Despite a sudden rainstorm that blew through Rome on Wednesday morning, Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square went on as planned.
Undeterred, and without the need for a Swiss Guard to shield him from the rain with an umbrella, the pope thanked the tourists and pilgrims for braving the inclement weather. and proceeded with his address. His remarks were part of a new series of catechetical reflections, which focuses on the mystery of the Church as presented through documents of the Second Vatican Council.
“The whole history of salvation,” said Pope Francis, “is the story of God seeking man, offer[ing] humanity His love, embracing mankind.”
The Holy Father went on to recall how God called Abraham to be the father of a multitude, chose the people of Israel to forge an alliance that embraces all nations, and, ultimately, sent His Son to fulfill His plan of love and salvation, and to form a covenant with humanity.
“When we read the Gospels,” said the pope, “we see that Jesus gathers around him a small community that receives His word, follows Him, shares His journey, becomes His family- and, with this community, He prepares and builds His Church.”
Pope Francis said that the Church is an essential piece of God’s divine plan. Despite our sins, the pontiff said, God continues to call us to return to Him. Jesus’ death on the cross is a sign of a new and eternal covenant with humanity. The pope added that, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit sent the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel of God’s love to all nations.
Regarding the importance of the Church, Pope Francis said:
Still today someone says: “Christ yes, the Church no.” Like those who say, “I believe in God but not in priests”. But it is precisely the Church that brings us Christ and leads us to God; the Church is the great family of God’s children. Of course it also has human aspects; in those who compose it, pastors and faithful, there are flaws, imperfections, sins, even the Pope has them, and he has many, but the beautiful thing is that when we realize that we are sinners, we find the mercy of God, which always forgives. Don’t forget it: God always forgives and receives us in his forgiving and merciful love. Some say sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity to be humbled, to realize that there’s something more beautiful: the mercy of God. Let us think of this.
Zenit provides the full text of the pontiff’s address.