After the July break the Pope resumed the weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, in the Vatican. His catechesis was on the Church and the Beatitudes: the Gospel prepares us for Judgement Day

After the July break the Pope resumed the weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, in the Vatican. His catechesis was on the Church and the Beatitudes: the Gospel prepares us for Judgement Day

At the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis set the over 6,000 faithful present some homework: Reread the Gospel every day; first chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel, which is about the “Beatitudes”, “the path God points us to in response to humans’ innate desire for happiness”; then chapter 25 (“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…”), the “protocol” for checking how Christian our life is, in other words, “the questions we will be asked on Judgement Day.” Today’s General Audience was the first since the Pope’s summer break.

“Just as Moses forged a covenant with God in accordance with the law received on Mount Sinai, so Jesus delivers a new teaching to his disciples and the crowd, from a hill on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. He begins with the beatitudes,” the Pope said. “The Beatitudes are the path God points us towards, in response to humans’ innate desire for happiness and they complete the commands of the ancient alliance. We are used to learning the ten commandments but we are not used to repeating the Beatitudes! Let us try to remember them and etch them into our hearts. Let’s do this: I will pronounce each one of them and you will repeat after me, ok?” Francis started reciting the the Beatitudes one by one (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”…). Each time he waited for the more than 6,000 pilgrims to repeat after him. “Le me help you,” he said, repeating one of the Beatitudes twice as it was especially long. (“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”).

 “Good!” he said when all the Beatitudes had been recited and repeated. “I ‘m going to give you some homework: take the Gospel, a small volume that you can always carry with you in your pocket, your bag or read at home, find the Beatitudes in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel and read them! Will you do that? So that you don’t forget them. It’s the law given to us by Jesus. All the change Christ brought is contained in these words.” “Besides the new law,” Francis continued, “Jesus also gives us the protocol according to which we will eventually be judged. It is found in chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel. We will not be awarded any titles, credits or privileges. The Lord will recognise us if we recognised his presence in those who are poor, hungry, destitute, marginalised, suffering and alone. This is one of the main criteria for judging our lives as Christians and Jesus invites us to check our behaviour against this criterion on a daily basis.”

The Pope concluded by summing up the homework he set faithful: “What is the protocol the judge will examine us on? It is to be found in chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel. Today’s homework is to read the 5th chapter which contains the Beatitudes and also the 25th which sets out the protocol, the questions we will be asked on Judgement Day. I read the Beatitudes, I reflect on how my Christian life should be and then I examine my conscience based on chapter 25. Did I do this? Did I do that? It will do us good. These are simple but concrete things.”

Today’s Audience was held indoors – in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican – due to the heat and the small number of faithful attending. During the Audience, the Pope resumed his series of catecheses on the Church. “In previous catechesis sessions we saw how the Church is made up of a people, a people whom God has prepared patiently and with love and to whom we are all called to belong,” Francis said. “Today I would like to focus on what is new about this people: they truly are a new people, founded on a new covenant, established by the Lord Jesus with the gift of his life. The newness brought by Christ does not set aside what went before, but brings it to completion,” the Pope said in an implicit reference to “replacement theology” which is hostile to the Jewish faith. St. John the Baptist in particular “is a bridge between the prophecies and

The Pope entered the Audience hall just before 10 am and spent a while both before and after the catechesis, greeting, embracing and blessing faithful, shaking people’s hands, snapping “selfies” and even signing the shirt of one of the representatives of the 50, 000 German altar servers whom he met yesterday in St. Peter’s Square. When it came to the moment of pronouncing a greeting in Arabic, Francis gave a special welcome to faithful from the Middle East: “Let us pray hard for peace in the Middle East, please pray,” he said. Francis then said a special prayer for the people of the Chinese province of Yunnan who last Sunday were hit by an earthquake which claimed the life of many and caused enormous damage. I pray for the deceased and their families, for the wounded and for those who lost their homes. May the Lord give them comfort, hope and support during this trying time.”

Francis also commemorate the anniversary of his predecessor Paul VI’s death on 6 August 1978 : “We remember him with affection and admiration for his total dedication and service to the Church, which he loved with all his soul. May his example as a faithful servant of Christ be an encouragement and inspiration to us all.” Paul VI will be beatified on 19 October.

Vatican Insider