.- In his daily homily Pope Francis addressed the identity of a Christian, saying that the faithful must “go out” and “walk” as disciples that are astute and who announce the Gospel with joy.
“You cannot think of a stationary Christian: a Christian that remains stationary is sick, in their Christian identity, has some illness in his identity. The Christian is a disciple to walk, to move,” the Pope affirmed in his Feb. 14 daily Mass.
Speaking to those gathered in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse for, the pontiff reflected on the lives of brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are brothers that became missionaries among the Slavic peoples and whose feast is celebrated today, as examples of true Christian identity.
Part of this identity, he observed, is to “go out,” and is a dynamic illustrated by Jeroboam in the first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, in which he goes out to meet the prophet Ahijah.
Highlighting the importance of this act, the Pope stated that a Christian who does not go out, but remains where they are “has some illness in his identity,” because to truly be a disciple means “to walk,” and “to move.”
Calling to mind the words of Jesus in the Gospel when he tells the disciples to “Go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel,” the pontiff emphasized the need to “Go; Walk,” adding that “a first attitude of the Christian identity is to walk, and to walk also if there are difficulties, to go beyond the difficulties.”
The Pope continued, emphasizing how Jesus extends this invitation to all, the “good” and the “bad,” and that because of this the Christian walks, and “if there are difficulties,” the disciple “goes further to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near.”
Reflecting on another aspect of our identity as Christians, the pontiff highlighted that “the Christian must always remain lamb,” and that Jesus sends us out “like lambs among wolves.”
Describing how in his battle against the giant David was given large amour to wear, Pope Francis observed that the king could not move and that he “was not himself, he was not humble, was not the simple David,” and that he won with just his own sling.
Be “Like lambs,” encouraged the pontiff, “do not become wolves...because, sometimes, temptation makes us think: 'Well, this is difficult, these wolves are smart and I will be smarter than them, eh?'”
“Lambs,” he repeated, emphasizing “not stupid, but lambs…with Christian astuteness, but always a lamb,” adding that “if you are a lamb, He defends you.”
“But if you feel that you are as strong as a wolf, He will not defend you, he will leave you alone, and the wolves will eat you raw.”
Another aspect of our Christian identity is “joy,” the Pope explained, highlighting that “you cannot walk into a Christian without joy,” and “you cannot walk like a lamb without joy.”
Christians who have “a whiny temper” and “that always live like this, complaining, about everything, sad,” don’t do any favors for “the Lord or the Church,” the pontiff continued, adding that “this is not the style of the disciple.”
Drawing attention to a quote of Saint Augustine, the Pope emphasized how the bishop told Christians to “'Go, go forward, singing and walking!'” always “with joy,” because “it's the style of a Christian; to announce the Gospel with joy.”
On the contrary, “too much sadness, this great sadness, even bitterness leads us to live a so-called Christianity without Christ,” he explained, reflecting that “the Cross empties the Christians who are in front of the tomb crying, like Mary Magdalene, but without the joy of having found the Risen Lord.”
Bringing his homily to a close, the Pope again brought to mind how the lives of Cyril and Methodius reflect our Christian identity, observing that a Christian “never stands still,” but is “a man or a woman who always walks,” even “past the difficulties.”
May the Lord, expressed the pontiff, “through the intercession of these two brothers, patrons Saints of Europe, grant us the grace to live as Christians who walk like lambs and with joy.”