Pope: World Mission Day to ‘reawaken” the proclamation of the Gospel
During the Angelus, Francis and two young Portuguese registered for World Youth Day in Lisbon in August 2023. The pontiff also expressed “heartfelt concern” for the conflict in Ethiopia and the suffering caused by floods in Africa. He mentioned the interfaith meeting on peace set to take place at the Colosseum next Tuesday. The Pharisee and the Publican in the Gospel parable exemplify the movement of rising and descending.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – During the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke about World Mission Sunday, centred today on the theme "You shall be my witnesses”.
For the pontiff, this is an "important opportunity to reawaken in all baptised people the desire to participate in the universal mission of the Church through the witness and proclamation of the Gospel".
To this end, “I encourage everyone to support missionaries with prayer and concrete solidarity, so that they may continue their work of evangelisation and human promotion throughout the world.”
Afterwards, he invited two young Portuguese, who were with, to look out from the window of the Apostolic Palace, to remind everyone that the World Youth Day is set to take place in Lisbon (Portugal) in August 2023.
Registration for the event begins today. Thus, Francis took the opportunity to register online. “I have invited two Portuguese youngsters (pictured) to be here with me while I register too, as a pilgrim,” Francis said.
The pope then addressed the boys and girls of the whole world, urging them to register after being kept apart for so long by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that this will help us rediscover "the fraternal embrace between peoples and between generations, which we need so much.”
In his long address after the Marian prayer, the pope praised the witness of the new blessed, like the Redemptorist martyrs of Spain. Fr Vincenzo Nicasio Renuncio Toribio and eleven others were killed in 1936 as a result of anti-Christian persecution during the civil war.
“The example of these witnesses of Christ,” he said, ought to ”spur us to be consistent and courageous” in proclaiming the Gospel.
The pontiff also expressed his “heartfelt concern” over the conflict in Ethiopia, where violence will only increase “tragic consequences” rather than resolve "discord”. Instead, he urged the parties to find “equitable solutions for lasting peace throughout the country”.
Francis offered his prayers for the victims of floods in Africa, as well as Italy’s new government that took office today. He also mentioned that next Tuesday (25 October), the Colosseum in Rome will serve as a venue for an interfaith prayer for peace, especially “for martyred Ukraine.”
Earlier, at the start of the Angelus, the pontiff turned his thoughts to the passage in the Gospel of Luke about the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, centred on the movements of rising and descending.
Two very different men are involved, “a religious man and an avowed sinner”, but only the second "truly lifts himself up to God" because he presents himself to Him with humility and in the full truth of himself and his limitations.
The verb to rise, the object of the first part of the reflection, appears in many passages in the Old Testament, from Abraham to Moses, and in the New Testament when Jesus experiences the Transfiguration.
“To rise,” Francis says, “expresses the need of the heart to detach itself from a flat life in order to go towards the Lord; to rise up from the plateau of our ego to ascend towards God, freeing oneself of one’s own ‘I’; to gather what we live in the valley to bring it before the Lord. This is ‘rising’, and when we pray, we rise.”
Then there is the second movement, that of descending within us to live the encounter with God looking honestly at “our frailties and our inner poverty”.
“Indeed, in humility we become capable of bringing what we really are to God, without pretence: the wounds, the sins and the miseries that weigh on our hearts, and to invoke his mercy so that he may heal us, restore us and raise us up. It will be he who raises us up, not us. The more we descend with humility, the more God raises us up.”
Starting with these two verbs, the pontiff analyses the opposite attitudes of the Pharisee and the Publican. The former is "convinced that he is fine” and begins to praise himself like a priest (here the pope cites an example from Argentina) who “When he incenses, he does it backwards” towards himself. By contrast, the second, instead, "asks for forgiveness".
These attitudes “concern us closely. Thinking of them, let us look at ourselves,” Francis asks us, wondering whether in us too like “in the Pharisee, there is the conviction of one’s own righteousness that leads us to despise others.”
“Let us beware of narcissism and exhibitionism, based on vainglory, that lead even us Christians, priests and bishops, always to have one word on our lips. Which word? ‘I’.”
Finally, “Where there is too much ‘I’, there is too little God,” Francis said. For this reason, we must turn even more to Our Lady who is the “living image” of what God likes to do, namely, overthrow “the powerful from their thrones” and raise “the humble”.