Evangelization is a priority, Francis tells Neocatechumenal Way

Pope Francis at an international meeting of the Neocatechumenal Way in Rome May 5 2018 Credit Daniel Ibez CNA Pope Francis at an international meeting of the Neocatechumenal Way in Rome May 5, 2018. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Catholics have a mission to evangelize, teaching people that God never tires of loving them, Pope Francis said to members of the Neocatechumenal Way Saturday at a gathering for the 50th anniversary of the movement.

I feel like speaking to you from the heart about "the mission, about evangelization, which is the priority of the Church today," the pope said May 5.

This is because "mission is to give voice to the faithful love of God, it is to announce that the Lord loves us and that he will never get tired of me, of you, of us and of this world of ours, which we may get tired of."

He warned Catholics about the temptation to ignore God's call to evangelize the world out of laziness or a fear of taking risks, noting that it is easy to be content with the situation one is already in and has under control.

"It is easier to stay home," Francis said, but this "is not the way of Jesus," who sends out his disciples with the word, "Go!"

A strong call "that resounds in every corner of Christian life; a clear invitation to always be outgoing, pilgrims in the world looking for their brother who still does not know the joy of God's love."

The pope spoke during an international gathering of the Neocatechumenal Way at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata." The Neocatechumenal Way is a Catholic community founded in 1964 in Madrid, Spain, dedicated to post- and pre-baptismal formation of Christians.

The meeting included thousands of members of the Neocatechumenal Way, cardinals, and bishops, from almost every corner of the world – including Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and Australia.

During the encounter, Pope Francis blessed and handed out crosses to the leaders of 34 new "missio ad gentes," which are groups made up of families and a priest sent to live in various parts of the world to evangelize the local community through what they call an "itinerant church."

The pope also commissioned several Neocatechumenal communities in Roman parishes to bring missions to parishes in the outskirts, or "peripheries," of Rome.

"The risen Jesus says: 'Make disciples.' Here is the mission," the pope said during the meeting. "[Jesus] does not say: conquer, occupy."

To "make disciples," he said, means to share with others the gift you have already received, "the encounter of love that has changed your life."

To do this, the pope said not to worry about using arguments that convince, but to focus on living a "life that attracts," serving, not imposing.

Pope Francis also pointed out the important role and vocation of the family, which has in its "DNA" the ability to bring a family atmosphere into "so many desolate and unconcerned places."

"Following the example of the Holy Family: in humility, simplicity, and praise… Let yourselves be recognized as the friends of Jesus," he said.

In living out the mission, Francis also encouraged detachment from material things, which he said are only burdens keeping people from true freedom in Christ.

"Only a Church that renounces the world announces the Lord well," he stated. "Only a Church freed from power and money, free from triumphalism and clericalism, testifies in a credible way that Christ liberates man."

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The person who through love "learns to renounce the things that pass, embraces this great treasure: freedom," he said.

Concluding, he said the charism of the Neocatechumenal Way "is a great gift from God for the Church of our time."

"We thank the Lord for these fifty years. And looking at his loving faithfulness, never lose trust: He will guard you, spurring you at the same time to go, as beloved disciples, to all peoples, with humble simplicity."

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