During his Angelus address today at noon, Pope Francis stressed this to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, reminding them, “that to be a Christian and to be a missionary, is the same thing.”
Different Approach, Worthy of Imitation
Reflecting on today’s Gospel from Luke, the Pope observed how Jesus is different from the teachers of His time. “Jesus,” he said, “didn’t open a school for the study of the Law, but went about everywhere to preach and teach,” including in the synagogues, in the streets, in the houses, and differed from his cousin, John the Baptist, who proclaimed God’s imminent judgement, by instead proclaiming God’s forgiveness.
To evangelize the poor, Francis stressed, is Jesus’ mission–‘according to what He Himself says’–, but also is that of the Church and all baptized people.
“To be Christian and to be a missionary is the same thing,” he said, stressing, “To proclaim the Gospel, with words, and, even before that, with one’s life, is the principle end of the Christian community and of each of its members.”
The Holy Father reminded those gathered how Jesus addresses the Good News to everyone, without excluding anyone, and reaches out to those who are furthest away, the suffering, the sick, and those discarded by society.
The Pontiff urged the faithful to consider what it means to evangelize the poor. “It means,” he responded, “above all, being close to them, having the joy of serving them, freeing them from oppression, and all this in the name of and with the Spirit of Christ.”
Francis also encouraged those in the Square to think about the various aspects of their own lives, including in parish communities and associations, and ask themselves: “Are we faithful to the program of Christ?”
“Is the evangelization of the poor, bringing to them the good news, the priority?”
Don’t be confused
“Be attentive,” the Pontiff warned, pointing out, “This isn’t about giving social assistance, much less about political activity.”
Rather, he highlighted, “It has to do with the strength of the Gospel of God, Who converts hearts, heals the wounded, transforms human and social relationships according to the logic of love.”
At the heart of center of the Gospel, Francis reaffirmed, are the poor.
Pope Francis concluded, greeting the various groups present, wishing everyone a good lunch and Sunday, and asking them to pray for him.