Pope Francis’ video message to the pilgrims gathered in Mexico City today encouraged the faithful to spread the Gospel with a peaceful manner, as did Christ.
“The task of evangelization requires much patience, much patience…don’t lose peace in the presence of discord. And know also to present the Christian message in a serene and gradual manner, with the perfume of the Gospel, as the Lord did,” the Pope said by video Nov. 16 to those who had come to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
The Roman Pontiff used the video message to express his “desire to be with” the participants who had assembled together for conference and pilgrimage entitled, “Our Lady of Guadalupe, star of the new evangelization on the American continent.”
The conference is inspired by John Paul II's 1999 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America, and will discuss evangelization and the Americas. Among its sponsors are the Knights of Columbus and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Pope Francis explained, “the goal of all pastoral activity is always oriented to the missionary impulse to reach everyone, without excluding anyone and really taking into consideration each person’s circumstances.”
“You must reach everyone and share the joy of having met Christ.”
He cautioned that “this is not about going as one who imposes a new obligation, as those who merely limit themselves to reproach or complaint before what we consider imperfect or insufficient.”
“Know to give preference to, in the first place, that which is essential and most necessary, that is, the beauty of the love of God that speaks to us in Christ’s death and resurrection.”
“For the other part, you must strive to be creative in your methods, we can’t remain closed in the common place of 'it has always been done like this.'”
A Church that remains closed in on itself, with a sense of self-satisfaction, warned the Roman Pontiff, “in a certain way ‘has indigestion’ and weakens.”
Rather, Christians must “have the audacity to reach the existential peripheries that need to feel the closeness of God.”
In a particular way, the bishop must “be like the shepherd that knows the names of his sheep, guiding them with closeness, with tenderness, with patience, demonstrating effectively the maternity of the Church and the mercy of God,” insisted Pope Francis.
Bishops, he said, should not be overly focused on administrative matters, but rather must “keep vigil” for the people entrusted to them, “knowing to discern, without stopping, the breath of the Holy Spirit that comes where it wills, for the good of the Church and her mission in the world.”
The Roman Pontiff then went on to reject the attitude of clericalism “which does so much harm to the Church in Latin America.”
It “is an obstacle to the development of maturity and responsibility of much of the Christian laity,” because “clericalism implies a self-referential attitude” that “impoverishes the view towards meeting the Lord which makes us disciples, and towards the people that await the announcement” of the Gospel.
In order to help the Church avoid temptation and to grow in her mission, Pope Francis especially asked the prayers of those in consecrated life, who act as “leaven” in the Church.
“I ask the religious to be faithful to the charism they have received, that in their service to the hierarchy of Holy Mother Church, they not permit the disappearance of that grace with the Holy Spirit gave to their founders and that they must hand on in all its integrity.”
The Pope then concluded his message by reiterating the importance of each Christian’s mission, given in the first sacrament of initiation: “Remember that you have received Baptism, that you have been transformed into disciples of the Lord. But each disciple is, in turn, a missionary.”
“This treasure of faith is not given for personal use. It is to give away, to hand on, and in this manner it grows.”
“Make known the name of Jesus.”
Then, referencing the story of how Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego, making roses bloom in December, Pope Francis added: “if you do this, do not be surprised that the roses of Castile grow in winter. Because you know, both Jesus and we have the same mother!”
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