Vatican City, 26 December 2014 (VIS) – At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pontiff gave a brief address to those present, on the subject of coherence with faith.
“The Gospel of this feast day shows a part of Jesus’ discourse to his disciples in the moment in which He sends them on their mission. Among other things, He says, 'You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved'. These words of the Lord do not disrupt the celebration of Christmas, but strip it of that false saccharine-sweetness that does not belong to it. It makes us understand that in the trials accepted on account of the faith, violence is overcome by love, death by life. To truly welcome Jesus in our existence, and to prolong the joy of the Holy Night, the path is precisely the one indicated in this Gospel: that is, to bear witness in humility, in silent service, without fear of going against the current, able to pay in person. While not all of us are called, as St. Stephen was, to shed their own blood, every Christian is nonetheless required in every circumstance to lead a life coherent with the faith he or she professes. Christian integrity is a grace that we must ask of the Lord. To be coherent, to live as Christians rather than merely saying, 'I am Christian' while living like a pagan. Coherence is a grace we must ask for today”.
Francis explained that following the Gospel is a “demanding but beautiful path, and those who follow it with devotion and courage receive the gift promised by the Lord to men and women of goodwill”. He asked those present to pray “in a special way for those who are discriminated against, persecuted and killed for their witness of Christ … so that due to the sacrifice of these latter-day martyrs, of whom there are many, the commitment to recognising and guaranteeing religious freedom, an inalienable right of every human being, may be reinforced in every part of the world”.
After the Angelus prayer, the Pope conveyed his wishes for peace to all those present and prayed to St. Stephen for the grace of Christian coherence: “thinking, feeling and living as a Christian, not thinking as a Christian and living as a pagan”.