ هم يعلموننا أنّه بإمكاننا أن نجاهد بقوّة المحبّة والوداعة ضد التسلُّط والعنف والحرب، وأن نحقق السلام بصبر. ليبارككُم الرّبّ!

Witam polskich pielgrzymów, a zwłaszcza gości Arcybiskupów Metropolitów, którzy jutro otrzymają paliusz. Drodzy bracia i siostry, właśnie jutro liturgia przypomni nam męczeństwo dwóch filarów Kościoła, świętych Apostołów Piotra i Pawła. Wpatrując się w przykład ich bezgranicznego oddania dla Chrystusa i Ewangelii, prośmy Boga, aby i nam dawał zawsze siłę, byśmy byli Jego wiernymi świadkami. Niech nam pomaga żyć chrześcijańską nadzieją, zwłaszcza w ukrytym męczeństwie codziennego wypełniania naszych obowiązków dobrze i z miłością. Niech Bóg Wam błogosławi!

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana.

Sono lieto di accogliere le Ancelle della Visitazione “Oasi Tabor” e le Figlie della Divina Provvidenza in occasione dei rispettivi Capitoli Generali, e le incoraggio a promuovere il loro carisma con spirito di servizio e di fedeltà alla Chiesa.

Porgo un saluto speciale ai partecipanti al Convegno dell’Associazione Nazionale Familiari del Clero, ed esorto i suoi membri a coltivare l’amicizia con i sacerdoti, particolarmente quelli più soli, sostenendo la loro vocazione e accompagnando il loro ministero. Saluto i monaci basiliani di San Giosafat, che ricordano il quarto centenario di fondazione; i pellegrini della Via Francigena; i militari del 17° reggimento “Acqui” di Capua, come pure i fedeli di Altamura e gli sbandieratori di Grumo Appula.

I address a special greeting to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Patron Saints of Rome. Dear young people, learn to bear witness to the Gospel and to the values in which you believe from the courage of the martyrs, on whose blood the Church is founded. Dear sick people, may the love of the Apostles for the Lord be your hope in the trial of pain; dear newlyweds, teach your children passion for virtue and dedication without reserve for God and for our brothers and sisters!"