"The God who loved the world to the point of giving his Son, to the point of abandoning him on the cross, he will never abandon anyone: his love will always be there, close, bigger and more faithful than any abandonment."
Before their meeting with Francis, missionaries heard an address from Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which is the Vatican department responsible for organizing the missionaries' Rome meeting.
After both meetings Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the missionaries in St. Peter's Basilica. In his homily at Mass, he told missionaries that their mission stems from Christ's resurrection.
"Everything starts from the Resurrection of Jesus: from it comes the testimony of the Apostles and, through this, the faith and the new life of the members of the community are generated," the pope said.
He pointed to the day's reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which says that the community of believers "was of one heart and mind" and "had everything in common," and that "with great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus."
Francis also noted that in the day's Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus: "You must be born from above."
"The readings of today's Mass bring out these two inseparable aspects well: personal rebirth and community life," Francis said. "Turning to you, dear brothers, I think of your ministry that you [have been] carrying out starting from the Jubilee of Mercy."
Your ministry should move in both these directions, he said – both at the service of people and communities, "so that they may live the commandment of love with joy and coherence."
"Dear brothers, leave this meeting with the joy of being confirmed in the ministry of Mercy," the he stated. "First of all, confirmed in the grateful confidence of being first called to be reborn always 'from above,' from the love of God."
"And at the same time," he continued, "confirmed in the mission of offering everyone the sign of Jesus 'lifted up' from the ground, because the community is a sign and instrument of unity in the midst of the world."