CELEBRATION OF VESPERS FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE MISSIONARY MONTH
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER, POPE FRANCIS
Tuesday, 1 October 2019
In the parable we heard, the Lord presents himself as a man who, before leaving, calls the servants to hand over his goods to them (see Mt 25:14). God has entrusted us with his greatest possessions: our life, that of others, so many different gifts for each one. And these goods, these talents, do not represent something to keep in a safe, it represents a call: the Lord calls us to make the talents bear fruit with boldness and creativity. God will ask us if we will be put into play, risking, perhaps losing face. This extraordinary missionary month wants to be a shock to provoke us to become active in good. Notaries of faith and guardians of grace, but missionaries.
You become a missionary by living as witnesses: witnessing with your life to know Jesus. It is life that speaks. Witness is the key word, a word that has the same root as a martyr's meaning. And the martyrs are the first witnesses of faith: not in words, but in life. They know that faith is not propaganda or proselytism, it is a respectful gift of life. They live spreading peace and joy, loving everyone, even their enemies for Jesus' sake. So we, who have discovered we are children of the heavenly Father, how can we keep silent about the joy of being loved, the certainty of always being precious in God's eyes? It is the announcement that so many people await. And it is our responsibility. Let us ask ourselves this month: how is my testimony going?
At the end of the parable the Lord says "good and faithful" who was enterprising; "The wicked and the lazy" is instead the servant who was on the defensive (see verses 21.23.26). Why is God so severe with this fearful servant? What has he done? His evil is not having done good, he has a sin of omission. San Alberto Hurtado said: "It is good not to hurt. But it is bad not to do good ”. This is the sin of omission. And this can be the sin of a whole life, because we have received life not to bury it, but to put it into play; not to hold it, but to give it. Whoever is with Jesus knows that one has what one gives, one possesses what one gives; and the secret to possessing life is to give it. To live with omissions is to deny our vocation: the omission is the opposite of mission.
We sin of omission, that is, against the mission, when, instead of spreading joy, we close ourselves in a sad victimhood, thinking that nobody loves us and understands us. We sin against the mission when we give in to resignation: "I can't do it, I'm not capable". But how? Did God give you talents and do you think you are so poor that you can't enrich anyone? We sin against the mission when, lamenting, we continue to say that everything is bad, in the world as in the Church. We sin against the mission when we are slaves of the fears that immobilize and we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by "it has always been like that". And we sin against the mission when we live life as a burden and not as a gift; when we are at the center with our efforts, not the brothers and sisters who are waiting to be loved.
"God loves one who gives with joy" (2 Cor 9: 7). He loves an outgoing Church. But let's be careful: if it's not coming out it's not Church. The Church is on the street, the Church is walking. An outgoing, missionary Church is a Church that wastes no time in mourning the things that are not right, the faithful who no longer have, the values of a time that no longer exist. A Church that does not seek protected oases to stay quiet; he just wants to be salt of the earth and leaven for the world. This Church knows that this is its strength, the same as Jesus: not social or institutional relevance, but humble and gratuitous love.
Today we enter the missionary October accompanied by three "servants" who have borne much fruit. It shows us the way of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who made prayer the fuel of missionary action in the world. This is also the month of the Rosary: how much do we pray for the spread of the Gospel, to convert us from the omission to the mission? Then there is St. Francis Xavier, one of the great missionaries of the Church. He also shakes us: let's get out of our shells, are we able to leave our comforts for the Gospel? And there is the Venerable Pauline Jaricot, a worker who supported the missions with her daily work: with the offers she deducted from her salary, it was at the beginning of the Pontifical Mission Societies. And do we make every day a gift to overcome the gap between the Gospel and life? Please do not live a "sacristy" faith.
We are accompanied by a religious, a priest and a lay person. They tell us that no one is excluded from the mission of the Church. Yes, in this month the Lord also calls you. Call you, father and mother of a family; you, a young man who dreams of great things; you, who works in a factory, in a shop, in a bank, in a restaurant; you, who are out of work; you, who are in a hospital bed ... The Lord asks you to make yourself a gift where you are, as you are, with those around you; not to suffer life, but to give it; not to cry on yourself, but to let yourself be dug by the tears of those who suffer. Courage, the Lord expects so much from you. He also expects someone to have the courage to leave, to go where there is most lack of hope and dignity, where too many people still live without the joy of the Gospel. "But do I have to go alone?" No, this is wrong. If we have in mind to do the mission with business organizations, with work plans, it does not go. The protagonist of the mission is the Holy Spirit. He is the protagonist of the mission. You go with the Holy Spirit. Go, the Lord will not leave you alone; testifying, you will discover that the Holy Spirit has come before you to prepare the way. Courage, brothers and sisters; courage, Mother Church: find your fruitfulness in the joy of the mission!
FULL Text + Image Source: Vatican.va