05/24/2023, 16.15
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Pope Francis devotes today’s general audience to Saint Andrew Kim

Speaking to the faithful in St Peter's Square, the pontiff cites the first Korean martyr and the many lay Koreans as examples of zeal in evangelisation. “No matter how difficult the situation may be [. . .] we must not give up and we must not forsake” proclaiming the Gospel.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In today’s general audience with the faithful in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis focused on Asia’s great saint, Andrew Kim Taegon, whose bicentenary the Korean Church celebrated last year.

“St Andrew Kim and other Korean believers have demonstrated that witnessing to the Gospel in times of persecution can bear much fruit for the faith,” Francis said.

As he continued his cycle of catechises on the topic of zeal in evangelisation, the pontiff mentioned the first Korean priest killed in hatred of the faith during the great persecution.

“His life was and remains an eloquent testimony of the proclamation of the Gospel, the zeal for this,” the pope said, noting that precisely because of these difficult conditions the first evangelisation in Korea was the work of lay people. “Would we be capable of something like that? Let’s think about it: it’s interesting,” Francis said.

The pope stressed two aspects of the figure of Saint Andrew Kim. The first is the way he used to meet secretly with the faithful.

Korean Christians had “a previously agreed upon sign of recognition,” the pope explained. “And after that, he (Saint Andrew) would surreptitiously ask the question – but all this under his breath, eh? – ‘Are you a disciple of Jesus?’” Thus, “for Andrew Kim, the expression that summed up the whole identity of the Christian was 'disciple of Christ'.”

When he was still a seminarian, he was tasked with secretly welcoming missionaries from abroad.

Once, “he was walking in the snow, without eating, for so long that he fell to the ground exhausted, risking unconsciousness and freezing. At that point, he suddenly heard a voice, ‘Get up, walk!’ Hearing that voice, Andrew came to his senses, catching a glimpse of something like a shadow of someone guiding him.”

Another “very important aspect of apostolic zeal” is “the courage to get back up when one falls.” Indeed, “No matter how difficult the situation may be – and indeed, at times it may seem to leave no room for the Gospel message – we must not give up and we must not forsake pursuing what is essential in our Christian life: namely, evangelisation. This is the path.”

If “you look at these great ones,” Francis said turning to the faithful, “consider our littleness: evangelising the family, evangelising friends, talking about Jesus – but talking about Jesus and evangelising with a heart full of joy, full of strength.

“And this is given by the Holy Spirit. Let us prepare to receive the Holy Spirit this coming Pentecost, and ask Him for that grace, the grace of apostolic courage, the grace to evangelise, to always carry the message of Jesus forward.”

In his greetings to the faithful for the feast of Mary Help of Christians, Francis entrusted to her the elderly, the young and the sick, citing especially the Salesian family, so closely associated with this Marian title.

Last but not least, he once more asked the Virgin to address a special prayer to martyred Ukraine: “there is so much suffering there. Let us not forget them.”

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”