VATICAN (CNS): “An evangeliser cannot be an obstacle to the creative work of God, who ‘wills everyone to be saved,’ but one who fosters an encounter of hearts with the Lord,” Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on October 16, noting that those who evangelise must avoid letting their prejudices get in the way of God’s plan.
The pope also pointed out that it was the anniversary of the 1978 election of Pope St. John Paul II.
“Let us thank the Lord for everything good that happened in the Church, in the world and in people’s hearts because of the words, deeds and holiness of John Paul II. Let us remember that his appeal to open your heart to Christ is always timely,” he said when greeting Polish-speaking visitors.
In his main catechesis, the pope continued his series of talks on the Acts of the Apostles.
He reflected on St. Luke’s account of Cornelius, the generous and God-fearing pagan, and St. Peter, whom God called to meet with Cornelius. It was unlawful at the time for a Jewish man to meet with a Gentile, and Peter was harshly rebuked by the community in Jerusalem for visiting and baptising him.
But Peter, who felt compelled to follow Jewish laws and restrictions was told: “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.”
Peter learns “God shows no partiality” and that “whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him,” according to the gospel account.
In his catechesis, the pope said God wanted Peter to no longer judge or see people and external acts as clean or unclean, “but to learn to go beyond that, by looking at the person and the intentions in their heart. What makes a person unclean, in fact, doesn’t come from the outside, but from the inside, from their heart. Jesus said this clearly.”
The pope said Peter learns to open his mind and heart to God’s creativity so that all people could receive the blessings promised to Israel.
Pope Francis asked that everyone learn what an evangeliser must be from Peter’s example and ask, “How do we act with our brothers and sisters, especially with those who are not Christians?”
“Are we an impediment to an encounter with God? Do we block their encounter with the Father or do we facilitate it?” he asked.
“Let us ask for the grace to let ourselves be astounded by God’s surprises, not to hinder his creativity, but to recognise and foster the ever-new ways through which the Risen One pours out his Spirit in the world and draws hearts” to him as they recognise he is the “Lord of all,” the pope said.