Apostolic zeal

Pope Francis      15.06.13    Holy Mass  Santa Marta       2 Cor 5: 14-21

Christ’s love possesses us, impels us, drives us on. This speed is Paul in fourth gear: when he sees Christ’s love he cannot stand still.

In this passage the word
‘reconciliation’, is repeated five times, like a refrain, to say clearly: God reconciled us to him in Christ. St Paul also speaks with both force and tenderness when he says: I am an ambassador for Christ. Paul seems to fall to his knees to implore: We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God, as if he had said lower your guard to let yourselves be reconciled to God.

Paul’s hurrying reminds me of Mary setting out with haste to help her cousin. This is the haste of the Christian message.... Here the message is, precisely, reconciliation. True reconciliation is that in Christ God took our sins upon his own shoulders and for our sake made himself sin.

This is the mystery that motivated Paul with apostolic zeal, for it is such a marvellous thing: the love of God who, for me, handed his Son over to be killed. When Paul is confronted by this truth he says: but he loved me, he died for my sake. This is the mystery of reconciliation!

Christian peace is a restive not a torpid peace. Christian peace impels us and this is the beginning, the root of
apostolic zeal. The love of Christ possesses us, impels us, urges us on with the emotion we feel when we see that God loves us.




With our witness to the truth, Christians must cause discomfort in “our comfortable structures”, even to the point of ending up “in trouble”, because we must be enlivened by “a healthy spiritual craziness” in all “outskirts of existence”. Following the example of St Paul, who “fought one battle after another”, believers must not retreat “to a relaxed life. Today there are “too many arm-chair Christians”, those who are “lukewarm”, people for whom “everything goes well”, but who do not have “inner apostolic ardour.

It is “Paul who causes discomfort”. Paul was a man, who through his teaching and his attitude caused great discomfort because he proclaimed Jesus Christ. And the message of Jesus Christ makes our comfortable structures, even Christian ones, uncomfortable.

May the Holy Spirit give to all of us apostolic fervour; may he also give us the grace to feel uncomfortable about certain aspects of the Church which are too relaxed; the grace to go forward to the existential outskirts. The Church is in great need of this! Not only in far away lands, in young Churches, to peoples who do not yet know Jesus Christ. But here in the city, right in the city, we need Jesus Christ’s message. We thus ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of
apostolic zeal: be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we make others uncomfortable, blessed be the Lord. Let’s go, and as the Lord says to Paul: ‘take courage!’