Evangelization

Evangelization - Pope Francis   

17.04.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta  Acts 8: 1B - 8


The Church cannot be merely “a babysitter who cares for the child just to get him to sleep”. If she were this, hers would be a “slumbering Church”. Whoever knows Jesus has the strength and the courage to proclaim him. And whoever has received Baptism has the strength to walk, to go forward, to evangelize and “when we do this the Church becomes a mother who generates children” capable of bringing Christ to the world.

During persecutions in Japan in the early 17th century, Catholic missionaries were expelled and communities were left for 200 years without priests. On their return, the missionaries found “all communities in place, everyone baptized, everyone catechized, all married in the Church” — and this thanks to the work of the baptized.

It is our great responsibility, as baptized persons, to proclaim Christ, to carry the Church — this fruitful motherhood of the Church — forward. Mary, during the persecution of the first Christians, “prayed so much” and moved those who had been baptized to go forward with courage.

Let us ask the Lord, for the grace to become baptized persons who are brave and sure that the Holy Spirit who is in us, received at Baptism, always moves us to proclaim Jesus Christ with our life, our testimony and even with our words.



Paul in the Areopagus (Acts 17:15-22, 18-1) proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ among the worshipers of idols. It is the way in which he did this, that is so important: “He did not say: Idolaters! You will go to hell... ”. No, he “tried to reach their hearts”; he did not condemn from the outset but sought dialogue. “Paul is a Pope, a builder of bridges. He did not want to become a builder of walls”. Building bridges to proclaim the Gospel, “this was the Paul’s outlook in Athens: build a bridge to their hearts, and then take a step further and proclaim Jesus Christ”. Paul followed the attitude of Jesus, who spoke to everyone, “he heard the Samaritan woman... ate with the Pharisees, with sinners, with publicans, with doctors of the law. Jesus listened to everyone and when he said a word of condemnation, it was at the end, when there was nothing left to do”. But Paul, too, was “aware that he must evangelize, not proselytize”. The Church “does not grow by proselytizing, as Benedict XVI has told us, but grows by attracting people, by its witness, and by its preaching”. Ultimately, “Paul acted because he was sure, sure of Jesus Christ. He had no doubt of his Lord”.

Paul teaches what the path of
evangelization should be, to follow with courage. And “when the Church loses this apostolic courage, she becomes a lifeless Church. Orderly, perhaps — nice, very nice — but barren, because she has lost the courage to go to the outskirts, where there are so many people who are victims of idolatry, worldliness, and weak thought”. In order to curb the fear of making a mistake, you have to realize that you can rise and continue to move forward. “Those who do not walk for fear of making a mistake make the most serious mistake.”



Pope Francis   12.05.13 Seventh Sunday of Easter Holy Mas and Canonizations   Acts 6:5   7:55-60     John 17:20-26  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/faith/12.05.13.jpg

On this Seventh Sunday of Easter we gather together in joy to celebrate a feast of holiness. Let us give thanks to God who made his glory, the glory of Love, shine on the Martyrs of Otranto, on Mother Laura Montoya and on Mother María Guadalupe García Zavala. I greet all of you who have come for this celebration — from Italy, Colombia, Mexico and other countries — and I thank you! Let us look at the new saints in the light of the word of God proclaimed. It is a word that has invited us to be faithful to Christ, even to martyrdom; it has reminded us of the urgency and beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; and it has spoken to us of the testimony of charity, without which even martyrdom and the mission lose their Christian savour.

1. When the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the Deacon Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, it is written that he was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit” (6:5; 7:55). What does this mean? It means that he was filled with the Love of God, that his whole self, his life, was inspired by the Spirit of the Risen Christ so that he followed Jesus with total fidelity, to the point of giving up himself.

Today the Church holds up for our veneration an array of martyrs who in 1480 were called to bear the highest witness to the Gospel together. About 800 people, who had survived the siege and invasion of Otranto, were beheaded in the environs of that city. They refused to deny their faith and died professing the Risen Christ. Where did they find the strength to stay faithful? In the faith itself, which enables us to see beyond the limits of our human sight, beyond the boundaries of earthly life. It grants us to contemplate “the heavens opened”, as St Stephen says, and the living Christ at God’s right hand. Dear friends, let us keep the faith we have received and which is our true treasure, let us renew our faithfulness to the Lord, even in the midst of obstacles and misunderstanding. God will never let us lack strength and calmness. While we venerate the Martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain all the Christians who still suffer violence today in these very times and in so many parts of the world and to give them the courage to stay faithful and to respond to evil with goodness.

2. We might take the second idea from the words of Jesus which we heard in the Gospel: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn 17:20). St Laura Montoya was an instrument of evangelization, first as a teacher and later as a spiritual mother of the indigenous in whom she instilled hope, welcoming them with this love that she had learned from God and bringing them to him with an effective pedagogy that respected their culture and was not in opposition to it. In her work of evangelization Mother Laura truly made herself all things to all people, to borrow St Paul’s words (cf. 1 Cor 9:22). Today too, like a vanguard of the Church, her spiritual daughters live in and take the Gospel to the furthest and most needy places.

This first saint, born in the beautiful country of Colombia, teaches us to be generous to God and not to live our faith in solitude — as if it were possible to live the faith alone! — but to communicate it and to make the joy of the Gospel shine out in our words and in the witness of our life wherever we meet others. Wherever we may happen to be, to radiate this life of the Gospel. She teaches us to see Jesus’ face reflected in others and to get the better of the indifference and individualism that corrode Christian communities and eat away our heart itself. She also teaches us to accept everyone without prejudice, without discrimination and without reticence, but rather with sincere love, giving them the very best of ourselves and, especially, sharing with them our most worthwhile possession; this is not one of our institutions or organizations, no. The most worthwhile thing we possess is Christ and his Gospel.

3. Lastly, a third idea. In today’s Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father with these words: “I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:26). The martyr’s fidelity event to the death and the proclamation of the Gospel to all people are rooted, have their roots, in God’s love, which was poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), and in the witness we must bear in our life to this love.

St Guadalupe García Zavala was well aware of this. By renouncing a comfortable life — what great harm an easy life and well-being cause; the adoption of a bourgeois heart paralyzes us — by renouncing an easy life in order to follow Jesus’ call she taught people how to love poverty, how to feel greater love for the poor and for the sick. Mother Lupita would kneel on the hospital floor, before the sick, before the abandoned, in order to serve them with tenderness and compassion. And this is called “touching the flesh of Christ”. The poor, the abandoned, the sick and the marginalized are the flesh of Christ. And Mother Lupita touched the flesh of Christ and taught us this behaviour: not to feel ashamed, not to fear, not to find “touching Christ’s flesh” repugnant. Mother Lupita had realized what “touching Christ’s flesh” actually means. Today too her spiritual daughters try to mirror God’s love in works of charity, unsparing in sacrifices and facing every obstacle with docility and with apostolic perseverance (hypomon?), bearing it with courage.

This new Mexican saint invites us to love as Jesus loved us. This does not entail withdrawal into ourselves, into our own problems, into our own ideas, into our own interests, into this small world that is so harmful to us; but rather to come out of ourselves and care for those who are in need of attention, understanding and help, to bring them the warm closeness of God’s love through tangible actions of sensitivity, of sincere affection and of love.

Faithfulness to Christ and to his Gospel, in order to proclaim them with our words and our life, witnessing to God’s love with our own love and with our charity to all: these are the luminous examples and teachings that the saints canonized today offer us but they call into question our Christian life: how am I faithful to Christ? Let us take this question with us, to think about it during the day: how am I faithful to Christ? Am I able to “make my faith seen with respect, but also with courage? Am I attentive to others, do I notice who is in need, do I see everyone as brothers and sisters to love? Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the new saints, to fill our life with the joy of his love. So may it be.


Pope Francis  22.05.13  General Audience  St Peter's Square  Catechesis on the Creed

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the Creed, immediately after professing our faith in the Holy Spirit, we say: “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. There is a profound connection between these two realities of faith: indeed it is the Holy Spirit who gives life to the Church, who guides her steps. Without the constant presence and action of the Holy Spirit the Church could not live and could not carry out the task that the Risen Jesus entrusted to her: to go and make disciples of all nations (cf. Mt 28:19). 

Evangelizing is the Church’s mission. It is not the mission of only a few, but it is mine, yours and our mission. The Apostle Paul exclaimed: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). We must all be evangelizers, especially with our life! Paul VI stressed that “Evangelizing is... the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 14).

Who is the real driving force of evangelization in our life and in the Church?
Paul VI wrote clearly: “it is the Holy Spirit who today, just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by him. The Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself, and at the same time the Holy Spirit predisposes the soul of the hearer to be open and receptive to the Good News and to the Kingdom being proclaimed (ibid., n. 75). To evangelize, therefore, it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the horizon of God’s Spirit, without being afraid of what he asks us or of where he leads us. Let us entrust ourselves to him! He will enable us to live out and bear witness to our faith, and will illuminate the heart of those we meet. 

This was the experience at Pentecost. “There appeared” to the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room with Mary, “tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:3-4). In coming down upon the Apostles the Holy Spirit makes them leave the room they had locked themselves into out of fear, he prompts them to step out of themselves and transforms them into heralds and witnesses of the “mighty works of God” (v. 11). Moreover this transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit reverberated in the multitude that had arrived “from every nation under heaven” (v. 5) for each one heard the Apostles’ words as if they had been “speaking in his own language” (v. 6). 

This is one of the first important effects of the action of the Holy Spirit who guides and brings to life the proclamation of the Gospel: unity, communion. It was in Babel, according to the Biblical account, that the dispersion of people and the confusion of languages had begun, the results of the act of pride and conceit of man who wanted to build with his efforts alone, without God, “a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens” (Gen 11:4). At Pentecost these divisions were overcome. There was no longer conceit with regard to God, nor the closure of some people to others; instead, there was openness to God, there was going out to proclaim his word: a new language, that of love which the Holy Spirit pours out into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5); a language that all can understand and that, once received, can be expressed in every life and every culture. The language of the Spirit, the language of the Gospel, is the language of communion which invites us to get the better of closedness and indifference, division and antagonization. 

We must all ask ourselves: how do I let myself be guided by the Holy Spirit in such a way that my life and my witness of faith is both unity and communion? Do I convey the word of reconciliation and of love, which is the Gospel, to the milieus in which I live. At times it seems that we are repeating today what happened at Babel: division, the incapacity to understand one another, rivalry, envy, egoism. What do I do with my life? Do I create unity around me? Or do I cause division, by gossip, criticism or envy? What do I do? Let us think about this. 

Spreading the Gospel means that we are the first to proclaim and live the reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity and love which the Holy Spirit gives us. Let us remember Jesus’ words: “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13: 34-35). 

A second element is the day of Pentecost. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit and standing “with the eleven”, “lifted up his voice” (Acts 2:14) and “confidently” (v. 29), proclaimed the Good News of Jesus, who gave his life for our salvation and who God raised from the dead. This is another effect of the Holy Spirit’s action: the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel of Jesus to all, confidently, (with parrhesia) in a loud voice, in every time and in every place. 

Today too this happens for the Church and for each one of us: the fire of Pentecost, from the action of the Holy Spirit, releases an ever new energy for mission, new ways in which to proclaim the message of salvation, new courage for evangelizing. Let us never close ourselves to this action! Let us live the Gospel humbly and courageously! 

Let us witness to the newness, hope and joy that the Lord brings to life. Let us feel within us “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation,
Evangelii Nuntiandi, n, 80). Because evangelizing, proclaiming Jesus, gives us joy. Instead, egoism makes us bitter, sad, and depresses us. Evangelizing uplifts us.

I will only mention a third element, which, however, is particularly important: a new evangelization, a Church which evangelizes, must always start with prayer, with asking, like the Apostles in the Upper Room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit. Only a faithful and intense relationship with God makes it possible to get out of our own closedness and proclaim the Gospel with parrhesia. Without prayer our acts are empty, and our proclamation has no soul, it is not inspired by the Spirit.

Dear friends, as
Benedict XVI said, today the Church “feels the wind of the Holy Spirit who helps us, who shows us the right road; and so, we are on our way, it seems to me, with new enthusiasm, and we thank the Lord” (Address to the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 27 October 2012). Let us renew every day our trust in the Holy Spirit’s action, the trust that he acts within us, that he is within us, that he gives us apostolic zeal, peace and joy. Let us allow him to lead us. May we be men and women of prayer who witness to the Gospel with courage, becoming in our world instruments of unity and of communion with God. Thank you.

     

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/evangelization/28.07.13.jpg

Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? What is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “go, if you would like to, if you have the time”, but he said: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination, from the desire for power, but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and did not give us just a part of himself, but he gave us the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as people who are free , as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path for all of you to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, as we have just heard in the reading, when he was called by God to be a prophet. “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus never leaves anyone alone! He always accompanies us .

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! Certainly he has rejuvenated all of you. The young make everyone feel young. But this experience is only a stage on the journey. Please, continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And here I wish to thank from the heart the youth ministry teams from the movements and new communities that are accompanying the young people in their experience of being Church, in such a creative and bold way. Go forth and don’t be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. The life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives more joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Dear young friends, Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen




Pope Francis  09.09.16  Holy Mass, Santa Marta      1 Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22B-27

Evangelization is carried out first through witness and then with words, being careful to avoid falling into the temptation of reducing ourselves to officials who stroll around and proselytize. In his homily during the Mass at Santa Marta on Friday morning, Pope Francis relaunched St Paul’s “style” of evangelization, his “becoming all things to all men” without seeking personal merit. The Pope also referred to the example of St Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary who worked among slaves.

“The apostle Paul explains to the Corinthians what it means to evangelize”, the Pope affirmed, referring to the first reading in the day’s liturgy (1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-27). “We too can reflect today upon what it means to evangelize”, he said, “because we Christians are called to evangelize, to convey the Gospel, which means bearing witness to Jesus Christ”.

And Paul, addressing the Christians of Corinth, begins his reasoning by pointing out what evangelization does not consist of: “To me, proclaiming the Gospel is not boasting”. Therefore, you should certainly not boast “of going to evangelize: I am going to do this, I am going to do that”, as if evangelizing was like “taking a stroll”. This would be “reducing evangelization to a task: I have this task”. And “I am speaking about things that happen in parishes around the world”, the Pope said, “when a parish priest always has his door closed”.

It can also happen, Pope Francis continued, that you meet “lay people who say: ‘I teach this catechism class, I do this, this and this...”. In doing so, they reduce “what they call evangelization to a task”. Perhaps they even boast, saying: “I perform this task, I am a catechist official, I am an official of this, of this or that”.

This is precisely the attitude of those who boast, the Pope insisted, and “it is reducing the Gospel to a task or even a source of pride: ‘I go and evangelize and I have brought many people to Church’”. In this way, he said, “even proselytizing is boasting”. However, “evangelization is not proselytism”. It is more: evangelization is never “taking a stroll; reducing the Gospel to a task; proselytizing”.

St Paul emphatically repeats what evangelization means, the Pope explained: preaching the Gospel “is not boasting. It is a necessity imposed upon me”. Indeed, the Pope said, referring to an expression of Paul, “a Christian is obligated, but with this force, as a necessity, to convey the name of Jesus, but from one’s own heart”. Repeating the Apostle’s clear words, the Pontiff said: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”.

A reprimand — “Woe to you!” — that reaches those Catholics who think: “I go to Mass, I do this and then nothing more”. However, Pope Francis cautioned, “if you say that you are Catholic, that you have been baptized, that you have been confirmed, you must go further, to convey the name of Jesus: this is an obligation!”.

Paul’s precise indications, the Pope continued, lead us to question what our “style of evangelization” should be. In short, “how can I be sure that I am not taking a stroll, that I am neither proselytizing nor reducing evangelization to a task? How can I understand what the right style is?”.

The answer Paul always gives is: “The style is to be all things to everyone”. In fact, the Apostle writes: “I have become all things to all men”. In essence it means “to go and share the lives of others, to accompany them on the journey of faith, to help them grow on the journey of faith”.

In practice, Pope Francis explained, it means conducting yourself as if “you are accompanying a child, for example: when we want a child to learn how to speak, the parents do not merely say: ‘Speak, read this and speak!’” . Rather, they first teach the child how to say “Mommy and Daddy”. In doing so, the Pope continued, they “become like children so that the child may grow”.

Therefore, the Pope stressed again, “we must do the same with our brother: to go to the situation he is in and if he is sick, to draw near, not to bombard him with arguments; to be near, to assist him, to help him”. Therefore, to answer the question about the style one should use to proclaim the Gospel, Pope Francis replied that evangelization is done precisely “with this attitude of mercy: to be all things to all men”, with the certainty that “it is the testimony that brings forth the Word”.

From this perspective, the Pope also wanted to share a personal confidence: “When I was in Poland, in Krakow, I was having lunch with young people at World Youth Day, and a young man asked me: “Father, what should I say to a friend who is good — he is so good! — but who is an atheist, he does not believe: what should I say to him so that he will believe?”. This, Pope Francis continued, “is a good question, as we all know people who are separated from the Church: what should we tell them?”. On that occasion, he recalled, his answer to the young man’s question was: “Look, the last thing you need to do is to say something! Begin to act and he will see what you are doing and ask you; and when he asks you, you tell him”.

In short, the Pope affirmed, “to evangelize is to give this testimony: I live this way, because I believe in Jesus Christ; I awaken within you the curiosity to ask, ‘why do you do these things?’”. And the Christian response should be: “Because I believe in Jesus Christ and I preach Jesus Christ and not only with the Word — you must proclaim Him with the Word — but above all with your life”. Therefore becoming all things to everyone, evangelizing “where you are, in the state of mind you are in, and the state of growth you have reached”.

This is what it means “to evangelize and this is also done freely”, the Pope explained. Paul writes: “What then is my reward? Proclaiming the Gospel freely. Why freely? Because we have freely received the Gospel. Grace, salvation, can neither be bought nor sold”. Grace is free! “And freely we must give it”. We see “this gratuity, this testimony of proclaiming Jesus Christ”, the Pope said, “in many men, women, religious, consecrated persons, priests and bishops, who become all things to everyone, freely”.

This gratuity is found throughout the history of the Church. “Today”, the Pope recalled, “we celebrate the Feast Day of St Peter Claver, a missionary who travelled far to proclaim the Gospel. Perhaps he thought that his future would be one of preaching: later the Lord asked him to draw near to the unwanted people of that time, to slaves”, to people “who were brought there from Africa to be sold”. And this man “was not strolling around, boasting that he was evangelizing; he did not reduce evangelization to functionalism nor to proselytism”. St Peter Claver “proclaimed Jesus Christ through his actions, by speaking to the slaves, living with them and living like them”. And “there are many people like him in the Church who die to themselves in order to proclaim Jesus Christ”.

Before continuing the celebration, the Pope said that “all of us, brothers and sisters, have the obligation to evangelize, which does not mean knocking on your neighbour’s door and saying: ‘Christ is risen!’”. Rather, it is primarily “living the faith, and speaking of it with meekness, with love, without the desire of persuading anyone, but freely”, because to evangelize “is to freely give that which God freely gave to me”.



https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-06/pope-homily-santa-marta-barnabas-evangelization.html

Evangelization has three fundamental dimensions: proclamation, service and gratuitousness.

The readings for the Memorial of St Barnabas (Acts 11:21-26; 12: 1-3 and Matthew 10:7-13) demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is the “protagonist” of the Gospel proclamation. That proclamation is unlike other types of communication. Due to the action of the Holy Spirit, it has the power to change hearts. There have been pastoral plans that seem to be perfect. They were incapable of changing hearts because they were ends in themselves. They were not instruments of evangelization.

It is not with an entrepreneurial attitude that Jesus sends us…. No, it is with the Holy Spirit. This is courage. The true courage behind evangelization is not human stubbornness. No, it is the Spirit who gives us courage and who carries you forward.

Service is the second dimension of evangelization. In fact, pursuing a career or success in the Church is a sure sign that someone doesn’t know what evangelization is…for the one who commands must be the one who serves.

We can say good things but without service it is not proclamation. It may seem to be, but it is not, because the Spirit not only carries you forward to proclaim the truths of the Lord and the life of the Lord, but He also brings you to the service of the brothers and sisters, even in small things. It’s awful when you find evangelizers who make others serve them and who live to be served. They are like the princes of evangelization – how awful.

Gratuitousness is the third aspect of evangelization because no one can be redeemed by his or her own merit. The Lord reminds us, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Matthew 10:8).

All of us have been saved gratuitously by Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must give gratuitously. Those who carry out the pastoral work of evangelization must learn this. Their life must be gratuitous, given in service, proclamation, borne by the Spirit. Their personal poverty forces them to open themselves up to the Spirit.




Pope Francis     16.10.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square    Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles     Acts 10: 1-49,    11:1-3

Pope Francis  16.10.19  General Audience


Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The Gospel's journey in the world, which St. Luke recounts in the Acts of the Apostles, is accompanied by the high creativity of God's who is manifested in a surprising way. God wants His children to overcome every particularism in order to open themselves to the universality of salvation. This is the purpose: to overcome particularisms and to open oneself up to the universality of salvation, because God wants to save everyone. All who are reborn from water and spirit – the baptized – are called to go out of themselves and open themselves to others, to live in proximity, the lifestyle of together, which transforms every interpersonal relationship into an experience of fraternity (cf. Esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium,87).

Testimony to this process of "fraternization" that the Spirit wants to trigger in history is Peter, protagonist in the Acts of the Apostles together with Paul. Peter lives an event that marks a decisive turning point for his existence. While he is praying, he receives a vision that acts as a divine "provocation", to arouse in him a change of mentality. He sees a great tablecloth coming down from on high, containing various animals: quadrupeds, reptiles and birds, and hears a voice inviting him to eat of those meats. As a good Jew, he reacts by claiming that he has never eaten anything impure, as required by the Law of the Lord (cf. Lev 11). Then the voice comes back forcefully: "What God has purified, you should not call profane"(Acts 10:15).

With this fact the Lord wants Peter to no longer evaluate events and people according to the categories of pure and impure, but to learn to go further, to look at the person and the intentions of his heart. What makes man unclean, in fact, does not come from outside but only from within, from the heart (cf. Mark 7:21). Jesus made it clear.

After that vision, God sends Peter to the home of an uncircumcised foreigner, Cornelius, "centurion of the cohort called Italica, who is religious and God-fearing, and he makes a lot of alms and always prays to God (cf. Acts 10:1-2), but he was not Jewish.

In that house of pagans, Peter preaches Christ the crucified and risen and he forgives the sins of anyone who believes in him. And as Peter speaks, the Holy Spirit descends over Cornelius and his family. And Peter baptizes them in the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 10:48).

This extraordinary fact – this is the first time such a thing has happened – becomes renowned in Jerusalem, where the brothers, scandalized by Peter's behaviour, reproach him harshly (cf. Acts 11:1-3). Peter did something that went beyond custom, beyond the law, and for this they rebuke him. But after meeting Cornelius, Peter is more free from himself and more in communion with God and with others, because he has seen God's will in the action of the Holy Spirit. He can therefore understand that the election of Israel is not the reward for merit, but the sign of the gratuitous call to be mediating the divine blessing among pagan peoples.

Dear brothers and sisters, from the prince of the Apostles let us learn that an
evangelizer cannot be an impediment to God's creative work, who "wants all men to be saved"(1Tim 2:4), but one who favours a heartfelt encounter with the Lord. And how do we behave with our brothers and sisters, especially those who are not Christians? Are we an impediment to their encounter with God? Do we hinder their encounter with the Father or facilitate it?

Let us ask for the grace to be astonished by
God's surprises, to not hinder his creativity, but to recognize and favour ever new ways through which the Risen One can spread his Spirit into the world and attract hearts by making himself known as the "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). Thank you.




Pope Francis    30.10.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square      Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles        Acts 16: 8-34

Pope Francis  30.10.19  General Audience

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Reading the Acts of the Apostles, we can see how the
Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church's mission: it is He who guides the path of the evangelizers by showing them the way forward.

We see this clearly when the Apostle Paul, who has arrived in Troas, receives a vision. A Macedonian begs him: "Come to Macedonia and help us!" (Acts 16:9). The people of Northern Macedonia are proud of this, they are so proud to have called Paul for Paul to
announce Jesus Christ. I remember so well the beautiful people who welcomed me with such warmth: that conserves the faith that Paul preached to them! The Apostle did not hesitate and left for Macedonia, sure that it is God who sends him, and arrives at Philippi, "Roman colony" (Acts 16:12) on the Via Ignatia, to preach the Gospel. Paul stops there for several days. There are three events that characterize his stay in Philippi, in these three days: three important events. 1) The evangelization and baptism of Lydia and her family; 2) his arrest, along with Silas, after exorcizing a slave exploited by her owners; 3) the conversion and baptism of his prison warden and his family. Let's look at these three episodes in Paul's life.

The power of the Gospel is addressed, above all, to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lidia, a merchant of purple cloth, in the city of Thyatira, she is a believer in God in whom the Lord opens his heart "to adhere to Paul's words"(Acts 16:14). Lydia, in fact, welcomes Christ, receives Baptism with her family and welcomes those who are of Christ, giving a home to Paul and Silas in her home. Here we have the testimony of the arrival of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that has lasted until today. It entered through Macedonia.

After the warmth experienced at Lydia's house, Paul and Silas then find themselves dealing with the harshness of prison: they go from the consolation of this conversion of Lydia and her family, to the desolation of the prison, where they are thrown for having freed in the name of Jesus "a slave who had a spirit of divination" and "provided much profit for her masters" as a fortune-teller (Acts 16:16). Her masters made a lot of money, and this poor slave did what fortune-tellers do: she saw the future, she read hands – as the song says, "take this hand, gypsy", and that's why people paid. Even today, dear brothers and sisters, there are people who pay for it. I remember in my diocese, a large park, there were more than 60 tables where the fortune-tellers would sit men and women and they would read the palms of hands and people believed these things! And they paid. And this also happened in the time of St Paul. Her owners, in retaliation, reported Paul and lead the Apostles before the magistrates on charges of public disorder.

What happens? Paul is in prison and during his captivity a surprising thing happens. There is desolation, but instead of complaining, Paul and Silas sing praise to God and this praise releases a power that frees them: during the prayer an earthquake shakes the foundations of the prison, opens the doors and the chains fall off of everyone (cf. 16:25-26). As the prayer of Pentecost, the prayer made in prison also has prodigious effects.

The prison warden, believing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to commit suicide, because the prison wardens paid with their own lives if a prisoner escaped; but Paul shouts to him: "We are all here!" (Acts 16:27-28). Then he asks, "What do I have to do to be saved?" (see 30). The answer is: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved" (v. 31). At this point a change happens: in the middle of the night, the prison warden listens to the word of the Lord together with his family, welcomes the apostles, he washes their wounds – because they had been beaten – and together with his family they receive Baptism. Then, "and with his family he rejoiced at having come to faith in God" (v. 34), he prepared a banquet and invited Paul and Silas to stay with them: the moment of consolation! In the middle of the night of this anonymous prison warden, the light of Christ shines and defeats the darkness: the chains of the heart fall and blossom in him and his family and they experience a joy they have never experienced. That is the Holy Spirit who is carrying out the mission: from the beginning, from Pentecost onwards the Holy Spirit instils the mission. And he carries us forward, we must be faithful to the vocation that the Holy Spirit moves us to do. To bring the gospel.

Let us today also ask the Holy Spirit for an open heart, sensitive to God and hospitable to our brothers and sisters, like that of Lydia, and a bold faith, like that of Paul and Silas, and also an openness of heart, like that of the prison warden who is touched by the Holy Spirit.




Pope Francis   06.11.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square      Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles        Acts 17: 15-34

Pope Francis 06.11.19 Paul in Athens


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We continue our "journey" with the book of the Acts of the Apostles. After the trials in Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, Paul arrives in Athens, right in the heart of Greece (cf. Acts 17:15). This city, which lived in the shadow of the ancient glories despite the political decadence, still guarded the panacea of culture. Here the Apostle "trembles within himself to see the city full of idols"(Acts 17:16). This "impact" with paganism, however, instead of making him flee, pushes him to create a bridge to talk with that culture.

Paul chooses to become familiar with the city and thus begins to frequent the most significant places and people. He goes to the synagogue, a symbol of the life of faith; goes to the square, symbol of city life; and goes to the Areopagus, a symbol of political and cultural life. Meet Jews, epicurean and stoic philosophers, and many others. He meets all the people, he doesn't close himself, he goes to talk to all the people. In this way Paul observes the culture of Athens, starting from a contemplative outlook that discovers that God dwells in his homes, in his streets and in his squares"(Evangelii gaudium,71). Paul does not look at the city of Athens and the pagan world with hostility but with the eyes of faith. And this makes us wonder about our way of looking at our cities: do we observe them with indifference? With contempt? Or with the faith that recognizes God's children in the midst of anonymous crowds?

Paul chooses an outlook that urges him to build a bridge between the Gospel and the pagan world. In the heart of one of the most famous institutions of the ancient world, the Areopagus, he realizes an extraordinary example of enculture of the message of faith: he proclaims Jesus Christ to the worshippers of idols, and does not attack them, but makes himself "a Pope, a builder of bridges"(Homily in Santa Marta, May 8, 2013).

Paul takes his cue from the altar of the city dedicated to "an unknown god" (Acts 17:23) - there was an altar with "to the Unknown God"; no image, nothing, just that inscription. Starting from that "devotion" to the Unknown God, to empathize with his listeners proclaims that God "lives among the citizens"(Evangelii gaudium,71) and "does not hide from those who seek him with a sincere heart, " ( ibid.). It is precisely this presence that Paul seeks to reveal: "What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you"(Acts 17:23).

To reveal the identity of the god that the Athenians worship, the Apostle starts from creation, that is, from the biblical faith in the God of revelation, to arrive at redemption and judgment, that is, to the strictly Christian message. He shows the disproportion between the greatness of the Creator and the temples built by man, and explains that the Creator is always looking so that everyone can find him. In this way Paul, according to a beautiful expression of Pope Benedict XVI, "announces The One whom men ignore, yet know: the Unknown-Known" (Blessed XVI, Meeting with the world of culture at the Collège des Bernardins, 12 Sept. 2008) . Then, he invites everyone to go beyond "the times of ignorance" and to decide for conversion in view of the impending judgment. Paul thus arrives at the kerygma and alludes to Christ, without mentioning him, defining him as the "man that God has appointed, giving a sure proof to all by raising him from the dead"(Acts 17:31).

And here, there's the problem. The word of Paul, who until now had held the interlocutors in suspense – because it was an interesting discovery – finds a rock: the death and resurrection of Christ appears "foolish" (1Cor 1:23) and arouses ridicule and derision. Paul then departs: his attempt seems to have failed, but instead some adhere to his word and open themselves to the faith. Among them a man, Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, and a woman, Damaris. Even in Athens, the Gospel takes root and can run with two voices: that of man and that of women!

Today let us also ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to build bridges with culture, with those who do not believe or with those who have a different belief from our own. Always build bridges, always the outstretched hand, no aggression. Let us ask him for the ability to delicately enculturate the message of faith, placing on those in Christ's ignorance a contemplative look, moved by a love that warms even the most hardened hearts.





Pope Francis   09.11.19  St John's Basilica, Lateran        Ezekiel 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12,       Psalms 46: 2-3, 5-6, 8-9,      1 Corinthians 3: 9c-11, 16-17,      John 2: 13-22
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Pope Francis 09.11.19 St John's Basilica, Lateran

Tonight, in this celebration of dedication, I would like to take three verses from the Word of God and offer them to you, so that you can meditate and pray over them.

The first I feel is addressed to everyone, to the entire diocesan community of Rome. It is the verse of the Psalm: "A river and its streams gladden the city of God" (46:5). The Christians who live in this city are like the river that flows from the temple: they bring a Word of life and hope capable of fertilizing the deserts of hearts, as the stream described in the vision of Ezekiel (cf. 47) that fertilizes the desert of Araba and restores the salty and lifeless waters of the Dead Sea. The important thing is that the stream comes out of the temple and flows to hostile-looking lands. The city can only rejoice when it sees Christians become joyful announcers, determined to share with others the treasures of God's Word and to work for the common good. The land that seemed destined to remain dry forever, reveals an extraordinary potential: it becomes a garden with evergreen trees and leaves and fruits with healing power. Ezekiel explains the reason for so much fertility: "Their waters flow from the sanctuary" (47:12). God is the secret of this new life force!

May the Lord rejoice at seeing us on the move, ready to listen with our hearts to His poor who cry out to Him. May the Mother Church of Rome experience the consolation of seeing once again the obedience and courage of her children, full of enthusiasm for this new season of evangelization. Meeting others, entering into dialogue with them, listening to them with humility, graciousness and poverty of heart... I invite you to live all this not as something stressful, but with spiritual ease: instead of getting caught up in performance anxieties, it is more important to broaden our perception in order to grasp God's presence and action in the city. It is a contemplation born of love.

To you priests I want to dedicate a verse of the second Reading, of the First Letter to the Corinthians: "No-one can lay a foundation other than the one that is already there, which is Jesus Christ"(3:11). This is your task, the heart of your ministry: to help the community be always at the Lord's feet listening to His Word; to keep it away from all worldliness, from bad compromises; to guard the foundation and blessed roots of the spiritual building; to defend it from rapacious wolves, from those who would like to divert it from the way of the Gospel. Like Paul, you too are "wise architects" (cf. 3:10), wise because you are well aware that any other idea or reality we wanted to place at the base of the Church instead of the Gospel, might perhaps guarantee us more success, perhaps more immediate gratification, but it would inevitably lead to the collapse, the collapse of the whole spiritual building!

Since I have been Bishop of Rome, I have come to know many of you priests more closely: I have admired your faith and love for the Lord, your closeness to the people and generosity in caring for the poor. You know the city's neighbourhoods like no other and keep in your heart the faces, smiles and tears of so many people. You have set aside ideological differences and personal ambition to make room for what God asks of you. The realism of those who have their feet on the ground and know "how things are in this world" has not prevented you from flying high with the Lord and dreaming big. God bless you. May the joy of intimacy with Him be the truest reward for all the good you do on a daily basis.

And finally a verse for you, members of the pastoral teams, who are here to receive a special mandate from the Bishop. I could only choose him from the Gospel(John 2:13-22), where Jesus behaves in a divinely provocative way. In order to shake the dullness of people and induce them to radical changes, sometimes Jesus chooses to take strong action, to break through the situation. With his action Jesus wants to produce a change of pace, a turnaround. Many saints had acted in the same way: some of their actions, incomprehensible by human logic, were the result of insights that came from the Spirit and were intended to provoke their contemporaries and help them understand that "my thoughts are not your thoughts," as God says through the prophet Isaiah (55:8).

In order to understand todays Gospel passage, we need to stress an important detail. The merchants were in the courtyard of the pagans, the place accessible to non-Jews. This very courtyard had been turned into a market. But God wants his temple to be a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56,7). Hence Jesus' decision to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive out the animals. This purification of the sanctuary was necessary for Israel to rediscover its vocation: to be light for all people, a small nation chosen to serve to the salvation that God wants to give to everyone. Jesus knows that this provocation will cost him dearly. And when they ask him, "What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this ?" (v. 18), the Lord responds by saying, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it"( v. 19).

And tonight this is exactly the verse that I want to give to you, pastoral teams. You are entrusted with the task of helping your communities and pastoral workers reach all the inhabitants of the city, finding new ways to meet those who are far from the faith and the Church. But, in fulfilling this service, you carry within yourselves this awareness, this trust: that there is no human heart in which Christ does not want to be and cannot be reborn. In our lives as sinners, we often turn away from the Lord and extinguish the Spirit. We destroy the temple of God that is in each of us. Yet this is never a definitive situation: it takes the Lord three days to rebuild his temple within us!

No one, no matter how wounded by evil, is condemned to be separated from God on this earth forever. In a way that is often mysterious but real, the Lord opens new cracks in our hearts, the desire for truth, goodness and beauty, which make room for evangelization. We may sometimes encounter mistrust and hostility: but we must not allow ourselves to be blocked, rather to hold onto the belief that it takes God three days to raise His Son in someone's heart. It is also the story of some of us: profound conversions resulting from the unpredictable action of grace! I think of the Second Vatican Council: "Christ has died for all and since the ultimate vocation of humanity is in fact one, the divine one; therefore we must believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to everyone the possibility of being associated with the Easter mystery" (Cost. past. Gaudium et spes, 22).

May the Lord let us experience this in all our evangelizing action. May we can grow in faith in the Easter Mystery and be associated with His "zeal" for our house. And may you be blessed on your journey!