02/15/2023, 11.35
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Pope: Let us proclaim with meeknessthat God is near

Continuing the cycle of catechesis on evangelisation at the general audience, Francis addressed the theme of the first proclamation. New appeal: 'Let the cruel suffering of the Ukrainian population come to an end soon'. And from Russia, the president of the Old Believers says: he would like to go to Moscow to negotiate a peaceful solution for Europe.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - It is not relevance in society but meekness that is the style of the proclamation of the Gospel. And its first content is to show everyone that God is near. Pope Francis said this today during his weekly general audience with the faithful in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

Resuming after his trip to Africa the cycle of catechesis on the passion to evangelise, the pontiff dwelt today on the theme of the "first apostolate", looking at the twelve called "so that they might be with Him and that they might go and preach".

"One would say," the pope commented, "either one or the other, either to stay or to go. But no: for Jesus there is no going without staying and there is no staying without going". Then commenting on chapter 10 of Matthew's Gospel - Jesus' missionary discourse, defined by Francis as the "constitution" of the proclamation - the pope underlined three aspects.

The first question: why proclaim the Good News? "The motivation lies in five words of Jesus, which it is good for us to remember: 'Freely you received, freely give' (Mt 10:8). The proclamation does not start from us, but from the beauty of what we have received for free, without merit: meeting Jesus, knowing him, discovering that we are loved and saved. It is such a great gift that we cannot keep it to ourselves, we feel the need to spread it". 

Secondly: what to announce? For Jesus, Francis replied, before anything else it must be said that God is near. "When we preach, we often invite people to do something, and that is fine; but let us not forget that the main message is that He is close to us.  In fact, it is easier to exhort people to love Him than to allow themselves to be loved by Him. Accepting God's love is more difficult because we always want to be at the centre, the protagonist, we are more inclined to do than to let ourselves be moulded, to speak than to listen. But the proclamation must give primacy to God, and to others the opportunity to welcome Him, to realise that He is near".

Third: how to proclaim? Jesus says: "I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves" (Mt 10:16). "He does not ask us to know how to face the wolves," the pontiff noted, "that is, to be able to argue, counter-argue and defend ourselves. We would think like this: let us become relevant, numerous, prestigious and the world will listen to us and respect us. No, I send you out as sheep, as lambs. He asks us to be meek and innocent. And He, the Shepherd, will recognise His lambs and protect them from the wolves. Instead, the lambs disguised as wolves are unmasked and mauled".

Still on the subject of how to proclaim, Jesus, instead of prescribing what to bring on a mission, says what not to bring: "Do not take gold or silver or money in your belts, or a travelling bag, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff" (Mt 10:9-10). "He says not to lean on material certainties, to go into the world without worldliness".

Finally, the Lord sends all the disciples, but no one goes alone. "The apostolic Church is all missionary," the pope concluded, "and in the mission it finds its unity. Therefore: go meek and good as lambs, without worldliness, together'.

As he does every week, at the end of his greetings to the groups present, the pope urged even in these dramatic hours not to forget "the dear and tormented Ukrainian people, praying that their cruel suffering may soon come to an end".

Just today, the Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported some statements by the president of the World Union of Old Believers, Leonid Sebastianov, claiming that in correspondence Francis confided to him: "How I would like to go to Moscow and talk to Putin about the plan for a peaceful solution in Europe".

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