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Rejoice in hope (cf Rom 12, 9-13)

Catechesis by Pope Francis on Christian Hope
General Audience, Wednesday 15 March 2017 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
We know well that the great commandment the Lord Jesus left us is the one about love: to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves (cf. Mt 22:37-39); namely, we are called to love, to exercise charity. And this is our loftiest vocation, our vocation par excellence; and it is also tied to the joy of Christian hope. One who loves has the joy of hope, of reaching the encounter with the great love that is the Lord.

The Apostle Paul, in the passage of the Letter to the Romans that we have just heard, puts us on guard: there is a risk that our charity may be hypocritical, that our love may be hypocritical. So we must ask: when does this hypocrisy happen? And how can we be certain that our love is sincere, that our charity is authentic? That we are not pretending to do charity or that our love is not for show: sincere, strong love....

Hypocrisy can insinuate itself anywhere, even in our world of love. This happens when our love is motivated by interest, by self-interest; and how much interested love there is ... when the service to charity, which we seem to carry out generously, is done in order to draw attention to ourselves or to feel good: ‘Oh, how good I am!’. No, this is hypocrisy! Or also when we aspire to things with “visibility” so as to put our intelligence or our abilities on display. Behind all this there is a false, misleading idea, thinking that since we love, we are good — as though charity were a manmade creation, a product of our heart. Charity, instead, is first and foremost a grace, a gift; being able to love is a gift of God, and we must ask for it. He gives it freely, if we ask for it. Charity is a grace: it does not consist in showing off, but in what the Lord gives us and which we freely receive; and it cannot be extended to others if it is not first generated by the encounter with the meek and merciful face of Jesus.

Paul invites us to recognize that we are sinners, and also that our way of loving is marked by sin. At the same time, however, one becomes the bearer of a new message, a message of hope: the Lord opens before us a new path of freedom, a path of salvation. It is the opportunity for us too to live the great commandment of love, to become instruments of God’s charity. And this happens when we let our heart be healed and renewed by the Risen Christ. The Risen Lord who lives among us, who lives with us is capable of healing our heart: He does so, if we ask it. It is He who allows us, even in our littleness and poverty, to experience the Father’s compassion and to celebrate the wonders of his love. And thus we understand that all we can live and do for our brothers and sisters is but the response to what God has done and continues to do for us. Rather, it is God himself who, abiding in our heart and our life, continues to be close and to serve all those whom we encounter each day on our journey, beginning with the least and the neediest, in whom He is first recognized.

Thus, with these words, rather than reproach us, the Apostle Paul wants to encourage us and rekindle hope in us. Indeed, everyone has the experience of not living the commandment of love fully or as we should. But this too is a grace, because it makes us understand that we are incapable of truly loving by ourselves: we need the Lord constantly to renew this gift in our heart, through the experience of his infinite mercy. Then, indeed, we will return to appreciate small things, simple, ordinary things; we will once more appreciate all these little, everyday things and we will be capable of loving others as God loves them, wanting their good, that is, that they be holy, friends of God; and we will be glad of the opportunity to make ourselves close to those who are poor and humble, as Jesus does with each one of us when we are distant from Him, to stoop to the feet of our brothers and sisters, as He, the Good Samaritan, does with each of us, with his compassion and his forgiveness.

Dear brothers and sisters, what the Apostle Paul reminded us of is the secret for — I shall use his words — it is the secret for “rejoicing in hope” (cf. Rom 12:12); rejoicing in hope. The joy of hope: because we know that in all circumstances, even the most adverse, and also through our own failures, God’s love never fails.

Therefore, with his grace and his fidelity dwelling and abiding in our heart, let us live in the joyful hope of reciprocating in our brothers and sisters, through the little we can, the abundance we receive from Him each day. Thank you."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier l’association Chemins d’Humanité avec Monseigneur Jean Luc Brunin, Evêque du Havre. Soyons pleins d’espérance sur notre route de carême, certains que, même à travers nos échecs, l’amour de Dieu est le plus fort et nous donne l’occasion de renouveler notre cœur pour être à son service et au service de nos frères. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Sweden, Canada and the United States of America. I offer a special welcome to the many student groups present. With prayerful good wishes that this Lent will be a time of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you all!

Sehr herzlich grüße ich die Pilger aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache sowie aus den Niederlanden. Insbesondere heiße ich den Cäcilienverband des Bistums Rottenburg-Stuttgart in Begleitung von Weihbischof Johannes Kreidler willkommen. Wenn wir uns von der Gnade des Herrn formen und von der göttlichen Hoffnung erfüllen lassen, können wir unseren Nächsten die Liebe erwidern, die Gott uns jeden Tag schenkt. Schönen Aufenthalt in Rom und gesegnete Fastenzeit.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. En este tiempo de cuaresma, los invito a que, alegres en la esperanza, reaviven en sus corazones el amor que han recibido de Dios y lo compartan con todos los hombres con obras de caridad sincera. Que Dios los bendiga.

Saúdo cordialmente os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, em particular o grupo da Amadora e os cidadãos lisboetas de Santo António guiados pelo Presidente da Junta de Freguesia. O Senhor vos abençoe e encha de alegria, e o Espírito Santo ilumine as decisões da vossa vida, para realizardes fielmente a vontade do Pai celeste. Sobre todos vós e sobre as vossas famílias e comunidades, vele a Virgem Mãe de Deus e da Igreja.

أرحب بالحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة القادمين ‏من سوريا، ومن لبنان، ومن الشرق الأوسط. إن ‏المحبة المعاشة برياء هي أخطر من الكراهية. إنها أنانية متخفية، ترتدي قناع المحبة. المحبة الحقيقية، على ‏عكس ذلك، كما يعلمنا القديس بولس،‏‏"تَتَأَنَّى وَتَرْفُقُ. الْمَحَبَّةُ لاَ تَحْسِدُ. الْمَحَبَّةُ لاَ تَتَفَاخَرُ وَلاَ تَنْتَفِخُ وَلاَ تُقَبِّحُ وَلاَ تَطْلُبُ مَا لِنَفْسِهَا وَلاَ تَحْتَدُّ وَلاَ تَظُنُّ ‏السُّؤَ وَلاَ تَفْرَحُ بِالإِثْمِ بَلْ تَفْرَحُ بِالْحَقِّ. وَتَحْتَمِلُ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَتُصَدِّقُ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَتَرْجُو كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَتَصْبِرُ عَلَى كُلِّ ‏شَيْءٍ" (1 كور 13، 4-7). ‏ليبارككم الرب ‏جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير!‏ ‏ ‏‏

Pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Bracia i siostry, czas Wielkiego Postu jest szczególnie sposobny, abyśmy otwierali serca na łaskę miłosierdzia Boga i doświadczyli Jego miłości. Z rodzącą się z tego doświadczenia nadzieją idźmy do braci, szczególnie do tych, którzy potrzebują miłości i konkretnego wsparcia, aby nasze świadectwo pomogło im stawać się przyjaciółmi przebaczającego Boga. Niech Jego błogosławieństwo stale Wam towarzyszy!

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere i partecipanti al Convegno promosso dal Movimento dei Focolari in occasione del cinquantesimo anniversario di fondazione e li esorto a testimoniare la bellezza delle famiglie nuove, guidate dalla pace e dall’amore di Cristo. Andate avanti così! Saluto l’Arciconfraternita della Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini di Napoli, accompagnati dal Cardinale Crescenzio Sepe; i membri dell’Associazione culturale cristiana italo-ucraina; l’orchestra giovanile di Laureana di Borrello; il coro dell’Unione cattolica artisti di Benevento e i membri del Gruppo Granarolo. Auguro a ciascuno che questo incontro ravvivi la comunione con il ministero universale del Successore di Pietro.

Un pensiero speciale rivolgo ai lavoratori di “Sky Italia”, ed auspico che la loro situazione lavorativa possa trovare una rapida soluzione, nel rispetto dei diritti di tutti, specialmente delle famiglie. Il lavoro ci dà dignità, e i responsabili dei popoli, i dirigenti hanno l’obbligo di fare di tutto perché ogni uomo e ogni donna possano lavorare e così avere la fronte alta, guardare in faccia gli altri, con dignità. Chi, per manovre economiche, per fare negoziati non del tutto chiari, chiude fabbriche, chiude imprese lavorative e toglie il lavoro agli uomini, compie un peccato gravissimo.

Un saluto infine ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Il tempo liturgico della Quaresima favorisca il riavvicinamento a Dio: digiunate non solo dai pasti, ma soprattutto dalle cattive abitudini, cari giovani, per acquisire maggiore padronanza su voi stessi; la preghiera sia per voi, cari ammalati, il mezzo per sentire Dio vicino particolarmente nella sofferenza; l’esercizio delle opere di misericordia aiuti voi, cari sposi novelli, a vivere la vostra esistenza coniugale aprendola alle necessità dei fratelli."