Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Sunday, 20 May 2018
Pope's Message for World Mission Sunday 2018
"Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all"
Pope Francis on May 19, 2018, released his message for World Mission Sunday 2018, to be held October 21, 2018.
"Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all".
"What leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us," the Pope said in directing his message to young people. "The Synod to be held in Rome this coming October, the month of the missions, offers us an opportunity to understand more fully, in the light of faith, what the Lord Jesus wants to say to you young people, and, through you, to all Christian communities."
In his message, the Holy Father stressed that each person has a mission in life and the Church proclaims Christ's message and shares with young people "the way and truth which give meaning to our life on this earth."
"This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church's mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfillment in life," the Pope continued. "The Pontifical Mission Societies were born of young hearts as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth."
World Mission Sunday raises funds for more than 1,000 mission projects around the world. It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as a day of prayer for missions.
Message of the Holy Father
Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all
Dear young people, I would like to reflect with you on the mission that we have received from Christ. In speaking to you, I also address all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God. What leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us. "Mission revitalizes faith" (Redemptoris Missio, 2), in the words of Saint John Paul II, a Pope who showed such great love and concern for young people.
The Synod to be held in Rome this coming October, the month of the missions, offers us an opportunity to understand more fully, in the light of faith, what the Lord Jesus wants to say to you young people, and, through you, to all Christian communities.
Life is a mission
Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth. To be attracted and to be sent are two movements that our hearts, especially when we are young, feel as interior forces of love; they hold out promise for our future and they give direction to our lives. More than anyone else, young people feel the power of life breaking in upon us and attracting us. To live out joyfully our responsibility for the world is a great challenge. I am well aware of lights and shadows of youth; when I think back to my youth and my family, I remember the strength of my hope for a better future. The fact that we are not in this world by our own choice makes us sense that there is an initiative that precedes us and makes us exist. Each one of us is called to reflect on this fact: "I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world" (Evangelii Gaudium, 273).
We proclaim Jesus Christ
The Church, by proclaiming what she freely received (cf. Mt 10:8; Acts 3:6), can share with you young people the way and truth which give meaning to our life on this earth. Jesus Christ, Who died and rose for us, appeals to our freedom and challenges us to seek, discover and proclaim this message of truth and fulfillment. Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ and His Church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy. I can tell you this from my own experience: thanks to faith, I found the sure foundation of my dreams and the strength to realize them. I have seen great suffering and poverty mar the faces of so many of our brothers and sisters. And yet, for those who stand by Jesus, evil is an incentive to ever greater love. Many men and women and many young people have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters. From the cross of Jesus, we learn the divine logic of self-sacrifice (cf. 1 Cor 1:17-25) as a proclamation of the Gospel for the life of the world (cf. Jn 3:16). To be set afire by the love of Christ is to be consumed by that fire, to grow in understanding by its light and to be warmed by its love (cf. 2 Cor 5:14). At the school of the saints, who open us to the vast horizons of God, I invite you never to stop wondering: "What would Christ do if He were in my place?"
Transmitting the faith to the ends of the earth
You too, young friends, by your baptism have become living members of the Church; together we have received the mission to bring the Gospel to everyone. You are at the threshold of life. To grow in the grace of the faith bestowed on us by the Church's sacraments plunges us into that great stream of witnesses who, generation after generation, enable the wisdom and experience of older persons to become testimony and encouragement for those looking to the future. And the freshness and enthusiasm of the young make them a source of support and hope for those nearing the end of their journey. In this blend of different stages in life, the mission of the Church bridges the generations; our faith in God and our love of neighbor are a source of profound unity.
This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church's mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfillment in life. The spread of the faith "by attraction" calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love. It is not possible to place limits on love, for love is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6). And that expansion generates encounter, witness, proclamation; it generates sharing in charity with all those far from the faith, indifferent to it and perhaps even hostile and opposed to it. Human, cultural and religious settings still foreign to the Gospel of Jesus and to the sacramental presence of the Church represent the extreme peripheries, the "ends of the earth", to which, ever since the first Easter, Jesus' missionary disciples have been sent, with the certainty that their Lord is always with them (cf. Mt 28:20; Acts 1:8). This is what we call the missio ad gentes. The most desolate periphery of all is where mankind, in need of Christ, remains indifferent to the faith or shows hatred for the fullness of life in God. All material and spiritual poverty, every form of discrimination against our brothers and sisters, is always a consequence of the rejection of God and His love.
The ends of the earth, dear young people, nowadays are quite relative and always easily "navigable". The digital world – the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available – dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet lacking the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, Who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us (cf. Lk 9:23-25). I dare say that, for a young man or woman who wants to follow Christ, what is most essential is to seek, to discover and to persevere in his or her vocation.
Bearing witness to love
I am grateful to all those ecclesial groups that make it possible for you to have a personal encounter with Christ living in His Church: parishes, associations, movements, religious communities, and the varied expressions of missionary service. How many young people find in missionary volunteer work a way of serving the "least" of our brothers and sisters (cf. Mt 25:40), promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christians! These ecclesial experiences educate and train young people not only for professional success but also for developing and fostering their God-given gifts in order better to serve others. These praiseworthy forms of temporary missionary service are a fruitful beginning and, through vocational discernment, they can help you to decide to make a complete gift of yourselves as missionaries.
The Pontifical Mission Societies were born of young hearts as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth. The prayers and the material aid generously given and distributed through the Pontifical Mission Societies enable the Holy See to ensure that those who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives. No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are. Let me repeat the words of encouragement that I addressed to the young people of Chile: "Never think that you have nothing to offer, or that nobody needs you. Many people need you. Think about it! Each of you, think in your heart: many people need me" (Meeting with Young People, Maipu Shrine, 17 January 2018).
Dear young people, this coming October, the month of the missions, we will hold the Synod devoted to you. It will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and His mission, to the ends of the earth. I ask Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Blessed Paolo Manna to intercede for all of us and to accompany us always.
Holy Father's Homily on Pentecost
'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses.'
MAY 20, 2018
Following is the Homily Pope Francis delivered May 20, 2018, at Mass on Pentecost in St. Peter's Basilica.
In the first reading of today's Liturgy, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is compared to "the rush of a violent wind" (Acts2:2). What does this image tell us? It makes us think of a powerful force that is not an end in itself, but effects change. Wind, in fact, brings change: warmth when it is cold, cool when it is hot, rain when the land is parched… this is why it brings change. The Holy Spirit, on a very different level, does the same. He is the divine force that changes the world. The Sequence reminded us of this: the Spirit is "in toil, comfort sweet; solace in the midst of woe". And so we beseech him: "Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; wash the stains of guilt away". The Spirit enters into situations and transforms them. He changes hearts and he changes situations.
The Holy Spirit changes hearts. Jesus had told his disciples: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). That is exactly what happened. Those disciples, at first fearful, huddled behind closed doors even after the Master's resurrection, are transformed by the Spirit and, as Jesus says in today's Gospel, "they bear witness to him" (cf. Jn 15:27). No longer hesitant, they are courageous and starting from Jerusalem, they go forth to the ends of the earth. Timid while Jesus was still among them, they are bold when he is gone, because the Spirit changed their hearts.
The Spirit frees hearts chained by fear. He overcomes all resistance. To those content with half measures, he inspires whole-hearted generosity. He opens hearts that are closed. He impels the comfortable to go out and serve. He drives the self-satisfied to set out in new directions. He makes the lukewarm thrill to new dreams. That is what it means to change hearts. Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever completely satisfy the human heart. Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different. It does not revolutionize life around us but changes our hearts. It does not free us from the weight of our problems but liberates us within so that we can face them. It does not give us everything at once but makes us press on confidently, never growing weary of life. The Spirit keeps our hearts young – a renewed youth. Youth, for all our attempts to prolong it, sooner or later fades away; the Spirit, instead, prevents the only kind of aging that is unhealthy: namely, growing old within. How does he do this? By renewing our hearts, by pardoning sinners. Here is the great change: from guilty, he makes us righteous and thus changes everything. From slaves of sin, we become free, from servants we become beloved children, from worthless worthy, from disillusioned filled with hope. By the working of the Holy Spirit, joy is reborn and peace blossoms in our hearts.
Today, then, let us learn what to do when we are in need of real change. And who among us does not need a change? Particularly when we are downcast, wearied by life's burdens, oppressed by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and loving seems impossible. In those moments, we need a powerful "jolt": the Holy Spirit, the power of God. In the Creed, we profess that he is the "giver of life". How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life! To say when we wake up each morning: "Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day".
The Spirit does not only change hearts; he changes situations. Like the wind that blows everywhere, he penetrates to the most unimaginable situations. In the Acts of the Apostles – a book we need to pick up and read, whose main character is the Holy Spirit – we are caught up in an amazing series of events. When the disciples least expect it, the Holy Spirit sends them out to the pagans. He opens up new paths, as in the episode of the deacon Philip. The Spirit drives Philip to a desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza… (How heartrending that name sounds to us today! May the Spirit change hearts and situations and bring peace to the Holy Land!) Along the way, Philip preaches to an Ethiopian court official and baptizes him. Then the Spirit brings him to Azotus, and then on to Caesarea, in constantly new situations, to spread the newness of God. Then too, there is Paul, "compelled by the Spirit" (Acts20:22), who travels far and wide, bringing the Gospel to peoples he had never seen. Where the Spirit is, something is always happening; where he blows, things are never calm.
When, in the life of our communities, we experience a certain "listlessness", when we prefer peace and quiet to the newness of God, it is a bad sign. It means that we are trying to find shelter from the wind of the Spirit. When we live for self-preservation and keep close to home, it is not a good sign. The Spirit blows, but we lower our sails. And yet, how often have we seen him work wonders! Frequently, even in the bleakest of times, the Spirit has raised up the most outstanding holiness! Because he is the soul of the Church, who constantly enlivens her with renewed hope, fills her with joy, makes her fruitful, and causes new life to blossom. In a family, when a new baby is born, it upsets our schedules, it makes us lose sleep, but it also brings us a joy that renews our lives, driving us on, expanding us in love. So it is with the Spirit: he brings a "taste of childhood" to the Church. Time and time again he gives new birth. He revives our first love. The Spirit reminds the Church that, for all her centuries of history, she is always the youthful bride with whom the Lord is madly in love. Let us never tire of welcoming the Spirit into our lives, of invoking him before everything we do: "Come, Holy Spirit!"
He will bring his power of change, a unique power that is, so to say, both centripetal and centrifugal. It is centripetal, that is, it seeks the center because it works deep within our hearts. It brings unity amid division, peace amid affliction, strength amid temptations. Paul reminds us of this in the second reading, when he writes that the fruits of the Spirit are joy, peace, faithfulness, and self-control (cf. Gal 5:22). The Spirit grants intimacy with God, the inner strength to keep going. Yet, at the same time, he is a centrifugal force, that is, one pushing outward. The one who centers us is also the one who drives us to the peripheries, to every human periphery. The one who reveals God also opens our hearts to our brothers and sisters. He sends us, he makes us witnesses, and so he pours out on us – again in the words of Paul – love, kindness, generosity, and gentleness. Only in the Consoler Spirit do we speak words of life and truly encourage others. Those who live by the Spirit live in this constant spiritual tension: they find themselves pulled both towards God and towards the world.
Let us ask him to make us live in exactly that way. Holy Spirit, violent wind of God, blow upon us, blow into our hearts and make us breathe forth the tenderness of the Father! Blow upon the Church and impel her to the ends of the earth, so that, brought by you, she may bring nothing other than you. Blow upon our world the soothing warmth of peace and the refreshing cool of hope. Come Holy Spirit, change us within and renew the face of the earth. Amen.