To Participants at the International Meeting: The "Church which goes forth". Evangelii Gaudium: Reception and Perspectives
Hall of Blessings
Saturday, November 30, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters,
In these days you have found yourselves numerous, coming from many parts of the world, to take back the Evangelii gaudium. I thank you for this and I am grateful to Bishop Fisichella for his words and also because he is carrying out this work. I am sure that you will bring home the fruits of these days of meeting with enthusiasm.
I would like to tell you very simply: the joy of the Gospel springs from the encounter with Jesus. It is when we meet the Lord that we are inundated by that love of which he alone is capable. Then, "when we allow God to lead us beyond ourselves", life changes and "we reach our truest being. There lies the source of evangelizing action "(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 8). Because at that point the need to announce it arises spontaneously, it becomes irrepressible, even without words, with testimony. Thus began the evangelization, on Easter morning, with a woman-apostle, Mary Magdalene who, after meeting the risen Jesus, the Living One, evangelized the Apostles. He was at the tomb of Jesus with so many sad feelings in his heart: the fear of the loss of the Master was joined by fear for the future and loss for the alleged violation of the tomb. But his weeping has changed into joy, his solitude in consolation after having found in Jesus the love that never disappoints, that does not abandon even before death, which gives the strength to find the best of oneself. It is true for everyone: "our infinite sadness is cured only with an infinite love" (ibid., 265).
The experience of so many people today is not far from that of Mary of Magdala. The longing for God, for an infinite and true love, is rooted in the heart of every person. It takes someone to help revive it. Angels are needed who, as was the case with Mary Magdalene, bring good announcements: angels in flesh and blood who come together to wipe away tears, to say in the name of Jesus: "do not be afraid" (see Mt 28: 5). The evangelizers are like angels, like guardian angels, messengers of good who do not give ready answers, but share the question of life, the same that Jesus addressed to Mary calling her by name: "Who do you seek?" (Jn 20:15). Who you are looking for, not what you are looking for, because things are not enough to live; to live we need the God of love. And if with this love of ours we knew how to look into the hearts of people who, due to the indifference we breathe and the consumerism that flattens us, often pass us by as if nothing had happened, we would be able to see first of all the need for this Chi, the search for a love that lasts forever, the question about the meaning of life, about pain, about betrayal, about loneliness. They are worries before which recipes and precepts are not enough; you need to walk, you need to walk together, make travel companions.
Indeed, those who evangelize can never forget that they are always on the move, searching together with others. Therefore he cannot leave anyone behind, he cannot afford to keep at a distance those who trudge, he cannot close himself in his group of comfortable relationships. The proclaimer does not seek escape from the world, because his Lord so loved the world that he gave himself, not to condemn but to save the world (see Jn 3: 16-17). The one who announces does the desire of God, which spasms those who are distant. He knows no enemies, only traveling companions. He does not stand as a teacher, he knows that the search for God is common and must be shared, that the closeness of Jesus is never denied to anyone.
Dear brothers and sisters, do not hold back the fear of making mistakes and the fear of taking new paths. Everyone in life is wrong, everyone. It's normal. There are no priorities to put before the announcement of the resurrection, the kerygma of hope. Our poverty is not an obstacle, but a precious instrument, because the grace of God loves to manifest itself in weakness (see 2 Cor 12: 9). We need to confirm ourselves in an interior certainty, in the "conviction that God can act in all circumstances, even in the midst of apparent failures" (ibid., 279). We really need to believe that God is love and that therefore no work carried out with love, no sincere concern for others, no act of love for God, no generous effort, no painful patience is lost (see ibid.). We need, to spread the message, to be simple and agile as in the Easter Gospels: like Mary, who can't wait to tell the disciples: "I have seen the Lord" (Jn 20:18); like the Apostles, who run to the tomb (see Jn 20: 4); like Peter, who dives from the boat towards Jesus (see Jn 21: 8). We need a free and simple Church, which does not think of image returns, conveniences and revenues, but to be on the way out. Someone said that to be faithful the true Church of Jesus must always be in deficit in the budget. This is good: the deficit.
We think of the first Christians, who had everyone against them, they were persecuted and yet they didn't complain about the world. Reading the New Testament, we see that they were not worried about defending themselves against an empire that put them to death, but of announcing Jesus, even at the cost of his life. So let us not be saddened by things that do not go, by fatigues, misunderstandings, chatter, no: they are little things in front of "the sublimity of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord" (see Phil 3: 8). Let us not be infected by the defeatism that everything is bad: it is not the thought of God. And the sad are not Christians. The Christian suffers many times, but does not fall into the profound sadness of the soul. Sadness is not a Christian virtue. Pain yes. In order not to let ourselves be robbed of the enthusiasm of the Gospel, let us invoke the author, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of joy who keeps the missionary ardor alive, who makes of life a love story with God, who invites us to attract the world only with love, and to discover that life is possessed only by giving it. One has the poverty of giving it, of undressing oneself. And also with surprise, the wonder of seeing that before we arrive, there is the Holy Spirit that has already arrived and is waiting for us there.
I sincerely thank you for the good that you give. I bless you and ask you to pray for me. Thanks.
Source: Full Text + Image : Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation