Pope Francis led the inaugural Mass of the 21st Assembly of Caritas Internationalis. For "the sake of the mission, [. . .] human convictions and traditions [. . .] must be left aside." God’s presence “does not lay in the greatness of what we do, but in the smallness of the poor we meet. [. . .] Standing in front of the tabernacle and the many living tabernacles that are the poor helps us.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis addressed the 450 representatives of Caritas Internationalis in the Mass inaugurating the charity’s 21st General Assembly. Centred on ‘One human family, one common home", the meeting, inspired by the encyclical Laudato Sì, will last from today until next Tuesday (28 May).
In his homily, the pontiff called for the “grace to accept the way indicated by the Word of God: humility, communion, renunciation". To do so it is necessary to avoid the cult of efficiency, worldliness, and self-worship.
At least 40 bishops from around the world took part in the Mass, together with the charity’s president, Card Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila (Philippines), at the altar of the chair of Saint Peter.
Speaking about today’s Mass readings (Acts 15, 7-21 and John 15, 9-11), the pontiff first criticised "the temptation of efficiency", noting that "Jesus did not want the Church to be a perfect model, pleased with its own organisation and able to defend her good name ... faith is not a roadmap, but a ‘Way’ (Acts 9: 2) to travel together, always together, with a spirit of trust." Hence, one must learn "three essential elements for the Church on her way: the humility of listening, the charism of togetherness, [and] the courage of renunciation."
Citing the reading of the Acts that speaks of decisions at the council of Jerusalem, in the "courage of renunciation", the Holy Father noted that "for the sake of the mission, to announce to anyone, in a transparent and credible way, that God is love, those human convictions and traditions that are more of an obstacle than a help can and must be left aside". Likewise, “we must renounce . . . ourselves.”
"To follow the Lord, one must walk fast and to walk fast one have to give up certain things, even if this comes at a price. As a Church, we are not called to strike deals, but to engage in evangelical surges. In purifying ourselves, in reforming ourselves we must avoid window-dressing, to change things to ensure that nothing really changes. This happens for example when, to try to keep up with the times, the surface of things is touched up a little, but it is only make-up to look young. The Lord does not want cosmetic adjustments, he wants the conversion of the heart, which requires renunciation. Coming out of oneself is the fundamental reform."
The "courage of renunciation" comes "from the humility of listening", Francis explained. "Only those who let the voice of the other truly enter into them know how to listen. And when interest in others grows, selflessness increases. We become humble by following the path of listening, which keeps us from asserting ourselves, resolutely pursuing our own ideas, or seeking consensus with every means.”
Listening is above all "listening to life. Paul and Barnabas spoke about experiences, not ideas. The Church discerns this way, in front of the reality of people, not in front of a computer. People come before programmes, with the humble look of those who know how to seek the presence of God in others, which does not live in the greatness of what we do, but in the smallness of the poor we meet. If we don't look directly at them, we end up always looking at ourselves, making them instruments of our affirmation."
"From the humility of listening to the courage of renunciation, everything passes through the charism of togetherness. In fact, in the discussion of the early Church, unity always prevails over differences. For each, not one's own preferences and strategies, but being and feeling like the Church of Jesus, gathered around Peter, took first place, in the charity that does not create uniformity but communion.”
Staying "in his love” is the basis of such communion. "How one does it? We must stay close to him, broken bread. Standing in front of the [actual] tabernacle and the many living tabernacles that are the poor helps us. The Eucharist and the poor: a fixed tabernacle and mobile tabernacles. Here one remains in love, absorbing the mindset of the broken bread. There one understands the ‘how’ Jesus spoke about: ‘As the Father loves me, so I also love you’ (ibid).
“And how did the Father love Jesus? By giving him everything, holding nothing back for himself . . . When we instead hold back from giving, when defending our interests takes first place, we do not imitate God's how, we are not a free and liberating Church. Jesus asks we remain in Him, not in our ideas”. He wants us “to stop pretending we can control and run [things]” instead, he “asks us to trust and give ourselves to others."
"Let us ask the Lord to free us from efficiency, worldliness, and the subtle temptation to worship ourselves and our skills. Let us ask for the grace so as to accept the way indicated by the Word of God: humility, communion, renunciation.”