Pope Francis says "The essential trait of the Heart of Christ is mercy...Mercy, tenderness is a universal language, which knows no boundaries." FULL TEXT

Hall of the Consistory
Saturday, June 18, 2022

Dear brothers, good morning and welcome!
I am happy to meet you. I thank the Superior General for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all of you who participate in the 19th General Chapter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. You invited me to your home to celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart next Friday. Thank you, I'll be there with the prayer; but already today we live this meeting of ours in the perspective and in the spirit of the mystery of the heart of Christ, to which the charism of St. Daniel Comboni is linked.
The theme and motto of your Chapter also orient us in this direction: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Rooted in Christ together with Comboni ”. In fact, the mission - its source, its dynamism and its fruits - totally depends on union with Christ and on the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus clearly said it to those whom he had chosen as "apostles", that is, "sent": "Without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15: 5). He didn't say: “you can do little”, no, he said: “you can't do anything”. What do you mean? We can do many things: initiatives, programs, campaigns… many things; but if we are not in him, and if his Spirit does not pass through us, everything we do is nothing in his eyes, that is, it is worth nothing for the Kingdom of God.
Instead, if we are like branches well attached to the vine, the lymph of the Spirit passes from Christ into us and whatever we do bears fruit, because it is not our work, but it is the love of Christ that acts through us. This is the secret of Christian life, and in particular of mission, everywhere, in Europe as in Africa and in the other continents. The missionary is the disciple who is so united to his Master and Lord that his hands, his mind, his heart are "channels" of Christ's love. This is the missionary, he is not one who proselytizes. Because the "fruit" that he wants from his friends is none other than love, his love for him, what comes from the Father and gives us with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ that carries us forward.
This is why some great missionaries, like Daniel Comboni, but also, for example, like Mother Cabrini, lived their mission feeling animated and "pushed" by the Heart of Christ, that is, by the love of Christ. And this "push" has allowed them to go out and go beyond: not only beyond geographical limits and borders, but first of all beyond their own personal limits. This is a motto that for you must "make noise" in your heart: go further, go further, go further, always looking at the horizon, because there is always a horizon, to go beyond. The thrust of the Holy Spirit is what makes us come out of ourselves, from our closures, from our self-referentiality, and makes us go towards others, towards the peripheries, where the thirst for the Gospel is greatest. It is curious that the worst temptation that we religious have in life is self-reference; and this prevents us from going further. “But to go further I have to think about it, see…”. Go Go go! Go to the horizon, and may the Lord accompany you. But when we start with this psychology, this "mirror" spirituality, we stop going further and always go back to our heart which is sick. We all have a sick heart and God's grace saves us, but without God's grace kaputt, everyone! This is important: with the Spirit to go further.
The essential trait of the Heart of Christ is mercy, compassion, tenderness. This should not be forgotten: the style of God, already in the Old Testament, is this. Closeness, compassion and tenderness. There is no organization, no, closeness, compassion, tenderness. And then I think that you are called to bear this witness of the "style of God" - closeness, compassion, tenderness - in your mission, where you are and where the Spirit will guide you. Mercy, tenderness is a universal language, which knows no boundaries. But you carry this message not so much as individual missionaries, but as a community, and this implies that not only the personal style, but also the community style, must be taken care of. Jesus told his friends: "By how you love each other they will recognize that you are my disciples" (cf. Jn 13:35), and the Acts of the Apostles confirm this, when they narrate that the first community of Jerusalem enjoyed the esteem of all the people because people saw how they lived (cf. 2,47; 4,33): in love. And many times, I say this with bitterness - I speak in general, not of you because I don't know you -, many times we find that some religious communities are a real hell, a hell of jealousies, of power struggle ... And where is love? ? It is curious, these religious communities have rules, they have a way of life ..., but love is lacking. There is so much envy, jealousy, struggle for power, and they lose the best, which is the testimony of love, which is what attracts people: love between us, that we don't shoot each other but we always go on.
To this end, so that the lifestyle of the community gives good witness, the four aspects on which you have decided to work in your Chapter are also important: the rule of life, the formative journey, the ministry and the communion of goods. Discernment concerns the modality, the way in which these elements are set up and lived, so that they can respond as much as possible to the needs of the mission, that is, of witness. This is very important: it is part of the "urgent ecclesial renewal" in a missionary key to which the whole Church is called (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 27-33). It is a conversion that starts from the conscience of each one, involves every community and thus comes to renew the entire institute.
I would like to point out that even here, even in the commitment to these four aspects - interconnected with each other - everything must be done in docility to the Spirit, so that the necessary plans, projects, initiatives, all respond to the needs of evangelization, and I also mean the style of evangelization: that it is joyful, meek, courageous, patient, full of mercy, hungry and thirsty for justice, peaceful, in short: the style of the Beatitudes. This matters. Even the rule of life, formation, ministries, the management of goods must be set on the basis of this fundamental criterion. "The evangelizing community experiences that the Lord has taken the initiative, preceded it in love [...]. The evangelizing community prepares to "accompany". It accompanies humanity in all its processes, however hard and prolonged they may be. He knows the long waits and apostolic endurance. Evangelization uses a lot of patience, [...]. He takes care of the grain and does not lose his peace because of the weeds. […] The disciple knows how to offer his whole life and play it up to martyrdom as a testimony of Jesus Christ, but his dream is not to fill himself with enemies, but rather that the Word be accepted and manifest his liberating and renewing power. Finally, the joyful evangelizing community always knows how to "celebrate". Celebrate and celebrate every little victory, every step forward in evangelization "(Evangelii gaudium, 24).
Here, dear brothers, I wanted to recall this passage from Evangelii gaudium, knowing that you have it in mind, precisely for the pleasure of sharing with you the passion for evangelization. The Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you. Good continuation of the Chapter works. I cordially bless you and all your brothers. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you!