Speaking before thousands of catechists from around the world during the Jubilee Mass, Pope Francis highlighted "the centre" of the faith that is to be proclaimed: "the Lord Jesus is risen, [. . .] and he has given his life for you”. He also focused on the quality of the messenger, who proclaims “not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation.” The rich man is blind because he does not see the poor. He squints because “he looks with adulation at famous people, of high rank, admired by the world, yet turns his gaze away from the many Lazaruses of today”. Nowadays, “we have fallen into this abyss of indifference, worldliness, selfishness". Francis expressed solidarity with Mexican bishops committed to the family against gender ideology. He mentioned the beatification of Fr Engelmar Unzeitig, killed in Dachau as well as the Day of the Deaf.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis, in his homily during the Jubilee Mass for catechists, those engaged in the Church in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus and the teaching of the Catholic faith, said that “It is by loving that the God-who-is-Love is proclaimed to the world: not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation”.
More than 15,000 catechists from around the world came to Rome for the occasion, representing the millions scattered in all nations. Several hundred came from Asia. Many are volunteers; others are paid full-time to proclaim the Christian faith.
In his address, the pontiff clearly defined the Christian message that they communicate. “This centre around which everything revolves, this beating heart which gives life to everything, is the Pasqual proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day. We must never forget this. On this Jubilee for Catechists, we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and centre: the Lord is risen. Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this.”
The pope then turned to the messenger who passes on the proclamation. “It is by loving that the God-who-is-Love is proclaimed to the world: not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation. God is proclaimed through the encounter between persons, with care for their history and their journey. Because the Lord is not an idea, but a living person: his message is passed on through simple and authentic testimony, by listening and welcoming, with joy which radiates outward. We do not speak convincingly about Jesus when we are sad; nor do we transmit God’s beauty merely with beautiful homilies. The God of hope is proclaimed by living out the Gospel of love in the present moment, without being afraid of testifying to it, even in new ways.”
To explain what love is, Francis was inspired by the parable of the rich man and the beggar from in today's Gospel (26th Sunday, Year C, Luke, 16:19-31). “This rich man, in fact, does not do evil towards anyone; nothing says that he is a bad man. But he has a sickness much greater than Lazarus’, who was ‘full of sores’ (ibid.): this rich man suffers from terrible blindness, because he is not able to look beyond his world, made of banquets and fine clothing. He cannot see beyond the door of his house to where Lazarus lies, because what is happening outside does not interest him. He does not see with his eyes, because he cannot feel with his heart. For into it a worldliness has entered which anaesthetizes the soul. This worldliness is like a ‘black hole’ that swallows up what is good, which extinguishes love, because it consumes everything in its very self. And so here a person sees only outward appearances, no longer noticing others because one has become indifferent to everyone. The one who suffers from grave blindness often takes on ‘squinting’ behaviour: he looks with adulation at famous people, of high rank, admired by the world, yet turns his gaze away from the many Lazaruses of today, from the poor, from the suffering who are the Lord’s beloved.”
Conversely, “the Lord looks at those who are neglected and discarded by the world. Lazarus is the only one named in all of Jesus’ parables. His name means ‘God helps’. God does not forget him; he will welcome him to the banquet in his kingdom, together with Abram, in communion with all who suffer. The rich man in the parable, on the other hand, does not even have a name; his life passes by forgotten, because whoever lives for himself does not make history. Today’s callousness causes the digging of chasms that can never be crossed.”
Pausing and looking at the tens of thousands of people gathered, Francis added spontaneously, "And we have fallen into this abyss of indifference, worldliness, selfishness". He contrasted the “opulent life” of the rich man who is all about his “needs and rights” even after death to “Lazarus’ poverty” from whose “mouth no complaints or protests or scornful words issue”.
As “servants of the word of Jesus we have been called not to parade our appearances and not to seek for glory; nor can we be sad or full of complaints. We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations; we are not people who become ensconced in our own surroundings, handing out bitter judgments on our society, on the Church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity. Pitiful scepticism does not belong to whoever is close to the word of God.
“Whoever proclaims the hope of Jesus is one who carries joy and sees a great distance, because he knows how to see beyond evil and beyond his problems. At the same time, he sees clearly from up close, because he is attentive to his neighbour and to their needs. The Lord is asking this of us today: before all the Lazaruses whom we see, we are called to be disturbed, to find ways to meet and help, without always delegating to others, or saying: “I will help you tomorrow”. The time taken to help is time given to Jesus; it is love that remains: it is our treasure in heaven, which we earn here on earth.”
Lastly, “And so, may the Lord give us the grace to be renewed every day by the joy of the first proclamation to us: Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before us.”
At the end of the Mass before the Angelus, Pope Francis thanked all the catechists present. "Thank you for your commitment to the Church in the service of evangelisation. May Mary help you persevere on the path of faith and bear witness with your life to what you pass on in catechesis. "
The pontiff also expressed solidarity with Mexican bishops, engaged in a standoff with President Enrique Peña Nieto, who in recent months expressed his willingness to introduce gender ideology and recognise same-sex marriage with adoption rights for gay couples.
"I am very happy,” the pope said, “to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favour of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”
The Holy Father went on to say, “I assure my prayer for the dear Mexican people, that the violence, which has in recent days reached even several priests, might cease.” On 18 September, two priests, Frs Alejo Nabor Jiménez Juárez and José Alfredo Suárez de la Cruz, from the Diocese of Papantla (Veracruz state), were abducted and found dead the next day.
Francis also mentioned yesterday’s beatification, in Würzburg (Germany), of Engelmar Unzeitig, a priest with the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill. "Killed in hatred of the faith in the extermination camp of Dachau,” he said, “he opposed love to hatred, meekness to ferocity. May his example help us be witnesses of charity and hope even in the midst of trials."
Finally, on the occasion of the Day of the Deaf, which falls today, Francis greeted "all deaf people, represented here as well,” encouraging “them to make their contribution to a Church and a society increasingly able to accommodate" them.