SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SERVICE FOR THE
PARISH CELLS OF EVANGELIZATION
Paul VI Hall
Monday, November 18, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I'm glad you chose to return to Rome to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of your history. I thank Fr Piergiorgio Perini for the tireless work of evangelization he has accomplished in these decades. Now he can admire some fruits that the Lord has granted him with his grace. And I thank you for the testimony of 65 years of priesthood and 90 years of age! I asked him for the recipe: what does it do to be like this?
The Lord Jesus left his disciples with a challenging teaching when he told them: "I have appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15:16). Go, bear fruit and stay. This is the call to which one cannot escape when one meets the Lord and is conquered by his Gospel. Of course, Jesus did not tell the disciples that they would see the fruits of their work. He only ensured that the fruits would remain. This promise also applies to us. It is human to think that after so much work we also want to see the fruit of our commitment; yet, the Gospel moves towards another direction.
Jesus did not discount his disciples when he spoke of the radical nature with which he must be followed. He told them: "When you have done all that you have been told, say:" We are useless servants. We have done what we had to do "" (Lk 17:10). However, if our effort to proclaim the Gospel is total and always finds us ready, then the perspective changes. Another parable reminds us of this, when Jesus says: "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he returns; in truth I tell you, the garments will be tightened on the sides, he will set them at the table and pass on to serve them "(Lk 12:37). We touch so many times how great and infinite is God's love for us! If we are faithful and vigilant, then He grants us to see also the fruits of our work.
Your history of Evangelizing Parish Cells can easily be inscribed in this context. The fruitfulness of your commitment is reflected in the multiplication of cells that are now present in many parts of the world. Never tire of following the paths that the Spirit of the Risen Lord puts before you. Do not hold back any fear of the new, and do not slow down your steps the difficulties that are inevitable in the way of evangelization. When one is a missionary disciple, then enthusiasm can never fail! In the effort, support the prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit who is the Comforter; in weakness, you feel the strength of the community that never allows you to be left to yourself.
Our parishes are invaded by many initiatives, where often, however, there is no deep impact on people's lives. You too are entrusted with the task of reviving, especially in this period, the life of our parish communities. This will be possible insofar as they become, above all, a place to listen to the Word of God and celebrate the mystery of his death and resurrection. Only from here can we think that the work of evangelization becomes effective and fruitful, capable of bearing fruit. Unfortunately, for many reasons, many have moved away from our parishes. It is therefore urgent that we recover the need for the meeting to reach people where they live and work. If we have encountered Christ in our lives, then we cannot just keep it for ourselves. It is crucial that we share this experience also with others; this is the main road to evangelization.
Don't forget: every time you meet someone, you play a true story that can change a person's life. And this is not proselytizing, it is giving witness. It has always happened this way. When Jesus, passing along the shore of the lake, saw Peter, Andrew, James and John who were working, he fixed his eyes on them and transformed their lives (see Lk 5: 1-11). The same thing is repeated also in our days, when the encounter is the fruit of Christian love, it changes life because it reaches the hearts of people and touches them in depth. May your proclamation become a testimony of mercy, with which it is clear that any attention given to one of the youngest is made towards Jesus himself who identifies with them (see Mt 25:40).
I accompany you with my blessing and I ask you please do not forget to pray for me. Thanks.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va