"But the Lord never abandoned the beloved land of Georgia, because he is 'faithful in all his words and loving in all his deeds; he upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.'"
He said God's "tender and compassionate closness" is shown particularly by Christ's tunic, "'without seam, woven from top to bottom', [which] has attracted the attention of Christians from the beginning."
He referred to St. Cyprian of Carthage, who called the tunic a sign of Christian unity, "which could not be definitively rent." Francis said the tunic "exhorts us to feel deep pain over the historical divisions which have arisen among Christians," calling them "the true and real lacerations that wound the Lord's flesh."
"At the same time, however, 'that unity which comes from above', the love of Christ which has brought us together … urge us to not give up but rather to offer ourselves as he did" and to "sincere charity and to mutual understanding, to bind up wounds, with a spirit of pure Christian fraternity."
He added that this "requires patience nurtured through trusting others and through humility" and "rejoicing in the certainty which Christian hope allows us to enjoy."
This certainty helps us believe "differences can be healed and obstacles removed," he said, and "invites us never to miss opportunities for encounter and dialogue, and to protect and together improve what already exists."
He pointed to baptism's profound role in Georgian culture, noting that the Georgian word for "education" comes from the same root and "thus relates strictly to baptism."
"The elegance of the language helps us think of the beauty of Christian life that, from its radiant beginnings, is maintained when it remains in the light of goodness, and when it rejects the darkness of evil," he said.
"Such beauty of the Christian life is preserved when, by guarding faithfulness to its own roots, it does not give in to closed ways of thinking which darken life, but rather remains well-disposed to welcome and to learn, to be enlightened by all that is beautiful and true."
He assured Georgians of his prayers, that the Lord might "deepen the love between all believers in Christ and the enlightened pursuit of everything which brings us together, reconciles us and unites us."
"May prayer and love make us ever more receptive to the Lord's ardent desire, so that everyone who believes in Him, through the preaching of the Apostles, will 'be one'."
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