SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE MEETING PROMOTED BY THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL
FOR THE PROMOTION OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
Saturday, 21 September 2019
Dear brothers and sisters,
I welcome you and thank Bishop Fisichella for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all of you.
You have reflected on a central theme for evangelization: how to ignite the desire to meet God despite the signs that obscure its presence. In this sense, the Gospel of Luke offers us a good starting point, when it tells of the two disciples who went to Emmaus: there was Christ walking with them, but because of the discomfort they had in their heart they were not able to recognize him (see Lk 24, 13-27). It is also true for many of our contemporaries: God is close to them, but they cannot recognize him. It is said that once upon a time Pope John, meeting a journalist who told him he did not believe, answered him: «Quiet! You say that! God does not know it, and considers you equally as a child to love. " The secret, then, lies in feeling, together with one's own uncertainties, the wonder of this presence. It is the same astonishment that the disciples of Emmaus caught: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us along the way, when he explained the Scriptures to us?" (V. 32). Burning the heart is our challenge.
It often happens that the Church is for men today a cold memory, if not a bitter disappointment, as was the story of Jesus for the disciples of Emmaus. Many, especially in the West, have the impression of a Church that does not understand them and is far from their needs. Some, then, who would like to support the less evangelical logic of relevance, consider the Church too weak towards the world, while others see it still too powerful compared to the great poverty of the world. I would say that it is right to worry, but above all to take care, when we perceive a worldly Church, that is, that follows the criteria of success of the world and forgets that it does not exist to announce itself, but Jesus. A Church concerned to defend its good name, that it struggles to renounce what is not essential, no longer feels the ardor of bringing the Gospel down today. And it ends up being more a beautiful museum exhibit than the simple and festive house of the Father. Eh, the temptation of museums! And also to conceive the living tradition of the Church as a museum, to guard things so that all are in their place: "I am a Catholic because ... I digested the Denzinger" [Collection of Symbols, Definitions and Declarations on the topics of faith and moral], let's face it.
Yet there are so many children that the Father wants to "feel at home"; they are our brothers and sisters who, while benefiting from many technical achievements, live absorbed by the vortex of a great frenzy. And while they carry deep wounds and struggle to find a stable job, they find themselves surrounded by an external well-being that numbs inside and distracts from courageous choices. How many people live next to us, a slave to what should serve them better and forget the taste of life: the beauty of a large and generous family, which fills the day and the night but dilates the heart; of the brightness found in the eyes of children, which no smartphone can give; of the joy of simple things; of the serenity that gives prayer. What our brothers and sisters often ask us, perhaps without being able to ask the question, corresponds to the deepest needs: to love and to be loved, to be accepted for what we are, to find peace of heart and a longer lasting joy of entertainment .
We have experienced all of this in one word, even in one person, Jesus. We who, while fragile and sinful, have been flooded by the river in the fullness of God's goodness, we have this mission: to meet our contemporaries to let them know his love. Not so much teaching, never judging, but making us fellow travelers. Like the deacon Philip, who - the Acts of the Apostles recounts - got up, set off, ran towards the Ethiopian and, as a friend, sat down next to him, entering into dialogue with that man who had a great desire for God in the midst of many doubts (see Acts 8: 26-40). How important it is to feel challenged by the questions of today's men and women! Without pretending to have immediately responded and without giving ready-made answers, but sharing words of life, not aimed at making proselytes, but to leave space for the creative power of the Holy Spirit, which frees the heart from the slavery that oppresses it and renews it. Transmitting God, then, is not talking about God, it is not justifying its existence: even the devil knows that God exists! Announcing the Lord is witnessing the joy of knowing him, it is helping to live the beauty of meeting him. God is not the answer to an intellectual curiosity or a commitment to the will, but an experience of love, called to become a story of love. Because - it applies to us above all - once we have met the living God, we need to look for him again. The mystery of God is never exhausted, it is as immense as his love.
"God is love" (1 Jn 4: 8), says the Scripture. Use the verb to be, because God is like that, it does not vary depending on how we behave: it is unconditional love, it does not change, despite all that we can combine. As the Psalm says: "His love is forever" (Psalm 136.1). It is love that is not consumed, as in the scene of the burning bush when God, revealing his name for the first time, already used the verb to be: "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). How beautiful it is to announce this faithful God, a fire that is not consumed, to the brothers who live in lukewarmness because the first enthusiasm has cooled. How nice it is to tell them: "Jesus Christ loves you, he gave his life to save you, and now he lives by your side every day" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 164).
In the light of this kerygma, the life of faith develops, which is not a complicated construction made up of so many bricks to be put together, but the ever new discovery of the "fundamental nucleus", the throbbing beat of the "heart of the Gospel: the beauty of the saving love of God manifested in Jesus Christ who died and rose again "(ibid., 36). The Christian life is always renewed with this first announcement. I like to reiterate before you that "when we say that this announcement is" the first ", it does not mean that it is at the beginning and afterwards it forgets or replaces itself with other content that surpasses it. It is the first in a qualitative sense, because it is the main announcement, the one that must always go back to listening in different ways and that we must always return to announce during catechesis in one form or another, in all its stages and his moments "(ibid., 64). Otherwise, the subtle presumption hides that to be more "solid" means to become educated, experts in sacred things (see Apostolic Exhortation Post. Christus Vivit, 214). But the wisdom of God is granted to the poor in spirit, to those who remain with Jesus, loving everyone in his name.
One last thing I would like to share with you. Faith being life that is born and reborn from the encounter with Jesus, what in life is an encounter helps us to grow in faith: draw closer to those in need, build bridges, serve those who suffer, take care of the poor, "anoint of patience" those around us, comforting those who are discouraged, blessing those who harm us ... Thus we become living signs of the Love we proclaim. I thank you, dear brothers and sisters, because you want to spread the joy of being loved by God and of loving as he taught us. I accompany you with my blessing and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thanks.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation