Pope Francis encouraged the Church to proclaim the Gospel with “frankness and courage” and prayed for persecuted Christians worldwide in his Sunday address at St. Peter’s Square.
In his Regina Caeli address before more than 80,000 people, the Pope summarized a passage from the Acts of the Apostles while explaining that its contents are relevant for everyone, especially for those persecuted for their belief in Christ.
He drew attention to the first reading for Sunday from the Acts of the Apostles. In it, the Apostles “filled the cities with the news that Jesus truly had risen” despite attempts by the authorities to silence them by imprisonment and scourging.
In addition to that opposition, the Apostles, Pope Francis noted, were not well-educated, but rather “simple” men.
Nonetheless, they were successful in witnessing to the Risen Lord because of the Holy Spirit.
“Only the presence of the Risen Lord with them, and the action of the Holy Spirit can explain this. It was the Lord, who was with them, and the Spirit, who moved them to preach,” he said.
He explained that their encounter with Christ was “so powerful and personal” that they did not fear persecution and even saw it as a “badge of honor.”
The Holy Father said that this episode tells us something very important, which applies “to the Church in every age, and so to us.”
The Apostles’ example teaches us that “when a person truly knows Jesus Christ and believes in him, one experiences his presence and the power of his resurrection in one’s life, and one cannot help but communicate this experience.”
Overall, if a Christian “encounters misunderstanding or adversity, one behaves like Jesus in his Passion: one responds with love and with the power of truth.”
This teaching is especially relevant to the “many Christians who suffer persecution in many, many countries” throughout the world today, he said.
The Pope asked for the Blessed Mother’s intercession that the Church would proclaim the Gospel with “frankness and courage” while bearing witness through “signs of brotherly love.”
He asked the Church to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters “from our heart,” that they could “feel the living and comforting presence of the Risen Lord.”