Saturday, September 14, 2019

Pope Francis echoes St. Francis saying "to evangelize: "Go, announce the Gospel, if it is necessary use words" Full Text


Paul VI Hall
Saturday, September 14, 2019

Dear friends,

Thank you for the joy you manifest! Showing joy is a grace of God. We thank the Lord who has sown so much joy in your hearts. I am happy to meet you thirty years after the foundation of your community. The Lord never ceases to surprise us by opening new paths for following Jesus, with the creativity of the Holy Spirit. I thank you for the words you have addressed to me. You are a young community, and for this you carry within you the characteristic enthusiasm of those who wish to share the beauty of having met Christ in their lives.

You carry a challenging name: "Abraham", which inspires the path of evangelization that you are called to carry out in the most diverse conditions in which you come to visit. Do not be afraid to inspire your life and action precisely with the great patriarch Abraham, our father in faith. He teaches you, first of all, to obey the Lord's call. It doesn't matter in what way and under what circumstances the Lord makes himself present in your life. The Lord is creative, he is the Lord of surprises, when we do not expect it comes and shows us different, original ways. He - and He alone! - knows the places and times in which to meet each one. What is important is to listen to his voice. In order to perceive his word, the silence of listening is necessary. You are, I would say, quite noisy when you are together, but the good noise, that of the Holy Spirit, comes from the silence of listening. If there is not the silence of listening, the noise is not an "anointed" noise from the power of the Holy Spirit. As a great bishop, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, wrote to the first Christian generations of Ephesus: "A word pronounced the Father, and he was his Son, and it always speaks in eternal silence, and in silence it must be heard". I wish you always know how to find moments of true silence in your life; this is the secret to being able to listen to God who speaks: silence.

Abraham's faith leads him to leave his land and his home to go to a place that he does not know, but which is guaranteed by the promise of God. To be evangelizers you must trust God and be ready to leave, to go out, but not just once, but to take on an "exodus" style. But we also think of Moses, the same thing ... Think of St. Joseph: I believe that St. Joseph was afraid of falling asleep at the end of his life because every time he fell asleep he had changed his plans! This style of exodus. It is important to go out to meet those who the Lord puts on our way.

When the apostle Peter wrote his first letter, he turned to young communities, perhaps even a little fearful of expressing their faith; yet he urged them to give a reason for the hope received from Christ. He urged us to always do it "with meekness and respect, with a right conscience" (1 Pt 3: 15-16). The meekness that the Holy Spirit gives us makes us witnesses, because the path of the Holy Spirit is not proselytism, it is the witness. If someone comes to proselytize, it is not the Church, it is a sect. The Church that wants the Lord, as Pope Benedict XVI said, does not grow for proselytism, grows by attraction, that is, the attraction of testimony, and behind the witness there is always the Holy Spirit. Here is a methodology that we are called to live in the work of evangelization. We need to walk together with the people of our time, listen to what they carry in their hearts, to offer them, with our lives, the most credible answer, that is, the one that comes from God, through Jesus Christ. To me it is always good to listen to that advice that St. Francis of Assisi gave to the friars when he sent them to evangelize: "Go, announce the Gospel, if it is necessary use words". First with the testimony; then they ask you: "But why are you so?", and then it is time to talk.

Abraham's faith was fruitful beyond all human expectation. And he saw his fulfillment in Jesus, through a humble daughter of Abraham, the Virgin Mary, in whom Christ reflected his "Here I am" to the Father. You too help to be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, and so your testimony and your enthusiasm will be an effective tool in the service of the Gospel. Go forward, forward in faith and charity, above all towards those who are more marginalized and poor, always trusting in the promise of God.

I accompany you with my blessing. And please do not forget to pray for me: I need it, because this work is not easy! Thanks!
FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation from Italian

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