Friday, November 22, 2019
At Mass in Thailand, Pope Francis tells Youth "I urge you to maintain your joy and to look to the future with confidence. Rooted in Christ, view all things with the joy..." Full Text
Pope Francis celebrates Mass for young people Friday evening in Bangkok’s Cathedral.
FULL TEXT Homily of Pope Francis:
Let us go out to meet Christ the Lord, for he is coming! The Gospel we have just heard invites us to set out, to look to the future in order to encounter the most beautiful thing that it can bring us: the definitive coming of Christ into our lives and into our world. Let us welcome him into our midst with immense joy and love, as only you young people can do! Even before we set out to seek him, we know that the Lord is seeking us; he comes out to meet us and calls us to make, create and shape a future. We set out joyfully, for we know he is waiting for us there. The Lord knows that through you, young people, the future is coming into this land and the world, and he is counting on you to carry out your mission today (cf. Christus Vivit, 174). Just as God had a plan for the Chosen People, so he has a plan for each of you. He first dreamed of inviting all of us to a banquet that we have to prepare together, with him, as a community: the banquet of his kingdom, from which no one is excluded.
Today’s Gospel speaks of ten young women called to look ahead and share in the Lord’s banquet. The problem was that some of them were not prepared, not because they had fallen asleep, but because they lacked the oil they needed for their lamps, the inner fuel to keep the fire of love burning. They had great excitement and motivation; they wanted to take part in the feast to which the Master had invited them. But as time passed, they grew weary, lost their energy and enthusiasm, and they arrived too late. This parable is about what can happen to any Christian. Full of excitement and interest, we hear the Lord’s call to be a part of his kingdom and share his joy with others. But often, as each of you knows, in the face of problems and obstacles like the suffering of our loved ones, or our own helplessness before apparently hopeless situations, unbelief and bitterness can take over and silently seep into our dreams, making our hearts grow cold, causing us to lose our joy and to arrive late.
So I would like to ask you three questions. Do you want to keep alive the fire that keeps you burning brightly amid darkness and difficulties? Do you want to be prepared to answer the Lord’s call? Do you want to be ready to do his will?
How can you obtain the oil that keeps you moving forward, that impels you to seek the Lord in every situation?
You are heirs to a precious history of evangelization that has been handed down to you as a sacred treasure. This beautiful cathedral is a witness to your ancestors’ faith in Jesus Christ. Their deeply rooted faithfulness led them to do good works, to build that other, even more beautiful temple, made up of living stones, in order to bring God’s merciful love to the people of their time. They were able to do this because they were convinced of what the prophet Hosea proclaimed in today’s first reading: God had spoken to them tenderly; he had embraced them with steadfast love forever (cf. Hos 2:16.21).
Dear friends, in order that the fire of the Spirit will keep burning, so that you can keep your eyes bright and your hearts aflame, you need to be deeply rooted in the faith of your ancestors: your parents, grandparents and teachers. Not to be stuck in the past, but to learn to find the courage that can help us respond to ever new situations. They had to endure many trials and much suffering in their lives. Yet along the way, they discovered that the secret to a happy heart is the security we find when we are anchored, rooted in Jesus: in his life, in his words, in his death and resurrection.
“I have sometimes seen young and beautiful trees, their branches reaching to the sky, pushing ever higher, and they seemed a song of hope. Later, following a storm, I would find them fallen and lifeless. They lacked deep roots. They spread their branches without being firmly planted, and so they fell as soon as nature unleashed her power. That is why it pains me to see young people sometimes being encouraged to build a future without roots, as if the world were just starting now. For ‘it is impossible for us to grow unless we have strong roots to support us and to keep us firmly grounded. It is easy to drift off, when there is nothing to clutch onto, to hold onto’ ” (Christus Vivit, 179).
Without this firm sense of rootedness, we can be swayed by the “voices” of this world that compete for our attention. Many are attractive and nicely packaged; at first they seem appealing and exciting, but in the long run they will leave you only empty, weary, alone and disenchanted (cf. ibid., 277), and slowly extinguish that spark of life that the Lord once ignited in the heart of each of us.
Dear young people, you are a new generation, with new hopes, dreams and questions, and surely some doubts as well, yet firmly rooted in Christ. I urge you to maintain your joy and to look to the future with confidence. Rooted in Christ, view all things with the joy and confidence born of knowing that the Lord has sought us out, found us and loved us infinitely. Friendship cultivated with Jesus is the oil needed to light up your path in life and the path of all those around you: your friends and neighbors, your companions at school and work, including those who think completely unlike yourselves.
Let us go out to meet Christ the Lord, for he is coming! Do not be afraid of the future or allow yourselves to be intimidated. Rather, know that the Lord is waiting for you there, in order to prepare and celebrate the banquet of his kingdom.
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation
US Bishops' Chairman joins Pro-Life Groups in Opposition to Government Amendment to enrich global Abortion providers
U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Joins Pro-Life Coalition in Asking President to Oppose Amendment Enriching Global Abortion Providers
Pope Francis tells Religious "...you are a concrete sign of the Lord’s mercy..Such anointing calls for prayer...Deep prayer like that of those elderly people who constantly pray the rosary."
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
TO THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
MEETING WITH PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS, SEMINARIANS AND CATECHISTS
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS
St Peter’s Parish (Bangkok)
Venerdì, 22 novembre 2019
Venerdì, 22 novembre 2019
I thank Bishop Joseph [Pradhan Sridarunsil] for his words of welcome in your name. I am happy to see all of you, to listen to you, to share in your joy and to sense how the Spirit is at work in our midst. I thank all of you: catechists, priests, consecrated men and women and seminarians, for the gift of this time together.
Thanks too to Benedetta for sharing her life and her testimony. As I listened to her, I felt gratitude for the lives of all those missionaries, men and women, whose lives of service left their mark. Benedetta, you told us about the Daughters of Charity. And I would like first to express gratitude for all those consecrated persons who, by the silent martyrdom of fidelity and daily commitment, have borne great fruit. I do not know if they were able to appreciate or taste the fruits of their commitment, but without a doubt their lives were capable of bringing about much good. They were a promise of hope. For this reason, at the beginning of our meeting, I would ask you especially to keep in mind all those catechists and elderly consecrated men and women who drew us into the love and friendship of Jesus Christ. Let us give thanks for them and for the elderly members of our communities who could not be present today. Tell the elderly ones who could not be here today that the Pope sends them a grateful blessing, and in turn asks for their blessing.
I believe that the history of each of our vocations is marked by those people who helped us discover and discern the fire of the Spirit. It is so good and at the same time important to be thankful. “Gratitude is always a powerful weapon. Only if we are able to contemplate and feel genuine gratitude for all those ways we have experienced God’s love, generosity, solidarity and trust, as well as his forgiveness, patience, forbearance and compassion, will we allow the Spirit to grant us the freshness that can renew (and not simply patch up) our life and mission” (Letter to Priests, 4 August 2019). So let us think of them with gratitude, and, standing on their shoulders, may we too feel called to be men and women who help bring about the new life the Lord bestows on us. As those called to apostolic fruitfulness, called to struggle valiantly for the things that the Lord loves and for which he gave his life, let us ask for the grace for our hearts to beat in unison with his own. I would even ask you to be wounded by that same love; to have that same passion for Jesus and for his kingdom.
Here we can all ask ourselves: how can we cultivate apostolic fruitfulness? This is a good question, that each of us can ask ourselves, and can answer from our hearts.
Sister is translating what is not in the text because it is not easy for me to communicate with you through this device; it’s not easy. But you have good will. Thank you.
Benedetta, you spoke of how the Lord first attracted you to himself by beauty. It was the beauty of an image of Our Lady, whose special gaze pierced your heart and made you want to know her better. Who is that woman? It had nothing to do with words, or abstract ideas or cold syllogisms. It all started with a look, a beautiful look that captivated you. What great wisdom was hidden in your words. Let us be alert to beauty, alert to a sense of wonder capable of opening up new horizons and raising new questions. A consecrated life incapable of openness to surprises is only half a life. I want to say this again. A consecrated life incapable of openness to surprises each day – open to joy and to sadness, but open to surprises – is only half a life. The Lord did not call us and send us forth into the world to impose obligations on people, or to lay heavier burdens than those they already have, which are many, but rather to share joy, a beautiful, new, surprising horizon. I really like the words of Benedict XVI, which I consider not only true but also prophetic for our times: the Church does not grow by proselytizing but by attraction (Evangelii Gaudium, 14). “Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful –lovely – capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties” (ibid., 167).
And this means we are not afraid to look for new symbols and images, for that particular music which can help awaken in the Thai people the amazement that the Lord wants to give us. Let us not be afraid to continue inculturating the Gospel. We need to seek new ways of transmitting the word, ways that are capable of mobilizing and awakening a desire to know the Lord. Who is that man? Who are these people who follow a man who was crucified?
As I prepared for this meeting, I read, with some pain, that for many people Christianity is a foreign faith, a religion for foreigners. This should spur us to find ways to profess the faith “in dialect”, like a mother who sings lullabies to her child. With that same intimacy, let us give faith a Thai face and flesh, which involves much more than making translations. It is about letting the Gospel be stripped of fine but foreign garb; to let it “sing” with the native music of this land and inspire the hearts of our brothers and sisters with the same beauty that set our own hearts on fire. I encourage you to pray to Our Lady, to the one who by the beauty of her gaze first captivated Benedetta, and to say with childlike confidence: “Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection, that we may bring to all the Gospel of life which triumphs over death. Give us a holy courage to seek new paths, that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman” (Evangelii Gaudium, 288).
Mary’s gaze impels us to look where she looks, to turn our eyes to that other gaze and to do whatever he tells us (cf. Jn 2:1-12). His is a gaze that captivates because it is able to penetrate appearances to find and celebrate the authentic beauty present in every person. It is a gaze that, as the Gospel teaches us, shatters all determinisms, fatalisms and standards. Where many saw only a sinner, a blasphemer, a tax collector, an evildoer or even a traitor, Jesus was able to see apostles. Such is the beauty that his gaze invites us to proclaim, a gaze that enters in, transforms and brings out the best in others.
As for the first stirrings of your vocation, many of you in your early years took part in the activities of young people who wanted to put the Gospel into practice and to go out into the cities to visit the needy, the neglected and even the despised, orphans and the elderly. Surely many of you were in turn visited by the Lord, who made you see that he was calling you to give everything away, to leave yourselves behind and, in that very movement, to find yourselves. In the faces of those we encounter on the street, we can discover the beauty of being able to treat one another as brothers and sisters. We see them no longer as orphans, derelicts, outcasts or the despised. Now each of them has the face of “a brother or sister redeemed by Jesus Christ. That is what it is to be a Christian! Can holiness somehow be understood apart from this lively recognition of the dignity of each human being?” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 98). I would like to encourage all those among you who, on a daily basis, spend your lives serving Jesus in your brothers and sisters, as Bishop Joseph proudly pointed out when introducing you. So many of you manage to see beauty where others see only contempt, or abandonment or an object of sexual gratification. In this way, you are a concrete sign of the Lord’s mercy, alive and at work: a sign of the anointing of the Holy One in these lands.
Such anointing calls for prayer. Apostolic fruitfulness requires and is sustained by fidelity to deep prayer. Deep prayer like that of those elderly people who constantly pray the rosary. How many of us have received the faith from our grandparents, from seeing them doing their household chores, rosary in hand, sanctifying their entire day. This is contemplation in action, making God part of the little things of each day. It is vital that the Church today be able to proclaim the Gospel to all, in all places, on all occasions, without hesitation and without fear (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 23); as a people who every morning, in their face to face conversation with the Lord, are sent forth anew. Without prayer, our life and mission loses all its meaning, loses strength and fervor. If you are missing out on prayer, any work you do will not make sense, will have no strength, no value. Prayer is the center of everything.
Saint Paul VI said that one of the worst obstacles to evangelization is the lack of fervor (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). Do read that number 80 of Evangelii Nuntiandi. For religious, for priests and for catechists, that fervor is nurtured by a double encounter, with the face of the Lord and with the faces of their brothers and sisters. We too need to find the space to be able to return to the source and drink of its life-giving waters. Immersed in myriad responsibilities, may we always seek that quiet place where we can remember, in prayer, that the Lord has already saved the world and that we are asked, in union with him, to make this salvation felt by all.
Once again, I thank you for your lives, I thank you for your witness and your generous commitment. I ask you, please, not to yield to the temptation of thinking that you are few in number. Instead, think of yourselves as little, little tools in the Lord’s creative hands. And he will be writing with your lives the finest pages of the history of salvation in these lands.
Please remember to pray for me, and to ask others to do the same.
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - official Translation
At Interreligious meeting Pope Francis says ".. the logic of encounter and mutual dialogue as a way, common collaboration as conduct and mutual knowledge...." Full Text
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
IN THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19 - 26 November 2019)
MEETING WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS AND OTHER RELIGIONS
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok)
Friday, November 22, 2019
Brothers in the episcopate,
Distinct representatives of different religious denominations,
Representatives of the University Community,
Thank you for your warm welcome. I am grateful to Bishop Sirisut and Dr. Bundit Eua-arporn for their kind words. I also appreciate the invitation to visit this famous University, the students, teachers and staff who give life to this house of studies, as well as the opportunity you offer me to meet with representatives of the various Christian communities and with those in charge of other religions that honor us with their presence. I express my gratitude for your presence here, with special esteem and recognition for the precious cultural heritage and spiritual traditions of which you are children and witnesses.
One hundred and twenty-two years ago, in 1897, King Chulalongkorn, from whom this first University takes its name, visited Rome and had an audience with Pope Leo XIII: it was the first time that a non-Christian head of state was received in the Vatican. The memory of that important encounter, as well as of his period of reign, characterized among the many merits by the abolition of slavery, challenges us and encourages us to take on a decisive role on the path of dialogue and mutual understanding. And this should be done in a spirit of fraternal involvement, which helps to put an end to the many slavery that persist in our day, I am thinking especially of the scourge of trafficking and human trafficking.
The need for recognition and mutual esteem, as well as cooperation between religions, is even more urgent for contemporary humanity; today's world is faced with complex problems, such as economic-financial globalization and its serious consequences in the development of local societies; the rapid progress - which apparently promotes a better world - coexists with the tragic persistence of civil conflicts: conflicts over migrants, refugees, famines and war conflicts; and coexist with the degradation and destruction of our common home.
All these situations warn us and remind us that no region or sector of our human family can be thought of or realized as alien or immune to others. These are all situations that, in turn, require that we venture to weave new ways of constructing the present history without having to denigrate or disrespect others. Gone are the times when the logic of insularity could predominate as a conception of time and space and impose itself as a valid tool for conflict resolution. Today it is time to imagine, with courage, the logic of encounter and mutual dialogue as a way, common collaboration as conduct and mutual knowledge as a method and criterion; and, in this way, offering a new paradigm for conflict resolution, contributing to understanding between people and safeguarding creation. I believe that in this field religions, like universities, without having to renounce their particular characteristics and their particular gifts, have much to contribute and offer; everything we do in this sense is a significant step to guarantee to younger generations their right to the future, and it will also be a service to justice and peace. Only in this way will we provide them with the necessary tools, so that they may be the protagonists in the way of generating sustainable and inclusive lifestyles.
These times demand from us that we build solid foundations, anchored on respect and recognition of the dignity of people, on the promotion of an integral humanism capable of recognizing and demanding the defense of our common home; on a responsible administration that protects the beauty and exuberance of nature as a fundamental right to existence. The great religious traditions of the world bear witness to a spiritual heritage, transcendent and widely shared, which can offer solid contributions in this sense, if we are able to venture to meet without fear.
We are all called not only to pay attention to the voice of the poor around us: the marginalized, the oppressed, the indigenous peoples and religious minorities, but also not to be afraid of generating instances, as they are already timidly beginning to develop, where we can join and work together. At the same time, we are required to take on the duty to defend human dignity and to respect the rights of conscience and religious freedom, to create spaces where we can offer some fresh air in the certainty that "all is not lost, because beings humans, able to degrade themselves to the extreme, they can also overcome themselves, return to choose the good and regenerate themselves, beyond any psychological and social conditioning that is imposed on them "(Enc. Laudato si, 205).
Here in Thailand, a country of great natural beauty, I would like to highlight a distinctive note that I consider essential, and to a certain extent, part of the riches to be "exported" and shared with the other regions of our human family. You appreciate and care for your elders - it is a great wealth! -, respect them and give them a preferential place, so that they can ensure the necessary roots and so your people do not corrupt themselves by following certain slogans, which end up emptying and mortgaging the soul of the new generations. With the growing tendency to discredit local values and cultures, by imposing a single model, "we are witnessing a tendency to" homogenize "the young, to dissolve the differences that are typical of their place of origin, to transform them into manipulable subjects made into series. Thus a cultural destruction is produced, which is as serious as the extinction of animal and plant species "(Esort. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 186). Continue to let young people know the cultural baggage of the society in which they live. Helping young people to discover the living riches of the past, to meet with their own roots making memories, to meet with the elderly, is a true act of love towards them, in view of their growth and the decisions they will have to make (see ibid ., 187).
All this perspective necessarily involves the role of educational institutions like this University. Research, knowledge help to open new ways to reduce inequality between people, strengthen social justice, defend human dignity, seek ways of peaceful resolution of conflicts and preserve the resources that give life to our land. My gratitude is directed, in a special way, to the educators and academics of this country, who work to ensure that present and future generations have the abilities and, above all, the wisdom of an ancestral root, which will enable them to participate in the promotion of the common good of society.
Dear brothers, we are all members of the human family and everyone, in the place he occupies, is called to be an actor and co-responsible for the construction of a culture based on shared values, leading to unity, mutual respect and harmonious coexistence.
Once again I thank you for your invitation and your attention. I offer my prayers and my best wishes for your efforts, aimed at serving Thailand's development in prosperity and peace. Upon you here present, on your families and on those who enjoy your service, I invoke the divine blessing. And I ask you, please, to do it for me. Thanks!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation
Pope Francis tells Bishops "Mission is at once a passion for Jesus Christ and a passion for his people...Jesus’ gaze, burning with love, expands to embrace all his people "
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
TO THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS OF THAILAND AND FABC
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS
Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung Shrine (Bangkok)
Friday, 22 November 2019
Friday, 22 November 2019
Our meeting today takes place at the Shrine of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung, who devoted his life to evangelization and catechesis, forming disciples of the Lord, primarily here in Thailand but also in part of Vietnam and along the border with Laos, and who crowned his witness to Christ with martyrdom. Let us place our meeting under his watchful gaze, so that his example may inspire us with a great zeal for evangelization in all the local Churches of Asia, so that we may increasingly become missionary disciples of the Lord, enabling his Good News to spread like a fragrant balm throughout this great and beautiful continent.
I realize that you are making plans for the 2020 General Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, which will mark the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation. This is a fitting occasion to revisit those “shrines” where the missionary roots that left their mark on these lands are preserved, to be guided by the Holy Spirit in the footsteps of our first love, and to welcome with courage, with parrhesia, a future that you yourselves must help develop and create. In this way, both the Church and society in Asia will benefit from a renewed and shared evangelical outreach. In love with Christ and capable of bringing others to share in that same love.
You are living in the midst of a multicultural and multi-religious continent, with great beauty and prosperity, but troubled at the same time by poverty and exploitation at various levels. Rapid technological advancements can open up immense possibilities that make life easier, but can result in the growth of consumerism and materialism, especially among young people. You have taken upon yourselves the concerns of your people: the scourge of drugs and human trafficking, the care of great numbers of migrants and refugees, poor working conditions and the exploitation experienced by many labourers, as well as economic and social inequality between rich and poor.
In the midst of these tensions stands the pastor who struggles and intercedes with his people and for his people. The memory of the first missionaries who preceded us with courage, joy and extraordinary stamina can help us take stock of our present situation and mission from a much broader, much more transformative perspective. In the first place, that memory frees us from the belief that times past were always more favorable or better for the proclamation of the Gospel. It also helps us to avoid taking refuge in fruitless discussions and ways of thinking that end up making us turn in on ourselves, paralyzing any kind of action. “Let us learn from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day” (Evangelii Gaudium, 263). Let us cast aside everything that has “stuck” to us along the way and that makes it harder for us to press forward. We know that some ecclesial structures and mentalities can hamper efforts at evangelization. Yet even good structures are only helpful when there is a life constantly driving, sustaining and assessing them. Ultimately, without new life and an evangelical spirit, without “the Church’s fidelity to her own calling”, any new structure will soon prove ineffective (cf. ibid., 26) and detract from our important ministry of fervent prayer and intercession. Sometimes this can help to give us perspective when dealing with enthusiastic though unwise methodologies that appear to be successful, but offer little by way of life.
As we contemplate missionary progress in these lands, one of the first lessons we learn is to be confident in the knowledge that it is the Holy Spirit himself who goes before us and gathers us together. The Holy Spirit is the first to invite the Church to go forth to all those places where new narratives and paradigms are being formed, bringing the word of Jesus to the inmost soul of our cities and cultures (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 74). Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit arrives in advance of missionaries and remains with them. The power of the Holy Spirit sustained and motivated the Apostles and countless missionaries not to discount any land, people, culture or situation. They did not look for places of “guaranteed success”; on the contrary, their “guarantee” lay in the certainty that no person or culture was a priori incapable of receiving the seed of life, happiness, and above all friendship, that the Lord wants to sow in them. They did not expect a foreign culture to receive the Gospel easily; rather, they plunged into these new realities, convinced of the beauty of which they were bearers. All life has value in the eyes of the Master. They were bold and courageous because they knew that in the first place the Gospel is a gift to be shared with and for everyone: shared among all people, the doctors of the law, sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes. With and for all sinners, then as now. I like to observe that the mission, even prior to things to be done or projects to be implemented, demands the cultivation of a gaze and a sense of smell. The mission calls for a paternal and maternal concern, because the sheep is only lost when the shepherd gives it up for lost, and not before. Three months ago, I received a visit from a French missionary who has been working for forty years in the north of Thailand, among the tribes. He came with a group of twenty or twenty-five people, all mothers and fathers, young people, not more than twenty-five years old. He himself had baptized them, the first generation, and now he was baptizing their children. One could think: you have given your life for fifty or a hundred people. But that was the seed, and God is giving him the consolation of baptizing the children of those he first baptized. Simply put, he experienced those indigenous people from the north of Thailand as a source of wealth for evangelizing. He did not give up on that sheep; he took it in charge.
One of the most splendid aspects of evangelization is our realization that the mission entrusted to the Church does not lie only in the proclamation of the Gospel but also in learning to believe the Gospel. How many there are who proclaim – at times we proclaim, in moments of temptation – the Gospel, but we do not believe the Gospel, do not let ourselves be laid hold of and transformed by it. This means living and walking in the light of the word of God that we are charged to proclaim. We do well to remember the words of Saint Paul VI: “The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself. She is the community of believers, the community of hope lived and communicated, the community of brotherly love, and she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 15). In this way, the Church enters into the dynamic of conversion-proclamation demanded of each disciple. Purified by the Lord, she becomes a witness by vocation. A Church that goes forth, unafraid to take to the streets and come face to face with the lives of the people entrusted to her care, is a Church able to be open in humility to the Lord. With the Lord, she can experience the wonder, the amazement, of the missionary adventure without the need, conscious or unconscious, to be in first place, to seek or occupy any possible place of preeminence. How much we can learn from you, who are a minority in many of your countries or regions, and sometimes are overlooked or impeded or persecuted minorities, yet have not let yourselves be carried away or corrupted by an inferiority complex or the complaint that you are not given due recognition! Go forwards: proclaim, sow, pray and wait. And you will not lose your joy!
Dear brothers, “in union with Jesus, we seek what he seeks and we love what he loves” (Evangelii Gaudium, 267). Let us not be afraid to make his priorities our own. You are well aware that yours is a Church small in numbers and resources, but full of zeal and eager to be a living instrument of the Lord’s loving concern for all the people of your towns and cities (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1). Your commitment to advance that evangelical fruitfulness by proclaiming the kerygma with deeds and words in the various areas where Christians are present is a striking form of witness.
A missionary Church knows that its best message is its readiness to be transformed by the word of life, making service its hallmark. We are not the ones in charge of the mission, and even less our plans and strategies. The Holy Spirit is the true protagonist who propels us, as sinners who have been forgiven; he constantly sends us forth to share this treasure in earthen vessels (cf. 2 Cor 4:7). We have been transformed by the Spirit in order to transform wherever we are placed. The martyrdom of a daily and often silent commitment will bear the fruits your people need.
This motivates us to develop a specific spirituality. The pastor is a person who, in the first place, loves his people deeply and knows their idiosyncrasies, weaknesses and strengths. Mission is at once a passion for Jesus Christ and a passion for his people. When we stand before the crucified Jesus, we see the depth of his love that exalts and sustains us, but at the same time, unless we are blind, we begin to realize that Jesus’ gaze, burning with love, expands to embrace all his people (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 268).
Let us remember that we too are part of this people; we are not masters, we are part of the people; we were chosen to be servants, not masters or managers. This means we are to accompany those whom we serve with patience and kindness, listening to them, respecting their dignity, always promoting and valuing their apostolic initiatives. Let us not lose sight of the fact that many of your lands were evangelized by the lay faithful. Let us not clericalize our mission, please, and no less should we clericalize the laity. These laypeople were able to speak the dialect of their people, a simple and direct exercise of inculturation, neither theoretical nor ideological, but the fruit of their zeal to share Christ. The holy and faithful People of God possesses the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which we are called to recognize, esteem and expand. Let us never lose the grace of seeing God working in the midst of his people, as he did in the past, as he is doing now and as he will continue to do. An image comes to mind which was not in our programme, but…: the young Samuel who woke up at night. God respected the elderly priest, whose character was weak, he let him carry on, but he did not speak to him. He spoke to a boy, one of the people.
In a particular way, I encourage you always to keep your door open for your priests. The door and the heart. May we always remember that the closest neighbor of the bishop is the priest. Be close to your priests, listen to them and seek to accompany them in every situation, especially when you see that they are discouraged or apathetic, which is the worst of the devil’s temptations. Apathy, despondency. Do so not as judges but as fathers, not as managers who deploy them, but as true elder brothers. Create a climate of trust for honest dialogue, an open dialogue; seek and implore the grace to show the same patience with them that the Lord, whose patience is so very great, has shown to each of us, and it is a great deal, a great deal.
Dear brothers, I know that there are many issues you must confront within your communities, both daily and as you look to the future. May we never lose sight of the fact that in that often uncertain future, it is the Lord himself who comes with the power of the resurrection to transform every wound into a fountain of life. Let us look to the future in the certainty that we are not alone, we do not journey alone; the Lord is there, waiting for us, and inviting us to recognize him above all in the breaking of the bread.
Let us beg the intercession of Blessed Nicholas and that of all the many missionary saints, so that our people may be renewed with that same anointing.
Given the presence here of many Bishops from Asia, I take this opportunity to extend my blessing and affection to all your communities and, in a special way, to the sick and to all who are experiencing moments of difficulty. May the Lord bless, care for, and accompany you always. And you, may he take you by the hand; and may you let yourselves be taken by the Lord’s hand, and do not seek out other hands.
And please, do not forget to pray for me and to ask your communities to do the same, because everything I have said to you I need to say to myself as well.
Thank you very much.
Source: VaticanFull Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - official Translation