Christians today face dangers that demean their human dignity, according to Pope Francis. But we also “experience the tenderness of God, who in our daily life saves us lovingly from sin, from fear, and from anguish.”
His remarks came January 25, 2018, in his homily in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, where he presided over the celebration of the Second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle, at the end of the 51st Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, on the theme: Powerful is Your Hand, Lord (Cf. Exodus 15:1-21).
The Holy Father recounted the experience of the Israelites escaping Egypt, their enemies destroyed by the Red Sea as they are led by Moses, who was saved as a baby from the waters of the Nile. He noted that all Christians pass through the water of baptism: “the grace of the Sacrament has destroyed our enemies, sin, and death”.
“We share the fundamental experience: the grace of God, His powerful mercy in saving us,” Francis said. “And precisely because God has wrought this victory in us, we can sing the praises together.”
However, the Pope warned that today’s Christians “face challenges today that demean human dignity: they flee from situations of conflict and poverty; are victims of the trafficking of human beings and of other modern slaveries; they suffer hardships and hunger, in a world ever richer in means and poor in love, where inequalities continue to increase.”
Like the Israelites who were persecuted in Egypt, he said Christians today “experience the tenderness of God, who in our daily life saves us lovingly from sin, from fear, and from anguish. These precious experiences are kept in the heart and in the memory.”
He continued by reminding the congregation that God does not leave Christians alone and, like St. Paul, anyone can experience a profound conversion:
“Also, Saint Paul, whose conversion we celebrate today, had the powerful experience of grace, which called him to become from a persecutor to an Apostle of Christ. God’s grace also drove him immediately to seek communion with other Christians, first at Damascus and then at Jerusalem (Cf. Acts 9:19.26-27). This is our experience as believers.
“As we go growing in the spiritual life, we understand ever better that grace comes to us together with others and is to be shared with others. So, when I raise my thanksgiving to God for what He has done in me, I discover I don’t sing alone because other brothers and sisters have my same song of praise.”