Source: Vatican News
Pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday for the first General Audience of the new year with Pope Francis.
In his catechesis the Holy Father reflected on a reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which St Paul continues his journey by land and by sea. He is taken as a prisoner by ship to Rome into the heart of the Empire, so that the word of the Risen One may be realized: "You will be witnesses to me ... to the ends of the earth," Paul said.
On leaving Crete, the journey becomes dangerous and they are shipwrecked; but St Paul encourages all on board not to be afraid.
Pope Francis noted that on landing on Malta, the travellers experience a warm welcome but, he goes on to say, their time there is not without hazards. Paul himself is bitten by a viper but is unharmed and he goes on to heal many people on the island.
The Pope pointed out that Paul's sea voyage can serve as a symbol of God's providential care for us through our passage from death to life in the waters of baptism.
He also emphasized that, "a Christian who has experiences trials can certainly become closer to those who suffer, making his heart open and sensitive to solidarity with others."
St Paul teaches us to live through trials by clinging to Christ, said Pope Francis, "in order to mature the 'conviction that God can act in any circumstance, even in the midst of apparent failure' and the 'certainty that those who offer themselves and give themselves to God out of love will surely be fruitful'".
Concluding his catechesis, the Pope prayed that the Lord would "sustain us in our own trials and open our hearts to those who today experience shipwrecks and arrive on our shores."
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