Feast of the conversion of St. Paul
and prayer for Christian Unity

1. Jesus is salvation

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and dear sisters, today the church celebrates the conversion of Saint Paul, he who from being a great persecutor of Christians (1Cor 15:9) became the great Apostle of Christianity, the Apostle of the nations, the Apostle of the Gentiles (Rm 11:13) ), therefore of the pagans, the non-believers.

Today is also the final day of the week of prayer for Christian unity, which was set up to bring all Christians back together again in Christ, so that there may be no more divisions in the name of Christ but only union in the only begotten Spirit, who is God (Phil 2:9-10), One and Triune. For all this to be fully accomplished and the unity to be achieved, we must start again from Christ, the Love made Man (Jn 1:14) and remain grafted (Jn 15:4) in Christ Who is Love, so to be able to fully love God and our brothers. Only by being baptized in the name of Jesus, the Son of God, there can be salvation (Mk 16:16). And only by putting His teachings and His commandments into practice we will be able to remain united and grafted into the Love that saves (Jn 15:9-10). Otherwise there is the risk of being crushed by a fruitless and harmful rhetoric, by which the greatest misunderstanding comes precisely from the wrong understanding of the words of those who in general terms say “God is love”. To what God do they refer? God Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Rom 1:4) or a different god?

 2. Prayer and fraternal union

The fundamental means of living the true union in Christ are prayer (Rm 12:12) and fraternal union. As for the prayer, it is to be nourished without ceasing that spiritual abode that Jesus has placed inside each one of us at the very moment of our Baptism, so to then grow by following the words taught by Jesus Himself in His prayer to the Father, the “Our Father”, which cannot be changed by anyone from the original statement of the Master. In the Our Father, Jesus teaches us how we should relate to the Father, by sanctifying His Name (Mt 6:9), by asking the Father directly that His Kingdom may come and His will may be done, on Earth as in Heaven (Mt 6,10); that our material and spiritual Bread (Mt 6:11), Jesus, the living Bread come down from Heaven may never lack; that our trespasses may be remitted and forgiven directly by the Father Himself, promising to do the same on Earth with those who trespass against us (Mt 6:12); and finally asking to be not induced, introduced into the trial of temptation, but be delivered from evil and the evil one (Mt 6:13). This is the teaching and the prayer of Jesus, in which all Christians are today called to come together and recognise themselves, and not for being dispersed.

Another fundamental means to remain united is to live the brotherhood (Phil 2:2-5), in Christ with Christ and for Christ. Whoever recognizes Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of the world (Phil 3:20) is our brother. Those who instead do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world cannot be called brother (2Cor 6:14) of the baptized Christians, and we are to pursue with them a pact of mutual concord which places at the centre those non-negotiable goods which are the foundation of the social doctrine of Christianity: the sacredness of life and the safeguarding of the family, which is the domestic church and the founding cell of society.

3. To be reborn in Christ the Love so to be grafted onto the Tree of Life

This is, in extreme synthesis, how to live the Love of He who became Love for our salvation: to be everyone part of one Body (1Cor 12:12) united in doing what the head, Christ (Col 1:18), teaches, to remain therefore grafted onto the new Tree (Rev 22:14) which calls everyone to be reborn from Above (Jn 3:7), in the only-begotten Spirit (Jn 3:8) who gives eternal life.

This is the timeless and everlasting example given to us by the Apostle Paul, for his having being able to accept to be thrown‑off the horse of his own human and religious convictions (Acts 9:3-5) in order to surrender his will to the Will of the Light come down from Heaven (Jn 3:16), the Light that at first made him blind towards the things of the world (Acts 9:8a) so to then enlighten him from Above on all that belongs to God the Almighty Father, Who gave us Jesus so that we all may be one in Christ (Jn 17:21-22) to be saved (Jn 3.17-18). Saint Paul has remained docile to the voice of the Spirit, abandoning himself to the One who is Light (Acts 22:9) so to become the Apostle of Light, bringing Christ the Light to all peoples (Acts 26:15-16).

This is what each one of us is invited to do today, on the example of Paul: to remain docile to the action of the Spirit answering our “yes” to the Lord’s call (Acts 22:10) and to remain faithful to Jesus Christ with our heart, with our mind and with all our soul and spirit, without letting ourselves be engulfed by the wind of apostasy (2Ts 2:3) that strongly blows in these times against Christians, which are called now more than ever to be a bulwark of the authentic faith in Jesus, and to team‑up to help and defend one another from the attacks of those who would want to suppress Christ and all Christians, that are persecuted and oppressed in too many nations of the world.

Being united, Christians are to make their voices heard in defence of Jesus and in defence of the right to religious freedom, without fear, without bowing their heads, but proceeding along their path on the example of the Apostle of the Gentiles, who offered his testimony of faith and of love to the very end, making Himself all in everyone (1Cor 10:33) but without ever denying his faith.

United in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4:24) with all the Christians of the world, let us proclaim together the prayer (Lk 11:2-4) that Jesus taught us: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven; give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (Mt 6:9-13). Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

January 25, 2021
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul

The Pontiff