Celebrating Mass in Porto, where he had arrived from Fatima early this morning, Pope Benedict called the faithful to witness the Resurrection and be missionaries of Christ. He urged Catholics not to let anything prevent them from spreading the Gospel, because if the Church rests on its laurels “it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world.”
The Holy Father arrived in Porto this morning by helicopter to celebrate Mass in the Square of the “Avenida dos Aliados di Porto” where he was joined by tens of thousands of faithful.
Recalling the words of Peter, who said to the disciples in the Upper Room after the Ascension that “one of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection,” Pope Benedict XVI called all people to missionary action, imploring them, “you need to become witnesses with me to the Resurrection of Jesus.
“In effect,” he continued, “if you do not become His witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place? Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world.”
The Pope said that receiving and offering the Risen Christ to the world is the “indispensable mission of every ecclesial community,” so that “growth and life” might come from “weakness and death.”
As Peter recommended, continued the Holy Father, we must always be prepared defend the hope within us, without imposing anything and never ceasing to propose. This is what “everyone” asks of us, and from experience, “we know well that it is Jesus whom everyone awaits,” the Holy Father shared.
Pope Benedict also reflected on the mindset necessary for evangelization. Together with Christ, without whom “we can do nothing,” we are called to evangelize, he said. “We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, safely in our possession: it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world; the Church, for that matter, can only be missionary, in the outward movement of the Spirit.”
In communicating the Good News in today’s altered anthropological, cultural, social and religious frameworks, the Church is called “to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, in the search for ways of building, along with all people of good will, the peaceful coexistence of peoples,” emphasized Pope Benedict.
Traditional geographical boundaries do not limit the mission, he added, therefore “not only non-Christian peoples and those who are far distant await us, but so do social and cultural milieux, and above all human hearts, which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God.”
The Holy Father exclaimed, “Yes! We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone,” enlightened by his message that we have not chosen him, but he has chosen us.
The mission is given to us directly from Christ, he concluded, and “like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and his Spirit, it is a question of renewing the face of the earth starting from God, God always and alone.”
To read the Pope's full homily, click here.