INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
THE BEGINNING OF THE NEOCATENUMENAL WAY
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Spianata di Tor Vergata (Rome)
Saturday, 5 May 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I am happy to meet you and say with you: thank you! Thank God, and also to you, especially to those who have traveled a long way to be here. Thank you for the "yes" you have said, for having accepted the Lord's call to live the Gospel and to evangelize. And a big thank you also goes to those who started the Neocatechumenal Way fifty years ago.
Fifty is an important number in Scripture: on the fiftieth day the Spirit of the Risen One descended on the Apostles and manifested to the world the Church. Before that, God had blessed the fiftieth year: "The fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you" (Lv 25,11). A holy year, in which the chosen people would have touched new realities, such as the liberation and the return home of the oppressed: "You will proclaim liberation in the land for all its inhabitants - the Lord had said -. [...] Each of you will return to his property and his family "(v. 10). Behold, after fifty years of the Way it would be nice for each one of you to say: "Thank you, Lord, because you have really freed me; because in the Church I found my family; because in your Baptism old things have passed and I taste a new life (cf. 2 Cor 5:17); because through the Way you have shown me the path to discover your tender love of the Father ".
Dear brothers and sisters, at the end you will sing the "Te Deum of thanksgiving for the love and fidelity of God". This is very beautiful: to thank God for his love and for his loyalty. We often thank him for his gifts, for what he gives us, and it is good to do it. But it is even better to thank him for what he is, because he is the faithful God in love. His goodness does not depend on us. Whatever we do, God continues to love us faithfully. This is the source of our trust, the great consolation of life. So be brave, do not ever regret! And when the clouds of problems seem to thicken heavily on your days, remember that the faithful love of God always shines, like the sun that does not set. Make a record of his good, stronger than any evil, and the sweet memory of God's love will help you in every distress.
There is still an important thank you: how many are you going to go on a mission. I feel like telling you something from the heart precisely on the mission, on evangelization, which is the priority of the Church today. Because mission is to give voice to the faithful love of God, it is to announce that the Lord loves us and that he will never get tired of me, of you, of us and of this world of ours, which we may get tired of. Mission is to donate what we have received. Mission is to fulfill the mandate of Jesus that we have heard and on which I would like to reflect with you: "Go therefore and make disciples of all peoples" (Mt 28:19).
Go. The mission asks to leave. But in life there is a strong temptation to stay, not to take risks, to be content with having the situation under control. It is easier to stay home, surrounded by those who love us, but it is not the way of Jesus. He sends: "Go". It does not use half measures. He does not authorize small transfers or reimbursed travel, but he tells his disciples, to all his disciples, one word: "Go!" Go: a strong call that resounds in every corner of Christian life; a clear invitation to always be outgoing, pilgrims in the world looking for their brother who still does not know the joy of God's love.
But how do you go to go? You have to be agile, you can not bring all the household goods. The Bible teaches it: when God freed the chosen people, he made him go to the desert with only the baggage of trust in Him. And becoming man, he walked himself in poverty, without having to lay his head (cf. Lk 9:58). The same style applies to his. To go you must be light. To announce it is necessary to renounce. Only a Church that renounces the world announces the Lord well. Only a Church freed from power and money, free from triumphalism and clericalism testifies in a credible way that Christ liberates man. And who, by his love, learns to renounce the things that pass, embraces this great treasure: freedom. It is no longer harnessed in its attachments, which always claim something more but never give peace, and feels that the heart is dilated, without restlessness, available for God and for the brothers.
"Go" is the verb of the mission and tells us one more thing: that is combined in the plural. The Lord does not say: "go you, then you, then you ...", but "go" together! Fully missionary it is not who goes alone, but who walks together. Walking together is always an art to be learned, every day. One must be careful, for example, not to dictate the step to others. We must rather accompany and wait,
remembering that the path of the other is not identical to mine. As in life, no one has exactly the same pace as another, so also in faith and in the mission: one goes forward together, without isolating oneself or imposing one's sense of march; it goes forward united, as a Church, with the Pastors, with all the brothers, without leaks forward and without complaining about who has the slower pace. We are pilgrims who, accompanied by brothers, accompany other brothers, and it is good to do it personally, with care and respect for the path of each and without forcing anyone's growth, because the answer to God matures only in authentic and sincere freedom. The risen Jesus says: «Make disciples». Here is the mission. It does not say: conquer, occupy, but "make disciples", that is, share with others the gift you have received, the encounter of love that has changed your life. It is the heart of the mission: to witness that God loves us and that true love is possible with him, the one that leads to giving life everywhere, in the family, at work, by consecrated persons and married. Mission is to return disciples with the new disciples of Jesus. It is rediscovering part of a Church that is a disciple. Of course, the Church is a teacher, but she can not be a teacher if she is not a disciple before, just as she can not be a mother if she is not a daughter before. Here is our Mother: a humble Church, daughter of the Father and disciple of the Master, happy to be the sister of humanity. And this dynamic of discipleship - the disciple who makes disciples - is totally different from the dynamics of proselytism. Here is the strength of the announcement, because the world believes. Do not count the arguments that convince, but the life that attracts; not the ability to impose oneself, but the courage to serve. And you have in your "DNA" this vocation to announce living in the family, following the example of the Holy Family: in humility, simplicity and praise. Bring this family atmosphere into so many desolate and unconcerned places. Let yourselves be recognized as the friends of Jesus. All called friends and all be friends. «Go and make disciples of all peoples». And when Jesus says everyone seems to want to emphasize that in his heart there is room for every people. Nobody is excluded. Like children for a father and a mother: even if they are so many, adults and children, everyone is loved with all their heart. Because love, giving itself, does not diminish, increases. And it is always hopeful. Like parents, who do not see first of all the defects and shortcomings of their children, but their children themselves, and in this light they welcome their problems and their difficulties, so do the missionaries with the people loved by God. the negative aspects and the things to change, but "see with the heart", with a look that appreciates, an approach that respects, a trust that patiently. So go on a mission, thinking of "playing at home". Because the Lord is at home with every people and his Spirit has already sown before your arrival. And thinking of our Father, who loves the world so much (cf. Jn 3:16), be passionate about humanity, collaborators of the joy of all (cf. 2 Cor 1,24), authoritative because they are close, listenable because they are close. Love the cultures and traditions of peoples, without applying pre-established models. Do not start from theories and schemes, but from concrete situations: it will thus be the Spirit that shapes the announcement according to its times and its ways. And the Church will grow in her image: united in the diversity of peoples, gifts and charisms. Dear brothers and sisters, your charism is a great gift from God for the Church of our time. We thank the Lord for these fifty years: applause for fifty years! And looking at his fatherly, fraternal, and loving loyalty, never lose trust: He will guard you, spurring you at the same time to go, as beloved disciples, to all peoples, with humble simplicity. I accompany you and encourage you: go ahead! And please do not forget to pray for me, that I stay here!