Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The new evangelization is "being aware of the merciful love of the Father for us so we too can become instruments of salvation for our brothers and sisters", so fearlessly confronting the "great challenges" of our time with a "renewed " language and offering the witness of faith, of solidarity with all, especially with the abandoned and marginalized.
These were the main points of Pope Francis discourse today with participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization. Entrusting them with the Jubilee of Mercy, he said "so that they bring to the fore the fact that the gift of Mercy is the announcement that the Church is called to convey in her work of evangelization in this time of great change".
"These very changes - he continued – happily challenge us to understand the signs of the times that the Lord offers the Church so that she is capable - as she has done over the course of two thousand years - to bring Jesus Christ to the people of our time. The mission is always the same, but the language with which to proclaim the Gospel demands renewal, with pastoral wisdom. This is essential so we can be understood by our contemporaries, and also so that the Catholic tradition can speak to the cultures of today's world and help them open up to the perennial fruitfulness of Christ's message. The times are of great challenges, we must not be afraid to do our part. In fact, only to the extent that we take them on will we be able to provide consistent answers formulated in the light of the Gospel. This is what people expect from the Church today: someone who can walk with them by offering society a witness of faith, in solidarity with all, especially with those who are alone and marginalized. How many poor people are waiting for the Gospel that liberates! How many men and women, on the outskirts of existence generated by the consumer society, await our closeness and our solidarity! The Gospel is the message of God's love, which in Jesus Christ calls us to share in his life. The new evangelization, therefore, is this: to become aware of the merciful love of the Father, so we too can become instruments of salvation for our brothers and sisters".
"This awareness, which is sown in the heart of every Christian since the day of their baptism - said Francis - asks to grow, along with the life of grace, to bear much fruit. This is where you insert the great theme of catechesis as the space within which the life of Christians mature so they experiences the mercy of God. Not an abstract idea of mercy, but a practical exercise in which we understand our weakness and the strengths that comes from above. "It's good that the daily prayer of the Church begins with these words: 'O God, come to my assistance, Lord, make haste to help me' (Ps 70.2). The help that we invoke is already the first step of God's mercy toward us. He came to save us from the condition of weakness in which we live. And His help lies in his helping us grasp His presence and closeness. Day by day, touched by His compassion, we too can become compassionate towards all "(Misericordiae Vultus, 14)."
"The Holy Spirit, who is the star of evangelization, it is also the architect of the growth of the church in understanding the truth of Christ. It is he who opens the hearts of believers transforms them so they can receive forgiveness and become an experience of love for their brethern. It is always the Spirit who opens the mind of the disciples of Christ to more fully understand the commitment required and the forms with which they can give depth and credibility to their witness. The question of how we are educating in the faith, therefore, is not rhetorical, but essential. The answer requires courage, creativity and decision to undertake sometimes even unexplored roads. Catechesis, as part of the process of evangelization, needs to go beyond just the school sphere to educate believers, even as children, to encounter Christ, alive and active in his Church. It is the encounter with Him that awakens the desire to know Him better and then to follow Him to become His disciples. The challenge of the new evangelization and catechesis, therefore - he concluded – depends on this fundamental point: how to meet Christ, what is the most consistent place to find Him and follow Him. "