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On the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
"Saint Peter and Saint Paul, so different from each other on a human level, were personally chosen by the Lord Jesus and they responded to the call offering their whole lives"
VATICAN CITY, June 29, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus, to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
From ancient times the Church of Rome has celebrated the Apostles Peter and Paul on a single feast on the same day, June 29. Faith in Jesus Christ made them brothers and martyrdom made them one. St. Peter and St. Paul, so different from each other on a human level, were personally chosen by the Lord Jesus and responded to the call by offering their whole life. Grace accomplished great things in both, it transformed them. And how it transformed them! Simon denied Jesus in the tragic moment of his passion. Saul harshly persecuted the Christians. But both experienced the love of God and let themselves be transformed by his mercy. In this way they became friends and apostles of Christ. This is why they continue to speak to the Church and still today point out the road of salvation to us. We too, even if we fall into the gravest sins and the darkest nights, God is always able to transform us as he transformed Peter and Paul. He can transform our heart and forgive us completely, transforming the darkness of our sin into the dawn of light. This is how God is: he transforms us, he always forgives us, just as he did with Peter and as he did with Paul.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles displays many of the characteristics of their witness. Peter, for example, teaches us to look upon the poor with the eyes of faith and to give them what is most precious to us: the power of Jesus' name. This is what he did with the paralytic. Peter gave him what he had, namely, Jesus (cf. Acts 3:46).
Regarding Paul, the episode of his call on the road to Damascus is told of three times. This is the turning point of Paul's life and it clearly delineates a before and after. Before, Paul was an archenemy of the Church. After, he placed his whole life at the service of the Gospel. For us too, the encounter with the Word of Christ is able to transform our lives completely. It is not possible to hear this Word and remain as we are, to stick with our habits. It pushes us to conquer the egoism in our heart to follow resolutely that Master who gave his life for his friends. But it is he who with his word changes us; it is he who transforms us; it is he who forgives us completely, if we open our hearts and ask for forgiveness.
Dear brothers and sisters, this feast awakens a great joy in us before God's work of mercy in the hearts of these two men. It is the work of God's mercy in these two men who were great sinners. God wants to fill us too with his grace just as he did with Peter and Paul. May the Virgin Mary help us to receive this grace as they did, with open hearts, and not to receive it in vain! May it sustain us in time of trial to bear witness to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. We ask it today especially for the metropolitan archbishops who were named this past year and who celebrated the Eucharist with me this morning in St. Peter's. I greet all of them with affection together with their faithful and their relatives. Let us pray for them!
[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father again addressed those gathered in the piazza of St. Peter's:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
The news from Iraq is, unfortunately, very sad. I join with the bishops of the country and call on the government officials so that, through dialogue, national unity can be preserved and war avoided. I am near to the thousands of families, especially the Christian families, who were forced to leave their homes and are in great danger. Violence causes more violence; dialogue is the only way to peace. Let us pray to Our Lady that she protect the people of Iraq.
I greet all of you, especially the faithful of Rome, on the feast of our Patron Saints. I also greet the relatives of the metropolitan archbishops who received the pallium this morning and the delegations who accompanied them.
I greet the artists from many parts of the world who created this great work of art with flowers, and I thank the Pro Loco of Rome for sponsoring it. These artists are great, well done!
I cordially greet the faithful from San Fernando and from Ubrique (Cádiz), from Elche de la Sierra (Albacete), and from Parla, Madrid, as well as the numerous carpet installers who have participated in the grand floral display.
I greet the pilgrims from Madagascar, the students from Catholic schools in the United States of America and London; the faithful from Messina, Naples, Neviano, Taranto, Rocca di Papa and Pezzoro, and those who came on bicycle from Cardito. I also greet the "Friends of Venerable Francesco Antonio Marcucci" group.
I greet the Family Associations Forum of Lazio and I wish them every good thing in their activities these next few days at the Pius XI Institute of Rome.
I also offer my best wishes for the fireworks display that will take place this evening at Castel Sant'Angelo The proceeds will be used to support an initiative for young people in the Holy Land.
I wish everyone of you a happy feast of our Patron Saints. And please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]
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