2013-05-29 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Neither Pope Francis, nor the thousands of people who had begun to gather for the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square even before daybreak, allowed the sudden rainstorm that blew through the city of Rome on Wednesday morning to dampen their spirits. After thanking the pilgrims and tourists for their intrepid spirit, and listening to a reading from the Gospel according to St John in which the episode of the soldiers’ piercing the crucified Lord’s side is recounted (Jn 19:32-35), Pope Francis began a new series of catechetical reflections, centred on the mystery of the Church as presented through some well-known phrases from the documents of the II Vatican Council. Listen:
“The whole history of salvation,” said the Holy Father, “ 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 sent, in the fullness of time, His Son, that His plan of love and salvation be realised in a new and everlasting covenant with humanity.
“When we read the Gospels,” he said, “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.”
It was a theme to which the Holy Father returned in his remarks to English-language pilgrims, which he delivered through an interpreter:
The Church is an essential part of this divine plan; we were made to know and love God and, despite our sins, he continues to call us to return to him. In the fullness of time, he sent his Son into our world to inaugurate the new and eternal covenant with humanity through his sacrifice on the cross. The Church was born of this supreme act of reconciling love, in the water and blood which flowed from Christ’s pierced side. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit sent the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel of God’s love to the ends of the earth. Christ can never be separated from his Church, which he has made the great family of God’s children.